Joy Ride: A Message Series in Philippians

Two years ago, Gina and I had the opportunity to go to the Santa Monica Pier just outside of Los Angeles. This is the famed location of the end of Route 66. Route 66 begins in downtown Chicago and heads south, dipping into Texas and then on to the coast of California, in the small town of Santa Monica, where it ends at the pier extending into the Pacific Ocean. In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck dubbed Route 66 the, “Mother Road,” as it was a symbol of escape, loss, and new hope for those escaping the difficulties of the Dustbowl. For years it became the symbol of freedom and the joy of adventure for those willing to take the joy ride on the 2,448-mile course. 

This past Sunday we began a series through Paul’s letter to the Philippians. We have titled this series “Joy Ride.” In fact, many of the most encouraging and hope-filled verses we have grown familiar with are found within these pages (Philippians 4:13 anyone?). But the background of this book is what helps us come to a better understanding of what exactly the apostle and the church were facing. Paul is imprisoned in Rome. The church is constantly under scrutiny and attack, and some were feeling the weight of their losses. While they didn’t have a paved road or a convertible (the ViaEgnatia and a horse just aren’t the same), the believers in Philippi did have the Gospel of hope and fellowship of the Holy Spirit. It was this reality that, though they too were once dead in their trespasses and sins and had been made alive in Christ Jesus, became the very real fountain of joy for those who were distraught, beleaguered, and facing difficulties. 

As we talked about a direction for our sermon series this fall, our pastoral team landed on this short letter to a church that, at times, seemed to have more in common with a fish out of water than the culture around them. In our day, many believers find life quite difficult and at times seem to be on the precipice of giving up. But then comes the Gospel of Christ, full of promise and joy to be realized in the life of one who believes. Together we will walk through this letter and prayerfully we will experience the power of biblical encouragement, looking unto Christ as our model and hope, growing in our knowledge and pursuit of Christ until we stand beneath the fountain of joy that comes from Christ Jesus our Lord. So, come with us for a lifelong Joy Ride?