Why “Philippians: Joy in the Middle” Might Be My Favorite Series Ever
On Sunday, we’ll begin our newest series: “Philippians: Joy in the Middle.” Philippians is a letter by Paul and Timothy written to a church Paul planted in northeast Greece, known in that time as Macedonia. Despite the letter’s surprising origin – Paul wrote it while imprisoned for spreading the gospel – it’s a letter of encouragement. This hopeful letter in the face of hardship shows us how to live in relationship with each other in Christ-like humility.
In Philippians, Paul often tells the members of the church to “rejoice in the Lord.” It calls on them, and on all believers to follow, to make the active choice to rejoice even in the middle of hardship and confusion.
Philippians also contains my personal favorite verse: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8)
More than anything, this verse reminds me to give thanks. When I think about pure, lovely, and praiseworthy things, my thoughts automatically turn into the grateful prayer. That in turn puts me in a mindset to detect, believe in, and be uplifted by the joyous peace of God, just as Paul says it will in 4:9.
This verse also reminds me not to worry about the things that trouble or upset me. God is bigger than all of it, and He has great plans which I can never fully understand. The verse serves as a reminder to practice joy and contentment, in order that I can put more of my trust in God and open myself up more and more to be used by Him.
Philippians is a short book – only four chapters – but it had tremendous impact on both the ancient church and our modern church today. Invite a friend to join you at 930 or 1115 this coming Sunday as we introduce this new series!