My 2-9, 2018 Rejoice always, no matter what

Rejoice in the Lord always (4:4)

-          Paul is speaking to the Philippians here from prison. He is possibly being held captive in Rome. I don’t know about you guys but if I was being held in prison, especially for my faith, I would probably not be writing letters about being joyous in the Lord.

o   In the Good times (Israel struggled with this)

§  When you are well taken care of

§  Have enough money

§  Don’t have to worry about paying bills

§  Don’t have to worry about school (summer vacation; graduation)

§  Everyone is getting along

§  Etc…

o   In the Bad times (We struggle with this too.)

§  When your parents don’t get along anymore

§  When you feel abandoned by your family or friends

§  Just failed a test, or project that you worked hard on

§  When a family member or friend dies

§  When you don’t get into the school you really wanted

§  Etc…

o   Depending on who you are, it may be more difficult in one or the other.

§  For me it’s more difficult in the good times

·         It’s easy to forget who is blessing you in those good times.

·         It’s easy to try to solve your own problems in the bad times

So what does it mean to rejoice?

-          Celebrate, feel or show great joy or delight

-          Joy- The sphere in which believer’s joy exists is unrelated to the circumstances of life, but related to an unassailable (unable to be attacked, questioned, or defeated), unchanging relationship to the sovereign Lord.

-          What is the difference between joy and happy?

Again I say rejoice

-          Paul is emphasizing to them that no matter their current situation, it is important to rejoice in the Lord for the joy that we have. Our circumstances will look different from other people, but when we remember that God is sovereign and has a plan for us, our situation doesn’t look so bleak.

o   Paul was in prison, his freedom stripped from him and yet he was able to rejoice in the Lord because He knew that God would receive the glory.

o   We all will go through difficult times, and wonderful times. No matter what we are going through, when we focus on God and not on our surroundings, we will have that joy that can only be explained as a gift from God.

Let your gentle spirit be known to all men; the Lord is near (4:5)

-          What could it mean to have a gentle spirit?

§  What type of things do we associate with gentle?

o   Mild in temperament or behavior

o   Kind or tender

o   Moderate in action, effect or degree

o   Not harsh or severe

-          When Paul says the Lord is near, what could that be talking about?

o   When we are followers of Christ, no matter what we are going through, God is right there with us. Yes, he is transcendent and above all, but one of the awesome things about God is that He is always with us as well. We don’t worship a distant deity who doesn’t care about what goes on in our lives. We worship a God that says to call him daddy, to call out to Him and he will always listen. He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us so that we will always have a direct line of communication with Him.

§  So, no matter how far we drift from God in the good or the bad, He is always there like the Father from the prodigal son with his arms outstretched ready to rejoice with us when we come back to Him.


-          Be anxious for nothing (6a)

o   Anxious- experiencing worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

§  Are we supposed to be anxious? No, of course not…so why are we so terrible at this?

·         The fear of the unknown is a very real thing for us. We like to know what is going on, and sometimes God chooses to withhold information because we may not need to know everything.

·         Not being anxious is a serious act of faith. Matthew speaks of birds and flowers being provided for by God and that he will take better care of us.

o   Ultimately our anxiety boils down to a lack of control in a situation, or our lives as a whole.

 

-          But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving (6a)

o   In what does Paul say?

§  In everything

§  Not just in the big things, but in all things, we should be praying.

o   What is supplication?

§  The action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.

·         When was the last time that we begged God for something? There is something significant about begging. It shows that we are finally willing to admit that there is absolutely nothing that we can do about a given situation and we are willing to ask for help from someone else.

·         Begging is also a form of humility. When you beg, you’re desperate. When you are desperate you will take whatever help you can get, which destroys any pride that you may have.

·         When was the last time that you were desperate? When was the last time that you prayed for something desperately?

o   What is Thanksgiving?

§  The expression of gratitude, especially to God.

o   So when we pray, we shouldn’t just go to God and make demands, or half-hearted requests. Remember the double-minded man from a few weeks ago? It was ultimately a waste of time for him to pray because he had no faith that God would do anything.

-          Let your requests be made known to God (6b)

o   God tells us that we should bring our concerns to Him.

§  If we are truly desperate for God to move, we won’t care how big or small it is, we will cry out to the Father.

o   He already knows what they are

§  Here is the thing that we forget: God already knows what we need and what we want. He just wants us to come to Him with the request. (Like Jonah and his hot chocolate every morning. I know what he is going to ask for before he even gets done saying, “daddy.”

·         When we come to God with our prayer, He just wants to hear us ask Him for it, because once we start praying with desperation, it shows our dependency on Him to move.

o   It is an act of faith to bring them to God

o   So when we pray, we come with supplication and thanksgiving.

§  The word prayer carries the idea of adoration, devotion and worship.

§  If we get in a place that we are anxious or worry, we need to just stop and worship God.

·         “We must see the greatness and majesty of God! We must realize that He is big enough to solve our problems.” (Warren Wiersbe)

·         Too many times we begin praying with the intention of getting it done as quickly as possible. We rush through it, as if it’s a chore. We get to be in communion with the creator of the universe. We need to pray calmly and with sincere respect.

§  Right prayer depends on the right kind of mind. If we go in without the correct mindset, and we are like the double-minded man, we are missing out on an opportunity to be with God.

-          “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension” (7a)

o   What is God’s peace?

§  At this time in Paul’s life, he was chained to a guard day and night. So he writes about the peace of God, while he is literally attached to someone else.

·         The peace of God is what Paul has here, that he could write about joy and being thankful to God, and rejoicing. This man was sold out to Jesus. He was rejoicing and telling others not to be anxious while being chained to a guard while awaiting judgment from the court.

o   We have this quiet confidence in God, regardless of what the external world is doing.

-          Will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (7b)

o   The peace of God which surpasses all comprehension is when our whole world may be seemingly falling apart but we know that God is in control. The peace of God is just like joy, it is not external, but internal. It affects our mind and our spirit.

o   Looking at this verse we see that the Father “keeps watch over” our heart and mind. God’s peace guards us from worrying, if we continue to trust Him, instead of ourselves.

o   Your heart and mind are not just two separate entities. Alone, your heart is your feelings and your mind as your thoughts. But, when Paul mentions these two here, he is speaking of your entire being. All of you, when you put your trust in God will be at peace. There will be no stressing out about things that you feel like you can’t control.

§  God can move in those situations. He can do things that we cannot. We have access to Him through prayer, and so our faith and our peace is dependent on Him and not us.

-          Finally brethren

o   Whatever is true

o   Whatever is honorable

o   Whatever is right

o   Whatever is pure

o   Whatever is lovely

o   Whatever is of good repute

o   If there is any excellence

o   If anything is worthy of praise

-          Dwell on these things. (Constantly think about these things)

o   Paul is giving us a litmus test to decide if our actions or our thoughts are truly glorifying to God. When we go to make a decision, does it line up with what Paul listed here? Is it something that is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellence, worthy of praise?

§  When we decide to date someone, or start a job, choose a college or major, or any other decision that we make in life, can we say that it matches any of these things?

-          The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

o   Don’t just talk a good game. Paul challenged the church here to look at him. See what he is doing and emulate those things. By looking at Paul, the church had the opportunity to see if Paul was really living that way or just trying to give advice without living it out. If you look at your own life, is it one that you would be comfortable telling another believer to emulate? Can you say that you are desperate for God to move? Are you satisfied with your walk with Christ?

o   Live the life that God has called you to in Christ Jesus. Don’t just go through the motions. 

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