PHILIPPIANS 4:4June 10, 2012FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI Thanks for praying and preparing snacks for the VBS Faculty RoomPhilippians 4:44 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 The only sure, reliable, unwavering, unchanging source of joy is God .Certainly the wickedness, sorrow, misery and death in this present darkness does notevoke joy in the average person.Sometimes loved ones are not a reliable source of joy since they can change, hurtyou or disappoint you.
Even believers often cannot find reason to rejoice in their specific circumstances. That is why Paul commands believers to rejoice in the Lord.The phrase “in the Lord” introduces an important principle:Spiritual stability is directly related to how a person thinks about God.A. W. Tozer says:“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thingabout us.The history of mankind shows that no people group has ever risen above its religion,and that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and themost portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do,but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law ofthe soul to move toward our mental image of God.This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians thatcomposes the Church.
Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her mostsignificant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence isoften more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure ofher witness concerning God.Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, "Whatcomes into your mind when you think about God?" we might predict with certaintythe spiritual future of that man.” A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) Reprint; New York: Harper & Row, 1975, 9A smile increases your face value!Smile a while & give your face a rest.
We all smile in the same language!Knowledge of God is the key to rejoicing in the Lord.Those who know the great truths about God find it easy to rejoice; those with littleknowledge of Him find it difficult to rejoice.God gave the Psalms to Israel in poetic form so they could be easily memorized andset to music.
The first three verses of the book of Psalms promise blessings to those who meditateon Scripture:Psalm 1:1-31 “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand inthe path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And on His law does he meditate day andnight.3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in itsseason And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3It is from this knowledge of God and repeated recitation (meditation) and singing ofHis nature and attributes that believers joy flows.So deep was the apostles knowledge of Gods character and purposes that evensuffering for Jesus Christ was a cause of joy:Colossians 1: 10-12“walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in all respects, bearing fruit inevery good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; joyously giving thanks tothe Father,” Colossians 1:10-12
Philippians 4:5a“Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.” Philippians 4:5aEpieikes (gentle spirit) has a richer meaning than any single English word can convey.Perhaps the best corresponding English word is graciousness — the graciousness ofhumility; the humble graciousness that produces the patience to endure injustice,disgrace, and mistreatment without retaliation, bitterness, or vengeance.It is contentment.Philippians 4:5a“Let your gracious humility (gentle spirit) be known to all men.” Philippians 4:5aA man has this quality of a gentle spirit if he knows when not to apply the strict letterof the law, when to relax justice and when to introduce mercy.The Christian, as Paul sees it, is the person who knows that there is something beyondjustice.When the woman taken in adultery was brought before Him, Jesus could haveapplied the letter of the Law according to which she should have been stoned todeath; but he went beyond justice.
As far as justice goes, there is not one of us who deserves anything other than thecondemnation of God, but He goes far beyond justice. Why should a man be like this? Why should he have this joy and gracious gentleness in his life?“gentle spirit" in v. 5 means "sweet reasonableness“.It is wonderful when Christians can have convictions and yet be easy to get alongwith!If we remember that life is short, we will not wish to enforce the stern justice which sooften divides men but will wish to deal with men in love, as we hope that God willdeal with us.Justice is human, but this gentle spirit (epieikeia) is divine.
Gracious humility runs counter to the cult of self-love that was rampant in ancientsociety, and is rampant in modern society as well.1 Peter 5:5-75 “all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposedto the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 6 Therefore humble yourselves under themighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all youranxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:5-7
Focusing on self-esteem, self-fulfillment and self-love leads only to greater and greaterinstability and anxiety.Those whose focus is not on themselves cannot be knocked off balance by inequity,injustice, unfair treatment, or lies.It is hard to stumble when you are on your knees!We can say with Paul, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am"(4:11). Spiritual stability belongs to the graciously humble.Philippians 4:5b“The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:5b
Paul says that “the Lord is near”. If we remember the coming triumph of Christ, wecan never lose our hope and our joy.There is no greater source of spiritual stability than the confidence that the Lord isnear.“When it seems as if God is far away, remind yourself that He is near.Nearness is not a matter of geography. God is everywhere. Nearness is likeness.The more we become like the Lord, the nearer He is to us.” Warren WiersbeJames 4:8“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8
The Lords nearness is the sense of His presence - He is near both to hear the cry of thebelievers heart, and to help and strengthen them.Because of Gods nearness, believers should not be fearful, anxious, or wavering.Unfortunately, when we face trials, believers often seem to forget what we knowabout God.We lose our confident trust in Him, lose our self-control and spiritual stability, and aredefeated. Even strong believers are not immune to an occasional lapse.Both initially in justification, and continually in sanctification, the Christian life is a life offaith in God.As he reminded himself of the greatness of his God, Habakkuks faith grew stronger.By the end of his prophecy he was able to sing triumphantly of Gods glorious natureand power:Habakkuk 3:17-19“Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though theyield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock shouldbe cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, Iwill rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has mademy feet like hinds feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:17-19
Habakkuks faith in God made him a spiritually stable man — so much so that even ifthe normal, dependable things in life suddenly collapsed, he would still rejoice inGod.The Lord Who is near is the almighty, true, and living God revealed in Scripture. Thosewho delight themselves in His holy power, love, and wisdom and cultivate a deepknowledge of Him by studying and meditating on His Word, will live by thefoundation of that truth and will be spiritually stable."The Lord is near" does not only mean "His coming is soon," but also that He is near tohelp us right now.
If we keep in mind that the Lord is with us (Zeph. 3:17) in every circumstance, then it iseasier to obey Him and get along with other people.Zephaniah 3:17 NIV 17 The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight inyou, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 NIVIf we would but rejoice in Him and get our eyes on Him instead of on ourselves, wewould have His joy and peace and realize that He is near!Note the admonitions Paul gives: stand firm in the Lord; be of one mind in the Lord; rejoice in the Lord; the Lord is near at hand!This is "practicing the presence of God," seeing Him in every situation of life, andallowing Him to work out His perfect will.Philippians 4:6-76 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication withthanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your heartsand your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7Because of the presence of God in our lives, believers are to be anxious for nothing.Nothing is outside of His control or too difficult for Him to handle.
A low view of God leads to myriad of problems in the church.A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error inour religious thinking. (Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 6)Weak, struggling, unstable Christians need to build their strength on the foundation ofwhat the Bible says about God.The result of the churchs failure to equip believers with the knowledge of Godscharacter and works is a lack of understanding of His nature and purposes, and asubsequent lack of confidence in Him. The shifting sands of shallow or faulty theology provide no stable footing for the believer.
Philippians 4:6a6 “Be anxious for nothing” Philippians 4:6aAnxious, fretful, worried, harried believers are inherently unstable and vulnerable totrials and temptations.Anxiety is both a violation of Scripture and totally unnecessary.In a magnificent passage in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pointed out the sinfulfolly of anxiety:Matthew 6:25-3425 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you willeat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life morethan food, and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, andyet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow;they do not toil nor do they spin,29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one ofthese.30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow isthrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What willwe wear for clothing?’32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows thatyou need all these things.33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be addedto you.
34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day hasenough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34