Life Application Study Bible 3rd Edition NLT - Page 77

page 2063
Vital Statistics
To thank the Philippians for
the gift they had sent and to
strengthen these believers
by showing them that true joy
comes from Jesus Christ alone
The church in Philippi
Approximately AD 61
Rome, during Paul’s imprisonment
Paul and his companions had
started the church in Philippi on
his second missionary journey
(Acts 16:11-40). This was the first
church established in Europe.
The Philippian church had sent
a gift with ­Epaphroditus (one of
their members) to be delivered to
Paul (Philippians 4:18). Paul was
in a Roman prison at the time. He
wrote this letter to thank them for
their gift and to encourage them
in their faith.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord.
I say it again—rejoice!” (4:4)
Paul, Timothy, Epaphroditus,
Euodia, Syntyche
THE WORD happiness evokes visions of unwrapping
gifts on Christmas morning, strolling hand in hand
with the one you love, celebrating your birthday in
your favorite way, responding with unbridled laughter to a comedian, or vacationing in an exotic locale.
Everyone wants to be happy; we make chasing this
elusive ideal a lifelong pursuit: spending money, collecting things, and searching for new experiences. But if
we are only happy when things go well and we get what we want, then
what happens when the toys rust, loved ones die, health deteriorates,
money is scarce, and the party’s over? Can we still be happy? Can we
still find profound joy in our circumstances?
Philippians is Paul’s joy letter. It contrasts the world’s view of happiness, or joy, with God’s perspective. True joy is deep and strong, not
superficial. It is the quiet, confident assurance of God’s love and work
in our lives—that he will be there no matter what! Our happiness should
not depend on what happens to us but on what happens in us—the
transformation that takes place when we put our trust in Jesus Christ
and his Holy Spirit comes to live in us, giving us God’s perspective on
life and all the ups and downs that come with it.
The church in the Macedonian city of Philippi had been a great
encouragement to Paul. The Philippian believers had enjoyed a very
special relationship with him, so he wrote them a personal expression
of his love and affection. They had brought him great joy (4:1). Philippians is also a joyful letter because it emphasizes the real joy of the
Christian life. The concept of rejoicing or joy appears over and over
in this book, and the pages radiate this positive message, culminating
in the ­exhortation to “always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—­
rejoice!” (4:4).
In a life dedicated to serving Christ, Paul had faced excruciating
poverty, abundant wealth, and everything in between. He even wrote
this joy-filled letter from prison. Whatever the circumstances, Paul
had learned to be content (4:11-12), finding real joy as he focused
all his ­attention and energy on knowing Christ (3:8) and obeying him
Paul’s desire to know Christ above all else is wonderfully expressed in
the following words: “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared
with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake
I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I
could gain Christ and become one with him. . . . I want to know Christ
and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want
to suffer with him, sharing in his death” (3:8-10). May we share Paul’s
aspiration and seek to know Jesus Christ more and more. Rejoice with
Paul in Philippians, and rededicate yourself to finding real and lasting
joy and happiness in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

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