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Pass the Peace, Please

Notes & Transcripts

Sunday, November 29, 2009*

Philippians 4:4-9


Subject:         Peace

Theme:          God’s peace

Proposition:   We can receive the protection of God’s peace

T.S.                 We can receive the protection of God’s peace when we continue three habits.


OPEN: Paint pic of a stressful holiday season.  Anxiety. 

(ILL) Home Alone (scene of stress preparing for trip).

(TRANS) Our passage this morning is one of my favorites to help me deal w/stress and anxiety.  Good for during a time of transition, but also good as we prepare to head into the holiday season. 

CONTEXT: Writes to a church he founded in the city of Philippi.  These folks already knew about suffering.  Paul & Silas had been beaten and imprisoned there.  Paul is imprisoned in Rome.  You would think such a situation would worry him, but he is rejoicing and in great peace. 

(TRANS) This morning we are going to read Paul’s recipe for having peace no matter the circumstances. 

Let’s STAND and read this passage together.

Philippians 4:6-9

 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 8 Finally, brothers, 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.

 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

(TRANS) Let’s unpack this one verse at a time.  You can follow along with the outline in your bulletin, borrowed in part from Warren Weirsbe. 


First ingredient is:

RIGHT PRAYING  (v.6-7)

PRESENT YOUR PRAYERS

 

Philippians 4:6-9

 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

 (TRANS) The first verse, which you can see on the screen, is best understood with two buckets/backpacks. 

Left one is labeled “Worry.”  Right is labeled “Prayer.” Everything has to go in one or the other (words “anything” and “everything”).  Bring out various items and decide which bucket it goes in. Everything goes in this (prayer) bucket.

·         Envelopes – the steady stream of bills.

·         Books (first), then stuff into a backpack – school.

·         Car keys – your child and their growing independence.

(TRANS) Those are normal stresses, but what about the extra ones that get piled up this time of year?

·         Gift (wrapped) – Do I need to get gifts for certain folks?  If so, how many?  How will I pay for them? 

·         Xmas lights – And I need to decorate the house – again.

·         Cookbook – How am I going to find time to cook the meal for our family gatherings?

·         Photo – Ugh.  Family.  Last year there was that big blow-up when uncle so-and-so made that comment that set off my sister-in-law. 

All things go in the prayer bucket.

(TRANS) Paul not only tells us to pray about everything; he also instructs us on how to pray:

·         Prayer – Original word means to bow before or kiss toward.  We are to approach God in adoration.

·         Petition – This is what we normally think of as prayer.  Just ask.  Tell God what’s on your heart, what you need.

·         Thanksgiving – recount past/current faithfulness; helps us trust for future faithfulness

(TRANS) When we consistently choose the right bucket, the result is amazing.

Philippians 4:6-7

 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

God’s response: Give a special gift.  God’s Peace. 

Beyond comprehension.  Won’t make sense to those who only use one bucket, or even some who use both buckets.

Guard:

(ILL) Call up Garrison.  Military unit that protects a place or people. 

God’s peace will stand guard around you like a group of soldiers serving as your bodyguards to keep us safe from harm.

Battleground is the heart and mind.  If Satan can sow lies in your mind or plant bitterness or stress in your heart, he can sideline you from effectiveness in God’s kingdom.  If he can capture your mind, he will render you ineffective in the battle. 

(TRANS) B/c the mind is the battleground, we need to remain vigilant against those things that would injure the mind or hinder its ability to perform.  Satan is constantly at work to gain a foothold in your hearts and minds.


Paul gives some fantastic advice on how to deal with this.  To show you how wise this advice is, let’s run a little experiment.

I’m going to give you one simple instruction, and I want you to do it as soon as you hear me say it.  You can do it right there in your seats.  You don’t have to get up and move.  Ready.  Okay, listen carefully.  Here you go:

(ILL) Don’t think of a pink elephant. Show pic of Horton.

Okay.  What are you thinking of?  Horton Hears a Who. 

(APP) You see, it’s not just enough to try to not dwell on something, you need to replace that thought with something else. 

(TRANS) Now, read with me v.8 as Paul gives us the second ingredient in his recipe for peace. 

RIGHT THINKING (v.8)

PONDER THE PRAISEWORTHY

8 Finally, brothers, 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.

I love this verse.  It gives me a whole list of virtues to choose from whenever my thoughts are tempted to stray. 

·         TRUE: Do you ever find yourself having fictional conversations in your head?  You are expecting a difficult encounter, so you run thru all the possible ways the conversation can go.  I do this often.  The problem is that I get all emotionally worked up as though the conversation is actually going on.  But that’s not true.  That’s not where my thoughts need to pitch their tent.

·         RIGHT: I can easily dwell on injustices against me or against others.  But why not instead dwell on what is right and good.

·         PURE: This doesn’t need much commentary.  Try as you might, it is nearly impossible to keep all the promiscuous images and talk from reaching our minds.  But when it does, we have the opportunity to discard that thought and replace it with one that focuses on something pure.  

There are lots of words in that verse, but only one of them is a verb.  Only one is an action we can do – THINK!  You can also translate it as ponder or dwell on.  You get to choose where your thoughts will dwell, where they will pitch their tent. 


(TRANS) After Right Praying and Right Thinking there is a third ingredient in our recipe for peace:

RIGHT LIVING (v.9)

PRACTICE A GODLY PATTERN

Philippians 4:9

 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Oh to live a life of such godliness that we could say the same thing.  But the truth is that we all are living an example that others will imitate whether we want them to or not.  Our words are important.  Our actions are even moreso.  Put them together, and you have a powerful tool for the shaping & training of others.

(ILL) Necktie instructions.

(APP) Get close to godly people who are worth imitating.  A few ways to do this:

·         Accountability partner:

·         A mentor: esp need one if you are young.

·         Mentors from the past.  Look at Paul. Other great men and women of the faith.  Biographies.  Heroes of the Faith series.  It’s My Turn Now.

Paul knew from experience the peace that God could give in the midst of difficult circumstances.  Earlier he said that the “peace of God” would guard their hearts and minds.  Here he goes a step further and say that the God who gives that peace will himself be w/them. 

(TRANS) Really that’s what it all boils down to.  If God is truly w/us, we can have peace.  If he’s not, there’s no way we can have peace. 

(ILL) Bumper Sticker: No God, No Peace; Know God, Know Peace.

(TRANS) When I originally was thinking about preaching on these verses, I was only going to cover v.6-9.  But as I began to study I saw that Paul’s thought was incomplete w/o including v.4-5.  That’s b/c these verses add our last, or really our first, key ingredient in our recipe for peace.


RIGHT PERCPETION (v.4-5)

PERCEIVE THE LORD’S PRESENCE (v.4-5)

Philippians 4:4-5

 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

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

(TRANS) The truth of these verses came to light thru a most unlikely teacher.  She’s a lady who is amazingly perceptive, with a keen mind and sweet spirit.  She is also demonstrating a strong ability to memorize scripture.

Show photo of Elizabeth

(ILL) Has your own child ever become your teacher?  Elizabeth expounded the depth of this passage to me this past week.  She’s only three, but her ability to get the point across in a few words was amazing. 

We’ve been memorizing some verses together.  We try to choose short ones, so Phil 4:4 worked really well.  Here’s how she said it:

Philippians 4:4 – “Rejoice always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!”  As I corrected her I tried to explain why it’s important to not forget the words “in the Lord.”  As I spoke to her the truth came home to me how important those three little word, “in the Lord,” really are.

(TRANS) That little “teachable moment” was really more for my instruction than for hers.   Her little mistake shined the light on a key truth in these verses.

The reason we can have joy is b/c we are “in the Lord.”   Our outward circumstances are not the greatest reality for us.  There is a deeper reality w/in us that overrides our circumstances.  If we belong to Jesus, then His Holy Spirit lives inside us.  When we remember this truth, our response will be one that defies our circumstances. 

When we perceive the Lord’s presence w/us it results in:

·         Rejoicing -

·         Gentleness – not insisting on our own rights.  It’s not up to us.  The Lord is near, so he can take care of us.  We don’t have to push for our own care.  We don’t have to worry that it’s up to us. 

Recommended book: The Practice of the Presence of Christ.


 (APP) Having this right perception makes a huge difference in our lives. 

·         It enables us to not be anxious about anything but give everything over to him in prayer.  He’s right here w/us.

·         It enables us to pray rightly.

(ILL) We often pray, “Lord, be with us today,” or “Lord, please be with Susan in the midst of this crisis.”  TRUTH: If you are a believer, He is with you.  We don’t have to ask for that.  It would be more accurate to pray, “Lord, help us be aware of your presence with us.”

·         Understanding that God is near makes it easier to focus our thoughts on those things which are excellent and praiseworthy, those things which resonate with the character of the person living w/in us.

·         Understanding God’s presence w/us also helps us identify it in other people.  We can look to godly people to provide examples after which we can pattern our lives.

·         And all of these practices enable us to have peace which passes all understanding that will guard our hearts and our minds from the anxiety that poisons our thinking and handicaps us from loving and serving God in the way He deserves.

(TRANS) In just a moment we are going to close with a song.

Invite band up to the stage.

Remember how I said it’s good to have “historic mentors?”  Our closing song was a favorite of one of my heroes of the faith.  His name is Eric Liddel.  Know as “the Flying Scotsman,” you can experience the triumph of his Olympic victories thru watching the movie Chariots of Fire.  What you may not know is that he left behind athletic stardom to serve as a missionary in China.  During WWII he was imprisoned in a Japanese prison camp.  There he ministered to people, especially children to whom he taught Sunday school.  They even called him “Uncle Eric”.  But he was never to make it out of the camp, succumbing to a brain tumor before the war was over. 

But yet, Eric seemed to live out the truth of these verses, demonstrating the peace that passes all understanding.  Maybe that is why our closing song was so dear to him.  Stand as we sing: Be Still My Soul.

SONG: Be Still My Soul

Close in Prayer.


 


Lk 6:40 “…everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

(ILL) Not “do as I say, not as I do” but rather “do what I say and what I do.”

1Cor 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”


Philippians 4:4-9

 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

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

 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 8 Finally, brothers, 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.

 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

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