Sing Along – Philippians 4
This message is the second in our Joyride series.
I’m at a stage in my life where I find myself listening to Disney music a lot. Well, at least a lot more than I used to…
My kids want to listen to it in the car, so we pop in the Disney CD. I don’t listen to it as much as Nicole does, I’m sure, but I listen to it more than I did 8 years ago. Occasionally something will happen that I wasn’t expecting. I’ll find myself enjoying the Disney music. This also happens with the shows my kids watch… When you go on a trip with your kids, you can spend the time upset that you’re listening to Disney music, or you can sing along.
I submit to you that singing along is more enjoyable than sulking. Today I want to challenge you to sing along on the Joyride of life.
We are talking about having Joy in the midst of a broken world, even when things go wrong, and we are using the letter that Paul wrote to the Philippians. This is an especially fitting letter because Paul sang along with Joy in a prison. When he was in Philippi he was beaten, arrested, and thrown in jail. At midnight he and Silas have a Prayer and Praise service… Years later Paul writes to these people and once again he’s in jail.
Last week we saw that Paul focused on what was ahead, forgetting his failures and accomplishments from the past. He faced the front. He kept his focus on Jesus.
Today I want you to see that Paul kept his focus on Jesus through rejoicing. He kept his perspective right through rejoicing and rejoicing helped him keep his perspective right. He sang along with whatever was happening.
You see, we think of singing along with the music, singing along with the group, Paul sang alongside of the adversity and difficulty.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul shows us a virtuous cycle.
Most of us are caught in a vicious cycle of despair. You’re upset, so you dwell on what you’re upset about, which makes you more upset, so you complain to your upset friends who complain to you about what their upset about, and give you more reasons to be upset,
Seeking out sympathy is like like drinking salt water.
It feels good for a moment, but you’ll only end up more thirsty.
Paul had a virtuous cycle of joy. He faced the front which gave him reason to sing and he sang which gave him reason to keep his eyes on Jesus which gave him reason to sing… It was constantly spiraling upward…In this chapter, which was of great help to me 3-4 years ago when I was going through a great difficulty- I mean I copied it into a notebook daily for a couple of months… Paul shows us that he has discovered the secret to being content in whatever circumstances he is in. That’s literally what he says in verse 11
Let’s pick up reading in verse 1.
Now, let me point out that while this letter isn’t a letter of rebuke, the church in Philippi wasn’t perfect. Apparently there were two people who were not getting along. Paul’s prescription is the same as he’s given throughout the letter. Focus on Jesus and rejoice. I’ve found one of the best ways to move past whatever my kids are fighting about after I’ve corrected them is to focus them on something fun- make them laugh, sing with them, etc.
Now before we read verse 4, let’s remember where Paul is…
Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!
Rejoice in the Lord always! Even in prison for something you didn’t do… Rejoice in the Lord always, even when life isn’t fair.
Rejoice in the Lord always, even when you’ve been betrayed.
Rejoice in the Lord always, even when people let you down.
Rejoice in the Lord always, even when you don’t get what you hoped…
For my birthday I invested in a helpful hack. I bought Tile Trackers for my keys, laptop bag, and wallet.
I am regularly losing these things. The reason that I lose stuff all the time is because I’m forgetful, but also because I give so much of my mental energy to whatever problem I’m working through that other things kind of fall off of the radar of my memory. For example, I’ll have moments when I walk through a place and remember, oh yeah I was here when I was talking to so and so on the phone through that awful thing they were going through.
Because the problem I’m trying to wrestle is in the forefront of my mind, the other stuff falls by the wayside. So I’ve got these trackers as a hack to help me find the stuff that is important that I regularly lose.
Paul gives us a way here to constantly remember what is important, what matters, what is true, what is good.
Rejoice always! The idea here is a celebratory salutation.
The word is the same that Jesus uses in Luke 15 speaking of the party that the shepherd throws when he finds the lost lamb.
Paul doesn’t say rejoice in all things always…
He doesn’t say rejoice in the bad things… He says rejoice in the Lord even in the bad things.
God doesn’t call us to give thanks FOR all things but IN all things.
He’s saying in the midst of bad times that seem to be the most important thing going on, focus on Jesus and the rest of if will fall by the wayside…
Paul told the Thessalonians to
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
How can we celebrate and rejoice at a funeral? How can we comfort and encourage one another?
Because God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to have salvation in Jesus who died for us, that whether we live or die, we live with him…
When you focus on something, the rest is visible, but it’s fuzzy. It’s in your peripheral vision, it’s there, but’s it’s not the focus and you’ll remember it fuzzy.
When I look back at the time when Philippians 4 came to mean so much to me, the memory of what happened has become more and more fuzzy and faded, but the memory of how God sustained me in that time has become more and more sweet.
So how do we practically do this?
Paul gives us 4 steps toward rejoicing:
- GIVE your worry to God. (not bring)
(and exchange it for peace that guards our hearts)
Literally that says don’t worry about anything.
Be careful or anxious about nothing…
You are not to carry it, except to the Lord in prayer.
I say “no worries” a lot. That’s a VA Beach surfer thing.
No worries man.
Now there are many people who have a no worries mindset because they are just laid back and don’t care about anything.
When you have plenty that matters and plenty to worry about, how do you manage it?
Bring it to God in prayer.
You see, the advice of scripture is not to worry about nothing- but rather bring everything to God in prayer.
Stop trying to carry the world on your shoulders…
- Think on Truth
whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Don’t allow worry and doubt to take up real estate in your head. Don’t allow the adversity to overtake your mind.
Paul is saying, think on the things that are good. Think on what is noble. Think on what is helpful.
We spend our lives in the vicious cycle of negativity and difficulty and anger….
Can I tell you that evil loves to distract us…
He’ll keep us distracted with worry.
Distracted with finances.
Distracted with insecurity.
Distracted with frustration.
Boudreaux and the Parrot…
Satan only has to say to you, You Know…
- Follow Godly Examples.
Paul says, as much as you have seen good in me, follow that example.
Some of you are following some really awful examples.
You run your finances just like your parents did and your broke all the time just like they are…
Some of you live out your marriage based on the way your friends do and you’re just as unhappy as they are…
Surround yourself with good examples and take notice of them!
Iron sharpens iron.
For iron to sharpen iron there has to be contact and it’s noisy and there are sparks…
Every believer I’ve ever known who was joyful sings along in worship and praise to God…
Not all of them were great singers, most of them weren’t musicians, but they enjoyed singing to the Lord.
- Focus on Christ
11. I’ve learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12I know both how to be abased (humbled and humiliated),
and abound, (be plentiful and overflowing):
every where and in all things
I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry,
both to have abundance and to suffer need.
13I can do all these things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
In the best and worst, Paul kept his eyes on Jesus.
This is more than inspiration. This is more than seeing someone who has an inspirational story. This is receiving spiritual strength from heaven through Christ.
Jesus made it possible for us to be connected to heaven.
When he died on the cross, he removed the sin which blocked our access to the father.
That’s the reason we pray “in Jesus name” because in Daniel’s name there’s no reason for my prayer to be heard.
In Jesus’ name, theres a name that grants me entrance before God.
In Christ we now have access to heaven, and heaven has access to our hearts pouring down peace like a river, peace that is beyond understanding,
Look back at verse 7
And the peace of God,
which passeth all understanding,
shall keep your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus.