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November 21, 2020

 

Sermon Series on the NT book of Philippians - #16

 

“THINGS SEEN IN PAUL”

 

Philippians 4:9

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me -

practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

In our text today, Paul refers to God as “the God of Peace.”  Paul often described our Heavenly Father with this phrase.

 

Romans 15:33

Now the God of peace be with you all.  Amen.

 

2 Corinthians 13:11

. . . and the God of love and peace will be with you.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:23

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely . . .

 

Hebrews 13:20

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead . . .

 

In Philippians 4:9, we learn the key to having the “God of peace” blessing us in our lives.  

 

Philippians 4:9

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

 

AND, it also involves doing “these things” . . . what we have Learned, Received, Heard, and Seen in Paul.

Philippians 4:9

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

 

What are some of the “Things Seen In Paul,” which if we do, will assure that the God of peace will be with us?

 

1. HIS CONCERN FOR HIS CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS

 

Philippians 1:8-11

8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.  9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Romans 15:1-3 (NLV)

1 We who have strong faith should help those who are weak.  We should not live to please ourselves.  2 Each of us should live to please his neighbor.  This will help him grow in faith.  3 Even Christ did not please Himself.  The Holy Writings say, “The sharp words spoken against you fell on Me.”

 

This concern for other Christians is simply a reflection of Christ's concern for us . . . so, it is certainly worthy of our doing.

 

Another thing in Paul that is worthy of imitation . . .

 

2. HIS STRIVING FOR PERFECTION (Prefect Christlikeness)

 

Philippians 3:12 (NLV)

I do not say that I have received this or have already become perfect.  But I keep going on to make that life my own as Christ Jesus made me His own.

 

Paul saw his Christian life as a race / boxing match.

 

1 Corinthians 9:24-26 (NLT)

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!  25 All athletes are disciplined in their training.  They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.  26 So I run with purpose in every step.  I am not just shadowboxing.

 

Paul understood that there is always room for improvement . . . or else he could be “disqualified.” 

 

1 Corinthians 9:27 (NLT)

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.  Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

 

Why did Paul have a desire for Christlike perfection?  

 

Philippians 3:8-11 (ESV)

8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things    and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith - 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 

 

we need to have the same desire - to be like jesus - and consider everything else in life simply as “rubbish!”

 

Another thing seen in Paul is . . .

 

3. HIS EFFORTS TO SAVE THE LOST

 

Paul’s efforts continued, despite being under arrest.

 

Philippians 1:12-14 (NLT)

12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.  13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ.  14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.

 

Paul would have willingly offer himself as a martyr - if that would have helped.

 

Philippians 2:17 (NLT)

But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like an offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God.  And I want all of you to share that joy.

 

Paul also made himself a servant to all . . . 

 

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

19 Though I am free and belong to n o one, I have made myself a servant to everyone, to win as many as possible.  20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.  To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.  I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

 

Even with so much struggle and suffering and serving, in his efforts to save others, we see another thing in Paul that our lives should also reflect.

 

4. HIS JOY IN SUFFERING

 

We’ve seen this joy again and again, in this “epistle of joy!” (1:12-18; 2:17-18; etc.) 

 

In his letter to the Church in Rome, Paul explained why he “rejoiced in tribulations.”  Trials & sufferings help produce endurance.

 

Romans 5:3 (ESV)

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,

 

And, endurance produces character and hope.

 

Romans 5:4 (ESV)

and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

These are some of the qualities seen in Paul, that we can also learn from him . . . if we take his letters / epistles seriously.  And we should!  If we desire the “God of peace” to be with us, as he was clearly with Paul throughout his life and service as a disciple of Jesus Christ, we should take this Word of God seriously!

 

Are these things seen in Paul’s life, also seen in your life?  Are you living in such a way that YOU could say to others:

 

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”  (Philippians 4:9)

 

May the “God of peace” help us to live in such a way

that we can be an example . . . like Paul!

 

 

November 14, 2020

 

Sermon Series on the NT book of Philippians - #15

 

“CHRISTIAN MEDITATION”

 

Philippians 4:8

 

The practice of “meditation” by Christians is not really something that you hear discussed very often.  Probably a lot of Christians are simply not aware that we are commanded to meditate.

 

Others no doubt believe that meditation belongs ONLY in Eastern religions like Hinduism or Buddhism.

 

But, Paul clearly teaches Christians to meditate on certain things.  And, meditation is definitely a Biblical subject:  Isaac meditated in the field at evening time (Genesis 24:63) / Joshua was told by God to mediate “day and night” (Joshua 1:8) / The “blessed man” in Psalm 1 is one who meditates (Psalm 1:1-2) / David became wiser than his teachers through meditation (Psalm 119:99) / and Paul commanded Timothy to “meditate on these things” (1 Timothy 4:15). 

 

 

In today’s verse from Philippians 4, Paul addresses Christians - that we engage in a form of meditation:

 

Philippians 4:8 (MSG)

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious -the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

 

OK, Paul . . . but some questions come to mind about meditation:

 

1) WHAT does meditation mean for a Christian?

 

2) WHY should we be concerned about making time to meditate?

 

3) HOW should we meditate?

 

LET’S TRY TO UNPACK THESE QUESTIONS.

 

1. WHAT MEDITATION IS IN THE BIBLE

 

FIRST, WHAT MEDITATION IN THE BIBLE IS NOT . . .

 

It’s NOT the kind practiced by Eastern religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism, or Transcendental Meditation.  In that type of meditation, the object is to experience truth, peace, or being, that is “inexpressible.”  This is similar to the kind of meditation practiced by Christian mystics.

 

Quakers, and others often found among Catholics AND Protestants, meditate in order to “experience” God, or to receive some revelation from God.

 

Both Eastern and Christian mystical meditation usually attempt to empty the mind in an attempt to find or receive truth within.  (This is known as a subjective form of meditation.)

 

WHAT MEDITATION IN THE BIBLE IS . . . 

 

Meditation in the Bible literally means to dwell or contemplate on some truth or reality already revealed.  (This is known as an objective form of meditation.)

 

Acts 13:22 (NIV)

After removing Saul, God made David their king.  God testified concerning him:  “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”

 

More specifically, the person “after God's own heart” is one who meditates on such things as:  the Lord himself (Psalm 63:6) / God’s wonderful works (Psalm 77:12) / God’s revealed word (Psalm 119:16; Proverbs 30:5, 119:172, 119:162, 119:148.)

 

In Paul’s words, we are to “fill our minds and meditate” on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report.  Things that are of any virtue, and are praiseworthy.

The PURPOSE of meditation is to nourish Christian men and women with understanding of God and his revealed (in the Bible).  It is NOT to seek for some previously unrevealed truth.  This will give us spiritual joy and strength (Psalm 1:1-3; Isaiah 40:28-31). 

 

There is a very real difference between Biblical meditation and the meditation that commonly practiced by many religions!

 

Christian meditation dwells on that already revealed, either in creation or inspired revelation (God’s Word).  Other forms of meditation are seeking some new truth to be revealed.

 

OK.  So, why is Biblical meditation important?

 

 

2. WHY WE SHOULD MEDITATE

 

IT IS A SOURCE OF JOY AND STRENGTH

 

Psalm 1:1-2 (ESV)

1 Blessed is the person who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.

 

Isaiah 40:28-31 (EVS)

28 Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.  30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

 

This alone should motivate us to meditate - often.

 

MEDITATION IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF

OUR TRANSFORMATION IN CHRIST.

 

The goal of a Christian is to become more like Jesus.

 

Romans 8:29 (TPT)

For he knew all about us before we were born and he destined us from the beginning to share the likeness of his Son.  This means the Son is the oldest among a vast family of brothers and sisters who will become just like him.

 

This requires a “transformation” . . .

 

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship.  2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

Notice that this is only possible by “renewing the mind.”  And, this “renewing” is possible only when we set our minds on things above - not on things on the earth.  

        

Colossians 3:1-4 (NIV)

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  4 When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

  

 

MANY CHRISTIANS FAIL / FALL BECAUSE

THEY MEDITATE ON THE WRONG THINGS!

     

They “set their minds” on the things of this world, instead of “things above.”

 

There’s a recent study done by a Stanford University research team which reveals that what we watch does have an effect on our imaginations, our learning patterns, and our behaviors. 

 

First, we are exposed to new behaviors and characters.  Next, we learn or acquire these new behaviors.  The last and most crucial step is that we adopt these behaviors as our own.  

 

One of the most critical aspects of human development that we need to understand is the influence of “repeated viewing” and “repeated verbalizing” in shaping our future.  The information goes in (the study says),” harmlessly, almost unnoticed” on a daily basis - but we don't react to it until later, when we aren't able to realize the basis for our reactions.  

 

In other words, “our value system is being formed without any conscious awareness on our part of what is happening!” (Seeds Of Greatness, Denis Waitley)

 

He goes on to say, “You are what you watch and think.  If a sixty second commercial, by repeated viewing, can sell us a product, then isn't it possible for a sixty minute soap opera or 'smut-com', by repeated viewing, to sell us a life-style?” 

 

If we as Christians are going to succeed, we MUST set our minds (meditate) on “the things of the Spirit,” “the things above,!”  Only then can we, with God's help, put off the old and put on the new.

 

Lastly, a few thoughts on . . .

 

3. HOW TO MEDITATE

 

WE MUST REMEMBER, OUR MIND IS AFFECTED BY EVEN CASUAL CONTEMPLATION!

 

The first step to proper Biblical meditation is to be selective in what you watch and read.  You MUST fill your mind with positive and spiritual thoughts . . . if you really want to “renew the mind” and “be transformed."

 

And that DOESN’T mean that our thoughts have to be restricted to the Bible.  Paul said:

 

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.

 

There are books, movies, TV shows, etc., that fall into the category of possessing virtue and being in the whatever ” category!

            

 

TO MAXIMIZE SPIRITUAL MEDITATION . . .

WE NEED TO HEED THE COUNSEL OF THE PSALMS.

 

Make the Bible your primary focus for meditation -

 

Psalm 1:1-2 (NLT)

1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.  2 But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.

 

Read the Bible in a contemplatively way every day - 

 

Psalm 119:15 (ESV)

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.

 

Reading slowly and audibly helps to focus one's mind on the words.  As you read, you might ask yourself the following questions:

 

Is there some truth I should know from this verse?

 

How does this passage affect my previously held convictions?

 

Is there something I should stop doing in light of this verse?

 

Is there a practice that I should change?

 

Is there something I ought to begin doing?

To say it another way:  Hold the Word of God in your heart, until it has affected every phase of your life . . . this is meditation.”

 

In Psalm 19:14, David prays:

 

Let the words of mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”

 

What Paul commands us to do in our text today, to (“meditate on these things”), is how we can know that our meditations will be acceptable in the sight of our Lord!

 

If you are not a Christian, or if you’ve been slacking in your walk with Jesus, then there are some things in particular that you ought to meditate on:

 

What is your standing in God's sight?

 

What would happen if you were to die today?

 

What do you need to do, today, in order to be in a right relationship with God?

 

DON’T DELAY!

 

 

 

November 7, 2020

 

Sermon Series on the NT book of Philippians - #14

 

“How To Be Free From Anxiety”

 

Philippians 4:6-7

 

If anyone had good reason to be anxious, it would have been the apostle Paul.  His Christian friends in Philippi were fussing and fighting with one another (Philippians 4:1-3) . . . there were preachers in Rome who were filled with “envy and strife,” and they were out to get Paul (Philippians 1:15) . . . and to top it off, Paul himself was under house arrest, awaiting trial AND possible execution!

 

Yet, we have seen that throughout this letter / epistle the challenge repeated again and again is “rejoice!”  Evidently, Paul had found the secret of overcoming anxiety, and fortunately for us, he shares that secret in Philippians 4:6-7. 

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

 

Before we look at Paul’s secret, let's take a look at that bad word . . . “Anxiety.

 

1. UNDERSTANDING THE NATURE OF ANXIETY

 

Defining Anxiety

 

The word “anxious” (merimnao) is means “to be pulled in different directions.”

 

For example, our hopes pull us in one direction, and our fears pull us in the opposite direction.  So, to be anxious is to be “pulled apart!”

 

The word “worry” (a synonym for anxiety) in its English origins presents a different, yet enlightening picture.  It comes from a word meaning “to strangle.”

 

If you have ever really worried about something, you know how worry does indeed emotionally strangle a person!  In fact, doctors tell us that worry (anxiety) has definite physical side effects:  headaches, neck pain, back pain, even ulcers.  Worry affects our thinking, our digestion, and even our coordination ability!

 

Just from a spiritual perspective, anxiety is:  wrong THINKING and wrong FEELING . . . about things, people and circumstances.

 

Anxiety may be the greatest thief of our joy!

It is not enough for us to just tell ourselves to stop being anxious.  Anxiety is “an inside job.”  It takes more than good intentions to have victory over anxiety.

 

The ANSWER to ANXIETY is revealed by Paul in our text today.  Let’s read it again.

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

 

 

2. WINNING THE VICTORY OVER ANXIETY

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everythingTell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

 

The Antidote To Anxiety is PRAYING . . . about everything!

 

 

Like the old hymn of the Church says, Paul pleads for us to “take everything to God in prayer.”

 

“Don't worry about ANYTHING, but pray about EVERYTHING!”

 

We’re prone to pray about the big things - and forget to pray about the little things.  But little things left unattended grow up to become big things.

 

So, God wants us talk to him about everything!

 

The Antidote To Anxiety . . . is PRAYER AND THANKSGIVING!

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

 

“Prayer” is the general word for making requests known to God.  The Bible tells us that prayer also includes the idea of adoration, devotion, and worship.  Whenever we find ourselves filled with anxiety, our first action ought be to spend time alone with God in prayerful thanksgiving and worship.

 

Giving thanks to God helps us to remember the greatness and majesty of God.  We must remember that God is big enough to solve problems we cannot.

 

Too often, we rush into his presence and quickly tell him what we need!  But, freedom from anxiety comes when we spend more time on who God is, rather than on what our problems are!

    

This expressed appreciation on our part blesses our heavenly Father.  He delights in hearing his children say, “Thank you!”

 

Still, so many people are like the nine lepers healed by Jesus in Luke 17:11-19 . . .  we are eager to ask, but slow to appreciate!

 

Notice that this “thanksgiving” is to be offered at the same time that we make our requests!  Doing this serves to remind us of all the other things God has done, and is doing, for us.  AND, THIS helps to keep our problems in perspective.

 

THIS KIND OF PRAYING & THANKSGIVING RESULTS IN A FORTRESS OF PEACE THAT WILL GUARD OUR MIND AND HEART.

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

 

God may not always remove the problems that were the initial cause of our anxiety, BUT, he promises us a “peace, which goes beyond anything that we can understand.”  It is a peace that the world cannot provide . . . but GOD can!

 

John 14:27 (NIV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

 

John 16:33 (NIV)

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.

 

This is a peace that “guards” (like a fortress) our “hearts” and “minds.”  Guarding the HEART, which is susceptible to wrong feelings / Guarding the MIND, which is susceptible to wrong thinking.

 

This does NOT mean that we will have no struggles or trials in this life.

 

It does mean that we can have a quiet confidence within our lives . . . regardless of circumstances, people, or things that would otherwise steal our joy!

 

This wonderful peace, this freedom from anxiety, is the result of letting our requests be known to God - through the right kind of praying:  Praying about everything, and Praying with Thanksgiving.

 

BUT, TAKE NOTE - all this is possible only through Jesus Christ:

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

 

Jesus is the source of every spiritual blessing from God, including peace that surpasses understanding (Ephesians 1:3).  And, we must be living in obedience to Jesus Christ, if we desire this peace that Paul writes about in Philippians 4:6-7.

 

Do YOU desire this “peace of God?”  Then you must be living for Jesus, and Jesus must be living in you!  And, you must commune with God frequently in the kind of praying that Paul talks about today.

 

 

October 31, 2020

 

Sermon Series on the NT book of Philippians - #13

 

“The Virtue Of Gentleness”

Philippians 4:5

 

Virtue (noun ) - good quality; strong point; asset; benefit; advantage.

 

Among the general exhortations that Paul includes in this last chapter of his letter to the Philippians, we find the following admonition:

 

Philippians 4:5 (NIV)

Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.

 

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; (ESV)

 

Let your moderation be known unto all men.  The Lord is at hand. (KJV)

 

The virtue referred to in this verse, gentleness, is a very important one . . . and it is well worth the time we’ll spend today taking a closer look at it.

 

Let’s begin by noticing . . .

 

1. THE NATURE OF THIS VIRTUE

 

THE DEFINITION OF “GENTLENESS”

 

The Greek word epi-ei-kei-a (gentleness) is one of the most untranslatable words in the Greek language.  This difficulty is seen in the various translations given to it:  Patience, Softness, Modesty, Forbearance, Moderation, and Reasonableness.

 

 

THE DESCRIPTION OF “GENTLENESS”

 

Gentleness describes that courtesy and graciousness which should characterize every person who is a born again Christian.  

 

The term gentleness indicates something of the ability to give way to the wishes of others; the poise of soul which enables one to sacrifice their own rights, not by necessity, but out of generosity and sympathy.

 

Gentleness is the opposite of stubbornness and thoughtlessness . . . and, it was embodied in Jesus.

 

2 Corinthians 10:1 (NLV)

I, Paul, ask you this myself.  I do it through Christ who is so gentle and kind.

 “GENTLENESS” is the opposite of contention. It is the spirit that enables a person to bear hurt with patience . . . the spirit that does NOT demand all that may be rightly his due . . . all for the sake of peace.

 

A good example of this virtue, fully applied in life, is seen in the willingness of Paul and his followers:

  

2 Corinthians 6:3-7 (TLB)

3 We try to live in such a way that no one will ever be offended or kept back from finding the Lord by the way we act, so that no one can find fault with us and blame it on the Lord.  4 In fact, in everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God.  We patiently endure suffering and hardship and trouble of every kind.  5 We have been beaten, put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, stayed awake through sleepless nights of watching, and gone without food.  6 We have proved ourselves to be what we claim by our wholesome lives and by our understanding of the Gospel and by our patience.  We have been kind and truly loving and filled with the Holy Spirit.  7 We have been truthful, with God’s power helping us in all we do.  All of the godly man’s arsenal - weapons of defense, and weapons of attack - have been ours.

 

2. THE DISPLAY OF THIS VIRTUE

 

 “GENTLENESS” IS TO BE A PERSONAL QUALITY OF ALL CHRISTIANS. 

 

Notice that Paul says . . .

 

Philippians 4:5 (NIV)

Let YOUR gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.

 

Followers of Jesus Christ, Elders, ALL Christians - are to display this virtue of GENTLENESS. 

 

Titus 3:1-2

1 Remind the believers to be subject to rulers and authorities.  They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.  2 They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling.  Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.

 

We are to display this GENTLENESS, for it is part of the “heavenly wisdom” which comes from God: 

 

James 3:17 (NLT)

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure.  Then it gives peace.  It is gentle and willing to obey.  It is full of loving-kindness and of doing good.  It has no doubts and does not pretend to be something it is not.

 

OUR “GENTLENESS” IS TO BE BOTH SEEN AND EXPERIENCED BY ALL PEOPLE. 

 

Philippians 4:5 (NIV)

Let your gentleness be evident to ALL.  The Lord is near.

This is the difficult part of the exhortation!  It’s easy to be considerate, kind, and gentle toward some people.  However, there are other people to whom it is so difficult to show a spirit of gentleness.

 

The hard task, and the real test, is for us to display this “gentleness” toward people who are unkind, or unappreciative, or just horribly unchristian.  

         

 

3. THE REASON AND MOTIVE FOR DISPLAYING THIS VIRTUE

 

Philippians 4:5 (NIV)

Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.

 

“THE LORD IS NEAR.”  This may possibly mean the Lord is nearby.  Or, it could refer to either meeting the Lord at our death or at his second coming.  For a Christian, both events are always imminent!

 

God is our Judge, and he is ever watchful and aware of our conduct and treatment of others.  One day, we WILL answer to HIM for our behavior!

 

SO . . . WHAT’S THE DANGER OF NOT DISPLAYING “GENTLENESS?”

 

If you are not gentle in your treatment of others, do you expect God to be gentle in his treatment of you?  Remember the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. 

 

James also gives us a warning . . . 

 

James 2:13 (ESV)

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.  Mercy triumphs over judgment.

 

Living this virtue of gentleness has great benefits.  It can contribute so much to life in, and the peace of, society - by reducing tension between people.

 

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

 

Living this virtue of gentleness can contribute to promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ (as we LIVE our example the “gentleness” found throughout the gospel message).

 

Are we “gentle people?”

 

Are YOU a “gentle person?”

 

May we always be, for . . . “the Lord is near.”

 

(Speaking of the Lord being near - are YOU living a life that is pleasing to him?)

 

October 24, 2020

 

Sermon Series on the NT book of Philippians - #12

 

“REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS”

 

Philippians 4:4

In the final chapter of Philippians, we find Paul giving exhortations that are both specific and general.  In verses 1-3, Paul gave specific exhortations to specific Christians at Philippi.

 

Now, in verse 4, we find the first of several general exhortations which all Christians need:

 

Philippians 4:4 (ESV)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

 

Do you remember that “JOY” is the keynote of this letter / epistle?  16 times in this letter, Paul uses the word rejoice - or a derivation of it - (1:4, 1:18 [twice]; 1:25; 2:2; 2:17 [twice]; 2:18 [twice]; 2:28; 2:29; 3:1; 4:1; 4:4 [twice]; and 4:10)!

 

 

Today, let’s look at a few observations about how we are to “Rejoice In The Lord Always!”

 

1. THIS JOY IS TO BE EXPERIENCED “ALWAYS”

 

1 Rejoice in the Lord always;

 

This joy is NOT just to be an occasional experience, and it is NOT just for exceptional people.  We are to live in joy during trials as well as during triumphs.

 

James 1:2-3 (ESV)

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

 

Romans 5:3-4 (ESV)

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

 

This joy is for all Christians.

 

1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV)

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

 

CONSIDER THE EXAMPLE OF PAUL.  HE FOUND JOY “ALWAYS” . . .

In his prayers (1:4); in proclaiming the gospel in  adverse circumstances (1:18); in the unity of the saints (2:2); in the possibility of being a martyr for Jesus Christ (2:17); and in the love of this fellow Christians brethren (4:10).

 

Paul really did “rejoice always!”  But, what was his secret?  What was the source of this abiding joy?

 

2. THIS ABIDING JOY IS FOUND “IN THE LORD”

 

1 Rejoice in the Lord always;

 

Let’s be honest . . . there is temporary joy in drugs and alcohol, in sexual pleasures, in acquiring material things.  But, these are at best like great wealth, which, “make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:5).  At worst, temporary joys are, “the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25).

 

THE JOY THAT “ABIDES” ONLY COMES FROM A PERSONAL AND DAILY LIVING RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST.

        

 “IN THE LORD” we can enjoy:

 

Peace with God (Romans 5:2); Help in temptations (1 Corinthians 10:13 / Philippians 4:13); Assurance of God's help in time of trial (Hebrews 13:5-6).

 

These are the things which provide true and lasting joy!  Wouldn't it be wonderful to experience this “abiding joy?”  Why don't we?  Why do so many people who have a personal relationship with Jesus often lack joy in ALL circumstances?

 

Perhaps it is because . . .

 

3. THERE ARE OFTEN HINDRANCES TO “ABIDING JOY”

 

MEMORIES OF PAST FAILURES AND AWARENESS OF PRESENT FAULTS CAN LEAVE US DISCOURAGED OR DEPRESSED.

 

Paul, however, provides us the solution:

 

Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV)

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.  But one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

We MUST realize our imperfections, yet press on to better things!  We MUST forget our past failures, and reach forward to future successes!

 

OK.  Many people are naturally “melancholy” - with a genetic predisposition toward a negative attitude.  Others have been greatly influenced by their own environment, when growing up.

 

Still, in Christ, we can be transformed:

 

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

AND, we can produce the “fruit of the Spirit” which includes JOY:

 

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

 

OK, LET’S BE REAL.  It is easy to be joyful when everything is going well.  But, when things go wrong, well . . . t

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