|Philippians 4||Philippians 4 – Jesus’ Joy Comes from a Mind Content in Christ|
A Mindset to Live Above Life’s Circumstances - A Study in Philippians
Philippians 4 – Jesus’ Joy Comes from a Mind Content in Christ
As we come to the last chapter of this joyous epistle we have seen Jesus’ joy comes from and mind confident in Christ (chapter one), comparable to Christ’s (chapter two), and consecrated before Christ (chapter three). In this final chapter we will see that Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ.
Dealing with Discontent
Philippians 4:1-3 - Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. 2 I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
These opening verses of chapter four set the contextual stage for what follows in this chapter. Paul loves the Philippians. He refers to them as, “my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown” (4:1). When Paul refers to these people being his “crown” (στέφανος - stĕphanŏs, stef´-an-os) he is referring to the victory wreath given to the victors in public games. One commentary states, “These saints were to their spiritual father what victory wreaths were to runners in the Greek races.” 
Paul exhorts the Philippians to “stand fast in the Lord, beloved.” “Stand fast” (στήκω - stēkō, stay´-ko) and its grammatical form (Present/Active/Imperative) conveys the thought that it is vitally important they take a persevering, persistent, ongoing, stand in the Lord. Paul was exhorting the Philippians to stand firmly in what he had taught them thus far in this letter and in general as Christians. Paul loved these people as his tender word referring to them as “beloved” (ἀγαπητός - agapētŏs, ag-ap-ay-tos´), or dearly loved indicates.
How do we stand fast in the LORD? Gods’ works are steadfast and therefore we stand fast in them (Psalm 111:7-8). We stand fast in the Lord (Philippians 4:1). We stand fast together with other believers presenting a united front to the world (Philippians 1:27). We stand fast in faith (1 Corinthians 16:13). We stand fast by holding to the teaching of God’s word (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
But there was something threatening the stability of the standing of the Philippians. Paul loved these people and it was his love for them that moved him to correct certain of their number who were apparently not standing in the Lord the way they should have. He addresses two Philippian ladies in particular, Euodia and Syntyche. Twice he says, “I implore” (4:2a; παρακαλέω parakalĕō, par-ak-al-eh´-o) or beseech, exhort, entreat in their regard. The repetition of this exhortation to these two ladies emphasizes that what he is saying to them is of utmost importance. It’s as though through his letter with these words he is trying to make serious eye contact with them to make sure they get the message that follows.
Paul exhorts Euodia and Syntyche to, “be of the same mind in the Lord” (4:2b). Apparently these two ladies were not living up to the meaning of their names. The name Euodia means a “prosperous journey.” The name Syntyche means a “pleasant acquaintance.”  Apparently they disagreed or were at odds over something. They were discontent. And because they were discontent they were joyless or at least their joy was impaired.
What does it mean to be discontent?
Sometime ago there appeared in a newspaper a cartoon showing two fields divided by a fence. Both fields were about the same size and each had plenty of the same kind of grass, green and lush.
In each field there was a mule, and each mule had his head through the fence eating grass from the other mule’s pasture. All around each mule in his own field was plenty of grass, yet the grass in the other field seemed greener or fresher, although it was harder to get.
And in the process the mules were caught in the wires and were unable to extricate themselves. The cartoonist put just one word at the bottom of the picture—”DISCONTENT”!
Discontent can be the death of us. “In a cemetery in England stands a grave marker with this inscription: SHE DIED FOR WANT OF THINGS. Alongside that sign is another which reads: HE DIED TRYING TO GIVE THEM TO HER.”  What is sadder still is that Christians are not immune to discontentment.
These two ladies had, “labored with me [i.e. Paul] in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life” (4:3b). They were co laborers with Paul, prominent, respected, servants of the Lord. But discontent had crept in to apparently cause division between them. Because of their prominent position their discontent and division was a threat to the body of Christ in Philippi. The danger was that people would begin to take sides like what had happened in carnal Corinth (cf. 1 Cor. 3). The danger was that their disagreement would sap the joy right out of the Philippians church. Paul didn’t want that to happen to his dearly beloved Philippians.
Paul wrote, “And I urge you also, true companion, help these women . . .” (4:3a). We don’t know the identity of the “true companion” mentioned here. “Help” (συλλαμβάνω - sullambanō, sool-lam-ban´-o) here conveys the thought of take together, or bring together. In other words Paul was calling for the Philippians to get these ladies together and work out the source of discontentment. That’s the scriptural way to handle differences due to discontentment.
In another letter Paul said:
· Galatians 6:1 - Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
With these words Paul is not instructing people to be self-appointed seeker outers of problems in the church. There are some people who stir up and cause more problems when they try to find problems and fix them. Paul is referring to “you who are spiritual.” This is a work of the Spirit who gives Christians discernment to notice problems such as discontent. When the Spirit brings something like this to our attention the objective then becomes restoration. Restoration is the product of repentance and redemption in the grace of God. When addressing discontent and similar trespasses the one who is spiritual is to do so “in a spirit of gentleness” not harshly or insensitively. And we are warned with the words, “considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Our attitude should not be one of pride in having caught someone in a trespass as though that made us better than the one we are correcting. No, our attitude should be one of humility. We should guard against being tempted to indulge in the same sin of the person we are correcting as well as not get self-righteous because God is using us to restore someone in sin.
It should be noted that sometimes those who differ need to agree to disagree and even may have to part ways. Paul and Barnabas had a contention over whether or not to take Mark on a missionary journey. Ultimately they went their separate ways (Acts 15:36-41). This is sometimes what needs to happen when differences and discontent are not immediately resolvable. Sometimes God allows “factions” in order to show who is and who is not approved by Him (1 Cor. 11:19). But in all such situations every effort should be made to resolve discontent and differences as Jesus instructed His disciples to do (Mat. 18:15-35).
What was the source of discontent between Euodia and Syntyche and what did Paul do to deal with the disruptive discontent of these two ladies?
The Sources of Discontent
When we do an overview of the rest of Philippians 4 we can trace the possible causes of discontent of Euodia and Syntyche by the instruction Paul gave. If he was addressing the discontent these two ladies were involved in we can inductively deduce from his responses the issues he was addressing. Paul, the good teacher that he was, also ceased on the opportunity to reinforce and teach incredibly valuable truths for life and that would assure Jesus’ joy would flourish in the lives of the Philippians. We too can learn a great deal about how to deal with discontent by what Paul is inspired by the Lord to write.
What were the possible sources of discontent for Euodia and Syntyche? There are five basic causes for their discontent.
First, they were discontent and joyless because they weren’t rejoicing (4:4). Paul states we should rejoice “always.” And then says “Again I will say rejoice!” He’s probably reminding these ladies that they needed to regain their focus and Jesus’ joy. Sometimes we have to rejoice by faith, even when things aren’t going well or the way we’d hope they would.
Second, they were discontent and joyless because they weren’t gentle (4:5). Paul word “gentleness” (ἐπιεικής - ĕpiĕikēs, ep-ee-i-kace´) means yielding, gentleness, moderation. They were being rigid and rigidity on nonessentials leads to problems and discontentment.
Third, they were discontent and joyless because they were anxious (4:6-7). Paul says, “Be anxious for nothing.” He would not have said this unless someone was anxious about something. Sometimes we are discontented over a life situation which may or may not involve ministry. We may have good intentions but we aren’t leaning on the Lord in faith. Instead we are worrying and anxious. The word “anxious” (μεριμνάω - mĕrimnaō, mer-im-nah´-o) here means to worry, anxious, take thought, or be concerned about. The idea is to have a preoccupation with something; to have your thoughts consumed with concern over something. This is a cause as well as a product of discontent.
Fourth, they were discontent and joyless because their thoughts weren’t right (4:8-9). Paul speaks about what they should be thinking about. It’s so important to set our minds on the right things; to think right. Discontentment is a sign we aren’t thinking the right way.
Fifth, they were discontent joyless because they weren’t content in Christ (4:10-19). Discontentment comes from not trusting Jesus with your circumstances in life. They weren’t trusting Jesus to supply what they needed. Paul was able to trust Jesus and be content in Him in whatever circumstance he was in. Paul was content in Christ and therefore filled with Jesus’ joy.
Let’s address these issues of discontent in the context of how Jesus’ joy is related to having a mind content in Him.
Jesus’ Joy Comes from a Mind Content in Him
The discontent of Euodia and Syntyche provides the setting for Paul to further discuss Jesus’ joy. Chapter four of Paul’s letter to the Philippians has some of the most practical and blessed life truth in the entire Bible. The bottom line in this chapter is that Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ.
Paul says in this chapter, “for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (4:11). This contentment is in Christ. He says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (4:13). Notice here Paul said that contentment in Christ was something he had to learn. Paul “learned” (μανθάνω - manthanō, man-than´-o) or discovered, came to understand, learned, came to know. It means “to learn by instruction, practice, or experience.”  Contentment in Christ was something Paul had worked into him by the Lord. It was something God taught him in the course of life. It’s a lesson we too much learn if Jesus’ joy is to overflow us.
The word “content” (αὐτάρκης - autarkēs, ŏw-tar´-kace) means contented, satisfied. The idea is that the contented person has found a place of rest in their circumstances, a place where they are satisfied as opposed to worrying and striving. Synonyms for the word content are gratified, satisfied, pleased, and comfortable, at ease, rested, and relaxed. What does a content person look like? Paul wrote in his first letter to Timothy:
· 1 Timothy 6:6-8 - 6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
In Hebrews it states:
· Hebrews 13:5 - Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
This last verse especially points us to Jesus as the Source of our contentment. But as we now look in the remainder of this chapter we will see in great detail how to be content. Jesus’ joy comes from the mind that has come to a place of contentment in Christ. How is this contentment attained to or arrived at?
First, Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ that always rejoices (4:4). Paul writes:
Philippians 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
If joy were mere happiness than it would be controlled by what is happening around us. But since joy according to our definition is not a mere feeling but the presence of Jesus assuring, guiding and empowering through life, then we can be joyful “always.” This is something we must do by faith. When difficulties come our way we must trust in Jesus. Remember, it says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” We can be joyful even in the most difficult times because by faith we lean on the presence of Jesus in us by the Spirit and trust Him to get us through. Somehow Euodia and Syntyche must have allowed themselves to be distracted from Jesus’ joy within them. Paul was reminding them to rejoice instead of taking their eyes off Jesus and being discontent. Sometimes we just have to trust in Jesus and rejoice in Him; no matter what!
Second, Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ that is gentle to all (4:5a). Paul continues:
Philippians 4:5a - Let your gentleness be known to all men. . . .
Discontent leads to treating others poorly. When you are content in where you are with the Lord it enables you to treat others with gentleness and kindness. The word “gentleness” (ἐπιεικής - ĕpiĕikēs, ep-ee-i-kace´) means fitting, gentle, yielding, patient, or appropriate. When we are content or satisfied with what Jesus has provided for us we aren’t going to be given to jealous or envy which leads to harshness. If you’re harsh with people it’s very possibly because your aren’t content with what God is doing in your life. It may be because of rebellion against His will in your life. There may be resentment there. All of these things lead to harshness with others. Paul exhorts us to, “Let your gentleness be known to all men.” That is the fruit of a mind content in Christ. When we are gentle with all it leads to Jesus’ joy in others and ourselves.
Third, Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ that realizes, “the Lord is at hand” (4:b). Paul finishes this verse with the comment:
Philippians 4:5b . . . The Lord is at hand.
It’s easier to be content in Christ when you realize the predicaments we are in aren’t permanent. Jesus is coming back and when He returns He will right the wrongs and establish justice to correct the injustices. Jesus is coming back and that is or at least should be our “blessed hope and glorious appearing” (Titus 2:13). God has promised not to allow us to be tested or tempted beyond what we are able. He says that with the temptation or test He will provide a way of escape so we can bear it (1 Cor. 10:13). The rapture of the church when Jesus returns to remove His saints from the earth before God’s wrath is poured out on a Christ rejecting world is a blessed hope that makes contentment in Christ bearable. The Second Coming of Christ when Jesus returns to earth with His saints to establish His millennial kingdom of righteousness is a glorious prospect. Knowing our particular plight isn’t open ended but has a definite end helps us to go through it. The hope of Jesus return is a great fuel for Jesus’ joy in us.
Fourth, Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ that conquers anxiety with prayer (4:6-7). Paul writes:
Philippians 4:6-7 - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Paul says not to be anxious “for nothing.” The word “anxious” (μεριμνάω - mĕrimnaō, mer-im-nah´-o) means to have our thoughts and cares consumed with something. To be anxious is the cousin of worry. Paul states here that there is an alternative to being anxious, prayer. And this truth is not limited by circumstances since we are to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer” we are to respond. This is really an incredible statement when you think about it. Paul’s words mean there’s nothing in life that we should be anxious about; nothing. Just think of how much time and energy could have been saved in our lives if instead of worrying we simply prayed. No matter the circumstance rather than allowing our thoughts to be consumed in worry over the predicament or problem we should invite God into the situation. That’s always the best thing to do and it should be the first course of action when difficulty arises.
“Prayer” (προσευχή - prŏsĕuchē, pros-yoo-khay´) refers to our communication with God and He with us. When I pray I always pray with an open Bible before me. It is through the Bible that God most often responds to me in prayer or starts and dialogue with me. Martin Luther the Reformer who went through a great deal of persecution and trials is quoted to have said, Pray and let God worry. Prayer is the antidote to worry an anxiety. There is something about bringing our life circumstances before Almighty God that alleviates our worries.
Jesus was a man of prayer and even spent entire nights in prayer (Matthew 19:13; 26:36-44; Mark 6:46; 9:29; Luke 6:12; 22:45). Jesus set aside time to pray during critical times in His life and ministry (Luke ; ; ; ; ). When we look at the early church we see that the ministry of the apostles was bathed in prayer (Acts ; ; 6:4; 12:5). Paul exhorts believers to pray for everyone, especially those in positions of authority (1 Timothy 2:1). Paul himself was continually in prayer (1 Timothy 5:5). Jesus taught that prayer and faith linked believers to the resources of God (Mark ). Prayer is important. But just what is prayer?
What is prayer? Jesus said, “And when you pray” (Matthew 6:5). This implies that Christians need to pray. What is prayer? What does it mean to pray? The noun “prayer” is translated from the Greek term proseuche. The verb “pray” is translated from the Greek term proseuchomai. This word consists of the preposition pros, which is used to connote direction, “forward to; toward; by the side of; near to.” The root of the word is euchomai and means “to pray (to God); will; wish.”  Euchomai was used in Classical Greek to refer to a prayer offering or vow. This word also has the implied meaning of “desire.”  Therefore, prayer is turning toward the Lord and coming to His side with a desire. That “desire” doesn’t need to be self-centered or request oriented, it can be simply a desire to know the Lord, to speak with the Lord, to spend time in the presence of the Lord.
Prayer is a personal meeting with God. Jesus said, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6) This instruction of Jesus to His disciples implies a personal relationship with God. You can’t pray one on one with God if you don’t have a personal relationship with Him. A large part of prayer is sitting at Jesus feet and soaking in His words like Mary did (Luke 10:38-42).
Some Christians are carnal, babes spiritually, spiritually immature (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). A more mature Christian is dedicated to and has made a top priority of knowing their God and Savior more and more each moment of each day. Knowing Jesus better is a product of prayer. That is why Jesus tells the disciples that their prayers must be personal, between them and God. Prayer is pouring out your heart before God and listening (through His word) for God’s direction and response; prayer is reverent, intimate, loving, dialogue with God. Prayer is coming close to God and getting to know Him better. Prayer is heeding His voice and obeying His will.
Pastor Chuck Smith makes the following comments on this verse:
“Somehow this whole idea has crept into our thinking process [that] the longest prayers are the most effective prayers, and it’s the length of the prayer that creates the effectiveness rather than the earnestness of the prayer or the faith by which we pray.
We need to realize that prayer is talking to the Father. It’s laying out our heart before Him. It’s baring my soul unto God. And thus, our prayers ought to be thought out and articulated well. If someone would come up to me and talk to me like they talk to God, using vain repetitions, I would think, what’s wrong with them? And we can use vain repetitions in just “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, oh praise God, hallelujah, praise God, bless God”; that can be a vain repetition, . . . just words, not necessarily coming from your heart. I can’t help but think that the “Hail Mary’s” and the “Our Father’s” are vain repetitions, thinking that we’ll be heard for our much speaking.”
Sometimes we fall into the trap of making prayer a work. We think that the way we pray earns God’s favor. This is shortsighted spiritually. We already have Gods’ favor. He is for us (Romans 8:31-32). You can’t earn what you already have. We have to remember that our relationship with God is one of grace. We are who we are by God’s grace and all we do and receive from God is a product of His grace (1 Corinthians 15:10). Prayer is merely a channel to access the riches of God’s grace (cf. Ephesians 1:7; 2:7). Prayer opens the floodgates of blessings from heaven.
E.M. Bounds lived in the 1800s and was a man known for his devotion to God in prayer. He wrote a number of insightful and challenging books on prayer on of which is entitled, The Possibilities of Prayer. In this book Bounds in defining prayer, also communicates the possibilities open to one who prays. Below are excerpts from this book that we would do well to note:
“If we believe God’s word, we are bound to believe that prayer affects God, and affects Him mightily; that prayer avails, and that prayer avails mightily. There are wonders in prayer because there are wonders in God. Prayer has no talismanic influence. It is no mere fetish. It has no so-called powers of magic. It is simply making known our requests to God for things agreeable to His will in the name of Christ. It is just yielding our requests to a Father, who knows all things, who has control of all things, and who is able to do all things. Prayer is infinite ignorance trusting to the wisdom of God. Prayer is helplessness reposing with childlike confidence on the word of its Father in heaven. Prayer is but the verbal expression of the heart of perfect confidence in the infinite wisdom, the power and the riches of Almighty God, who has placed at our command in prayer everything we need.” 
The question we need to ask is do we truly believe God is real and that He is able and willing to intervene in human affairs? “If we believe God’s word . . .” implies we believe there is a God and that He has revealed Himself to humanity. Do we really believe that? Do you really believe that? If we believe that, then why don’t we pray? Prayerlessness is evidence that we don’t really believe God exists or at least that we don’t have confidence in Him. If we believed God is real and able to move the mountains in our lives we should have insatiable appetites to pray. Prayerlessness implies we don’t believe God cares. It implies we don’t believe He is able or willing to intervene in life. Prayerlessness is evidence of little to no faith in God. Prayerlessness indicates a nonexistent relationship with God or at most a weak and shallow relationship with God. If we really believe in God and accept His word as true, then we should be praying.
You see the concept and foundation of prayer is that prayer calls God into our life equation. Prayer calls on God to get involved. Prayer is a sign that we believe God is real, He cares, and that He actually intervenes in our life circumstances to help and influence for His glory. Bounds expresses this well by saying:
“Prayer affects men by affecting God. Prayer moves men because it moves God to move men. Prayer influences men by influencing God to influence them. Prayer moves the hand that moves the world” 
People of faith pray and spiritual maturity is determined by the level of prayer in a person’s life. The more you believe in God, the more you will pray. It’s as simple and profound as that.
A mature Christian prays to the Father personally and has conversation with God. True prayer is a heartfelt conversation with our heavenly Father. Prayer is not empty words recited from memory without the mind or heart engaged or included in the process. That is what the religious Pharisees were guilty of doing according to Jesus. Because of this Jesus said the religious Pharisees were no better than the “heathen” or unbelievers.
When you look at that explanation of prayer can you say you have been praying? Sometimes we get into the rut of seeing prayer as us just coming before God with a laundry list of requests. Prayer is much more than that. Prayer is a conversation with the Creator and Sustainer and Savior of the universe. Prayer is sitting at the feet of Jesus and soaking in all He has to say to you. That is what prayer is. Have you been praying?
How important is prayer to the church? The church of the book of Acts was a praying church. People believed in God and so they prayed. God was often their only recourse. They didn’t have the technology or financial resources of much of the church of today but they still turned the world upside down for the Lord (Acts 17:6). Most contemporary churches yearn for the power exhibited by the church of Acts. What was the secret of the early church? The early church was a Spirit filled Spirit empowered church. But how did they come by that empowering of the Spirit? They prayed in faith to receive it. The Spirit filled, Spirit empowered world changing early church was a praying church. They were praying when the Spirit came at Pentecost (Acts 2:1) and they prayed throughout the events recorded in Acts. 
E.M. Bounds once said:
“Defeat awaits a non-praying church. Success is sure to follow a church given to much prayer. The supernatural element in the church, without which it must fail, comes only through prayer . . . . As often as God manifested His power in Scriptural times in working wonders through prayer, He has not left Himself without witness in modern times. Prayer brings the Holy Spirit upon men today in answer to importunate, continued prayer just as it did before Pentecost. The wonders of prayer have not ceased. 
Herein is the answer to the question of why the contemporary church is so anemic and carnal. O, we have churches with a lot of activity, and there are BIG churches today, but too often prayer is not one of the vibrant activities of the church. Jesus criticized the Ephesian church as having left their first love, Him (Revelation 2:4). They were involved in a lot of things, but they had left their first love. Jesus is our first love and when we don’t talk to Him in prayer we are guilty of having left our first love. The prayerless church is the church that goes out to battle with no battle plan, no armor and little confidence in the prospect of victory. The prayerless church is doomed.
The church that prays together, on the other hand, stays together. Instead of Euodia and Syntyche being discontent perhaps they should have been praying. Paul points the Philippians and these ladies to commit their anxieties and concerns to God in prayer.
In Paul’s call to prayer he uses the word “supplication” (δέησις - dĕēsis, deh´-ay-sis) meaning begging, pleading, beseeching. We must guard against thinking that the way we pray is a means to secure God’s favor. But there is something to be said about fervent prayer. There is something about putting one’s heart in prayer. E.M. Bounds goes on to state:
“To say prayers in a decent, delicate way is not heavy work. But to pray really, to pray till hell feels the ponderous stroke, to pray till the iron gates of difficulty are opened, till the mountains of obstacles are removed, till the mists are exhaled and the clouds are lifted, and the sunshine of cloudless day brightens – this is hard work, but it is God’s work and man’s best labor.” 
Again, a quote from E.M Bounds helps us understand the kind of prayer Paul is directing us to enter into:
“Prayers must be red hot. It is the fervent prayer that is effectual and availeth. Coldness of spirit hinders praying; prayer cannot live in a wintry atmosphere. Chilly surroundings freeze out petitioning; and dry up the springs of supplication. It takes fire to make prayers go. Warmth of soul creates an atmosphere favorable to prayer, because it is favorable to fervency. By flame, prayer ascends to heaven. Yet fire is not fuss, nor heat, noise. Heat is intensity – something that glows and burns. Heaven is a mighty poor market for ice. . . . The Holy Spirit comes as a fire, to dwell in us; . . . Our Lord warns us against feeble praying. ‘Men ought always to pray,’ He declares, ‘and not to faint.’ That means that we are to possess sufficient fervency to carry us through the severe and long periods of pleading prayer. Fire makes one alert and vigilant, and brings him off more than a conqueror. . . . Fervency has its seat in the heart, not in the brain, nor in the intellectual faculties of the mind . . . It is not in our power, perhaps, to create fervency of spirit at will, but we can pray God to implant it. ” 
How would you describe your prayers? Are they cold, lukewarm, or red hot? Are they just words or is your heart in your prayers? When was the last time you poured out your heart before the Lord? When was the last time you spent an hour in prayer? When was the last time your church had a prayer service? When was the last time such a prayer service was packed with people praying red hot prayers? Has that ever happened? We need to leave our anxieties behind and get serious about prayer.
Prayer is indispensible to the church leader. Pastor Chuck Smith, the first pastor of the Calvary Chapel movement, has commented on many occasions that leaders should be chosen from prayer meetings. Prayer is a declaration of dependence upon God. Prayerless people are not dependent on God but are dependent on self and therefore not fit to lead. Jesus said His leaders were servant leaders (Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:35; 10:45). E.M. Bounds again has words of wisdom in this regard saying:
"Praying men are God's chosen leaders. The distinction between the leaders that God brings to the front to lead and bless His people, and those leaders who owe their position of leadership to a worldly, selfish, unsanctified selection, is this: God's leaders are pre-eminently men of prayer." 
“The men who have done mighty things for God have always been mighty in prayer, have well understood the possibilities of prayer, and made most of these possibilities . . . . It is the effectual, fervent prayer that influences God. . . . When prayer fails, the world prevails. When prayer fails the Church loses its Divine characteristics, its Divine power; the Church is swallowed up by a proud ecclesiasticism, and the world scoffs at its obvious impotence.” 
If you want to lead you have to be a person of prayer. There’s no getting around that. Prayerless efforts are carnal self-reliant efforts because the person is venturing out on their own whim and in their own works. John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress wrote:
“You can do more than pray after you’ve prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”
We need to pray in order to get God’s mission plan of action. Vision for ministry is birthed in prayer. All that we do should be to glorify God. Prayerless ministry is in the dark on this. We need to pray to know what to do and how to do it in order to bring glory to God.
The prayerless church is immature spiritually and therefore tossed to and fro with various winds and waves of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). The apostle Paul warned Timothy that, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2). This susceptibility to deception and false doctrine can be directly linked to prayerlessness. Adam Clark a theologian once said:
“Apostasy begins in the closet. No man ever backslid from the life and power of Christianity who continued constant and fervent in private prayer. He who prays without ceasing is likely to rejoice forevermore.” 
If the church is to be a strong beacon of God’s truth and light it must get serious about prayer. Martin Luther the great reformer once said:
“Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon their knees.”
Satan laughs at the prayerless church and licks his chops over the prospect of deluding and devouring defenseless sheep. But by prayer we put on the armor of God and stand as a formidable adversary for Satan (Ephesians 6:10-18).
We are human and sometimes the obstacles and difficulties in life are large and intimidating. But Prayer is the antidote to whatever this world throws at us. Prayer is the means by which great things can be done for God. William Carey, the pioneer missionary and spearhead of God for the modern missions movement, lived by the motto Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God. He could say that because he was a man of passionate powerful prayers. Prayer invites God into the life equation and therefore nothing is impossible for God. We refer again to E.M. Bounds who writes:
“Prayer takes hold of God, and induces Him to do large things for us, whether personal or relative, temporal or spiritual, earthly or heavenly. . . . The great gap between Bible promises to prayer and the income from praying is almost unspeakably great, so much so that it is a prolific source of infidelity. It breeds unbelief in prayer as a great moral force, and begets doubt really as to the efficacy of prayer. Christianity needs to day, above all things else, men and women who can in prayer put God to the test and who can prove His promises. When this happy day for the world begins, it will be earth’s brightest day, and will be heaven’s dawning day on earth. These are the sort of men and women needed in this modern day in the Church. It is not educated men who are needed for the times. It is not more money that is required. It is not more machinery, more organization, more ecclesiastical laws, but it is men and women who know how to pray, who can in prayer lay hold upon God and bring Him down to earth, and move Him to take hold of earth’s affairs mightily and put life and power into the Church and into all of its machinery.” 
Yes, prayer is the antidote to our anxieties and the prescription for being filled with Jesus’ joy. The great preacher John Chrysostom is noted to have said:
“The potency of prayer hath subdued the strength of fire; it had bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. Prayer is an all-efficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine which is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by the storm. It is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings.” 
One final fictional story illustrates how we should pray and the necessity of prayer.
A man was sleeping one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with
Even when it doesn’t seem like our prayers are accomplishing anything, pray. God has a plan and He will carry it out. Through prayer we can be a part of His plan. Being a part of God’s plans is a source of great joy.
Don’t forget to give God thanks! “Thanksgiving” (εὐχαριστία - ĕucharistia, yoo-khar-is-tee´-ah) is gratitude, appreciation. We need to thank God in our prayers. Paul doesn’t say to thank God after we get what we want. He makes thanksgiving a part of our prayers. We need to thank God in prayer before we get His answer and no matter what that answer of His might be. Someone has said God’s answers to prayer are wiser than our requests. We should be thankful for that. Many a time I have prayed for something which God actually spared me from. I’m thankful to God for that.
To show you how far we have drifted from a spirit of thankfulness toward God consider the holiday of Thanksgiving. Each year America celebrates a holiday called Thanksgiving. People everywhere will be giving thanks, but to whom will they give thanks? In public schools and the various media modes propaganda will contend that the first thanksgiving was aimed at Native Americans who helped the pilgrims survive a harsh wintery climate. President Obama has stated he believes the United States is, “no longer a Christian nation.” Some have accepted that and the consequence is that their thanksgiving on Thanksgiving will be directed everywhere but where it ought to be. Who should be thanked on Thanksgiving? God!
Governor William Bradford made a decree on December 13th 1621 that a day of feasting and prayer was to be set aside to thank God not only for His material provisions, but for blessing them with religious freedom to worship Him as the Spirit led them. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln officially set aside the last Thursday of November as, “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.” In 1941 Congress established the fourth Thursday of November as a legal holiday to be called Thanksgiving Day.
It wasn’t until relatively recent times that secular antichristian forces became powerful and persuasive enough to impose their revisionist history on America. Their propaganda has led to a shunning of the thought that there is a God, that He has blessed our land and that He ought to be thanked by our nation. They want the mention of God to be removed from the public square. They have so deceived the mind of our nation that thanksgiving to God has become distasteful, rejected and ignored in much of society.
Thanksgiving has become a neutered holy day because the One it was created to thank has been carved out of it. Thanksgiving has degenerated into an excuse to overeat and watch another football game. Families still gather together, but without the Lord. Those families are changing. They are more disconnected, broken and distant from each other. This is a consequence of excluding God from life. Jesus is knocking on the door; many have left Him out on the porch.
Our nation seems to be turning away from God. Tolerance is our worldly philosophy. Not reasonable tolerance of opposing views. Not tolerance which fosters public debate, allows for weighing of truth, and then formulates a righteous conclusion to live by. No. The tolerance of the day is a cover for sin. Tolerance is used to shout down, drown out and set aside reason, facts and truth so that people can do what they want despite reason, facts and truth. Refer to scripture and God and you are labeled a bigoted narrow minded hater all in the name of tolerance. Those who use “tolerance” to contend for freedom to promote filth oppose those who desire freedom to promote faith in God. Such a stance exposes the depth of depravity and debased reprobation in the world of these latter days. It will only get worse before the Lord Jesus returns.
We need to get a handle on thankfulness. It’s so very important. The Object of and reason for our thanks is clarified in a Psalm of scripture. Psalm 107 opens with the words, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, . . .” We ought to give thanks to the LORD! Why give thanks to the Lord? Psalm 107 answers that question. Let’s pause a moment from our study in Philippians, read Psalm 107, and then glean the reasons why we should be thankful to God.
Psalm 107 - 1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, 3 And gathered out of the lands, From the east and from the west, From the north and from the south. 4 They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; They found no city to dwell in. 5 Hungry and thirsty, Their soul fainted in them. 6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He delivered them out of their distresses. 7 And He led them forth by the right way, That they might go to a city for a dwelling place. 8 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! 9 For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness. 10 Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, Bound in affliction and irons— 11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, And despised the counsel of the Most High, 12 Therefore He brought down their heart with labor; They fell down, and there was none to help. 13 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces. 15 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! 16 For He has broken the gates of bronze, And cut the bars of iron in two. 17 Fools, because of their transgression, And because of their iniquities, were afflicted. 18 Their soul abhorred all manner of food, And they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. 20 He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions. 21 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! 22 Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, And declare His works with rejoicing. 23 Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters, 24 They see the works of the Lord, And His wonders in the deep. 25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind, Which lifts up the waves of the sea. 26 They mount up to the heavens, They go down again to the depths; Their soul melts because of trouble. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. 29 He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. 30 Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven.31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! 32 Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, And praise Him in the company of the elders. 33He turns rivers into a wilderness, And the watersprings into dry ground; 34 A fruitful land into barrenness, For the wickedness of those who dwell in it. 35 He turns a wilderness into pools of water, And dry land into watersprings. 36 There He makes the hungry dwell, That they may establish a city for a dwelling place, 37 And sow fields and plant vineyards, That they may yield a fruitful harvest. 38 He also blesses them, and they multiply greatly; And He does not let their cattle decrease. 39 When they are diminished and brought low Through oppression, affliction and sorrow, 40 He pours contempt on princes, And causes them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way; 41 Yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction, And makes their families like a flock. 42 The righteous see it and rejoice, And all iniquity stops its mouth. 43 Whoever is wise will observe these things, And they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.
Why should we give thanks to the LORD? “. . . For He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1). God is GOOD! God is MERCIFUL! God is not a tyrant or mean. The word “good” (טוֹב - ṭôwb, tobe) means good in the broadest sense. Goodness is associated with beauty, grace, pleasure, joy, kindness, prosperity, sweetness, and wealth and God is a dispenser of such things. “Mercy” (חֶסֶד - cheçed, kheh’-sed) refers to lovingkindness, faithfulness or steadfast love. It is a beautiful word, one of the richest in scripture. God’s mercy is eternal. It is because of God’s goodness and mercy that we exist, are offered a way of salvation from our sin and invited to enter an eternally blessed relationship with the God of the universe. Our salvation and every good thing in existence come from God’s goodness and mercy. God is described in a wonderful way here, a way that should move us to bow before Him in thanks.
Who especially should thank the LORD? The psalmist goes on to exhort, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so . . .” (107:2). Have you been redeemed from your sins by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ? If so, THANK THE LORD! Remember that the price of your redemption was the precious blood of Christ, the Son of God (Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Can you thank the LORD for that? I hope so. Don’t lose sight of your most important eternal redemption. I like what J. Vernon McGee says in relation to this Psalm:
We need more “say so” Christians. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. Don’t go around complaining and criticizing. If you are a Christian, tell others how good God is. He is good, but He doesn’t have a good name in the world today. God’s reputation is bad—a reputation is what people think about you. God does not have many friends in court among the multitudes of people in the world—no champion, or defender, and few to testify on His behalf. There are few to take the witness stand and say a good word in His behalf. If you doubt that, look around. Consider the pagan and heathen religions. Their conception of God is terrifying. He is pictured as a god that will destroy, not save; a god that is difficult to approach, and takes no personal interest in his creatures, nor does he love them. The average person today lives in a land with a veneer of civilization, a modicum of education, with a little Christian culture smeared on like face cream. To him God is not a Person to be cultivated; He is kept at arm’s length. He is not considered a good neighbor, and He is very hard to please. Most people think of God as sort of a policeman, waiting around the corner to catch them in some wrongdoing. A little girl accidentally gave the average conception of God when she recited a Scripture verse and got it a bit confused. She said, “If God be for you, you are up against Him.” That is the thinking of many people. If anyone is going to say that God is good, it will have to be His redeemed ones. God is good. That is not an axiom; it is a proposition that is subject to proof. It is not a cliché, nor a slogan; it is not propaganda. It is true. 
Despite all the opposition the enemy musters the redeemed need to proclaim their thanks to the LORD. Thanking God is not optional; it is the only reasonable thing for the redeemed to do.
For what should the redeemed thank the LORD? You may have had a really bad day, month, year, years, decade or life. You may be going through a tough time. You may be brooding over the economy, a souring relationship, an illness, or some other trial or trouble. You may be in no mood to thank anyone, not even the LORD. But listen, a lack of thankfulness exposes a lack of proper perspective. Psalm 107 gives us five reasons to thank the LORD. Four times the psalmist pleads, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31). We will briefly touch on each one. Let this psalm encourage you to be thankful.
First, thank God for His redemptive deliverance from the enemy (107:2-7). The Psalmist recalls how God delivered His people from Egypt and through their wilderness wanderings. God heard the cries of His people and acted on their behalf. God will hear our cries and act on our behalf, even today. None of our plight today has caught the LORD off guard. God is in control. He makes a way to live victoriously in life now (Rom. 8:37-39). He defeated Satan on the cross (Col. 2:14-15). He is there for you; the good and merciful God of the universe is there for you. Trust Him. Pray to Him. He will answer. For that we should thank the LORD.
Second, thank God for satisfying the longing soul and filling the hungry soul with goodness (107:8-14). Even when people experience darkness, bondage, and affliction as consequences to rebellion against God and His word, even when we despise His counsel, God doesn’t forsake us. He disciplines us and humbles us until we return and cry out to Him so He can save us. He does this because He loves us (Heb. 12:3-15). God will break our chains, even self-inflicted ones, if we will only repent and cry out to Him. For that we should thank the LORD.
And did you know that the Bible says that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights ,with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” ? (James 1:17). EVERY good gift is from the Lord. From the warmth of the sun on a cold winter day to the cool breeze on a hot summer day, it’s all from the Lord. From the miraculously healed to the one who doesn’t heal but provides His sufficient grace to get through to the end, it’s all from God. EVERY perfect gift is from God. That just perfect answer to prayer; that just perfect gift or surprise solution to what you thought was an unsolvable problem, it’s all from God. God is able to bring good from all things, no matter what (Romans 8:28). Remember that and be thankful.
Third, thank God for His healing word (107:15-20). The psalmist speaks of those who, “because of their transgressions, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted.” The blame for the sinner’s affliction is clear. They may deny their sin in self-deception (1 John 1:8). They may deny their sin and in effect call God a liar (1 John 1:10). The bottom line is that when sinners repent and cry out to God, He forgives them and sends His word to heal and deliver them from their destructions. It is in His word that we see revelation truth; reality; and are directed on the path of life (Psalm 16:11). The volume of His Book speaks of Christ (Hebrews 10:7). For that we should thank the LORD.
Fourth, thank God for His protection in a fallen world (107:21-30). These verses speak of the awesome rolling waves of the sea and how God preserves those who travel them. Did you ever think about the immensity of the world and universe? We are so microscopically focused on ourselves that we miss the incredible grace of God who created, sustains and sovereignly rules over the entire universe. Yet God bends down to help puny little us. Did you know that God’s thoughts toward each of us is as the sand? It’s true. Psalm 139 17-18 states, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number that the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.” As BIG as God is and as small as we are, God still has His mind on us. He loves us so much He can’t get His mind off of us. Be thankful for that.
Unfortunately, we are quick to point to and blame God for those who die in natural disasters. There is an enemy at work in such situations but we quickly blame God or deny His power (cf. Job 1 and 2). We shouldn’t argue with the God of the universe who in His sovereign determination takes some and spares others. He alone can make those decisions from an omniscient and omnipotent position. We can argue and shake our fist at God; we can turn away in doubt and depression and forfeit all because our small brains and hearts can’t grasp the purposes of Almighty God. But it would be wiser and more blessed to trust our good merciful God and thank Him for protection.
Fifth, thank God for His ultimate justice (107:31-43). God is able to dry up a river or make water flow. He is able to discipline sinful authorities and preserve the poor and weak. He is able to bless and “multiply greatly.” He is able to make the righteous rejoice in the end and shut the mouths of those indulging iniquity. God is in control. The answer is not politics or government. The answer is not in military might, science, technology, or education. The answer is the LORD! “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.” “The Lovingkindness of the LORD,” that is what we ought to thank God for, His lovingkindness.
Look around you, all is not lost. God is in control. He has a plan and will carry it out. Indeed, if you are paying attention, you can see the prophetic word of God being fulfilled quite nicely. Jesus is coming back! Soon and very soon we will see our Savior and King of kings, our good and merciful God. For that we should be most thankful. “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD . . . .”
What happens when we pray this way? What happens when instead of being consumed by anxiety and worry we pray with supplication and thanksgiving toward God? Paul says, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (4:7). There is a peace that comes over the person that comes to God in prayer and entrusts all their cares to Him. “Peace” (εἰρήνη - ĕirēnē, i-ray´-nay) means tranquility, harmony, health, peace. The word “peace” as used in classical secular Greek was the opposite of “war.” Peace is the opposite of being anxious over life circumstances. It’s the answer to discontentment. It is the sister of joy. God will guard us against anxiety by giving us His peace.
Such peace is beyond our understanding because often it defies logic. Those around you will say, “How can you have such peace in the midst of such dire circumstances?” The answer is that through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving we have committed our circumstances to God in Christ. In return God has given us an incomprehensible peace. When we respond to difficulties with prayer and surrender everything to God, He gives us tranquility in return. When we pray God puts His big strong arm around us and comforts us. He tells us “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.” He tells us He’s here to bring us through. And knowing that settles us in the storms of life. Jesus’ joy flows freely in us when we simply in prayer give in, give up and give it all to God.
An unknown author penned the following poem to God. It encapsulates the sense of the verses we’ve been studying. It states:
I called tonight
To talk a little while
I need a friend who’ll listen
To my anxiety and trial.
You see, I can’t quite make it
Through a day just on my own . . .
I need Your love to guide me,
So I’ll never feel alone.
I want to ask You please to keep my family safe and sound.
Come and fill their lives with confidence
For whatever fate they’re bound.
Give me faith, dear God, to face
Each hour through the day,
And not to worry over things
I can’t change in any way.
I thank You God for being home
And listening to my call,
For giving me such good advice
When I stumble and fall.
Your number, God, is the only one
That answers every time.
I never get a busy signal,
Never had to pay a dime.
So thank You, God, for listening
To my trouble and my sorrow.
Good night, God, I love You too,
And I’ll call again tomorrow.
Fifth, Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ that meditates on God’s word (4:8). Paul states:
Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Someone has said you are what you eat. Similarly, you are what you think. We live in a world where even secular society realizes people are not thinking the way they should. The National Institute of Mental Health says the following about mental disorders in America:
Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. . . . In addition, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada. Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time. Nearly half (45 percent) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for 2 or more disorders, with severity strongly related to comorbidity. . . .Approximately 20.9 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder. . . . Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44. . . . Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. . . . Approximately 40 million American adults ages 18 and older, or about 18.1 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have an anxiety disorder. . . . Approximately 6 million American adults ages 18 and older, or about 2.7 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have panic disorder. 
These figures are not quoted to create concern that maybe you have a mental disorder. We aren’t noting statistics on anxiety to produce anxiety in you. They are simply quoted to show that America in general is faltering in its thought life. The problem is not that people don’t recognize there is a problem. The problem is that they are looking in the wrong places for a solution to their problem.
There are many factors that should be considered when quoting statistics dealing with mental conditions. We would like to give the benefit of the doubt to mental health care professionals and say that they genuinely want to help those who have psychological issues. There are some physiological reasons for wrong thinking and these should be medically treated. This is addressed in the field of psychiatry. The area of issue is when wrong thinking not attributed to physiological causes are “treated” by those who come from a world view that is not scriptural.
Psychology is a field which attempts to address wrong thinking not associated with physiological causes from a man-centered world view. Psychology is very subjective and struggles to be seen as scientific. The subjectivity of psychology leads to a very broad and diverse field of diagnosis and treatment where effectiveness and success is difficult to measure. This leads to credibility issues. Those in the field who want to be accepted as credible use a proliferation of diagnoses to enhance treatment opportunities which create a perception that they are needed to treat such diagnosed problems. This also creates a favorable environment for economic profit. Diagnosable conditions are on the rise in part because there are real problems in the way people are thinking. But we need to add that they are also on the rise in part to keep the mental health industry viable and profitable.
The field of psychology is historically rooted in antichristian worldly philosophy (cf. Freud, Jung, Rogers, Fromm, Skinner, et.al.). Freud viewed religious people as insane. Carl Jung believed there was some truth in all religion but denied the authority of the Bible and that Jesus is the only way of salvation. Jung repudiated Christianity and instead turned to the occult. He claimed to have a spirit guide named Philemon and believed he could talk to the dead and that the dead could talk to him. Carl Rogers attended union Theological Seminary and gave up his faith in exchange for secular humanism. Rogers also turned to the occult engaging in necromancy. God forbids necromancy, or seeking conversation with “familiar spirits” (Lev. 19:31; 20:6, 27) and warns such pursuits are demonic and therefore filled with deception (Deut. 18:9-14; Eph. 6:12). Involvement in the occult puts the participant in a very vulnerable position. Familiar spirits are demonic entities who are immaterial and can access information unbeknownst to people. These demons then use this information to deceive and manipulate. That demons use human necromancers to deceive should not surprise us (cf. 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Eph. 2:2). Satan is a liar, a deceiver, along with his demons. Human pawns are culpable for rejecting God and His word and surrendering themselves to demonic influence. Anything associated with Satan is evil not good (John 8:44). This is not a good source of counsel.
We are warned in scripture, “Beware lest anyone cheat you though philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Col. 2:8). The word translated “cheat” (συλαγωγέω - sulagōgĕō, soo-lag-ogue-eh´-o) in this verse means literally seduce, to make prey of, carry off as booty, to lead away captive, to rob. Therefore, when we dabble or even rely on such sources to find our help or “truth” we are dangerously close to leaving the safety of God’s inspired inerrant source of truth, (the Bible) and stepping into a realm of great risk.
One area of contradiction between scripture and psychology is the area of sin. Psychology, for the most part, assumes humanity is basically good. God’s word tells us humanity is born with a sinful nature and propensity to sin (e.g. Psalm 51:5; 58:3; Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:3). What God calls sin in His word psychology often defines as sickness or disease. This is done to bypass blame and alleviate guilt. But all reclassifying sin as sickness does is sweep problems under the carpet or to use a psychological term, sublimates the problem. We need to identify human behavior from God’s scriptural perspective. We need to call sin what it is, sin.
Sin needs to be confessed and repented of. It can only be cleansed away and dealt with by the blood of Jesus. God is faithful to forgive us our confessed sins and cleanse us from them (1 John 1:9). No amount of talk or reasoning with a therapist is going to change that. Sin left unattended scripturally leads to death here and in the hereafter. If we adopt the psychological definition of our problems we will be robbed of the liberty found in Jesus. Jesus said:
· John 8:31-32, 34, 36 - 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” . . . 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. . . . 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
True freedom from sin comes when we follow Jesus. That is the promise of God. That is what we need.
There is also the question of authority. In psychology the authority is man-centered. The problem is diagnosed and treated from a human perspective with human wisdom. Christianity on the other hand relies on God and His word as their authority. The person who tries to combine God’s word with secular psychology needs to be circumspect and vigilant for subtle and even devious deviations from the highest truth of God’s word. Indeed when in scripture God tells us to desire, “the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2) the implication of “pure” is that we should not dilute it or add anything to it. The question for us is should we rely on fallen flawed humanity to define problems in our thinking and treat them with human conversation even though the answers and solutions given are subjective and frequently unreliable? Or should we go to our perfect Holy Creator God who has given us a life manual (the Bible) for just such issues and whose answers and solutions are always right and true? I’ll opt for God.
While God uses human instruments to communicate those communications are measured and guided by His authoritative word the Bible. There are those with spiritual gifts from God that equip them for the particular area of counseling e.g. the spiritual gifts of word of wisdom, discerning of spirits, and teaching. Such gifted people in the body of Christ also have prayer and the Holy Spirit to rely in to help those struggling with their thinking. But God’s word is His standard and revelation. Any and all counseling needs to comply with the word of God.
Is God’s word enough? God in His word promises it to be when Peter is inspired to write:
· 2 Peter 1:3-4 - 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Peter is inspired to write that God’s divine power “has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” What we need is in God’s word! Imagine how lives could be changed for the better if people got to know God’s power as they got to know Him through faith in Jesus (cf. John 17:3; Rom. 5:1-8). Imagine the blessing people could experience if they allowed God to implement His promises from His word to make us like Jesus. What would happen? People would escape and be freed from the corrupt rottenness and lustful sin of the world and a worldly way of thinking that has infected so many.
What’s the answer? God in His word tells us the gospel is powerful (Rom. 1:16). When a person repents of their sins and the Holy Spirit enters into them to give them spiritual life, they have the best Counselor, the best Helper to help them deal with their thought life (John 14-16). The truths of the Bible are inspired; literally God-breathed by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Bible therefore requires the indwelling Holy Spirit in a person so that they can spiritually discern their meaning and to take advantage of their truths (1 Cor. 2:14). You must be born again to understand (John 3).
God uses His word to save our souls (1 Peter 1:22-25). And God makes us strong and healthy spiritually by way of His word (James 1:21-25). God and His word used in us by the Holy Spirit is the means by which a person can be “renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph. 4:23). When we surrender all to the Lord and turn away from being “conformed to this world,” the Spirit leads us to be, “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). We need to turn to the Lord and His word in the power of the Spirit for help with our psychological struggles. We may be helped in this by other Christians, but again, the person with the problem needs to take the first step of being saved from their sin if true healing and solutions to their thinking problems are to be received.
The Bible contains the “voice of His word” (Psalm 103:20). To hear God’s voice and understand the language of the Bible, you need Him dwelling within; you need the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes within us at conversion (Rom. 8:9-11) The Holy Spirit within brings cleansing and renewal to our lives, including our minds (Titus 3:5). His prime instrument to accomplish this in us is His word.
God’s word, the Bible, is “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). God’s word is a spiritual scalpel in the hands of the Holy Spirit and He uses it to do spiritual surgery on us. God’s word will cut out cancers and worldly malignancies of sin. God’s word helps us to discern thoughts that are rooted in a sinful nature, our flesh. Once identified the Spirit helps us take out the garbage and restock the shelves of our mind with healthy nourishing spiritual truth from God’s word. Spiritual health, including an abundant live filled with Jesus’ joy comes when we invite Jesus in to our lives to clean house (Rev. 3:20). As we’ve already seen in our study of Philippians this involves some hard work on our part, but it is God doing all the heavy lifting (Phil. 2:12-13). Therefore, if we want to correct our all too frequent impulses to react to life with anxiety and worry, we need to first go to God in prayer as Paul states in Philippians 4:6-7 and then go to God’s word to find instruction on how to think.
Over and over again Paul says, “whatever things are.” Then he gives a number of things for us to “meditate on” (λογίζομαι- lŏgizŏmai, log-id´-zom-ahee) or take an inventory of, number, reckon, reason about, count, consider or calculate these things. In other words he gives us a list of healthy thought food to use as a tool to screen our thoughts. We should take his list and screen what we think about, what we take in through what we read, watch, listen to and speak about. If we want Jesus’ joy to grow in us we need to screen our intake of thought matter. We need to think and reason about what we take in and whether or not it complies with the criteria of the things mentioned by Paul. What is it that we should focus on in this way? Paul lists eight things to consider in order to be content in Christ and have Jesus’ joy. We are to meditate on eight things according to Paul.
Let’s look at each of these eight things Paul is inspired by God to direct us to meditate on. Meditating on such things is the key to mental and spiritual health. While we are looking at these eight things take an inventory to measure your thought life and see where you need to seek God for some changes in the way you think. Let’s consider what God would have us think on.
First, meditate on whatever is true. “True” – (ἀληθής - alēthēs, al-ay-thace´) refers to things that are true, dependable, truthful, genuine, unconcealed. Jesus prayed to the Father and said regarding His disciples, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) God’s word is truth. We see this stated throughout scripture:
· Psalm 119:160 - The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.
· Daniel 10:21 - But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.
· Ephesians 1:13 - In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
· James 1:18 - Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
God’s word is true and we need to meditate on it.
Meditation on God’s word is an essential to mental health and a sound spiritual mind. When Joshua was preparing to enter the Promised Land God instructed him to meditate on His word saying:
· Joshua 1:8- 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
In Psalms we are instructed to meditate on God and His word and various aspects of His word:
· Psalm 63:6 - When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.
· Psalm 119:148 - My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.
· Psalm 119:15 - I will meditate on Your precepts [i.e. principles], And contemplate Your ways. (cf. also 119:78)
· Psalm 119:23 - Princes also sit and speak against me, But Your servant meditates on Your statutes [i.e. permanent rules].
· Psalm 119:48 - My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, Which I love, And I will meditate on Your statutes.
· Psalm 119:27 - Make me understand the way of Your precepts; So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.
Jesus is the most truthful Person that ever lived. He said He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He is the embodiment of truth and God calls us to be conformed to Him (Rom. 8:29), to follow in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21), and walk as He walked (1 John 2:6). Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Similarly we should be known as the word made flesh in that we become the embodiment of the word lived out in life. We will see Paul’s instruction to that end in our next point in this section. But we should meditate on Jesus as He is revealed in God’s word. If you want a sound settled content and joyful mind, meditate on God’s word.
Second, meditate on whatever is noble. “Noble” – (σεμνός - sĕmnŏs, sem-nos´) refers to things that are honest, worthy of respect, honorable, dignified, holy. Some examples of noble things to meditate on are people who are honest and trustworthy, people of good character, and people of integrity. A good way of doing this is to read and meditate on biographies of great people of God. The Bible and history are filled with examples of noble people. When we meditate on such people we will be drawn to follow in their steps and become noble ourselves. Jesus is the most noble Person that ever lived. We should start meditating on Jesus as He is revealed in this way in God’s word. This will lead to Jesus’ joy.
Third, meditate on whatever is just. “Just” – (δίκαιος - dikaiŏs, dik´-ah-yos) refers to things that are equitable, just, upright, and impartial. There is a great deal of injustice in our world. It would be easy to think on such things. What we ought to think on is how to counter the unjust with the just. Meditate on God’s justice and how He will one day bring it about. Meditate on the enforcement of God’s justice by Christ in the Millennium. Pray for justice and work for it in the meantime. Jesus is the most just Person that ever lived. We should start meditating on Jesus as He is revealed in this way in God’s word. That will lead us to His joy.
Fourth, meditate on whatever is pure. “Pure” – (γνός - hagnŏs, hag-nos´) refers to things that are innocent, modest, perfect, clean, pure, holy. There is a great deal of impurity around us in this sinful world. When we allow ourselves to be polluted by the impurities around us it saps Jesus’ joy from us. Like a filthy air filter on a car we won’t be able to breath the fresh air of the Spirit of God if our minds a filled with the filth of this world. Discipline your thinking to focus on things that are pure. That means filtering out the impurities found on TV, in reading materials, on the computer, all around you. Prayerfully seek the Lord’s help in purifying your heart and mind. God does this with the washing and purifying nature of His word (Eph. 5:26). As we meditate on God’s word and focus on it, it will have a purifying and cleansing effect on our minds and hearts. Jesus is the most pure Person that ever lived. We should start meditating on Jesus as He is revealed in this way in God’s word. Then Jesus’ joy will be cultivated in us.
Fifth, meditate on whatever is lovely. “Lovely” – (προσφιλής - prŏsphilēs, pros-fee-lace´) refers to things that are friendly toward, lovely, acceptable, pleasing. This word refers to friendly pleasant things. There are people who seek to hurt and betray us and often times they are the ones we end up thinking about. We get caught up in bitterness and revengeful thinking which only leads to defiling (Heb. 12:15). Instead we ought to think about our good friends. Think about your close friends and how to get closer to them. If you don’t have any friends, pray for God to help you find some. Proverbs states, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24). Friends are a blessing from God. Pray for them and thank God for them. Loyal friends are a source of great joy. Meditate on them. Jesus is the most lovely Person that ever lived and He has called us His “friends” (John 15:14). We should start meditating on Jesus as He is revealed in this way in God’s word. This will lead to His joy.
Sixth, meditate on whatever is of good report. “Good report” – (εὔφημος - ĕuphēmŏs, yoo´-fay-mos) refers to things that are reputable, well-spoken of. One only has to watch the news or read the paper to find an avalanche of bad reports. When we look at all the tragedy and evil throughout the world it can become overwhelming and sap our joy. When the enemy comes in like a flood, God tells us in His word that, “The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19b). We are oftentimes called by God to be part of the standard or flag to stand in the power of the Spirit and let the world know there is a better way. God’s word is filled with the good report of His promises. In Psalms it states:
· Psalm 84:11 - For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
When we walk in His word God’s promise is that He will withhold no good thing from us. God promises to watch over us as a “sun and shield,” and to pour out His grace and glory on us. That’s a good report.
In the New Testament God states:
· Romans 8:32 - He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
God just can’t wait to bless us. If He loves us enough to send His only Son Jesus to save us, we can be certain His plans for us are good. And if He gave Jesus, it is proof He will bless us and bless us with the best. That’s not only a good report to meditate on but it’s a GREAT report to meditate on. We need to meditate on the promises of God’s word. When we do that He will work His nature into us and that means the joy of Jesus will well up and overflow us.
Another source of good reports is looking at the faithful service of the men and women of God in the Bible. We can also look at the good reports of victories God has brought and is still bringing in and through the church and on the mission field throughout the world. Meditate on the work of God and the good report of His power overcoming. Jesus brought the greatest report of all time, the gospel. The word of God is a good report and it’s all about Him (Heb. 10:7). We should start meditating on Jesus as He is revealed in this way in God’s word. Do this and you will have reason for great joy.
Seventh, meditate on whatever is virtuous. “Virtue” - (ἀρέτη - arĕtē, ar-et´-ay) refers to things that are praise, excellence, virtue, perfection. There is a lot of slip-shoddiness in the world. People often have no direction and purpose in life. People often have a sense of entitlement so that they feel their employers owe them something as well as do the customers they are supposed to be serving. There are people around us who don’t’ take pride in their work. That can be frustrating and produces a negative perspective toward these people. Rather than be swallowed up in negativity and frustration we ought to focus on excellence. We ought to commend, encourage and imitate those who put their heart in their work and strive for excellence.
Jesus was known as someone who “does all things well” (Mark 7:37). That should be our standard. Earlier in Philippians Paul was inspired to pray for the Philippians, “that you may approve the things that are excellent” (Phil. 1:10). All that we do should be done for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17, 23-24). When we do our best and trust the Lord for the rest, we will have Jesus’ joy. Jesus is the most virtuous Person that ever lived. We should start meditating on Jesus as He is revealed in this way in God’s word. Then we will experience God’s excellent joy of Jesus.
Eighth, meditate on whatever is praiseworthy. “Praiseworthy” - (ἔπαινος - ĕpainŏs, ep´-ahee-nos) refers to things that are commendable, praiseworthy. There are a lot of shameful uncommendable things in this world. We live in a world where evil is thought to be good and good is thought to be evil. This is not the first time in history such a state of affairs has existed (cf. Isaiah 5:20-21). But rather than being caught up in shameful things we should think on those things that are praiseworthy. We should think about how we might do things that would be praiseworthy because they bring glory to God and are true to His word. We need to focus on the praiseworthy things around us; those things that are well done and for the glory of God. When we do our best in all things, no matter how small or big, and we do our best not merely so that others will commend us but so that God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Mat. 25:21, 23; Luke 19:17) we will find fulfillment and Jesus’ joy will be the fruit of our labors. Jesus is the most praiseworthy Person that ever lived. We should start meditating on Jesus as He is revealed in this way in God’s word. This will lead us to the fullness of His joy.
These are the things Paul tells us to meditate on or accumulate in our thinking. Jesus’ joy is the product of a mind content to focus on such things and not allow itself to be polluted but perverse and sinful thoughts, discontent thoughts.
There’s a reason why Paul spoke about what we think about. It’s important what you think about and therefore it’s important what you allow to influence your thinking. That means what you watch and listen to. If you are constantly in front of the television watching and listening to mind numbing or static producing secular programming that is based on the philosophies of this world then whether you realize it or not you are being influenced and programmed, and not for the better. There are a few Christian channels to watch and listen to, but even the programs on these channels can be doctrinally unsound. Garbage in garbage out, that’s simply the truth. And if you want to draw close to God and are trying to do so with the TV on, well, the LORD will wait until you’re ready to give Him your undivided attention.
The same is true with the music we listen to. Much has been written and said about secular music. Its roots are devilish for sure. And yet some see it as harmless. Some may be. But I would encourage anyone listening to anything to first scrutinize the lyrics through the lens of scripture and the above list of things given by Paul to think on before they start listening to songs. We have to consider that the area of music is one especially used by Satan to deceive. Satan was a big part of worship in heaven before he rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven (Ezekiel 28:12-17; Isaiah 14:12-15). It is not a stretch to think that Satan and his demons are behind much of today’s music and his ambition is to lead people astray from God. His mission is to drown out the channels playing God’s word and worship. He wants to create static so a person either can’t hear God or has a harder time hearing God. And we should ask ourselves how can we march in the LORD’s army if we are dancing to the enemies tune? How can we carry out the mission of the LORD if we are listening to the orders of the enemy? If we let our guard down in this way we just may find ourselves out of position, out of step, out of sync, out of place, and on the shelf instead of being used by the LORD. We will find our joy diminished and distanced from the LORD.
There’s a reason why Wall Street marketing firms pay millions for commercials and ads to promote their products; they influence people. What we see, watch and listen to influences us. If we subject ourselves to the things of this world that are rooted in worldly secular principles and philosophies, (not to mention the underlying satanic strategies), we will be influenced. We may not be completely bankrupted spiritually, but we certainly won’t be drawn closer to the LORD. At the very least we will be allowing space in our lives to be taken up by junk that should be reserved for the LORD. Jesus’ joy is curtailed by the clutter of life.
We are living in an age of cotton candy Christianity. Cotton candy may taste good but it’s not healthy for you. You can’t build muscle on cotton candy. Cotton candy is fluff dietetically. The same is true spiritually. If we live on or consume fluff, our spiritual muscles will atrophy and we’ll be weak, easy prey for the enemy. We need to watch our spiritual diet and feed on what is healthy. In His word God says we don’t live on bread alone. We can’t only care about what we feed our physical bodies. We need to watch what we eat spiritually. God says to be spiritually healthy we need a steady and substantial diet of His word (Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus reiterated this when he was being tested by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:4). If we are to have Jesus’ joy coursing through our veins we need to watch that our arteries aren’t clogged with cholesterol producing unscriptural junk food religion. If we want to do heavy lifting spiritually, we need to build spiritual muscle and spiritual muscles are fed with the nutrients of God’s word. So let’s eat right spiritually and grow in Jesus’ joy.
Sixth, Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ that applies God’s word (4:9a).
Philippians 4:9 - The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Paul speaks of things, “learned” (μανθάνω - manthanō, man-than´-o) or understood, discovered, known, “received” (παραλαμβάνω paralambanō - par-al-am-ban´-) or received by being alongside of, “heard” (ἀκούω - akŏuō, ak-oo´-o) or listened to or heard, and what they “saw” (εἴδω - ĕidō, i´-do) or saw, perceived, watched in him. Paul is advising the Philippians to use all their sensory perception capabilities to draw on and put into practice what he taught and modeled before them. Jesus joy comes when we apply God’s word in our lives.
Jesus taught with words that people were given the opportunity to hear (e.g. Matthew 5-7; 24-25; John 6). But He also taught His disciples by bringing them alongside of Him. Jesus had His disciples with Him when He rose the widows son from the dead in Nain (Luke 7:11-17). When He saw His disciples straining at the oars in a storm as they crossed Galilee in their boat He walked on water to be with them and as He approached them He said, “It is I; do not be afraid” (John 6:16-21). When He taught in the Spirit that spiritual life came through eating His flesh and drinking His blood (John 6:30-65) it says, “from that time man of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66). He brought His disciples with Him to Caesarea Philippi where He asked them, “Who do men say that I am?” (Mark 8:27). Jesus performed His miracles with His disciples beside Him (Acts 10:34-43). The disciples were witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 5:32). Jesus taught with His disciples beside Him so they could receive by observation and experience that which He wanted them to learn.
Paul says of all that was taken in that the Philippians should “do” (πράσσω - prassō, pras´-so) or put them into practice. The grammatical form of this word (Present/Active/Indicative) conveys the thought of do always, do constantly, do persistently, do regularly, do in an ongoing manner. Putting what we learn into practice is essential if we are to benefit and bear fruit in our walk with the Lord. In bible study we are to observe and interpret and apply. If we never apply what we take in it leads to spiritual constipation. What we take in, what we are taught by the Lord must be processed and applied in our lives or it becomes worthless to us. Proverbs 23:12 states, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” We would be wise to do so.
We have studied a great deal and I pray learned a lot from or study of Philippians. But if we fail to apply what we’ve learned it will all be useless to us. God wants to work in us by the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. If we want to have Jesus joy we must be content to apply God’s word to our lives. We see this emphasized throughout the Bible. Here are a few examples of God’s call for us to apply His word in our lives:
· Deuteronomy 26:16 - 16 “This day the Lord your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.
· Ezra 7:10 - 10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.
· Psalm 119:9 - How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
· Psalm 119:11 - Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
· Psalm 119:97-105- Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts. 101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word. 102 I have not departed from Your judgments, For You Yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
· Matthew 5:19 - 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
· Matthew 7:21-25 - 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ 24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
· Matthew 28:18-20 - 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
· Luke 8:19-21 - 19 Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. 20 And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” 21 But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
· Luke 11:27-28 - 27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” 28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
· John 8:31-32 - Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
· John 13:17 - If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
· James 1:22-25 - 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
· 1 John 2:3 - Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
· Revelation 22:7 - “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
We need to see God’s word for what it is, God’s word. Paul said of the Thessalonians:
· 1 Thessalonians 2:13 - For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
They knew the truth that the words of the apostle Paul were in truth, God’s word and they responded appropriately; they took it in and lived it. We need to go to God’s word for direction, advice and counsel. God’s word helps us understand the truth about ourselves (Hebrews 4:12; James 1:23). We need to scrutinize everything through the lens of scripture (Psalm 119; 2 Timothy 3:16-7). That means we need to be students of God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15). This involves work on our part but also a healthy understanding that it is God who is doing the heavy lifting (2:12-13).
We need to remember that the Holy Spirit illuminates and helps us understand scripture (John 15:26; 1 Cor. 2:14). When we study God’s word we should do so inductively or open to the Spirit’s teaching. We need to let God formulate our belief’s based on His word. Deductive study of God’s word means we come with preconceived beliefs which can result in the manipulation of scripture. Sometimes our beliefs are not always His doctrine. We aren’t always as open to God as we should be. This leads to bending scripture to suit our beliefs which is eisegesis. This is what cults do. There is a place for deductive reasoning but inductive study must precede it and have the priority.
Jesus’ joy flourishes when we live His word. We need to come prayerfully to God’s word and do inductive study. First we make observations and ask questions of the text. Then we interpret the text guided by our questions and observations. Lastly we apply what we learn. This last part is the doing Paul is speaking about. If we want Jesus’ joy we need to apply God’s word in life.
Seventh, Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ and the God of peace (4:9b).
Paul says the result, the fruit of meditating on and doing the things is that “the God of peace will be with you.” God here is particularly linked to “peace” (εἰρήνη - ĕirēnē, i-ray´-nay). The term “peace” here means peace, harmony, tranquility, or health. In other words, if we meditate on truth, nobleness, justice, purity, loveliness, things of good report, virtue and praiseworthiness, and we do the things learned, received, heard and seen in scripture, “the God of peace will be with you.” We draw closer to God when we do these things and to be closer to God is to have His peace. He rubs off on us. God’s peace and Jesus’ joy are closely linked. Peace is a sister of joy. If joy is described as the presence of Jesus within assuring, guiding empowering for life, then peace is the presence of Jesus within settling, assuring us that God is in control and we are under His care. Being closer to the God of peace brings a mental environment conducive to Jesus’ joy.
When a person accepts Jesus as their Savior they cross a line that moves them from being at war with God to being at peace with God (Romans 7:23; 8:7; Eh. 2:1-3; 1 Pet. 2:11-12). . In his inspired letter to the Romans Paul states, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Being at peace with God is a wonderful thing. Knowing you will spend eternity at peace with God is a stupendous thing. But did you know that it is possible for a Christian to experience peace with God but be missing the peace of God? It’s true; there are many born again believers who are wracked with anxiety and worry and lack Gods peace. Many Christians have peace with God but miss the peace of God.
In Romans 5 Paul uses phrases like “and not only that” (5:3), and “much more” (5:9.10.15, 17, 20) to show that God’s grace is limitless and inexhaustible. Just when we think God’s grace can’t get any better, He exceeds our expectations and understanding to bless us all the more (Ephesians -21). That’s the way God is, He just can’t stop loving us! Let me share one way God goes beyond our expectations.
It is one thing to have peace with God; it is another thing to have the peace of God. Not only does God provide peace with Him, but He also provides His peace to help us live in this life. The peace of God is that steadying force, that inner sense that God is in control no matter what. The peace of God is that settling effect that guards the believer’s heart from being overwhelmed as they trust hopefully in God to be faithful in all of life. How can we receive the peace of God? There are two practical steps to experiencing the peace of God.
First, the peace of God is received as we commit all things to Him in prayer. Notice Paul’s mention of the “peace of God” in the following verses of Philippians:
There is a “peace of God” that “surpasses understanding,” and it “will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” That is so important. Peace is the sister of joy. Peace is a big part of Jesus’ joy. This peace of God can permeate the believer to the depths of their being and take up residence in the mind and heart. By prayer in all things, we declare our dependence upon God who comes to us in our time of need to guard and quiet our anxieties and fears. Fear is the foe of faith and is overcome by prayerfully putting faith in God. In prayer we can literally cast our cares upon the Lord; we can throw off our worries; we can ax our anxieties (1 Peter 5:6-7). Then we rest in the peace of God trusting the Lord to be in control.
The way we think can also determine if we experience the peace of God. Paul tells us if we meditate on the pure, true, noble, just, lovely, good report and praiseworthy things it will facilitate Gods’ peace being poured out in our lives. He then says if you “do” the things you learned, received and heard and saw in him “the peace of God will be with you.” Put God’s word into practice friend, and God’s peace will be with you! If you want the peace of God there is no substitute or alternative to saturating yourself with God’s word.
Second, the peace of God is fueled by the word of God, worship and Christlike doing. Paul was inspired to write to the Colossian church:
Paul says, “Let.” This is an exhortation that implies God wants to give you His peace. All we need do is let Him give it to us. The peace of God is from Him and received by faith. Paul tells us to let God’s peace rule our hearts and be thankful for it. The word “rule” (βραβεύω -brabĕuō, brab-yoo´-o) means govern, preside, or arbitrate. The grammatical form of this verb (Present /Active / Imperative) means it’s essential we are governed by the peace of God. The idea is that of a referee.
If we break a rule in a game there is a penalty and that penalty is determined by the referee who will throw a flag or raise their arm up to indicate an infraction has been made. Similarly, when we step outside the parameters set by God in His word, the referee of peace throws a flag or raises its hand to indicate we’ve crossed the line and are out of bounds. In football is a player steps out of bounds on a play it often disqualifies him for that play. If he steps out of bounds to gain an advantage and then comes back in bounds a penalty flag is thrown. The loss of our peace is very frequently the consequence of our ignoring or stepping outside the boundaries of God’s word. To regain our peace we simply need to prayerfully ask Go where we’ve crossed the line and then get back within the borders of scripture. In this way God guides us in His will. When we follow is path and walk within His prescribed guidelines, all hell can break loose but we will have the peace of God to steady us. If we step outside of God’s guidelines on the other hand, all can seem well on the surface, but there will be turmoil and a loss of peace within.
There is another serious aspect of how we relate to God’s peace. If we cross the line of God and ignore the absence of His peace it has a deadening or desensitizing effect on us spiritually. The more we cross the line and sin, the easier it will be to repeat that sin and other sins. The more we cross the line and venture outside the parameters of God’s word the further from God we move ourselves and the further away from God we get the harder it is to hear His voice or sense His presence. We may get to the point where, like Adam and Eve, we fear and are uncomfortable with the presence of God because His holiness convicts us of our sin and causes us to feel guilty. The only way such a cycle can be broken, our relationship with the Lord restored and the peace of God regained is through sincere humble heartfelt repentance (cf. Psalm 51).
The word of God fuels the peace of God in us because the word of God testifies to the faithfulness and provision of God. The word of God also guides us so that when we cast off our cares it does not lead to irresponsibility. One of the best ways to counter anxiety and fear is to consume the word of God, read it, meditate on it, and study it prayerfully. Paul points us to the psalms in particular. I always find the psalms comforting to read during times of trials or difficulties.
In Colossians Paul also points us to worship as a means of bringing the peace of God into our lives. If you’re having a hard time of it, worship the Lord. Turn off the TV and turn on the praise and worship. Worship in the Spirit and the peace of God will come upon you and settle your heart and mind.
And lastly, we should do all that we do “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” That means we do all that we do in the power of Christ and in a Christ like way. When we do things in His strength His way we have no reason to regret and the peace of God is unleashed in our lives. Do your best and trust him with the rest and God’s peace will be released in your life.
God doesn’t only provide the opportunity to have peace with Him, but “much more,” He provides His peace to help us through life now (Cf. “much more” in Romans 5).
The peace of God surpasses our understanding. People in the world attempt to find security in the accumulation of wealth. People will go to great lengths to find this security. In December of 2008 Bernie Madoff was arrested for having perpetrated a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors of what some estimate to be 65 billion dollars of their money. He and those he manipulated and deceived lost it all. Two years later on the anniversary of his arrest his son Mark committed suicide by hanging himself with a dog leash while his two year old son was asleep in the next room of his house. Bernie Madoff, incarcerated, decided not to attend any funeral service arranged for his son. Mark’s wife and the Madoff family didn’t claim the body and chose not to have any service but instead chose to cremate the remains. According to reports Mark was despondent about his father’s crimes and himself being investigated in connection with what his father had done. The day after Mark’s suicide an article in the New York Daily News quoted a victim of the scheme as saying, “There’s no joy in any of this.”  There’s a better way.
Charles Ryrie, in his book So Great Salvation, tells a story of a Father and child that illustrates the practical nature of peace with God.
The 3-year old felt secure in his father's arms as Dad stood in the middle of the pool. But Dad, for fun, began walking slowly toward the deep end, gently chanting, "Deeper and deeper and deeper," as the water rose higher and higher on the child. The lad's face registered increasing degrees of panic, as he held all the more tightly to his father, who, of course, easily touched the bottom. Had the little boy been able to analyze his situation, he'd have realized there was no reason for increased anxiety. The water's depth in ANY part of the pool was over his head. Even in the shallowest part, had he not been held up, he'd have drowned. His safety anywhere in that pool depended on Dad. At various points in our lives, all of us feel we're getting "out of our depth" -- problems abound, a job is lost, someone dies. Our temptation is to panic, for we feel we've lost control. Yet, as with the child in the pool, the truth is we've never been in control over the most valuable things of life. We've always been held up by the grace of God, our Father, and that does not change. God is never out of his depth, and therefore we're safe when we're "going deeper" than we've ever been. 
When we come to rest by faith in Christ, in the peace of God, we rest in His arms. Resting in His arms, we should fear nothing in this life. By faith we receive peace with God; by faith we receive the peace of God; and then no matter what happens in life, God holds us and we get through. Keep the peace. Grow in Jesus’ joy.
Eighth, Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ that trusts in His strength (4:10-13). Paul writes:
Philippians 4:10-13 - 10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Paul’s joy was not determined by his circumstances. Remember, he is writing this from a prison cell! He is a practitioner of what he is preaching. He lives on the foundation of the Lordship of Jesus Christ in His life. No matter what state he is in therefore, he realized that Jesus was in control. He also realized Jesus was with him so that he could say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Happiness depends on happenings. Joy depends on Jesus. Paul chose Jesus’ joy. So should we.
As we said earlier, Paul “learned” (μανθάνω manthanō, man-than´-o ) to be content in whatever state he was in. This term means to learn, discover, come to an understanding, or know. Contentment is something a person has to learn. The idea by way of context is that Paul learned by life experience to be content in whatever state he was in. As God proved Himself faithful to provide for Paul over and over again, it became a learning experience for Paul. He grew to expect God to provide for him. He didn’t fear situations where he lacked things because he knew God would get him through. He didn’t fear situations where he had a lot because he knew God would get him through those situations too. Paul didn’t respond to need with hoarding. He learned that Jesus would help him in all situations.
And as we also said earlier, Paul learned to be “content” (αὐτάρκης autarkēs, ŏw-tar´-kace) in whatever state he was in. Through his relationship with Jesus he learned to be satisfied with what God provided. The problem with many people is that they are not satisfied with what God provides. They give into the enemies’ tempting thoughts that you need more, you need what others have, you need the same things other people have, you need to keep up with the Jones. Those are lies that rob us of the contentment God wants to provide for us. If we are constantly caught up in what is called coveting, or wanting more of what we already have enough of, then we’ll never be content, we’ll always be seeking more. This leads to warped priorities and being distracted from the things that are really important. This is one of the main reasons why spouses and children are neglected, because parents and husbands and / or wives are spending inordinate amounts of time out of the home away from each other earning more money to buy more stuff that either they don’t really need or already have enough of.
Paul and we should learn that God knows what we need and has promised to provide it for us (e.g. Mat. 6:19-34). We need to have a proper perspective on comfort and need meeting. Comfort is the easing of the pain or grief associated with trouble or trial. Since everyone faces trials in life, everyone needs comfort at some point. But comfort, like any other good thing, can be corrupted. Corrupted comfort can led to coveting. Coveting is lusting after more.
We can become addicted to comfort like to a painkilling drug. We can become so desirous of comfort, that the cause of the discomfort is never addressed. When that happens we begin making decisions simply to avoid discomfort rather than dealing with the source of the discomfort. Comfort can actually become a cloud that limits our visibility to make right decisions. Let me share some of the negatives of comfort that is corrupted.
There is a thick spirit or attitude of entitlement in our world today. It is rooted in the desire to experience comfort in this life. Everyone feels as though they are owed something or deserve something. This is a touchy issue. And there is a place for helping those in genuine need. But it seems there are a lot of people uninterested in working but very interested in relying on handouts. The government has stepped in and taken advantage of this situation offering to give people what they want.
A government providing for its people sounds good. Education, healthcare, social services and a host of other services sounds pretty good. But understand that the government is primarily interested in governing and ruling. This is their top priority. And one of the ways they accomplish this is to create or use situations where people become dependent on government. The more people depend on government the less freedom they have. When the government holds the purse strings they are in control.
If you depend on government for your needs, there is a price to pay to get those needs met. The price is your support and obedience. The more you have to do what the government wants to get what you want, the less freedom you have. A situation is created where if you want what the government is offering you have to agree with what they say and do. This feeds into and perpetuates career politicians who see themselves as superiors to those they are supposed to serve. Such politicians are more interested in staying in power than serving their constituency. The result is bad government; unrepresentative government. Such government is no longer by the people of the people for the people. And ultimately, if the financial prognosticators are correct, all of this will come crashing down when we as a nation are unable to pay the entitlement supporting multi-trillion dollar deficits in the near future. No one seems to care much about that. We are in big trouble. We should be concerned. We need to be salt and light. This is discomforting. And it all started with a corrupted lust for comfort.
The problem is not solely with government, it is with the root of this spirit of entitlement. The problem is in the heart of our nation, the heart of its people. We are a nation and people who in our hearts, covet (cp. Mat. 7:20-23). Jesus addressed this heart problem when a man came up to Him one day.
One day a man came to Jesus and asked Him to tell his brother to share an inheritance with him. Dividing an inheritance is an emotionally charged situation. Grieving family members can associate property with the love of the departed. They can also see an inheritance as an opportunity to profit that they are entitled to. For some an inheritance may be the one time in life where they hope to receive a large lump sum financial blessing that will cure their own financial ills. The idea of an inheritance can be a comforting thought that quickly degenerates into a covetous lust. Family members look at the inheritance left behind by their parents or family members as a justifiable entitlement they deserve. Dividing an inheritance has caused family members to turn on one another and even disown one another. Dividing an inheritance can bring out the worst in people; greed, anger, hate, revenge, and even murder. The love of money can have that affect (1 Tim. 6:10). What did Jesus respond to this request?
Jesus cast this request aside with the words, “Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” (Luke 12:13-14). Jesus then added a warning, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). The word “covetousness” used here by Jesus means, a greedy desire to have more. Jesus evidently saw something unsavory about the motives of the man seeking His arbitration. Was he seeking undo advantage? What was his motive toward his brother?
Why are these words of Jesus so important for us today? In times of financial crisis there is a temptation to shift eternal priorities to temporal ones. There is a temptation to shift our focus from the cross to covetousness via a corrupted lust for comfort. This leads to great selfishness. When we focus and obsess on our material state the danger is that we lose perspective. The danger is that we begin to see wants as needs. We may degenerate into an attitude that thinks I’m going to get mine even if it means they won’t get theirs. Or, everyone else is getting theirs, I better get mine. The difference between what we want and what we need is blurred. God promises to meet our needs (Phil. 4:19). But as the parable Jesus offers next shows, it would be foolish to become overly preoccupied with the wants of this world.
Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21).
Now we may read that parable and think it doesn’t fit our times or our situation. We think these are times of financial lack and loss. I need government assistance. This parable is about a rich man with extra money to use. We’re not in a position to “take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” But there is a connection for us. The connection is the preoccupation with our “barns.” The rich man had money to spare and instead of thanking God for what he had and seeking His counsel on where and how to spend it, he simply followed his covetous heart and built bigger barns. He fulfilled his lust for more and in so doing God called him foolish (i.e. unwise, without reason, senseless, stupid, without reflection or intelligence). Why did God call him foolish? Because “This night your soul will be required of you, then whose will those things be which you have provided?” In other words, it doesn’t make any sense to accumulate temporal things at the expense of neglecting eternal things. Someone has said, “Only one life will soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last!” John Wesley was quoted as saying, "I value all things only by the price they shall gain in eternity."
In the Old Testament when God brought His people back from their captivity to Jerusalem to rebuild His Temple at one point the project came to a standstill. Why did this happen? The people had turned their focus from God’s work to their own personal financial and material comfort. Perhaps they felt God was not providing enough of what they wanted. They wanted more. They had been through a lot in captivity and they deserved more. Thus, they stopped investing in and doing God’s work in order to, “dwell in your paneled houses,” while the temple was in ruins (Haggai 1:3-4). They left the cause of God to build their own comfort. Through the prophet Haggai God called His people to “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5, 7).
The consequence for leaving God’s cause and seeking their own comfort was that God’s blessing was not on their efforts. God said, “you have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6). He said, “You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the LORD of hosts. ‘Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house’” (Haggai 1:7, 9). God will not bless His people when their priorities set His work aside and put Him in second place or lower (Haggai 1:10-11).My friends that is the danger of the financial situation in our country and world today. The relative financial poverty and need we see around us is the product of pushing God down on our priority list. And I use the word “relative” because what we view as financial hardship in our nation would be considered the lap of luxury in a great portion of the rest of the world. Granted that is becoming less and less true but only because God’s hand of blessing is being removed as we remove ourselves from Him. This is true as a nation and as individuals. We need a revival in our land. We need to return to the Lord. Unless we do, we will never recapture the financial wealth and prosperity we once had.
What it boils down to is this. Are we going to take God’s blessings and forget from Whom those blessings came from? Everything good comes from God (James 1:17). Whatever we have is due to God’s enabling us to earn it or is freely given to us by His grace (Deut. 8:18; 1 Cor. 15:10). And who can doubt that our nation is moving further and further away from recognizing God as our source of bounty. We are as a nation beginning to question that God exists at all! When there is a persistent battle in the courts to remove “In God we trust” from our currency it speaks to the heart of covetousness in the land. When politicians literally cover up any mention of God on our government buildings during media coverage for fear of offending, then we as a nation are in a sick if not terminal condition.
But what is a source of even greater grief for me as a pastor is that this is true not only of areas involving material things but it is in ministry as well. There is a bigger barn building attitude in the church and ministry. The siren call of comfort has crept into ministry and the church just as it has crept into our households. It is everywhere. Are we going to do ministry God’s way, the scriptural way, or our way; by His Spirit or our flesh? (cf. Zech. 4:6; Gal. 5:16-17). Precious few are the saints who are willing to take up His cross and serve in the front lines of the battle.
Where are the Wesleys and Whitefields who are willing to take a stone in the face for the Lord? Our ministry muscles have become soft and flabby because we have been feeding them on spiritually superficial sugary coveting comfort. We seek to serve where resources abound rather than go out with basically “nothing” as Jesus sent out the first disciples (Luke 10:1ff.). We have no prayer warriors because we Laodiceans think we are “rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” to pray for (Rev. 3:17). The Bible says, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” because it is when I am weak and realize I am weak I need to depend on God (2 Cor. 12:10). We seek the comfort of the spotlight. We seek the comfort of numbers. We seek the comfort of money. We seek the coveting comfort of the big is better view of the world. Yes, the church and ministry has been lulled to sleep and lethargy by a corrupting spirit of comfort.
Rather than seeking to serve in a comforting place, we need to prayerfully seek out where there is a need for service. We shouldn’t be serving where it is convenient or comfortable. We need to serve on the front lines, in the battle where the sparks are flying and all hell is breaking loose. We need to seek out the place where the enemy is strongest, where his cynicism and doubt and deception are darkest and bring God’s everlasting light to bare. Ask yourself are you serving where God wants you to or where you want you to? Are you just filling in or one of many who could be doing what you are doing? Or have you considered that somewhere ahead on the front lines there is a ministry in dire need of reinforcements to press the battle and win the day? Can you hear the sound of the battle or are you sound asleep? Wake up there is a war raging!
This brings us to a point of decision. Are we going to forget God and build bigger barns or are we going to be rich toward God? Jesus said those who follow Him need to deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Are we going to pursue comfort or the cross? You will reap what you sow (Gal. 6:7-9).
I would like to suggest a few principles that will free us from the clutches of covetous comfort seeking and get us going in the right and abundantly blessed direction toward the cross of Christ.
First, be content in the Lord. True profit is godliness and contentment in the Lord (1 Tim. 6:6). The apostle Paul said he learned to be content whether he had an abundance or was abased (Phil. 4:11-13). To be content is not to be a couch potato. To be content in the Lord is to be settled, resting, and reliant on God’s provision. It’s realizing we brought nothing into the world and we can’t take anything with us when we leave this world (1 Tim. 6:7). It’s being satisfied with basic needs being met by God (1 Tim. 6:8). It’s learning to live with simplicity toward the things of this world (2 Cor. 1:12). What do you have, that you really don’t need, that someone else could use? What can you give away? How can you invest in eternal things?
Second, put material things in their proper place. If your desire is to get rich, watch out, you’re setting yourself up for a host of snaring temptations that will lead to foolishness and possibly destruction (1 Tim. 6:9). Money is not the problem. The problem is the lustful coveting after money. The love of money leads to “all kinds of evil.” The love of money can cause you to stray from the faith through greediness and will result in great sorrow for you (1 Tim. 6:10). Invest in eternal things (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Be rich toward God.
Third, join the fight. The man or woman of God needs to flee the lure of corrupt comfort and covetousness. Instead they need to actively pursue “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Tim. 6:11). Wake up from your sleepy lethargic comfort and “fight the good fight of faith.” Build a testimony of faithful obedience to the LORD that pays dividends in heaven (1 Timothy 6:14). Then, on that day when you come face to face with our Lord Jesus Christ, “He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power” then, on that day, your investment will ring with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant: (Mat. 25:21, 23). Comfort, coveting or the cross, which will it be?
Ninth, Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ that shares (4:14-18). Paul continues:
Philippians 4:14-18 - 14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
Paul commended the giving heart and the support the Philippians had lovingly contributed to Paul. They “shared” (συγκοινωνέω - sugkŏinōnĕō, soong-koy-no-neh´-o) with Paul or as the term means co-participated, communicate, fellowship, to share in company with or co-partnered. Paul used this word to point out the unifying affect such sharing has. In this case they shared in Paul’s “distress” (θλίψις - thlipsis, thlip´-sis), his, affliction, pressure, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble.  But he also speaks of the unifying that giving to a mutual cause can have.
Paul was not seeking to butter them up with these words that they would send more support to him. No, he was seeking “the fruit that abounds to your account.” He knew that their support of his ministry was a deposit in their heavenly bank account. Jesus advised us to invest in heavenly things (Mat. 6:19-20). Someone has said, this one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. Jesus also said it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
One of the most common areas of stress in life is the area of finances and material possessions. Financial troubles wreck havoc on relationships and our walk with the Lord. It used to be that you had to pay cash if you wanted something. The only way you could buy more than you had enough money for was by writing a bad check. But now it’s a lot easier to overextend yourself financially. With the advent of credit cards and a host of other debt inducing instruments many have got caught up in buying things well beyond their means. Credit card offers are sent out to those ready to graduate high school or who are entering college. Getting a credit card is viewed by many as a right of passage into full adulthood. Creditors are all too eager to extend the invitation to spend and pay later. The only problem is that what is spent is often more than what can be paid off in a month. Then the exorbitant interest rates kick in and before you know it your credit debt is $1000, $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 or more and you’re way over extended. If you only pay the monthly minimum you can spend a lifetime paying off your credit debt. The same credit/interest principle is applied to the purchase of appliances, cars, homes and loans for various things in life. The result is a strangling and suffocating situation of debt, astronomical interest rates and never ending payments.
In our world today if you buy something at one store or make a contribution to one organization, you have a hundred other stores soliciting you for more, more, more. If you aren’t a good steward of your finances you can easily give to disreputable organizations and spend all your money away. Now buying and shopping is something you can do from the comfort of your home. With the click of a button or a simple dial of the phone you can buy, buy, and buy some more. And if you’re not careful, you can find yourself broke, overextended, deep in debt or all of the above.
Jesus had a lot to say in the Gospels about money and possessions. It has been said that 1 out of 6 verses in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) deal with finances. 16 of Jesus’ 29 parables dealt with finances. Jesus said we should store our treasures in heaven not on this earth because the things of this world are temporal and the things of heaven are eternal (Matthew -21). He used financial planning to illustrate how we should count the cost of following Him (Luke -30). He said we should not limit what God wants to do by calculating costs without factoring in God who can do the impossible (John 6:1-13). He said one soul is worth more than all the material possessions in the entire world (Mark ). He warned that it is possible to gain the world but lose your soul (Luke ). Jesus was tempted by Satan with the things of this world. But Jesus did not allow the things of this world to sidetrack Him from His mission (Matthew 4:8-10). We need to follow in His steps (1 Peter ; 1 John 2:6).
It isn’t money or possessions that are bad or inherently evil, it is the love of them and obsession with riches that leads to the demise of so many (1 Timothy 6:9-10). The Bible states, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1Timothy 6:6). It says we brought nothing into the world and we can’t take anything with us when we leave this world at death (1 Timothy 6:7). We have so much, why aren’t we content? We aren’t content because we have made an idol out of money and possessions. Our problem is that we trust in “riches” rather than trust in God (1 Timothy ). This is a totally ungodly and improper attitude. Jesus said you can’t serve God and money (Matthew ; Luke ). The godly are exhorted to flee attitudes that obsess over wealth (1 Timothy ). The Bible instructs us:
1 Timothy 6:17-19 - 17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
By most standards those in the west are rich. Everyone has working plumbing, electricity and all it powers, a host of modern devices, homes, cars, and funds to allow us to vacation and enjoy recreation. And when we take into account the luxuries we all indulge in, we have money to spare. Paul’s inspired words to Timothy point us to a heavenly investment that is too often ignored. These chapters in 2 Corinthians will get us going in the right direction.
The key to financial peace is to see our finances in terms of God’s grace. What we have comes from God (Deuteronomy ; Proverbs ). Everything belongs to the Lord and what we have is on loan from Him (Psalm 24:1-2). God is the One who enables us to earn a living and gain wealth. To whom much is given much is required. What are we doing with what God has so graciously blessed us?
Let me pause a moment and add a word on an area we often overlook. We do not even own our own bodies. God owns us. We have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus (Romans 14:8; 1 Corinthians -20). That last truth should be closely considered given what people are doing to their bodies today. We should be more prayerful about what we put in and put on our bodies. They are the Lord’s, would He approve of what we do to His temple our bodies? Would you like it if someone came to your house and stuffed it to the ceiling with a bunch of junk? And yet we don’t give stuffing our bodies to the max with junk food. Would you like it if one morning you wake up and find that someone has painted a bright red heart with an arrow through it on the side of your house? Now maybe you’re into that kind of artwork, but don’t you think you should at least be consulted before someone paints something on your house? And yet we dress and paint, pierce and put artwork on our bodies at our every whim without seeking the Lord’s approval. What right have we to do that? We need to go to the word of God and seek the Lord on these things.
We are the benefactors of God’s gracious provisions and should see ourselves more as stewards than owners of our bodies and possessions (Matthew 25:14-15; 1 Peter ). In Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesian elders he encouraged them to “support the weak” and instructed them to “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts ).
It is more blessed to give than to receive. When my youngest son was about four years old he used to love a cartoon program called Little Bear. He would watch that program transfixed to the TV screen. That Christmas there was a Little Bear cuddly bear toy that spoke just like the cartoon character. We decided to get it for him and surprise him with it. When Christmas came and it was time to open the presents Stephen sat in front of his pile and one by one opened his gifts. Then he came to one last gift. He had no idea what that present was. When he opened that gift and found that it was the precious Little Bear it nearly took his breath away. Stephen exclaimed in joy, “It’s Little Bear!” And that was, for me, my most precious Christmas gift. To see Stephen so joyful and happy really proved to me that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Now I look for Little Bear opportunities to bless others.
That story also gave me deeper understanding into another Giver. In Hebrews 12:2 it says, “Jesus. . . . who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.” Imagine all the people despairing in the clutches of sin. Imagine all those beaten and in the agony of life without God. Imagine the thought of a hopeless meaningless life before you. And then imagine being convicted of your sin and knowing that there’s nothing you can do to cure that ill. All you have is a prospect of a dark tormented eternity. Then imagine the incredible joy of learning about the good news of the gospel of salvation and eternal life through faith in Christ. Imagine the joy you felt when you learned you could be forgiven for all of your sins. Remember the joy you felt when Jesus came into your life. And then think of that from Jesus’ perspective. He saw your joy and that was good enough reason for Him to endure the cross. He proved at the cross that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Paul practiced what he preached in that he participated in bringing a relief offering to those caught up in a famine in Judea (Acts 11:27-30). On his third missionary journey Paul was collecting an offering to bring to the
Paul had other blessings in mind besides the material assisting of the poor. He wanted this offering to strengthen the unity of the church as the Gentile churches shared with the Jewish congregations across the sea. Paul saw the Gentiles as “debtors” to the Jews (Rom. –28), and the special collection was one way to pay that debt.
This offering was also evidence to the Jewish believers (some of whom were still zealous for the Law) that Paul was not the enemy of the Jews or of Moses (Acts 20:17ff ). Early in his ministry, Paul had promised to remember the poor (Gal. 2:6–10), and he labored to keep that promise; but at the same time, he hoped that the generosity of the Gentiles would silence the jealousy of the Jews.
Unfortunately, the Corinthians were not doing their part. Like many people, they had made promises, but they failed to keep them. In fact, an entire year had been wasted (2 Cor. ). What was the cause of this serious delay? The low spiritual level of the church. When a church is not spiritual, it is not generous. Another factor was the invasion of the Judaizers, who probably siphoned off as much money as they could (2 Cor. 11:7–12, 20; ).
Paul knew that it would be difficult to get the Corinthians to participate, so he lifted his appeal to the highest spiritual level possible: he taught them that giving was an act of grace. Paul used nine different words to refer to the offering, but the one he used the most was grace. Giving is truly a ministry and fellowship (2 Cor. 8:4) that helps others, but the motivation must be from the grace of God in the heart. Paul knew that this collection was a debt owed by the Gentiles (Rom. ) and fruit from their Christian lives (Rom. ); but it was even more: it was the working of the grace of God in human hearts.
It is a wonderful thing when Christians enter into the grace of giving, when they really believe that giving is more blessed than receiving. 
There is great comfort and joy when our perspective on finances and possessions are pure, holy, and Biblical. We need to give in light of God’s grace. Truly what we have can be described with the acronym of grace that is God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. A verse that expresses this is found in 2 Corinthians and states:
· 2 Corinthians 8:9 - For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
All that we have comes through Christ. There is great joy in understanding that. Have you experienced God’s grace in this area? Are your finances and possessions in godly order? If you’ve experienced God’s grace then giving to others should be in your heart. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Are you blessed? Do you want to be blessed? Then give; give in light of God’s grace. Give by God’s grace. There is great comfort in gracious giving. Jesus’ joy will abound to us when we find contentment in investing in eternal things.
Tenth, Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ that relies on His supply (4:19). Paul writes:
Philippians 4:19 - And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
God always meets our needs. Returning the 2 Corinthians for a moment we read a similar inspired statement from Paul which says:
· 2 Corinthians 9:8-10 - And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,
God has promised to supply, sufficiently, by His grace, for all our needs. We may not get what we want. But we will always have our needs met in Christ. God’s promise is that the righteous will not have to beg for bread (Ps. 37:25). If we are lacking “bread” we need to do an inventory and prayerfully come before the Lord to search us to see if there is any outstanding issue in our lives or reason for such a condition. Many times our definition of a “need” is God’s definition of a “want.” God is rich and He is generous. But God is not frivolous. God owns everything. “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). If you are missing something make sure it is a “need” and make sure you haven’t overlooked God’s way of providing for you. God also says we need to work and He provides work for us to meet our needs (2 Thess. 3:10). Examine yourself and your situation and be content with God’s supply.
Jesus watched a widow make a two cents donation and said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” (Luke 21:3-4). What caught the Savior’s eye about this widow? What separated her from the crowd? She expressed her faith with her money. She gave not on the basis of what she had, but on the basis of what she knew God had. The rich gave larger offerings. They may even have tithed to fulfill their obligation. But their giving required no faith. Their giving cost them nothing. Their giving was safe. Her giving cost her everything. Her giving was risky. The widow gave her meager best and trusted the Lord for the rest. She gave in faith trusting God to support her. Finances tell us a lot about a person’s faith.
The economies of the world are in shambles and on life support. An age of sought after ease is bringing us to our economic knees. Citizens regardless of economic status have been caught up in an evil spirit of entitlement. We are in a national debate over stimulation packages filled with pork and false promises of renewed prosperity. At the root of this dilemma is a love of money, greed. America is amongst the richest nations on earth. Money is our true god. Money is what we live for. Money makes our world go round. We feel safe or scared based on our savings. Our attitude is determined by how our investments are doing. Our moods swing with the mortgage rates. Our heart beats to the rise and fall of the dollar. We are running after riches. And what really exposes our human bankruptcy is that these things are too often found in the Church.
When we run after riches we run away from God (1 John 2:15-17). Money and the things of this world pose a great temptation. The Christian is called to trust God and invest in heavenly wealth (Matthew 6). Money is a means to an end. But it often becomes the end (pun intended). Money is a powerful tool in ministry but not the aim of ministry. The great danger is being compromised by currency.
Biblical accounts help us avoid the pitfalls and sins of our predecessors (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:6). Abraham and Lot give us a good example of the dangers of running after riches. In Genesis it states, “And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere . . . . And he [Abram] gave him a tithe of all” (Genesis 13:10; 14:20). The context here is that Abraham, (the uncle of Lot) and Lot had to part ways because of the growth of their flocks. These two verses contrast how Lot and Abraham determined to move. Lot lusted after wealth while Abraham walked in faith.
Lot moved according to the wealth he saw before him. Lot walked by sight not by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7; Genesis 13:10). He made decisions without consulting God (Genesis 13:11). He pitched his tent near Sodom (Genesis 13:12-13). Then he actually dwelt in Sodom, an exceedingly wicked place of sin (Genesis 13:13:14:12). His race for riches resulted in being caught in a war and captivity (Genesis 14:11-16). Even after this dangerous encounter Lot never took sin seriously. His preoccupation with wealth led him to a prominent part in the sinful city of Sodom. When Sodom was judged by God Lot barely escaped with his family. His children had lost respect for him. His wife was turned to a pillar of salt because of her lust for luxury in Sodom. After his escape Lot got drunk, committed incest and impregnated his two daughters (Genesis 19). He had run after riches and run down his faith. This is an ugly story. Lot shows us the ragged end of running after riches. What are you running after?
Abraham ran God’s course. He acted in faith and based his life decisions on his relationship with God (Genesis 14:17-24). He wasn’t perfect (Genesis 16). But Abraham was a man of faith. He trusted the Lord to provide as He guided him (Genesis 15; 17; Romans 4). Abraham knew all that he had was from the Lord. Evidence of this is seen by his tithing to the Lord after victory (Genesis 14:20). Notice this act of tithing (“tithe” means giving a tenth or 10%) was before the Law was given. Those who excuse themselves from giving a tenth of their income to God based on a supposed imposition of the Law are mistaken according to Abraham’s example. Jesus encouraged tithing (Matthew ). Abram demonstrated his faith by living the motto where God guides God provides.
We can guard against running after riches by keeping a few things in mind. Running after riches will make you forget God (Deuteronomy 8:13-14; 1 John 2:15-17). Running after riches hinders your spiritual growth and journey to heaven (Matthew 19:23; Mark 4:19; 2 Timothy 2:4). Running after riches leads to many temptations (1 Timothy 6:9). Running after riches leads to disappointment (Matthew 6:19; Mark 10:17-27; James 5:3). Realize everything is from God (Deuteronomy 8:18; 1 Chronicles 29:12; Ecclesiastes 5:19; Hosea 2:8; James 1:17). Realize what we have belongs to God; we are merely stewards of it (Genesis 14:20-24; Psalm 50:10-12; Malachi 3:7-12; Luke 16:1-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; Revelation 3:17-18).Rely on God to provide for your needs (Psalm 34:10; 37:25; 84:11; 105:40-41; 145:16; Matthew 6:19-34; Philippians 4:10-19).
Jesus commended the widow. She wasn’t compromised by currency. She knew what she had was from God. She trusted God to provide for her even when she was down to nothing. Her giving was an act of faith. She ran with God. Abraham honored God with his wealth. Abraham ran with God. Don’t run after riches; they have a way of getting away from you. In these precarious economic times, run with Jesus.
Eleventh, Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ that glorifies God (4:20-23). Paul concludes:
Philippians 4:20-23 - 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. 21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Finally, Jesus’ joy is found in a life content to live for the glory of God. The subject of glorifying God is a good place to end our study of this great letter. This is something Paul says we should do “forever and ever” and if he puts such an emphasis on it, we should know what it means. Let’s examine this in some detail.
What Does It Mean to Glorify?
In 1 Corinthians 10:31 it states, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” If giving glory to God is something we are to do in “whatever you do,” then that tells us it is something that is very important. But what does that mean, what does giving glory or doing all to the glory mean?
The word “glory” (δόξα - dŏxa, dox´-ah ) in this verse is translated from the Greek term doxa which means, “dignity, glory (-ious), honour, praise, worship,” “good opinion, praise, honor, glory, an appearance commanding respect, magnificence, excellence.” We derive the word doxology from this word which is an expression of thanks and glory to God. Doxa is derived from the base Greek term doma which means, “a gift.” When we speak of gift here we should think grace. Paul’s last words in this letter are, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” These words follow right after an exhortation for the saints to greet one another. We might say that glorifying God and receiving His grace bring the saints together.
The word “glorify” (δοξάζω -dŏxazō, dox-ad´-zo ) is translated from the Greek term doxadzo which means, “to render (or esteem) glorious; (make) glorify (-ious), full of (have) glory, honour, magnify.”  Therefore, to give glory or glorify means to give the dignity, honor, respect, praise, and worship appropriate to the gift or standing of object or person. To glorify God means to give Him the dignity, honor, respect, praise, and worship due God as the gracious gift He is to us.
Why Should We Glorify God?
We should glorify God because we are commanded to do so in God’s word. This is true based on 1 Corinthians 10:31 and it is also true based on an earlier verse in 1 Corinthians where it states:
God’s command to give Him glory is not some proud totalitarian demand of a divine despot; far from it. This verse commands us to give glory to God because He bought us, or redeemed us from our sinful state “at a price” which is His only Son Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:18-21; 1 Peter 1:18-19). We owe glory to God because of His great gracious loving sacrifice on our behalf. God gave His all for us and the only appropriate and respectful response from those He gave His all for is to glorify Him (compare Romans 12:1-2). That is the primary reason we should glorify God.
The Bible gives a number of other reasons why we should glorify God.
First, we should glorify God because of His holiness. The Bible says:
The word "holy” means sacred, pure, unique, special, one of a kind, when it is used in reference to God. God is holy because there is none other like Him and we are to glorify Him because of that.
Second, we should glorify God because of His mercy and truth. The Bible says:
Mercy is when we don’t get what we deserve in terms of a penalty. All humanity deserves eternal damnation, but God made a way through His only Son Jesus so that we could be saved from that penalty. And He did this in a way that was truthful. God’s merciful plan of salvation is truthfully all He says it is and all we could ever hope for it to be. That is reason to give glory to God.
Third, we should glorify God because of His faithfulness and truth. The Bible says:
God is faithful. When God tells us something or promises us something, we can depend on it because He is true and faithful to His word. Pagan God’s are capricious, they say one thing and do another; they say or promise one thing, but are unable to deliver on their claims. That is not our God; our God is faithful and true and powerful enough to deliver on His word and promises. For that we ought to give Him glory.
Fourth, we should glorify God because of His wondrous miraculous works. The Bible says:
When Jesus did miracles God was glorified because the impossible had been accomplished. When the apostles performed miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit, (such as heal a lame man – Acts 3-4), the people gave glory to God for God’s power to do the impossible. Notice, God was glorified when Jesus performed the miracles. Notice, when the apostles were used by God to do a miracle, God was glorified. The point to be made here is that God should get the glory for miracles, not men. Jesus is of course God and is to be glorified (Luke 4:14-15; John 7:39; 11:4; 12:16, 23; 13:31-32; 17:4,5, 10; Acts 3:13). But people should not steal God’s glory for the work He does through them. What glory we are associated with is the glorifying of God in and through us as people see His work in us (John 17:10; Galatians 1:24; 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12). When Paul and Barnabas were exalted as gods by the pagans after the Lord healed a man with a crippling birth defect, they tore their clothes and quickly corrected the people (Acts 14:1-18). To take glory to self is a characteristic of the lowest of the unsaved (Romans 1:20-25). In the book of Revelation Babylon the Great is judged for self-glorification (Revelation 18:1-8). We are to give glory to God, not take it upon ourselves.
Fifth, we should glorify God because of His just judgments. The Bible says:
God’s judgments are just, fair, good and righteous and we are to give glory for God for them. He is powerful enough to assert and enforce His judgments and for that we are to give Him glory.
Sixth, we should glorify God because of His deliverance. The Bible says:
Whenever we are in trouble we can call upon God and He will deliver us and for that we should glorify Him. The greatest example of this is our salvation. We were living in sin and by nature children of wrath, lost. But God in His rich mercy made a way for us to be saved out of our predicament and so we give Him the glory due His name (Ephesians 2:1-10). Psalm 50:15 tells us that the way we give glory to God is through our testimony. Have you testified to the glory of God lately?
Seventh, we should glorify God because of His gracious salvation and blessing. The Bible says:
When in the book of Acts it became apparent that God was opening the door of ministry to the gentiles God was glorified for His gracious provision. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve and that is what we all receive when we are saved from our sin. Paul is a great example of God‘s gracious provision for which we should glorify Him (Galatians 1:23-24). We should give glory to God for His grace.
How Do We Glorify God?
We have seen what glory and giving it is and we have seen the reasons we should give glory to God, but what are some ways we can give glory to God? The Bible has the answer to that question.
First, we give glory to God by praising Him. The Bible says:
When was the last time you praised the Lord or entered into true worship in the Spirit? This verse tells us that praising God is our right conduct. We ought to worship and praise Him more for when we do we glorify the One who deserves all the glory I the world.
Second, we give glory to God by our spiritual fruitfulness. The way we live can bring glory to God (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12). Jesus said:
When we are spiritually fruitful we bring glory to God. We can be spiritually fruitful be inwardly growing in the fruit of the Spirit which is love (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22-25) and when we outwardly bear fruit in ministry such as harvesting lost souls (Matthew 9:37-38).
Third, we give glory to God by our manner of death and dying to self. Jesus glorified the Father by His sacrificial death (John 17). We should glorify God in death too. When Jesus was bringing Peter back into the fold, He prophesied of Peter’s death and how it would bring glory to God saying:
When Peter died he was sentenced by the Romans to be crucified. Upon going to the cross he requested he be crucified upside down because he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner His Lord was. Before Peter could literally die in a way that brought glory to God, he had to die to self. Peter got to a point where even his very life was less valuable to him than bringing glory to God. When we die to self and live for God we bring glory to Him (Galatians 2:20).
Fourth, we give glory to God by trusting in His promises. Abraham was an example of this as the Bible says of him:
By trusting God even when things looked bleak and hopeless, Abraham was giving glory to God. Abraham’s faith and trust in God was a way of giving God the respect and honor due Him. We glorify God when we trust in His promises, no matter what.
Fifth, we give glory to God by living in unity with other believers. When we live in loving unity with other believers it is a testimony to the world of how God’s love is able to overcome differences and prejudices and this glorifies God (Psalm 34:3). Paul was inspired to write of this saying:
Loving unity brings glory to God. This is what we have been studying in 1 Corinthians 8-10.
Sixth, we give glory to God by doing all things to bring glory to Him. Our verse in 1 Corinthians 10 says:
Rather than do things merely for selfish or self-glorifying reasons, we ought to do things in a way that gives glory to God. Similarly, Peter adds support to this truth when we see that he was inspired to write:
Whatever we do we ought to do it asking ourselves, “How can I do this so that God will receive glory for it?” if we do that, God will get more glory.
Seventh, we give glory to God by having a generous giving heart. Paul wrote:
Since all that we have comes from God (Matthew 10:8; John 3:27) and He promises to supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19), we are freed to give to others. When we have a generous giving heart it brings glory to God because it shows our trust in God to provide for us.
Eighth, we give glory to God by exalting and glorifying Jesus. Earlier in Philippians we read:
One day everyone will give glory to God in Christ but we can give glory to God now by exalting and giving glory to Jesus now. One way we do this is by confessing Christ or witnessing to Him (Acts 1:8). When we confess Jesus outwardly, we bring glory to God. (See also Acts 19:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:12)
Ninth, we give glory to God by persevering in Christ. When we endure suffering for the Lord (Psalm 86:12) or hardship for the sake of Jesus and when we lean on Him to get through our suffering we bring glory to Him as people see the sufficiency of His grace in us (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Peter was inspired to write:
When we suffer because we are Christians we bring glory to God (See also Matthew 5:10-12). Paul was inspired to also say:
Again, when people see how we are sustained in hardship by God’s grace, it brings glory to Him. When we go through a trial and rely on God’s grace we see its sufficiency and reliability and that strengthens our faith. But others see this and are brought to saving faith. And all of this brings glory to God.
Angels give glory to God (Luke 2:14). Kings in the Old Testament gave glory to God (Psalm 57:15). Shepherds gave glory to God (Luke 2:20). Those used by God gave Him glory (Luke 1:46; Romans 11:36). Those healed gave glory to God (Luke 5:25; 13:13; 17:15; 18:43). Those whose loved ones were healed gave glory to God (Luke 23:47). Multitudes gave glory to God (Matthew 9:8; 15:31). The church of the New Testament gave glory to god (Acts 11:18). Even Gentiles gave glory to god (Acts 13:48). A time is coming when those who refuse to glorify God will be punished (Daniel 5:23, 30; Malachi 2:2; Acts 12:23; Romans 1:21; 3:23). It’s time for us now to live to give glory to God. Those who are not living to give glory to God need to know there remains the opportunity to turn to God and bring Him the glory due His name. Won’t it be awesome to join the host of heaven in bringing glory to His name? (Revelation 4:11). I can’t wait! God give us all a heart willing and eager to praise Him and give Him glory.
There is a great hymn that expresses well the sense of this final chapter in Philippians. It is appropriately entitled Satisfied. The words of the hymn were written by Ralph E. Hudson, the music, by Clara Tear Williams. This song became a favorite of George Beverly Shea and he would often sing it at Billy Graham crusades. Read the lyrics of this hymn and if you know it, go ahead and sing it to the Lord.
All my life long I had panted for a draught, from some clear spring, that I hoped would quench the burning of the thirst I felt within.
Feeding on the husks around me, till my strength was almost gone, longed my soul for something better, only still to hunger on.
Poor I was, and sought for riches, something that would satisfy, but the dust I gathered round me only mocked my soul’s sad cry.
Well of water, ever springing, bread of life so rich and free, untold wealth that never faileth, my Redeemer is to me.
Chorus: Hallelujah! I have found Him whom my soul so long has craved! Jesus satisfies my longings—Thru His blood I now am saved.
Are you satisfied? Are you content in Jesus? Jesus’ joy comes from a mind content in Christ. I pray for that to happen in you.
Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 2:663
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 Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Walters EE. Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun;62(6):617-27. And figures from . U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates by Demographic Characteristics. Table 2: Annual Estimates of the Population by Selected Age Groups and Sex for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2004 (NC-EST2004-02) Source: Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau Release Date: June 9, 2005. http://www.census.gov/popest/national/asrh/. Both found at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml
 Victims of Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff get 'no joy' from suicide of son, Mark, many show sympathy by Christina Boyle, New York Daily News Staff Writer, Sunday December 12th 2010
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Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (2 Co 8:1).
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Osbeck, Kenneth W.: Amazing Grace : 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Kregel Publications, 1990, S. 191