Joy In Tough Service (P&P)

April 28, 2024 | Prayer & Praise Worship Services

Rev Gladwin Lee
Joy In Tough Service (P&P)

April 28, 2024 | Prayer & Praise Worship Services

Rev Gladwin Lee
Scripture Passage: Philippians 1:3-18 (NIV)

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Summary l What would you do to stay joyful while in prison?

Paul’s situation was not ideal. He was captured and imprisoned for preaching the gospel. He faced opposition and rivalry from both the pagans and Christians. Despite his chains, Paul had a certain lightness in his spirit. He used the words ‘joy’ and ‘rejoice’ at least sixteen times in his letter (Philippians 1-4).

Where did Paul’s joy come from?

1. Discernment: Divine Perspective

Paul will always remember his first missionary journey to Philippi as an adventure of discernment with God. On his second missionary journey, he longed to go to Asia but was forbidden by God. He later realized that God wanted him to go to Macedonia instead. This blessed him with a rich friendship with the Philippian church which brought him so much joy.

Fast forward a few years, Paul was imprisoned and was unable to be physically present with the Philippian church. Yet he was able to remain joyful because he chose God’s divine perspective on his circumstance.

While in prison, Paul also recognized that there were preachers who preached Christ out of envy and rivalry. Again, he put on a divine perspective, recognizing that although their motivation was flawed, their message and methods were effective in advancing the gospel. Christ was being preached. Instead of being upset, Paul adopted a collaborative approach and a generous spirit, looking beyond his circumstances. The progress of the gospel mattered more than correcting his rivals. (Phil 1:15-18)

Oftentimes we are not aware of God’s joy and blessings in our lives because we do not seek His perspective. As beings created by Him, there is a core desire within us that craves to experience God. Paul prayed that the love of the Philippian church will abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment (Phil 1:9). This discernment and knowledge are both of ourselves – recognition/awareness of who we are and our weaknesses, and of God. Our knowledge of God, His heart and who He is, helps us with our intentional alignment to take on divine perspective.

The Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) includes joy. When we abide in Christ, through prayer for example, this joy is cultivated.

2. Progress of the Gospel

Another reason Paul found joy in his circumstance was because he recognized that the Gospel was being preached even in the prison to the imperial guards and others! Paul’s imprisonment brought new opportunities to advance God’s kingdom. (Phil 1:12-13)

“Though the messenger may be bound in chains, the message cannot be bound.” (Walter Hansen)

3. Provision of needs by his friends

Paul also found joy in the provision of his needs by his friends while he was imprisoned. The Philippian church supported Paul even though he could not be with them physically. Despite their own struggles, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. The Philippian church sent financial aid ‘beyond their ability’ to support the church in Jerusalem when Paul told them about their struggles. (2 Corinth 8:1-5 ESV)

Paul experienced God’s grace through them in 2 ways:

  1. The grace of giving
  2. The grace of suffering

4. Partnership in Suffering

Paul received joy from having faithful partners in suffering for the gospel. Beyond sharing their finances, the Philippian church also participated actively in sharing the gospel. Paul commends Epaphroditus as a brother, fellow worker and soldier, and a messenger and minister to his needs. He highlights that Epaphroditus ‘nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life’ for God’s service. (Phil 2:25-30 ESV)

Epaphroditus was not a fair-weathered servant of God. He served sacrificially when it was costly, challenging, and inconvenient. Unlike spiritual infants, spiritual adults understand sacrificial service.

How has the gospel fueled you in tough times and enabled you to experience God’s joy?

(Sermon notes by Stella Chiam)


  1. Read Acts 16 and Philippians 1:3-11. How would you describe Paul’s relationship with the Philippian church, and how he feels about them?
  2. Is there a Christian community or group that you are participating in, that reminds you of the same quality of relationship that Paul had with the Philippian church?
  3. Read Philippians 1:9-11. Why must love, knowledge and discernment go together? How does love grow through knowledge and discernment?
  4. Read Philippians 1:12-18. How did God use Paul’s imprisonment to advance the gospel?
  5. What are key points of the gospel that you generally share with non-Christians? Who and what has helped you in sharing the gospel to them?
  6. Paul’s letter to the Philippian church repeatedly mentions the words ‘joy’ and ‘rejoice’ although he had written this letter in prison. What are the reasons for joy in such tough service?
  7. As you reflect on the sermon, please share what and who has brought joy to you in difficult moments of service?
Wesley Communications Team
Posted by Wesley Communications Team

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