Welcome back everyone to our big study of the book of Philippians, and our conversation on the choices that Paul challenges us to make as we live out our faith and the very life that Jesus modeled for us.  Today we will be looking at another choice that is both challenging and seems to go against our instincts as people, and completely pushes against our culture today.   Today we get a challenge from Paul to choose to rejoice in all circumstances.

Philippians 2:17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.  NIV

Paul challenges us to rejoice, but I don’t want this to get lost on you, he writes this as a prisoner in Rome, and what do we see there in verse 17…even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice of service…I am glad and rejoice with you, and you should be glad and rejoice.   So, this is going to be a challenging and important choice that we must make, and I have to say I think it is perfectly timed for Mother’s Day.  We are going to do things a little differently today.  It is a Better Together Sunday, which means the children are in here with us, we typically have a time when Kim or Jami would come up and work with the kids and all of us, but today we will spend our time together, learning about this choice, then end this service with Communion, for the whole family, and a prayer for our mom’s who serve and at times, maybe even today walked in here feeling “poured out like a drink offering” as Paul writes here in Philippians 2:17…in their own lives.  Parenting is challenging, it’s selfless, and it’s thankless, and in so many ways it allows us a glimmer in what it must be like to be God with us as His children…so today we will stay together for what I hope is a special service here on Mother’s Day.

But before we jump into that, let’s think back to where we have been, and talk about the challenging and important choices we have already talked about here as Paul moves through Chapter 2 of this letter.  We spoke about making the choice to live holy lives.  I enjoyed that discussion as we talked about the tension we feel when sin and holiness issues come up in church.  We also talked of the benefits to our lives personally and to those around us who also need Christ as much as we do when we choose to pursue a holy life.  Then last week Ken talked to us about the choice to live in God’s word and how important that is, and the challenges we face in realizing our need of God in all our culture and with all our comforts and lives to choose to live for God and His word.  Remember how Jesus responded to Satan as he was trying to tempt Jesus out in the desert?

Matthew 4:4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” NLT

Now here we are on Mother’s Day, with another challenge from Paul, it’s the choice to rejoice.  Now I don’t know about you, and I know some people are just naturally happy and glad, but this is a difficult choice, isn’t it?  I would add that this would be tough. It was simply to make the choice to be glad and rejoice, but it’s bigger than that.  I don’t know about you but the older I get, the more I seem to struggle to make this choice…but it’s verse 17 that just raises the bar and tells us to make the choice to rejoice in all circumstances…even when life is hard.  Even when there is pain.  Even when we feel undervalued or underappreciated or like we are losing…even when life isn’t going so well.  And today we are going to talk about that…let’s look at our study again.

Philippians 2:17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.  NIV

Paul is writing this from what all of us would see as a very difficult circumstance and that phrasing I think is something we can all relate to, feeling like he is being poured out like a drink offering.  Ever been there?  Where the tank is on empty…where you aren’t sure if you can serve, and sacrifice anymore than you already have?  Like there is nothing left, and for Paul his execution seems to be looming as well…and what does he say in all of that?  I choose to be glad and rejoice with you, and regardless of what you are walking through, you should too.  So, I want you to think back to some of what we have already studied in Paul’s life.  Paul has been through so much in his life…

2 Corinthians 11:23 I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.   25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.  NIV

So how does someone who has been through all of that still have joy, and passion, and choose to be glad and rejoice?  Wouldn’t all this pain, all this adversity, all these scars build up and cause bitterness, and miserable life?  It absolutely could, but Paul chooses to rejoice in all circumstances…it’s amazing how pain and hurts and all the energy, effort and work and serving of life can just wear us down…but Paul seems tapped into something that won’t let that happen…and he is trying to help us see it too.  Remember as he planted the Philippians church what happened to him?  You can read about this in Acts 16, but he was beaten severely and thrown in prison…another chance to be miserable and discouraged and complain…and what do we find Paul doing in the middle of the night?  Sitting their naked, bloody, and beaten in a dark prison cell…singing and worshiping.  He chooses to rejoice in the most horrific of circumstances.  Think back in our study of the first chapter of Philippians, Paul addresses those who are competing against him, and running him down with their words, to make themselves look better, while he sits in a jail cell and really can’t do anything about it and what does he choose to do?

Philippians 1:15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.  18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.  Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.  NIV

Paul chooses to rejoice regardless of his circumstances and challenges us to do the same.  Could you walk through all that Paul has and still make this choice?  Maybe the question we need to get to the bottom of is how does he do it?  I mean could you rejoice after all this adversity and pain?  How do you worship and rejoice in jail beaten to a pulp?  How do you rejoice and celebrate as people run your name through the mud and compete with you?  How do you live this way?  How do you serve and love and bring strength when you yourself tell people you are being poured out like a drink offering?  This is what we are discussing today, so let’s go back to our study and start diving into this, because Paul is giving us something that is so important, really, it’s critical to our lives.

Philippians 2:17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.  NIV

I just can’t get that phrasing out of my heart and mind, “even if I’m being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice.”  You know it’s not the only time we see this from Paul, in some of his very last words that he speaks before he is executed, we see this same type of phrasing.  He writes one last letter to his buddy Timothy and says this…

2 Timothy 4:6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. NLT

This is his last moments, and he is writing to his dear friend Timothy and what do we see?  My life has already been poured out as an offering to God, I’m about to die.  Paul’s life is a living sacrifice to God, he has fought the good fight, this letter to Timothy is it, he is about to be executed…and we can learn so much about this choice to rejoice here…because look at his focus even in the most horrific moment of his life…it’s on God, and his eternal reward, and serving the Lord.

Can I ask you something here today?  Have you ever felt like you had nothing left to give?  Have you ever felt just so tired of doing the right thing that you didn’t know if you wanted to keep doing the right thing all the time?  Do you feel poured out like a drink offering?  You know, just empty.  You give and you give and you give and people take and they take and they take.  You have given it you’re all for so long, that you sit in here today weary…poured out?  I don’t know about you, but when I’m at that place in my life, struggling, exhausted, just feeling poured out I really struggle to see anything good.  I struggle to see any difference I am making in my life, or my family, or my community.  I struggle to see the positives, and really anything worth rejoicing over…because I feel so poured out.  In those moments we can also feel alone, and wonder why we pour out while no one seems to pour into our lives can’t we?

So how can Paul rejoice in these terrible circumstances.  While feeling poured out like a drink offering?  It’s because Paul has given his life completely over to God.  He lives for God and everything he gives to others are gifts being poured into him by God…he can rejoice because he isn’t living for his own selfish ambition, he is freed from all of that, knowing that his life is God’s.  He is a living sacrifice, and because of that he isn’t pulled around by his own will, but God’s will now.  It keeps him free of competing with others, it keeps him free of the weariness or discouragement we feel from people because Paul is focused on something bigger, and that is pleasing God and living out God’s purposes in his short time on this Earth on his way to his eternal reward.

So, it’s Mother’s Day, and frankly on days like today, we come in here with many different emotions.  Some come in here feeling happy that they are with their families.  Some are in here sad and really missing their mother today.  There are some mom’s walking in here happy to have their families with them, and some walking in here wishing their families were here with them.  And I wonder how many of us walked in here just feeling poured out like a drink offering.  Just on empty…wondering if you can keep going, keep serving, keep loving while feeling like it isn’t always reciprocated the way you would like.  If you are in that spot, the choice to rejoice is so difficult because it’s hard to see positives when you feel that way.  Maybe you live your life feeling like you do things that aren’t appreciated.  Maybe you feel like quitting or just like no one values you the way you would like them to value you.  Maybe you feel like with all the giving you do; something should come back to you that never seems to come back to you…can I ask you something.  Do you think I guy like Paul, who gave everything he had to serve others ever felt that way too?  Do you think he ever questioned or struggled?  Yet in all of the intensity, challenges, all of the hurts, the violence, the giving, and the serving, he chooses to rejoice.  He choose to intentionally focus on the good things and chooses to live his life for God and because he has given his life to God and lives to see God’s will done and not his own…he can rejoice and be glad regardless of what he is walking through, or regardless of what hits his life next…because he chose to give his life to God…this is how we choose to rejoice.  Have you ever noticed how hard it is to serve someone else when you have something you want to do for yourself at the same time?  It’s hard to serve others and yourself at the same time.  Life is hard and frustrating when you are working for your own gain instead of God’s…I think that’s why Paul said what he said earlier in our study of Philippians really.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.  NIV

You see it?  This is it…the reason Paul could be glad and rejoice regardless of what he is walking through is found in his focus and ability to give it all over to God and focus on God’s will over his own, and so should we.  Parenting is a thankless job at times, but there is so much good in it…and it’s a lot harder when we aren’t putting our kids before ourselves.  Mom, you do a lot that may feel like it goes unnoticed, and there are things that you may want to do at times that would be more fun for you in the moment, and it makes parenting harder when you are worried about your own interests rather than your child’s does it not?  It’s the same thing in our lives…which is why Paul, who does nothing out of selfish ambition can rejoice in all circumstances.

Here’s five things we must do to make this challenging choice to rejoice in all circumstances.

  1. Focus on your heart condition.  We simply can not give what we do not have to give!  We must have God pouring into our lives so we can pour out on those around us.  This won’t happen if you aren’t spending time with God each day.
  2. We must embrace what God is up to and live for him not ourselves anymore.  The key to being able to find peace, joy, gladness, and the ability to rejoice in this difficult life we live even while serving and giving so much is remembering like Paul that our lives are God’s and not our own.  It’s hard to live out your will, and God’s will at the same time, it’s hard to serve others and yourself at the same time too.
  3. Find intentional time to rest and relax.  We must take time to breathe, slow down, relax, because in all that we give, we pour ourselves out and can’t see the good around us…or the beauty of our everyday lives that God has given us to live.
  4. Remember and remind yourself of the positives and good you are doing.  This will come out in a later choice we make, but we must take hold of our thoughts, and focus on the good around us.  I will tell you this is a challenge for me, as I serve, work, and put effort into things…but it is so important to see and focus on the positives.
  5. Give it your best, and let God worry about the rest!  Run your race, fight the good fight as Paul did, remain faithful, and focus on the amazing eternal reward you have with God!

So how are you doing today?  How did you come into this moment we have together?  Are you feeling good, if so, that is awesome!  But I wonder how many of you came in here today feeling tired, underappreciated, and just wondering if any of it is worth it.  I wonder how many of us hear Paul speak of being poured out and can really feel them in our heart and soul…if that’s you I want you to hear me today.  We take all of this, to the one who pours in.  Remember Jesus tells us, when we are empty and tired, when we feel poured out, we go to who pours in…we are to come to Jesus.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. NIV

So today, on Mother’s Day we are going to do a special family communion, and then pray together as we close.