Summary: Three key phrases taken from this text give us the keys to living with joy in a stress filled world.
Restoring the Joy
A Study of the Book of Philippians
Sermon # 11
Dr. John R. Hamby
“How To Live With Joy In a Stressed Out World”
I don’t know how you felt as you came into the church this morning. Some of you may feel on top of the world; everything is going your way. But probably most of you; did not come feeling that way at all. Some of you came with a heavy burden. You are weighed down with the stress of this life.
The truth is this morning that you are either yourself under stress, or you are deeply concerned about someone you care about that is under stress or you are inadvertently the cause of stress in those will whom you live and work.
Stress is the word that we use to describe the affects of anxiety or worry. The word “worry” is a synonym for anxiety, and it comes from an Old English word meaning “to choke or strangle.” That is exactly what worry or anxiety does to our peace, productivity and joy.
Someone has observed that worry is the Christian’s most popular sin because it is the one that we don’t even try to disguise. Worry is so common in our lives that we are not even particularly ashamed of it.
This morning I want to share with you some insights in “How to Live With Joy In A Stressed Out World!” This is the subject that Paul addresses in verses four through nine.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! (5) Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. (6) Be anxious for nothing, 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 under-standing, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise-worthy--meditate on these things. (9) The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
I want to jump ahead an paraphrase verse six because it is here that we find the general principle for overcoming anxiety, here Paul says, “Worry about nothing, pray about everything!” To put it another way, “Don’t worry about ANYTHING but rather pray about EVERYTHING.”
And although we know that we should not worry, it is not enough to be told, or even to tell ourselves, “Stop Worrying!!!” We are however, prone to pray about the “big things” and forget to pray about the “little things.” But the “little things” left unattended become “big things.” Therefore God would have us to pray about everything. Indeed, if it is big enough to worry about it is big enough to pray about. Paul advises us to take the energy that is used in worrying and put into prayer. Paul’s advice is simple; turn your worries into a stimulus for prayer. Do you want to worry less? Then pray more! Whenever you find yourself starting to worry, stop and pray.
Now having established this general principle; “Worry about nothing, pray about everything!” Let’s look back and see what Paul is telling us about how to stop the worry game.
Charles Swindoll points out three keys words emerging from this passage. I want us to examine these three keys words. I want you to mark these down in the margin of your Bibles. … Rejoice (v.4) … Relax (v. 5) …. Rest (v.7). [Charles Swindoll. Laugh Again. (Dallas: Word, 1991) p. 200]
First, we are told to Rejoice (v. 4) “Worry about nothing, pray about everything!”- Rejoice. Verse four says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! The word “rejoice” means “to be glad.”
After writing to a few of the members of the church at Philippi to call for unity (4:2-3) Paul returns to church as a whole and tells them to “rejoice.” Does it seem strange to you that a man in prison would be telling others in the church how important it is to “keep rejoicing” ? Paul demonstrates an important lesson: “Our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circum-stances.” It is easy to be discouraged when we find ourselves in difficult circum-stances or to take unimportant events too seriously. As believers we may often find ourselves in circumstances in which we cannot be happy, but we can always rejoice.
Consider the value of rejoicing. On one hand rejoicing eliminates whining, rejoicing minimizes pouting, rejoicing replaces self-pity and rejoicing lessens pessimism. On the other hand, rejoicing increases hope, rejoicing refreshes the spirit, and rejoicing validates our testimony. Rejoicing is as much a choice as is gripping; rejoicing is our decision as much as is complaining; rejoicing is our option as much as moaning. So Paul says; Choose to rejoice.