MISSION WOODS CHURCH
Worship, Sunday, November 20, 2022
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  • Come Into His Presence
  • We Gather Together
  • Come You Thankful People Come
  • Jesus We Just Want To Thank You
      • Philippians 4.2-4ESV

      • Philippians 4.5-7ESV

      • Philippians 4.8ESV

      • Philippians 4.9ESV

  • In the book of Proverbs we read:
    Proverbs 15:13 ESV
    A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
    and just a couple of verses later:
    Proverbs 15:15 ESV
    All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.
    We’re entering the Holiday season, and for some people this is a very difficult time. The holiday season is built up as a time of family and friends, of giving and receiving gifts, where everyone is supposed to be happy. The truth is not everyone is happy. The truth is not everyone has families where they feel loved. The truth is not everyone has friends that invite them over for dinner on such holidays. For some, this is a very lonely time. I’ve been there, I know a bit of what it’s like.
    Yet as followers of Jesus there is something to be grateful for, there is hope, there is light. there is joy, there is peace. And sometimes it all comes down to what we allow in.
    Let’s look at our text for this morning:
    Philippians 4:4 ESV
    Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
    In this moment of his letter to the church at Philippi and we know this letter was shared beyond that church, Paul is exhorting two women to agree in the Lord. We don’t know what the conflict was between them, but clearly it was known more broadly than just between the two of them. Paul is in prison in Rome when he pens this letter. The letter was likely read publicly to the church members. I can’t imagine what it may have been like to be called out for whatever dispute they were having. He doesn’t judge them, but invites his yokefellow, his true companion to help these women, and he commends them as having labored with him side by side in the gospel.
    And he says in the imperative, “rejoice.”
    And for emphasis he repeats himself, “Rejoice!”
    In verse 5 we read:
    Philippians 4:5 ESV
    Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
    Reasonableness - that’s a word we use daily....NOT. What does that mean? Well, this is where I go back to the Greek - the word here is ἐπιεικὲς and it means (according to my Greek English lexicon of the New Testament: “pertaining to being gracious and forbearing—‘gentle, gracious, forbearing”
    Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). In Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 748). United Bible Societies.
    Other translations read:
    Philippians 4:5 (NIV)
    Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
    Philippians 4:5 (NRSV)
    Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
    Eugene Peterson in his translation into modern vernacular put it this way.
    Philippians 4:5 M:BCL
    Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!
    Then we get to the heart of what Paul was saying in this section of his letter. Perhaps you’ve memorized these next two verses, and I’d encourage you to know them well:
    Philippians 4:6 ESV
    do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
    Do not be anxious about anything. Well that’s easier said than done. Some translations use “Do not worry about anything...” Wouldn’t that be nice. We like to worry; we say we don’t, but we do. If we didn’t why would we invest so much time in it?
    In the movie “Seven Years In Tibet” based on the life of Heinrich Harrer, he meets a young Dalai Lama who says, “We have a saying in Tibet: If a problem can be solved there is no use worrying about it. If it can't be solved, worrying will do no good.”
    How often do we really need to hear this advice? A friend once told me her sons told her she got her exercise by jumping to conclusions. That is often what we do when we worry. We focus on the worst of possible outcomes. Let’s look again at what Paul says in this verse:
    Philippians 4:6 ESV
    do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
    But - there’s that word that contrasts everything that came before - do not be anxious - what’s the contrast?
    In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving...
    He’s telling us to pray and supplicate…I’m sorry, what?
    Supplication is a word we don’t use much. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen it written other than in this passage. So what does it mean? Again, let’s go to the Greek: δεήσει, which according to our Greek English lexicon is a (derivative of δέομαι ‘to plead, to beg,’ 33.170) that which is asked with urgency based on presumed need—‘request, plea, prayer.’
    Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). In Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 407). United Bible Societies.
    And other sources tell us it refers to asking humbly, or asking with the knowledge of who it is you ask.
    Isn’t it wonderful that the Creator God would invite us to ask for anything we need? We can spend our time worrying, OR we can hope in the promises of God.
    And Paul doesn’t leave us just asking; he tells us we should have a certain attitude as we ask.
    Philippians 4:6 (ESV)
    do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God.
    We need to have an attitude of gratitude. It really makes a difference.
    Instead of being focused on the thing we were worried about, we focus on the things that God has done.
    Instead of worrying about the future, we reflect on God’s provision in the past that led us to the present and give us hope for the future.
    Instead of worrying and focusing on what might happen in the future we focus on the One who holds the future.
    Phil 4:7 gives us the promise in this passage. Phil 4:7
    Philippians 4:7 ESV
    And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
    Peace, a peace that doesn’t make sense, that’s what it means to surpass all understanding. That peace is going to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
    Back when I was in college I was given a poster that I had up in my dorm room. It picture a person standing on a pinnacle of rock having climbed up this vertical spire. And then in the corner it said, “Obstacles are what you see, when you take your eye off of your goal.”
    Peter was asked to get out of the boat, and he did. He walked on water and according to Matthew 14 came to Jesus. In Matthew 14:30 though we read, Mt 14:30
    Matthew 14:30 ESV
    But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
    One could read that, “But when he took his eyes off of his goal, when he took his eyes off of Christ he was afraid. And in his fear he began to sink.”
    When we take our eyes off of Christ we too begin to sink. We lose hope. We begin to focus on our problems instead of our thankfulness. We begin that downward spiral and begin to sink. The question is do we continue to fixate on the worry OR on the One to save us?
    I had read this story hundreds of times before I noticed that one word about the timeliness of Peter crying out to the Lord. Look at it again, “…and beginning to sink...” Every book I’d read retelling the story, every flannel graph I’d seen retell the story, every depiction in a cartoon or movie I saw showed Peter go down. He sink, sank, sunk. That’s not how Matthew tells the story.
    By his account we don’t even know if Peter’s ankles went below the surface. I think Peter knew where his help came from. Peter knew he’d made a mistake, not in getting out of the boat, but forgetting who was leading him outside the boat.
    Back to our passage for today, Paul gives us the reminder to keep our lives focused:
    Philippians 4:8 ESV
    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
    What is true? What is honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praise worthy? Christ is all of these things, and as we look and see the provisions God has given us in good times and bad we cannot help but be thankful. And then the promise:
    Philippians 4:9 ESV
    What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
    I wish I could say that. I definitely try and be a thankful person, and keep my eyes focused on Christ. As your pastor I genuinely make real effort to emulate the person I know Christ to be and I know I fall short. We all do. But I also know that when we practice these things the God of peace is with us.
    As we all venture into this holiday season with its mix of sugary happiness plastered everywhere, my hope for all of you is something deeper, and that is joy. Happiness in my view is fleeting. Joy is more lasting.
    I’ve known people in the what we would deem the worst of circumstances that have exuded joy through it all. As we come to our Thanksgiving Holiday, let’s all find something to be thankful for, something true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Let’s think about these things and give thanks for them.
    May the peace of God be with you all.
      • Proverbs 15:13ESV

      • Proverbs 15:15ESV

      • Philippians 4:4ESV

      • Philippians 4:5ESV

      • Philippians 4:5ESV

      • Philippians 4:6ESV

      • Philippians 4:6ESV

      • Philippians 4:7ESV

      • Matthew 14:30ESV

      • Philippians 4:8ESV

      • Philippians 4:9ESV

  • Thank You, Lord
  • Let All Things Now Living
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