The Culture War, Be a Culture Warrior (1 Chronicles 12:32; James 4:4; 1 Thess. 5:21-22)

The Culture War, Be a Culture Warrior (1 Chronicles 12:32; James 4:4; 1 Thess. 5:21-22)

We are at war. Whether or not you realize it, we are at war. We are not in a physical war, but a spiritual and cognitive war. We are in a war that has to do with our thinking. Our war has more to do with our worldview. A worldview has to do with where we get our values from. How do we know right from wrong? How do we view the world? Think about it?

  • What is wrong with the world?
  • Why do we need police?
  • Why is stealing wrong? Without the Bible, how do we answer this question?
  • Why do we need order?
  • Why do we need government?
  • What is the purpose of marriage? When was the first marriage?
  • What is the purpose of work? Why do we need to work? Is everyone supposed to work?
  • Why do we have problems and how do we help those in need?
  • What do we do with people who are a drain on society?
  • What is right? What is wrong? Why?

I want to submit to you that we can only find adequate answers to those questions from the Bible. Without the Bible we are lost. I want to talk about a Biblical worldview.

So, my challenge to you today is:

Be a Culture Warrior.

  1. What is a worldview?
    1. A worldview is how one views the world. We all have a worldview.
    2. Most do not recognize their worldview. Our worldview is under the surface, but it is there.
    3. What comes into your mind when you think about something reflects your worldview.
    4. What comes into your mind when you hear the term abortion reflects your worldview.
    5. What comes into your mind when you hear the word “same-sex marriage” reflects your worldview.
    6. How you cope with death reflects your worldview.
    7. What you think about work and worship and church and governance reflects your worldview.
    8. What we see in the Bible is that God created everything good. We see that in Genesis 1 and 2. Then in Genesis 3 sin entered the world.
    9. We live in a fallen world.
    10. In the Gospels we see redemption. Jesus has redeemed us, but the world is still fallen. The world is not restored yet.
    11. A Biblical worldview goes in this order: creation-fall-redemption-restoration. The world is redeemed, but not restored.
  2. Fight the fight.
    1. There is a fight. Acknowledge it. Chuck Colson writes the following:
    2. Philosopher Richard Weaver has it right in the title of his well-known book: Ideas have consequences.[1] It is the great ideas that inform the mind, fire the imagination, move the heart, and shape a culture. History is little more than the recording of the rise and fall of the great ideas—the worldviews—that form our values and move us to act.[2]
    3. The culture war is not just about abortion, homosexual rights, or the decline of public education. These are only the skirmishes. The real war is a cosmic struggle between worldviews—between the Christian worldview and the various secular and spiritual worldviews arrayed against it. This is what we must understand if we are going to be effective both in evangelizing our world today and in transforming it to reflect the wisdom of the Creator.[3]
    4. The world is divided not so much by geographic boundaries as by religious and cultural traditions, by people’s most deeply held beliefs—by worldviews. So argued the distinguished Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington in a celebrated article a few years ago.[4] And Christians would agree. Because we are religious creatures, our lives are defined by our ultimate beliefs more sharply than by any other factor. The drama of history is played out along the frontiers of great belief systems as they ebb and flow.[5]
    5. Huntington predicted a clash between the worldviews of three major traditional civilizations: the Western world, the Islamic world, and the Confucian East. But one of his former students, political scientist James Kurth, took issue with him, contending that the most significant clash would be within Western civilization itself—between those who adhere to a Judeo-Christian framework and those who favor postmodernism and multiculturalism.[6],[7]
    6. We could go deeper with those thoughts and we will in the coming weeks. For today. I urge you, recognize the struggle and fight it.
    7. Understand the dichotomy between the world’s ways and God’s ways (James 4:4).
    8. James 4:4 says this: You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
      1. So, we must recognize that being a friend of the world makes us an enemy with God.
      2. We cannot have both. God’s ways are right, not the world’s ways.
  • Recognize this and fight the tendencies to go the way of the world.
  1. Test everything (1 Thess 5:21).
    1. 1 Thess. 5:21 says this: But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good…
    2. This means we must test, or examine, everything.
    3. We will talk more about this when we get to the applications, but for now, when you have television on, test the message. Don’t just watch a movie and let it feed you messages without them being examined.
    • Realize the affluence portrayed in television can be just as destructive as sexual immorality.
    1. Realize if you teach your children to maintain sexual purity and wait on sex until marriage but allow them to be entertained by media with co-habiting couples and sexual relationships that is teaching them contrary to your teaching.
    2. Realize, if you are teaching your children about God and the spiritual life but their schools and their media are teaching that they are accidents that evolved, that will pull them away from God.
    3. Test/examine everything.
    • We test with the Bible. We test with the Biblical Worldview. Let the Bible be your glasses, your corrective lenses to properly see the world.
    1. Abstain from every form of evil (1 Thess. 5:22).
  1. 1 Thess. 5:22 reads like this: abstain from every form of evil.
    1. This means to abstain from every form of evil. This is not apparent evil, but real evil.
    2. To do this we must test everything first.
    3. To test/examine everything we must know God’s Word.
  2. Study culture (1 Chron. 12:32).
    1. 1 Chron. 12:32 says this: Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command.
    2. This means we cannot ignore things. We should be like the men of Issachar.
    3. Study, test, examine, abstain. Cling to the Biblical worldview.
  • Apply:
    • We must test everything (1 Thess 5:21).
      • This means that we must understand that every article, every movie, every book, every teacher, every institution, every politician, and every other form of entertainment, or influence has a worldview. This worldview needs to be tested. Most of the time this worldview does not line up with the Christian worldview.
        • Think of the worldview of a show on Smithsonian.
        • I have been watching Aerial America with my kids. When they bring up evolutionary content, I must pause it and talk with them about it.
  • But what about more innocent things? What about Christmas programs about Santa Claus? I must pause the program and talk with them about the real meaning of Christmas.
  • Many of our world’s Christmas movies are NOT at all about Jesus. That does not mean we can’t enjoy them, it just means we must recognize that and make our focus on Jesus.
  • We must test everything with the Bible.
  • We must teach our children to test everything too.
  • This means that we must first study the Bible.
  • Secondly, this means that we must study culture. we cannot put our head in the sand.
  • We must test the movies and shows our children watch.
  • We must test the books our children read.
  • We must test the books we read or listen to.
  • We must test the news media that we are listening to, reading, or watching.
  • We must test the politicians that we vote for. We must remember the lesser of two evils is still evil.
  • We must test the music our children listen to.
  • We must test the schools our children are taught at.
  • We must test the teachers influencing our children.
  • We must test the games our children play.
  • We must test everything.
  • We must abstain from every form of evil (1 Thess 5:22).
    • This means real evil, not apparent evil.
    • As we test, we must prayerfully discern when to abstain. When it is black and white evil it must be abstained from.
    • When the purpose of the movie or the book is evil, we must abstain.
    • This requires the test.
    • This requires NOT making excuses.
  • Like the men of Issachar, we must study to understand the times in order to know what to do (1 Chronicles 12:32).
    • This means that we cannot bury our head in the sand.
    • We must offset bad news with the good news of the Gospel.
    • We must rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 4:4).
    • We must remember where our hope is.
  • We must recognize the dichotomy between the world’s ways and God’s ways (James 4:4).
    • This must be first.
    • We must recognize the world’s ways are not right. God’s ways are right.
    • We must NOT be content with the world.

Close:

Here is your challenge: This week live out 1 Thess. 5:21, test everything. Think about every form of media and the message it is telling you. See what you come up with.

But let me come back to the questions which I began with. As I said, we can only find adequate answers from the Bible. Let me give references to these questions. You can look up the references later.

  • What is wrong with the world?
    • In Genesis 3 sin entered the world.
    • A Biblical worldview goes in this order: creation-fall-redemption-restoration. The world is redeemed, but not restored.
  • Why do we need police?
    • In my opinion, we need police because we live in a fallen world.
    • Things were created good, but creation fell in Genesis 3.
    • Because of the fall we need government, we need police, we need the military, and we need law and order.
  • Why is stealing wrong? Without the Bible, how do we answer this question?
    • In my opinion, God gave us morality. God gave us right from wrong. The Ten Commandments put the morality in writing (Exodus 20:15).
    • There is no way to know right from wrong apart from the Bible. We could argue that common sense says that stealing is wrong, and I agree; however, where did we get the common sense? God gave us that morality.
    • God gave us a moral standard and that is written in His Word.
  • Why do we need order?
    • Again, Genesis 3 says that we live in a fallen world.
    • However, even in the Garden of Eden God commanded Adam to tend it (Genesis 2:15).
  • Why do we need government?
    • I answered this above.
    • We live in a fallen world (Genesis 3).
    • It does seem that there will be a type of government in the New Jerusalem, but that will then not be because of sin, but for responsibility and order.
    • Romans 13:1-7 talks of the need for government. Also, Exodus-Deuteronomy is setting up governance for Israel.
  • What is the purpose of marriage? When was the first marriage?
    • The first marriage was in Genesis 2.
    • The purpose of marriage was, and remains, companionship (Gen. 2:18) and reproduction (Gen. 1:28). That is somewhat over-simplifying things, but the point is, from the Bible, there was a purpose in marriage. Man and woman complement one-another for a purpose.
    • Marriage was the first institution. Marriage preceded government. We had one family and marriage was their governance. Then we had many families and we needed common governance.
  • What is the purpose of work? Why do we need to work? Is everyone supposed to work?
    • In Genesis 2:15 God gave Adam purpose prior to the fall.
    • In 2 Thess 3:10 we are told if one does not work they shall not eat.
    • Clearly, the Bible tells us to help those in need. Throughout Deuteronomy and the Old Testament the widows, the orphans, and caring for those in need repeatedly comes up.
    • In Acts 6, Paul instructs them to take care of those in need. 1 Timothy 5 Paul instructs on the care of widows.
  • Why do we have problems and how do we help those in need?
    • Again, we have a sin problem and that has made all of creation fallen (Romans 8:19-22).
    • We are told to love God and love people. We are told to help our enemies (Luke 10; Romans 12:14ff).
  • What do we do with people who are a drain on society?
    • Serve them, help them.
    • If we are all created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), and if God is the creator (see Psalm 139), we do not have the right to take life.
  • What is right? What is wrong? Why?
    • The metanarrative of Scripture teaches this.
    • The Bible is a metanarrative, this means it is a grand story, made up of smaller stories.
    • The Bible teaches the “why” as well.

Seek the Lord, test everything.

Prayer

[1] Richard M. Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984).

[2] Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (p. 18). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[3] Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (p. 18). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[4] Samuel Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations,” Journal of Foreign Affairs (summer 1993): 22. Huntington identified the major power blocs as the Western, Islamic, Chinese, Hindu, Orthodox, Japanese, and possibly African regions.

Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (p. 494). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[5] Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (p. 19). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[6] James Kurth, “The Real Clash of Civilization,” Washington Times, 4 October 1994.

[7] Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (p. 19). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8)

We have been on a sermon series on Phil. 4:4-8 and today we wrap up that series.

Four weeks ago, we talked about Rejoicing in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4)

Three weeks ago, Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5)

Two weeks ago: Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6)

Last week: How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7)

Today, Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8)

Think about it, if we could control our thinking we would have a lot of our problems conquered, wouldn’t we?

Whatever gets your attention gets you! Whatever we think about flavors our whole outlook. The human mind always finds an object to fix its attention on. We control the choice of that object. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, he exhorted them to discipline their minds and set their attention on godly things. [1]

Let’s read Phil. 4:4-8:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 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.

  1. Think on these things.
    1. Paul begins with “finally.”
    2. Paul has told them to rejoice in the Lord always.
    3. Paul has told them to let their gentleness be made known to all.
    4. Paul has told them the Lord is near.
    5. Paul has told them to pray about all things instead of being anxious.
    6. Paul has told them to pray with thanksgiving.
    7. Paul has told them then they will have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.
    8. Paul now tells them what else to fill their minds with.
    9. So, our minds should be filled with rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving. But in case we are still having problems we can think on the things listed in verse 8.
      1. Think on what is true. Things you can rely on; things that are certain. Examples include the Bible and the truths displayed in God’s creation. Dwelling on false or uncertain things can confuse your perspective and get you off course.
      2. Think on what is honorable. Things that are highly moral; honorable and awe inspiring. Examples include “taking the high road” or “turning the other cheek” when tested. Vengeance, retaliation and resentment make you unworthy.
  • Think on what is right. Things that are proper and just. This includes our high calling to treat each other righteously and with justice. Taking unfair advantage of a person is wrong.
  1. Think on things that are pure. Things that are clean, unstained or free from defects. Examples include sexual innocence or motivations that are untouched by worldly influences. Sordid, shabby or dirty thoughts separate us from God.
  2. Think on things that are lovely. Things that inspire love or are spiritually attractive. Examples include sympathy, patience, forgiveness, and adoration. Hateful or divisive thoughts only destroy.
  3. The rest of the verse is a summary section. Think on anything that is of good repute. Think on anything that is excellent or worthy of praise.
  4. In 2 Cor. 10:5, Paul talked about taking every thought into captivity into obedience to Christ. That is what we must do.
  5. In Col. 3:1, Paul wrote to set our minds on things above. That is what we must do.
  6. We must set apart our thinking.
  7. We do this through thinking on the things listed. We do this through rejoicing instead of grumbling (Phil. 4:4 and 2:14).
  8. We do this through being gentle instead of angry (Phil. 4:5).
  9. We do this through our prayer life and thanksgiving.
  10. We could go further. We do this by living out Romans 12:1-2: making our bodies living sacrifices…
  11. We do this through living out Phil. 2:3-4: consider others more important than yourselves.
  12. We do this by humbly following the Lord.
  13. John Piper shares: the peace of God results in a certain type of thinking and practicing. This does not mean the “peace of God” was not with you before. The peace of God is when He reigns in our hearts and that results in a certain type of thinking.
  14. If we have the peace of God, He changes our thinking.
  15. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stressed purity of thought. Matt 5:28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
  16. Heart means the intellect, affections and the will. Jesus said adultery (and other sins) begin in the mind before an outward act is performed. If a person mentally decides to do evil, although the act is not done because of lack of opportunity, he or she is still fully responsible for the guilt of that act. Godly thinking helps keep us from sinning.[2]
  17. Applications:[3]
    1. Don’t let a disturbing thought upset you. Give it to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6).
    2. Give thanks for the opportunity to learn and grow in every situation (Philippians 4:6).
    3. Fill your mind with good thoughts. Be proactive in your thought life, rather than reactive (Philippians 4:8-9).
    4. Remove things from your life that tempt you to think wrong thoughts (Philippians 4:9; Matthew 18:8).

Swindoll shares the following:

Thoughts are the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life. If I feed my mind upon doubt, disbelief, and discouragement, that is precisely the kind of day my body will experience. If I adjust my thermostat forward to thoughts filled with vision, vitality, and victory, I can count on that kind of day. Thus, you and I become what we think about.

Neither Dale Carnegie nor Norman Vincent Peale originated such a message. God did. “For as [a man] thinks within himself, so he is” (Prov. 23:7). “Therefore, prepare your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13).

The mind is a “thought factory” producing thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of thoughts each day. Production in your thought factory is under the charge of two foremen. One we shall call Mr. Triumph, the other Mr. Defeat.

Mr. Triumph specializes in producing reasons why you can face life victoriously, why you can handle what comes your way, why you’re more than able to conquer. Mr. Defeat is an expert in the opposite. He develops reasons why you cannot succeed, why you’re inadequate, why you should give up and give in to worry, failure, discouragement, and inferiority.

Give a positive signal, and Mr. Triumph will see to it that one encouraging, edifying thought after another floods your mind. But Mr. Defeat is always standing by, awaiting a negative signal (which he would rather you call “reality” or “common sense!”), and when he gets it, he cranks out discouraging, destructive, demoralizing thoughts that will soon have you convinced you can’t or won’t or shouldn’t.

Thoughts, positive or negative, grow stronger when fertilized with constant repetition. That may explain why so many who are gloomy and gray stay in that mood . . . and why those who are cheery and enthusiastic continue to be so.

What kind of performance would your car deliver if every morning before you left for work you scooped up a handful of dirt and put it in your crankcase? The engine would soon be coughing and sputtering. Ultimately it would refuse to start. The same is true of your life. Thoughts that are narrow, self-destructive, and abrasive produce needless wear and tear on your mental motor. They send you off the road while others drive past.

You need only one foreman in your mental factory: Mr. Triumph is his name. He is eager to assist you and available to all the members of God’s family.

His real name is the Holy Spirit, the Helper.

If Mr. Defeat is busily engaged as the foreman of your factory, fire yours and hire ours! You will be amazed at how smoothly the plant will run under His leadership.

Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.[4]

Pray

[1] Discipleship Training, Level 2, week 7

[2] I am grateful for Discipleship Training, Level 2, week 7 for these

[3] I am grateful for Discipleship Training, Level 2, week 7 for these

[4] https://www.insight.org/resources/daily-devotional/individual/thoughts1

How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7)

How many of us desire peace?

Do you have peace? 

Peace is that calm of mind that is not ruffled by adversity, overclouded by a remorseful conscience, or disturbed by fear.

Horatio Spafford, a businessman in Chicago, sent his wife and three daughters to Europe by ship while he remained back in the States, intending to join them later. En route there was a terrible storm and a shipwreck during which their three daughters drowned. Mrs. Spafford made it to safety and wired back saying, “All of our daughters have been lost. Only I have been saved.”

He took the next vessel. As they came near the place where his daughters drowned, the skipper of the ship pointed to the place where the other ship had gone down. It was there on the deck of the ship he wrote these stirring words:

When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

“It is well, it is well with my soul.”[1]

I view anxiety and worry the opposite of peace. These past few weeks we have been talking about how to have the peace of God. Today, we will put them together a little bit more.

Three weeks ago we talked about Rejoicing in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4)

Two weeks ago, Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5)

Last week: Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6)

Today: How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7)

Next week, Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8)

Today, let’s focus on the peace of God.

Let’s read Phil 4:6-7:

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.

  • Notice that the peace of God is a result of the previous verse, or even verses.
    • The peace of God is a result of rejoicing in the Lord (Phil. 4:4).
    • The peace of God is a result of your gentleness being known to all (Phil. 4:5).
      • Now, you may say, “How are they connected?” You may think you can understand rejoicing being connected to God’s peace, but not gentleness.
      • Think about it this way. Do you ever regret things you say in an argument? I have. Well, those regrets steal your peace.
  • Gentleness does not steal your peace.
  • At the end of the day if you can think that you have not wronged anyone, you have not lost your temper, you have not cursed anyone, lied to anyone, or cheated anyone you will have more peace.
  • Gentleness does not steal your peace, it adds to your peace.
  • The peace of God is the result of your petitionary prayer with thankfulness.
  • Now, peace of God is also connected to Phil. 4:8: 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.
  • We will talk about that passage next week.
  • When we are anxious, we lose our peace.
  • When we worry, we lose our peace.
  • But when we give those things to God, we receive peace.
  • When we reframe things, and change our perspective to focus on God, we will have more peace.
  • When we worship God, we have peace.
  • Look at this verse about the peace of God.
    • God’s peace surpasses understanding.
    • How could Horatio Spafford write that hymn after his three daughters died? God’s peace was with him.
    • How can Joni Eareckson Tada live serving the Lord as a quadriplegic? The peace of God.
    • How could Annie Johnson Flint write “He Giveth More Grace” when she was an invalid with many health issues? She had the peace of God.
    • God’s peace surpasses understanding.
    • 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 a wall guarding a city.
    • The peace of God will guard us and the peace of God is guarding us in Christ Jesus.
  • Applications
    1. We need to quit worrying about things we cannot change. Those things are stealing our peace.
    2. We need to quit getting angry about things we cannot change. Those things are stealing our peace.
    3. We need to quit living in fear. Turn those fears over to God. Those fears are stealing our peace.
    4. What is the worst that can happen? You may die of COVID-19. Death is complete healing and perfect paradise in Heaven (Phil 1:23).
    5. We need to pray about everything and trust in the Lord.
    6. We need to pray with the body of Christ.
    7. We will not have the peace that God wants us to have if we are not connected to the body of Christ (Ecc 4:11-12).

You know what robs our peace more than anything? Worry. Where does worry come from? Pride.

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
 

William Ernest Henley

We are not the master of our own ship. God is in charge.

Go to Him with prayer. Rejoice in Him. Pray for gentleness. Surrender to Him. You need help. Pray with other believers.

Let’s pray now.

[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 431–432.

Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6)

I have never seen a gravestone that reads, “He died of worry.” But some of them ought to read that way. How many illnesses are directly connected with our worries, our anxieties, trying to take the responsibility that was designed for God to handle. If you can’t handle it, why are you trying to handle it? If you can’t change it, why are you worrying about it? But we do, don’t we?

In fact, I have a friend who worries when she doesn’t have something to worry about. She has to have that security. I think she keeps a mental list of those reserved areas, then when she runs out of the conscious ones she draws on the unconscious. And she just brings them on, just like ammunition in a machine gun, just to fire them into her life.

Corrie Ten Boom, for the last two years of her life, spent it in our congregation in Fullerton, California. It was a wonderful experience to have this godly woman in our midst during that extended period of time as we literally watched her die. She said on one occasion, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrows; it empties today of strength.”

A woman worried for forty years that she would die of cancer. She finally died of pneumonia at age seventy. She wasted thirty-three years worrying about the wrong thing.

—John Haggai, How to Win over Worry

As you may recall. I am preaching a short series on Phil. 4:4-8. I am hoping this helps us dealing with the times we are living in. The year 2020 has been tough, no one would argue that. However, maybe during this tough year we can draw nearer to God (James 4:8) like never before.

Two weeks ago we talked about Rejoicing in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4)

Last week, Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5)

Today: Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6)

Next week: How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7)

September 20, 2020: Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8)

Today, let’s read Phil. 4:6. My theme is to pray instead of being anxious.

Phil. 4:6:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

  • Paul tells them not be anxious but to pray giving their request to God with thanksgiving.
  • Not to be anxious is difficult.
  • One stressed-out secretary told her boss: “When this rush is over, I’m going to have a nervous breakdown. I earned it, I deserve it, and nobody’s going to take it from me.” —Billy Graham, The Secret of Happiness
  • It doesn’t matter how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies, whether it comes between me and God or whether it presses me nearer His heart. —Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret
  • But Paul gives an antidote to anxiety and even to the time we are spending being anxious.
  • What is anxiety? It is worry. Instead of worry Paul calls us to prayer.
  • How is that working out for you?
  • Do you find yourself anxious lately, or more anxious? Pray more.
  • C. H. Spurgeon was showing some visitors over the Tabernacle (London). After taking them to the main part of the building, he said, “Come, and I’ll show you the heating apparatus.” Imagine their surprise, when he took them to a room where four hundred were gathered in a prayer meeting. The church with warmth of spirit must have the warmth-producing prayer meeting.
  • The antidote is prayer and Paul tells us how to pray.
  • We pray in everything. Not in some things but in all things. And we pray with supplications, sometimes translated as 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.
  • A few years ago, I was counseling a student who was somewhat depressed. I had him make a list of things to be thankful for; I think we thought of at least 50 things.
  • We all have clothes, we have food, we have heat, we have a roof over our heads.
  • But you know what? 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]

We can be thankful for our salvation and we are to give God our needs in prayer with thanksgiving and then God will give us peace which compels us to rejoice and be kind. We will talk about the peace of God next week.

  • Applications: 

Swindoll shares:

Let’s get six words clearly fixed in our minds. These six words form the foundation of God’s therapeutic process for all worrywarts. 

WORRY ABOUT NOTHING,
PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING

What qualifies as a worry? Anything that drains your tank of joy—something you cannot change, something you are not responsible for, something you are unable to control, something (or someone) that frightens and torments you, agitates you, keeps you awake when you should be asleep.

All of that now needs to be switched from your worry list to your prayer list. Give each worry—one by one—to God . . . .

Tell Him you will no longer keep your anxiety to yourself . . . .

The more you practice giving your mental burdens to the Lord, the more exciting it gets to see how God will handle the things that are impossible for you to do anything about.

Turn your worry list into your prayer list. Give each worry—one by one—to God. 

  1. We are not to be anxious about anything. There is nothing that should make me anxious.
  2. We must pray about everything.
  3. We must pray with a humble petition of needs.
  4. We must give God thanks.
  5. We must depend upon the Lord.
  6. The only way to do this is to meditate and ruminate on this passage.
  7. We must pray this passage.

John Piper shares:

When the mud splatters your windshield and you temporarily lose sight of the road and start to swerve in anxiety, turn on your wipers and squirt your windshield washer.

So my response to the person who has to deal with feelings of anxiety every day is to say: that’s more or less normal. At least it is for me, ever since my teenage years. The issue is: How do we fight them?

The answer to that question is: we fight anxieties by fighting against unbelief and fighting for faith in future grace. And the way you fight this “good fight” (1 Timothy 6:122 Timothy 4:7) is by meditating on God’s assurances of future grace and by asking for the help of his Spirit.

The windshield wipers are the promises of God that clear away the mud of unbelief, and the windshield washer fluid is the help of the Holy Spirit. The battle to be freed from sin — including the sin of anxiety — is fought “by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

The work of the Spirit and the word of truth. These are the great faith-builders. Without the softening work of the Holy Spirit, the wipers of the word just scrape over the blinding clumps of unbelief on the windshield.

Both are necessary: the Spirit and the word. We read the promises of God and we pray for the help of his Spirit. And as the windshield clears so that we can see the welfare that God plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), our faith grows stronger and the swerving of anxiety straightens out.

Gavin Ortlund:

One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes comes from a little-known letter. In 1958, Lewis was savoring the remaining time he had with his wife, Joy, who was ill. He wrote to a friend, “my situation is not easy to describe. My heart is breaking and I was never so happy before; at any rate there is more in life than I knew about” (quoted in Alan Jacobs, The Narnian, 285, italics mine).

At the time Lewis wrote these words, his own health was starting to fade. He was five years from his own death. He had lived a very full life, experiencing war, love, a dramatic conversion, and literary fame. His writings up to this point convey a depth of wisdom and insight that most human beings never achieve. Yet here he is, discovering new pathways, finding life fuller and richer than he yet knew.

I often think about these words: there is more in life than I knew about. They remind me that we should never stop growing. Boredom with life is simply inexcusable. If we are bored with life, the problem is with us, not the world. There is always more in life to experience, to learn, to love.

In my mind, this is a function of a Christian worldview: because we live in God’s world, and ultimately before God himself, reality has endless possibility. Anything can be a door to newness and change, because anything can direct us to God. There is always something more out there.

Backpack example: 

I have been convicted by this verse. Further, I have been convicted by the context of these verses. I have been convicted to pray for gentleness. I have been convicted to pray that I will rejoice in the Lord always. I have been convicted that if I can worry I can pray. So, in response, I have prayed these verses. I encourage you to do the same. I encourage you to pray that God will help you to live out this verse. Pray it every day this week. That is your homework.

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.