Philippians 4:1-9 There are some real, famous gems in Philippians 4

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Philippians 4:1-9
There are some real, famous gems in Philippians 4 aren’t there?
The famous quarrel of v2-3.
The exhortation to “Rejoice in the Lord Always” in v4
The great words about the Peace of God in v6-7
And the call to think about excellent things in v8-9.
But are these gems of verses connected?
Because they seem to be randomly scattered all over the place.
Like when a girl sneaks into mum and dad’s room to play dressing up with mum’s jewellery. But
then in the excitement snaps mum’s pearl necklace and the pearls go everywhere.
Are these verses just scattered pearls?
Well the more I’ve read this chapter the more I think Paul’s strung them together on a thread.
And I think that thread is 4:1...
The “therefore” of v1 points us back into ch3.
So ch3 answers the question of “Why do we need to Stand Firm in the Lord?”
And ch4 answers the question of “How do we Stand Firm in the Lord?”
Because when he says, “That is how you should stand firm in the Lord” It could equally be
translated “thus stand firm in the Lord/ stand firm like this.”
So the pearls of ch4 are all to do with how we can Stand Firm in different difficult situations.
But let’s start by asking the basic question, “Why do we need to Stand Firm in the Lord?”
And Paul says, “Because you’re not Saved yet,”
And before you drag me off as a heretic, get your Bible open and look at ch3:20...
He says, “You belong to heaven, you’re citizens of heaven.” And the Philippians knew all about
citizenship because as a Roman Colony they were privileged to be called citizens of Rome. They
were proud of their Roman Passport.
But Paul says it’s far better than that. You’re citizens of heaven, that’s your real home.
You’ve not just got Red British passport, you’ve got a Heaven passport, whatever colour that is.
He says, “You’re citizens of heaven... but you’re not saved yet!”
v20 “And we...”
Now he’s not saying they aren’t Christians. He’s not trying to scare us. He’s not saying that the
cross didn’t work. No their sin has been dealt with once and for all at the cross.
What he means is that there’s more to our salvation and eternal life than we enjoy now.
As Citizens of Heaven the best is yet to come!
And we see that straight away in v21. Because now, even though we’re citizens of heaven, we still
have lowly fragile bodies.
Bodies that break down...
Bodies that fail us...
Bodies that die...
If this now is all there is then salvation’s a real let down!
If you went to the Cinema to watch a film and all they gave you were the adverts and the trailers
and not the actual film, it’d be a real let down.
But Paul says “you’re not saved yet!”
“And so we eagerly await a saviour from heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ who will transform our
lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
Now our bodies are fragile... But then they’ll be glorious!
We’re not saved yet, therefore says Paul, 4:1, Stand Firm in the Lord.
Here’s why Paul is so desperate that his fellow Christians, his joy and his crown Stand Firm
waiting for Jesus, because we’re not saved yet! There’s more, so much more to salvation than we
enjoy now!
So if that’s why it’s so important that we Stand Firm in the Lord, then, secondly, and practically,
“How do we Stand Firm in the Lord?”
And in v2-9 Paul tackles 3 things that can make it so hard to keep Standing Firm in the Lord. And
for each one he shows us practically how we can keep standing firm.
So firstly, “How do we stand firm in the Lord when... There’s Disagreement in the Church?”
And Paul says, v2-3 “Agree in the Lord!”
Now whatever had been going on between Euodia and Syntyche must have been pretty serious if
Paul took the time to name and shame them.
And this big disagreement happened in a good church. Philippi was a model church in many ways.
So if disagreements happened there then there will be disagreements at Bessacarr so we all need
to pay attention.
Because these ladies weren’t trouble makers. No, v3, they were hardened gospel workers. Their
names really were in the book of life.
And yet sadly they are now like soldiers who having fought side by side in the battle, have now
turned on each other.
If you know Band of Brothers the WW2 book and TV series there’s a haunting example of this
towards the end.
The book follows Easy Company through the war. The fighting had been tough, they were indeed
a Band of Brothers united together for the common cause.
And yet after Germany surrendered the soldiers were left with almost nothing to do. And one night
after too many drinks one of the men turns on one of his comrades and shoots and kills one of his
own side.
And that’s just what’s happened with Euodia and Syntche.
So perhaps we need to be particularly on our guard now that AP4L has finished. When we’re
working flat out in evangelism we’ve no time to argue. But now as we’re tempted to take our foot
off the evangelism peddle is when disagreements can so easily creep in.
And whenever we see such disagreements in a church it’s just another reminder to us that we’re
not saved yet!
No matter how good a church it was, the church at Philippi was not heaven and neither is
Bessacarr.
Now we’re not told what their disagreement was about. But it seems to be a secondary issue
rather than a gospel issue.
I don’t think they’re arguing over Justification by Faith, or the Atonement because otherwise Paul
would have addressed the issue like he does in other letters.
No these women seem solid on the gospel – They are evangelicals!
So the issue seems to be one of those issues where they could both be right. An issue where
there is room for tastes and traditions.
One of those issues where they both think God is on their side!
“Maybe it was Baptism?” “Or the style of music?” “Or what people should wear when they come to
church?”
Maybe Euodia wanted church to be more formal, whilst Syntyche wanted it to be more informal?
Who knows, but whatever the issue Paul says, “Agree with each other in the Lord.”
“But what does he mean by that?”
He’s not saying, “You’ve got to accept each other’s point of view.”
He’s not saying, “Agree to disagree!”
He’s actually using a phrase he’s used before in the letter, he’s saying “be of the same mind/ have
the same attitude – in the Lord”
It’s the phrase he used in 2:5...
So when he urges these two ladies to agree in the Lord, he’s saying “Have the mind of Christ.”
Have Christ’s attitude – the one who made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.
The one who humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross... for me!
So it’s not about who’s right and wrong. Paul’s not interested in that.
“It’s about my attitude, is it Christ’s?”
So on the issue of music, if I’d prefer the music should be modern and you think it should be
traditional. Well ok, but I need to remind myself that what matters is my attitude to you – is it
Christ’?”
And if we disagree over what coffee is served and when, or how people should dress at church – I
need to remind myself it doesn’t matter.
Rather “What’s my attitude?”
It’s ok for us to be a church with diverse tastes and opinions, actually it’s a great thing – but are we
of one mind? The mind of Christ?
“Am I prepared to put myself down for you, even when I think you’re wrong?”
“Will I put aside my preferences for my fellow citizen of heaven?”
Because that was Christ’s attitude to me!
And so when Paul says v3... He’s not just saying that we’ve got to be like ACAS in the row
between BA and the Union trying to bring the 2 sides together. Or a UN Peace envoy in the Middle
East
No when he says “Help them” he’s saying help them have the mind of Christ.
So when I’m disagreeing with someone at church the most helpful thing you can do for me, is
remind me of the gospel – remind me of Jesus’ attitude to me.
It’s tough to Stand Firm for Christ when there’s disagreement in the church but Paul says the key
is to have the attitude of Christ, to Agree in the Lord.
And so secondly, “How do we Stand Firm in the Lord when... We’re Facing Difficult Times in our
Life?”
And Paul says, however hard it might be, we need to “Rejoice in the Lord Always” v4-7.
Now v4 is such a familiar pearl that we don’t look at the detail of it.
But let’s notice that Paul doesn’t say “be happy all the time!”
Because we all go through times where it’s simply not possible to be happy and smiley
Because happiness is tied to our circumstances.
But what Paul’s talking about is not dependant on our circumstances, he says, “Rejoice in the Lord
always!”
The Lord is our foundation, our reason for rejoicing, and he doesn’t change with our
circumstances.
So this isn’t a joy that goes up and down with the economy.
This joy isn’t redundant when we’re out of work.
It doesn’t get sick when a loved one is unwell.
It doesn’t die at a funeral.
This is a joy we can always have because it’s fixed in the Lord – what he’s done for you in the past
at Calvary and what he will do for you when he returns!
And so it keeps us anchored, it keeps us going, standing firm in the Lord whatever life chucks at
us.
And if this sounds glib coming from me, then remember who wrote it, and where he wrote it. This
is not some young naive preacher, this is Paul in chains facing possible execution!
It’s a Joy that leads, v5, to gentleness when we’re wronged because we know that the Lord is
near, and he’s coming with our salvation!
And so because nothing you can do can snatch my inheritance from me then I can afford to be
gentle and gracious!
And it’s a joy, v6-7 that keeps us Standing Firm no matter what anxieties and worries we might
have.
For some of us it’s our health, or that of a loved one...
For others of us it’s family members who aren’t Christians...
Or for some of us it’s the future, “Will I still have a job in 6 months? Will I find another job?...
When Paul says “Don’t be anxious about anything” he’s saying that worries are unchristian, as if
we’re unspiritual if we worry.
But rather he wants to encourage us by showing us how we can stand firm even when we’re
bombarded with worries, v6...
He says we won’t stand firm in the Lord by looking in at ourselves all introspective, and we won’t
do it by fixating on our problems out there.
No he says the way we’ll stand firm is as we look up to God in prayer.
And here’s the awesome promise, v7, as we trust God with our struggles...
Again it’s a Peace rooted in the Lord because it comes from the certainty of knowing our sins are
forgiven and the certainty of knowing our salvation to come!
There was a great example of this peace on the Passion for Life DVD. Rico Tice was speaking
about a young guy called Stuart who was dying and Rico went to visit him.
And in the course of their conversation Rico blurted out, “Stuart what’s it like to die?” He said he
was instantly mortified at being so insensitive.
And yet quick as a flash his friend Stuart said, “Christ is risen!”
Because Christ is risen, Stuart had peace, he could Stand Firm even in the face of death because
Christ has defeated death.
But please notice Paul doesn’t say that as soon as we pray the difficult times will evaporate...
Stuart still died!
As Christians we’re not be spared hard times, they will come. It’s another reminder we’re not
saved yet, we live in a fallen world.
And so Paul doesn’t say the peace of God will keep my money, or my health, it won’t necessarily
smooth my path.
But it’ll keep my Heart and Mind Rejoicing in the Lord!
And that’s what will keep me Standing Firm in the Lord!
In 1855 Joseph Scriven’s mother became ill and he wrote her these words to encourage her;
“Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? take it to the Lord in prayer;
in his arms He'll take and shield thee, thou wilt find a solace there.”
I know for many of us times are tough at the moment, and I can only imagine how hard it is to
Stand Firm.
But God assures us WE CAN Stand Firm in him as we take it to him in prayer!
And so thirdly “How do we stand firm in the Lord when... There are so many Distractions in the
World?”
And Paul answers “Meditate on the Lord” v8-9
Now when we talk of Meditation we don’t mean Eastern meditation where its all about emptying
our minds.
No, Christian meditation is the very opposite, it’s all about Filling our minds. And so Paul says,
v8...
Because whatever fills my mind will control my actions as well.
What I think becomes what I’ll do!
And because there are so many different things out there desperate for my attention, trying to
distract us, if I’m to stand firm waiting for the Lord then I need to Meditate on the Lord – I need to
fill my mind with Christ!
So as we finish let’s get practical. “What is my mind full of?”
“What am I feeding my mind?”
Or to put it another way, “In this last week how much time did I spend listening to newspapers,
magazines, blogs, and talking heads on TV, and friends and colleagues?”
And in comparison, “how much time did I spend listening to Jesus?”
Because as I was writing this I looked down at my Homer Simpson mouse mat on which Homer
says...
And in a way he’s right. Competition up here is fierce.
“And so what can I do this week to fill my mind with Christ?”
Because there’s so much out there competing for my thoughts and affections that speaking
personally I need more than just a sermon or two on a Sunday, if I really am going to Meditate on
the Lord throughout the week.
I need regular intake throughout the week if I’m going to Stand Firm in the Lord.
“So how’s your daily Bible reading going?”
“Am I giving it enough time?”
“Am I doing it in a way that means I’m chewing it over throughout the day?”
“Or is it gone within half an hour, swamped by the news or work or whatever?”
“Am I getting along to home group?”
“Do I need to join a group?” See me afterwards I’d love to help.
“Do I need to go a bit more regularly to help feed my mind God’s word?”
“Maybe I could start reading a good Christian book even if it’s just a chapter or even a few pages a
day? Something that’ll help me grow in my relationship with Jesus?
“What can I do, starting tonight to help me Meditate on Christ more?”
But also, v9, “what am I doing to put God’s word into practice?” Because real meditation will bring
action!
Just one suggestion, “but how about after each sermon we listen to, each quiet time or each home
group jotting down one thing that we’re going to go away and do or change as a result of what
we’ve read?”
And “how about sharing it with someone so that they can help us to stand firm in the Lord?
Because Standing Firm in the Lord is vital; we’re not saved yet.
And it won’t always be easy because there are all sorts of disagreements, difficult times and
distractions.
But in Christ we have all the resources to stand firm and keep waiting for him!
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