This past Sunday I preached a message in Philippians 4:1-9 as we continue through the book of Philippians. You can find the video online at the church link and media page if you are interested.
I received several emails and questions for going deeper regarding how we guard against worry/anxiety when we PRESENT our requests to God …
So, as I answered that with someone via email, I decided to copy you all on these thoughts today and as a BONUS, I’ve attached the entire sermon manuscript below about learning to Practice Joy
I believe this passage in Philippians 4 is very useful and practical in the battle for our mind and hearts and keeping us in peace.
So to the questions asked via email was … “you said I know I have some things that I have “presented” to God but then have taken back, and I’m ready to let them go. But, I don’t know how. I can pray about things and ask God to take them from me and what not. But does giving them to God mean not ever thinking about the problem anymore? In that case, is giving something over to God praying about it and making a conscious effort to not think about it anymore, just as we have to make a conscious effort to be joyful?”
It really is a constant struggle … Let me enlarge on the idea of “Presenting” these things to God
1) Presenting it does have to start with actually praying about it and seeking God’s answers regarding the issues.
Often we talk about, even complain about, our problems or struggles with everyone except God. We don’t actually get alone with God and lay them before him. One way to do this is to take a notepad with you and pray about your concern. Start by Praising him and recounting his deeds for others and for you. This will build your faith and understanding that God can and has in the past. Then present your request to God. Write down what you are asking from God … sometimes as you write it down you will realize that the request isn’t right and you will need to reword it or refocus it. After you are satisfied with what you have written then be quiet, sit in silence saying “Lord speak to me and I will listen” … If God impresses something on your heart write it down. Sometimes God says “what you are asking is something I am not going to do” perhaps it doesn’t fit his nature, other times it doesn’t fit his plans. If you clearly hear God say “no”. Write that down, thank him for answering you and give that desire to him and ask him to replace that desire with something that is in his will. If God says “I will do this, but not yet.” Then thank him again, and pray for patience to trust him in the intervening time. If God says “yes, I’m going to do this and will do this alone” then sit back and believe his word and watch for his answer. If he says “yes I’m going to do this, but I have action for you” write down your action, ask someone to hold you accountable and do what he said, then trust him for his part Remember God always answers … but He may say “no”, “yes” or “wait”. All of those are still answers from a loving God
2) Giving it to God does NOT mean it may not still be on our heart or mind. But it DOES mean I will continue to verbalize that it belongs to God and not to me and that I will trust him.
Giving it to God also means that unless he gives me a clear action that is my responsibility, then I will not CHASE AFTER these things. In Matthew 6:31-32 Jesus talks about some of our basic needs for necessities, concern for tomorrow etc and says that “pagans run after such things”. You know pagans had “gods” too, so why did they run after their concerns? It was because their gods weren’t real. God knows and God loves … so present your request to him and then unless he gives you a clear instruction, then commit to trust him with the outcome instead of chasing after it. Example: If I’m asking God to send me my mate … then I’m going to trust him to bring that person to me and not try and orchestrate this but trust God to bring them to me. However, when he brings that person to me and says “there she is …” now it is time for me to move and respond to what God is doing.
3) Is giving it to God consciously not thinking about any longer?
Not necessarily but it is certainly not being WORRIED / ANXIOUS about it anymore. It is natural to think about something that I want, or something I know God is doing, but not be worried about it. In 2009, the Lord made it clear to Mrs Lisa and I that we would be leaving our church at some point and going to another church. I didn’t start working hard trying to find a church to go to, I just trusted the Lord to bring about those circumstances. In the meantime, I had a job from the Lord to do, to be the Pastor to the church where I currently was called. I continued to work hard to preach, serve and care for the people, cast vision for the future to lead them where the Lord wanted them. Two years passed. Some churches would contact me or friends would recommend me to places, I would answer their requests, but had to trust the Lord, even when doors closed for inexplicable reasons. It was CONSTANTLY on my mind, but we committed to not be anxious. In August of 2011, I came in contact with the search committee of my current church. I knew they would be our church. But I couldn’t work their process I had to wait. In the meantime I was still preaching, caring, serving. I led our annual Leadership Conference at the other church. I helped think through important decisions for the future, knowing that at some point I wouldn’t be there. Finally in November the committee here said “we think you are our next pastor”. I shared this with my church where I was and then came here for review and a vote. I finished my ministry in St. Louis at the end of January 2012 and started ministry here in March of 2012 … that’s 2 ½ years of constant THOUGHT, but constantly GIVING it to the Lord and not letting anxiety take control.
I hope this helps … It is important and valuable to have someone to help hold you accountable to what the Lord is saying. It helps keep you true to what the Lord says and what he expects from you
Present your requests, with Thanks Giving and the peace of God will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus …
BONUS … here is my sermon manuscript from this message
Paul finishes chapter three with an admonition to follow his example as he seeks to follow Christ, to know him in the Power of the Resurrection, Fellowshipping in his suffering,, conformed to his death.
Knowing that we may be residents of this world but not citizens of this world, and that Christ will return and set everything out of order, in order, Paul says “Therefore”
So, let’s read his next instruction. Notice in particular, the disciplines and instructions that allow Joy to reign in our lives …
Yes, we have that glorious hope … that hope enables us to stand firm in the Lord …
The place you stand will determine your joy source. If you stand on your career accomplishments, then your joy will rise as you rise and fall when you fall. If you stand in your human relationships these too will eventually let you down … But Paul says, if our hope … our place to stand … is in the Lord, then we stand firm.
Christ in You … you in Christ that is our hope. Jesus prayed in John 17 to the Father saying “you are in me, I am in you, may they also be in us so that the world may believe …”
So as yokefellow with Paul … that is people committed with him to the advancement of the Gospel … how do we live out Joy?
Here it is in what I believe may be the most practical, yet under practiced passages in scripture.
Whether distracted by depression or stalked by sorrows or simply living life … How do you battle these messengers of satan?
It begins with
1. Perpetual Rejoicing
Rejoice in the Lord Always, I will say it again: Rejoice!”
This is not a suggestion, or even a proverb but this is
A. A Command
The word, chairo = rejoice, be glad, welcome – is in present active imperative 2nd person tense
So this sentence is “You Understood” … “You, right now, must, Rejoice, be glad, Welcome Joy”
The reason we are often not joyful is because we often don’t seek joy, we don’t foster joy, we don’t welcome joy.
Paul says, in every circumstance, on every day, welcome joy, Today, YES, but …
Rejoice in the Lord … when convenient? … no Always …
Rejoice in the LORD … the word used here is Kyrios = Master, Lord
I can welcome Joy, as I welcome the Sovereignty and Lordship of Christ over the Universe, but also over my life and circumstance
Joy is not welcome in my life as I argue with God over the direction and outcome of the road he lays out for me. I don’t like where I am, who I am, and so joy is not welcome
There is nothing wrong with bringing questions before the Lord, but if I do not welcome his lordship, I will not welcome joy when his will is different than mine.
Rejoice in the Lordship of Christ, Always – pantote = at all times … in good times and bad times, the first time and the last time. In successful times and in times of failure. In happy and sad times, Rejoice … welcome joy
Job, in facing the greatest challenge of his life, when it seemed God was not giving him a fair hand, said in chapter 27 “as long as I have life … my lips will not speak wickedness … I will maintain my righteousness … (of the wicked he says) will he find delight in the Almighty? Will he call upon you at all times?”
At all times …
Psalm 34:1 (NIV84)
1 I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
Psalm 62:8 (NIV84)
8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah
Psalm 119:20 (NIV84)
20 My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.
If I Praise the Lord at all times
Trust the Lord at all times
And Love the Word of the Lord at all times …
Then I will Welcome Joy at All Times
And then Paul encourages
Again I say – palin = again, on the other hand
Some of us want to rejoice when it feels right, but on the other hand … we will not rejoice …
But Paul says “rejoice and on the other hand, also continue to Welcome Joy in the Lord”
If we are going to welcome joy, we have to look in the mirror sometimes when our face has fallen, when your heart is discouraged, when complaints arise, and
Welcome, make a place for, open the door for Joy
Again, today, now, Rejoice!
That’s the command and it often takes decisive though not desired action … but what are the disciplines that help me welcome joy?
2. Patient Petitioning
V5 says let your gentleness, or forbearance, or tolerance in the face of all things, at all times, your joy, show the nearness of God
Too many Christians face challenges like either a frightened child who doesn’t believe God will come through or like a spoiled child who believes what they want is more important that what the father decides best.
But the child of God who welcomes joy makes their request of their Sovereign and Master but does so in a patient manner …
A. Do Not Be Anxious
The word is merimnao –
Jesus uses the word when he says in Matthew 6:31-32 Do not worry saying what shall we eat … drink … or what shall we wear for the pagans run after all these things … your Father knows that you need them
So then v33 says Seek First the Kingdom
Worry is evidence that we are not standing in, trusting in, the Lord and welcoming Joy.
Patience doesn’t “run after” things that God will provide for me …
What is on your prayer list? Do you pray in fear or in faith?
A patient petition doesn’t ask for them and then chase after them … Jesus says not to chase after clothes, food, drink, tomorrow, but chase after, seek first, place in primary order, the Kingdom of Heaven and His Righteousness …
Does that mean that a joyful heart doesn’t ask for anything temporal? No, of course not, but I don’t set my heart on those things. So, then, our prayers that Welcome Joy are …
B. Grateful Petitions
Prayer and petitions, with thanksgiving
Prayer – proseuche = approach God
Petition – deesis = entreaty, supplication, want, personal desire
Requests – speaks of the specific things
When we approach God …
and we MUST approach God … we often, and by we, I mean me, often talk about things we want or need, but don’t actually come before God with those desires …
Come before God with our desires with the actual thing that we want but there is an overriding emotion that welcomes joy … it is Gratitude … Paul says Come Before with Thanksgiving
We used to sing “I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter his court with praise, I will say this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice for he has made me glad.
He has made me glad … If I need the thing I seek to “make me glad” I can’t rejoice at all times. Oh don’t get me wrong, I want what I am requesting, I might even be convinced I need it, but HE has made me GLAD … Apart from anything else … He is enough to make me and keep me glad
Practicing Joy comes with that perspective.
It is not worried for tomorrow, but grateful for today.
It is not worried about what I will eat or drink but grateful for what already fills my stomach.
I am not worried for what I will wear but grateful for the clothes that fill my closet
So I come before God with my desires in
C. Worshipful Prayer
Paul says do not be anxious … but in everything … Present to God
I am mindful of a couple of things with that word “Present” or “Present”
Prayer is an act of Worship … I give it to God and I leave it in his hands. Talking about it isn’t presenting it. Complaining isn’t presenting it. Pretending it doesn’t exist is also not presenting it. But, Joy comes as I present my request to God …
Giving it to Him is
Believing He Cares … that he wants to know what he wants what is for my good and
Believing in his ability to meet my needs,
While trusting his Sovereignty to transform me into his image and to work all things for that good thing.
Then I can sing the 100th Psalm of David
Psalm 100 (NIV84)
A psalm. For giving thanks.
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Shout for Joy
Worship the Lord
Come before Him
Enter with Thanksgiving and praise
For the Lord is Good … love endures … faithfulness continues …
When I pray like that I find I am
D. Protected By Peace
V7 the peace of God … will guard your hearts and minds
Peace – Eirene = freedom from worry, peace, welfare
Peace OF GOD … knowing that I am free from being tied to this world, tied to a need for anything material or earthly guards me from my most dangerous and deceptive things, my heart and my mind.
Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart is deceitful above all things
2 Corinthians 11:3 says our minds can be lead astray …
Without the guard of the Mind of Christ, without the Breastplate of Righteousness and the Belt of Truth, my passions, desires, and understandings can deceive me
But when I am free from the need for anything but God … that Peace with God guards my heart from wanting anything but the will and rule of God and guards my mind from bringing requests beyond his will and I am able to welcome joy
To Practice joy … and with a guarded heart and mind … I am free for
3. Joyful Thinking
What IS joyful thinking? It is a decision … it is
A. Disciplined Thinking v8
Finally – loipos = lastly; from now on
Living the practices of joy requires taking captive every thought and making it obedient to truth
2 Corinthians 10:3–5 (NIV84)
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
You and I are attacked every day … when we recognize that our battle is not a flesh and blood Ephesians 6:12 … and we do not fight like the world fights … then we have to join in the battle for our mind, our will, our emotions
satan would discourage and defeat you, he would have you keep your heart and mind set on things below
Colossians 3:1–3 (NIV84)
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Paul tells us how we do that … how we take captive everything thought … He tells us what to think on …
As the battle rages … fight to dwell ONLY on
Whatever is …
True – alethis = sincere; real
Noble – semnos = worthy of respect, dignified
Right – dikaios = righteous, just
Pure – hagos = innocent
Lovely – prosphiles = pleasing
Admirable – euphemos = commendable
Excellent – arête = excellence of character
Praiseworthy – epainos = praise
Only These things …
Logizomai = think about, credit, consider, dwell on
THESE Things …
For Joy to be Welcome, these things must rule … other thoughts must be taken captive and surrendered to the rule of Christ
Make a list of These Things .. and put it on the margin of your computer screen, on your fridge, on your mirror, on your TV set … and Think on THESE things … put aside anything that doesn’t pass this test … and then Joy Can Reign …
Disciplined Thinking leads to
B. Disciplined Action v9
Whatever you have learned … received … heard … seen … PUT INTO PRACTICE
Not just today, but for 12 messages now we have lit the path for Joy … but you must commit to walk the path … to put it into practice …
The word prasso = do, accomplish, make your business; a practice of habit
And when you make these things your practice …
When you pray in grateful worship
When you take captive thoughts and make them obedient to truth
You look and find you are not walking this path alone … but are
C. Accompanied by Peace
And the God of all peace will be with you
What was prophesied of Jesus, he will be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
If you walk in his way, thinking his thoughts, if peace doesn’t accompany, comfort, and guide you then you are not walking his way, or he is not able … and Oh he IS able …
This is Jesus … I’m not telling you that this is the way to get Jesus INTO you … That is by Grace Through Faith …
But Paul is teaching us how to let the Christ IN You Get OUT of you …
When I welcome Joy and Patiently petition him, and live according to the disciplines of Joyful thinking and living, then Christ in me, is reflected OUT of me and …
He walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
When we dwell on Jesus, the Truth … Then we Know Peace
When we Know God … we Know Peace …
But if we have NO God, then we have NO Peace