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?