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Your Action Plan for Personal Peace

The Keys to Personal Peace  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:59
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Paul's action plan for recovering personal peace.

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Intro

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

NOTICE: I am going to talk about something today that can be a touchy subject and at times can be taken wrong. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns can sometimes be misunderstood in the church. I don’t want to treat this lightly and I don’t want to give the impression that I am judging or condemning anybody here who might struggle with any kind of mental health concern.
I know from experience that depression and anxiety can be difficult to overcome. I don’t want to offer any trite solutions or make anybody feel like they haven’t done enough or had enough faith to overcome their own struggles.
I am not a mental health professional or a medical doctor.
I personally believe that depression and anxiety are complex and often require complex therapies, which include mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects to lead one toward recovery.
That being said, I believe that scripture, and particularly Paul’s keys to personal peace, are ideal provide an excellent way to temporarily disrupt and redirect our negative pattern of thinking.

I. Rejoice in the Lord (v 4)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

What is Joy?
rejoice - xαίρετε - chairete
Rejoicing here carries with it a feeling of joy, cheerfulness, and happiness. rejoicing is something that you may feel internally but is also apparent to others.
By rejoicing “in the Lord” one can say that we choose to have joy because of the Lord and because we are in the Lord (and the Lord dwells in us).
Paul repeats his command as a way to reinforces and emphasize its importance.
Paul had many reasons to give up rejoicing. He was most likely under house arrest during the time that this epistle was written. He certainly was restricted in his travel and unable to join the church at Philippi in person.
Yet, Paul had come to the conclusion that there is no life situation that is out of God’s reach. He believed that God was in control and directly involved in the life of the saints.
That’s where most of us fail in keeping our joy in the Lord. We just can’t be really sure inside that God’s got our back. So we let joy slip out of our grasp.
Joy is a gift from God to all of mankind.
Joy is a characteristic of Christians (Fruit of the Spirit)
TRUTH If you don’t have joy in your life then something is wrong that needs to be addressed.
Why does Joy get Disrupted?
Depression - A deep sense of despondency, discouragement and sadness, often linked with a sense of personal powerlessness and a loss of meaning in and enthusiasm for life.
Depression in the Bible
The word depression doesn't appear, but the sense is certainly there in words such as:
downcast
brokenhearted
troubled
miserable
despairing
mourning
Some biblical personalities that displayed symptoms of depression:
David
David expresses grief over the loss of his sons:
2 Samuel 12:15-23; 18:33
Psalms is full of David’s grief AND his joy.
“My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” Ps. 38:4
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Ps. 42:11
Elijah
“I have had enough Lord, he said. Take my life, I am not better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings 19:4
Jonah
“Now O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:3
“…I am angry enough to die.” Jonah 4:9
Job
“Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?” Job 3:11
“I have no peace, no quietness, I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Job 3:26
“I loathe my very life, therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.” Job 10:1
“Terrors overwhelm me…my life ebbs away, days of suffering grip me. Night pierces my bones, my gnawing pains never rest.” Job 30:15-17
Moses
Jeremiah (the weeping prophet)
Anxiety disorders, which includes depression, are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
In fact depression and anxiety are often closely associated with suicide, which is also often misunderstood and wrongly shamed in Christian communities.
Causes of Depression
Life circumstances
Physical Illness
Exhaustion
Mental / Chemical Imbalance
Fear (or others or of failure)
Consequence of Serious sin
Loss of a sense of God’s presence
What can we do about it?
Requires Treatment
Emotional - Christian Counselor
Medical - Physician or Psychiatrist
Physical - Exercise and Rest
Spiritual - Pastor, Spiritual Adviser, Christian Counselor
Put Your Hope in the Lord (sounds trite, but it’s true)
Catch yourself in negative patterns of thought and redirect our thinking.
Redirect our thoughts to the very things God would have us reflect upon (see v 8).
Pray for relief and the Peace of God
What about the rest of us? What can we do?
Care for our fellow man
Comfort the brokenhearted

II. Let your gentle spirit be known to all (v 5)

5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

ἐπιεικὲς - epi-ay-kays - no good English translation
Our best sense of the word is gathered through understanding a variety of words and getting a sense of the central meaning: gentle, moderate, lenient, reasonable, tolerant, considerate, yielding, patient, fair, kind, suitable, accommodating, generous. If you used all of these together to describe one person, you might get an understanding of what it means to “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.”
One author said of ἐπιεικὲς
It is that considerate courtesy and respect for the integrity of others which prompts a man not to be for ever standing on his rights; and it is preeminently the character of Jesus (2 Cor 10:1). (Cord, 150)
We seem to constantly be picking fights and waging war these days. Particularly on social media, but also in daily conversations and situations, it seems that we always have a need to:
correct others by letting them know where they are wrong and we are right
argue incessantly over political and social views
The word ἐπιεικὲς carries with it an element of selflessness. A gentle person does not insist upon his own rights.
When you look at the heart of the Christian with a spirit of ἐπιεικὲς, then you will find a person that acts contrary to common practice.

epieikeia suggests the yielding of a judge, who, instead of demanding the exact penalty required by strict justice, gives way to circumstances which call for mercy.

Here’s one example of an 80-year old judge in Providence, Rhode Island that displays compassion and moderation in the face of those who have broken the municipal ordinances of his city:
Show YouTube video for Judge Frank Caprio
youtu.be/nxkjFYbVT34
Now, I don’t know Judge Frank Caprio. I can’t really say if he displays gentleness in every aspect of his life. But I can say that what I’ve seen of him in his videos seems to display ἐπιεικὲς.
Now, I also can’t say whether Judge Frank Caprio is a Christian or not. But it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that he is. Why? Because he acts like one… or at least he acts like one should act.
Why does Paul include gentleness as one of his keys to personal peace?
I believe that when we lack gentleness and meekness, we have a tendency to be more harsh with others and more harsh with ourselves.
This harshness with others leads us toward an attitude of arrogance and disrupts many of the Fruit of the Spirit within us.
When we are harsh towards ourselves, we tend toward anxiety and depression. But also we can have these reactions when others are hard on us as well.

III. Be anxious for nothing (v 6a)

6 Be anxious for nothing,

This key is not something that we should include in our lives, but something we should avoid.
Anxiety is not the same as, but is closely associated with depression.
Nervousness
Irritability
Difficulty sleeping
Eating problems (too much, too little, stomach trouble)
Difficulty concentrating
Negative thought patterns
We live in a fast paced, mobile world that we voraciously consume at a rapidly increasing rate.
We often take on more and more stress without taking the time to properly deal with that stress and decompress our ever straining spirits.
Jesus speaks to this in Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Battle Anxiety with Prayer (v 6b)

but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Paul tells us exactly what we need to curb anxiety in our lives: God's divine peace (you know, the one that passes all understanding)
This is not something we can white knuckle to achieve on our own strength of will.
This is not a situation that depends on some change of circumstances to achieve. (Even though that is exactly what we beg God for.)
God’s peace is something that only He can give us.
And we can have that peace simply by connecting with God and relating with Him and hand our requests over to Him one by one.
Prayer Cures Anxiety
While it is simplistic to say that anxiety is equivalent to worry and stress, they are intertwined. Anxiety often has its roots in worry and insecurity.
Prayer is the opposite of worry and insecurity.
Prayer focuses us to depend upon God for answers rather than depending upon our control over the situation for resolution.
If you’ll recall a few weeks ago I use an example of releasing our cares and concerns to God. I used this remote control to show that we must learn to let go of those concerns and place them at His feet.
Prayer is how we do that. We go to God and give our worries to Him and over time, we begin to trust that He will answer our prayers.
In verse 6, Paul gives us three different words for prayer in the same sentence...
προσευχή - proseuche - prayer
δέησις - deesis - supplication - plea, prayer, petition, requests, supplication
εὐχαριστία - eucharistia - thanksgiving - expressions of thanks, words of gratefulness
Many types of prayer require us to take our minds off our own troubles to focus on other things.
Intercession is praying for the needs of others.
Thanksgiving is giving thanks to God for who he is.
Once we have done this, we can give our own requests to God.
Again I say, as we pray with our concerns before the Father, we begin to release our control (or lack of control) and build trust in God to address those concerns and deal with them according to His will.
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