- Sermon Notes
Faith is the key to persevering through trials and troubles. Certainly, we are living in unprecedented times. When you’re navigating through a storm, there’s a steadfastness and perseverance that comes from knowing that God is Lord of the storm, that He is sovereign over all things.
There are many examples in the Bible of those who endured tremendous difficulties with victorious faith. In fact, it was amid those trials and troubles they saw the hand of God and the favor of God move in their lives.
David clearly understood that the hand of God and the favor of God is the key to navigating through the troubles and trials of life. David saw many troubles, but he saw the favor of God revealed in those troubles as well.
Daniel was one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. He lived through Israel’s darkest hour. It was by faith in the God of Israel that he understood how to navigate through the turbulence and troubles.
Time will not allow me to speak of Joseph, Hezekiah, Ezekiel, or Zerubbabel, but each of them had to learn to navigate through troubles and what they discovered is that the valley of trouble is a door of hope.
Hosea 2:15, “I will give the valley of Achor as a door of hope; and she will sing there as in the days of her youth.”
Paul, the apostle, was given some of the greatest privileges and honor bestowed by God, yet Paul understood troubles. Five times he received from the Jews 39 lashes. Three times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned and left for dead, three times he was shipwrecked and a night and a day he spent in the deep. Paul understood what it meant to navigate through trouble.
In Philippians 4, he wrote to the church, “Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.” What does it mean to have a forbearing spirit? It’s the spirit of a man or woman who understands how to endure, to forbear, to persevere with strong faith. But how do you have a forbearing spirit, what does it take to have victorious faith? Paul shows us in these verses.
I. Be Anxious for Nothing
- There is a lot to be anxious about in this world. With the Covid-19 virus impacting the world, it’s easy to be consumed with the news.
- I want to stay informed as well. I especially like to follow any progress that’s being made in the treatment of those who have contracted this virus and the development of a vaccine, but you can also consume too much of the news and become anxious.
- The world in which Paul lived was also dangerous, but Paul understood the significance of faith and the bearing it would have on his perspective.
- Perspective is how you see it; what is your view of the thing. The eyes of faith change your perspective.
- Verse 4 – “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say it, rejoice!”
- Paul went through one tragedy and difficulty after another, and yet he could rejoice in the Lord.
- He saw a bigger picture; he looked beyond his immediate circumstances and saw reasons to rejoice.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18, For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
A. Faith is the answer to anxiety and worry
- The word ‘anxious’ is often misused. People say, “I’m anxious to see my friend,” they mean they are eager to see their friend.
- To be anxious is to worry or fret and it’s based on the fear of the unknown; ‘what if this should happen?’ or ‘what if that should happen?’ and because it could happen they worry as if it will happen.
Luke 12:25, “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?”
Matthew 10:29-31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
- Do not be anxious about anything, Paul wrote. Many are held prisoner by fear, but that is not God’s heart for you. Faith is the answer to fear.
2 Timothy 1:7, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.
- God gave us a Spirit of power and love and very importantly… a sound mind. Faith is the assurance of what you know about God and that’s the answer to what might go wrong with your life.
2 Timothy 1:12, I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that day.
B. Let your requests be made known to God
- Instead of worry, instead of being anxious, let your requests be made known to God in everything, in prayer and supplication… with thanksgiving.
- When you pray, it changes your perspective. When you worry, you’re focused on what might happen, or what did go wrong, or the pain in your heart.
Illus – When you hit your thumb with a hammer, it immediately becomes the most important thing in your life; at least for the moment, and you can lose your perspective.
Illus – Which reminds me of a story. One day a pastor was nailing boards onto his fence and a little boy who lived nearby stopped to watch…
- Being anxious for nothing, Paul wrote, but with prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God.
- Prayer and supplication are different. Supplication is asking God to help you; and God wants you to ask.
Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
- We need to acknowledge, however, that God knows the best answer to our asking, our supplication. What we think is good may not be what God thinks is good.
Illus – Aviah thinks that staying home from school and having no homework is good; I don’t.
Illus – You don’t always give your kids everything they asked for, because sometimes ‘no’ is the best answer.
- The word prayer here is more than just asking, it’s more than supplication. There’s a sense here of worshipful prayer. You might call it relationship prayer.
- Jesus spent many hours praying to His Father, and you can be sure His prayers were more than asking for things.
- The contrast between prayer and supplication is seen in the story of when Jesus came to the house of Martha and Mary to have dinner.
- Mary was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His words, that’s an example of relationship, just wanting to hear the heart of the Lord.
- But Martha was distracted with all her preparations. She came to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister had left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”
Luke 10:41-42, But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
C. Have an attitude of thanksgiving
- Having a prayerful heart and an attitude of thanksgiving is the opposite of grumbling and complaining. We need to be thankful.
- A heart that is thankful unto the Lord is a heart that knows what it means to be satisfied. If you don’t know how to give thanks, you’ll never be satisfied; there’s always something wrong, you’ll never be happy. Be thankful for what God has done.
Hebrews 13:15, Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
- This is important because this is not natural to our human condition. In our flesh we want to feel sorry for ourselves, we want to be cynical or grumpy or say every rude thing we feel.
Illus – I’ve been through many difficult things, and I can tell you that being cynical or angry never helps. When our daughter was killed, we could have become angry; we chose instead to be thankful for every day we had with her.
- If you want to have a full and blessed life, you need to have a grateful and thankful heart to God.
- If you focus on the troubles and how bad it might get, anxiety will fill your heart. But when you pray you enter God’s presence.
Psalm 100:4-5, Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.
- Then, when you are going through the valley of Baca, you can make it a spring. (Psalm 84:6)
D. Peace will guard your heart and mind
- If, instead of being anxious, instead of worrying and being bothered about so many things, let your requests be made known to God with prayer and supplication and thanksgiving
- Then you will have peace, not just any peace, the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension. And it’s that kind of peace that will guard your heart and your mind from worry and anxiety and fear.
- Faith brings that kind of peace. It’s beyond comprehension or beyond understanding because it’s counterintuitive. When things go wrong, people expect you to be filled with anxiety, but when peace guards your heart and mind, you have an anchor for your soul.
Psalm 42:11, Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.
Romans 8:31, What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
II. Dwell on These Things
- Have you ever laid awake thinking of what might go wrong; worry filling your heart? Replaying it over and over in your mind?
- The set of your mind, the frame of your mind, is the key to a victorious spirit.
- The contrast to that is seen in Philippians 3:18-19. Paul speaks of those who set their minds on earthly things
A. Whatever is true, honorable and right
- There are many things that may be true but aren’t honorable. They’re not worth setting your mind upon.
- There are many things wrong with this world, but Paul says to think on those things that are true and honorable and right; that’s the key to a victorious spirit, to victorious faith.
- What you put into your heart and mind has everything to do with how you live your life.
Proverbs 23:7, For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.
- In other words, you become what you set your mind on, you become as you think in your heart. It has the power to transform.
B. Dwell on things worthy of praise
Verses 8 – whatever is pure or lovely or of good repute or anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Dwell on these things because what you set your mind on determines what your soul becomes.
Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good… for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
- The only way to get good treasure in the heart is to put it there.
Psalm 119:11-12, Your word have I treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me your ways.
Illus – In Bible College I fell asleep once while listening to Chuck Smith tapes; it was amazingly restful sleep.
- Our thoughts are ours to control.
2 Corinthians 10:5, 7, Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ… You are looking at things as they are outwardly.
- If you desire godly change, godly transformation, take control of what you set your mind on. A man becomes as he thinks.
- What do you want to become? If you want to be a man of grace, think gracious thoughts. If you want to be a forgiving person, think forgiving thoughts.
- To have victorious faith you must take hold of every anxious thought. To let your requests be made known to God means that you trust Him with every fear, every worry, every anxiety.
- Let your requests be made known to God and dwell on the things which are worthy of praise. God is your help in time of need.
Philippians 4:4-9 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is [a]near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all [b]comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is [c]lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, [d]dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.