Sermons

Summary: When we have to cope for the long term, we need to implement God’s template for doing so. Distraction is a key element in this process, but needs to be viewed as part of the whole process.

The Power of Distraction

(Philippians 4:1-9)

1. The psychology professor was giving an oral test. She asked, "How would you diagnose a patient who screaming at the top of his lungs one minute, then sits in a chair weeping uncontrollably the next?"

A sports-minded young man answered, "He's probably a basketball coach?" [funnp.com]

2. We have our high and low times in life. For example, one blogger wrote, “Today, my girlfriend broke up with me, saying, "I'm not ready for a serious relationship." We're supposed to get married in a month.”

3. This is a low time for this fellow, a hard experience to get through.

4. Life can hold other, longer-term heartbreaks, issues, burdens. Disappointments, conditions or situations that drag on for years or decades.

Main Idea: When we have to cope for the long term, we need to implement God’s template for doing so. Distraction is a key element in this process, but needs to be viewed as part of the whole process.

God gives us a strategy to help us cope with life. We need to take it out of mothballs and put it to work.

I. Advice for Coping That Sometimes Gets the PUBLICITY in the Pulpit

A. PARTICIPATING in church life, the good and the bad (1-3)

The Philippian church suffered from conflict. Some Christians take off at the slightest conflict. You work things out when you sense you have to.

Like marriage, if you leave yourself the option of escaping, you won’t address…

B. REJOICING in the Lord (4)

C. Maturing in the Lord demonstrated by SENSIBILITY (5a)

Biblical wisdom

Self-restraint

Patience and humility

Information not enough; must have sense

D. Consoling ourselves with the HOPE of Jesus’ return (5b)

E. Facing that we are ANXIOUS, disappointed, depressed (6a)

1. The same word is used for being concerned about others…

2. Worry or anxiety is not evil, in moderation; caution, for example is good

3. When we feel distraught or debilitated by worry, that’s another level.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”

F. POURING out our concerns to God in prayer with thanksgiving (6b-7)

1. Relief, not cure

2. Result: a sense of God’s peace

God gives us a strategy to help us cope with life. We need to take it out of mothballs and put it to work.

II. Crucial Advice that Is NEGLECTED or Misunderstood (8-9)

Last year, we memorized Philippians 4:8-9, some key verses in

These additions fortify the above for the long term.

A. We need to DISTRACT ourselves with good things (8)

1. The NEED for distractions

a) Interests do a lot for us: they relax us, make us more interesting to other people, expand our minds/skills, help us unwind, balance, refresh us.

b) God gives us good things to distract us to help us cope with life.

c) If you have a long-term issues — an disappointing marriage, a physical limitation, financial pressures, a nasty boss, wayward children…you have to cope for a long time. You need a long-term coping strategy, and finding wholesome distractions is a crucial part of it.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, “Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.”

The goal of intended distraction is to be occupied with joy in your heart.

Paul expands this idea beyond prosperity and work.

2. A CATALOG of virtues

3. EXAMPLES of how distraction works

It began in the early 1960s at Stanford University’s Bing Nursery School, where Mischel and his graduate students gave children the choice between one reward (like a marshmallow, pretzel, or mint) they could eat immediately, and a larger reward (two marshmallows) for which they would have to wait alone, for up to 20 minutes. Years later, Mischel and his team followed up with the Bing preschoolers and found that children who had waited for the second marshmallow generally fared better in life. For example, studies showed that a child’s ability to delay eating the first treat predicted higher SAT scores and a lower body mass index (BMI) 30 years after their initial Marshmallow Test. Researchers discovered that parents of “high delayers” even reported that they were more competent than “instant gratifiers”—without ever knowing whether their child had gobbled the first marshmallow. [source: theatlantic.com]

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