Summary: #5 of a 6 part summer series from the Book of Philippians on how we are free in Christ
FREEDOM TO STRESS-LESS
Freedom! Series #5
INTRODUCTION: (Video: Running Just to Catch Myself = 4:18 - www.youtube.com)
And then it starts all over again. And no matter what your name.. Ross or otherwise - you can probably relate. We are worn-out, burnt-out and stressed-out. We live in a "pressure-cooker" world according to statistics we are not handling it very well. Suicide has increased 100% in the last decade. According to Reader’s Digest stress is the #1 medical problem in the United States. The AIS, the American Institute of Stress - Yeah, there’s actually such a place - which says a lot! - their research says that 75- 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems. They agree with health officials who say that heart disease, strokes, gastritis, ulcers and many other diseases are stress related. Stress from work, their research shows, is responsible for up to 80% of the sick days taken by employees. Rollo May, a well known Christian psychologist says that "stress is one of the most urgent problems of our time and anxiety has now become the official emotion of our day." Well, as we continue in our series on Freedom! there may not be a more practical message to hear then what God says in our passage. Vs. 6 says, "Do not be anxious (don’t stress) about anything.." Paul gives 5 key phrases to help us reduce the stress in our lives. So, let’s look at his prescription for “Freedom to stress-less.”
I. REJOICE CONTINUALLY: vss:4-5
The Good News Version translates vs:4- "May you always be joyful in your life in the Lord. I say it again: rejoice." Is he kidding? "We’re supposed to ALWAYS be joyful in life?” Is that even possible? How much joy is there in learning you have cancer? How joyful are you when you find your spouse has been unfaithful? How filled with joy can you possibly be when a loved one dies? There must be a hundred things in this life that can knock the props right out from under you, hundreds of kill joys. What makes this statement even harder is that the construction of this verse is imperative, i.e., it is a command. Paul is saying, "I’m giving you this charge, I order you - "Rejoice!" Is Paul’s emphatic imperative here just a tad impractical? Well, not when you understand what all three parts of that phrase mean individually.
(1) "Rejoice" in this verse, is not talking about worldly happiness. Ever had someone insist upon taking a photograph when you’re just not feeling it? You smile but it’s a stilted, forced smile. Paul is not talking about keeping a stilted smile on your face even through horrendous circumstances. He is not talking about surface delight at all. He is talking about an inner peace, he is referring here to deep sacred delight that comes from knowing that no matter what the outer circumstances are, inwardly you have the joy of Jesus. Think about it like a submarine. On the surface of the ocean a hurricane may be blowing. Wind and waves may be in a frenzy. But far beneath the surface, the submarine glides in tranquil water. Well, that’s what Paul is saying here. "No matter what is happening on the surface, don’t allow the depths of your faith, the quietness of your trust to be disturbed.” And how can we do that?
(2) By understanding where our joy is placed. Notice he doesn’t say, "Rejoice, always." He says, "Rejoice in the Lord always." That prepositional phrase is used 9x in this letter. And each time it is used it is referring to situations that are impossible for any of us to handle alone. Once again Paul is a great example. He was encouraged "in the Lord" even though he was in chains. He was confident "in the Lord" even though he was in prison. He tells us to stand firm "in the Lord" even though our citizenship is not of this world. We are to agree with one anther "in the Lord" even though we may disagree. You see this is a joy that is not dependent on what we relate to in this world, but who our relationship is with in our inner world. As it says in Romans 8:35- "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or sword?.. no, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."
(3) And that helps us to understand what Paul means when he says, "always." . One of the great things about being a Christian is that, because of our relationship with Jesus, we can be positive people in spite of negative circumstances. The secret for remaining joy-filled is remembering Jesus and His great promises. Doctor says I have cancer? Can’t steal my joy.. Jesus promises I’ll get a new body one day. Someone disappoints? Can’t steal this joy.. I’ll depend on Jesus for my approval and acceptance because Jesus has always been faithful, never disappointed me. Death? Won’t kill my joy! Jesus has defeated death. My sin? no kill joy either.. Jesus forgives. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!"