AGCC Sun. a.m. 6/8/1997
TEXT: Philip. 4:2-9
INTRO: The song of this world is
"I can't get no satisfaction" ! Most people's lives are passionately
striving for happiness, and yet few really find it! The things of this world
cannot bring happiness, for there are very wealthy and powerful people who are
terribly unhappy, and some who are happy; there are very poor people who are
terribly happy, and some who are unhappy also....so it can't be the "stuff" of
this world that makes a difference!
The difference is the source we draw from! Only those who draw from God
will find real happiness and a satisfied life.
ILLUS: A Princeton Seminary professor discovered that the spirit
of optimism really does make a difference. He made a study of great preachers
across the past centuries. He noted their tremendous varieties of personalities
and gifts. Then he asked the question, "What do these outstanding pulpiteers all
have in common besides their faith?" After several years of searching he found
the answer. It was their cheerfulness. In most cases, they were happy
The satisfied heart is the one filled with God's joy, a joy that comes
from God's peace ruling in our hearts.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us
that a satisfied heart comes from a right perspective and then putting that into
practice...joy is the outflow of a satisfied heart.
I. SATISFACTION & RELATIONSHIPS 4:2-3
A. Problem 4:2
1. The almost "perfect" Church at Philippi had a problem: 2 women leaders were at odds with each other!
a. It is rather safe to assume they are leaders for the following reasons:
(1. The Church was founded by Paul with a group of women that met by the river, these ladies may have in fact been a part of the original group.
(2. That a public letter would include the private names of 2 women would seem to indicate that they had a very public stand in the Church, something akin to leadership....perhaps they were deaconnesses.
(3. Paul's use of the phrase; "these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the Gospel..." would also seem to indicate an important role in this Church and its ministry.
b. That the leaders should be at odds is a cause for serious concern, they are to be examples to the body.
c. Reality is that there will be times when differences do arise, but they must not be allowed to destroy the unity of the Church!
2. It is interesting how Paul asks them to "agree" with each, he doesn't ask them to intellectually agree, but to "agree IN THE LORD"...
a. Notice Paul did not take sides as to which one was right and which was wrong.
b. This probably indicates that their disagreement was not over a doctrinal purity issue, but was more a "personal like or dislike" issue.
c. This being so, Paul is concerned that they made a personal issue more important than the unity of the body of Christ!
d. The fact of the matter is simple: personal likes and dislikes, styles
of worship, etc. are not nearly as important in a Church as are relationships
B. Priority! 4:3
1. Paul asks for the other leaders in the Church to take a role in resolving this dispute...it didn't matter who was correct, they were both wrong for being at odds with each other since the issue was not doctrinal.
2. Notice Paul affirms all these leaders relationship with Christ as being intact: He states how ALL of them have their names written in the "book of life".
3. Paul's concern then was that these ladies couldn't see what was important here, certainly they would lose their joy and satisfaction if they didn't get focused again on what was really important!
4. We should be heartbroken over the right things, and not over the wrong
ILLUS: The St. Bernard dogs in the Alps who seek out travelers
lost in a storm take their mission very seriously. One of these dogs returned
late one afternoon, wearied from fighting his way through the drifts. He went to
his kennel, lay down in a corner, and acted thoroughly despondent, despite the
efforts of his master to encourage him. Was he sick? Well, no, not in body, but
in heart. He had failed to find anyone to help and had come back ashamed. It is
such sorrow of heart, resulting in outbursts of tears on behalf of others, that
should characterize the Christian. -- Illustrations of Bible Truths, AMG International, 1995,
5. There were larger and much more important things to be concerned over than whatever issue consumed these ladies.
6. The Church that is united has a satisfied spirit in it, and joy is a
real byproduct of this unity.
II. SATISFACTION & REQUESTS 4:4-7
A. Praising 4:4
1. Paul moves from relationships with man, to our relationship to God.
a. It is here that Paul bases our satisfaction and joy... "REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS, I WILL SAY IT AGAIN: REJOICE!"
b. Satisfaction with others or ourselves must begin with God!
c. Praising God is the starting point...we don't rejoice IN things, but IN THE LORD!
2. Rejoicing creates a frame of mind that allows satisfaction to
ILLUS: Zig Ziglar says, "Fear is the darkroom where negatives are
developed." Sometimes our fears are quite profound, complicated, and deep. At
other times, they're very simple. -- Dr. Ron Jenson, Make a Life, Not Just a Living, (Thomas Nelson, 1995),
3. A relationship with God should be filled with satisfaction and joy!
a. The world has little basis for this, but we have much!
b. Praise is a big part of being a Christian!
ILLUS: Kaufmann Kohler states in the Jewish Encyclopedia that no
language has as many words for joy and rejoicing as does Hebrew. In the Old
Testament thirteen Hebrew roots, found in twenty-seven different words, are used
primarily for some aspect of joy or joyful participation in religious worship.
Hebrew religious ritual demonstrates God as the source of joy. In contrast to
the rituals of other faiths of the East, Israelite worship was essentially a
joyous proclamation and celebration. The good Israelite regarded the act of
thanking God as the supreme joy of his life. Pure joy is joy in God as both its
source and object. The psalmist says, "Thou dost show me the path of life; in
thy presence there is fullness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures
forevermore". (Psalm 16:11)
B. Petition 4:5-6
1. The satisfied life does not mean that we will never face difficulties however, but when we do Paul offers a formula for us to follow to keep the joy and satisfaction in our lives intact:
a. We need to be "gentle" with everyone ("moderation" in the KJV)
(1. the idea being that we allow mercy and grace to all, both inside the Church and outside.
(2. The meaning of this word here has the idea of being willing to accept others and forgive them readily knowing the Lord's coming is at hand soon. The Lord Himself can deal with them if they are wrong.
(3. We need to "moderate" our responses to others in light of Christ's soon coming, and be "gentile" in our approach with people.
b. Praise + Petition = Peace ("....with thanksgiving present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.")
2. Too often we fail to take things to God and miss out on His peace because of it.
3. Paul is still dealing with the joy of satisfaction here: he is sharing that the way to have a satisfied life is to follow this formula of Praise + Petition = Peace.
a. Too many Christians don't start prayer with thanksgiving, they only pray in petition and thus they miss the peace part!
b. God invites us to come, but to start with praise because that will influence our confidence and faith in God when we make petition.
4. God is readily available for us to bring our petitions to Him, we just need to follow the pattern and His peace is ours!
a. Some people never even go to God in prayer with their requests and they
wonder why they have no satisfied life as a Christian!
ILLUS: Mrs. Oswald Chambers once said of her husband, "Like all
teachers of forceful personality, he constantly had people longing to pour out
their intimate troubles to him. I remember at the close of one meeting a woman
came up to him with the words, "Oh, Mr. Chambers, I feel I must tell you about
myself.' As he led her away to a quiet corner, I resigned myself to a long wait;
but he was back again in a few minutes. As we went home, I remarked on the speed
with which he managed to free himself, and he replied, "I just asked her if she
had ever told God all about herself. When she said she hadn't, I advised her to
go home and pour out before Him as honestly as she could all her troubles, then
see if she still needed or wanted to relate them to me.'" Chambers knew the
importance of going directly to Jesus when faced with a special need or a trying
b. A prayer life that starts with praise will not be boring or tedious,
because it will bring rejoicing to the heart even before making petition, then
we can come to God with confidence and joy.
C. Peace 4:7
1. Paul's promise here is quite satisfying!
a. God's peace which comes when we approach Him correctly with requests will literally guard our hearts and minds!
b. The word used here for "guard" is a military term, it was used for the sentry that was set to watch for security.
c. Paul is stating that a proper prayer life can actually bring mental and emotional health to us!
d. Can you see how important prayer can be to spiritual health now?
2. Most of the time we are anxious too much anyway, and often
ILLUS: A Navy chaplain drew up a "Worry Table" based on the problems brought to him by the men and women he served. Their worries fit into five categories:
Worries about things that never happened, 40%.
Worries about decisions already made and not changeable, 30%.
Worries about sickness that never came, 12%.
Worries about children and friends, forgetting that they were able to help themselves, 10%.
Worries about real problems, 8%.
His conclusion was that 92% of our worries are
needless. -- Albert P.
Stauderman, Let Me Illustrate, (Augsburg, 1983), p. 16.
3. Notice that this peace can at times be even beyond understanding, that's because it is rooted in our relationship with God which can be so satisfying that the joy we have gives us a peace in spite of the trials we face!
a. This peace is rooted in a proper understanding of prayer
b. And a proper relationship with God
III. SATISFACTION & REINFORCEMENT 4:8-9
A. Perception 4:8
1. Paul now starts his second attempt at a conclusion in his letter - "FINALLY" again!
a. Here he wants to reinforce for them the proper focus to keep the joy of satisfaction in their lives.
b. These are not just some passing thoughts, but a life perspective Paul is advocating here.
2. It almost sounds like Paul is promoting "positive thinking"...but it is somewhat different from this.
a. Positive thinking can attempt to deny the negative, Paul is not asking to deny the negative, but to focus on the positive!
b. Paul understands that "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" Prov. 23:7
c. It doesn't mean that we don't see the negative stuff in life, but that we decide that this negative stuff will not be the focus of our life!
d. It does matter how we tend to look at things...because our thought life later become actions.
3. People who think negatively tend to be very unsatisfied people in life, both with themselves and with others.
a. There are ways to escape an unsatisfied life without joy.
b. Focus is an important factor in the quality of our life.
ILLUS: There is a famous scene in Peter Pan. Peter is in the
children's bedroom; they have seen him fly; and they wish to fly too. They have
tried it from the floor and they have tried it from the beds and the result is
failure. "How do you do it?" John asked. And Peter answered: "You just think
lovely, wonderful thoughts and they lift you up in the air." The same is true
for the believer. The only way to defeat evil thoughts is to begin to think of
4. Paul is teaching here that satisfaction and joy are something that need
B. Practice 4:9
1. Thoughts must find expression in actions...thus Paul encourages the Church in Philippi to put "into practice" all they had learned from Paul.
a. Church creeds are useless if they are not practiced!
b. Christian love is meaningless if it is not practiced!
c. Satisfaction and Joy do not come our way without practicing these principles Paul shares here.
2. When our relationships are right, and we know how to present our requests to God, and we reinforce correct thinking in our lives then "THE GOD OF PEACE WITH BE WITH YOU." 4:9b
3. The joy of a satisfied life comes through this process!
4. Do you know the joy of a satisfied life?
CONCLUSION: Is it possible to find the joy of a satisfied life even in the midst of turmoil and struggles? YES! Paul shares 3 secrets to living a satisfied life: (1. Relationships are priority (2. Keep an attitude of praise in the forefront (3. Look for the good in life and put it into practice! The joy of satisfaction is possible even when facing tough circumstances in life. Are you satisfied and full of joy?