Read Philippians 4
As we come to the last part of this letter, we see that Paul loves this church and they love him. They sent him a gift and he has been provisioned for his time in Rome.
We see Paul encouraging these believers to follow the model of Christ—who gave up all to die for our sins. This is the model that Paul seeks to follow and he encourages this church to do the same.
Paul told this church body that as they contend with those who are preaching Jesus Plus, use his example to stop them in their tracks. If they want a measuring contest, Paul can give them one, but everything on Paul’s resume that the Jesus Plus group would count as something important, Paul counts for loss as far as right standing with God.
Paul had the better religious resume, but he counted it for nothing as far as right-standing with God goes.
Only the blood of Jesus gets you to right standing with God. There is a lifelong discourse and course of practice in discipleship that follows, but only by grace through faith are we saved.
There is one more thing of note about the church in Philippi. Two women of some standing in the congregation were arguing and evidently, it was disruptive enough that the church in Philippi thought Paul should know about it.
We don’t get to see the session minutes from the church in Philippi, but we see how Paul addressed the matter.
He didn’t say, send me sworn statements.
He didn’t say, send me the preliminary inquiry conducted into the matter.
He didn’t even ask for the CSI report.
He wrote that he asked each of these women to reconcile with each other, without regard to the matter itself.
This had to be tough for these ladies to swallow, for when you are on a quest to be right, it is hard to know the right path to follow.
Thus, Paul asked the body of believers to assist in the matter. What matter? Was it the color of the carpet or the frequency of serving the Lord’s Supper? Was it how we baptize or the color of the dishwashers in the kitchen? We don’t know.
We don’t know, but Paul thought that reconciliation with each other and with the body was worth addressing. He appealed to both women—ladies who had been a part of the church-building effort while Paul was in Philippi—to be of one mind in the Lord.
What’s that mean? Set aside individual egos and agendas and seek the will of God. Start by saying, “It’s not all about me.”
Consider the previous counsel to regard others more highly than ourselves.
Paul was saying, we have bigger fish to fry. We are on a mission from God. Whatever it is that is getting in the way of running your race of faith, deal with it, and get back in your race.
Time is of the essence. You have purposeful things to do. How can you press on towards the goal when you are at odds with each other?
Next come words that applied to these women, to the church at Phillip, to the church at large, and very much to the church as we near the end of the age.
Rejoice in the Lord always!
Paul didn’t say rejoice in your paycheck.
He didn’t say rejoice in your extra federal holiday.
He didn’t say rejoice in the fact that gas is twice as high in California.
He said to rejoice in the Lord. The Greek word for rejoice is χαίρω (chairó). Essentially, it means glad for grace. The Greek words for rejoice, joy, and grace are what we call cognates. They all have the same etymological connections.
They all proceed from the favor of the Lord.
When Paul speaks of rejoicing, it’s more than if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. It is the joy that proceeds from living in the favor of the Lord.
There are many commentaries and essays about joy and happiness, but they proceed from our modern linguistics. They are worthy of some thought, but seek the roots of rejoicing. They come from the favor of God.
Our joy is not in our wealth or in our circumstances or in what’s for lunch. Our joy is in the Lord; therefore, we should rejoice in the Lord. We can be happy with our circumstances or with our lunch but our joy in life comes from living in the favor of God.
Imagine if you will, that your joy is in your paycheck. Imagine that your joy is in your good looks. Imagine that your joy is in your new outfit or your new car or your new job.
You don’t have to imagine. Look all around you as people think they have found happiness in their new relationship, even though they just broke up two days ago, or if you check the Facebook page of high school kids, they went from losing the life-long love of their life to finding a new one in two hours.
Look around you at people who think they found happiness in their fancy new car and then get their fancy new insurance bill and fancy new OMG surprise at the pump, not to mention that first ding on the driver’s side door.
Look around you at people so excited about how much money they make only to find out that now they crave something more.
We all experience these sorts of things but we don’t all bank on these things bringing us joy in the world. Our joy is in the Lord.
Does that mean we never have one moment of sorrow? No, the psalmist recognizes that we are still human, but in that humanity, we seek the divine joy of the Lord.
Sorrow may last for the night but joy comes in the morning.
But even so, sometimes we worry. We worry mostly about things that are beyond our control. We worry instead of praying. We worry and get nothing good in return.
Paul notes what God has noted in so many messages to us—don’t worry. Worry cannot add one hour to your life. Worry doesn’t put a roof over your head or food on the dining room table.
Worry only works against you. Don’t do it. Listen to Paul’s words.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Don’t worry. Don’t be anxious. Don’t fret over anything.
Yes, you are late on your rent payments. The price of gas has gone up. Groceries have gone up. I don’t know what my test results will say. I live in tornado alley. The murder hornets are on their way, and this time they are stopping and asking for directions.
Worry won’t help. What do we do, then?
Pray. In everything by prayer and petition. We do what the hymn says. We take it to the Lord in prayer.
We bring every situation and circumstance to the Lord. We come first with a spirit of gratefulness and thanksgiving, for we know that our joy is in the Lord. Our salvation is in the Lord. God loves us with an everlasting love.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Thank you, Lord.
Before we offer up the things that trouble us, we offer our thanks for the things that have been done for us. God himself took away our sin and make us right with him. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! If we consider all that God has done for us, we will be thankful, even when our human nature tells us to worry.
Now that we have come in this spirit of thankfulness, here’s some other stuff that I am struggling with. Yes, that includes ending a sentence with a preposition.
Give it all to God and be thankful that you have such a loving and understanding God to give it to. Be thankful that our God is faithful and just to forgive.
Come to him with thanksgiving and praise and then confidently ask him for what you need. Guess what? He already knows. He is answering your prayers before you know what to pray.
How will God respond?
He will give you peace that you can’t understand. He will give you peace even though he might not give you what you asked for in your prayer.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds. The joy that we know in the Lord is a close friend with the peace that we have in the Lord.
The promise is not that you will figure out all of the answers to all of your troubles, but that you may enjoy the Lord’s peace even when you can’t find one answer to one of your problems.
There is a meme going around that I see a lot on veteran’s sites. Stay away from those sites unless you have served. You will find the humor of those who have spent time under fire to be a little off-center to be polite. I fit right in.
There is also a lot of encouragement on those sites for we still lose 22 veterans a day to suicide. The meme that I speak of reminds us that we have survived 100% of our worst days. Hang in there for one more.
Paul reminds us that our joy is in the Lord and our peace is in the Lord. Jesus said that we would have trouble in the world, but to take courage for he has overcome the world.
We cannot be anchored to our trials and troubles. They are part of our journey. Our trust in the Lord through these trials and tribulations is what defines our character.
Jesus told us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light We were never meant to carry the loads that some of us carry. Give these troubles to the Lord and receive his peace. It is a peace that goes beyond what we can understand but a peace that guards us at the core. It guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Our joy is in the Lord.
Our peace is in the Lord.
Troubles belong to the world and Jesus has overcome the world.
Bobby McFerrin took a crack at this.
Here's a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy
Don't worry, be happy now
There’s more, but I won’t sing it all.
The landlord say your rent is late
He may have to litigate
Don't worry, be happy
This is one of those tunes for which it is easy to make up your own lyrics. I will spare you mine and just remind you of Paul’s counsel.
Be anxious for nothing.
Live in the joy of the Lord.
Receive the peace of the Lord.
Respond in love as your live out your salvation.
Now it’s on to the Colossians.
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