SBTS chapel live blog: Thom Rainer – Philippians 4:4-5

Communications Staff — September 29, 2009

Preacher: Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention

Text/title: Philippians 4:4-5 – The Joy Factor

I am man who is most blessed. Every blessing I have received I do not deserve and the blessings have been abundant.

I am a man most blessed because of my wife and sons and because of the churches I have pastured. I am man most blessed because I was able to serve at Southern Seminary.

I am a man most blessed because a high school football coach told me about Jesus. Though bumps have come my way and though, like everyone in here, I have had my times, I count it all joy.

I don’t even pretend to walk a path similar to Paul. But like him, I count it all joy.

We understand that Paul is writing to a church that he loves so dearly. We know that part of the reason for the letter is to thank the church for an offering that Epaphroditus brought.

Characteristics of joy:

1. It is not first about joy, it is about Jesus

Many times, Philippians has been called the epistle of joy. There is nothing wrong with this title. But before it is about joy, it is about Jesus. It is a Gospel-centered book. Of course it is; it is in the Bible.

This is not a health and wealth joy. This is a joy that supersedes even struggles and difficult circumstances.

2. It is a defiant joy

This is the not the first time, the apostle had said, “rejoice.” No matter the circumstance, Paul says rejoice.

3. It is a joy without loopholes

Paul can rejoice in prison. Paul can rejoice bruised and beaten. Paul can rejoice at all times. Perhaps one of our greatest struggles is to continue to find joy in the Lord, even amid difficult circumstances. Paul’s joy was one without loopholes.

The time when I preached at Southern when I had been appointed as president of LifeWay was a difficult time for me. Nellie Joy had been diagnosed with cancer at the time and she was one of the greatest examples of true joy to me that I have ever had close at hand.

What did Paul say in Phil. 1:21? To live is Christ and to die is gain.

4. It is a joy that produces gentleness

It is the act of a mature Christian who is has a gentle spirit, instead of a critical spirit. It is the attitude of one who is truly growing in Christ. Growth in gentleness is part of the process of sanctification.

It is a sad truth that people’s experience with the Southern Baptist Convention is one of people being grumpy, not joyful. “Let your gentleness, your graciousness, be known to all.”

5. It is a joy that knows the nearness of the Lord

The Lord is ever abiding with us now and He will return. Because of the presence of the Lord, you not only have the power to receive this joy now, but you have the assurance that He is right there with you, every step of the way.

One day I will close my eyes. And when I open them I’ll see my Lord. What will I do with these days? My prayer for me, my prayer for you, is that I will rejoice. Again I say rejoice.

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

Apply now for summer or fall studies

Classes begin in June & Aug.