Philippians 4:2-9 ESV 2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Thank you call. Let’s take a moment and pray. Father quiet, our hearts, we’re so busy and our minds are so cluttered so often that it’s difficult for us to make room for the precious truth of your word, your words or life, and we need that life. So I ask that you would still our hearts clear distractions, and I ask that this morning, your people would receive your word well, I pray that if there are those here who may not even know Christ, that the peace that passes understanding would awaken their heart, they would turn from their sin and turn to you, Lord, and I ask that for each one of us in this difficult year, 2020 and many individual struggles that we face this year, I pray that you would minister this to your people. Now, we ask these things in your precious name. Amen.
Well, if there’s ever a passage that is preached because a pastor has been using it in his own personal life, it would be this passage, I have… I woke up… It was earlier this week, I think I can’t remember what night it was. But I woke up in the middle of the night about two or three fidgeting, which is fairly common, every once in a while, if I get under a lot of stress, I start… My legs start going crazy and it wakes me up out of my sleep, and I feel the need to just get out and go be awake for a while.
And what was happening was my heart was going nuts, and I could not… I felt like I could not call myself down, and I have given this passage to many, many who I have counseled, so I started to follow the counselor’s advice, my own advice with it, and I took it a step at a time, and I prayed. And I wish I could say everything went back to normal right away, but eventually through God’s grace, he gave me the ability to go back to sleep that night, and I have used this passage many times since, and I’ve used this passage many times in my life, so I offer it to you partially because it’s Thanksgiving, and it is a time where we can thank God for what he’s done, and I think this passage tells us that Thanksgiving is a very important part of your and my piece in our individual lives. So that’s number one. But number two, I also offer it to you because I know and I’ve ministered on an individual level, this passage to many of you, I know many of you are struggling with peace right now, and so I offer it to you in that way as well, to try to minister to your spirit.
So that’s where we’re going today. We’re gonna answer three basic questions, the three questions are number one, what robs us of peace? Number two, What actions promote peace? And then number three, who gives peace? So that’s kind of where we’re going in this sermon today, and I think it follows this passage very, very clearly.
I want you to look at the end of verse 7, or just for even the end of the first paragraph. If you have a Bible that’s broken down into paragraphs, verse 7 says, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Any of you learn that song growing up, I’ve got the peace that passes understanding, I got the piece of basis understanding down in…
So that’s where that song comes from, is this passage, I want you to notice the promise there, the promise is that you will be given a piece that will guard your heart against what… I think given this passage, it will be against the anxieties that come from a variety of problems, what robs is a peace will be our first point, and we’ll talk about those in a minute, so it’s gonna guard your heart against stress, anxiety, maybe even depression, maybe even… The guilt that we feel from sin, whatever it might be, God can give peace in that if you follow Him, His way, that’s the promise, but I want you to see. It’s not the peace. That is reasonable and logical. Did you notice that? It’s not the piece that… Well, it’s obviously you’re gonna get piece if that happens…
I’ve had a handful of times, I pray this prayer often I use this passage off, and God has done well to sustain me, he’s a good God, he sustained me through this passage, but there have been a number of times where I prayed it in a moment of great struggle, and God came and gave me a piece that pass understanding.
In other words, it just… It’s almost like it descended on me, it was something that happened to me from an outside force, I didn’t say anything different, I didn’t act anything different, I didn’t think anything different, it was just something God gave me in a moment of need, and it is a promise for those who need it, that God can sustain you, and at times, even delivering you from great struggle, through his great peace that surpasses understanding, that’s where we’re going. Here in this passage today. So the first question I want to ask from this passage, what robs us… What robs you and I of peace?
What robs you of peace, you don’t have to answer it out loud, but I want you to think in your life, what is the thing that when it happens to you is immediately makes your heart jump up to your throat, you’re on edge, you’re wound up the rubber band inside your soul is being twisted, tighter and tighter, whatever it might be, you feel it, you’re not relaxed, you’re not a peace, you’re not seen, God hasn’t given you a stillness in your soul… What is that? ’cause this passage gives I several things.
The first one, and it’s closely connected here, I think we should just assume it is the thing that Paul is experiencing, because he is offering something that he himself has experienced, so what robs what could potentially rob him of peace will… Do you know where Paul is in Philippians? When he’s writing this book he’s in prison, and I know when we think of prison, we think of cinder block walls, cement floors, a bed, toilet, whatever, that was in all likelihood, not the prison that Paul was sitting in, based off of the best scholarly research we have, the prison that Paul said, and was likely a large hole in the ground, literally, and it was dark, in all likelihood, there was no light or very little light in that room, and in all likelihood, this hole in the ground and had rats and he would have to fight off the rats, and it had bugs and he would have to fight off the bugs, and at times he might be chained to different people.
We see Him confess that he’s in prison. In Chapter 1 and verse 13 has become throughout the whole Imperial Guard and to the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. So in other words, yes, prison can rob you of peace, right. A men. Some of you are like, I don’t know if I can amend that, I’ve not experienced that. That’s reasonable. That’s fine, but how about we put it like this a little bit more broadly, circumstances can rob your piece, difficult ones, and sometimes not difficult ones, right. Some little thing can hit you the wrong way and rob you of peace, and look, 2020 is a banner year for this, if you want to follow the news or anything on social media at all, the chances are you’re like dodging, ducking, weaving, avoiding all of the things on those that can rub you a peace and are trying to rob you a piece, the entire political ad campaigns are built on the idea of saying you will never be at peace unless you get your person elected. And we hear that and we listen to that, and then we feel that in our heart, and
The Bible never claims that God is gonna make your circumstances all go well in your life.
In fact, the Bible promises the opposite. In 2 Timothy, All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. The Bible never promises that you’re gonna have a good steady job, the Bible never promises that you’re gonna get that dream kitchen, the Bible never promises that you’re gonna be healthy, that Your family members are gonna be healthy.
The Bible never promises that you’re gonna fulfill your dreams and everything you ever wanted to accomplish in your life.
It never promises an easy road, we don’t get our happily ever after this side of heaven. Remember that, but the Bible does promise that you can have peace in the middle of whatever circumstances are throwing your life…
That is what the Bible holds out to you. There are those, unfortunately, who bear Christ’s name are claimed to bear Christ’s name, that would make the claim that if you just believed a little bit more, you just gave a little bit more than the circumstances of your life would even off and get better for you. That’s a life from hell. Christ doesn’t promise that for you.
He doesn’t, but He does promise, wonderful truth, one that we’ll get to later that I’ve been trying to rally myself around is, in whatever circumstances were in… He’ll never leave us or forsake us. I would rather have my God with me in the most difficult circumstances. Then an easy life without God. What robs us of peace? Certainly, circumstances can rob us of peace.
What about conflict? I don’t think it’s accidental that Paul connects verse 2 and three with this section of Scripture. I don’t think that’s accidental, in fact, oftentimes, if you read in the Bible, if you do just say a search in your concordance of all the times that the word peace is listed and you really pay attention, you’ll notice that sometimes it’s like, Oh, peace, there could refer to an internal personal piece, but it also could refer to a piece with other people, and it’s almost like it has a double meaning in a lot of places. A great example of this is the fruit of the spirit, the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace. And then the rest of them have to do with our relationships with one another, it’s not accidental, one of the greatest thieves of your peace is conflict, and yet so often you and I would rather live with a subtle… Passive aggressiveness toward someone. So often you and I would rather claim we’re just bearing with a problem, meanwhile, we harbor that bitterness in our heart day after day after day instead of addressing the issue.
So often we would rather do that, I intrigued and I intricate to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you true companion. Probably a leader in the church. May have been named Sasaki, may have been a title. Help these women who have labored side by side. And then he gets into, Rejoice in the Lord, Let your reasonableness be made down to everyone the Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious. I have found and I have experienced in my own life, but that is one of the greatest steps of my piece… What is another thief of your peace? I would say this passage actually gives a couple…
Number one, he says, Rejoice in the Lord. Always, again, I will say Rejoice. Why does he say that?
Why does he encourage us to rejoice… I’m gonna read between the lines a little bit and I’m gonna bring in another passage of scripture, ideas from 2 Corinthians 1, I would encourage you to read that and study that later. Okay, and I’m gonna say that I think another great thief of peace in your life and my life would be when we give ourselves over to what this world might call depression, a broader word, an old school word. For it might be melancholy, the old KJV might use the word despondent. It also, the ESP will use this word overwhelmed or things like that, or like David will describe it as being down in the pit when I was down in the pit, he was never really down in a pit, there was something else going on his heart, and oftentimes when we face moments where we’re overwhelmed, was just sadness, we give in to them.
Now, that moment of temptation and being sad is not necessarily sin. I’m sure Paul had many moments sitting down there in the dungeon where he was overwhelmed with sadness and had a choice to make, in fact, second Corinthians 1 talks about how he was so far gone that He was despairing of life itself. You know what we would call that today, suicidal. And he got to that point where he was overwhelmed, and it was then that God comforted. It was then that God, he learned to rely on God, not on himself. It was then that God delivered him. Now, this passage here, Paul is saying, Hey, Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say rejoice. Why does he say it twice? ’cause you and I have a tendency in difficult times to move instead of set of rejoice, and I know that there are some of you who are in pain today, but listen, you need to hear this, you might be making it worse on yourself. There’s a moment where you’re sad and you have a choice to say, Why are you cast down, oh, my soul? Within me, hope in God, for He will again restore you where you work and you labor to rejoice in God again, even through the sadness, I’ve done that many, many times as I’ve been practicing for multiple weeks now, that song that we sang, the new song this morning, This is my Father’s world.
This is my Father’s world. Why should my heart be sad. The Lord is king. Let the heavens ring, God reigns, Let the earth be glad. That doesn’t mean there’s an interesting mixture in a soul that is genuinely sad, but rejoicing in the Lord, there’s an interesting mixture, sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, is what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4.
So there’s a nice trusting… Mixture that happens in that moment where
You say, Yes, I’m sad, but I will hope in the Lord. I will lock onto him, I will scratch and claw and grab and hold and wrestle with my God until He blesses me with a piece that I see that’s hard, but I have found my God to reliably give it to me. Reliably, give it to me. Give me that piece. This is my Father’s world. Why should my heart be sad? There’s another one.
There’s another one in Verse 5, Let your reasonableness or gentleness being made down to everyone. I think the reason why he includes this here closely connected linguistically, would they do not be anxious is because the church in Philippi was in all likelihood kind of being up and down a little bit, and frankly a little harsh with people outside the church, and that was causing some of them to be anxious about what might happen to them or whatever, and Paul’s response is, Look, you can’t always control what happens to you, but let’s make sure you are treating others well, let’s make sure you’re being gentle, let’s make sure you’re being reasonable, let’s make sure you’re being moderate, not so up and down and wear on people around you, that way you don’t give your enemy is an excuse to come after you. So I think another one might be when we have a poor general public interaction that robs us of peace because we’re maybe not being the kind of people God wants us to be, so those are a few for you to think of, Look, my goal in mentioning those is just to get them out there. I want you to meditate on them.
Think about, Oh, when does this one apply to me, but let’s go to the second point here in our Sunday sermon, the second point is, What actions promote peace? What actions promote peace? And He gives several specific commands here, following the Do not be anxious about anything. Several specific commands, there are gonna be four primary ones that we’re gonna look at, number one is prayer and supplication, let your request be made known to God. Now, I wanna pause for a second. Talk about who God is. It should go without saying. Sometimes I think, but unfortunately for many people, Thanksgiving has become a time about just being broadly and generally thankful, and if you press me like, Well, who are you thankful too, like Maybe we’re thankful to one another, that’s certainly a good thing, but… It’s like faith. Some people will talk about faith the same way like, Well, I’ve faith… Faith in what? I don’t know, faith. I believe, I just believe. I think I have faith, I have faith in faith. I think faith is gonna work everything out type thing, and what they’re losing sight of is both thankfulness and faith have a Target, have a direction to which those things are offered Thanksgiving in faith. And that person, that person is God. Who is God? We sang about it many times today, be saying about God’s sovereignty over all creation.
Yeah, he’s amazing. This time of the year, especially, I think is amazing. To watch the leaves fall. Well, they’re all fallen now and gather all over my yard, and watch them blowing in the breeze, watch the trees go to sleep for the winter, I love when they wake up in the spring…
It’s an amazing season. And you think about, man, our God was wise enough. Why is enough to come up with a way for seasons to happen and trees to lose their leaves and come back to life, not all of them, some of them will live through the whole year and just shed their needles throughout the year. How amazing is that? Our God is so wise and He’s sovereign over this creation. You see, the Bible paints the picture of a God who created all things and sustains all things by the word of His power. In other words, all things hold together today because our God is in control, sovereignly in control of everything, and that includes you, some of you are like, Well, the parts of my body, I don’t feel like they’re holding together as well as they used to.
My Shoulder, my knee, whatever it might be, right? But our God is even holding you together, and if he chose right now, he could allow that all to fall apart and you’d fall into nothingness, that’s his choice to sustain your life, and He has given you life, and He has given you a body, and he’s giving you strength and He has given you the very breath in your lungs, and if that were not enough, he has given you freedom, and he has given you… Well, here in our country, and he’s given you jobs and he’s given you family, and He has given you the ability to chase your dreams and your careers, and he’s given you a church to call home, he’s given you so… So much, it’s not enough for us to just be broadly thankful.
No, you don’t just say, Thank you. My child is opening presence at his birthday, a present from his grandparents, and he’s opening them up and we say, You know, hey, you need to say thank you. And they say, Thank you, and they don’t even look at their grandma or grandpa. Guess what? I’m gonna say no. Stop, you need to look at your grandma and grandpa and say, thank you. That’s what I say to us today. Address God, address your God. Say thank you to him. Not only all of that, what do we see about God? In the very fact that we get to pray to Him, in the very fact that He invites us to pray to Him, that He’s in control, that he has the ability to shift anything that he wants in this world. Not only that, but he has an ear for us, we have this year… You know what I’m talking about, right? Everybody who’s ever worked in any workplace knows that there’s one or two people that have the boss’s ear…
Guess what? Every true believer in Jesus Christ has God’s ear. He listens, he bent his ear, and not only that, I would say, God desires to answer those requests, especially when they’re in accordance with His good pleasure, his desires for this world.
How amazing is that?
Now, we have to pause here and we have to recognize what this God has done to make it so that he will listen to our prayers. What has he done? See, the fact of the matter is that although God has created all of these things including you, you and I have a propensity, we default back to not giving thanks to God for what He’s done for us, and instead we harden our hearts, we have a tendency to define good and bad in our life the way we want to define it.
I have this tendency, we have a sinful tendency to say, No, I think this sin is a good thing, I’m gonna choose to do that thing, and reject God and reject what he said, and reject the law that even have in our heart through our conscience, we have this tendency to reject the God who made us and gave us breath.
And God in all fairness, could have said, Fine, and walked away, and he would have been just to do so, he would have been good to do so, but in His mercy and His grace, He chose instead to come to this earth as a man, to take on human flesh, not as a king like he deserved, not as the powerful one that everybody was like, Oh, you’re so amazing, but no, as a Man of Sorrows who was rejected by men by the end of his ministry by rejected by almost everyone. And he goes to the cross, and in that moment on the cross, he is taking the punishment for your and my on thankfulness, he’s taking the punishment for your and my rejection of Him for your… My tendency to replace what God said is good with what is really evil, we have this tendency in us to do that, and God takes all that on him, pays that punishment offers us forgiveness. And that would be enough. But that’s not all he did, because on top of that, he gave us back his righteousness, so that in Jesus Christ’s righteousness, you and I can stand as children…. children who have the ear of our Father. He could have left it at that, but he multiplied blessings. On top of blessings, on top of blessings, there is reason for us to be thankful…
That is our God. So what are some things that promote peace… Well, first of all, believe in Jesus Christ, believe in Jesus Christ. Believing in Jesus Christ gives you a piece with God that will ultimately settle in your soul. It’s an amazing thing. And by the way, once you have peace with God, peace with others, it doesn’t become easy, but he becomes easier if you know what I’m saying, when God’s giving you a piece with him, you wanna bend that out toward others, you wanna offer peace and reconciliation in every situation, you can. And so I want you to hear, we would worry less if we praised more, Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction, someone once said, thankfulness is the quickest path for your joy today. Thankfulness expresses a humility, a neediness, saying, God, I’m not God. And by the way, anxiety normally comes from control freaks and control freaks.
Boy, maybe you don’t know me well enough to say that I struggle with the anxiety, some point might point the finger at myself here.
If you are one who wants control of everything in your life, you’re not gonna be able to do it, and you know what that’s gonna give you anxiety ’cause you can’t do it. And so the moment instead, you choose to turn to God and then come and offer your request to him, you’re saying, I can’t… You can guess what that does, it removes the idol of control from your life. Gives you peace. Gives you a piece. It express his humility and a lead fullness, it expresses love and good-heartedness. Who do you think? You think those you love, you think those that you appreciate, you think those people that do something for you and you have this good-heartedness toward them, that’s why you say Thank you and saying that to God as a way of saying, I love you, God, thank you. And on top of that, it expresses a recognition, a recognition of the effort, the other person invested, god, you invest it in me through your Son, Jesus Christ, to save me, you invested in this life, you’ve given me so much.
Thank you. I recognize that I’m not gonna ignore that. I’m not gonna presume on that, I’m not gonna just assume you’re everything, I’m gonna genuinely be thankful for what you’ve done, father, so not only that, but… So that’s number one, an attitude of thankfulness is gonna promote peace in your life, these other ones are gonna go quicker. Number two is prayer and supplication. It says, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God. Here’s what I find in my life, I found this, this was an awesome revelation not too long ago, meditating on this passage, medicines.
Meditating on it, and thinking about the things in my life and asking God for peace, and I realized real quick, I never actually verbalized… Exactly what I wanted from God. I just had this ethereal thought process going. So I stopped doing that and I started saying, God, here’s what I want. Now, pause for a second ’cause I don’t stop there. But I say God, in this situation, what I want is this, this and this, this is what I’m asking for you, I’m making this request to you, so that’s the first thing and I challenge you. Please listen, specifically ask God for what you want. Specifically ask, I’m not promising he’s gonna give it to you, he might, but I’m saying this will help your anxiety specifically as… The second thing is, then I ask, What should I want? Because those two things don’t always line up, right, God, this is what I want in this situation, but as I think through your word, I know that this thing is what you want, so now I’m gonna pray for that and I’m gonna pray that request… Do you see how that kind of works? So ask God for what you want, then ask and be like, Okay, do I need to adjust that? According to God’s word, let me see if I need to do that.
And God, by the way, he can handle, he has the ability to sift through your requests… That’s alright. A third one. And this is found in verse 8, Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever. Just whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable. If there’s any excellence, if there’s anything where the praise think about these things, this is gonna sound really, really like positivity, like psychology stuff. But look, it’s what Paul says, so we’re just gonna go with what the Bible says. He says, Think about good things. Think about the positive things as the Bible defines them, so let’s say you’re in a difficult situation, you lost your job, you say, God, thank you for allowing me to have that job, and thank you for the new start. I don’t always have the best way to do this, you’re gonna have to struggle through this, but in the middle of the situation, it would be very good for you if you’re anxious and stressed to list out all the things that are true. Honorable, just pure, lovely. Commendable, excellent, worthy, appraise. List out all the things in your situation that are those things, and thank God for the God form, and by the way, if you’re robbed of peace because of a conflict, this is a good thing to do about the other person, just as a side to what is honorable and just and true and good in that other person, I’m gonna list that out and I’m gonna focus on those things. I’m gonna focus on that.
I can’t express to you, Listen, follow these steps. This is a step-by-step process. Follow these steps. It will help you tremendously. I’ve done it. And it’s helped me tremendously. And then the fourth action that promotes peace is Verse 9, what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things. Okay, so the fourth one I’ve really struggled with, I’ve really struggled with that phrase for a long time as I meditate on this, Paul, I get the prayer, I get to thinking about good things, I get the offering Thanksgiving, I understand those. But why all of a sudden, are you saying, Follow my example, and I learned why, because oftentimes, we come to a situation in our life where we have no idea what to do… Amen. You pray. You look, the request be made known. And then you’re like, I still don’t know what to do. And I think Paul knows that, and Paul is saying, Look, I’m in a prison, I’m gonna… I’m gonna pit in the ground, I don’t know what to do, but I’m gonna do A… To borrow from a Disney movie, the next right thing. And so Paul’s mindset was, the next right thing is for me to rejoice in the Lord. Why? The next right thing is for me to focus my mind on him, the next right thing is for me to share the gospel, the next right thing is for me to serve others, I’m gonna focus on the habits that I should have, and then Paul says, Look, I’m in a much more situation than you guys are in, follow my example in that ’cause you’re not always gonna know what to do, but watch, I’ve paved a path forward for you, so the final example that I would give is look at the life of someone who has peace.
In difficult circumstances. And do what they do. Think about it, who is it in your life? They’ve gone through difficult circumstances, but they have that serenity, that piece, what, why… Well, interview, invite them to coffee, talk with them, say What do you do to try to stay sane, like what do you do? And ask them, and then do what they do. Make it simple. Do what they do. Follow their example. I would add the example of a Godly person in the middle of a difficult situation.
The last point that I have today is who gives the piece… Who gives the peace?
I already spent quite a while on this talking about how amazing our God is, but I want you to notice the last phrase in this section, first of all, verse seven says, The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ you say, started from what? Guard it from all the anxiety that you feel, and then… Notice at the end of verse 9, practice these things and the God of peace will be with you. I’ve lashed on to that more and more, that I would rather have the God who brings the peace with me than just the piece… That’s just me. Anyone else?
I would rather have the God who brings the peace to be with me and next to me in the situations of my life.
As I go through situations… This is a prayer that I pray often. God, I know you’re with me, I need to be reminded of how you’re with me right now. Please help me.
I know you’re with. You promise it. You say, I’ll never leave you nor forsake you. You promise that God, but your servant here today in this moment, I don’t feel that, I don’t believe that there’s something wrong with his heart That’s defaulting to movies and everything else. God, what do I need to do? I will believe, I will read the scriptures, I will keep praying and begging you, but remember, even in those difficult times, The God of peace is with you, with
All those who believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it will never leave you. I will never forsake you that piece, he offers it to you freely today. So look, Thanksgiving season can be a time of great stress for many people, it can also be a time, a wonderful joy can be both, and this season, this entire year has been time… Agree, stress. I’ve given you steps from work from Paul, from God for you to follow when you’re struggling with difficult times, when you’re struggling with relational conflict, when you’re struggling with anxiety, whatever it might be, I’ve given these things to you, follow this… Don’t just let the sermon be a sermon. Oh, that was great, thank you. And then you leave and you forget, take this council, I’m begging you, it will help you, will help you please God and I will minister to your soul. Take this council. Okay.
I’m gonna invite you to buy your heads and close your eyes, and we’re gonna transition to our last song here, Let’s pray first.