Summary: Advent 3(C) - Believers are reminded to rejoice in the Lord always: with a gentle spirit, with a prayerful life, and with the peace of God.
PHILIPPIANS 4:4-7 - ADVENT 3 - December 11, 2005 (Outline)
INTRO: This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it proclaims the psalm writer. Are you happy? Are you happy enough to be constantly rejoicing? At times earthly sorrow sometimes saps the joy of salvation. Worldly worry and media fear mongering tries to rob us of enjoying the very blessings of eternity here and now. No wonder Paul reminds us twice in today’s text – Rejoice! Scrip-ture adds: "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand"(PSALM 16:11). Our gracious God has shown us the path of eternal life and fills us with as we stand in his presence. We stand in the presence of God whenever we hear God’s word, study God’s word, and learn God’s word. REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS.
I. With a gentle spirit,
II. With a prayerful life and,
III. With the peace of God.
I. REJOICE: WITH A GENTLE SPIRIT
A. As we read Philippians we soon discover it is a thank you letter of Paul.
1. Paul thanked God for his faith. Paul thanked God for faithful followers.
2. Chapter 4 is the conclusion to this letter. 4:4 describes rejoicing for all God has done.
B. Believers display this joyful living with a gentle spirit in verse 5. Not just talk – but live faith.
C. Rejoice always with a gentle spirit is Paul’s excellent Advent advice to us today. What did you see or hear about at the start of this year’s shopping season? People lined up for hours coveting the best deals at every store. The doors were opened and people rushed in – pushing, shoving, and trampling others. All of this happens for selfish reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the gentle spirit of a Christian. Rather than push our neighbor out of the way or to the floor we are to be concerned about their interests. "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up"(ROMANS 15:1,2).
D. Rejoice always with a gentle spirit. It is not always easy to live concerned about the welfare of others before our own interests. We do not see that attitude in the world around us. We can easily be-come infected with the philosophies of this wicked world. But selfishness and self-centeredness are the exact opposites of the gentle spirit the Christian possesses. God tells how we can cultivate our true Christian nature in the face of worldliness. "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (COLOSSIANS 3:12). We are anxious to add these characteristics to our lives because we are God’s chosen people.
Transition: Rejoice in the Lord always. I. With a gentle spirit. II. With a prayerful life.
II. REJOICE: WITH A PRAYERFUL LIFE
A. A reminder that Paul penned this thank you letter while in prison.
1. Each word Paul wrote, each sentence, paragraph echoed the clang of chains on his wrists.
2. Yet Paul still had an intense attitude of gratitude as seen in verse 4.
B. Paul had this attitude because he was not going to worry.
1. Verse 6 encourages not to be anxious (worry) about anything
2. Instead bring everything to the Lord in prayer – in general and specifically.
3. The believer can pray to God with all thankfulness. Paul thus prayed while a prisoner.
C. Worldly care can almost overwhelm us during this time of the year. We wonder, worry and fret about mailing cards, getting the house ready for company, buying gifts, and in the end paying all of those bills! All of this in addition to the normal, everyday worries that nags one daily. We heard at Thanksgiving not to worry – God is still, truly in control. God controls all things for the benefit of his believers. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own"(MATTHEW 6:34).
D. How can we overcome all this anxiety – whether real or mostly imagined? The Lord does not leave us on our own to tackle life’s problems. Our God, the Lord almighty who made the heavens and the earth and everything in it invites to come to him in prayer. Our God invites us anytime, anywhere, to make our requests to him. "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need"(HEBREWS 4:16).
Transition: Rejoice in the Lord always. II. With a prayerful life. III. With the peace of God.