In the midst of suffering, how can anyone experience joy? The Bible takes this question seriously. The apostle Paul, in particular, had much to say on the subject. In fact, his answer to this question lay at the heart of how he understood his own relationship with the Lord Jesus, as well as the nature of his missionary ministry. Indeed, this question – how anyone can experience joy in suffering – is the hidden question, animating the joyful prayer with which Paul opens his letter to the Philippians.
- What perspective do you tend to take on God in the midst of suffering? Take this perspective to Scripture: how does this perspective measure up against God’s character as he has revealed it in the Bible?
- In what ways did Paul’s opponents in Galatia and Corinth uses Paul’s hardship as evidence that God was against him? How did Paul respond? (If you want to dig deeper, see Galatians 4:13–14; 2 Corinthians 4:7–18).
- Compare Philippians 1:7 and 2 Corinthians 2:14. Where in your life may God be using some weakness or hardship as a means of spreading the “aroma” of Jesus?
- The word behind “partnership” (v.5) and “partakers” (v.7) is a root word meaning “fellowship,” “association,” or “community.” Christians have often understood community as a fellowship united by common objects of love. Write a list of a dozen or so of the most significant objects of love in your life. With whom do these objects bond you?
- What area of your life or perspective might the Holy Spirit be prompting you to reexamine, in order better to share in the suffering of your Christian brothers and sisters?
- Memorize Philippians 1:6. Pray for God to strengthen you with the assurance that he is at work in you to bring your faith to fruition.
You can listen to the sermon by using the player below or via the St Andrew’s Sermon Podcast.
Our fall sermon series is on Paul’s letter to the Church in Philippi. As we go through Philippians, you may want to consult the following commentaries for personal Bible study.
- NIV Application Commentary: Philippians by Frank Thielman
- New International Commentary on the New Testament: Paul’s Letter to the Philippians by Gordon Fee
Do you have a question about today’s sermon? Email Sam Fornecker (SFornecker@StAndrews.Church).