Philippians 4

June 30, 2013    Philippians 4   Stand firm in the Lord  

    The first thing that I notice in this chapter is in verse 1 and it really grabs me.   Paul writes stand firm in the Lord.  Since we live in time and in a physical world much of what we face each day is not geared to the eternal or the spiritual.   Stand firm in the Lord is certainly a command from the Lord and it is of course for our good.   There are many reasons to stand firm in the Lord.  This physical world will burn up some day.   The physical is not eternal.   The world will vanish some day but the spiritual is eternal.   We as Christians have a dual perspective this world which we are passing through and heaven which is eternal.  We know that we will die or leave this world someday and that is not the end of things but just the beginning.   When a loved one dies or a friend dies it reminds us that things are not permanent on this earth.   Stand firm in the Lord.   In other words have a heavenly mind set.   Be focused on Jesus.  Beware that the things that we do have significance beyond this life and beyond today.   

     Our humidity has been at 98%  most of this week at my house and the other night when I was driving home there was so much moisture it was foggy.   You can’t always see well in the fog and sometimes you slow it down because of the lack of visibility.   There have been some serious chain accidents on our freeways because of lack of visibility.  We need the same kind of visibility in life.  We need to see things as they really are.   We need to see this world in light of the eternal.   We need to understand the far reaching results of decisions that we make.   We need to see the Lord clearly.  Stand firm in the Lord.   

    There is an issue with 2 women who are not getting along and Paul pleads with them.    Paul even asked some of the other Christians to help out the situation.  Sometimes there is trouble.   Sometimes we have issues in our relationships with others and sometimes the enemy builds up barriers between spouses, families, churches, neighbors and in the work place.  Those divisions can cause pain.   They can bring unhappiness and even hatred in lives.   To stand firm in the Lord sometimes we have to deal with difficult issues with others.   Sometimes we have to forgive and sometimes we may have to swallow our pride and confess our wrong.    That is part of standing firm in the Lord.   We deal with those issues.   We cannot sweep them under the rug.   A clear conscience is such a blessing.   Sometimes we are not aware of relationship issues.   Sally and I went to a couples seminar once and I was thinking during the conference that we really did not have anything to work on that I could think of and then before the end of the conference there was a couple of things came to the surface.   One item that I forgot about and a new issue because I did something stupid.    

      A bad relationship can poison how you view others.  Both the hummingbird and the crow can fly over the same place.   The crow will see the dead animal while the hummingbird will be looking for the flowers.   Some dwell on the dead and some dwell on the flowers.   There is a partnership that we have in the body of Christ that is sweet and it is important.   We have a precious unity as brothers and sisters in the Lord.  It is important to maintain that closeness.   Stand firm in the Lord by being at peace with others.   You do not want your thoughts and energy being drained with negative issues.   We want to meditate on the Lord and his word.  

    How do you stand firm in the Lord?   Well one way is to learn to rejoice.   Verse 4 tells us to rejoice in the Lord always.   Always be rejoicing.  As Christians there should be some joy in our life.  It does not depend on outward circumstances.   The outward stuff in our life may be difficult but we should have a song in our heart.   As you rejoice and worship the Lord that will certainly help in your battle with standing firm in the Lord.  Rejoice God loves you.   Rejoice if your name is in the book of life.   Rejoice if you are following Jesus because God is for you.   God is on your side.   God is rejoicing over you and God’s presence is with you.  Stand firm in the Lord by rejoicing.   I believe that for many of us that our source of joy is not in this world.   Our real joy is in Jesus and when we turn back to him we turn back to our source of joy.  Stand firm by being a person who rejoices.   

    The Holy Spirit tells us through the pen of Paul not to be anxious but to pray.    I read an article yesterday titled the 5 top lies that Christians believe.    Item number 3 was that Christians do not believe that God cares about the details in their life.  If you are interested in what the author thought was number 1 she said people believe that the church is not necessary.  Number 2 was all we have to do as Christians is to be nice.   Number 4 was only Pastors or leaders can lead and number 5 was that Christians believe that God wants us to be happy.    This verse says in everything pray.  The everything or things in our life are a lot.   There are a lot of them.   Lift everything before God.   I Peter 5:7 casting all your care upon him for He cares for you.    Is life stressful today?   Yes.   Is there a lot of anxiety today?   Of course there is.    Does anyone here have a life totally free from anxiety?   Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing and in this passage to lift everything to God.   It may be the little things that make us anxious and the antidote to being anxious is to pray.   Lift those little things to the Lord and the big ones also.     Stand firm by being a person of prayer.   Let the Holy Spirit lead and help you.   

           A California pastor, Kyle Idleman, talks about his last move in his book, Not a Fan. In that move, he saved the heaviest piece of furniture for last -- the desk from his office. And as he was pushing and pulling the desk with all his might, his four-year-old son came over and asked if he could help. So together they started sliding it across the floor. His little boy was pushing and grunting as they inched their way along.   But after a few minutes, he stopped pushing, looked up at his dad, and said, "Dad, you're in my way." Then he tried to push the desk all by himself. Of course it didn't budge. (Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan)   How often do some of us do that with our Heavenly Father?    In the course of trying to move our lives along, we say, "God, you're in my way," and think it all depends on us. Then we wonder why we're so full of anxiety and getting nowhere.  

     Sometimes we try so hard and we hang on to things.   We struggle, struggle and get anxious about things we want to move or things that we want changed.   We need to pray with thanksgiving and give it to the Lord.   We need to put things in His hands.   A basketball in my hands is worth about $19.   A basketball in Michael Jordan’s hands is

worth about $33 million it depends whose hands it’s in.     A baseball in my hands is worth about $6.   A baseball in Mark McGuire’s hands is worth $19 million.   It depends whose hands it’s in.   A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal.   A rod in Moses’ hands will part the mighty sea.   It depends whose hands it’s in.   A sling shot in my hands is a kid’s toy.   A sling shot in David’s hand is a mighty weapon.  It depends whose hands it’s in.  Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches.   Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in God’s hands will feed thousands.   It depends whose hands it’s in.  Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse.  Nails in Jesus Christ’s hands will produce salvation for the entire world.  It depends whose hands it’s in.   As you see now it depends whose hands it’s in. So put your concerns, your worries, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, your families and your relationships in God’s hands because it depends whose hands it’s in.  (Author Unknown).     Life can be simple if we put all of it in God’s hands.   The person who stands firm in the Lord will be a person of prayer.     As we pray we stand on the solid rock we stand on the firm foundation.   Paul is in jail and writing telling the Philippians to not be anxious.   He is behind bars and has a huge ministry and he encourages others not to be anxious.  I imagine I would be quite stressed if I was in his shoes.   

    Then there is this wonderful verse 8.    Finally brothers whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.   We are then exhorted to think about positive things.   Think about noble things.   Think about things that are right.   Think about things that are pure.   Think about lovely things.  Think about things that are excellent and praise worthy.   That sounds like thinking about God to me.   God is all of those things.   God is noble.  God is right.   God is pure.   God is lovely.  God is praise worthy etc, etc, etc.      Paul is probably chained to Roman soldiers in a prison and he tells the Philippians to be thinking about things that are lovely, pure and right.   That will help you stand firm in the Lord.  Keep your focus on good things.   The person standing firm in the lord will not be negative and complaining.   They will not be involved in coarse and rude jokes.      The Christian who is going to stand firm in the Lord is going to control his thoughts.   Paul writes that we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.   It is not allowing the mind to wander in the gutter.   The battle is waged in the mind and to stand firm in the Lord we will have to discipline our mind.   

       Paul writes in verse 11 I have learned to be content.    Life here on earth is not perfect.   In heaven things will always flow well but that is not true down here.    I find for myself that every day there is something that I would change.    Every day most of us would change something if we could.   I would like to lose weight but I like to eat ice cream.     I would like to eat lots of ice cream and lose weight.    It does not work like that does it?    I would like a mountain top experience with God all the time but that does not happen.  I wish I had a lot more money so I could make life easier for those that I love.   I wish I could give lots of money to some of our sister churches.  That is not reality.   Paul sometimes went without food and clothing but he learned to be content.   A content person is not negative.   A content person accepts things and does not complain.     Even our best days could generally be tweaked to be better.  The wonderful promise that we have from God is that all things work for good if we love God and follow him.   That does not mean that everything is easy.   Paul circumstances were quite difficult.    Many things we may not like but we can learn to be content and even thankful.  Paul stood fast in the Lord because he learned to be content.  Here are some good verses on contentment.  

       I Tim. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain for we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it.  (we can send some ahead) but if we have food and clothing we will be content with that.   Philippians 2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure.   Psalms 23  The Lord is my shepherd --- I SHALL NOT WANT.   Proverbs 15:16 Better is little with contentment and the fear of God, than great treasure and trouble.   Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.   Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have because God has said never will I leave you never will I forsake you.  Habakkuk 3:17  Though the fig trees does not bud and though there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my savior.  The sovereign Lord is my strength.   I would submit to you today that life is found in a close relationship with the Lord. 

    Late in this chapter Paul talks about giving.   Our Lord said that it is more blessed to give than to receive.  Jesus told his disciples that they should freely give and freely receive.   Jesus in many ways led a simple life when he was on earth.  He had a moment by moment rest because he was always walking in the Spirit of God and in God’s presence.    In verse 23 it is Paul’s desire that the grace of the Lord be with them.   Those that stand fast in the Lord walk in God’s grace.   They walk in His power.  They trust and they pray.  They continue to rejoice to be content.      Stand fast in the Lord.