Los Alamos Church of Christ
Let the Word Dwell
#27 Philippians 4:4
This morning we are going to memorize one of the more famous verses on our list… Philippians 4:4.
#27 Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
As I said our memory verse is one of the more well-known verses. Our memory verse is on a bunch of posters…
Anytime a verse is on a poster, it makes me nervous. Anytime you take a verse out of scripture and put a baby with it… you might not be understanding what the verse is actually supposed to communicate.
Well let’s see. Do these posters… babies, jumping, flowers and Bobby McFerrin capture the essence of Philippians 4:4? You do remember Bobby McFerrin? Does Bobby McFerrin capture the concept of Philippians 4:4?
To answer our question let’s do what we should do every time we see a verse of Scripture on a poster… Let’s pick up the context beginning with our verse from last week… Philippians 3:28.
ESV Philippians 3:18-21 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
The context of our posters begins with our waiting. In a world with enemies of the cross who serve their own bellies, we are called to wait. We wait on the throne. We wait on the Lord. We wait for the day when the Lord Jesus will restore this earth and give us a glorious body; a body like his. We are waiting for that recognizable, huggable, glorious body. The context of our posters begins with waiting amongst enemies of the cross.
Let’s keep reading… into chapter 4.
ESV Philippians 4:1-3 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
The context for our poster verse is to stand firm. We are to stand firm when the women are fussing. “What?” These two women who labored with Paul, evidently, are upset with each other. We are to stand firm when folks in the church are fussing. I’m sure our elders will tell you that it is difficult to “Don’t worry, be happy, now” when there is fussing in the church. When there is bickering in the body it is a killer. Hardly, anything is more discouraging than to have a fuss going on amongst the body. Yet, that is the context leading up to… Rejoice in the Lord, always, I will say it again… rejoice.
So far, in our poster context we have… waiting with the enemies of the cross and standing firm when the church fusses.
Let’s now read our poster verse and then continue to pick the context, after our memory verse.
ESV Philippians 4:4-9 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. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Wow, what an uplifting paragraph. We can have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. This peace will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. That’s what I want. I want to be able to rejoice all the time. I want the peace of God that can’t be touched. I want my heart to stay encouraged. I want my mind to stay focused. I want to be able to be that person who is ready to praise the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord always… would be a wonderful way to live. That’s what I want… the peace that surpasses all understanding.
But before we can answer our question about Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t worry be happy, now”, let’s finish the context.
ESV Philippians 4:10-14 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.
Wait, that’s memory verse number #22. We studied that verse out of order. We already learned that the “I can do all things” is I can handle all things. Paul is not saying that he is Super Christian who is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Paul has taught us that even in the face of starving or in the abundance of plenty, Paul can handle whatever. But the context is that Paul is able to rejoice even when he was starving.
So the context before and after our poster verse is…
--Waiting on our new bodies, even while surrounded by enemies of the cross.
--Standing firm, even if the women are fussing at church.
--Being content, even while starving.
So, are our posters correct? Is… Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice understood as babies, flowers, jumping and Bobby McFerrin?
I don’t know. Maybe they are. If our posters are saying rejoice in the face of the reality of the world which includes…
--Enemies of the cross. There certainly seem to be more and more enemies of the cross. People who do not want the grace of Gospel to spread. We live amongst enemies of the selfish, obedience of the cross.
--Fussing churches. It is hard to get along with ourselves or other churches.
--Starving people. Constantly we are bombarded with pictures of kids who are hungry, as well as 100s of other problems that threaten our world.
It is hard to “Don’t Worry, be happy, now” much less rejoice in the Lord.
Our posters are correct if they are advocating that we can rejoice even in the presence of hurt and hate.
But our posters are wrong if they are saying everything is peachy. Paul is not advocating a checking out from the world in order to deny that there are any problems. Paul is not advocating this…
Paul is not saying that rejoicing in the Lord is ignoring the hurt or the hate. It is not checking out of the world.
Nor is Paul advocating this…
Paul is not saying there is pie in the sky. We just get through this world. Let’s just think about the next life. All I have to do is just stick my head in the sand and think about the pie. We are only waiting for his glorious body. That is not what our posters should say.
Paul advocates the peace of God which surpasses all understanding is possible even in the midst of enemies of the cross, even if there is fussing and with starving. We can rejoice even in the hurt and the hate.
And what is more, Paul tells us how to achieve this rejoicing!
Listen to the words again of our poster paragraph…
ESV Philippians 4:4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Here’s how)
1) Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.
2) The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything,
3) but in everything by prayer and supplication
4) 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.
5) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
6) What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
7) Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
1) Be reasonable. Some versions translate this as gentleness, or moderation or forbearance. The thought is to not overreact. Don’t go ballistic on people. Don’t explode. Be gentle with people. Yes, I know people are stupid. I am stupid on occasion… Relax, chill, be gentle. We need to be reasonably engaged with people. In compassion we help people one at a time. Let you gentleness be evident.
2) The Lord is near. The one who made the universe is on the throne. The one who had this type of body and now has our future bodies… is on the throne. The one who is our Lord is nearby… what a rejoicing thought! The Lord is there with you to be your strength. As we engage the world of hurt and hate we are accompanied by Jesus. I will be with you always! Therefore, you can rejoice in me… always.
3) Pray everything. Turn over the stuff that is stealing your peace. Give it up to God! How do I fix the world? You pray it over to God and then just do what he guides you to do. My job is to do what I am told to do. I am not in charge of the world.
4) Be Thanksgiving. There is something about being thankful that releases anxiety. Be people who are quick to thank others and more quick to thank God. Be thanksgiving people.
5) Focus on the pure. We can get so wrapped around the axle while listening to the news and reading about how terrible everything is. Seeing videos of hurt and hate non-stop overwhelms with evil. Don’t constantly blast yourself with hurt and hate. Instead, look to the pure, the lovely, the praise-worthy. Think on these things! Surround yourself with good.
6) Practice doing good. Get out of yourself. Get out and practice doing good. Do something that leads to peace. One of the best ways of being at peace is to help one other person. When I focus on the good I can do for another… it brings peace; it brings rejoicing. Practice good.
7) Back to Philippians 4:13… I can handle all things through the one who gives you strength. Me and Jesus have got this. The in dwelling of the Spirit in his people can bring flow out of us in rejoicing!
These 7 practices lead to…
Even when it is raining ,we…
#27 Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
July 12, 2015
Los Alamos Church of Christ