Hey, everybody, welcome to the Broward Church again. And before we begin, let me just give you a quick reminder about our church service on the lawn next week. Next week, we’re going to be on the lawn services. That’s November the 1st, 9:00 a.m. and 11, 15 p.m., then 15 a.m. sorry. It’ll be in front of the church building.
So bring your own lawn chairs, bring your blankets. Each service will be about an hour. And so make sure to be here a bit early so you can grab your spot on the lawn. And the staff is working really hard to set up a ways that we can remain socially distance while also enjoying one another’s fellowship. Again, it’s going to be a great, great time together. That’s next week, nine and 11, 15 a.m. on the lawn.
We’ll also be streaming it. So if you prefer to catch it that way, you can go ahead and do that on our normal channels, Facebook and on YouTube and also on the church website. Another quick announcement last week I asked you to share and I was just super grateful for the response. We last week we had a record number of shares on our post on Facebook, and we had several others on YouTube as well. But we had ninety nine shares on Facebook.
And so I’m a fan of round numbers. So if you can make it 100 this week, go ahead. Why don’t you go ahead and share and share and share again. It means a lot. It allows people to be reached by the message of Jesus and it’s super, super easy way to do that. Let’s dive in.
He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands
We’ve been in a series that we’re calling he’s got he’s still got the whole world in his hands. We’ve been talking a lot about God’s sovereignty, and I’ve been thinking a lot this season not only about God’s sovereignty, but also about the value of difficulty. And I’ve concluded and I know that you feel the same way, but that isn’t it true that we learned the most while in the midst of difficulty, we learn the most about ourselves. We learn the most about our lives.
We learn the most in many ways about our relationship with God when times are difficult because it’s normal for us, when things are falling apart around us, it’s normal for us to begin to search for answers, to reach out for answers, to questions that we didn’t have before, to try to drum up something within us as our hope begins to fade. It’s normal to take stock of the materials that we use to build our lives when the ground beneath us is shaking.
It’s normal for us to think about now. Where is my foundation when the storms of life come rolling in? So in many ways, difficulty, uncertainty. They are purifiers, they are sifters. They reframe our perspective and recategorize our priorities. They remind us, they remind us of the value of knowing something that’s greater than ourselves. And that’s why during this time, I’ve been desperately, personally, desperately trying to hold on to the scriptures. See, I believe the reason why the Bible is so relevant is because the Bible is a record of God’s faithfulness during uncertainty.
If you open up the pages of scripture, you find this story after story in line after line and all of your favorite verses and all of your favorite stories are built upon this idea of God’s certainty in the midst of uncertainty. And as times get stranger and stranger in our world, and as things look continuously uncertain, as things feel like they’re out of place, we decided, hey, we’re we’re going to encourage you that we were not going to build a Bible, a series based on our our own opinions, our own intellect or our own perspective.
But instead, we were going to build a series based just firmly on what God teaches about himself and how God teaches these ideas that he is in control, that he is encouraging us and inspiring us to remain faithful.
In the midst of really challenging times, we launched this series that God still has the whole world in his hands and we added the word still because this might be a time in your life, unlike maybe any other time in your life and in your world, where you wonder I wonder if God is actually still active. Does God still interact with the affairs of man? Is God still intervening? Is God still coming? The storms of the life of the storms around us and the last two weeks we’ve talked very specifically, as we mentioned, about God’s sovereignty.
Can you Trust God?
We talked about the fact that he is trustworthy because he does govern and control all things. If and if he, in fact, is the one who controls everything, then in the midst of really challenging times, there is nothing to fear. And while we have been having this series, we haven’t been very practical. In fact, we haven’t been practical at all. I haven’t given you anything to do, anything to add to kind of your daily routine to make life a little bit more bearable.
All I’ve done is leave you with a couple of questions I asked you last week. Could you still trust God as things get worse and worse and worse and worse. Could you still trust God, will you still trust God? And the week before I brought up Ezra and I held them in my hands and I said, hey, I want to encourage you to be like a child in the arms of your God. Now, that might be inspiring in terms of reframing your thinking, but I can give you very many practical things to do.
But what I’ve noticed is that if we will, then if we are acknowledging that God is in control, if we’re acknowledging that he still has the whole world in his hands, that he still sits on the throne, then then the question for us becomes, what are we supposed to do while we wait for God to do what he does?
What are you supposed to do and what am I supposed to do? What are we supposed to do while we wait for God to do what he is going to do? If we trust that? Certainly he’s going to fix the issues and and resolve the problems and make everything beautiful in his time. If we trust all those things are going to happen, what are we supposed to do in the meantime? What are we supposed to do when uncertainty becomes even more uncertain?
What are we supposed to do when we look at our bank account and it’s getting lower and lower and lower and lower, what are we supposed to do when the election results come in? Not in favor of what we hope for. What are we supposed to do if our nation is forced to lock down again?
Paul’s Letter to the Phillipians
What are we supposed to do if things go the opposite direction that you would hope for them to go? The great news is the scriptures speak to this in a very, very, very specific way. And I want to show it to you. If you have a Bible, I would love for you to turn with me to the Book of Philippians. We’re going to get Philippians Chapter four in just a second. But Philippians was a letter written to a Roman city in Phillipi by the apostle Paul.
And I got to tell you a little bit about the letter and why it was written and when it was written, because I believe it adds to the credibility of the statement that we’re about to read. Let’s talk about it a little bit. Paul is probably the premier church planter in the early church. Once he became a follower of Jesus, he left Jerusalem and he started planting churches all through modern day Europe. And one of the churches he planted was a church called it was a church in a town called Phillipi.
And so what happened is he started this church and he started several other churches. And eventually Paul makes his way back into Jerusalem. And before he goes there, he’s actually warned not to go into Jerusalem because there’s going to be nothing but trouble for him there. The Jewish leaders wanted to stop him from spreading the message of Christianity because in their minds, he was corrupting the message of Judaism because Paul was telling people who are not Jewish that they could basically be loved by the Jewish God, that they could be cared for, that they didn’t have to follow the law necessarily.
They didn’t have to get circumcised. They didn’t have to eat all the right foods. They could be accepted by a holy God if they would just accept the Messiah, repent and be baptized. And so if you’re a Jewish leader, you hate that message.
It’s corrupting the message of Judaism and infuriated them so much that when Paul went back to Jerusalem, some of the leaders who were greatly offended by him saw him and called for action. And what happened is a mob attacked him. If you want to read some of this, you could read through the Book of Acts. But they they attacked him. They dragged him out of the temple and they tried to beat him to death. What a wonderful way to be greeted by God’s people.
Eventually, somebody calls the police who happen to be the Romans and the Romans show up and they arrest Paul and the religious leaders basically say, hey, you know, he’s breaking all sorts of law laws. But but somehow in some way, Paul, in the middle of all this controversy, mentions to one of the guards that he’s not just Jewish, he’s also Roman. He’s a Roman citizen. And this becomes a game changer. All of a sudden, there’s a different set of rules.
So they decide instead of just like leading them to the crowd, instead of just leading to the religious leaders, that they decide to ship him all the way to Rome. So they put them on a ship and they sent him to Rome and they’re in this ship and all of a sudden the storm comes. So just imagine this guy’s life. He comes doing the work of God, goes into Jerusalem, is attacked and beaten and left for dead, and then eventually is arrested and sent off to Rome.
And while he’s on the ship, there is this incredible storm and they’re blown out into the middle of the Mediterranean Sea on this old kind of rickety boat from the first century. They’re lost at sea. Eventually, the sea washes up on shore and they’re shipwrecked on shore of this island for three months. And if it couldn’t get any worse, one one day, Paul is picking up some wood and he is bitten by a snake. Finally, they get to Rome and he’s imprisoned in a home and he has to wait there for two years for a trial to come.
He’s under house arrest for two years. And while he’s in prison, while all of his life has been stripped away from him, all this difficulty is upon him. He begins to write letters to the churches that he planted throughout Europe. Philippians is one of those letters. They’re known by scholars as the prison epistles. The reason this is so important is because what I’m about to read seems extraordinarily impractical. But you can’t argue with the person who it comes from, because whatever difficulty is you’re going through right now, it hasn’t been what he went through.
He’s been stoned like rocks thrown at him, whipped, arrested, shipwreck, snake bitten and is awaiting trial in Rome. And he knows that that trial will eventually lead to his death. And in fact, in about two years time, maybe three years, someone, some Roman guards will come to his house, they will take part and they will walk him out of the city about three or four miles and miles, and then they will behead him on the open road.
That’s the end of Paul’s life, Paul knew, knowing all of this is coming, he writes these words, Philippians Chapter four verse for these are the words penned by a man in prison. Who had gone through so much after trying to do so much for God in this kingdom. He writes these words, Philippians, chapter four, verse four, rejoice in the Lord always. To which we might be tempted to say, how can we rejoice when there’s no reason to rejoice?
What Are Your Circumstances?
You don’t know what’s going on in my life. You don’t know what’s going on in my country. You don’t know what’s going on in our circumstances. But notice that Paul doesn’t just write rejoice always. Instead, he adds these three words, rejoice in the Lord always. The best way to understand that is to substitute this line in the Lord with some other things, and then we’ll begin to understand it a little bit more. You would understand it if I said to you, rejoice in your raise.
Like, I got a little bit more money, that’s something to be excited about, rejoice in your engagement. These two over here sitting socially separated, rejoice in your engagement, rejoice that your kids are finally back to school. Rejoice that the family member who is sick is now better. You understand what this means. Rejoicing is taking a moment to allow the emotions of the situation to sweep over you. And so in the context of what Paul is saying, this is what he’s basically telling us.
He’s saying, reflect on God’s goodness and mercy in your life until your emotions catch up with that reality. Reflect on God’s goodness, reflect on how awesome he’s been to you until your emotions begin to catch up to that reality. Don’t rejoice in just the seemingly temporary circumstances, but instead choose to rejoice in the Lord. Always feel the joy of God, rejoice in the Lord, stop for a second whatever you’re doing in your life, and just take a moment to consider who he is and let the thought of who he is wash over you in such a way that it begins to change your heart.
Consider God’s Power
Stop and take a moment to consider his power. Stop and take a moment to consider his authority. Stop and take a moment to consider his mercy and focus on the fact that we are actually saved from our sin because of the grace of God. Take a moment to think about your life differently, rejoice in the Lord, always think about passages like this. Zephaniah, chapter three, verse 17, The Lord, your God is with you, the mighty warrior who saves.
He will he will take great delight in you, in his love. He will no longer rebuke you, but rejoice over you with singing. Put yourself in the arms of a God who rejoices over you with singing. Think about Isaiah. Chapter forty three verse one says. But now this is what the Lord says. He who created you, he who forms you do not fear for. I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name. You are mine.
When you pass through the waters I will be with you. When you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned. The flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Rejoice in the fact that whatever you’re going through, you will not be overwhelmed, that you will not be overcome. Stop for a moment, Paula. Sing and rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice in the fact that your creator, the creator of the universe, the Alpha, the Omega, the beginning and the end. The Great I am your himself is so intimately involved in your life that your hairs are numbered, that you can fall to the ground and scrape your knee without him knowing that every painful memory, every nightmare that replays in your brain.
Night after night after night and in every rise of your heart and every fall of your soul over the course of your life, that God is still with you. Rejoice in the Lord, rejoice in his grace, rejoice in his mercy towards you that you, in fact, deserve wrath.
But God, because he is rich in mercy, made you a life and made you alive and poured out his blessings on you. Rejoice that he loves your kids much more than you could ever love your kids. Rejoice that he has the whole world in his hand. Rejoice that he wants no one to perish, rejoice in the character of God, the supremacy of his love, his infinite justice, that he walks by grace and truth, and that nothing can separate you from him.
Rejoice in passages like Romans, chapter eight, verse thirty eight four. I’m convinced that neither death nor life nor angel nor Demon, neither the President nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor death nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord rejoice in the Lord.
That’s the encouragement in the moments when you begin to feel the anxiety of uncertainty. Why don’t you instead reflect on God’s sovereignty? You begin to feel the anxiety. Stop for a second and reflect on the awesomeness and the sovereignty of God. Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, rejoice. In America. You see the reason. The reason this is so important for us, especially those of us who live in the United States of America, is because we don’t often stop to rejoice in the Lord, because most of the time we have so much else to rejoice and.
See, for the most part, all of us have stuff, we have nice things, we have nice cars, we have a good job, we have decent relationships for the most part, most of our selves are OK. Some of us are certainly experiencing health difficulties. But for the most part, most of us are OK. We’re healthy. We live in nice homes. We go on nice vacations. We aren’t really worried about our next meal.
For most for most of us, for the most part, life is relatively easy. And what I believe is happening in this time is I believe God is orchestrating for us during this time in our country when things are so hard, he’s allowing us to to have the things we used to rejoice in fade away so that we can repair our ties and rejoice in the one who we always supposed to be rejoicing in the first place. God is orchestrating for us an opportunity to refocus our joy on what it should have been all along.
He’s given us an opportunity in many ways to detach our emotion, our emotions from our surroundings, to detach our emotions from our circumstances and to bend them in the direction of God’s mercy and grace in your life, to bend them in the direction of his trustworthiness. Because right now, if there’s nothing to be joyful about, you’re going to have to find something to be joyful about. And he goes, why don’t you just choose the thing you should have chosen all along?
Choose me. And here’s Paul, he goes, Even though I’m in prison, even though I’ve been snake bitten, even though I have been shipwrecked and even those stones have been thrown at my head and people tried to kill me, I am choosing to rejoice in the Lord.
And if he’s allowing us, rather, if he’s making that choice, that means that we’re allowed to make the same choice. So if you’re a man like Paul who chooses to rejoice in the Lord, you become untouchable. Paul was untouchable. You kill him or you threaten to kill him. He goes, look, to die is gain. Fine, we’ll leave your life all to live, is Christ OK? Fine, what are you in prison? Well, that’s fine.
I’ll sing songs and I’ll convert your entire prison guard. You couldn’t touch a man like this. Paul is a perfect example of a man who did not rejoice in his circumstances, but simply rejoiced in the truthfulness and the trustworthiness and the faithfulness of God. Do what you will to me, but I will always rejoice in the Lord. And that’s not even the end of the discussion, that’s just verse four, look at verse five. He says, Let your gentleness be evident to all that, your gentleness or your character or your kindness be evident to all.
Here’s an implication for you. Don’t let don’t allow life’s difficulties to degrade your character. Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, rejoice, but look, as times are bad, let your gentleness be evident to all. Don’t allow your fuse to be so short because things are so tough. Rejoice in Lord always. And then he turns our attention towards how we treat and respond to one another. You know, when things are tense, oftentimes we become contentious people.
When things are, when we are frustrated, we become fearful or rather we become frustrated people. When we get bitter, we become embittered people and we begin to pour that emotion on the people around us. It becomes like gasoline on the flames of uncertainty.
Is this not the perfect example, this idea, this picture of uncertain times causing people to get to a road, their characters? It’s not the perfect thing that’s happening on Facebook right now.
Go on Facebook for like 13 seconds like and just begin to see people’s character eroded by uncertain times. And whatever the opposite of let your gentleness be evident to all is exactly what’s happening on social media. But it’s not just social media. It happens to me outside of the pandemic world, when I go on trips like taking a flight somewhere, I get so frustrated because I’m so nervous and I just I treat my wife badly to my children badly. I don’t get it.
But what happens again, we understand this feeling as the temperature gets turned up, our character begins to be set ablaze.
We fall apart and saying, look, look, look, even as trouble comes. Let your gentleness be evident to all at its worst, what happens is we begin to destroy relationships around us and as your circumstances erode, basically don’t allow your character to erode with it. So if you found yourself during this season really angry at people, if you found yourself talking badly about brothers and sisters in Christ who are voting a different direction than you’re voting, if you found yourself becoming so divided with people that you can’t seem to even have a logical conversation if you found yourself during this time being so angry, so frustrated, so worried, so concerned about all of life circumstances, I believe you may have missed what Paul is saying here and his warning for all of us.
And I believe you’re also in some dangerous spiritual territory. So let me help you out a little bit. Here’s the starting point. Maybe you can take this question I’m about to put on the screen and ask those who are close to you, ask them this question, ask them, has recent tension affected my response to those around me? Just take a second. Ask some people around you right after the sermon, ask your wife, ask your children, ask your coworkers, ask some disciples who are in your community group, ask them people around you say, hey, has the tension in this country, has the tension with the political season, has the tension with what’s going on with race?
Has has that tension affected my response to those around me, to you, to others and allow them to speak into your life a little bit? But again, this is not the end of the text, this is just such a rich tax, rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all the Lord is near. Again, he turned the conversation back to the our acknowledgement of God’s presence, because if all there is is this life like all there is in this life, is this life, then sure, you should be really aggressive and you should be really unkind.
If all there is, if there’s no heaven, if God doesn’t exist, if God’s not in perfect control, if there was no God governing the world, then there is something to be angry about and there is something to be like, like to turn the tables over about. And there is some anxiety that you should be having. Look, if you are just a set of molecules that’s like floating around in space and and you have no purpose and there is no God, you should be very anxious.
Very, very, very, very, very, very anxious. But if God is in control, then all of that stuff should begin to fade. This is what he’s saying. Let your gentleness be evident to all pause. The Lord is near. The Lord is near. The Lord is near, God is with you. He is in you, he is still in control and there is no reason to be anxious. That’s why he says the next line, do not be anxious about anything.
Don’t be stressed out, distracted by your emotions, troubled or distracted by your future. Do not be anxious about anything. Now, here’s the point in this lesson where I’d like to remind you who is speaking. This sentence does not come from me. It comes from a man led by the Holy Spirit who is in prison for no reason, put there while trying to do what God told him to do, a man who had done everything right and yet has experienced everything wrong and is speaking into your life.
And he’s speaking into my life and he’s saying this, don’t be anxious. Now, if he only said don’t be anxious about anything and there was nothing at the rest of this verse, this would be one of those things that would be easily overlooked. It’s kind of like when someone says to you, don’t worry, don’t don’t worry, you’re going through something. Don’t worry about it. I’m like, wow, I never thought about that. Well, thanks so much for that advice.
When people say, don’t worry to me like that and I’m just going to confess and I just want to cry, each of them in the throat, just like one of those things that maybe that’s that’s I mean, it is wrong. But but but that’s not what he’s saying here is not just saying don’t be anxious about anything.
He understands that that’s not enough. That’s why he adds the next line. And in the next line there, we find the very secret of handling difficult times while not allowing those difficult times to handle you. The next few verses are gold. They are gold. They’re so good, in fact, that I would encourage you to memorize them, have them in the back of your mind for this entire political season, maybe for the rest of your life. And if you’ve not been paying attention, you’ve been washing the dishes, maybe focusing for the next ten minutes or so, because this next part of the verse is just so gold.
Here is the prescription of sorts during extraordinary anxiety. Listen to the rest of the formula. It’s so great to not be anxious about everything, but in every situation that means this work. Well, we’re about to read works in married situations, job situations, school situations, friendships, situations, education situations, political situations.
In other words, Paul is saying what he’s about to share is appropriate for every situation, every situation that causes anxiety to brew in your heart. This is appropriate for every time you feel overwhelmed. This is appropriate every time you’re overwhelmed with worry. This is appropriate. Every time you just feel like the whole life is crashing down around you.
This passage is appropriate. Here’s what he says to do. But in every situation, do not be anxious about everything but in every situation by prayer and petition. With Thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Now, I know you’ve read this verse before, but let me explain it.
Because if in the past you read this like and don’t be anxious about everything, but in every situation, pray you’re not reading it right, if you just read it and you just go every situation and what you need to do is just pray.
You’re not really capturing the whole picture of what he’s saying here, because there are several other words here. He uses the word pray, which, you know what that means, petition. That means to have this argument, this jostling with Thanksgiving. That means gratitude. And the last word he uses is this word present, which also could be translated as to reveal. It’s a Greek word used primarily within the context of solving a mystery and Paula saying and this is so important and it’s also substantiated by what follows in the verse, he’s saying don’t just if you’re anxious, don’t just pray God take that situation away.
They’ll just ask God take it away. Instead, it’s like God take it away. And certainly that’s that prayer part. And then it’s like with prayer and petition. And so now there’s this this pulling back and forth. And then he says with Thanksgiving, so have an attitude of gratitude.
Make your request or reveal your request to God. Present your request to God. And he’s saying that he wants you to reveal what’s actually in your heart and mind. See, on the surface when you pray, most of us pray at the level of what I want this. You want that I want a job. This is what I really desire.
But rarely, very rarely do we pray on the level of our insecurities or the level of our fear or the level of us exposing what’s really going on in our hearts. Because here’s the thing. You want a job, certainly, or you want your kids to become Christian, certainly. But there’s something deeper inside that is sort of making those things come out. And that’s what he’s saying. Hey, why don’t you pray? Revealing those things come to God, open hand and dig a little bit deeper because uncertainty’s surfaces, our deepest insecurities, the surface, our deepest values. But most of us don’t spend time praying at that level.
And so in the moments when the earth is shaking beneath our feet and it feels like there’s nowhere to go or nothing to do, we can come praying vulnerably or we can come praying at a very surface level. And that surface level prayer is not going to resolve your insecurities or your anxiety.
Instead, what we need to do is dig up what’s really going on in our hearts so we can lay it all before God, sort of throw it up on God and go, look, this is who I am. God, I’m frustrated. Because this election’s coming up. And somewhere in my heart, Lord. I feel like my identity will be determined by who wins somewhere in my heart. God, I feel like if this doesn’t happen, I’m not going to have any hope.
And somewhere in my heart, God, I feel like if things don’t turn out the way I want them to turn out, I don’t even know how I can look. The brothers and sisters in the face. I don’t even know what’s happening with me. But please, would you change what’s inside of me? That’s the type of prayer he’s talking about here. Another word that we can use it’s a biblical word is wrestling. It’s not about fighting so that God understands you, it’s more about exposing your will so that he can conform your will to his will.
It’s Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani, that’s the way we should be praying when anxiety and hardship come Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani, what does Jesus do? He goes back, Father, take this away from me. He leaves his request, but not as I will as you will. Then he goes back again and back again and back again until his heart is ready to move forward, until his heart and mind is ready to become God’s heart and mind.
It’s not about trying to convince God to change his course. It’s about asking God to change you.
The encouragement is to come to God on your knees or maybe even on your face and say, God, here’s what I want, certainly. But the reason I want it is because I fear this other thing, because I’m concerned about this other thing. It’s a moment, to be honest, to be exposed. In other words, he says, I want you to pray and petition with gratitude and then reveal what’s going on in your heart to God.
Maybe even something that you’ve never revealed to him before, and it’s in those moments of uncertainty oftentimes that give us the greatest opportunity for intimacy with God. When I pray to God, I want blank. And the reason I want it is because I feel like I’m so concerned about my family or I feel like I want to be important or I want to be viewed a certain way by my peers or I want to be viewed a certain way by my children or or perhaps God, if I want to know that you’re listening to me.
Those prayers are intimate prayers. Asking God to find your keys is is a prayer, I guess. But it’s not what they’re talking about here. He’s talking about exposing your heart to him. Why do I find myself so anxious about this stuff? And the spirit of vulnerability, I want to share with you something that’s been going on in my heart for the last few weeks, I have been incredibly anxious about the stock market. I am a 30 something year old, but I don’t know why I’m anxious about my retirement.
It’s a really bizarre thing to be anxious about. And in many ways I’m ashamed about it. But I’ve been watching the ticker symbol, the stupid Dow or the S&P 500 or the Nasdaq tick up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down. And the market has been extremely volatile over the last couple of months. But but I’ve been watching it and watching it. And every time it goes up, I’m like, yes, the Lord is with me.
And every time it goes down, I’m like, I hate life. And and this week I decided to follow this whole thought and just get on my knees and get on my face and just ask God. Look, I want you to help my retirement go great, but beyond that, Lord, I think the reason I want this is because I don’t want to be seen as a failure in my future. And I don’t want to be seen as somebody that didn’t make it, that didn’t have the wherewithal to put it all together.
And I’m saying this to you guys, but but imagine that prayer, I mean, that’s that’s that’s the first time I think I’ve ever prayed to God about that stuff. And in that moment, I feel like I found something different, I kind of tapped into something a little bit different. I’ve asked God, what would you allow, would you would you bend my will, Lord, let me find joy in the things you find, Joy. And that’s exactly what the apostle Paul is asking us to do.
Work it out with your maker. Have this discussion, work it out, bring some stuff up, ask the questions, ask the question, why is this such a big deal to me? Whatever you’re anxious about right now, ask yourself, why is this such a big deal to me? Why am I so concerned about this? Why is this so important to me? Why is this and then do the work, then do the work with God.
And here is the promise. If you do the work, here is the promise. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding. I was battling and trying to really understand this line transcends all understanding. Why does it transcend understanding? And it finally, finally dawned on me the reason it transcends all understanding is because it’s a piece that doesn’t make sense, because nothing has changed.
You got him saying, like the world we live in right now, peace comes by way of things changing, but this transcends understanding because nothing has changed. I’m still in jail, Paul, and the market is still not perfectly volatile. My loved ones are still not better. The whole country is still devolving into chaos. And yet I am able to find peace. It transcends all understanding. Allow that peace, he says.
It says it will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. God, your heart means to stand, watch over to stand, watch over your heart and mind. And this is important, we have to hear this, he’s saying the reason we are so anxious or anxiety ridden is because we have not invited and allowed God to stand guard over our heart and our mind. Instead, we have asked him to stand guard over other things we pray, God.
Would you stand guard over my children? Would you stand would you allow that? You know, would you stand guard over my financial situation? We stand guard over this. You’re sending them out.
And really what he’s saying is, I want to guard your heart and I want to guard your mind. I don’t want you to send me out to go fix your Instagram followers. Like, I don’t care. I don’t want you to send me out for that stuff. I want instead to guard your heart and your mind and Christ. Jesus. That’s a promise for peace. But you just take a breath away. That’s a promise. For a new spring breath every single moment of the day.
That’s the promise not to feel so tense about everything, that’s a promise to not be overwhelmed by all that’s going on in the world. Christ, Jesus will guard your heart and your mind. Guard your heart from all the things that are coming to overwhelm it and guard your mind from all the things that are causing you all that frustration and that fear.
What if you could have peace in spite of the fact that there is still a lot of difficulty? What if you could have peace in spite of the fact that there is still uncertainty, what instead of being stressed out in the moments of high stress and anxiety, you learned to have peace in such a way that surpasses all understanding because you were willing to go to God empty handed. You’re willing to work it out with your savior. You’re willing to give him your anxiety and your fears.
And he began to rest on you. And so in the meantime, as the country devolves into chaos and as fear grips everybody, and as bitter rage fills the heart of so many, what are we supposed to do? Well, let me just kind of wrap up this whole series and wrap it up into three things we talked about. First thing is we’re going to stop trying to know everything.
We don’t need to know everything that’s going on, we don’t need to have all the answers. We do not need to know. We need to stop for a second, stop trying to know everything. Stop trying to put it all in perspective. Instead, sit and rest in the sovereignty of God. Second thing is we’re going to reflect on God’s trustworthiness. We’re going to reflect that he’s been trustworthy, that he has been faithful. That great is his faithfulness.
We’re going to reflect on his greatness and his goodness and his trustworthiness. We’re going to stop trying to do everything. We’re going to reflect on God’s goodness and his trustworthiness. And if there’s anything still left over in our hearts, we’re going to wrestle in prayer until peace comes.
We’re not going to give up in prayer until we find the peace promised by God. If it’s promised by God, that means it’s going to come. Peace can come in the middle of your really challenging circumstances if you’re willing to do the work.
And sometimes God will intervene in your circumstances and you will find a job and you will get better and things will be awesome. But all the time, peace is offered. If we stop. If we reflect, if we work it out in prayer, we can find a peace that surpasses all understanding. I love what C.S. Lewis says. He says, I learned at prayer isn’t about changing God. Prayer is about changing me. Prayer is not about changing God, it’s about changing me, and I want to give you a kind of a little head start on this.
And so here’s what I’d like to do. I like for you to write this down, you can jot down your notes, you can kind of work it out this week. But but here’s what I’d like for you to do. You can pray this way, Lord.
I’m asking you to.
And then you just tell them what you want, which is kind of the level we all learn to pray at and then maybe take it a step deeper and say this. If you don’t, I’m afraid that. Lord, I’d love for you to take care of my children in this situation that’s happening. But if you don’t, Lord, I’m afraid that that means that you’re not in control. That means that whatever it is, you fill in the blank and you work it out in prayer and peace will come.
Peace will come. And let me just tell you where to begin. Don’t begin with, like the where’s my keys? I want to find a parking spot. Begin with your greatest point of anxiety, the thing that stresses you out the most, the thing that keeps you up at night. And I’m telling you, because the Bible is telling you that peace is available for you. I’m telling you because the apostle Paul who was in jail is telling you that peace is available for you because God wants to guard your heart and your mind.
And so I also want to just make a point that this is not hocus pocus, this isn’t like just some preacher talk. This isn’t magic stuff. And so, like, if people listening are still confused, they’re not like sure that this can possibly happen, that peace can’t come this way.
If your brother or sister, who has found peace in the middle of terrible circumstances, if you’re someone like that, someone passed away and yet you were still able to find joy and peace, someone, you know, cut you off and and messed you up and and did terrible things to you, but yet you were still able to find peace. I want you to I want you to just drop these hands emoji in the chat. The reason I’m doing this is because simply this I want others to see that this is possible.
That this is possible that God can provide peace in the middle of terrible times, that God is still in control. He still has the whole world in his hands, that he has not fallen asleep at the wheel and we can still find peace. Let’s pray together. Father, we come before you and we are just honored to speak to the king of glory, the one who was before all things Lord, you sit enthroned in heaven. I just take a moment to picture like what happens in Isaiah Chapter six, where where angels are surrounding your throne and day and night they never stops shouting holy, holy, holy, or were the thunder of their wings is so loud, Lord.
And I can be like Isaiah and approach a throne.