Faithlife Sermons

Marks of Maturity

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Introduction

Consider the news headlines from the past week… past month… past year
How would you describe the news you read and hear about?
Is it encouraging? motivating? uplifting? positive? OR not?
How does it make you feel? settled? content? restless? worried? concerned? depressed?
Why?

This morning I would like for us to consider together a passage of scripture that identifies several characteristics of believers as they mature in their walk with God
Worry is never from God and He wants to show us how to cure this bad habit...
I have entitled the sermon “Marks of Maturity”
I have entitled this morning’s sermon “The Cure for Worry”
Sermon Text:

Sermon Text:

Paul concludes his letter to the Philippian church with some practical instructions that probably each one of us can put to practice
worry
Perhaps Paul was reminding himself first...
Worry is never from God and He wants to show us how to cure this bad habit...
I have entitled this morning’s serm
Philippians 4:1–9 ESV
1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. 2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 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. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 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. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Relational Challenge

2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 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.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 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. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Apparently, two ladies in the Philippian church had trouble getting along
Paul doesn’t take sides but entreats each that they “agree in the Lord”
Paul further instructs that another person (true companion or yokefellow) help them

The Lord is at Hand

The fourth chapter begins with Paul expressing his deep love for the believers at this church… calling them his joy and crown
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
The theme throughout this letter is joy, and as he concludes the third chapter, he expresses that heartfelt joy about them
STAND FIRM in the faith… Paul is encouraging and calling them all to stay rooted and grounded in the faith
Don’t compromise
Don’t allow Satan to deceive
Stay strong
Paul then shifts to closing comments and admonition for the Philippian church
I entreat Euodia (e-vo-DEE-ah)and I entreat Syntyche (soon-TOOH-hay) to agree in the Lord. 3 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.

Whatsoever is true

Apparently, two ladies in the Philippian church were having a long-standing disagreement
He singles them out to put into practice what he has been writing about in the previous three chapters… by reconciling with each other
Paul doesn’t take sides but urges each that they make amends by setting aside whatever differences they have and to seek peace with each other
Paul further instructs the rest of the church help make that happen… specifically a person (true companion or yokefellow) to help them
Why does Paul even care?
He knows that a divided church is a terrible witness
People don’t see Christ as beautiful when there is anger, grudges held, unwillingness to reconcile
He also knows that it is only through unity of fellowship among believers that authentic, deep, abiding joy is found
When the people of a church dwell together in unity of the gospel and collectively pursue the building up of one another in love, that is fertile soil for the roots of joy
Paul is not asking that they fake it… he is not saying they need to feel happy… he is asking they reach a mutual agreement!
And then he commands a specific action… (for them, but also for each of us)

Rejoice?

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS! Rejoice
He doesn’t stop with stating it once… he repeats it… in the same breath… REJOICE!
It is important… don’t gloss over this… don’t miss what is being commanded… REJOICE!
First of all… rejoice ALWAYS...
Always?
Yes, always
Like, when ___________________________
Yes, even then
But, what about _______________________
Then, too
But, surely not when ____________________
Do we exhibit an exuberant celebration in the Lord constantly?
No, even then, as well
Wait — always?
Yes, always!
Isn’t what Paul is commanding here simply unreasonable?
This joy (rejoicing) has it’s basis in Jesus Christ as addressed in the first three chapters
We will rejoice when we have the cause of Christ as our highest priority… nothing matters more than Jesus Christ!
We will rejoice when we follow the pattern of the character of Christ… especially that of self-sacrifice for the interest of others
We will rejoice as we comprehend who Jesus is… “that I may know him”
Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS… and again, REJOICE!
Mature believers in Christ rejoice in the Lord always!
Paul surprises us be connecting a dispute between two ladies 2,000 years ago with rejoicing...
Now he surprises us again by connecting rejoicing always - regardless of the intensity of a difficulty or suffering - perhaps even death… with REASONABLENESS

Rejoice always… let your reasonableness be known to everyone

Reasonableness should be evident
How is reasonableness NOT contradictory with rejoicing always?
How does that even make sense?
How is is reasonable to rejoice always when...
What is reasonable about rejoicing always??
… I have just been diagnosed with cancer (or other terminal illness)?
… a loved one is snatched from this life unexpectedly - in the prime of life?
… a young mother is incapacitated by a stroke?
… a teenager is suffering the emotional trauma of severe sexual abuse?
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone!
WHY?
Because “the Lord is at hand”
Why do mature believers rejoice in the Lord always?
They can be reasonable in the midst of whatever situation they find themselves precisely because the Lord is always near
It is not based on feelings… it is not even based on pure logic
It is based on what we believe about God… it is doctrinal!
And it is a spiritual reality
The word doxology combines two Greek words that mean belief and word… so literally, words of belief
We are familiar with...
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen
This doxology communicates important doctrinal truths about God:
God is the source of all blessings
… the creator of all creatures
… a Trinity
Our responsibility… our prayer should be something like this
Lord, help me to rejoice in You in this moment… because I know you are in control. I know you love me; I know you love my family. I don’t understand what you are doing and I don’t know how things will work out. Help me to acknowledge that if I have You, I have everything.
In those dark moments of pain and despair finding a way to say to God… I trust you. Help me… I can’t do this myself. Show me what you want me to do… I want to trust.

The only reason we can rejoice always… is because the Lord is right there with us
The only reasonableness in all of this … is because of the promise and reality that the Lord is right there with us!
While he was looking forward to going back home after being in the hospital for about five weeks, he was also concerned about how it would impact Mom and the rest of the family… what accommodations would need to be made so he could manage at home
During the night, he prayed that if it would be better if he wasn’t discharged home, God would make that clear! By morning, his oxygen saturation levels had plummeted… and about 30 hours later they had moved him to hospice care (rather than discharging him home)
In the midst of that, he was able to rejoice… it was a tremendous testimony to the nursing staff to see his peace and joy when plans changed so abruptly

No Worries

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Whatsoever is pure

Don’t be anxious or worried about anything!
When we are rejoicing ALWAYS, we won’t have time to be anxious about ANYTHING
Worrying doesn’t resolve any situation… it only increases our stress, tension, discouragement, depression,
Matthew 6:27–29 ESV
27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
While easier said than done, worrying about things beyond our control is a complete waste of time and energy
While easier said than done, worrying about things beyond our control is a complete waste of time and energy
Last June when my Dad was improving in the rehab unit of the hospital, he was to the point they were planning to discharge him home within a couple of days
While he was looking forward to going back home after being in the hospital for about five weeks, he was also concerned about how it would impact Mom and the rest of the family… what accommodations would need to be made so he could manage at home
During the night, he prayed that if it would be better if he wasn’t discharged home, God would make that clear! By morning, his oxygen saturation levels had plummeted… and about 30 hours later they had moved him to hospice care (rather than discharging him home)
In the midst of that, he was able to rejoice and not be worried (anxious)… it was a tremendous testimony to the nursing staff to see his peace and joy when plans changed so abruptly
The most mature believer will experience times of anxiety… what does he do with it?
Paul gives the answer in the next part of the verse… prayer!

Prayer eradicates worry

Prayer is a discipline… a mature believer will take our worries and our anxieties to God
Supplication may be paraphrased as “God help me...” prayers
Prayer (supplication) and worry are quite similar in many ways...
both are rehearsing circumstances, mulling over, a mental and emotional review of what has happened
with worry, there is a sense of hopelessness, despair, no connection, no traction… it is like spinning our wheels… trying to travel in a rocking chair
with prayer, we are “worrying” at God… we take those same anxieties and point them to God… taking them to Him, and handing them over to Him
Martin Luther said “Pray, and let God worry.”
Our prayers of supplication are to be accompanied by something else… with thanksgiving
it is not a thankfulness for the anxieties… the worries
It is rather a “thank you, Lord, for hearing me… for your listening ear and you caring heart”
This thankfulness can and should be part of our prayers regardless of the outcome… whether our prayers are answered the way we would have wanted
As worry develops, we intentionally hand it over to God with supplication and thank Him for His goodness, His gifts, and the gift of salvation… this can certainly be the basis of being thankful “in everything”
Worry and thanksgiving are mutually exclusive… you can’t have both… you can’t worry while you are giving thanks!
When we go to God with our supplication and thanksgiving, our worry and anxiety flee like roaches when the lights come on.
Something else (the peace of God) takes the place of our worries...

The Peace of God guards our hearts and our minds

Paul now shifts from the emotions of a believer to the mental state...
The peace of God guards our feelings (emotions) and our thoughts (minds)
Worries and anxiety come out of our emotions… and God want to take those from us and replace them with His peace… that is beyond our comprehension
Not only does God’s peace affect how we feel, but it impacts how we think - it impacts our minds

Think on these things

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. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
When we are anxious, we dwell on the negatives in a way that demonstrates a lack of trust in God
Worry wastes valuable mental time and energy… Rather than worry, Paul says we should mentally chew on these things
2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV
5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
2 Corinthians
Whatever is TRUE = honest, accurate, not concealing <> deceptive, misleading, lies,
We must constantly operate from the premise of “taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ”
2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV
5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
We must choose to think on… dwell on… buy into ONLY that which is true
at the same time, we have be willing to identify, rebuke and flee from anything that is UNTRUE
Remember - Satan is the father of lies and there is no truth in him
Mature believers are able to spot lies and embrace the truth
It is a practice and discipline of discernment and being committed to growing in biblical wisdom
When we fall into sin, it is almost always because we believed a lie… and walk accordingly
Rather, we need to develop such a passion for God that we can readily discern between TRUTH and LIES
Whatever is HONORABLE = worthy of respect, good character, dignity, appropriate behavior
The same word is used several times in the pastoral letters
1 Timothy 3:8 ESV
8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.
1 Timothy 3:11 ESV
11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.
Titus 2:2 ESV
2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.
Does my thinking reflect dignity, honor, and respect for others?
We are to dwell on these things...
Whatever is JUST
equitable in character, proper, right
Do these qualities reflect our thinking?
Whatever is PURE
We are to fill our minds… to think about… those things that demonstrate moral purity
1 Timothy 4:12 ESV
12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 ESV
22 Abstain from every form of evil.
1 Thessalonians
All around us moral purity is under attack
from pornography to the entertainment industry to a culture that believes that biblical moral purity is hateful and discrimnatory
We must intentionally fill our minds with what is TRUE and right rather than the celebrity and entertainment news of the day
How would God describe our level of moral purity?
Whatever is LOVELY
those things that are pleasing to others
We have all heard of the Golden Rule - Do unto others as you would have them do to you
We would do well to practice a Platinum Rule - Do unto others as they would have you do to them
Find ways to treat other as they like to be treated… it may not be the same as you would want to be treated!
Whatever is COMMENDABLE
deserving of approval; good reputation
Think on those things in others that deserve approval and commendation
Any EXCELLENCE
outstanding goodness; moral excellence;
Anything PRAISEWORTHY
Anything PRAISEWORTHY
anything that deserves praise
Think on these things!
Fill your mind with these things… qualities that emulate Jesus Christ… qualities that only come from Jesus
1 Corinthians 2:16 ESV
16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
we are to ever take account of them… to keep reckoning with (not just think about)
We control what fills our minds… what we think about… what we allow our minds to dwell upon
We control what fills our minds… what we think about… what we allow our minds to dwell upon
We control what fills our minds… what we think about… what we allow our minds to dwell upon
We are to set our minds on things that come from Christ, commend Christ, and consummate in Christ

Practice These Things

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. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Discipline is required… none of this comes naturally
These are not natural human qualities and the power of the Holy Spirit is required to achieve
Paul set an example… we set an example for others

Conclusion

You have received...

You have heard...

Conclusion

You have seen in me...

Practice these things

Philippians 4:4–9 ESV
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 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. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

4 pRejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness4 be known to everyone. qThe Lord is at hand; 6 rdo not be anxious about anything, sbut in everything by prayer and supplication twith thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And uthe peace of God, vwhich surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 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. 9 What you have learned5 and wreceived and heard and seen xin me—practice these things, and ythe God of peace will be with you.

God’s call to each one of us...
Am I willing to rejoice always?
What is keeping me from surrendering my worries to God?
Is my mind filled with qualities of Jesus Christ? Do I have the mind of Christ?
AM I WILLING TO DISCIPLINE MYSELF AND ALLOW GOD TO DEVELOP THESE ATTRIBUTES IN MY LIFE?
Rejoice always… reasonableness evident… because the Lord is NEAR
Don’t worry… bring your worries and give them to God through prayer… with thanksgiving… and God’s peace will wash over you and guard you
Keep reckoning with… dwell on… think about… ponder… these qualities of Jesus Christ
Discipline yourselves to practice these marks of maturity… as you do, the God of peace will be with you!
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