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


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