Fighting for Joy in a Jaded World


Fighting for Joy in a Jaded World

Philippians 4
 
This weekend I was in a conversation with a good friend about fear.  He spoke of how paralyzing fear had been in his life and how contentment was something that always seemed slightly out of arms length, in fact, it was the one thing he wished for his birthday was to be so.  This Sunday I was able to return to Redeemer and was reminded so vividly of how I was able to sustain severe loss, heartache and the weight of life trials in my life all these years.  The mind is a powerful tool that when not harnessed can be a caveat of darkness to come.  The reason I am so passionate about the personal study of emotional intelligence, without a strong handle on the mind and the emotions that so regularly sweep in and out of our thinking, life can readily become a place of chaos and the world around you a roller coaster you never wanted to ride.  We have to know were not created for fear, worry, turmoil and the proof is what it does physically, psychologically and spiritually. The peace of God, from the God of peace, will guard our hearts and minds (v 7) and that was the message of Pastor Mike today at Redeemer.  The hope of this freedom lies in adherence to the following recipe for joy and I can attest from personal experience through some of life’s greatest hurdles, this is the only way to truly be joyful.
 
1. Rejoicing
2. Praying 
3. Thinking
4. Practicing 
 
These are the four things Paul outlines in the Phillipians
 
1. – Rejoice – v. 4
 
Focusing on God makes things clear.  For example, in the face of worry what needs to be most clear is the generosity of God. There is nothing good He won’t spare you. If you are anxious it is possible to say that you aren’t seeing clearly and not keeping your focus on the One who is completely in control if everything. He will bring about what he will. What makes us anxious? We don’t have that control. Anxiety, then, is a goal that is called into question.
 
Me ———— ???? ————– Goal
 
The more intensely you want the goal the more amped up your anxiety is. Consider anger, anger at its root is a goal that has been blocked. 
 
Me ————- ///// ————— Goal
 
The stronger your goal is the more amped up your anger is. 
 
If you had complete control of your life would you be anxious? No, because you’d control all outcomes. The purpose of rejoicing is putting your sights on the one who is in control rather than fixating in yourself. You’ll never see an issue in your life clearly until you see God clearly. 
 
The way we handle worry and anxiety is a public declaration of what your relationship with The Lord is like. There is a lot at stake with the way we handle anxiety.  A steady humble patience of injustice is a public statement of what God is like. 
 
2. – Praying – v 6
 
Making requests in prayer so the first voice you want to hear when you start to get anxious is the voice of God saying “we need to talk, tell me what you need.” This isn’t for his benefit, he already knows what you need, so this instruction is for our benefit; you’ve got to name your worries.  Cast all your anxieties on The Lord because He cares for you. He WANTS to carry our burdens. List your worries, money, children, safety, etc., and we are very much held by anxiety. Anxiety is to divide the mind, to have competing thoughts in your head. You have to ask yourself why am I anxious, why am I producing this logic and what is the inner logic? You begin to panic because of what you’re telling yourself. The concern is more for ourselves than and what we can’t control.  Yet the gospel sets us free in the gospel of grace, in Him all ability is possible and anxiety is the failure to believe in the gospel and Gods promise to provide all we need. Consider the lilies the ravens, God provides all their needs, how much more your own? That is why our requests to God need to come with thanksgiving because He has already promised to be committed to our good as He is in control and if this is all true what is the result? Peace.
 
3. – Thinking – v8
 
It is so important to cultivate a thought life and fortify a mental framework. This is because thoughts have consequence, they shape your emotions. You don’t have to believe everything you tell yourself. Because of sin, our thoughts contain lies and it will impact you in an emotionally detrimental way. The truth then becomes that which guards you from the things that lead to anxiety. You want to unleash the Truth to attack the lies. So what’s at the root of anxiety? Verse 8 is clear on what to think about. Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellence, worthy praise instead of false, dishonorable, unjust, impure, displeasing, disposable, morally corrupt, in appealing; there can not be peace when thoughts are focused that way.
 
4. – Practicing – v9
 
What you’ve learned and heard and seen in God, practicing these things will bring peace. By mercy, Paul modeled a lifestyle where in difficult lifestyles you could see that God was with him because He had peace. He was in prison with no control and still modeled peace; proof that this system works. Knowing the presence of God means nothing else matters. 
 
There is a very big distinction between emotional peace, existential peace and relational peace. The only basis on which the ultimate foundation for emotional peace is relational peace with God. In our natural condition we are not at relational peace with God. We are actually born at enmity with God. If you are at peace but are not at peace with God by knowing that He has enmity with sinners, you do not have true peace; it is fabricated. Jesus death on the cross allowing the gateway for peace with God and giving us the ability to ground our lives in Him and bring peace with God through Jesus.
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