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How can I find peace, contentment, and joy?

Finding Joy in Humility

You can find joy by focusing more on Jesus and less on yourself.

Humility is not something that we do well. Often, even our humility is done in order to make people think more highly of us: we desire recognition and to have ourselves lifted up above everyone else. The problem is, this kind of attitude makes it impossible to have lasting unity as the Church. Fortunately, Jesus has given us the ultimate example of humility, and because of him we have hope of great things in the future for which we can be joyful. Additionally, when we learn to humble ourselves to Jesus, we can begin to put him first rather than ourselves.

This whole series through the book of Philippians in the Bible has focused on the fact that When your focus is on yourself, happiness is dictated by your situation. When your focus is on Christ, joy is found in every situation. This principle doesn't change here either.

Text to read: Philippians 2:1-11 NLT

Paul points out that unity in the Church is of special importance. In fact, in our first week, we talked about finding joy in a true and healthy Christian community! The problem is, if the most important thing to each of us is ourselves and looking good and feeling good and being better than others and being recognized for being good, eventually something will happen that goes against those things and our unity will break down. This is why humility is so important!

Jesus calls you to true humility.

When your focus is on yourself, happiness is dictated by your situation. When your focus is on Christ, joy is found in every situation.

Humility is a huge biblical principle. Time and time again, Jesus said we have to be less to be greater, last to be first, and have to die to ourselves to live for Christ.

Remember what we've said is necessary for joy over and over again: less of yourself and more of Jesus. This means you've got to humble yourself first to Christ and second to others!

Too often, you make your humility all about you.

This is false humility. It is filtered through how others will perceive you. You don't want to seem prideful, so you deflect complements and give heartless platitudes that give others credit without being genuine.

Your humility probably--unconsciously or otherwise--focuses on the questions: "What can I get out of this," and "How will this impact how people see me?"

I won a medal for being the most humble man. They took it away a day later ‘cause I wore it.
— Unknown

Jesus gave the world's single greatest example of humility and in so doing, the world's single greatest hope.

God becoming human is the biggest act of humility possible. And he didn't just become any kind of human: he was born to a carpenter's family, in the backwater community of Galilee (a future disciple would remark, "can anything good come out of Galilee?"), in the smallest country, under another nation's rule. He could have come as a ruler, but came as a servant.

Through this act of humility, Jesus took our sin (rebellion against God and missing the mark on what we were made to be) on himself and provided a way for us to be forgiven of our sin and reunited in a life-giving relationship with God.

There's no need to try to get ahead of others in life, because everyone has been made equal through Jesus.

In the end, Jesus will return and everyone will recognize that he is Lord and will bow the knee to him. The question is, will you be there in fear and trembling as an enemy combatant, or will you be there in awe and wonder as you are ushered in as a son or daughter of God?

Action Step:

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to show you one way you can be humble; do it, and keep it a secret!

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Secret #2 for finding joy in your life.

How can I find joy?

Suffering, pain, challenges, trials, difficulties: these are present in all our lives at one time or another. Most of us also spend a lot of time worrying about how to prevent these things from happening...even though they will no matter what we do.

But what if I told you that there is a way to find joy and see good things happen as a result of these situations?

Text to Read: Philippians 1:12-30 NLT

Some key points from this message:

Paul's situation isn't great, but he is allowing it to be used for Jesus Christ, thus bringing purpose and joy into it.

When your focus is on yourself, happiness is dictated by your situation. When your focus is on Christ, joy is found in every situation.

Your attitude in the situation will impact the effect it has on you and those around you.

Paul's joyful attitude positively impacted the palace guard and other believers (vv. 12-14), but what would have happened if he had a downcast or bitter attitude instead?

The key for Paul was his understanding that it is the spread of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus' sacrifice for humanity, that truly matters (vv. 15-18).

Give your situation to Jesus and trust that he will use it to make a difference.

Paul doesn't talk about how he's going to deliver himself or how he's doing great things. He talks about how the Church's prayers and the Spirit of Jesus will lead to his deliverance. Paul understands that where he is powerless, God is powerful, thus he talks about his deliverance in passive rather than active terms (vv. 19-21). God will use the situation to do something for his glory and the spread of the Gospel.

When Jesus is where your significance is found, you can stand strong and rejoice no matter what comes (vv. 22-30).

A note on joy:

Joy is a fruit made up of faith, hope, love, contentment, and gratitude.

We can find meaning and joy in our situation when we allow it to be used to glorify Jesus.

Action Step:

  • Ask your closest friend what motivates you the most. If their answer is not “Jesus does,” ask the Holy Spirit of God to change your motives.

Prefer to watch or listen to the whole thing? You can do so below:

Secret #1 for finding joy in your life

Joy comes from putting Christ ahead of everything in your life and being unified with others who do the same.

As Pastor Chester Miller finished preaching and readied to dismiss his congregation at a morning worship service on March 1999, one of his church members, Victoria Smith, pulled a gun on him during the closing prayer.
Why? Because Pastor Miller had not preached from the book of Revelation that Sunday. The 58-year-old woman in Saddle, Arkansas said a sermon from Revelation was “important for her feud with another church member.” McHenry’s Stories for the Soul, 2001 p.13

While it is jarring to think an incident like this could happen involving church people, the fact is that whenever people gather together, things like this happen. What is supposed to be a place to care for each other and find belonging becomes a place of division.

We often approach things like church with an attitude of What can I get out of this? Rather than what can I give to Christ and others.

Despite what we so often see within Christian community, Jesus followers are meant to live lives characterized by joy, which is what we'll be looking at the next few weeks in the book of Philippians.

Today's Text: Philippians 1:1-11 NLT

Things to note:

  • Paul and Timothy forego giving their honorific titles of Apostle and pastor and instead call themselves slaves of Christ Jesus. They humbly acknowledge that they are completely open to following the will of Jesus.
  • Paul is joyful at the Church of Philippi's willingness to work toward the spread of the Good News of Jesus.
  • Paul encourages the Church to overflow in love and care for one another as they push each other toward a greater knowledge and understanding of Jesus' commands and to focus on building each other up for the sake of the Good News.

Here it is quite apparent that Paul believes Christian community (ie, Church) is very important, yet over the past couple decades we have seen the average regular church attender drop from gathering with believers three times a week to 1.8 times a month!

This isn't the problem we're tackling today; rather, it is the symptom of a greater problem. Now, rather than focusing on Jesus and on others, everything has to filter through our own selfishness. On a Sunday you may ask yourself, "Is church really the most entertaining or productive use of this 1-2 hours?" Suddenly, kids' sports, sleeping in, mowing the lawn, going on a weekend trip, or just staying home to relax may take priority over gathering to worship Jesus and encourage each other!

This is one reason why joy, which is supposed to characterize those who follow Jesus, seems so hard to attain:

When your focus is on yourself, happiness is dictated by your situation. When your focus is on Christ, joy is found in every situation.

Other points:

As you learn to put others’ best interests ahead of your own for the sake of the Gospel, you learn to value others.

As you get involved in partnering together for a common goal, you are bound together by purpose.

As you love one another as Christ loves the Church and lovingly help each other pursue Jesus, this will be a healthy family.

When your focus is on yourself, happiness is dictated by your situation. When your focus is on Christ, joy is found in every situation.

When everything centres on Christ, we will care more for each other and, in turn, our unselfish obedience and care will result in more Christian joy.

Action Steps:

  1. Identify one area where you have been pursuing your own interests at the expense of loving others and make it right.
  2. Encourage each other to become more like Jesus.
  3. Confront sin with love.

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