The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Philippians: Even When Things Go Wrong, You Can Have Joy

The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Philippians: Even When Things Go Wrong, You Can Have Joy

by Warren W. Wiersbe


View All Available Formats & Editions
Eligible for FREE SHIPPING
  • Want it by Thursday, October 25?   Order by 12:00 PM Eastern and choose Expedited Shipping at checkout.


The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Philippians: Even When Things Go Wrong, You Can Have Joy by Warren W. Wiersbe

A Trusted Resource for Your Study of God’s Word

Unlock the treasure of the “joy epistle,” which pinpoints the joy-stealers in life and shows why you don’t need to be anxious. Like us, the believers at Philippi needed to understand what it means to be joyful in Christ, no matter what the circumstances may be. However, God wants us to discover the secret of true joy and contentment by living in His will.

Written in a personal, easy-to-understand style, join Dr. Warren Wiersbe, trusted pastor and respected Bible teacher, as he leads you on a journey to opening your mind and heart to the riches of God in the Wiersbe Bible Study Series.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780781445702
Publisher: David C Cook
Publication date: 12/01/2007
Series: Wiersbe Bible Study Series
Edition description: New
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 652,294
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.39(d)

About the Author

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of three churches, including the Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he served as general director and Bible teacher for the Back to the Bible radio broadcast. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 150 books, including the popular "Be" series of expositional Bible studies, which has sold more than four million copies. In 2002, he was awarded the Jordon Lifetime Achievement Award by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Read an Excerpt


Even When Things Go Wrong You Can Have Joy

By Warren W. Wiersbe

David C. Cook

Copyright © 2007 Warren W. Wiersbe
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6565-9


Lesson 1

Joy in Chains


Before you begin ...

Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

Read Philippians 1:1–26. This lesson references chapters 2 and 3 in Be Joyful. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.

Getting Started

From the Commentary

In spite of his difficult circumstances as a prisoner in Rome, Paul is rejoicing. The secret of his joy is the single mind; he lives for Christ and the gospel. (Christ is named 18 times in chapter 1, and the gospel 6 times.) "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (1:21). But what really is "the single mind"? It is the attitude that says, "It makes no difference what happens to me, just as long as Christ is glorified and the gospel is shared with others." Paul rejoiced in spite of his circumstances, because his circumstances strengthened the fellowship of the gospel(1:1–11), promoted the furtherance of the gospel (1:12–26), and guarded the faith of the gospel (1:27–30).

—Be Joyful, chapter 2

1. What is your immediate reaction to this idea of rejoicing in spite of circumstances? How would you define joy?

More to Consider: Perhaps you know of someone who is experiencing particularly difficult circumstances. How might that person respond to Paul's rejoicing? Should faith in Christ automatically make it easier to rejoice in trials? Why or why not?

2. Choose one verse or phrase from Philippians 1:1–26 that stands out to you. This could be something you're intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.

Going Deeper

From the Commentary

Isn't it remarkable that Paul is thinking of others and not of himself? As he awaits his trial in Rome, Paul's mind goes back to the believers in Philippi, and every recollection he has brings him joy. Read Acts 16; you may discover that some things happened to Paul at Philippi, the memory of which could produce sorrow. He was illegally arrested and beaten, was placed in the stocks, and was humiliated before the people. But even those memories brought joy to Paul, because it was through his suffering that the jailer found Christ!

Be Joyful, chapter 2

3. Underline all the times Paul references thankfulness or joy in Philippians 1:1–26. Trials tend to turn people inward—make them think of themselves and their own circumstances. What evidence does Paul offer in this passage for why he is able to think of others instead of himself?

4. Reread Philippians 1:7–8. Why do you think Paul says "It is right for me to feel this way about [the Philippian Christians]"? Why would anyone think it wouldn't be right? What response do you think the Philippian Christians might have had to Paul's longing for them?

More to Consider: If your church sponsors or supports missionaries, take a few moments to pray for them. Consider paraphrasing Paul's prayer in Philippians 1:9–11.

From the Commentary

What is the "fruit" God wants to see from our lives? Certainly He wants the "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:22–23), Christian character that glorifies God. Paul compares winning lost souls to Christ to bearing fruit (Rom. 1:13), and he also names "holiness" as a spiritual fruit (Rom. 6:22). He exhorts us to be "fruitful in every good work" (Col. 1:10), and the writer to the Hebrews reminds us that our praise is the "fruit of the lips" (13:15). The fruit tree does not make a great deal of noise when it produces its crop; it merely allows the life within to work in a natural way, and fruit is the result. "He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).

Be Joyful, chapter 2

5. Paul's prayer encourages the Philippians to be filled with the "fruit of righteousness." What is this fruit? How does being fruitful bring joy?

From Today's World

In March 2007, a bus carrying a small college's baseball team plunged over an overpass, killing four students and the husband-and-wife drivers. The accident was likely the result of an error of judgment by the driver, who mistook an exit ramp for a lane and sped off over the guardrail.

Stories like this are always tragic, not only for the families of those whose loved ones are killed, but for those who survived as well.

6. Read Philippians 1:12. Paul is referring to his imprisonment in this verse. In what ways might his difficult circumstances serve to advance the gospel? How can tragedies like the accident described above also advance the gospel? What other circumstances or "chains" might be used to advance the gospel?

From the Commentary

More than anything else, Paul's desire as a missionary was to preach the gospel in Rome. The hub of the great Empire, Rome was the key city of its day. If Paul could conquer it for Christ, it would mean reaching millions with the message of salvation. It was critically important on Paul's agenda, for he said, "After I have been there [Jerusalem], I must also see Rome" (Acts 19:21). From Corinth he wrote, "So, as much as in me is, I am ready [eager] to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also" (Rom. 1:15).

—Be Joyful, chapter 3

7. Paul's plan to preach in Rome was interrupted by his imprisonment. How did this impact his goal? In what ways did God still reach the people of Rome? How did God use Paul's chains to advance the gospel?

More to Consider: Paul's story is one of turning failure into success. What are some other success-story examples from the Bible or from your own life experience? What do these stories tell you about how to stay positive in light of difficult circumstances?

From the Commentary

God still wants His children to take the gospel into new areas. He wants us to be pioneers, and sometimes He arranges circumstances so that we can be nothing else but pioneers. In fact, that is how the gospel originally came to Philippi! Paul had tried to enter other territories, but God had repeatedly shut the door (Acts 16:6–10). Paul wanted to take the message eastward into Asia, but God directed him to take it westward into Europe. What a difference it would have made in the history of mankind if Paul had been permitted to follow his plan!

Be Joyful, chapter 3

8. What might Paul have felt when the Holy Spirit first changed his plans to enter Asia? When he was arrested and placed in chains? How might Paul's impact on the Roman guards have been different had he been disappointed or upset with God?

9. Reread Philippians 1:15–18. What does it look like to preach out of envy and rivalry? Paul makes a powerful claim that it doesn't matter how Christ is preached ... just that He is. What is your reaction to this? In what sorts of different ways have you heard Christ preached?

From the Commentary

Paul was not afraid of life or death! Either way, he wanted to magnify Christ in his body. No wonder he had joy!

Be Joyful, chapter 3

10. Philippians 1:21 is an oft-quoted verse, but the verses that follow shed important light on Paul's unselfish statement. Circle all of Paul's "pros" for living and underline the "cons." How can overcoming a fear of death bring joy?

Looking Inward

Take a moment to reflect on all that you've explored thus far in this study of Philippians 1:1–26. Review your notes and answers and think about how each of these things matters in your life today.

Tips for Small Groups: To get the most out of this section, form pairs or trios and have group members take turns answering these questions. Be honest and as open as you can in this discussion, but most of all, be encouraging and supportive of others. Be sensitive to those who are going through particularly difficult times and don't press for people to speak if they're uncomfortable doing so.

11. In what ways are you, like Paul, defending or confirming the gospel? What challenges or trials are you facing as you do this? If you're not sharing the gospel, what is holding you back from doing so?

12. Paul rejoices even in the midst of many trials. Is this easy for you to do? Why or why not? What makes it a challenge to remain joyful when the plans you had go awry? What in Paul's letter can help you discover that joy?

13. As you read Paul's examination of which is better—to live and preach the gospel of Christ, or to die and be with Christ—which side of that argument compels you most? Why? How can you find joy in either circumstance? What fruitful labor can you pursue if you "remain in the body"?

Going Forward

14. Think of one or two things that you have learned that you'd like to work on in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It's better to work on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don't try).

Do you need to discover patience in trials? Learn how to be joyful in difficult circumstances? Trust God's plans when they don't match your own? What does working on this look like in practical terms? Be specific. Go back through Philippians 1:1–26 and put a star next to the phrase or verse that is most encouraging to you. Consider memorizing this verse so it can encourage you when you most need it.

Real-Life Application Ideas: Find a book on Christian martyrs, such as Jesus Freaks or Foxe's Book of Martyrs, and study the lives of these people of faith. Examine how their lives line up with what Paul is teaching in Philippians 1:1–26.

Seeking Help

15. Write a prayer below (or simply pray one in silence), inviting God to work on your mind and heart in the areas you noted above. Be honest about your desires and fears.

Notes for Small Groups:

Look for ways to put into practice the things you wrote in the "Going Forward" section above. Talk with other group members about your ideas and commit to being accountable to one another.

During the coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal truth to you from what you've read and studied.

Before you start the next lesson, read Philippians 1:27–30. For more in- depth lesson preparation, read chapter 4, "The Battlefield," in Be Joyful.


Lesson 2

The Battlefield


Before you begin ...

Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

Read Philippians 1:27–30. This lesson references chapter 4 in Be Joyful. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.

Getting Started

From the Commentary

The Christian life is not a playground; it is a battleground. We are sons in the family, enjoying fellowship of the gospel (1:1–11); we are servants sharing in the furtherance of the gospel (1:12–26); but we are also soldiers defending the faith of the gospel.

--Be Joyful, chapter 4

1. What is your immediate reaction to Wiersbe's claim that the Christian life is a battleground? In what ways do you see truth in this statement?

More to Consider: In Be Joyful, Wiersbe goes on to say, "the believer with the single mind can have the joy of the Holy Spirit even in the midst of battle." What makes a single-minded believer special? How does the "joy of the Holy Spirit" compare to what we might call happiness?

2. Choose one verse or phrase from Philippians 1:27–30 that stands out to you. This could be something you're intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.

Going Deeper

From the Commentary

If Satan can only rob believers of their Christian faith, the doctrines that are distinctively theirs, then he can cripple and defeat the ministry of the gospel. It is sad to hear people say, "I don't care what you believe, just so long as you live right." What we believe determines how we behave, and wrong belief ultimately means a wrong life.

—Be Joyful, chapter 4

3. Describe an example or two of how a person's beliefs determine their actions. In what way is Paul underlining this truth when he writes, "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" in Philippians 1:27?

From the Commentary

How can a group of Christians fight this enemy? "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh" (2 Cor. 10:4 NASB). Peter took up a sword in the garden, and Jesus rebuked him (John 18:10–11). We use spiritual weapons—the Word of God and prayer (Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:11–18); and we must depend on the Holy Spirit to give us the power that we need.

Be Joyful, chapter 4

4. Paul longs for the Philippian Christians to "stand firm in one spirit." What does he mean by this? What is the outward evidence of someone who depends on the Holy Spirit for his or her power?

More to Consider: Read Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:11–18. Circle the spiritual weapons described in these passages. How have you seen each of these used in "battles"?

From the Commentary

The most important weapon against the enemy is not a stirring sermon or a powerful book; it is the consistent life of believers.

Be Joyful, chapter 4

5. Paul encourages readers to be consistent in their behavior and actions, according to their faith. Why is a consistent "life of faith" such a powerful witness to nonbelievers? What does this suggest about the way we, as Christians, can most effectively reach others with the gospel?

From the Commentary

Paul is suggesting that we Christians are the citizens of heaven, and while we are on earth we ought to behave like heaven's citizens. He brings this concept up again in 3:20. It would be a very meaningful expression to the people in Philippi because Philippi was a Roman colony, and its citizens were actually Roman citizens, protected by Roman law. The church of Jesus Christ is a colony of heaven on earth! And we ought to behave like citizens of heaven.

Be Joyful, chapter 4

6. Skim back over Philippians 1. Circle any phrase that describes someone who is a citizen of heaven. What other traits might describe a citizen of heaven?

From Today's World

A quick scan of your phone book's yellow pages will illustrate rather vividly how many different churches there are in a given city. What differentiates these churches? Theology, certainly. Worship style. Culture. All of these play a factor. But how did we get to this segmented place? Church splits have played a large role in the creation of so many different denominations, so many different churches. One church even split because of a disagreement on the placement of a piano bench. This led to two different factions taking turns in the church, moving the bench in and out according to who was occupying the building at the time!

7. What are some common issues that tend to divide church members? When a church is arguing amongst itself, what message does this send to nonbelievers? How can a church that is struggling in this area turn things around and become more consistent in its behavior?

From the Commentary

Keep in mind that there was division in the church at Philippi. For one thing, two women were not getting along with each other (4:2). Apparently the members of the fellowship were taking sides, as is often the case, and the resulting division was hindering the work of the church....

Paul pictures the church as a team, and he reminds them that it is teamwork that wins victories.

Be Joyful, chapter 4

8. What sort of team is your church or small group? What are its strengths? Weaknesses? In what ways has division hindered the work of your church or small group?

More to Consider: Study the difference between a successful team and an unsuccessful one (teams you're familiar with either in the workplace or on the ball field). What are the common characteristics of a successful team? An unsuccessful one? What insights can you gain from this that apply to your church or small group? To your family?

From the Commentary

The presence of conflict is a privilege; we suffer "for His sake." In fact, Paul tells us that this conflict is "granted" to us—it is a gift! If we were suffering for ourselves, it would be no privilege; but because we are suffering for and with Christ, it is a high and holy honor. After all, He suffered for us, and a willingness to suffer for Him is the very least we can do to show our love and gratitude.

—Be Joyful, chapter 4

9. Read Philippians 1:29. What sort of conflict has your church or small group experienced? Are all struggles "gifts"? Why or why not? In what ways might you see any of your current struggles as "gifts"? (Keep in mind Paul is writing this from prison and in the middle of many struggles himself.)

From the Commentary

Actually, going through spiritual conflict is one way we have to grow in Christ. God gives us the strength we need to stand firm against the enemy, and this confidence is proof to him that he will lose and we are on the winning side (v. 28b).

Be Joyful, chapter 4

10. Take a moment to consider the spiritual growth you've seen in your church (in leadership

members, family, and friends). What circumstances brought about that growth? What makes the difference between a group that splinters because of struggle and one that grows?


Excerpted from THE WIERSBE BIBLE STUDY SERIES: PHILIPPIANS by Warren W. Wiersbe. Copyright © 2007 Warren W. Wiersbe. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
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


Introduction to Philippians,
How to Use This Study,
Lesson 1 Joy in Chains (Philippians 1:1–26),
Lesson 2 The Battlefield (Philippians 1:27–30),
Lesson 3 Like Minded (Philippians 2:1–11),
Lesson 4 Christian Living (Philippians 2:12–30),
Lesson 5 New Values (Philippians 3:1–11),
Lesson 6 The Race (Philippians 3:12–16),
Lesson 7 The Not Yet (Philippians 3:17–21),
Lesson 8 Contentment (Philippians 4:1–23),
Bonus Lesson Summary and Review,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews