Living with Joy

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our preaching series entitled “Joy Appears,” which continues our celebration of Christmas and the joy that has appeared in Jesus our Messiah and Savior. In this second and final week of the series I take us through speedy exploration of themes of joy in Paul’s epistle to the Philippians. There is so much here!

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

What is Joy?

A definition of joy

The difference between happiness and joy

Living with Joy in Prayer (Philippians 1:3-8)

Cultivating joy through prayer

Cultivating joy through gratitude for others 

Living with Joy Because of the Gospel (Philippians 1:12-18; 2:19-30)

Experiencing joy in the Gospel we have received

Experiencing joy as the Gospel is proclaimed (even through wrong motives)

Experiencing the joy of the Gospel in us and through others 

Living with Joy in Relation to Others (Philippians 2:1-4)

Cultivating joy in the imperfect Christian community

Cultivating joy as God makes us more like Jesus

Living with Joy Beyond Circumstances (Philippians 4:4, 10-13)

Choosing joy 

Choosing joy amidst trials 


Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize a verse from Philippians that stood out to you from this study. Write it on a notecard or make it your smartphone or computer background so you see it regularly.
  • Set aside some time in prayer this week where you will specifically express gratitude to God. You may want to write things down as you pray so you remember what you’re thankful for afterwards.
  • Express your appreciation or gratitude verbally or in written form to someone this week, whether a family member, a friend, a roommate, a classmate, or a work colleague. 

His Life, Our Life

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” (Matthew 1:22-23)

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8)

Christmas Day is a time of great celebration. Some of us will open presents. Some of us will gather with family or friends to share a meal. Some of us will enjoy certain annual traditions with those we love. Some of us will remember those no longer with us, feeling both the sadness of loss but also the depth of meaningful memories. 

Regardless of what fills our day, Christmas puts into sharp focus the greatness of God’s gift to us in Jesus becoming incarnate by the Holy Spirit’s power working in the Virgin Mary. From start to finish, Jesus’ story is one of God’s life given for so that we might have life. Jesus enters our world as a baby who will grow into a man destined to save all humanity. His infancy is humble in a variety of ways: coming from glory to earth, born to ordinary parents with little reputation, growing up outside the centers of power, and more. So, too, Jesus’ adult life embraces the humility as he is misunderstood as Messiah, lives dependent upon others’ financial supply, and ultimately in a sacrificial death for our salvation.

His life for our life. This gift is beyond measure. May we celebrate Jesus as we enter into this Christmas Day.

A Prayer of Daily Dedication

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. (Philippians 2:14-16a)

Lord, take my life and shape me around Your life.
transform me from the inside out.
Let the fruit of my life—that which is seen
and experienced by others—reflect You.
This day, Lord, I bring You
my words and my attitudes.
Set me free from grumbling and arguing
which is the overflow of a distorted heart
set on the self and selfish will,
unyielding to the unplanned and difficult.
May the attitude of my life reflect surrender
to You and Your ways even as I serve You and Your kingdom.
May You be the center of my words and attitudes
that I may not distract others from You
by my mumbled grumblings of frustration
or my thoughtless arguing for my way.
Lord, have mercy upon me and change me.
Grow me to be like You in every way.

The Way of Jesus and the Way of Herod

This past weekend we began a new series “Power in Preparation” at Eastbrook Church. This begins the second part of our extended journey through the Gospel of Matthew. This message is a study in contrasts drawn from Matthew 1:18-25 and Matthew 2:1-18.

You can view the message video and outline below. You can follow along with the entire series here and the devotional that accompanies the series here. You could always join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under.” (Matthew 2:16)

A Conversation about Ways

  • What it means to choose a “way”
  • The consequences of certain ways (Proverbs 14:12)
  • Jesus: “I am the way…” (John 14:6)

The Way of Herod

  • disturbing power (2:1-8)
  • knowledge and deception (2:4-8)
  • controlling through violence (2:16-18)

The Way of Jesus

  • incarnate power (1:18, 20)
  • grace and truth (John 1:14)
  • saving through humility (1:21)

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into the contrast between Jesus and Herod in one or more of the following ways:

Mighty God

This past weekend I enjoyed the opportunity of preaching at Elmbrook Church as part of their series on the names of God from Isaiah 9:6-7. This was the second week of that series, focused on the second title listed for the Messiah: “Mighty God.” I built much of the message around Philippians 2:5-11, which served to illuminate the nature of Jesus’ might as the Messiah.

It is always a privilege to be at Elmbrook, where I served as the College Pastor for 5 years (2003-2008). I helped to run a multi-campus college ministry called “The Ave,” which met during the school-year near Marquette University’s campus in “the big red church” at 10th and Wisconsin and back at Elmbrook campus during the summertime.

You can view the message video here and the outline is included below.


“And he will be called…Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6)

Mighty Enough to Let Go

  • resisting the corruption of power
  • Jesus and the temptation in the desert
  • Philippians 2:5-7

Mighty Enough to Enter In

  • a different sort of might; childlike power and wonder’
  • a might that chooses less
  • Philippians 2:7-8

Mighty Enough to Make a Way

  • Light shining in the darkness
  • Exodus and salvation
  • Philippians 2:8

Mighty Enough to Reign

  • Isaiah 9:7
  • Advent and the expectation of the returning king
  • Philippians 2:9-11