Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

Molalla, Oregon

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Finding Joy Outside the Marketplace

May 12th, 2012 by Ryan

We are going to spend some time in Philippians chapter one this morning and take a look at the ideas of “Joy” that recur in Paul’s letter and contrast them versus the constant bombardment of this world’s view of joy we receive all day long.
Happiness and joy are something that we all want. As humans we are constantly looking for it. Right in he beginning of the Declaration of Independence of our Nation we have a line that goes like this:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Among our unalienable rights we have guaranteed are “Life and Liberty”
Happiness is not guaranteed… but we have the right to go look for it.

According to research conducted at Southern Illinois University, this is one of the best known lines in he English language.
The founders of his nation knew about this human urge, so much so that they penned it in the most important document to the United States, right up front.
So what does they world think about joy? What is the world’s definition of joy?
According to dictionary at “reference.com” joy is:
the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation
The world sees “Joy” tied to constant consumption.
The world believes “Joy” is caused by something external.
The pursuit of “Joy” is driving our economy.
America, and the world, are looking for the “Something”.
Just look at the countless ads we see everyday promising us joy if we purchase their products.
The funny (or maybe frightening) thing is that we are so indoctrinated with this stuff that sometimes we don’t notice how ridiculous it is until we pull it out in the open. It just doesn’t fit and deep inside we know that. It will never totally satisfy the need that Jesus alone can satisfy. Countless celebrities have thrown countless dollars into finding joy. They have all the money in the world to pursue this definition of joy. Without Christ, none of them can fill that need and feel true and lasting joy. one example of searching and coming up empty is John Mayer. He penned the song called “Something’s Missing” about the nagging empty feeling he has that he can’t figure out.
One verse and the chorus goes like this:

I’m dizzy from the shopping malls
 I searched for joy, but I bought it all
 It doesn’t help the hunger pains
and a thirst I’d have to drown first to ever 
Something’s missing 
And I don’t know how to fix it 
Something’s missing
 And I don’t know what it is at all

The song ends on a depressing note as he never figures it out. Every time I hear that song I wish I could call him up and say, “It’s Jesus, man.”
The search for the world’s definition of joy can be deadly. Some have died from overdosing on drugs or alcohol in this search, or have taken their life because of the emptiness they feel. This definition is not real. It is fabricated and will not fully meet any need of desire for joy in your heart mind or soul.
Let’s right the compass and figure out what the Bible has to say on “joy”. Let’s open up the Word of God and walk through these verses and look at the contrasts. If we are looking for theme of joy in the Bible, some of the best passages can be found in Philippians. The book of Philippians is written by Paul.
Paul had once been one of the biggest opponents to the gospel. That was until God gave him a wake up call. That story is one of the most intense cases of “election” in the New Testament.
When Paul is writing this letter, things weren’t going well for him. During this time he had been thrown in prison for his faith. The external stimulations in his current situation were not pleasant. This in itself is a contrast to the world’s view of “joy”. But Paul’s heart is not focused on this.
Open up to Philippians 1:

Thanksgiving and Prayer (Philippians 1:3-11 ESV)
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so 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.

In this passage there is a theme of brotherly love amongst believers. Paul is given “joy” through the fellowship of the church. We can have joy in one another as we strive for the common goal of this church. This goal is discipling one another and spreading the love of christ to everyone we come into contact with.
It is not the “things” in life that bring joy. It is the relationships. The fellowship of, as Paul states, “all the partakers of grace”. It is the solidarity of the church and our common love for Jesus and for one another. In Mark 12:29 (NIV) Jesus said the two greatest commandments are:

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

The second greatest commandment is about loving one another Right behind loving God with all your heart. There is a lot of weight to this. This rings of the “Pursuit of happiness”. We are handmade people. God knows our hearts.
Let’s return to the Word.

The Advance of the Gospel (Philippians 1:12-18 ESV)
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.
 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

In this passage we see that joy is found through a servant’s heart. Joy is taking part in the “Great Commission”. Paul has been put on the sidelines, but he was still cheering on the advance of the gospels and the spreading of the “It is finished” love of Jesus Christ. He had a part in the great commission that was happening all around. We just took an offering to help send Taylor to Papalote to advance the Gospel. Papalote is what the great commission looks like to Taylor this summer. We are not going with her, but because we are supporting it we have a piece of this mission and we can have joy in the accomplishments of this mission trip. This is one of the many faces of “The Great Commission”.
Sometimes I think that the term “Great Commission” can be a little overwhelming. It puts a lot of pressure to devise a huge mission project and go out into the world. The reality is that the great commission can happen anywhere and can be a very little encounter. In a coffee shop. At the gas station. Here today. God presents the opportunities. We need to be ready to share the love of Christ.

To Live Is Christ (Philippians 1:19-30)
Yes, and I will rejoice,for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

To live IS Christ. Christ is your life. Our life must be dedicated to striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, to spreading the love of Christ around. If you have developed your relationship with Jesus this is second nature. How many of you have told your friends about a movie you saw that you liked? Maybe a restaurant? Maybe a band or a song, or a painting? Sharing of things we love is intrinsic to our soul. If your life is filled with the joy of a relationship with the living God it with overflow and you will share it.
In closing I want to reiterate that joy lies in the godly relationships. Joy is connected to our purpose of spreading the love of Christ. It is connected to the deeper relationship we can develop by seeking God closer and letting that joy that comes from that overflow for all to see.
Let’s all go back to the Declaration of Independence and make a note. Lets put a mental edit on this line to help us remember the truth about joy and happiness.

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Jesus”

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