Category: Apostle Paul

Realizing the Joy of Harmony

Realizing the Joy of Harmony

Sunday July 9 2017

Discovering Joy Despite My Circumstances

Part 9: Realizing the Joy of Harmony


What disharmony looks like.


What harmony looks like.


Which brings joy to your life and why?


Philippians 4:1-5, p. 832

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!  I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.


Four exhortations (encouragement) for the joy of harmony


  1. Don’t be Defeated (Stand Victorious in Christ)
  • Followers of Christ were told not to march forward into battle, but were told to stand firm
  • In Paul’s letters, followers of Christ are not to be engaged in offensive warfare but to stand on the ground Jesus Christ has already taken from His decisive victory on the cross and resurrection.


Ephesians 6:13-14, p. 830

“Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand Stand firm then….” 


  1. Don’t be Divisive (Stand Victorious together in Christ)
  • Followers of Christ are to live in harmony with each other: “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind” (vs.27)
  • “Be of one accord, of one mind” (2:2); “Let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind” (3:16)
  • Followers of Christ are not to let even the smallest irritation in a church body to grow to major disunity.
  • Unity in Salvation (“names in the book of life”)
  • Unity in Spirit (spirit of servanthood and humility)
  • Unity in Service


  1. Don’t be Discouraged (Stand Victorious together with confidence in Christ)
  • “Rejoice” used 9 times, “joy” used 4 times, “rejoice with” 2 times
  • Happiness is the world’s cheap counterfeit of Christian joy, of happiness depends on circumstances whereas joy is rooted in Christ


  1. Don’t be Defensive (Stand Victorious together with confidence focused on Christ)
  • Paul is redirecting our focus away from ourselves and onto Jesus Christ (“The Lord is near”)
  • The Lord is at hand; big picture thinking verses our petty concerns
Securing Joy by Going on to Spiritual Maturity

Securing Joy by Going on to Spiritual Maturity

Sunday July 2 2017

Discovering Joy Despite My Circumstances

Part 8: Securing Joy by Going on to Spiritual Maturity


Philippians 3:15-21, p. 832

“All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.  Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.  Their mind is set on earthly things But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” 


Spiritual Immaturity

  • The Apostle Paul is pointing out a distinction between those who are spiritually mature (includes himself as an example of spiritually maturity)
  • Paul is identifying the Judaizers (false teachers and followers) as those who lack spiritual maturity
  • Identifying features (vv. 18-19)
    • Focused (mind) on this world and the things of this world only
    • Live for the flesh for “their god is their stomach” (earthly needs, pleasures)
    • All energy, commitment, and attention is earth bound
    • Their end is destruction (hell) and are enemies of the cross of Christ (Christ on the cross defeated the world and the flesh; cross speaks of sacrifice and suffering, yet these people live for the world and seek only to please themselves)


Spiritual Maturity

  • Share with Paul the pursuit of Christ and Christlikeness
  • Know our real home is in heaven, our citizenship is in heaven; when people become members of God’s family, they are written down in heaven (Luke 10:20, p. 734) which means they live for the glory of heaven and not for praise on earth
  • Are whole lives are pointed heavenward (passions, possessions, plans, purpose)
  • Will be found faithful and not ashamed on the Great Day of Judgment at Christ’s coming (1 John 2:28-3:3, p. 863)


1 John 2:15-17, 28, p. 863

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever… And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”



Basking in Joy from Victory

Basking in Joy from Victory

Discovering Joy Despite My Circumstances
Basking in Joy from Victory
Sunday, June 18, 2017

Philippians 3:7-14, p. 832
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.  I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

We can bask in joy from our victory in Christ if we:

Let go of the problems “useless waste” of the past (vv. 7-8)

  • Paul reminds us what it takes to enjoy victory, to reach the goal, to achieve success in Christ.
  • Things that entangle us and hinder us from finishing our race in Christ.
  • Paul gives us his list in verses 4-6 (confidence and distractions of our “flesh”)
  • Acts 27 (p. 793) example throwing all the “cargo” of his past life overboard.

Keep your focus on the finish line (prize) for your future (vv. 8-12)

  • “Gain Christ”: not about gaining Christ as Saviour, Paul was expressing his deep desire to know Christ better and to develop Christlikeness in his life.

Knowing the Person of Jesus Christ 

  • “Know” means to know by experience.
  • You can know someone casually and not know them personally
  • Many Christians have a ‘knowledge’ of Christ that is intellectual but not experiential (need both)
  • Jesus prayer, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3, p. 765)

 Knowing the Power of Jesus Christ 

  • We can know the power of Christ in our present from the Holy Spirit to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4, p. 799)
  • We will know that power completely in the future when (our bodies) we will be raised up just as Jesus was resurrected (1 Corinthians 15, p. 815)

Knowing the Passion of Jesus Christ 
Matthew 5:10-12, p. 683
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.  Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.”

Knowing the Praise of Jesus Christ
Our Resurrection:  when the dead in Christ shall rise at the time of the rapture and those who are still alive will be transformed, then the saints (followers of Jesus Christ) will be rewarded at the judgment seat of Christ.  (Matthew 24:44-47, p. 701; 1 John 2:28, p. 863)

Develop the discipline to (vv. 13-14):

Hebrews 12:1-2, p. 852
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

Luke 9:62, p. 734
“No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

“Straining toward,” “press on.”

Cultivating Joy Through Humility

Cultivating Joy Through Humility

Discovering Joy Despite My Circumstances
Cultivating Joy Through Humility
Sunday, June 11, 2017

What is false humility?   What does it look like to you?  How would you recognize it?

Philippians 3:1-6, p. 831
“Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the fleshthough I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have morecircumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.” 


  • Paul’s friends at Philippi were being asked to mix God’s Grace with the “works of the flesh (legalism.)”
  • Teachers of legalism (Judaizers) had crept into the church attempting to seduce the Christians into adding circumcision to the plan of salvation.
  • Paul warns against these intruders and explains their false doctrine: doctrine matters
  • If our salvation was based upon our own virtue and accomplishments Paul points out he would be the best; but, if Paul could not achieve earned salvation based upon his qualifications then no one could—only by faith in God’s Grace alone.

Paul’s Warnings:  “Watch out” for the Judaizers (legalists) in 3 ways:


  • Uncomplimentary term (old and new testaments: Proverbs 26:1, p. 467; Revelation 22:15, p. 879) describes the false teachers who were bringing legalism into the Gospel of Christ.
  • Similar to the false prophets of Isaiah’s time.

Isaiah 56:10-11, p. 525

“Israel’s watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep. They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough.  They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain.” 

Evil Workers

  • Those who wormed their way into the congregation a form of teaching other than the Gospel of Christ.
  • Aggressive in spreading their works-salvation.
  • Same intruders in the Corinthian church as Paul identifies them as “false apostles”, “deceitful workers”, “transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:13, p. 821)


  • Refers to the cutting of circumcision.
  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ was complete within the realm of faith; anything added to that would be as nothing with God.

Genuine Spiritual Worshippers 

  1. Respond to God in the Spirit

John 4:24, p. 753
God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

  1. Rejoice in Jesus Christ alone

Galatians 6:14, p. 826
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” 

  1. Refuse to trust in the flesh

A true follower of Jesus Christ knows he/she is not capable of earning God’s favour through the deeds or works of the flesh.

Luke 18:14, p. 742
God, be merciful to me a sinner!” 

Paul’s qualifications:

  • Circumcised the eighth day
  • Jewish bloodline
  • Tribe of Benjamin
  • Hebrews of Hebrews
  • A Pharisee
  • Persecutor of the church
  • Blameless before the law
  • All considered “rubbish” by Paul.
Choosing Joy from Responsibility

Choosing Joy from Responsibility

Discovering Joy Despite My Circumstances
Part 5: Choosing Joy from Responsibility
Sunday, June 4, 2017

What is discipline?

Is it important?

Are there any benefits?

Paul tells us to “work out” our salvation with fear and trembling; what does that mean in terms of joy?

Philippians 2:12-16
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour in vain.

“Therefore”: Paul moves from doctrine (Philippians 2:1-11) to practice (Philippians 2:12-16).

Three Areas of Responsibility

First:  I will do my part

  • “Work out your salvation” (v.12): working something through to its full completion
  • Working out what God has already worked in Illustration. Second Peter reminds us that we have been given “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” (1:3)
  • God added to our stockpile of resources the “exceedingly great and precious promises.” (v.4)
  • Peter does not encourage a passive attitude towards faith; he encourages: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” (5-7)
  • “Fear and trembling”: proper sense of respect and responsibility.
  • Paul is reminding us in his letter to realize that God has given us great resources and we are to go out and reach our full potential in Christ Jesus.

Second: I will depend on God 

  • All we can do is to respond to what He has done.
  • We work in co-operation with God to see the potential in our lives.

Third:  I will be different from the world by:

  1. Joyful living in an unhappy world
  • “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” (v. 14)
  • Grumbling or complaining is an outward activity that grows out of the inward spirit of disputing or questioning
  1. Straight living in a crooked world
  • “Blameless and pure,” not diluted with evil (v. 15)
  • Conduct was to be lived out before a “warped and crooked” world.
  • “Crooked”: Greek is skolias; from this we get “scoliosis” which is the curvature of the spine, so Paul is speaking of a permanent disfigured condition.
  1. Radiant living in a dark world
  • We are to just exist but to shine as a light that offers hope of God’s word (v.16)

Ephesians 5:8
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light.” 

Building Joy on Unity

Building Joy on Unity

Discovering Joy Despite My Circumstances
Part 4: Building Joy on Unity
Sunday, May 28, 2017

Recall a time where you were on a team; what were/are the things you enjoyed about that experience?

Paul reveals how we can build joy into our lives upon unity

Philippians 2:1-11
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

Reasons for unity (v.1)

Experience of Christ’s life

  • When we experience Christ’s life (being united with Christ), we must share it with our fellow followers

Example of Christ’s love

  • “Comfort” indicates a spoken word of encouragement
  • Follower of Christ who is expressing the attitude of unity will be looking for people to encourage

Encouragement of Christ’s body (church)

  • The Holy Spirit dwells in each follower-common denominator of God’s family

Expression of Christ’s compassion

  • Followers are to have the inward (tenderness) and outward (compassion) love and concern for each other

Requirements for unity

Harmony (v.2)

  • “Like minded”: to have “one mind” agreement in doctrine and creed; embrace the same “truth”
  • “One in heart”: to have the same love which is showing God’s Love to each other
  • “One in spirit”: soul brothers and sisters

Humility (v.3)

  • Personal responsibility for the unity of the body (church)
  • Warning against a competitive, selfish spirit

Helpfulness (v.4)

  • Practical help for others (being a blessing)

Role model for unity is Jesus Christ (vv. 5-8) 

Jesus embodied all 3 requirements for unity by:

  1. Relinquishing his place
  2. Refusing his prerogative
  3. Renouncing his privileges
  4. Restricting his presence
  5. Realizing his purpose
Experiencing Joy Through Integrity

Experiencing Joy Through Integrity

Discovering Joy Despite My Circumstances
Part 3: Experiencing Joy Through Integrity
Sunday, May 21, 2017

What does this old saying mean to you:  “One who refuses to stand for something will sooner or later fall for anything.”

New Christians go through these three stages:

  1. They become sons or daughters in the family (the fellowship of the Gospel)
  2. They become servants (the furtherance of the Gospel)
  3. They become soldiers (the faith of the Gospel)

Satan is out to defeat the church, and Christians need to have the single mind to face him and “fight the good fight of faith.”

Philippians 1:27-30, p. 831
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.  This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.  For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Three realities of encouragement to help us defend the faith of the Gospel

We are not standing alone (v. 27)

  • It is encouraging to know that there are others standing alongside us as we fight life’s battles
  • There is no substitute for the unity and harmony of the healthy church
  • Satan is the great divider and destroyer…Jesus Christ is the uniter and builder

We are on the winning side (v. 28)

  • It is encouraging to know Who we belong to God will save us for we are His children
  • Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4, p. 863)

We count it a privilege to suffer for Christ (vv.29-30)

  • It is encouraging to know that we have a “real or saving” faith as we suffer for it
  • We enjoy the free gift of salvation and the gift of suffering for Jesus Christ…for then we have fellowship with Christ in our suffering: “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” (Acts 5:41, p. 774)
  • There is a purpose in our suffering

This is the blessing of the single mind- that joyful confidence in God, knowing that He is in control of circumstances.

Discovering Joy in Community

Discovering Joy in Community

Discovering Joy Despite My Circumstances
Part 1: Discovering Joy in Community
Sunday, May 7, 2017

Stress factors and unpleasant circumstances can rob us of our joy.

How to find joy in the middle of this: the Apostle Paul’s discovery.

Philippians 4:4 (p. 832) NLT
Always be full of joy in the Lord.”

Philippians (Letter of Joy) Background

The City:  Philippi

  • Roman colony in the midst of Greek culture
  • Governed by Roman laws and under Roman rule
  • Named after King Philip, who won it from the Thracians
  • Noted for its gold and its farming (fertile soil) located in East Macedonia

 The Church:  Philippian Church

  • First church founded in Europe, planted by Paul (Acts 16) on his second missionary journey
  • Philippian Christians were very supportive of Paul in their generous practical and emotional support
  • Paul in house arrest in Rome, sent Epaphroditus to stay with Paul and give him some financial support
  • After a few months, Epaphroditus went back to Philippi with this letter from Paul to the church

The Letter:  Five Purposes

  1. To explain Paul’s circumstances to those who were concerned about him
  2. To explain Epaphroditus’ situation and defend him to his critics
  3. To thank the Philippians for their generous support
  4. To encourage the church in the Christian life
  5. To encourage the unity of the church

The Emphasis:  Joy

  • “Joy” is mentioned 19 times in these four chapters: “The Christ-like mind that brings Christian joy”
  • Every chapter describes the kind of mind Christians must have if they are to enjoy Christ’s peace and joy
  • Our thoughts have a great influence on our lives: wrong thinking leads to wrong living
  • Paul’s situation was anything but joyful; he had been arrested illegally, taken to Rome and was now awaiting trial. There was division within the Roman church (Philippians1:14-17, p. 830); some were trying to make things worse for Paul.
  • In chapter one the Gospel is mentioned five times and Christ is mentioned 17 times. Paul looked on his circumstances as sent by God and for the purpose of exalting Christ. If Paul had been double-minded, he would have complained because life was very uncomfortable


Philippians 1:1-11, p. 830
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,  so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Key:  Discovering Joy Within Community

  1. Joy in being “other” focused: “Every time I remember you” (v. 3-6)
  • Paul did not wallow in his circumstances but thought of others
  • Paul knew he was not alone as he enjoyed their “partnership” in the cause of Christ


  1. Joy in loving others: “I have you in my heart” (v.7-8)
  • The church composed of a mix group of people…but they were bound together by love
  • For example: wealthy Lydia, the jailer, the slave girl and other diverse believers (mostly Gentiles)
  • Their hearts were united in their love for Christ and each other


  1. Joy in praying for others for their spiritual growth: “this is my prayer that your love may abound more and more” (v. 9-11)
  • Prayer for greater love, discernment, faithfulness and fruitfulness