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How to Have Unfathomable Peace - Philippians 4:1-7

Taught on | Keywords: anxiety, crisis, gentleness, joy, kindness, peace, prayer, rejoice, thanksgiving, unity, worry

According to data from Mental Health America, the number of people reporting anxiety is at an all-time high. That’s understandable given the recent crises the world has faced. But let me suggest something: there will always be another crisis, another calamity, another difficult season. We will always be faced with the challenge of some problem. Is there a path to peace of mind? Can the anxiety that presses down upon us be neutralized by God’s resources? Yes! Let’s see how.

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How to Have Unfathomable Peace
Philippians 4:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
According to data from Mental Health America, the number of people reporting anxiety is at an all-time high. That’s understandable given the recent crises the world has faced. But let me suggest something: there will always be another crisis, another calamity, another difficult season. We will always be faced with the challenge of some problem. Is there a path to peace of mind? Can the anxiety that presses down upon us be neutralized by God’s resources? Yes! Let’s see how.

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Give Peace a Chance

Give Peace a Chance

The desire for peace has always been part of human history. Activists protest for it, celebrities demand it, and pop culture makes it a memorable catchphrase, but humankind's natural inclination toward conflict has kept peace out of reach. True peace is so much more than the absence of conflict and its only source is the Prince of Peace. He alone offers a lasting peace that can't be found in or understood by this world. In this series, Skip Heitzig explores the theme of peace throughout the Bible, including internal, interpersonal, and eternal facets. Peace is possible.

Outline

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  1. Resolve Controversy (vv. 1-3)

  2. Rejoice Frequently (v. 4)

  3. Restore Geniality (v. 5)

  4. Reject Anxiety (vv. 6-7)

Keywords: anxiety, crisis, gentleness, joy, kindness, peace, prayer, rejoice, thanksgiving, unity, worry

Study Guide

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Connect Group Recap: March 7, 2021
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "How to Have Unfathomable Peace"
Text: Philippians 4:1-7

Path

According to data from Mental Health America, the number of people reporting anxiety is at an all-time high. That’s understandable given the recent crises the world has faced. But there will always be another crisis, another calamity, another difficult season. We will always be faced with the challenge of some problem. Is there a path to peace of mind? Can the anxiety that presses down upon us be neutralized by God’s resources? Yes! Let’s see how. Our path through the text is:

  1. Resolve Controversy (vv. 1-3)
  2. Rejoice Frequently (v. 4)
  3. Restore Geniality (v. 5)
  4. Reject Anxiety (vv. 6-7)

Points

Resolve Controversy (vv. 1-3)

  • Paul had a special relationship with the Philippian church. He commonly expressed gratitude and love for them.
  • By loving others, Christians make the invisible God visible (see 1 John 4:12).
  • In love, Paul appealed to two women in the Philippian church (Euodia and Syntyche) to resolve the issue they had with each other.
  • We don’t know what the controversy was, but it was probably something trivial rather than something doctrinal or behavioral.
  • The solution to their problem? “Be of the same mind in the Lord” (v. 2).
  • Unity among Christians validates our message.
  • When conflict comes up with another believer, ask yourself if it’s something of eternal importance.

Rejoice Frequently (v. 4)

  • The book of Philippians is loaded with joy.
  • Evangelist Billy Sunday reminded Christians that our faith shouldn’t look like it hurts us and that if we don’t have joy, “there’s a leak in your Christianity somewhere.”
  • Joy is a supernatural delight in God and His plan. It’s one of the greatest signs of God’s presence, His badge of ownership.
  • Paul practiced it (see 2 Corinthians 6:10) and encouraged Christians to pursue it.
  • Joy is a choice more than a feeling; it’s a decision, not a sensation. It’s the choice to react to life’s uncertainties with faith.
  • Joy is also a reality check, reminding us that God is on the throne and we are His children.

Restore Geniality (v. 5)

  • The word gentleness in verse 5 means sweet reasonableness.
  • Society has become less gentle, kind, and compassionate, as Jesus predicted it would (see Matthew 24:12). Distress destroys peace.
  • How do we combat the distress? Galatians 5:22-23 (producing the fruit of the Spirit) and Proverbs 15:1 (giving a gentle answer) are two answers.
  • Instead of being touchy, have a soft touch; treat others with kindness.
  • Remember that you follow Jesus, who said, “I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29).
  • Get a new reputation—be famous for gentleness.

Reject Anxiety (vv. 6-7)

  • The Greek word for anxiety means to divide the mind.
  • Anxiety divides your mind between legitimate thoughts and destructive thoughts; it takes your mind in two directions.
  • As James wrote, “A double-minded man [is] unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).
  • Jesus’ words to His disciples are clear: “Do not worry” (Matthew 6:25, 31, 34).
  • Don’t let anxious, over-concerned thoughts divide your mind.
  • But in verse 6 is a replacement word. The cure for worry is to redirect your energy and replace your anxiety.
  • This redirection is called casting (see 1 Peter 5:7).
  • Philippians 4:6 gives us four ways to reject anxiety:
    • Prayer: This is the general Greek word for prayer, often translated worship or devotion. When you’re worried, worship instead. When you’re burdened, bow. When your heart is weighed down, put your hands up.
    • Supplication: This means a strong cry or begging; it’s a turbocharged prayer.
    • Thanksgiving: Don’t forget to thank God. It’s easy thank for Him for your blessings, but trials are the tools that bring change, so thank Him in all things.
    • Requests: Requests are not demands, ultimatums, or tantrums. Even so, be specific.
  • In summary, be anxious for nothing, prayerful in everything, and thankful for all things.

Practice

Connect Up: Reread Philippians 4:7, then discuss the following points.

  • The Greek word for peace means quietness or rest. This is what believers gain by resolving controversy, rejoicing frequently, restoring geniality, and rejecting anxiety. In your own words, what does it mean to have peace?
  • Notice that true peace is actually “the peace of God,” who is the very author of peace. What does God’s peace look like?
  • God’s peace “surpasses all understanding”—it rises above or is superior to all understanding. How does God’s peace surpass a secular understanding of peace? How are secular and sacred understandings of peace similar and/or different?
  • How is it possible to experience God’s peace if you can’t understand it?

Connect In: Jesus told His followers not to worry, and Paul commanded us to be anxious about nothing. But how do you follow those commands, practically speaking? In addition to all the things Pastor Skip talked about in this message, what else can you do to experience a more peaceful life (for example, personal Bible study, exercise, social media breaks, mindful rest, etc.)? Share any practical advice you have.

Connect Out: How can the reality of worry be a tool in our witness to others? For instance, how can all the worries of the past year—the pandemic, economic woes, and political and social unrest—act as a conduit for you to share Christ? Take note of someone in your life who is not a Christian and worries a lot. How can you strategically share hope with that person? Take time to pray for them.

Transcript

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How to Have Unfathomable Peace - Philippians 4:1-7 - Skip Heitzig

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Peace. Celebrities demand it. Pop culture makes it a catchy tune. Activists protest for it. Still, peace seems out of reach. True peace can't be found in or understood by this world.

(SINGING)

--is give him a chance. All we are saying is give peace a chance.

Give peace a chance.

[APPLAUSE]

I'm applauding for you. You came to church. Way to go. Good to see you. You happy to be here?

[APPLAUSE]

Good, because I'm happy to be here, and I'm happy to see you here. So would you turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Philippians, chapter 4. Philippians chapter 4. You know, you heard the announcement that we are adding a 4 o'clock service Saturday. It's because I do a 4 o'clock service Saturday. And up till yesterday, it was just nobody in the room. It was just a camera and an empty room.

But the reason we did it, we called it a capture service, is for our online audience. We discovered we have about 70 to 80,000 people who are joining us online for our services in the United States and around the world. So we thought--

[APPLAUSE]

--we should keep that going. But we also realize that more and more people are coming back to church, but at the same time, may be a little bit worried about getting together with a crowd. So let's open up another service. So there are now four on the weekends, 4:00 on Saturday, 6:30 on Saturday, and then 9:00 and 11:00 on Sunday, as you know because you are here at one of them. So just a heads up on that.

Philippians chapter 4. There was a woman who, for years, couldn't get any sleep because she was always worried that a burglar would break in her house. And it was an irrational fear. Her husband tried to talk her out of it. But it just persisted. So she'd go to sleep at night-- or go to bed at night-- and she goes, I just can't sleep. I know somebody is going to break in the house.

It never happened, but one night the husband heard a noise downstairs. So he gets up, goes down the stairs, and guess who he meets? It's a burglar. It's a genuine burglar. So after they kind of settled what was going to happen, the husband said, hey, would you mind coming upstairs to meet my wife? She's been waiting to meet you for 10 years.

And you know, here's the little thing behind that story. A burglar can steal from you once. The burglar of anxiety can steal from you for years. On a show of hands, how many of you have ever been worried? Raise your hand. OK. How many of you have ever been worried about something that never happened?

OK, so I did that because that's most of our worries. Huffington Post ran an article that said 85% of the things most people worry about are things that will never happen. The article went on to say 97% of what you worry about is just a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misconceptions. And typically this happens at night. You're alone. You're closing your eyes. You're trying to zone out, trying to get some sleep. And then those thoughts just come creeping in, assailing you, stealing your peace.

Imagine having a peace that passes all understanding. Imagine having a peace that it doesn't really make sense that you should have it. It's like, I have it. I don't quite get it, because I really have every legitimate reason to be anxious right now. But I'm not. Imagine being able to live that way on a daily basis.

Well, I'm calling this message, "How to Have Unfathomable Peace." And that's what we're promised in Philippians chapter 4. Now, let me just say that typically when most preachers treat this idea about peace, they go right to chapter 4, verse 6 and 7. What I'm going to do is take you back to the beginning of the chapter, because I think the whole thought begins there, the whole idea.

So let's read some of these verses together, chapter 4 of Philippians. I'm going to begin reading in verse 1. "Therefore, my beloved and longed for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 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.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

If you remember, our first message was on the promise that Jesus gave to his disciples in John 14 and John 16, a peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you, not as the world gives. Our second message, we talked about being a peacemaker. Blessed are the peacemakers. We highlighted Jacob and Esau.

And then last week we looked at when peace gets personal, that great promise in Isaiah 26. You will keep him in perfect peace. His mind has stayed on you because he trusts in you. Now I'm taking you to Philippians. And what I'm going to do is take some of the principles we talked about and overlap them a little bit and bring it home and give you some building blocks that will help you and I develop a peace that passes all understanding, in Paul's words.

So here's the first building block. This is why I wanted to begin up in the first part of the chapter. The first building block is, resolve controversy. Resolve controversy. Make sure that, as much as possible, you are making peace and you are resolving things that hinder that peace. So I'm going to take you back to verse 1 where Paul begins. He's been writing several chapters now. This is the last chapter. So he's landing the plane.

And so he says therefore, my-- now, look at how he puts this-- my beloved and longed for brethren. My joy and my crown. You are my crowning activity, experience, the joy and fellowship that I have with you. So stand fast in the Lord, my beloved. It's pretty evident that Paul had a special relationship with the Philippian church. He knew them to be mature. He knew them to be enduring.

These are not the Corinthians he's writing to. He had a really good, solid relationship and respect for them. And I love how he begins in verse 1 this chapter with gracious words representing a pastoral heart. And here's why this is important. You know, here's Paul. And I just love the way he talks. God is invisible. Love makes God visible. God is invisible to the world but our love takes an invisible God and makes him visible, in that sense.

In 1 John chapter 4 verse 12, that's what John said. John said, no one has ever seen God. But if we love each, other God lives in us and his love has been brought to full expression through us. And I've always believed that if the world can see a loving, caring, nurturing community of people who love each other across barriers, across social and economic and racial barriers, can really show love to each other, it will make a great impact.

So with that statement of love that Paul begins with, he's going to turn up the heat a little bit. If you know this chapter, you might think Paul's buttering them up for the kill. He's not doing that. But he is going to turn up the heat on his language a little bit. He is now going to appeal to two people in the community that are mentioned here to resolve a conflict, to resolve a controversy.

So in verse 2, here he goes, I implore-- it's a strong word. I'll get to that in a minute. I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche-- OK, not great names. But back then, I guess, they were great names. And they're important names-- to be of the same mind in the Lord. Now, the word implore is where Paul is turning up the heat a little bit. The word implore-- it's not a harsh word. But it's a more intense word.

When you implore somebody, it's when you really want them to get what you're saying. So you kind of get up in their space a little bit. You go, hey, listen. I got to talk to you about this. And notice that Paul doesn't say, I implore Euodia and Syntyche. I implore Euodia and I implore-- he uses it twice. He is an equal opportunity exhorter. He wants to make sure that these two gals-- that he is not going on one person's side versus the other person's side. So he uses equal language. I just think this is a very tactful way to approach it.

I implore you and I implore you to be of the same mind in the Lord. Now, the name Euodia is a Greek name that means good journey. Good journey. So let's call her Mrs. Good Trip because that's kind of the literal translation. So you got Mrs. Good Trip over here. Then you've got Syntyche, which means fortunate or fortunate one. So let's call her Miss Lucky. So you got Miss Good Trip and Miss Lucky and they're arguing about something.

Whoever they were, they were prominent members of the Church at Phillipi because in verse 3, notice what he says. I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the Gospel. So at one point they worked with Paul the apostle. How'd you like that on your resume? Oh, yeah. Paul and I, we're like this. We do stuff together. We go on mission trips together.

So they were pretty prominent. And here's my guess-- they may have been among the first women at that first prayer meeting in Phillipi when Paul went to go visit that city. If you remember the story, in Acts 16, it says that Paul went to Phillipi, went down to a riverside where women were gathering, and it was customary for them to have prayer by this riverside.

Now, what most of us don't know when we read that is that Jewish law said if you can't find 10 Jewish males in a town, you can't have a synagogue. You have to have at least 10 males to form a synagogue, a community. The fact that Paul went down to a river and there were a group of women praying, Jewish women praying, shows that it was a very, very small Jewish community in that town, not even enough to have a synagogue.

But there were women there. And Paul spoke to them. And the church was probably birthed out of those women gathering at the riverside so that these two gals were probably among the founding mothers of the church. But they were prominent. They were important. They had gone on mission trips with Paul.

Now, I'm making a point with this, and that is that sometimes even the most faithful servants of the Lord get sideways. I've seen this for years. I've worked with all sorts of people on this staff. And sometimes you get people who are mature in the Lord and they seem to be really growing and seem to be really good. But something happens and they get a little weird or a little sideways or a little angry. And evidently, that is the case here.

What amazes me-- I don't know if you caught this when you read through Philippians. But it's amazed me that Paul mentions them in his letter by name. He's calling them out. He didn't say, hey, you know, you got a couple of gals in that church. I won't say their names, but they need to get their act together. He says their names, writes it in the Bible, so that forever they will go down as the two chicks who didn't get along in church.

You have to understand what this means. Letters, when they were sent by Paul the Apostle, were read publicly in church. So let's say it's Sunday morning in Phillipi, AD 50 or so. It's 10 o'clock in the morning-- or let's say 9 o'clock service. And the elder comes up to the pulpit and says, I got a letter from Paul. What's everybody going to say? Tell me.

Read it.

Read it. He goes, OK. Here he goes. So he starts reading chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3. Good stuff. Join the Lord. You know, I reached for the prize, the mark, the high calling of Christ Jesus, talked about his testimony. It's so filled with love, so filled with encouragement. Now we're in chapter 4. He's going to land the plane. And he says, OK, Euodia. OK, if you're Euodia in church, right. Syntyche, talk this through. Resolve the conflict. This has been going on too long.

It's amazing to me. Michael Bentley wrote this. If in 100 years time your name was to be discovered in an old document, what one thing would you like the finder to learn? Would it be recorded that you were a kind and loving person, a mature Christian? Now, I can't tell you what these two ladies were arguing about. Paul doesn't mention it. But let me take a stab at it. I don't think it was a doctrinal issue.

And the reason I don't think it was a doctrinal issue is because if you know Paul's writings, whenever there was a doctrinal issue, he got the doctrine out on the table and said, this is what the Bible says about that. Here's the truth. This is what I learned from the Lord, or this is what the prophets say. He spelled it out pretty clearly.

So I don't think it was a doctrinal issue. I don't think it was a behavioral issue, because again, from the writings of Paul, when there were behavioral issues, like with the Corinthian church-- they were suing each other. They had weird ideas about marriage and divorce. He would bring those to the forefront, tell them to stop doing that, and do this.

So I don't think it was doctrinal. I don't think it was behavioral. What I think it was was trivial. I think it was just some personal little thing that got into one of these gal's heads or hearts and they made mountains out of molehills. It's sort of like what Solomon talked about in the Song of Solomon when he said, it's the little foxes that spoil the grapes. How many of you have discovered that small, dumb stuff divides people? Have you found that to be true?

And if you want to see how that works graphically at any point in time, get on social media for five minutes. And just read posts that people say to each other. And it's like, the keyboard courage, right? These keyboard pirates. They just get-- they don't want you to know who they are, but they just want to spout stuff off.

So what is the solution? Well, he says, I implore. I beg Euodia and I beg you, Syntyche, be of the same mind-- but notice this-- in the Lord. That's how you do it. In the Lord. That's the one person they forgot in their argument was the Lord. So what Paul does in calling them out and saying this the way he said it, he takes a social issue and places it on spiritual ground. In effect, he's saying, women, here's how you resolve the conflict. Aim for the glory of God. Aim for God's glory.

Notice this, too. In verse 3-- I urge you also, true companion-- I don't have time to really go through all the meanings of that. But let's get to the end part-- help these women. Help these women who labored with me in the Gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers-- look at this-- whose names are in the Book of Life.

Do you realize that when you have a disagreement with another believer, if you can but realize their names are in the book of life, it might change the atmosphere? Yeah, well, we don't see eye to eye-- but their names are in the Book of Life. Yeah, but-- Yeah, but you're going to be in heaven forever. Yeah, but right now--

You know, you see, it's like, but your names are in the Book of Life. So when there's a conflict, when it arises, ask yourself this-- is this something of eternal importance? Is this really a heaven or hell issue? Is this in 100 years time going to be really important? Now, sometimes it is. Sometimes it's eternal. Sometimes it will separate a person from God, so that's huge.

But maybe it's just personal. Maybe it's just trivial. So the first building block to develop peace is resolve controversy. The second one is to rejoice frequently. Verse 4-- rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice. Now, if you know anything about Philippians, Paul is writing this book from a prison cell in Rome. Paul does not know if he's going to live or die. He knows he's going to stand trial soon, but he doesn't know if he's going to live or die.

This could be the end, he writes in chapter 2. Maybe he'll be let go. He doesn't know. But what's remarkable is even though he doesn't know if he'll live or die, he talks more about joy in Philippians than just about anywhere else. It's filled with joy, joy, joy, joy. So when you read Philippians and you realize, here's a guy in jail talking about being joyful, you're thinking either he's high on something, he's lost his mind, or he's on to something. He's tapped into something that I need to tap into.

And the first two are not true. By the way. He wasn't high on anything and he didn't lose his mind. He had tapped into the presence and fellowship of God. And so he talks about rejoicing. And don't you love how verse 4 is written? Rejoice in the Lord always, period. Again, I'm going to say that again. Rejoice.

You can tell he's a preacher. Preachers love to do this. They will say something and then they will repeat themselves. Let me say that again. They'll-- I mean, if it's something important, they will say it again, because they want to make sure that the audience gets it.

So the word rejoice is the verbal form of joy. That's what rejoicing is. It's the it's the actioning of joy. If you have joy, you will rejoice. In other words, to rejoice is to put joy on display. When I think of rejoicing, I think of one person immediately, and that is my mom. She's in heaven now, but my mom was a rejoicing woman.

Every time I talked to her on the phone, every time I'd see her face to face, she'd always smile. She'd laugh a lot. I mean, she had these lines on her face from years of just laughter and happiness. And oh, thank you. And oh, that's so great. She was just delightful. And aren't delightful people just delightful? It's so good to be around people like that, rejoicing people.

And on the other end of the spectrum, aren't grumpy people worrying? It's like, oh, do I have to talk to him again? It's so draining. Now, look back at the text, because this is a Paul thing. Notice that he is not exhorting them to have general optimism not tied to anything at all. He didn't say, hey, don't worry. Be happy. What he says, is rejoice what? In the Lord. There it is again.

It's like with those two gals. Fix this in the Lord. Be of the same mind in the Lord. Now it's rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord. In other words, I'll put it this way-- life is tough, but God is good. We all know the first part. Life is tough. But God is good, do we know that part? When you know that part, you rejoice.

I often tell people, especially people in pastoral classes, that I love to read old dead guys. And they understand what I mean by that. It's people like Charles Haddon Spurgeon, G. Campbell Morgan, Dwight L. Moody, you know, I always say, if they're not dead, they're not read. These guys just had a great way of saying things. And they're known for that.

I'm not saying that new, living guys aren't any good. They are. But I really like old dead guys. And one of the old dead guys that I like was a guy named Billy Sunday. Billy Sunday, if you don't know that name, he was an evangelist. But at first he used to be a professional baseball player who got converted to Christ, entered the ministry, and became an evangelist. And he just had great sayings.

One of his sayings was, don't look as if your Christianity hurts you. Isn't that good. You know some people go, (GRUMPILY) I'm a Christian. (NORMALLY) Oh, man. That looks like it really hurts. I'm so sorry for you. What can I do to help? Don't look like your Christianity hurts you. And I think my favorite saying is, if you have no joy, there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere.

That's a good one. Are you leaking? Is there a joy leak somewhere? Now, what is joy, exactly? When the Bible speaks about joy, let me give you a definition. Joy is the supernatural delight in God and in his plan. Think about that. It's supernatural delight. So you don't produce it. It comes from him. It's a gift. So supernatural delight in God and in God's plan.

All things work together for good to those who love him and are called according to His purpose. A supernatural delight in God and his plan. It happens to be one of the most infallible signs of the presence of God. It is our badge of ownership. God owns me. I can relax. Not only can I relax, I can rejoice, because I have a supernatural delight in God and in God's plan for my life.

Now, Paul didn't just write about that. Paul practiced what he preached, because when he was first arrested in Phillipi, you remember the story? It says, Paul was arrested. They beat him with rods and they put them in stocks. So I don't know what it feels like to be beaten with rods. But I can only imagine it hurts a lot. It leaves a lot of scars.

So here's a man I'm picturing bleeding in a prison. He's in stocks, so he's tied up to a wall in a prison cell. And amazingly, it says in that text, and at midnight Paul and Silas sang praises to God. What? Who does that? Somebody who has a supernatural delight in God and in God's plan does that. If you don't have that, you can't do that. He had that.

Proverbs 15:15 says, he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast. He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast. And do you know what they feast on? Peace. Peace. Rejoicing sets the table for the feast of peace. Rejoice in the Lord.

Now, again, I just want you to look back at that text because the way it's written, it sounds like a command, right? In fact, it is. It's an order. He's giving them an order, which sounds odd to our ears, just to walk up to somebody and go, hey, you. Right now. Rejoice in the Lord.

Is that possible? You're just giving me an order to rejoice? But here's Paul. He goes, look, I love you guys. You're my crown. You're my joy. You two gals, I implore you, get it together. And then here's an order-- rejoice in the Lord always. I'll say it again. Rejoice. The fact that he gives an order tells me something, tells me that joy is a choice we make.

Make the choice to rejoice. Joy is a choice. It is not a feeling. It is a decision far more than it is a sensation. It's something you choose to do. You wake up in the morning and go, I'm going to rejoice in the Lord. So how often are we to do it? Does he say rejoice in the Lord on Sundays? Rejoice in the Lord intermittently, sporadically?

Or here's one, rejoice in the Lord once a year on Thanksgiving? Gripe and complain the rest of the year, but on Thanksgiving, that's when you rejoice. We're to rejoice in the Lord always, always. So let me lay this on you. Joy is a personal choice to react to life's uncertainties with faith.

Again, I say, joy is a personal choice to react to life's circumstances with faith. That's where you say, look, I don't get what's going on. But I do know God is on the throne. I believe that. I believe I'm a child of God. He's got me covered here. So I'm not joyful because circumstances are favorable. Often they are not. I'm not joyful because people are wonderful. Often, they are not.

But a huge part of having peace of mind is the ability to rejoice in God always. So two important building blocks-- resolve controversy, rejoice frequently. Here's a third, restore geniality. Restore geniality. Geniality is just a word that means warmth, kindness, friendliness. So he says, verse 5, let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

Now, there's a better translation, a literal translation, for that word "gentleness." It's gentleness in my Bible, my Bible translation. Literally, it's this-- "sweet reasonableness." Let your "sweet reasonableness" be known to all, for the Lord is at hand. I'm going to make a statement. I'm going to see if you agree with this. I bet some of you will. I'm thinking our society is becoming less kind. Am I alone on this? Am I the only one who thinks that? Do you think that, as well? Less kind.

I think we're becoming less civil, less respectful in our discourse, less reasonable. We are becoming harsh, snarky, tough, unmerciful, unyielding, critical, cruel, hardened. Do you agree with that? Which is exactly what Jesus predicted would happen in the last days. Remember he said in the last days that the love of many will grow cold?

Don't let that be you. Don't let that be you, because that destroys peace. Now, I'm going to move that idea away from culture, away from society, because it's sort of easy to take pot shots at the world and society. It's one thing to say, yeah, the world's kind of less kind. But now let me move that into the church.

Some of us-- not all of us, but sometimes, some of us, as we grow in our faith in Christ, some of us become crusty. You know what I mean by crusty? Just kind of a little. Got kind of a superior attitude. I know so much more now. I'm mature. I'm a little more mature than you are.

And we become less patient with people. You know, we forget what it's like to be newly born Christians. So we become a little arrogant. We become a little snobby. No one can relax around you. You always have to correct people. It's called legalism. Can I just say, you're so mature and so awesome. You weren't always this mature. You weren't always this awesome. I know you're so spiritual now and so brilliant. And you're just so marvelous. I don't see how you can live with anybody. You're so amazing.

But you weren't always this way. You, too, failed. You, too, fell down. You, too, said dumb things that people had to be patient with. So with that in mind, just sort of get in touch with your early Christian growth and be patient with people. Be kind. Let your gentleness be known. Give people a little slack.

Remember the fruit of the Spirit? We've highlighted this pretty much every week in this series. Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering-- long suffering-- kindness, gentleness, meekness. See, instead of being touchy, have a soft touch.

Proverbs 15, a soft answer turns away wrath. Remember, you follow the one who said, I am gentle and humble in heart. So what Paul is telling them is, get a new reputation or maintain this reputation. Let your gentleness, your sweet reasonableness, be known to all men. And here's why, he says. The Lord is at hand.

Why should I act that way, Paul? Why do I have to be so sweet. The Lord is at hand. Now, I can't tell you exactly what he means by that. It means one of two things. It could mean that the Lord is near chronologically. Or it could mean that the Lord is near in proximity. So on one hand, it could be, look, Jesus is coming soon. Chronologically, the Lord is at hand.

My mom used to do this. When I had bad attitudes she would just lean in and go, your dad will be home soon. It's all I had to hear. It's like, OK, what can I do for you mom? I love you so much. I just sort of changed my demeanor at home because my Father was at hand. Maybe he means that. But maybe he simply means the Lord is near in proximity, that whenever you are gathering with another believer and having a difficulty and not feeling like you should rejoice and not feeling so gentle, just remember the Lord is there. The Lord is at hand. He could simply mean that.

So we have a few building blocks to develop unfathomable peace, resolve controversy, rejoice frequently, and restore geniality. Let's give you the fourth, because this really is the heart of the passage, at least what we're used to. Reject anxiety. And I chose that word very carefully. I mean, flat out reject anxiety. Don't let it happen.

Look how Paul puts it. Be anxious for what? Nothing. That's rejecting anxiety. Be anxious for nothing. But in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Now, let me tell you what Paul is not saying by that. When Paul says "be anxious for nothing" he is not saying, don't be concerned about life. He is not saying, be apathetic. Be lazy. Kick back. Do nothing. Let stuff just come to you. He didn't say that. He says, be anxious for nothing. The word anxious is a very important word. It's the Greek word [NON-ENGLISH]. I don't care if you ever remember these words that I give you in Greek. But listen to how it was formed. [NON-ENGLISH] comes from two words put together. And when you understand that, you understand the definition of anxiety.

[NON-ENGLISH] is to divide. [NON-ENGLISH] is the mind. And when you put those two words together, [NON-ENGLISH], you have a word that means to divide or tear the mind. It's a perfect description of anxiety. Anxiety is when your mind is divided between legitimate thoughts and destructive thoughts. Anxiety will take your mind in two different directions. Like James said-- the double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

I read a survey from the World Health Organization about anxiety. I'm just going to ask you to see if you pass this test. Of all the groups they studied around the world, what country do you think has the most anxiety? Wait a minute? What did you say? You think America. God, you down on your own country? What?

No, you're right. It is. It is America. Now, this is pre-COVID. So things may have changed. Maybe they're catching up with us in terms of worry and anxiety. But I'd still think we're winning. It says this, Americans were the most anxious people in 14 countries that we've studied with more clinically significant levels of anxiety than people in Nigeria, Lebanon, and the Ukraine.

Now, those three countries are interesting that they mention it, because in those three countries, you have reasons to be filled with anxiety, much more than we do. Nigeria, Lebanon, and Ukraine. So what the article is saying is the United States is the undisputed world champion of worry and anxiety.

Now, I understand why people worry. I understand why people are anxious. I understand why people panic-- if they're not saved, especially. I mean, if you think you're dangling on a dirt clod in an inexplicable universe, there's no rhyme or reason to it, you feel pretty alone with those thoughts. If you don't know why you're here and where you're going, that's pretty scary.

But followers of the Lord Jesus Christ-- self included-- listen to what your Lord and mine said to us in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, what you will drink, or about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body, more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns. Yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you-- I've always loved this question-- which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? A cubit is 18 inches, foot and a half. Can you imagine somebody really worried about that?

Man, I just want to be a little taller. I know, I'm 6'5", so it's bad for me even to use this as an example. So I won't even go there. But which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? Now, those are pretty powerful words. And Jesus, when he says these words, is not saying be lazy. I mean, he's talking about birds. They're pretty industrious, last time I checked. They're always busy doing something.

But the point Jesus is making is, have you ever seen a worried bird? I was in the garden yesterday and I heard birds. And I saw them. And they looked pretty happy to me. I have never yet in my life seen a bird with its beak down and its little claws like--

[WORRIED NOISES]

Have you? Look at the birds. God takes pretty good care of them. You're a lot more valuable than they are. He's going to take care of you. Which of you by worrying is going to grow a little bit? Very, very profound. So don't let anxious over concern about life divide your mind. Back to our texts in Philippians.

Notice what it says. Be anxious for nothing. What's the next word? But. But is a word of contrast. And the contrast happens to be the solution to the worry. The contrast happens to be the antidote for the worry. Don't do that thing, but do this thing. Replace it with something.

So the cure for worry-- listen carefully. The cure for worry is to redirect your energy and to replace your anxiety. Redirect your energy and replace your anxiety. The Bible calls this in another place casting. Casting. First Peter, casting all your cares upon him, because he cares for you.

How do we do it? Here's four words in the text that tell you how to do it. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything-- here they are-- by prayer-- that's number one-- by supplication-- that's number two-- with thanksgiving-- that's number three-- let your requests-- that's number four-- be made known to God. And the promise, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Let's just quickly go through those-- prayer. Prayer is the general word used here. It's a general word for prayer in the New Testament, often translated worship. Often translated worship or devotion. So get this-- when you're worried, worship. I mean, start worshipping. When your heart is weighed down, that's the time for you to put your hands up. Hands up, worries down. Hands down, worries up.

But when the worry's there, hands up. Worries down. Start worshipping. So you're focusing on God. Second word, supplication. Supplication means strong pleas, strong cries. This is familiar territory for most of us, because whenever we are filled with anxiety or going through a trial, that's how we pray. God, please. That's OK. Do that. It's called supplication-- strong urging, strong cry. I call it turbocharged prayer.

You're not going there, (MONOTONE) and God, we pray that you bless all the people in-- (NORMALLY) You're praying. Notice this, number three-- with thanksgiving. Yeah, don't forget to add that. Now, I know some of you are thinking, what? You mean thank God when life is hard, when I'm going through a trial? Thank God. Yep. Here's why.

In prayer, you're talking to God. Be thankful somebody is on the other end of the line. You're talking to God. He's listening to you. God cares for you. It is so easy to thank God for times of blessing. But here's why you should thank God for trials-- trials are tools that God uses to change you.

[APPLAUSE]

Trials are tools that God uses to change you. So prayer, supplication, Thanksgiving, and we'll end with this-- let your requests be made known to God. Please notice the word. It doesn't say let your demands be made known to God. Let your ultimatums be made. God, you better do this. No. Doesn't say let your temper tantrums be made known to God.

You are bringing a prayer request to God. God knows best. It is a request. And be specific in your request. Be specific. You're specific when you go to a restaurant. Let me say this-- if you ever get to a restaurant again. When you go in, you don't say, I have a general food need. Bless me according to whatever you wish. No, you say, I want number two with green chili. You're specific, right?

So be specific. Let your request be made known to God. So to sum it all up, then-- be anxious for nothing. Be prayerful in everything. And be thankful for anything. And God says, the peace of God will literally mount a guard or a garrison over your mind and your heart. These things that I just outlined here-- that's a process.

It's a process you can bring with you at a hospital when somebody is sick. It's a process you can bring when there's an accident. You can bring this process to a funeral. You can bring it into a disagreement. You just sort of follow this through and the promise is God's peace will guard you. So replace worry with worship and Thanksgiving and specific cries for help.

You know, we sing a lot of great songs at this church. Thank you, worship team. Thank you for doing that. Thank you for all the great songs that you provide. One of the great songs of the church is-- well, here's just a portion of it. Oh, what peace we often forfeit. Oh, what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. It's what a friend we have in Jesus. So let's start doing these things that God might give us an unshakable, unfathomable peace.

Let's pray. Father, thank you for the peace of God that Paul said it passes understanding. When it comes, we're guarded by it. Were protected by it. We don't understand it. But it's a promise to those who follow, trust in the God who cares more for us than any other species, including these wonderful birds.

Lord, we are of so much more value to you than they are. And this is a promise for those of us who are your children. I pray for anybody who may not be a child of God that there would be a sense of urgency to turn their life and commit themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, not only because that's your will, but for their own peace of mind and eternal peace. We pray in Jesus' name.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at mystory@calvarynm.church. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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2/7/2021
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The Gift of Peace
John 14:27
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
With the Global Peace Index the lowest it’s been in a decade and the Misery Index at a high, it’s hard to believe that peace is within reach in today’s world. But peace is possible. Jesus promised it to His followers, and the only place you’ll hear about true peace is the church. In this teaching, Skip Heitzig begins a new series, unpacking four aspects of the peace Jesus promised believers in John 14:27.

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2/14/2021
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All You Need Is Love
John 13:34-35
Nate Heitzig
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Everyone seems to have a cause these days. All of us want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. The problem is that we as the church won’t really succeed in changing the world if we only use the world’s tools and systems to do so. In this message, Nate Heitzig explains that if you want to see society truly change, you need God’s love.

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2/21/2021
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Making What Everybody Wants
Matthew 5:9; Genesis 32-33
Skip Heitzig
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One of the easiest things in the world is to march for peace; one of the hardest things in the world is to make peace. What does it mean to be a peacemaker and how can it best be done? Today we consider the great beatitude of Jesus, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and the unique place of the child of God in this role. We also cover some practical steps to accomplishing it as shown in the life of Jacob and his estranged brother, Esau.

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2/28/2021
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When Peace Gets Personal
Isaiah 26:1-4
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Though peace cannot be found nationally, internationally, politically, or societally, what about personally? Well, the Bible has a lot to say about personal peace, and Isaiah 26 hosts one of the great promises of it. Though the biblical context of this chapter has an eschatological setting, today we will explore five fundamentals about personal peace. It is my great hope that you will not only look forward to a future of peace, but that you will experience God’s personal peace in your life right now.

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3/14/2021
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The World’s Greatest Peace Treaty
Colossians 1:19-23
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
A peace treaty is a legal agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, which formally ends a state of war between them. The most important agreement in the history of humanity was when Jesus died on the cross. That single act brought a state of peace between God and the people who choose to live under His reign. Today we contemplate the work of Christ in establishing peace with the Father.

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3/21/2021
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The Peace-Stealers
James 4:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
People have been going to war for centuries. Conflicts and clashes are part of our history both as a civilization and as a nation. But there are three wars that are being fought everywhere in the world right now, even sadly among Christians. These three wars steal our peace, divide our hearts, and insult our God. James tackled these three wars head-on and told us how they can be ended.

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3/28/2021
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Peace on Earth—At Last!
Isaiah 9:6-7
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Yes, there will be peace on earth. It’s coming. It’s real. And it won’t just be a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of God’s people. This will be a literal worldwide peace brought on by the dominion of a righteous King. After several millennia of giving war a chance, the earth will finally enjoy the Prince of Peace giving peace a chance. Today we conclude our series with the final reign of Christ on earth during the millennium.

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There are 7 additional messages in this series.
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