Saturday, March 21, 2020

Trouble, Trouble, Trouble - Philippians 4:4-7 - March 22, 2020

These are the Sermon Notes for March 22, 2020. Watch our livestream service every Sunday at 9:37 am on our facebook page or watch the livestream recordings any time.

Philippians 4:4-7 Trouble, Trouble, Trouble
So, it’s pretty hard to ignore the fact that we are faced with a significant crisis in the world today. The COVID-19 virus or fear of getting it or spreading it has seemed to grind the world to a halt. I don’t really think it would be wise to ignore what’s going on and just soldier on through our study in the Gospel of Mark so we are going to pause that for now and think about the crisis that the world is facing and our response, as Christians, to it.
The truth is, that everything we say and do communicates, even if the message that people receive isn’t what we intended. Our response to the Corona virus and its effects on our world are no different. In fact, our responses to this current crisis say a lot about our levels of trust and where our trust lies.
So this morning, rather than going to the Gospel of Mark, we are going to look at Philippians 4:4-7, so please turn there with me.
I’m going to try and stick to the same consistent study process that we have been using for the last month or so though we obviously won’t be able to have the same level of dialogue. You are welcome to comment your thoughts on the live stream though I don’t know that I’ll be able to see them in time or at all, but I will at least give you some time to think about some questions.
But first, let’s pray.
Study the Scriptures – Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
What does Paul mean when he instructs the Philippians to rejoice? Rejoicing is about perspective not blindness. It’s the difference between saying, “my troubles are more than I can bear,” or, “I have Jesus in my heart, trouble no longer exists,” or, “my troubles are real, but I know that the Lord cares for me and knows what he’s doing, I trust Him.” Rejoicing is choosing the proper perspective, enjoying gladness knowing that the Lord is in control.
What does it mean to be reasonable? Reasonableness is a fruit of rejoicing, it is also translated, “forbearance,” to be gracious and gentle in the face of difficulty or trouble, not freaking out or flying off the handle when things don’t go your way. Paul tells the Philippians to let their reasonableness be known to all, how is that possible if no one ever gets to observe their reaction to trouble? It really isn’t!
Where does the loss of anxiety or worry find its source? In the nearness of the Lord. The end of verse five says, “the Lord is at hand.” This isn’t about the closeness in time of the return of Christ, but the nearness of his presence among believers. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” The Lord is near, and when we trust in Him we have no need to worry or be anxious about anything.

Consult the Scholars
John Calvin – It is an exhortation suited to the times; for, as the condition of the pious was exceedingly troublous, and dangers threatened them on every side, it was possible that they might give way, overcome by grief or impatience. Hence he enjoins it upon them, that, amidst circumstances of hostility and disturbance, they should nevertheless rejoice in the Lord, as assuredly these spiritual consolations, by means of which the Lord refreshes and gladdens us, ought then most of all to show their efficacy when the whole world tempts us to despair.

Matthew Henry – As a sovereign antidote against perplexing care he recommends to us constant prayer… Observe, 1. We must not only keep up stated times for prayer, but we must pray upon every particular emergency... When anything burdens our spirits, we must ease our minds by prayer; when our affairs are perplexed or distressed, we must seek direction and support. 2. We must join thanksgiving with our prayers and supplications. We must not only seek supplies of good, but own receipts of mercy. Grateful acknowledgments of what we have argue a right disposition of mind, and are prevailing motives for further blessings. 3. Prayer is the offering up of our desires to God, or making them known to him… Not that God needs to be told either our wants or desires; for he knows them better than we can tell him: but he will know them from us, and have us show our regards and concern, express our value of the mercy and sense of our dependence on him. 4. The effect of this will be the peace of God keeping our hearts, v. 7. The peace of God, that is, the comfortable sense of our reconciliation to God and interest in his favor, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, and enjoyment of God hereafter, which passeth all understanding, is a greater good than can be sufficiently valued or duly expressed.

Think Through the Issues
Hard does not always mean bad.
Though the crisis we are currently facing is hard it can also bring opportunities for our own growth and opportunities for our witness.
Trouble puts the reality of our faith on display, not only for ourselves to see and experience, but for the watching world, for our friends and family and neighbors, as well.
Rejoice! Trouble can bring opportunities…Opportunities display our reasonableness in Christ, opportunities to display freedom from worry in Christ, opportunities to display relief from our burdens in Christ, opportunities to display the peace that only God can give in Christ, opportunities to experience the nearness of the Lord that we often overlook when times are easy…
When trouble comes and we do the opposite and are indifferent, impatient, thrown into confusion, or are disheartened in the face of trouble, what are we truly displaying then?
-Not only do we display a lack of trust in the Lord, we display our ignorance toward God’s providence (as if to say that the Lord couldn’t possibly be at work in the trouble we face.)
-We also display that we do not recognize the fact that the Lord truly cares for us (as if to say that if God truly loves us, why is He allowing bad things to happen to us?)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Apply the Principles
The core teaching of this passage is that the Lord cares for us and is present with us through Christ and we can rejoice and rest in that truth by trusting in Him.
Because we have peace with God we can have the peace of God. Both types of peace are wrought by the same method, and that is trusting in Jesus Christ.
But agreeing with those facts is not enough. The truth must move from our heads to our hearts and our hands if we are to make progress in maturing as disciples.
Consider your response to our current crisis, how have you been reacting so far and what has that communicated to those around you? What needs to change? How have you seen the Lord draw near during this time? Is there anyone you can reach out to or help?
So here is your assignment:
Understanding that prayer is the solution for worry and the best way to acknowledge the nearness of the Lord, write out the things that you are worried about in regards to this crisis as a prayer daily so as to give the Lord opportunity to guard your heart and mind with His peace.