082 – We Experience Joy from the Inside Out

Joy from the inside out

Joy comes from the inside not the outside. Joy comes from the work Christ is doing inside us. Believe it or not, joy comes more from the things we lose, or let go of, than for the things we have, or hold on to. We continue on our journey through the New Testament book of Philippians and learning to live a life of joy in spite of the circumstances or challenges we face.

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We Experience Joy from the Inside Out

“I want to know Christ…”. The power of those words from Philippians chapter 3 have been both a model and a goal for me the better part of my life. I live out of a biblical worldview. I believe that joyful living and the Christ-life are synonymous. I do not know about joy or joyful living apart from Christ, because I’ve never tried to do it. 

I’ve been a pastor or a minister for most of my life and I’ve had many discussions with people who wanted to debate the existence of God or my system of faith. I believe being able to give an answer and defend our faith is important, not only for ourselves, but to help those with questions find answers. At the same time, my greatest reason for my faith in Christ is because I know him. This is not a defense, this is not necessarily a theological answer, and I realize such a response is not particularly helpful for those espousing an atheistic view, but at the core of my faith and belief, this is my anchor… I know him. 

He is the one who has walked with me through the valley of the shadow of death, and to me, in a very tangible way. 

We are committed to living a joyful life. Most of the time we are succeeding. We’ve found that our trust and faith in Christ is, for us, our story, the core and basis of our joy. 

We find inexplicable joy in knowing Christ. 

JOY is actually knowing him and being found in him…

First, Joy Comes from the Inside, not the Outside. 

Here are a list of things Paul explicitly states as things that will NOT cause us to KNOW Christ… ((and most of these things are not bad in and of themselves, it is simply that in and of themselves, they will not grant us KNOWING Christ. 

“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more… circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”  Philippians 3.1-6 ESV

Here’s a list of the things that DID NOT cause Apostle Paul to know Christ:

  • Following external ritual and strict external adherence to regulations (circumcised the eighth day)
  • Being born into the right group, nationality, religious background, being baptized as a child (of the people of Israel)
  • Being a member of a church or of a respected or elite group (of the tribe of Benjamin, a tribe producing many leaders, including Saul)
  • Excelling among your tribe, being a stand out, (a Hebrew of Hebrews)
  • Theological education and training (A Pharisee)
  • Being a zealous and devoted person (persecuted the church)
  • Doing everything according to instruction, being a good person, following the law impeccably (as to righteousness, blameless) (v.9 – “…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…”

External/Outward ritual. Circumcision and other external matters insisted upon by the religious people. Paul calls religious those who insist that external rituals and external conformity lead us to a knowledge of Christ, dogs and mutilators of the flesh. “Mutilators” has a maniacal implication. It implies manipulation to desired behavior at great cost and no benefit to the person manipulated. 

“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—” Philippians 3.3 ESV

External righteousness is important, because it is the fruit or manifestation of what is inside us, but the source of true righteousness is through a relationship with Christ. 

To Know Christ… these are the keys from this chapter of scripture:

  1. We must worship by the Spirit of God, (John 4)
  2. We must glory in Christ Jesus, and ((“For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6.13-14 ESV))
  3. We must put no confidence in the flesh (the realm of the seen). 

Second, Joy Comes from our Losses, not our Gains.

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” Philippians 3.7-8 ESV

Paul is using accounting terminology. “I count,” “I reckon,” “gain,” “loss.”

These things are a hindrance, and obstacle to the work of Christ. They are often gifts given by God, but unless submitted to Christ and brought into the relationship, they become obstacles because they keep us from partnership with Christ and keep us locked into reliance on our individuality.  

“But whatever gain I had I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” 

Joy comes through letting things go.

Joy comes when we understand what is and what is not important in life. 

Joy comes when we focus upon relationship with Christ and not on religion.

Religion causes competition (“If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more…”). Competition is fixed sum, competition assumes there is a finite supply. Joy comes through abundance thinking, and as it applies, joy comes through embracing the abundance of God’s grace. 

Religion focuses on whether or not people are “doing” the right things. Relationship focuses upon “knowing” and “being.” So much of religion is centered on getting people to do the things we think they ought to be doing, rather than introducing them to the one who will guide them into all truth. 

Joy comes when I realize I can never do enough, be enough, or please everyone.

When I come to that place, then I can relax in relationship with Christ. I can never please everyone, I can never live in such a way that everyone will think I am righteous. I need to find joy in letting the righteousness of Christ working in me being enough. 

Joy comes when we understand the value of what we have.

We cannot have joy unless we are thankful. 

“and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3.9-11 ESV

Third, Joy Comes from the Value of What We Pursue.

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3.7-11 ESV

In the gospels there is a story about a pearl merchant who discovered a pearl more exquisite than any he had ever seen. He had to have this pearl. He sold everything he had to obtain this rare treasure. The Pearl of Great Price was of greater value to the merchant than all of his other pearls combined. Jesus used this story to teach us about the Kingdom of God. 

JOY and LOSS are two things that do not seem to go together. 

The pearl merchant had to lose all of his other pearls to gain the one of greatest value. 

Again, we see a comparison made between the things in this life that we think are great with the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ. 

Paul had to lose the things he once thought important for something he discovered was of far greater value… “for the sake of Christ.”

Paul had taken this “faith” thing so far that it was the only thing that remained. 

So then, how do we really KNOW Christ?

Many of the things Paul mentioned are desirable things. 

  • Ritual is important in our lives because it reminds us of what we believe in a systematic way.
  • Education and training is important because it equips us to fulfill our mission with excellence. 
  • Community and belonging is important because of the joy it brings and the effectiveness we gain in bringing glory to Christ when we come together according to his command. 
  • Zeal (Passion) is absolutely indispensable. We are ignited by the things revealed in the presence of God and those thing motivate us to new heights of knowing Christ. 
  • Obeying God’s Word is important. Following the principles, guidelines, parameters, and commands of scripture are good because that protects us from devastation by living under God’s protective covering. 

But those things ALONE do not reveal Christ to us. 

  • Those things support the revelation of Christ we have received.
  • Those things, when properly installed into our lives become the framework within which we know Christ. 

Calibration Tools… Calibrating our Lives and Lifting Those We Love and Lead

  1. Are you trying to find joy in your accomplishments? In what you have (things)? Or does you joy come from the work of Christ in your life? List the things that bring you joy. Evaluate the list. Are the things on your list internal or external? Are the things on your list things you generate, create, and control, or are they things with which you are in partnership with God?
  2. What are your greatest personal attributes and assets? List them. Every strength in our lives has the tendency to mirror or become our greatest weakness. Your assets can become your liabilities. How might your assets become a liability to you? Understand your greatest attributes and assets as gifts and consciously list them and prayerfully submit each of them to God. Hold your assets, gifts, and attributes with open hands and let the Spirit of God lead you, not your abilities. 
  3. Do you value Christ above all else? Think about it. What’s your motivation for doing what you are doing? Is it love or is it fear? Is it anointing or is it agenda? Look at the hard things in your life… are they worth it? Why? When hard things lead to good things, they are worth it. When hard things lead to meaningless things, then it’s not worth it and it strips joy from your life. Is it worth it?

Finally… 

Joy comes when we embrace our own imperfection, we embrace that we are on a journey, and we truly admit that we need God’s help… and we are good with that. 

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” ((I’ve been on this journey a long time…)

Philippians 3.12-16 ESV

  • I am not perfect but I press on to make it my OWN
  • Forget what is behind and strain forward to what lies ahead
  • If you think this way, press into your mission that you may demonstrate the heart and humility of Christ.
  • If you think otherwise, God will show you. 
  • Hold true to what you have attained. Be faithful to Christ as he has been revealed to you. 

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