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Getting along, Choosing joy, Dealing with Anxiety, Trying to be Content
Thoughts from Philippians 4

This morning we are going to finish our study of the Book of Philippians by taking a look at Philippians 4

A little bit of background as it regards the Book of Philippians

-Church at Philippi about 10 years old at the time of this letter.
-Philippians was written by Paul who was under house arrest. At this point it seems that he had been under arrest for between 2-4 years.
-Paul writing to the Philippians in response to a generous support gift that they had sent him- that his needs might be supplied. At just the right time the Philippians had sent Epaphraditus to care for Paul. This encouraged Paul greatly.
-The primary theme of Philippians is that of JOY. Throughout the entire book Paul speaks of his joy in the Lord, while calling the Philippians and us to join in with him in thanking and praising God for His love, His grace, His goodness, His majesty, His wisdom, the way He rules, His provision, His justice, for the life He has given us, etc.

In finishing up our study this morning we are going to touch on some familiar subjects: That of Getting along with each other, Choosing joy, Dealing with Anxiety, and the ever popular subject of Contentment -which is really hard to do/be

READ TEXT- noting that Philippians 4 contains a number of verses that are many Christians favorites

LESSONS AND PRINCIPLES OF THE TEXT

1. WE ARE TO MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO GET ALONG WITH EACH OTHER AND ALL PEOPLE

In Psalm 133:1 it says; "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!"

In Ephesians 4:3 we are exhorted to "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."

In Romans 12:18 it says; "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

In Matthew 5:9 Jesus says; "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."

Getting along is hard to do- sometimes in marriage, with co-workers, with our friends, with neighbors, with our children, with our parents, whoever it is.

Getting along is hard because we are sinners. We struggle with selfishness, with what we say, with our own thoughts - often jumping to conclusions about what the other person is up to.

Here in our text we are told about 2 women- who are named- Euodia and Syntche- how embarrassing that the whole world knows their names -yet they are our teachers :)

Further: How fascinating that we know nothing about what they were fighting over- for that is not really important- and if we did know we'd be inclined to take sides. What we do know is that they were both really stubborn, so stubborn that Paul calls them out by name while encouraging others in the church to intervene in whatever dispute they were having.

Note also: There is no doubt as to the salvation of these women: They were co-workers in the Gospel. There names were written in the Book of Life.

The Book of Life

Mentioned in Revelation 3:5; 20:15; 13:8; 17:8; 21:27 Hebrews 12:22-23, Daniel 12:1, Exodus 32:31-33, Psalm 69:27-28

In it contains the names of all those of those who are right with God, who have been forgiven there sins, who have peace with God.

How to have your name written there? Put your faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.

Application as it regards Unity: Is there someone you have a hard time getting along with- because of similarities in your personality or because of some offense? Ask Jesus to help you with your attitude. Ask Christ to help you to love and forgive them. Do what you can to get along and to promote unity and peace.


2. CHOOSE JOY- REJOICE IN THE LORD! v.4

Key question: What brings delight to my heart? Is it the things of Christ or the things that are passing away- the things of this world

How incredible that the call to rejoice is a call to rejoice in the person and things of Christ- for in Him we have a well to go to for gratitude that will never run dry.

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

Paul took very seriously the call to "take up your cross and follow Jesus" and yet the sacrifices he made didn't make him miserable; in fact Paul experienced the opposite- he knew and chose JOY. He was joyful because He saw God at work- people's lives transformed because of Jesus. He was joyful because this is a fruit of the Spirit of God working in us and forming Christ in our hearts. He chose joy also, deciding not to be a man of laments and gripes and complaints but rather a man of gratitude. He chose not to be crabby.

We must choose joy. This does not mean having a perma smile on our face. This does not mean that we will not be overwhelmed by sorrow- for it happens, but with the help of God we must need to have a heart that says; "I will stay true to God" "I will hold on to my faith" "I am not going to be a negative person. Praise for God will be on my lips -even when I have no clue what He is doing and even when my mind says "He hates me" - for the love of Christ is deeper and wider than I know and I must try and keep on trusting Him"


3. GIVE YOUR FEARS AND WORRIES TO GOD v.4-9

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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."

The Bible has a fair bit to say about anxiety and fear.

David had many anxious moments when on the run from Saul and during his time as King (see Psalm 55,61), various prophets speak of their angst at speaking the Word of God, Paul in Philippians 2:28 speaks of wanting to send Epaphroditus back to the Philippians so that he would be kept from pain/grief/anxiety (Epaph had gotten sick as soon as he showed up to help Paul and this upset Paul- for he was concerned that he might die and then he'd have to grieve the Philippians with the news)

Jesus says a lot to us about not worrying in Matthew 6- reminding us that God the Father loves us and will look after us.

Reasons for anxiety abound

a. Unsettling life events and circumstances
b. Tiredness that makes us susceptible to being overwhelmed
c. Brain issues- chemical imbalances, etc
d. Conflict with others
e. Our sinful choices-- ie. filling our minds with what evil- porn, violence, things to do with the occult, fighting with others, etc. Willful sin on our parts as the followers Jesus takes away our peace, it rattles us.

How to deal with Anxiety

a. Intentional gratitude and thankfulness. A focus on the blessings of God
b. Prayer! A casting of all our anxieties on the LORD. Take all your stuff to Jesus who oves us. Prayers of gratitude. Prayers of confession (confess all known sins). Prayers of intercession for others (for if we fixate on self we are in trouble)
c. Don't let the negative thoughts in your head take over. Take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 5b). In v.8 we are told to think about whatever is: noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. This intentionality of mind/which is cognitive practice is part of addressing our fears and anxiety.

A good question we should ask of the tv shows, movies, books and magazines that we read is this? Is this noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy?

d. Remember who Jesus is, His promises, His intent and heart for us- i.e "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus" Philippians 4;19

e. Take care of your body: Get enough sleep. Don't get drunk or high on drugs. These all contribute to anxiety. If need medical treatment because your body doesn't produce all the required chemicals your brain needs, get and take those treatments.

f. Get help and support from your brothers and sisters in Christ. We to carry each others burdens.


4. PRACTICE CONTENTMENT v.11-13

Context: Paul speaks to the Philippians thanking them for their ongoing support but also affirming that whatever happens he has chosen to be content and that it is "All good"

In closing off his letter, while thanking them for their support, Paul writes; "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

Contentment is a tough subject as we live in a very materialistic culture.

Much of the CDN economy is built on convincing us that we need something new, something shiny, something unique. Then, because the stuff we buy is so poorly constructed, we almost have to replace it every 3 years.

A good question for us is this; "When is enough enough"

Contentment is not merely related to goods. Contentment in our relationships and marriage and jobs, our calling, our God given abilities. These are in "play" as well.

What is/isn't contentment?

-Contentment doesn't mean a person is lazy, lacks drive, or doesn't take initiative.
-Contentment doesn't mean you'll never buy a new car or do something impractical. There is nothing inherently wrong in this

Contentment is first and foremost a matter of the heart and mind. It has to do with our attitude and motives.

How to practice contentment in a our crazy discontented world

1. Prayer for a heart that is not distracted and enticed by the things of this world
2. Delay gratification. Before any purchase or change driven by obsessive thinking, put the brakes on. Take a sober second look and ask some tough questions about whatever it is- questions that fit through the Bible
3. Get good at giving to others and to the work of God. There might indeed be a link between being generous with others in the name of Christ and contentment
4. Decide to be content- whether healthy or sick, rich or poor, in a relationship or not- and then remind yourself of your decision
5. Constantly put things into perspective: Remember what we are here for and our calling, Remember who it is we serve- that's Jesus, and that Heaven is our home. Remember that the things of this earth are passing away. Remember that God is our Heavenly Father and know what we need and more than that He will meet all our needs (not wants) according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus v.19
6. Keep busy. When I have a lot on my plate I don't have as much time to think about wants. The best kind of busy is serving others- which is what we are called to as the followers of Jesus.


CONCLUSION

The Bible is always leading us to Jesus- who help and strength we need, and who is the only Saviour. The Bible is always unfailing practical as well.

The subjects we have considered today are pretty big

1. Getting along with others is hard to do- With the help of Christ, wisdom, patience, and a lot of prayer- we can do it
2. We have been called to rejoice in the LORD always. This is a call to choose JOY. It's also a call to reflect deeply on who Jesus is and what He done for us on the cross and how in Him there is salvation and eternal life.
3. Fears, anxiety and worry- this is familiar ground for us- ground that is easy to get stuck in. We are to give our fears and worries to God. We have a heavenly Father who loves us and who meets all our needs in Christ Jesus.
4. Contentment. Hardly a day goes by when contentment is not a relevant subject for us in someway. It's important for us to clarify the difference between wants and needs and then take all of this to the LORD- asking for Him to help us keep our priorities straight