Pray for a Sanctified Mind (Phil. 4:6-9)

Pray We and Our Children Sanctify our Minds (2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:6-8)

Praying Scripture Series

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 7, 2018

 People’s biggest fears are public speaking and death.

Jerry Seinfeld says people would rather be in the casket at the funeral than giving the eulogy.

I am a worrier. I can worry about anything and everything. I realized the day after Mercedes was born that God gave us children to help us learn how to trust in Him. And if you don’t have children, I know that God gives us parents to help us learn how to trust in Him. This is because we all have to care for others. We grow up and then eventually we help care for our aging parents, or aunts, or uncles, or close friends. I am a light sleeper and there have been many nights in which I am going in to check on the children. It would be great to be content. I think the Bible helps with that.

Mark Twain said: “I’ve lived a long time & worried a lot & most of the things I’ve worried about never happened.”

A problem with worry, or let’s call it anxiety, being anxious can steal our peace away from us. Being anxious can keep us from rejoicing.

I want to read Phil 4:6-8 and I believe you will see that God gives us a way to sanctify our minds. I have been preaching on convictional Scriptures. I have been preaching on Scriptures that I have been convicted to pray for myself and my children. Today, we come to a couple passages dealing with the mind.

My theme today is:

Pray We and Our Children Sanctify our Minds (2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 3:10; 4:6-8)

Read text: Phil 4:6-8:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 

Paul tells them not be anxious but to pray giving their request to God with thanksgiving

When Paul was writing this letter, he was under house arrest. There were guards around him. We know there were guards because he says so in chapter 1:13 and following.

Paul is writing this to the Philippians who were persecuted for their faith in Christ.

The city of Philippi was a Roman colony. They were very Roman in culture; they probably even spoke Latin which was a little rarer at this point.

By this point in Paul’s life he had already been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned and so much more (Acts 14; 2 Cor 11)

I think Paul could have had a lot to worry about. I think Paul could have been concerned about many things.

In the previous few verses (verse 5), Paul tells them to be gentle or let their gentleness be known to all. Again, Paul doesn’t say let people know you are gentle when things are going well and people are nice to you. No, let your gentleness be known to all.

Prayer with thanksgiving is what they need to do. That is the cure for anxiety.

However, the Philippians did face persecution, but what did Jesus say about this:

Matthew 5:44: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 5:11: Jesus says that we are blessed when persecuted for Him

Acts 5:41 the people leave a persecuting situation rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ

Not to be anxious is difficult. Like I said, I worry a lot. But Paul gives an antidote to anxiety and even to the time we are spending being anxious.

The antidote is prayer and Paul tells us how to pray.

Paul actually lists 3 types of communion with God in this passage: 1) prayer, 2) supplication or petition, 3) thanksgiving.

We pray in everything. Not in some things but in all things. And we pray with petitions. This petition means that we have a list of needs that we are giving to God.

Please understand: all prayer is not petition. Some prayer is just listening to God, worshipping God, praising God. But in this case Paul says: pray and give your list to God. But Paul also says do this with thanksgiving. Tell God what you are thankful for.

But you know we usually forget the most important. We usually put the physical, felt needs in front of the spiritual.

We have salvation in Christ. We have the Holy Spirit as our comforter (John 14). Jesus said not to fear the person who can harm our body but the person who can harm our soul (Matt 10:28).

About the year 125 A.D. a Greek by the name of Aristeides was writing to one of his friends about the new religion, Christianity. He was trying to explain the reasons for its extraordinary success. Here is a sentence from one of his letters:

“If any righteous man among the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God, and they escort his body with songs and thanksgiving as if he were setting out from one place to another nearby.”

—J. G. Gilkey[1]

Having been banished, Cyprian suffered martyrdom in Carthage in 258. When the sentence of death was read to him he said, “I heartily thank Almighty God who is pleased to set me free from the chains of the body.”[2]

Paul says they will have peace from God that passes understanding as a guard

This is not a peace as the world needs. This is not a peace from war. This is an inner peace which we receive spiritually.

This peace will guard our hearts and minds. I think by saying that Paul is saying that the peace will guard our whole person.

The term used for guard is a military term. This type of guard has to do with a soldier on wall guarding a city.

The peace of God will guard us and the peace of God is guarding us in Christ Jesus

Sanctify your mind for Jesus.

Paul had said, not to be anxious, but pray. Before we move on, come back to that word, “anxious.”

Looking at the Greek this has to do with an anxious concern, based on apprehension about possible danger or misfortune[3]

To look at anxiety I looked at some notes from a seminary counseling class. This is what I found: Annual survey of counseling center directors show that anxiety is now the most influential emotional and physical (spiritual?) variable on college campuses since 1996. In general population, 30% of persons have or have had an anxiety disorder – the most common of all psychiatric illnesses. With subclinical features, this number easily moves to include the majority of our population.

The brain doesn’t know the difference between stress. Whether you are standing in front of a dog that is about to attack the brain does the same thing as if you are sitting in the office with a lot of work to do. Cortisol is a chemical that is released to give power during stress. Too much of this causes you to gain weight. This also causes memory issues. This causes brain cell death. This is why diet in itself may not help with weight gain. One must exercise and or do something else in order to decrease stress.[4]

Robert M. Sapolsky, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: is a book about dealing with stress. You can see that stress can cause anxiety and anxiety can cause drastic problems. Paul says do not be anxious about some things??? NO!— Don’t be anxious about anything!

Now, let’s move on. Look at verse 8:

“Finally, brethren…” Paul gives a nice loving address calling them “brothers.” That Greek word can actually be brothers or sisters.

Paul is about to tell them what to think on. Now, follow me here, the cure for anxiety and the cure for worry is to pray, but then it is to change our thinking.

I pray that I can live this passage. I pray that my children and descendants can live this passage.

I said, “sanctify our minds.” What does that mean? “Sanctify” means to “set apart for a purpose” or declare holy, or “consecrate.” We need to set apart our minds for God and for His glory and His purpose.

Listen, it will be much easier to pursue God when you declare your mind His. It is much easier to keep from sinning when you declare your mind His.

In 2 Cor. 10:5 Paul says: We aredestroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ

Think about that, take every thought into captivity, now that is powerful. That is sanctifying your mind.

So, think on things that are:

True

Honorable

Right

Pure

Lovely

Of good repute

Anything of excellence and anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Conclusion:

I am not saying that this is easy. I believe it is difficult to take our thoughts captive, but don’t focus on what not to think about, focus on what to think about.

A love that can never be fathomed;

A life that can never die;

A righteousness that can never be tarnished;

A peace that can never be understood;

A rest that can never be disturbed;

A joy that can never be diminished;

A hope that can never be disappointed;

A glory that can never be clouded;

A light that can never be darkened;

A happiness that can never be interrupted;

A strength that can never be enfeebled;

A purity that can never be defiled;

A beauty that can never be marred;

A wisdom that can never be baffled;

Resources that can never be exhausted. [5]

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

[1]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[2]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[3]Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament : Based on semantic domains(electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (312). New York: United Bible societies.

[4]PC510 pastoral counseling notes. Asbury Theological Seminary, fall 2009

[5]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

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