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Bible Commentaries

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

Philippians 4

Verses 1-7

  1. INTRO:
    1. It's 2 a.m., and you're wide awake; palms sweaty, heart racing. You're worried about your kids, or your aging parents, or your 401(k). Your health. Your sex life. Something has your mind spinning like a hamster cage.
    2. There is certainly a lot of anxiety going around. Anxiety disorder (which is what health experts call any anxiety that persists to the point that it interferes with one's life). It is the most common mental illness in the U.S. In its various forms, ranging from very specific phobias to generalized anxiety disorder, it afflicts 19 million Americans.
      1. Stress is an external stimulus that signals danger, often by causing pain.
      2. Fear is the short-term response such stresses produce in us.
      3. Anxiety has a lot of the same symptoms as fear, but it's a feeling that lingers long after the stress has lifted and the threat has passed.
      4. Depression is a prolonged sadness that results in a blunting of emotions & a sense of futility. (Times Magazine Article: Aug. 18, 2002)
    3. The believers relationship to the Lord should make a difference!
      1. A Difference in his/her relationship to people (unity)
      2. A Difference in his/her own attitude (rejoice & gentleness)
      3. A Difference in his/her own condition (anxious)
      4. A Difference in his/her own circumstances (pray/peace)
    4. Story - A few years ago 2 ministers got into a fight about what they considered to be an important doctrinal matter. They settled the fight when the first inister told the second: "Look, what are we fighting over? We're both striving to do the Lord's work. You do it your way and I'll do it His way!" [unity]
      1. When it comes to church fights we see everything from hand to hand combat to all out war! [From verbal bullets, to real bullets!]
        1. Catholic against Protestant (Ireland/war); Doctrinal Issues (Calvinism vs. Arminianism); Denominational splits; Church splits; Christian Friend splits; & even Christian Husband & Wife splits! (remember to pick 1 day this week to fast for marriages!)
        2. Let’s peek into a 1st century church skirmish.
  2. OUTLINE: Unifying Power & Fortifying Power!
  3. UNIFYING POWER! (1-3)
    1. THE CONTENDERS! (1,2)
    2. (2) So these 2 friends/co-laborers/ladies are urged to harmony!
      1. Euodia (Eu-o-thia) = “Prosperous Journey”;
      2. Syntyche (Soon-too-khay) = “Pleasant Acquaintance”.
        1. I think it went like this: (w/disgust) “Hey, Euodia you have a Prosperous journey, Ok Syntyche, it’s a Pleasure to make your Acquaintance!”
    3. Boy, Church problems spread fast...all the way to Rome!
      1. Are these women Christians? Yes, names in book of life.
      2. Are these women mature Christians? Yes, were leaders (everyone in church knew their names; they labored with Paul).
      3. So, leaders can have these divisions? Yes, & isn’t an issue with false teaching or heresy.
      4. What was the division then? We don’t know.
        1. It must not matter, because the bible doesn’t say.
        2. It’s division that matters. Paint any story on it from lil church issues to big ones.
        3. But then again, “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor!
    4. Illustration: It is said that when the British and French were fighting in Canada in the 1750s, Admiral Phipps, commander of the British fleet, was told to anchor outside Quebec. He was given orders to wait for the British land forces to arrive, then support them when they attacked the city. Phipps’ navy arrived early. As the admiral waited, he became annoyed by the statues of the saints that adorned the towers of a nearby cathedral, so he commanded his men to shoot at them with the ships’ cannons. No one knows how many rounds were fired or how many statues were knocked out, but when the land forces arrived and the signal was given to attack, the admiral was of no help. He had used up all his ammunition shooting at the “saints.”
      1. Are you wasting your ammunition on the other saints?
    5. THE COUNSELOR! (3)
    6. Some disputes require a 3rd person, a mediator.
      1. Don’t be embarrassed then when you need a mediator/counselor.
    7. The ultimate goal w/church conflicts: [3]
      1. The Common Goal? Restoration; Not Discipline.
      2. The Right attitude? Grace; Not Force.
      3. The common ground? Christ; Not logic, church policy, tradition, or your will.
        1. Rom.12:18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men
        2. Note the difference between disagreeing, & being disagreeable is an important one!
          1. Prov.18:19 A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle.
  4. FORTIFYING POWER! (4-7)
    1. THE PRAYER! (4-6)
    2. (4) Rejoice - Your Joy is to be in the Lord & unchanging (always!)
      1. Paul’s own circumstances(in jail) reminded him of the joy available in the Lord.
    3. (5) Gentleness - graciousness.
      1. The gentle person does not insist on his or her rights.
    4. (5) The Lord is at hand - can either mean the Lord is close by, at their side, or His coming is Imminent.
    5. Jesus is the believers life power - There are 2 rules for this power to function: Never Stressful, Always Thankful.
    6. NEVER STRESSFUL! (6a)
      1. To resolve a problem we often resort to: Worry, complaining, becoming depressed; or telling everybody who’ll listen about your troubles. It may feel good temporarily…but it never gets the problem resolved!
      2. What good has worrying ever accomplished?
        1. It has never made anyone stronger; or helped anyone to do Gods will; or provided for anyone a way of escape out of their anxiety or confusion. (Streams In The Desert; pg.380)
        2. Anxiety is a contradiction of the life of faith.
      3. Worrying is absolutely forbidden by Jesus. Mt.6:31 Therefore do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear?
        1. He does not mean we are not to think ahead or that our life should never have a plan or pattern to it.
        2. He simply means that we are not to worry about these things.
      4. Illustration: There is a part of the sea known as “the cushion of the sea.” It lies beneath the surface that is agitated by storms and churned by the wind. It is so deep that it is a part of the sea that is never stirred. It’s unaffected by all the turbulence that was above it.
        1. The peace of God is an eternal calm like the “cushion of the sea.” It lies so deep in our hearts that no circumstance or difficulty can reach it. We can go within and access that place at any time, and in doing so, we draw those around us into the presence of our God whose everlasting arms are beneath all of our stormy seas in life.
    7. Worry is being mentally harassed, emotionally agitated, burdened about things that haven’t happened,…but they Could!!!
      1. Our word “worry” is from the “Middle English Period” meaning “to choke or strangle”. [It means troubled, fretful, troubled w/cares, to turn over in the mind]
        1. We are told to “Stop being Anxious!” (lit.) (RWP)
        2. Cares/concerns are normal, man should have & will have cares! (ie. wise foresight, a nec. sense of responsibility) - But it is what we do w/them is the key!
          1. See, Life causes anxiety! But, what will you do with it???
        3. * Worry vs. Concern = Be concerned for things we are responsible for; worrying is concerning ourselves over things which you have no control.
        4. We are to cast our cares where? (upon Him)
          1. 1 Pet.5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
          2. Cast = to throw something upon something else. (used for Jesus donkey)
          3. How do we cast our cares on Him? In Petitionary Prayer! [Anxiety is the Opposite of Prayer]
            1. Put them on the Back of God! – Let Him worry about your cares! :)
            2. We need to be like the guys on a submarine in a storm. Q: Did you guys feel that storm?…What storm?
          4. Don’t be a prisoner to Worry (it will strangle your faith & make you unable to bear fruit).
            1. Picture sap running out of your tree, & never making it up to nourish the fruit, each time you worry! [don’t be a sap!]
          5. Q: Can you imagine a life w/o Worry?
            1. Jesus could, & did, & took the time to explain it!
        5. Mt.6:25-34 - 4 consequences to Worry:
          1. Worrying causes our value system/or priorities to get confused (25b) “is not life…”
          2. Worrying causes us to become selfish(31) what shall we…(eat/drink/wear)
          3. Worrying causes our Christian distinctive’s to blur (32a)
          4. Worrying causes us to dread tomorrow (34)
    8. ALWAYS THANKFUL! (6b)
    9. To the unbeliever: “Ever wonder why we Christians pray? Take a look at our God!!!
    10. 3 words to describe prayer: prayer; supplication; thanksgiving.
      1. Each contributes to a proper understanding of the comprehensive nature of the prayer life.
    11. THE PEACE! (7)
    12. Here’s the lasting benefits from the program. - Peace from a divine origin!
      1. (L.B. vs.6,7) Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
      2. Paul’s didn’t envision a situation change or external needs met. This peace was a characteristic of GOD that invades the Christian!
    13. Surpasses understanding - meaning, peace, even when we don’t understand the whys!!!
    14. Guard your hearts – “A military term picturing soldiers standing on guard duty & refers to the guarding of the city gate from within, as a control on all who went out.” (LKGNT)
      1. Look again. Who’s doing the guarding? Peace is!
        1. This Peace, is a Peace Officer guarding something valuable...it’s guarding your heart & mind! [picture Caesarian gate]
        2. It’s God’s silent sentry that protects your mind, emotions, & will.
    15. Prayer: May the peace of God guard us & the God of peace go with us.

Verses 8-13

  1. INTRO:
    1. Pray for Ukraine Team: (Leave Sunday)
    2. Quick Thinking: A man working in the produce department was asked by a lady if she could buy 1/2 a head of lettuce. He replied, “1/2 a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that’s how we sell them!” “You mean,” she persisted, “that after all the years I’ve shopped here, you won’t sell me half-a-head of lettuce?” “Look,” he said, “If you like I’ll ask the manager.” She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. “You won’t believe this, but there’s a lame-braided idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy 1/2-a-head of lettuce.” He noticed the manager gesturing, and turned around to see the lady standing behind him, obviously having followed him to the front of the store. “And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other 1/2,” he concluded.
      Later in the day the manager cornered the young man and said, “That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I’ve ever seen! Where did you learn that?” “I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it’s known for its great hockey teams & its ugly women.” The manager’s face flushed, & he interrupted, “My wife is from Grand Rapids!” “And which hockey team did she play for?”
    3. Paul now gives 2 lists: Things to Meditate on & things to Put into practice!
      1. First, your thought life; then your model of effective Christian living.
        1. Aging is a matter of fact(we’re all getting older); Maturity is a matter of choice!
  2. Leash Your Mind, Unleash Your Maturity!
    1. LEASH YOUR MIND! (8)
    1. (8) Paul now gives the standard for our thought life!
      1. Deliberately keep your mind on Positive, Pure, Praiseworthy Points!
    2. Note the importance of the mind & its right use.
      1. Note what God can do for our minds - Is.26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace(Shalom Shalom) Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
      2. “If this list is suppose to be the meat & potatoes of our thoughts; then worry is the Junk food for our soul!”
    3. True (truthfulness); Noble (that which is majestic & awe inspiring); Just (right); Pure (morally pure, clean thoughts); Lovely (acceptable); Good Report (admirable, attractive); Virtue (the most comprehensive Gk. term for moral excellence); Praiseworthy(worthy of Praise).
    4. Meditate - consider, reckon, take into account, to think on.
      1. Pres tense calls for a “continual or habitual action”.
      2. We are responsible for our thoughts & can hold them to High & Holy ideals!
        1. At times I hold myself to these Holy 8!
        2. Other times I let em run anywhere they want to run, as fast as they want to run there.
      3. Example: Different leashes to walk your dogs (eg: leash; lead(dog shows); choke chain; prong choke chain; retractable??? Allows dog to roam anywhere)
        1. Why do most of our cities have leash laws? (on a leash & under control)
        2. To protect other citizens from dog attacks when off of your property.
        3. You’ve heard, “Leash your dog!… Paul’s saying, “leash your mind!
          1. Isn’t that one of the 10 commandments, “don’t wander onto your neighbors yard & start coveting his house, wife, servants, animals, or anything that is his.” Ex.20:17
          2. Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 2 Cor.10:5b
            1. Sometimes that takes the “pronged” choke chain!
          3. Your mind needs different leashes at different times!
    5. Homework – Come up with a few examples of each of the 8.
      1. What’s opposite? When your mind is thinking on things that are false; low morals; unjust; impure; unlovely; bad reports.
        1. ​​​​​​​(i.e.) Whatever things are true (don’t believe their lies, what does Scripture say on it?) Shift your impure thoughts to pure thoughts!
        2. Then store em up in your mind. Let them become like an I.V. Drip; dripping these thoughts deep into your soul, when needed!
      2. Your mind has to be thinking about something! (to stop thinking about red, you don’t try to stop thinking about red; but start thinking about green!)
    6. UNLEASH YOUR MATURITY! (9)
    7. (9) These do! - these practice. Continuity & repetition of practice. (LKGNT)
      1. So, practice as a habit & continue to do them.
      2. They learned from Paul’s example. They received a wealth of knowledge. They Heard his great teachings. They Saw a super example in him.
        1. Q: Do you have someone who is a positive model to you?
        2. No? Grab an inspiring biography (missionary, preacher, man/women of faith)
    8. The God of Peace - The only one who can bring a Higher Peace than the worlds peace, is the One who Transcends the world around us.
      1. When you’re trying to get to sleep at night & you can’t because of anxiety, listen to God’s whisper, “Go ahead & sleep now, I’ll sit up!”
      2. “There is nothing too great for God’s Power; & nothing too small for His Fatherly Care!” (Barclay)
      3. Worry only: Postpones Prayer; Pillages the Peace of God; Pinches off Positive Thoughts; Pounds Positive Models; & Puts off the Potentate of Peace!
    9. CONTENTMENT & CHRIST! (10-13)
    10. (11b) Don’t picture Paul writing at a desk in an office, but from a dark prison cell.
    11. (12) Verse 13 is connected to vs.12!
      1. Be Content to live in Plenty or Poverty!
        1. We must be able to mount up w/wings like eagles, but we must also know how to come down! (eagles don’t only ride the high winds. In Alaska they sit on the beaches!)
        2. Q: Are we able to live in life’s Valley’s?
        3. Being able to “do all things” was referring to mostly things of abasement, hunger, & when we suffer needs!
        4. (Message) I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.
    12. Let’s mount back up with the Eagles.
      1. Some have learned to be abased, but not how to abound!
      2. Sometimes I believe it’s easier being a Beagle rather than an Eagle!
      3. Q: Have you ever felt dizzy when you reached a mnt. peak? (so do some Christians!)
      4. Q: On a Roller Coaster which is scarier: Dip at the bottom or Pinnacle at top?
      5. Q: Is it easier to carry a cup that is ½ full or one that is full?
        1. More Christians seem to bring more disgrace to the name of Christ in Prosperity than in Adversity!
        2. We need to learn how to sail w/a faint breeze or in a powerful gale!
      6. Our Prayer: “Lord, Teach us how to be full. Let not the gifts Your love gives, estrange our hearts from You!”
    13. (13) Where do you put the emphasis on this verse? On, I can or on through Christ?
    14. The secret of the “I can” life lies in the 2 words...through Christ!
      1. That is the secret of spiritual victory...through Christ!
    15. I believe too many have read this verse like the man who in reading through his bible for the 1st time, ran to the bottom of the page which read, “I can do all things.”
      1. He thought, “now Paul you’ve taken it too far!” Then he turned the page… “through Christ who strengthens me.”
      2. I think so many that use this verse, only hear the first part!
        1. There’s noting more pathetic than wishful thinking!
        2. It’s not Positive Thinking: someone defined as self improvement by self-deception!
        3. The true Christian position is to accept that which God appoints, & to say, “I can do all things through Christ!”
      3. Story: John Henry Jowett told about a small village where an elderly woman died. She died “penniless, uneducated, unsophisticated”, but during her lifetime her selfless service had made a tremendous impact for Christ. On her tombstone they chiseled the words, "She did what she couldn't."
    16. Paul never said: (Swindoll)
      ​​​​​​​I can do all things through Education! I can do all things through Money!
      I can do all things through Power!
      I can do all things through Positive Thinking!
      I can do all things through Confidence in myself!
    17. Who strengthens me - So, how can I live the can do life? Well, this is how…I can do all things through Christ, when I allow Him to do all things through me!
      1. I can heal this marriage through Christ, when I allow Him to do all things through me!
      2. I can battle this addiction through Christ, when I allow Him to do all things through me!
      3. I can say no to ________ through Christ, when I allow Him to do all things through me!
      4. I can find my career through Christ, when I allow Him to do all things through me!
    18. So, we learned last week, when anxiety appears, the cure is Prayer! This week Paul adds, When life is disorderly, the cure is mental & practical discipline.
    19. He who made the little slave-baby the strong champion of the Exodus; & the shepherd-lad the slayer of Goliath; & the captive Daniel prime minister of mighty Babylon; He who transformed Simon to Cephas, Saul into Paul, & has made 1000’s of his humble followers spiritual giants, can enable you & me to do all things if we live in the secret of that little phrase, “through Christ”!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Philippians 4". "Brian Bell Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/philippians-4.html. 2017.