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Life Lessons from Philippians: Guide to Joy

Life Lessons from Philippians: Guide to Joy

by Max Lucado
Life Lessons from Philippians: Guide to Joy

Life Lessons from Philippians: Guide to Joy

by Max Lucado

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Overview

In an era marked by frustration, could you use more contentment? In a world filled with anxieties, worries, and fears, could you stand to have a bit more joy?

The believers in Philippi were struggling. They were trying to grow in faith and live for Christ. Trying to deal with conflict and threats of persecution. The apostle Paul was stuck in a Roman prison when he wrote to this young church. His letter could have focused on his own troubles. Instead, he wrote about living a life full of joy, peace, and contentment.

Paul's confidence reminds us of God's wisdom and control in the difficult moments of life. His excitement challenges us in this guide to joy. As you read, study, journal, and discuss the book of Philippians, watch for these key themes that Max will unpack throughout the book:

  • By faith we have Christ in us because of the Spirit of God.
  • Only Christ can bring salvation.
  • Christian unity encourages our faith.

The Life Lessons with Max Lucado series brings the Bible to life in twelve lessons filled with intriguing questions, inspirational stories, and poignant reflections to take you deeper into God's Word. Each lesson includes:

  • An opening reflection on the Bible book you're studying.
  • Background information to deepen your understanding of the cultural and historical setting.
  • An excerpt of the text (from the NIV and the NKJV).
  • Exploration questions with plenty of room to write your own thoughts and notes.
  • Inspirational thoughts from Max as well as a closing takeaway for further reflection.

The Life Lessons series is ideal for use in both a small-group setting or for individual study.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310086505
Publisher: HarperChristian Resources
Publication date: 07/10/2018
Series: Life Lessons
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 706,921
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Since entering the ministry in 1978, Max Lucado has served churches in Miami, Florida; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and San Antonio, Texas. He currently serves as Teaching Minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. He is the recipient of the 2021 ECPA Pinnacle Award for his outstanding contribution to the publishing industry and society at large. He is America’s bestselling inspirational author with more than 145 million products in print.

Visit his website at Max Lucado.com

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Youtube.com/Max Lucado Official

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

LESSON ONE

PRAYING FOR OTHERS

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

Philippians 1:4-5

REFLECTION

Prayer. You hear sermons about it. You might talk about it with people at church. Perhaps you even read books about it. But when it comes to conversing with God, one on one, what are your actual habits? How much time do you spend in an average day actually talking to the Lord?

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SITUATION

Paul generally begins his letters with an expression of thanksgiving for the recipients. However, his letter to the Philippians is unique in that he emphasizes the believers' partnership with him in sharing the gospel and expresses his confidence that this continuing partnership — in spite of the fact he is in chains — will culminate as God intends when they stand together before Christ. Paul clearly has a deep affection for this Macedonian congregation, which he demonstrates through his faithfulness in prayer for them.

OBSERVATION

Read Philippians 1:1-11 from the New International Version or the New King James Version.

New International Version

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all God's holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.

New King James Version

1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.

9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

EXPLORATION

1. What are some of the reasons Paul gives for why he is thankful for the Philippian believers?

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2. What is Paul confident of regarding them? What promise does this hold for all believers?

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3. What descriptive words does Paul use to describe his attitude for the church in Philippi?

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4. What specific requests did Paul bring before God when he prayed for the Philippians?

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5. How does Paul's prayer compare to the ones you tend to pray?

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6. How does increasing in knowledge and insight help in your spiritual growth?

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INSPIRATION

I'd like you to think about someone. His name is not important. His looks are immaterial. His gender is of no concern. His title is irrelevant. He is important not because of who he is, but because of what he did.

He went to Jesus on behalf of a friend. His friend was sick, and Jesus could help, and someone needed to go to Jesus, so someone went. Others cared for the sick man in other ways. Some brought food, others provided treatment, still others comforted the family. Each role was crucial. Each person was helpful, but none was more vital than the one who went to Jesus.

He went because he was asked to go. An earnest appeal came from the family of the afflicted. "We need someone who will tell Jesus that my brother is sick. We need someone to ask him to come. Will you go?"

The question came from two sisters. They would have gone themselves, but they couldn't leave their brother's bedside. They needed someone else to go for them. Not just anyone, mind you, for not just anyone could. Some were too busy, others didn't know the way. Some fatigued too quickly, others were inexperienced on the path. Not everyone could go.

And not everyone would go. This was no small request the sisters were making. They needed a diligent ambassador, someone who knew how to find Jesus. Someone who wouldn't quit mid-journey. Someone who would make sure the message was delivered. Someone who was as convinced as they were that Jesus must know what had happened.

They knew of a trustworthy person, and to that person they went. They entrusted their needs to someone, and that someone took those needs to Christ. "So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, 'Lord, the one you love is sick'" (John 11:3 NCV).

Someone carried the request. Someone walked the trail. Someone went to Jesus on behalf of Lazarus. And because someone went, Jesus responded. (From The Great House of God by Max Lucado.)

REACTION

7. How would you describe your willingness to carry out requests for others when asked?

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8. How faithful are you in praying for others when they request such spiritual support?

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9. If you were to receive a letter from the apostle Paul today, which of your qualities or habits do you think he would praise?

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10. In what areas of your life do you need greater spiritual insight and discernment?

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11. What elements from Paul's prayer do you need to incorporate more into your life?

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12. Who is a Christian friend or relative you could write a short note or email to today for the purpose of providing encouragement?

LIFE LESSONS

Someone observed that joy is found in focusing on Jesus first, others second, and ourselves last. These were Paul's priorities, so it's no wonder he could write such an upbeat epistle even when he was incarcerated! Paul begins his letter with an excited, Christ-centered description of his habits of intercession. As he talks to the Lord about his Macedonian friends, he not only remembers their past acts of love with thanksgiving but also requests heavenly wisdom for their worldly struggles. Furthermore, he looks ahead confidently to their certain maturity. Paul prays with faith and assures the believers of his spiritual support. The result is a contagious joy — for both them and for him. As King David wrote to the Lord, "You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand" (Psalm 16:11).

DEVOTION

Father, thank you for the reminder that we can pray for others no matter where we are and no matter what our circumstances are. Help us to develop a more consistent ministry of interceding for our family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Give us joy as we pray — and let us always see prayer as a privilege and not a duty.

JOURNALING

What are specific areas of spiritual growth you would like to see God make in your family members? How will you pray for God to bring about these changes in his way and his timing?

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FOR FURTHER READING

To complete the book of Philippians during this twelve-part study, read Philippians 1:1-11. For more Bible passages on intercessory prayer, read Numbers 14:1-24; Nehemiah 1:1-10; Matthew 18:19-20; John 16:23-24; Ephesians 1:15-23; and James 5:13-16.

CHAPTER 2

TRIUMPH IN TROUBLE

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident ... my chains are in Christ.

PHILIPPIANS 1:12-13 NKJV

REFLECTION

Control is a big deal to most people. We like to have our schedules planned out ahead of time so we can know what we want to accomplish each day. But how do you typically respond when life doesn't cooperate with your plans?

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SITUATION

The believers in Philippi had learned Paul was in prison, and it is clear from the apostle's next words that many in the church had become discouraged at this apparent setback. However, Paul reminds the believers that even though he might be stuck in a Roman prison, God is still sovereign and at work in the world, orchestrating events to bring about the execution of his perfect will. Paul seeks here to deflect the attention from his own plight and encourage the Philippian believers that his imprisonment has actually served to advance the gospel of Christ.

OBSERVATION

Read Philippians 1:12-18 from the New International Version or the New King James Version.

New International Version

12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of 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.

New King James Version

12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

EXPLORATION

1. Paul was a man of action — a missionary church planter. How hard do you think it was for him to adjust to life behind bars (or at least in chains when under house arrest)?

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2. How does Paul say his imprisonment has actually turned into a positive situation?

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3. What was the effect of Paul's imprisonment on other believers?

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4. Why didn't Paul care if some people preached about Christ out of envy or rivalry?

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5. Paul refused to dwell on the negative aspects of his situation. How do you think a person develops this habit?

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6. What bad situations are present in your life right now? How does this passage help you to view those situations?

INSPIRATION

In the treatment of anxiety, a proper understanding of sovereignty is huge. Anxiety is often the consequence of perceived chaos. If we sense we are victims of unseen, turbulent, random forces, we are troubled. ... That's why the most stressed-out people are control freaks. They fail at the quest they most pursue. The more they try to control the world, the more they realize they cannot. Life becomes a cycle of anxiety, failure; anxiety, failure; anxiety, failure. We can't take control, because control is not ours to take.

The Bible has a better idea. Rather than seeking total control, relinquish it. You can't run the world, but you can entrust it to God. This is the message behind Paul's admonition to "rejoice in the Lord." Peace is within reach, not for lack of problems, but because of the presence of a sovereign Lord.

Rather than rehearse the chaos of the world, we can rejoice in the Lord's sovereignty, as Paul did. "Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ" (Philippians 1:12-13).

And those troublemakers in the church? Those who preached out of "envy and rivalry" (verse 15)? Their selfish motives were no match for the sovereignty of Jesus. "Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice" (Philippians 1:18 nlt).

To read Paul is to read the words of a man who, in the innermost part of his being, believed in the steady hand of a good God. He was protected by God's strength, preserved by God's love. He lived beneath the shadow of God's wings. Do you?

Stabilize your soul with the sovereignty of God. He reigns supreme over every detail of the universe. "There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord" (Proverbs 21:30) He sustains "all things by his powerful word" (Hebrews 1:3). He can "whistle for flies from the Nile delta in Egypt" (Isaiah 7:18). He names the stars and knows the sparrows. Great and small, from the People's Liberation Army of China to the army ants in my backyard, everything is under his control. "Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?" (Lamentations 3:37-38).

God's answer for troubled times has always been the same: heaven has an occupied throne. (From Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado.)

REACTION

7. How does understanding God's sovereignty help you to view seemingly out-of-control situations in your life?

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8. How might God be wanting to work through the bad situations in your life just now for his glory and your good?

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9. In what areas of your life do you need to completely relinquish control to God?

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10. Paul provides good principle in this passage about the possible wrong motives of others. What are some common wrong motives that Christians have for praying, witnessing to others, attending worship, giving to others, and the like?

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11. Paul was passionate about advancing the gospel of Christ. What would those who know you best say is your driving desire in life?

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12. When you look at how you tend to respond to adversity, would you say your example is an encouragement or discouragement to others? Why?

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LIFE LESSONS

Let's be honest ... control is an illusion. We can't engineer our own problem-free lives, and we can't make others live the way we want them to live. About the only thing we can control is our response to situations. Will we look for God in the midst of trouble? Will we trust he is at work? Will we keep doing right no matter what? Paul is a great role model for us. He absolutely refused to pursue his own agenda because he saw himself as a mere servant of Christ. He made plans, but he held them in an open hand. When hard times came, his response wasn't to pout but to yield to God's authority by humbly saying, "Your will be done."

DEVOTION

Lord, we are often guilty of desiring our own will more than your plans and purposes. As a result, we get frustrated when things don't go our way. Teach us the art of surrendering to your bigger and better purposes. Show us how to experience triumph even in times of trouble.

JOURNALING

Review a past trial or hardship you experienced. What are some positives that came from it?

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FOR FURTHER READING

To complete the book of Philippians during this twelve-part study, read Philippians 1:12-18. For more Bible passages on experiencing triumph in trouble, read Genesis 45:1-13; 50:15- 21; Isaiah 14:24-27; 55:8-9; Daniel 3:8-27; and Luke 24:1-8.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Life Lessons from Philippians"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Max Lucado.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

How to Study the Bible v

Introduction to the Book of Philippians ix

Lesson 1 Praying for Others (Philippians 1:1-11) 1

Lesson 2 Triumph in Trouble (Philippians 1:12-18) 11

Lesson 3 Standing Firm (Philippians 1:19-30) 21

Lesson 4 All for One (Philippians 2:1-4) 31

Lesson 5 Ultimate Servanthood (Philippians 2:5-11) 39

Lesson 6 Shining for Christ (Philippians 2:12-18) 49

Lesson 7 Role Models (Philippians 2:19-30) 57

Lesson 8 Right Standing with God (Philippians 3:1-11) 65

Lesson 9 Eternal Focus (Philippians 3:12-21) 75

Lesson 10 The Peace of God (Philippians 4:1-7) 83

Lesson 11 It's All in Your Mind (Philippians 4:8-13) 91

Lesson 12 Generosity (Philippians 4:14-23) 101

Leader's Guide for Small Groups 109

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