Joy in Suffering

Bible Text: Philippians 1

We’re gonna say here and think about, some things that will make us happy. I think I would be happy if had a newer car. I don’t need a new car, just a newer car. Well, some of the helpers might want a new car. Or a car. Can you think of something that would make you happy, that you think would make you happy? Cody. Playstation. Can I just put PS? playstation for all the old people. Tori. A new room? A vacation. Mrs. Voegtlin says a vacation. Would it be fun would we be happy to have a vacation? Chloe. A puppy? A bunny. Let’s just say a pet. OK, Cody you said something already; so did Tori; want to add another one? I might have room to write it down. What? Candy! And is that what you were going to say Tori? A new school school! So these are some things that we would like to have, and we will be happy if we got them, and we probably would be happy if we got them. But, did you know that the man that wrote the book with Philippians… does anybody know who wrote the book of Philippians? The same man that wrote the book of Romans; the same man that wrote the book of Ephesians; the same man that wrote the books of Corinthians and Galatians. It’s right there and probably in the very first verse…, what was his name, class? Paul. And Paul in the book of Philippians, tells us about how we can have joy, but I want to tell you he didn’t have any of these things.

Do you know where Paul was when he wrote the book of Philippians? That’s right. He was in jail. You think he had a new car when he was in jail or even a new chariot or a new horse? Do you think he had a playstation in jail? I hear that prisoners today, sometimes they have playstations, but not in Paul’s jail. Do you think Paul had a puppy or a bunny or a rabbit or…? No. Do you think he had a new room? Do you think he got to choose what room he wanted to be in? Not when you’re in jail, right? Do you think he could have a vacation from jail? He’s in jail. He can’t have a vacation.

But… Paul had joy. Paul had joy, and today… How do you think? Do you think you can have…? Well, I’m just going to tell you, the Bible tells us that we can have joy even if we’re not happy. Even if we don’t have things that will make us happy, we can have joy. Those are two different words, aren’t they? Happy and joy. Happiness and joy are two different things. Joy comes from the Holy Spirit. Does anybody remember who the Holy Spirit is? God, and, a ways back, I don’t know who was here, we talked about what the fruit of the spirit is. So the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering… So joy comes from the Holy Spirit. Happiness comes from what? Things. Things that happened to us. Happiness comes from that, but joy comes from God and we’re going to learn a little bit about joy the next four weeks. Now is somebody ready to read our verse? Philippians 1:21 You read last week, right, I think you did. Well, I going to let Madeline read today.

Yeah. That doesn’t make sense. Does it? Paul said, “For me,” Talking about for himself. “For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain.” Dying… we don’t think that would be a good thing, do we? But if it’s gain that means it’s better. Right? Paul said to die was better. It would be a gain for him. Where do you think Paul figured he was going when he died? To heaven, and isn’t heaven better than anything down here.

So today we’re going learn about having joy when we suffer. Now that’s a big word. One more big word. Anybody think of something that is like suffering? What is suffering? Think of anything that is suffering. Another word for suffering or something that would happen that might be suffering.

Do you think Paul was suffering when he was in jail? Yeah. He would be suffering there. So Paul began writing his letter to the Philippians. Which many of you are looking at, …the book of Philippians is to the Philippian Christians. And he began there and one of the first things that he says is, I am thankful for all of you. When I remember you, I have joy. When I remember from the very first day. And I can imagine…, how many remember, Miss Brenda, Miss Brenda from Africa? If she wrote us a letter, could you imagine that she writes us a letter, and I get up and I read the letter from Miss Brenda. And it would kind of be like what it was like when the Philippians first heard this letter from Paul. Somebody, Epaphraditus was his name, actually brought the letter from Paul, and they all got together. They all wanted to hear what was in Paul’s letter. And as they started reading it, they heard Paul say that he’s thankful for them and he has joy when he remembers how they share together from the very first day. Now, long time ago when we talked about what Paul did there, the very first day from the very beginning when Paul came to the city where the Philippians live, he was looking for people that might believe on Jesus. Was anybody there a believer? Some of them believed in God, but they had never heard about Jesus. And he went to the river side, the shore of the river, and he saw there some people who would pray to God and he began to tell them about Jesus. And there was a lady there whose name was Lydia, and the Bible says, God opened her heart, and she believed on Jesus. She was the first one to believe on Jesus in Philippi, and I’ll bet if she was listening to Paul’s letter and heard him say, from the very first, she thought, yeah, I remember that. God opened my heart and then I was able to open my big house and Paul and all his helpers were able to live in our house so they didn’t have to pay money at the hotel and was able to help them from the very first time… the very first day.

And then, there was another lady there, I would bet, there was another lady there, and she might have gotten really joyful and happy and pleased when she heard Paul say, I know that he that began a good work in you, and that would be Jesus, is going to keep doing it until the day of Jesus Christ. And she probably thought about how when she first saw Paul she was a slave. Yeah, she was a slave, and she was a slave to two different things. She was a slave to a demon who gave her special knowledge and she was a slave to men who used her to make money. She would say…, they would set up a little tent or something. She was like a fortune teller, but she didn’t get the money herself. The men that owned her got that money. And when she saw Paul teaching around their town, she began to say, “These men are the servants of the most high God.” But she wasn’t saying that; that demon inside her was doing that. And pretty soon, Paul was grieved by that spirit, and he turned around and he cast the devil, the demon out of her and she was free from that demon. And then the men who owned her, they didn’t care about her at all anymore. And so I bet that she was there thinking, “Wow, I remember that good work that God started in me, and boy, is he doing more of that.” And that made her happy.

And I bet there was another man there… very, strict man…, probably sat real tall like a soldier. And he probably remembered how soon after that he had a knock on his door. And the policemen in town said, we have these two guys and they need to be kept in the most secure place in your jail. He was the jailer. And so he got those instructions, and he gave them a good whipping, really a beating, and then put them in the inside of the inside of the inside of the jail. And he remembered these guys. Their names were Paul and Silas. And in the middle of the night, Paul and Silas were singing. Paul and Silas, what do they have in jail there? What do they have? They were in stocks. They were in jail, and they were singing! Can you sing when you’re in jail? Only if you have joy, right? Being in jail is not happy. But you can have joy in jail, and Paul and Silas did. And then all of a sudden what happened? Do you remember? There’s a big earthquake and all, all their chains came loose and the jailer was remembering how he almost killed himself because he’s going to lose all this prisoners. But Paul said, don’t do that. And then the jailer got saved, and they were remembering all these things that Paul was telling them about. And that was a long time back. Paul sent this letter, man, I don’t know, maybe 15, 20 years. After all that happened, they were thinking about what God had done and then they started thinking about Paul.

Paul didn’t stay in jail. The next day they came over, the policemen, the guys in charge, came and said, let them go. And not long, they were gone. But you know, Paul, he got himself into trouble. He wasn’t bad, but he was doing what was right, and people hated him, and he ended up in jail again, and now he was in jail in Rome, in the capital city of the whole world. He was in jail there, and the Philippian Christians, the people, the Philippians, had heard about Paul being in jail and actually sent some stuff to help him out, and they had heard that things were getting bad for Paul. But Paul said, I want you to know that everything that’s happened to me is working out for good. Now, if somebody was a jail, you wouldn’t think they’d say, well, it’s all good. Right? But Paul said, it was all good.

He had joy even in jail now. He said, you know what’s happening? I have to be chained to a soldier every day, all day. But you know what? All these soldiers are hearing about Jesus Christ, and many of them have turned to Jesus and believed on him. And when they get relieved, they go home and they tell their families about Jesus Christ and they tell other people. So that there are many, many people in the emperor’s house who are saved. Isn’t that wonderful? Can you see why Paul would have joy? Even though he was chained to a soldier, those soldiers were coming through and some of them were getting saved and people that are out there in the emperor’s house, in the emperor’s government, that are saved because Paul was in prison.

And then he said beside that, other Christians that are here in town, they’ve heard about me being in prison and for some reason that is making them more bold to preach. See these people, they’re not in prison and they weren’t preaching before I came and I was put in jail, but now they are preaching, and so people are hearing about Jesus, and that gives me joy, right? So Paul says, even though I’m in jail, people that have to watch over me, they’re hearing the Gospel and they’re getting saved and that gives me joy. And people that are hearing about me being in jail, they are being bold and they are preaching the Gospel and that makes me…that gives me joy. He said, there’s even people that think by preaching the Gospel that it will make it worse for me. They’re doing it because they don’t like me, but I don’t care. Jesus is being preached to other people. More people are hearing about Jesus and what does that make me? That gives me joy he said. So Paul is full of joy even though things are going bad.

And then he got a little more serious. He said, you know that it seems like we don’t know what’s going to happen. For awhile, I’ve been chained here to this soldier like this, but things are getting worse and we don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if the emperor is going to decide that I should go free or that he wants me to be killed. I don’t know which one. But I know that if I live, I’m going to live for Christ. But if I die, it will be even better. Because if I die, I’m going to heaven. See Paul is there and he’s in jail and he’s writing this to the Christians and he’s telling them, I don’t know… If I stay here, it will be a help to you. If the emperor says, I have to die, I’m going to go to heaven. I hope you don’t mind, but I think I’d like to go to heaven. We often think that dying would be the worst thing in the world. And I’m…..I’m not going to go run out in front of the car and die. I don’t want to die, but if I die, if I believed on Jesus, or since I believe on Jesus, when I die, I’m going to go to heaven. Regardless of how bad it is here, it’s going to be better when I go to heaven. And Paul remembered that. And we can learn that. Paul is suffering in jail, and yet he’s thinking about if the worst of the worst of the worst happens, it’s going to be better. How could Paul do that? He had joy. Where does joy come from? We said that at the beginning? Where does joy come from? Joy comes from God. Where does happiness come from? From things, right? Happiness comes from things, but joy comes from God.

We might say, Paul, how is it that you can have joy in all these situations? If Paul could answer, I think he would tell us about a few times that things were getting really, really bad. Once, he was very discouraged, he was trying to preach the gospel in a certain town, and things were not going well, but one night he had a vision from God. And God said to him in that vision, don’t worry about anything in this town. I am with you. Well, if God is with us, that’s pretty good right?

Then, not in this jail and not in the Philippian jail. He was in jail in between there. Paul was a jail a few times. Was it because he was a bad person? No, it was because he was preaching the Gospel. People didn’t like it and they put him in jail and he was in jail. Here he’s been beaten. And in the night he heard from God, and God said, you don’t need to worry about anything. I am with you.

After he got out of that jail, well got out of jail; he was still a prisoner. They were taking him on a ship from that jail to Rome. Where he’s in jail now. And the ship got into a really bad storm. I mean a really, this storm was like twenty days long and it just went on and on and on. In fact, 14 of those days and they didn’t even ever see the sun. It got worse and worse and worse. It was just… wind blowing and winds blowing and everybody thought they were going to die, and one night, guess who appears to Paul? God. God said, don’t worry about anything. I’m with you, and I’m going to make sure that everybody that’s with you is safe and doesn’t die.

Now, we don’t have to have visions from God. The Bible tells us that if we’ve believed on Jesus and he’s come into our life that God is with us, he’s with us. So whatever bad happens to us, who’s always with us, even if no one else is around, and everything happening is bad, who’s with us? God is with us, and if God is with us, then we can have joy. Because where does joy come from? It comes from God. Do you think somebody can be crying and also have joy?

Yes, we can be sad. In our church, where we go to church on Sunday, in the last couple months, we’ve had some people who are members of our church for a long, long, long, long time, and they’ve died. That was sad. That was sad, but almost everybody that was there, even if they were crying, they had joy because they knew that our friends who had come to our church had believed on Jesus. And they knew that those friends, we’re not here anymore. They were in heaven. Not everybody who dies goes to heaven. Sometimes a funeral isn’t joyful because we don’t know that the person… we might be pretty sure that if the person never believed on Jesus… if they believed the way they acted, they’re in hell, and that is not joyful. But we can have joy even in some of the saddest times.

Sad and happy doesn’t have anything to do with joy. That has to do with the things that happen around us. Where does joy come from? It comes from God, and we can have joy all the time because God is with us all the time. So let’s think. Can you imagine something that might happen in the next week that could make you sad? Maybe something happened last week that was sad. What we need to remember from today’s lesson, is that when sad things happen, we can remember that God is with us, and he can still give us joy. We have to see… what is God doing in this situation that’s making me sad? If God is working in that, we can have joy even though the situation we’re in is sad. And that comes only to those that have believed on Jesus, only those who have trusted in him and have turned from their sin and believe on him. People that don’t believe in Jesus… people that have not trusted him, they have sad things happen to them and they can have no joy because God is not a part of their life. But if God is a part of your life, he can give you joy even when bad things happen to you.

Now, I don’t know if I’ll remember this next Saturday, but it would be neat to hear… if you can remember next Saturday something that happened to you this week that was sad, but that the same time you remembered that God was with you and even though it was sad, you still had joy in your heart.