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2018-12-02 PHILIPPIANS 4: 6-7 STANDING FIRM (4): BY RIGHT PRAYING (Phil. 4:6-7)

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  51:55
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STANDING FIRM (4): BY RIGHT PRAYING (Phil. 4:6-7) December 2, 2018 Read Phil 4:6-7 – Ever feel anxious? Like the guy who said, “I’ve got so many troubles that if anything happens today, it’ll be at least two weeks before I can even worry about it!” So we’re advised, Don’t worry. It can cause headache, chest pain, irritability, sadness, depression, overeating, fatigue, ulcers, colitis – the list goes on and on. By the time you got done reading the list you were more worried than ever. It’s a lifelong battle. Yet, God says, “Do not be anxious -- about anything.” And it’s a command! Seriously! So, does He really mean this? Don’t worry! Well, God doesn’t give optional commands, does He? This is part of the way we “Stand firm” as commanded in v. 1. One way to do that – Be Worry-free. Great! But how? At the end of v. 5, just before “Do not be anxious” we read “The Lord is at hand.” So, how we perceive God determines our stability. God is saying, “I’m right here, so you can be an island of stability in a world of chaos.” We won’t get this perfect in this life. But there are some things tucked away in this passage that can dramatically improve your battle with anxiety. So, let’s unpack it – I. The Prohibition; II. The Power and III. The Payoff. I. The Prohibition – Don’t Worry About Anything “Do not be anxious about anything.” Don’t worry – ever! Really? If I don’t, who will? Where will I find a job? My spouse treats me badly. How will I pay for the kids’ college? What if hail or wind destroys my crops? How can I care for a disabled parent? How can I bear this loss? It’s all legit. Yet God says – “Don’t worry – ever – about anything.” Did He really mean that? Well, it’s what Jesus taught! Mt 6: 25 “. . . do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. . . . 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Why not worry? 1 First, the concerns of this life pale in comparison to eternity. Second, our heavenly Father is aware, capable and engaged. Leave the worry to Him. Worry has a lot of adverse effects – makes us irritable, no fun, inefficient, distracted, even sick – yet it solves nothing! But the worst thing about worry? Worry devalues God. God has said, “You take care of my concerns and I’ll take care of yours,” Worry says, “I don’t believe it.” We’d never be that blatant, but worry is a form of doubt. It shows we think God is not aware, not able, or not caring, It shrivels Him in our eyes. That’s a problem! When Paul wrote this, he wasn’t lounging under a palm tree on the Isle of Capri sipping a cold drink and singing, “Don’t worry; be happy!” His life was always on the bubble. At the moment he was chained 24/7 to a Roman guard, awaiting trial for his life, surrounded by jealous Xns who were “thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment” (Phil 1:17). He wasn’t exactly living the dream when he wrote: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice . . . do not be anxious about anything.” He had to be looking beyond Now! Tony Dungy won a Super Bowl as coach of the Colts in 2007, but in 2001 when his job as head coach of TB was in jeopardy he said: “Worrying about my job is not my responsibility; it’s God’s. My job is to coach.” Don’t devalue God. Don’t insult His promises! Leave the worrying to Him. Okay. How? How exactly can I do this? Paul gives 3 ways – right praying (6-7), right thinking (8), and right living (9). Let’s look at the first – Praying right! II. The Power – Pray About Everything Worry about nothing; pray about everything. Anxiety always reveals a broken prayer link. So Paul urges “let your requests be known to God.” Pray. But he does more than just say, “Pray.” He gives three telling elements of right prayer. Listen closely. These can change our worry-filled existence! A. Prayer -- 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving..” Note the 3 elements of right prayer – prayer, supplication and thanksgiving. Prayer is a general term for talking to God. But here, set beside “supplication” it has a narrower meaning of praise and worship. So, before making any requests we must spend time knowing God. This gives our requests context. What looks so big to us gets a lot smaller seen against God’s greatness! If worry is caused by wrong thinking about God – and it is –the cure is to think great thoughts about Him. 2 Jesus starts His model prayer. Mt 6:5: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Start with God’s greatness. He’s in heaven; His name is hallowed; and – He’s my Father. Those truths diminish worry. When I grasp He’s all powerful; all knowing; all loving, and my dad, anxiety shrinks. So we start with praise. We start with focus on Him, not our needs! David was in trouble. Enemies all around. Worried to death. So how’d he start his prayer? Psa 91:1) He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2) I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” He got his head in the right place and his heart and emotions followed. From the belly of a whale Jonah prayed, “When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord” (2:7). Prayer gets us looking up instead of out! Frances Chan says, “Worry implies we don’t quite trust God is big enough, powerful enough or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives. I see the stuff in my life as exceptional. Worry reeks of arrogance.” Can you relate? How much would you worry if you knew your life depended on passing a physics test tomorrow? A lot, right? But what if you had the option of calling Einstein back from the dead to take the test for you. Any worries? Not a one. That’s why we need worship before making petition. It reminds us the answer isn’t in us; the answer is Him. And we dare not diminish God with worry. B. Petition – So, having seen God, now comes supplication. Dictionary definition is “urgent request to meet a need, exclusively addressed to God.” Got a need? Bring it to God -- first, last and always. Mt 7:7-8: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” That’s not a blanket promise for God to line up with our will! He’ll not give us a stone when we think we’re asking for bread – or a serpent that looks like a fish to us. He promises in Rom 8:27b “the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” – taking our feeble but earnest prayers and retrofitting them to God’s will. But the process starts when we ask, seek and knock. So can we ask anything? Yes, anything. Someone has said, “There is nothing too great for God’s power; and nothing too small for his fatherly care.” Isn’t that good? Jesus began our model prayer, “Our Father”? There’s a lesson. Prayer is not coming before the Almighty Blessing Dispenser – put your nickel in and pick up your answer in the tray below. Prayer is not coming before the All-Indifferent Spirit in the sky who must be bargained into 3 compliance. Prayer is baring the deepest part of our being to a loving Heavenly Father – who, despite what we want will always – always give us exactly what we need. So whether the answer is yes, no or later it is BEST. When we truly embrace God as that kind of Father, anxiety is out the window. I Peter 5:7: “casting all [not some, all] your anxieties on him, [why?], because he cares for you.” That’s how we petition God in faith, praying right! A lady once asked G. Campbell Morgan, “Do you think we should pray about the little things?” Dr. Morgan replied, “Madam, is there anything in your life that isn’t small to God?” We’re back to the defining question. How big is your God? Our problem is, having petitioned God, we take it all back on us before we even leave the throne room. Our faith doesn’t sustain us out the door! We can all relate to this poem: “Lord, I’m so discouraged / I don’t know what to do / I have so many burdens / And I gave them all to you. / But you didn’t take them Jesus / Will you tell my why that’s so? / The answer’s simple, little one / Because you won’t let go.” You talk a reluctant child into sharing his toy. “Yes, I’ll share it.” But the moment you reach out what happens? He grabs it back. Just like us with God. When we take back what we just gave Him, we make Him small in our lives. Let it go. Look the worst thing that could happen square in the face, then tell God, “Do what you know is best, not what I want!” That’s how to pray well. A guy is dying for lack of water in the desert. He comes upon an old shack with a rusty pump out front, begins to pump, but gets nothing. Then he notices an old jug out to the side with a note: “You have to prime this pump with all the water in this jug. P.S. Be sure you fill the jug again before you leave.” He pops the cork and finds it full of water. Decision time! Drink what’s there or prime the pump. The well hardly looks promising. Filled with fear, he finally pours all the water into the pump, and begins to pump. He gets nothing but squeaks, but then comes a small stream, and finally the pump gushes with streams of water. He drinks his fill, fills his canteen and fills the jug. Then he adds to the note: “Believe me, it really works. But you have to give it all away before you can get anything back.” Same with anxiety. Want relief. You have to give it all to Him, take hands off and by faith believe trust Him for the right and best answer. Pray well and then leave it with Him. C. Thanksgiving – Many people skip right over this. Paul’s saying, “You’re worried? Then pray. Petition God -- ‘with thanksgiving’.” Don’t miss that. But you say, “Wait a minute. How can I be thankful until I know how He’s going to answer?” Great question. Bc you see, Paul’s point is 4 we are to thank God ahead of time for the entire range of possible responses. There’s no relief for your anxiety until you trust God all the way! No relief – except by this. You have to envision all possibilities and thank God for all of them ahead of time. That’s what it says. That’s demonstrates true faith in the wisdom, omnipotence and love of God. When He is that big to you, you will want to say “Thanks” ahead of time. It’s a test. Do we believe all things work together for those who love God”? Then “Thanks” is the evidence, and anxiety has to flee. If we don’t believe it, worry will dominate our existence. Let me paraphrase John Newton. If you’re a child of God, everything God lets through must be necessary. Everything He doesn’t let through couldn’t be necessary because of his wise love. You say, “I can’t buy that. That’s just blind faith.” But it’s not blind at all. Listen, if God created us, then we know no more of the big picture of our lives than a 4-year-old, right? A 4-year-old doesn’t understand much – why you can’t eat candy off the street, put your hand in the fire, play with butcher knives or drink poison. They don’t know why ice cream 3 meals a day isn’t good! And we’re no wiser about the big pix of our existence than that 4-year-old. We don’t know what happens if we marry that one instead of this one, take that job instead of this one, take that road instead of this. We don’t know. But God does! So we have to trust that His ways are better than ours – and thank Him even if it doesn’t go our way. Like Peter insisting he’d never let Jesus die. No good could come from that. So at the cross all the disciples run. Why? Because they thought, “Why’d God let that happen? What good can come from that? It’s all over. This can’t be good!” And all the time they were looking at the greatest display of wisdom and love in world history. And they were looking at the one act that could save them from sin and death and hell. But they didn’t get it, so they ran. But Xns don’t run. They face their worst fear head-on and say, “God, I don’t see any good in this – but thank you. I don’t get it. Maybe I’ll fail or die right here, but I know you’d never hurt me or do anything that wasn’t for my good and your glory. So I’m leaving the worry to you. Thank you!” III. The Payoff – Peace in All Things How do I know? God promised. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. We get peace with God when we get saved (Rom 5:1); now we get peace of God. It’s not a human peace – not what you get from a psychologist or a guru or a positive turn of events. It’s peace under any circumstance. It’s a peace focused 5 a great God – His peace, in us! His peace bc He knows the end becomes our peace even tho we don’t! John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” It’s trust or worry – your choice! This peace guards our hearts. “Guard” is a military term defining those who keep the enemy out. So, God’s peace stands guard over our hearts to ward off doubt, fear, frustration and worry. Like Isa 26:3: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Notice peace always depends on keeping the mind focused on Christ, not on circumstances. Give it to Him – and leave it there. “Stayed upon Jehovah, / Hearts are fully blessed; / Finding as He promised, / Perfect peace and rest.” And notice God promises peace, not specific answers. God didn’t say, “Let your requests be made known to God, and you get your wish.” That’s the way a lot of people read it. That’s not what it says. We’re promised peace, not wish fulfillment. God help us if we always got exactly what we prayed for, right? What we want is what we’d pray for if we knew all that God knows. And that’s exactly what He promises when we let our requests be made known to God “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” – praying well. Conc – There’s no greater example of all this than Daniel. Jealous comrades got Darius the king to issue an edict that for the next 30 days it was against the law to petition any man or god except the king on penalty of being thrown to the lions. A power play by a king on an ego trip – all intended to catch Daniel out. Think he had some anxiety when he got that memo. So Daniel 6:10: “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” There is Phil 4:6-7 being lived out. Daniel did it. So can we. Worry about nothing; pray about everything. Let’s pray. 6
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