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Worry Antidote

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Sermon on Philippians 4:4-7

Title:  Rejoicing Always.

Theme:  Rejoice in the Lord, always

Goal: to lead believers to find reason to rejoice always.

Need:  many factors including life relationships and purpose can keep Christians from rejoicing in the Lord always.

1.     Introduction:  Story of life interrupting rejoicing always.

2.     Rejoice in the midst of bondage and conflict.

3.     Let your warmness shine through since Christ is present and returning more fully.

4.     Lay your troubles before God.

5.     Conclusion

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

          How do you handle difficult situations in your life?  How do handle the times when you are going along, loving life, making plans for the future then you reach a speed bump in the road?  Maybe its just a little bit of a bump that slows you down for a second.  Maybe it’s one of those huge speed bumps, bad news about a child or a grand child or your own health or who knows what.  Maybe you are going through that problem right now?  How is it going for you in that?

          Often times in those down times it is hard to hear someone else’s opinion about how to recover yourself after some sort of speed bump.  When someone has just lost a loved one, the message of, “well they are in a better place,” doesn’t offer an immediate relief of sadness or grief.  Or in sickness, hearing someone try and tell you that you shouldn’t be upset about being sick because it is all in the plans of God, doesn’t help very much.

          Even on a much smaller level that I am sure we all can relate to.  Maybe something happened and I am grumpy about it and then I let that grumpiness follow me wherever I go.  Not a healthy, mature, or godly thing to do.  But have you ever been in one of those moods of grumpiness and had someone say, well look at the bright side of things.  Or, you gotta quit being so grumpy.  “YOU THINK I’M Grumpy.  Don’t tell me how to act or feel.  You think you have it all together enough to just say Stop and I am not going to be grumpy anymore!!!”

          Whoa! 

          So how do we deal with the times either major or minor where we are emotionally ragged?

          For those of us who are not in that position right now, we prepare ourselves as best we can for that.  That’s the way God expects us to use the Bible.  When we study the Bible, when we hear sermons, when we do our devotions and have Bible based discussions with our friends or neighbors, it building up our worldview.  When we are confronted about our attitude or when we are confronted by the reality of the fleeting nature of our lives, we are cut down and our deepest held beliefs.  Our view of God and the world may be challenged, but often they will be have all we have left to hold on to.

          If we are in the middle of a situation of hurt right now it might be hard to take these words of God through the apostle Paul to heart.  First, we should know that as Paul wrote this letter to the Church in the city of Philippi, he isn’t sitting in his Roman lazyboy sipping on some herbal tea.  Anything but.  He is enduring prison.  One of the many times he was tossed in prison because he had “disrupted the peace” by preaching of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Hopefully we don’t hear these words as something from an insensitve dogmatic know-it-all.  But from a caring person who is enduring similar suffering.

          The church in Philippi is hurting at the time with some conflict.  Many times in this letter he talks about attitudes.  He talks about thinking first of all of others.  And he talks about having a humble attitude like Christ.  In the verses just before our text Paul names two ladies who can’t seem to get along in the church.  They both are faithful ladies, but they are caught in dispute.  Paul sees that because of this dispute there is a lack of joy in the life of the church and of the Christians.

          The speed bump in the road for the Christian church in Philippi, at least one of the prominent ones is that the relationships among the people are not peaceful.  Could they have been out right hostile, possibly.  Could this have a been a few years of unforgiveness between one and the other?  We don’t know for sure.  What we do know is that Paul eagerly works to repair relationships, let forgiveness be shared.  When harsh relationships are repaired by God’s Holy Spirit through listening and forgiveness, it will make a difference.

          And there is escalating pressure by the Roman world to put an end to Christianity.  The want to exterminating their worship, their fellowship, and even the lives of Christians.  Sounds like a major bump in the road.

          Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord, always.  I will say it again, Rejoice.” 

“I’m going to say it again, don’t pull the dogs tale.  I’m going to say it again, remember to bring your dishes to the sink.  I’m going to say it again, make sure you do your homework before you go to your friends house.”

          When you say something twice you’re trying to get it to sink in.  When you say something twice you are trying to get it to sink in.  Rejoice in the Lord, always.  I will say it again, rejoice.

          If this is trying to tell us that every Christian ought to be through your head back and belly laugh happy all the time, then we all might as well pack it in and ignore Paul.  It is absolutely impossible to be happy all the time.  Not even Christ was happy all the time. 

 

Sure being pleasant with people at the store or on the road is one way to show evidence that you have Jesus living in your hearts, but constant all out joy is not what it means by rejoice in the Lord always.

          In the Lord.  We don’t rejoice because there are hardships.  We rejoice because there is Jesus seeing us through.  We rejoice because Jesus takes the hurt and builds us up through it.  We rejoice in the Lord who we belong to.

          Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS.  The always means in whatever circumstances.  Whatever position we find our lives in.  Your family a wreck?  Your health a mess?  You work less than ideal?  Are your church relationships hurting, strained or broken? 

Paul encourages us to find it in us in the midst of it all to rejoice and celebrate Jesus and belonging to him.  If you aren’t in that spot, lock this away for the day when it does come.  No matter how difficult it gets for us we, Jesus Christ is always bringing us through.  May our worldview match that of God’s where he sees the evil in the world as being a tool to encourage an even closer relationship with Christ.

          And Paul keeps on going.  Rejoice he says.  But when your relationships are strained or even when the people around you are struggling with broken relationships let your gentleness be apparent. 

          I love the way Paul talks about this because the longer you think about it, the less sense it seems to make.  Make sure your gentleness is apparent to everyone.  When I think of gentleness, I think of something that is kind of behind the scenes.  Bold and gentle contradict each other many times.  But not for Paul.  Not for God.

          Bold gentleness is precisely the attitudes we need when anxieties are running high because of strained relationships like is true in the church in Philippi.  In our church as well.  The wise and seasoned follower of Christ ought to have a gentleness that is bold.  Christ himself had a gentleness that stood out among the crowd.  The way he touched lepers to heal them.  The way he gently rebuked the ones who had a serious spiritual deficit.

          What does a bold gentleness look like?  In the Bible, I see it in the story of the shepherd with the lost sheep.  He leaves the 99 to find the one that is lost.  He searches high and low.  Likely encournters dangers along the way.  He boldly seeks to reenfold the one that belongs to him.  He corrects this little lamb and then rejoices when they return.

          In our families and jobs.  This reminder of bold gentleness ought to remind us that a good parent or a good child, a good employer or a good employee needs to master the talent of the deep breath.  I am talking about the deep breath that needs to happen when someone does something that blows your temperature through the ceiling.  The deep breath that is followed by the gentle answer or reply or confession or whatever is necessary.  The deep breath of bold gentleness that will not be followed by shouting, or rolled eyes, or a quick exit.  Gentleness that is evident.

          Control is a godly thing to strive for, as long as you are talking about controlling your temper or your tongue.  You can’t really be in control of others anyway, can you?

          So be in control.  Have a bold gentleness that will show you are a follower of Christ.  Verse 6-76Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

          Whatever stressors or conflicts or whatever are causing trouble for your life, rejoice in Christ.  Control yourself with bold gentleness. And acknowledge that over the whole situation, God is the one who is in control.  The way we live in this world ought to include the most foundational fact of all.  We don’t need to worry about anything because behind it all is a loving caring self-sacrificing God.  He has his hands in every event.  So if you have a deep concern or anxiety and worry put it at God’s feet.

          When you wonder about the situations at school.  Spend time rejoicing.  Proceed with bold gentleness, continue laying it before God, allow his peace to be present in you.  When you wonder about events in the world.  The future of the faith of the youth, the future of Christian freedoms in Canada, the future world peace, whatever you do, wherever God calls you be active in this world.  Rejoicing.  Bold gentleness.  Prayer.  Peace.

          I imagine through all this, rejoicing in the Lord always will come even more freely.

This is God’s will from his word.  And all God’s people say,  AMEN.

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