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The Lord is At Hand (Part 2)

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INTRODUCTION

We began this morning by talking about the command to stand firm in . We won’t stand firm until the Lord’s return unless we stand firm together.
The church does that in part by being a people agreeing (not prone to prolonged petty disagreements); by being a people rejoicing (letting others see our joy); and by being a people forbearing (graciously looking to the interests others).
Those were the firs three CHARACTERISTICS in this passage; the first three CHARACTERISTICS of a church that will be happy and healthy as they look forward to Christ’s return.
Remember that’s the truth that motivates all the others in this passage. The Lord is at hand. He is going to return and we are going to stand before him. Are you agreeing in the Lord? Are you rejoicing in the Lord? Are you graciously forbearing with others just as our Lord graciously forbears with us?
Now, we’ll look at three more CHARACTERISTICS through v. 9...

MAJOR IDEAS

CHARACTERISTIC #4: The church should be a people praying (v. 6-7).

ESVdo 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.
Philippians 4:6–7 ESV
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.
[Illus] The famous author of Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson, said that when he was a boy he remarked to his mother, “Momma, you can’t be good without praying.”
His mother asked, “How do you know, Robert?” He replied, “Because I’ve tried!”
[Illus] There was a similar story from one of the devotions in Our Daily Bread. A little boy had been sent to his room for his misbehavior. He came to his mother later and said, “I’ve been thinking about what I did and I said a prayer.”
His mother said, “That’s good. If you ask God to make you good, he will make you good.”
The little boy said, “Oh, I didn’t ask him to make me good. I asked him to help you put up with me.”
Even children know that we have no hope of behaving well or having patience without prayer. Likewise, as adults we should know that we have no hope of peace without prayer.
10,000 Sermon Illustrations Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson

When Robert Louis Stevenson was a boy he once remarked to his mother, “Momma, you can’t be good without praying.” “How do you know, Robert?” she asked. “Because I’ve tried!” he answered.

This brings to mind a story about another little fellow—one who had been sent to his room because he had been bad. A short time later he came out and said to his mother, “I’ve been thinking about what I did and I said a prayer.” “That’s fine,” she said, “if you ask God to make you good, He will help you.” “Oh, I didn’t ask Him to help me be good,” replied the boy. “I asked Him to help you put up with me.”

Our Daily Bread, June 15

[Illus]
[Exp]
[Exp] Paul told the Philippians that if they wanted to protect their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus; if they want to have the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding the they must pray.
10,000 Sermon Illustrations Prayer a PrivilegePrayer a Privilege A comment by Robert A. Cook, president of The King’s College in New York, renewed my appreciation for the privilege of prayer. Speaking at the Moody Bible Institute, Cook said that the day before, he had been at a gathering in Washington and had talked with Vice President George Bush. Two hours later he spoke briefly with President Ronald Reagan. Then smiling broadly, Cook told us, “But that’s nothing! Today I talked with God!” Our Daily Bread
I like how one commentator defined this peace as “the secure confidence that God is sovereign and loving,” (NIV Zondervan Study Bible). It’s the opposite of anxiety and prayer is the God-ordained means by which we can have it.
“peace surpasses knowledge, calming a troubling situation when explanations fail.” HCSB
The opposite Two aspects of prayer are specific antidotes to worry: supplication and thanksgiving. “Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (see ) that believers are not to be anxious but are to entrust themselves into the hands of their loving heavenly Father, whose peace will guard them in Christ Jesus. Paul’s use of “guard” may reflect his own imprisonment or the status of Philippi as a Roman colony with a military garrison. In either case, it is not Roman soldiers who guard believers—it is the peace of God Almighty. Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2287). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.Peace is “the secure confidence that God is sovereign and loving,” (NIV Zondervan Study Bible). “peace surpasses knowledge, calming a troubling situation when explanations fail.” HCSB [Illus]
There are two aspects of prayer that are specific antidotes to anxiety according to Paul: supplication and thanksgiving.
10,000 Sermon Illustrations Children’s PrayersDear God: Please help me is school. I need help in spelling, adding, history, geography and writing. I don’t need help in anything else. - Lois, 9
kTw aspects of prayer are specific antidotes to worry: supplication and thanksgiving. “Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (see ) that believers are not to be anxious but are to entrust themselves into the hands of their loving heavenly Father, whose peace will guard them in Christ Jesus. Paul’s use of “guard” may reflect his own imprisonment or the status of Philippi as a Roman colony with a military garrison. In either case, it is not Roman soldiers who guard believers—it is the peace of God Almighty. Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2287). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.Peace is “the secure confidence that God is sovereign and loving,” (NIV Zondervan Study Bible). “peace surpasses knowledge, calming a troubling situation when explanations fail.” HCSB [Illus]
“Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (see ) that believers are not to be anxious but are to entrust themselves into the hands of their loving heavenly Father, whose peace will guard them in Christ Jesus. Paul’s use of “guard” may reflect his own imprisonment or the status of Philippi as a Roman colony with a military garrison. In either case, it is not Roman soldiers who guard believers—it is the peace of God Almighty. Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2287). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles. [Illus]
Supplication is requesting a need; it’s admitting neediness before God and, therefore, admitting need for God. If the Philippians were going to have peace, they had to continually admit their need for him.
[Exp] The opposite ofTwo aspects of prayer are specific antidotes to worry: supplication and thanksgiving. “Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (see ) that believers are not to be anxious but are to entrust themselves into the hands of their loving heavenly Father, whose peace will guard them in Christ Jesus. Paul’s use of “guard” may reflect his own imprisonment or the status of Philippi as a Roman colony with a military garrison. In either case, it is not Roman soldiers who guard believers—it is the peace of God Almighty. Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2287). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.Peace is “the secure confidence that God is sovereign and loving,” (NIV Zondervan Study Bible). “peace surpasses knowledge, calming a troubling situation when explanations fail.” HCSB [Illus]
Thanksgiving is being and expressing gratefulness for what God has and will provide. If the Philippians were going to have peace, they had to continually thank God for what he had done and preemptively thank him for what he would do.
If they did these things in prayer, they would have peace that transcends understanding no matter their circumstances. Their hearts and minds would be protected in Christ Jesus.
[Illus] Someone once wrote a prayer that went, “Dear God, So far today I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped, I haven’t lost my temper, I haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or over-indulgent. I’m very thankful for that. But in a few minutes, God, I’m going to get out of bed, and from then on, I’m probably going to need a lot of help.”
[App] We would all do well to admit our neediness before God in prayer before we got out of bed in the morning.
We’d do even better to admit our neediness for the day ahead and then thank him for his provision during the day before.
Most of us, however, spend very little time admitting our neediness before God or thanking God for what he gives us.
Because of our anxiety, we often think that what a situation needs is our planning, when it just needs our praying.
We often don’t thank God as we should because our anxiety drives us on to a new problem once an old problem is resolved.
Anxiety tells us that there isn’t enough time for supplication and thanksgiving in prayer.
[Illus] ​British Methodist minister Samuel Chadwick recognized this as well when he wrote: “To pray as God would have us pray is the greatest achievement on earth. Such a prayer life costs. It takes time….All praying saints have spent hours every day in prayer….In these days, there is no time to pray; but without time, and a lot of it, we shall never learn to pray.”
[App] I challenge you to invest some real time in prayer. The great saints of old certainly did.
The famous evangelist George Whitefield, who went to bed at 10 every night, rose equally promptly at 4 a.m. in order to pray.
The primary founder of the Methodist denomination, John Wesley, spent two hours daily in prayer, and commonly said that ‘God does nothing but in answer to prayer.’
Martin Luther said, ‘If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.’
How much time are spending in prayer? Are you willing to put in the time to have peace that surpasses understanding; to guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus?
Galaxie Software. (2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.
[TS] Characteristic #4: The church should be a people praying.

CHARACTERISTIC #5: The church should be a people thinking (v. 8).

Philippians 4:8 ESV
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.
ESVFinally, 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.
[Illus] We value quick thinking. A young man was working in the produce section of the grocery store when a woman approached and asked if it would be possible to buy a half head of lettuce. She didn’t want the whole thing, just half.
The young man replied, “Ma’am, God makes them whole and that’s how we sell ‘em.” She asked to speak to a manager.
The lady asked to speak to the manager so the young man went to the back to find the manager not realizing that the lady had followed behind him.
[Illus]
The young man went to the back to find his manager not realizing that the woman had followed behind him. The young man said to his manger, “Some dumb woman is out here wanting to know if she can buy a half head of lettuce.”
The manager froze for a moment then gestured to the woman behind the young man. When he turned and saw the woman, the young man quickly said, “And this kind lady would like to buy the other half.”
The manager came up to him later and said, “That was some quick thinking. How did you learn to think on your feet like that?” The young man said, “Well, I grew up in Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids is known for two things
We value quick thinking and we also value creative thinking.
The young man found his manager and said, “Some dumb woman’s out here wanting to by a half head of lettuce.”
The manager stood in shock and asked
[Illus] A man had bought a new gadget, and after reading and rereading the instructions he couldn’t figure out how to put it together. Finally, he sought the help of an old handyman neighbor who was working in the backyard.
[Illus] We like people who can think quickly. A young man working in the produce department of a grocery store was asked by a lady if she could buy half a head of lettuce. He replied, “Half a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that’s how we sell them!” “You mean,” she persisted, “that after all the years I’ve shopped here, you won’t sell me half-a-head of lettuce?” “Look,” he said, “If you like I’ll ask the manager.” She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. “You won’t believe this, but there’s a lame-braided idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce.” He noticed the manager gesturing, and turned around to see the lady standing behind him, obviously having followed him to the front of the store. “And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half,” he concluded. Later in the day the manager cornered the young man and said, “That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I’ve ever seen! Where did you learn that?” “I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it’s known for its great hockey teams and its ugly women.” The manager’s face flushed, and he interrupted, “My wife is from Grand Rapids!” “And which hockey team did she play for?” Source Unknown
“You mean,” she persisted, “that after all the years I’ve shopped here, you won’t sell me half-a-head of lettuce?” “Look,” he said, “If you like I’ll ask the manager.” She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. “You won’t believe this, but there’s a lame-braided idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce.” He noticed the manager gesturing, and turned around to see the lady standing behind him, obviously having followed him to the front of the store. “And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half,” he concluded. Later in the day the manager cornered the young man and said, “That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I’ve ever seen! Where did you learn that?” “I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it’s known for its great hockey teams and its ugly women.” The manager’s face flushed, and he interrupted, “My wife is from Grand Rapids!” “And which hockey team did she play for?” Source Unknown
“You mean,” she persisted, “that after all the years I’ve shopped here, you won’t sell me half-a-head of lettuce?” “Look,” he said, “If you like I’ll ask the manager.” She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. “You won’t believe this, but there’s a lame-braided idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce.” He noticed the manager gesturing, and turned around to see the lady standing behind him, obviously having followed him to the front of the store. “And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half,” he concluded. Later in the day the manager cornered the young man and said, “That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I’ve ever seen! Where did you learn that?” “I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it’s known for its great hockey teams and its ugly women.” The manager’s face flushed, and he interrupted, “My wife is from Grand Rapids!” “And which hockey team did she play for?” Source Unknown
Finally, he sought the help of an old handyman neighbor who was working in the backyard. The old fellow picked up the pieces of the gadget, studied them, then began assembling the gadget. In a short time, he had it put together. “That’s amazing,” said the man. “And you did it without even looking at the instructions!” “Fact is,” said the old man, “I can’t read, and when a fellow can’t read, he’s got to think.”
The old handyman picked up the pieces of the gadget, studied them, then began assembling the gadget. In a short time, he had it put together.
“That’s amazing,” said the man. “And you did it without even looking at the instructions!” “Fact is,” said the old man, “I can’t read, and when a fellow can’t read, he’s got to think.”
We value quick thinking and creative thinking but what matters most is the content of our thinking.
A man working in the produce department was asked by a lady if she could buy half a head of lettuce. He replied, “Half a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that’s how we sell them!” “You mean,” she persisted, “that after all the years I’ve shopped here, you won’t sell me half-a-head of lettuce?” “Look,” he said, “If you like I’ll ask the manager.” She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. “You won’t believe this, but there’s a lame-braided idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce.” He noticed the manager gesturing, and turned around to see the lady standing behind him, obviously having followed him to the front of the store. “And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half,” he concluded. Later in the day the manager cornered the young man and said, “That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I’ve ever seen! Where did you learn that?” “I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it’s known for its great hockey teams and its ugly women.” The manager’s face flushed, and he interrupted, “My wife is from Grand Rapids!” “And which hockey team did she play for?” Source Unknown
[Exp] That’s what Paul addressed here in - the content of Philippian thinking. Here is, he said, what they were to be thinking about.
They were to be thinking about whatever was true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praise-worthy. In other words, if it inspired worship of God according to the Scripture and service to others, the Philippians were to be thinking about it.
We value quick thinking and even ways of thinking but what matters most in thinking is the content of thoughts.[Exp]Paul addressed the content of Philippian thinking. Here is, he said, what they were to be thinking about.“think about these things. The Philippians are to fill their minds with things that will inspire worship of God and service to others. Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2287). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.True - Does is line up with God’s Word?Honorable - Just - Pure - Is it holy?Lovely - Commendable - Is it praise worthy?Excellence - Praise - Is it praiseworthy? “In context, 4:8-9 is a reminder to meditate on all that is true - but particularly on what is honorable, pure, and lovely in the gospel.” Gospel Transformation Bible[Illus]
[App] Most people daydream. That’s what it was called when we didn’t pay attention and just stared out the window during school. As adults, when we see someone daydreaming, we ask, “What are you thinking about?”
Now, I don’t know everything you think about but I do want to show how verses 7-8 can transform the content of your thinking by just looking at one particular daydream that I think we’ve all had.
10,000 Sermon Illustrations When You Can’t Read You Got to Think When You Can’t Read You Got to Think Bits and Pieces, February, 1990, p. 2
You’ve had the daydream where you’re imagining a difficult conversation you have to have or you’re reimagining the difficult conversation you’ve already had.
You play out how think the conversation will go or how you wish you would have responded. Let me ask you: In your mind, does the conversation ever go well?
Is the scenario you imagine true? Is what you imagine saying honorable? Do you imagine yourself or the other person involved responding in measured, rational, justifiable ways? Would God consider your thinking about that difficult conversation pure or lovely? Would he commend it as excellent in terms of how that conversation should work out? Would God consider your thoughts about that difficult conversation worthy of praise?
You see these verses eliminate the negative daydream in which we play the victim and get to give everyone a piece of our mind. Instead, these verses transform our minds as we obey them.
We are to be a thinking people; a people thinking on things pleasing to God.
[TS] Characteristic #5: The church should be a people thinking.
[App][TS]

CHARACTERISTIC #6: The church should be a people practicing (v. 9).

Philippians 4:9 ESV
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
ESVWhat you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
[Exp] As Paul did in chapter 3, here he called the Philippians to imitate him as he imitated Christ. They were to continually practice, striving to get better at, what they had learned, received, and heard from Paul.
If they would do that, they wouldn’t just experience the peace of God; they would also experience the presence of the God of peace.
“Beyond having a proper spiritual outlook (v. 8), the Philippians are to practice what they have seen Paul doing. As they make progress in this way, they will find that it is not simply the peace of God but the God of peace himself who will be with them. Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2287). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.Intentionally working to become more like Christ is how we practice the presence of God.
[Illus] Ted Williams, baseball legend of the 40’s and 50’s, was known as a “natural hitter.” He was once was asked about this natural ability to hit a baseball.
He said, “There is no such thing as a natural-born hitter. I became a good hitter because I paid the price of constant practice, constant practice.”
[Exp]“Beyond having a proper spiritual outlook (v. 8), the Philippians are to practice what they have seen Paul doing. As they make progress in this way, they will find that it is not simply the peace of God but the God of peace himself who will be with them. Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2287). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.Intentionally working to become more like Christ is how we practice the presence of God.[Illus]
[App] If we are going to get better at following Jesus, even if we are aiming to just follow others who are following Jesus more closely than we are, it’s going to take intentional effort.
We are going to have to intentionally work to become more like Christ.
Doing so is how we practice the presence of God.
Do you want to live with greater awareness of the presence of God? Do you want to feel more often that you are really walking with the Lord? Do you want greater belief that God hears you when you pray?
Then practice the presence of God by practicing following Christ and becoming like Christ as Paul did.
[Illus] Bill Bradley served as a Senator from New Jersey from from 1979 to 1997. Before that, however, he was a hall-of-fame basketball player who won two championship with the New York Knicks.
He once said that during his days of playing basketball at Princeton, his father would tell him, “Son, when you’re not out practicing, someone else is. And when you meet that person, he’s going to beat you.”
10,000 Sermon Illustrations Hard Work!Hard Work! Nothing worthwhile or long-lasting can be achieved without hard work. Former basketball great Sen. Bill Bradley once said that during his Princeton days, his father would tell him, “Son, when you’re not out practicing, someone else is. And when you meet that person, he’s going to beat you.” Rep. Gary Franks, Searching for the Promised Land: An African American’s Optimistic Odyssey (HarperCollins), quoted in Reader’s Digest, August, 1996, p. 147
If we don’t practice what we’ve learned from this passage; if we don’t practice what we’ve seen in faithful saints like the Apostle Paul; and, most importantly, if we don’t practice what we see in the pages of Scripture from our Lord jesus; then this world will beat us. It will pull us down and stomp us out.
We will only stand firm until Jesus returns if we practice these things.
[TS] {see below}
[App][TS]

Conclusion

“The Lord is at hand,” ().
We agree in the Lord because the Lord is at hand!
We rejoice because the Lord is at hand!
We treat one another with gracious forbearance because the Lord is at hand!
We supplicate and give thanks in prayer because the Lord is at hand!
We set our mind on heavenly things because the Lord is at hand!
We practice these things because the Lord is at hand!
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