Rejoice, Be Reasonable, Pray

The peace of God helps us remain reasonable in difficult situations.

George Wright
Jul 5, 2020    33m
In this sermon Pastor George Wright reminds us that as Christians we are called to remain peaceful and reasonable in all disagreements and situations. He explains that we are able to do this through the peace of God that fills those who believe in Christ as their Lord and savior. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:01 Well, on this 4th of July weekend, it really is a privilege to be able to thank God for all that he has provided for us in the United States of America, and to celebrate the freedom and the independence and the rights and the privileges and the blessings that we have in this great nation.

George Wright: 00:19 So as we turn our attention to the word of God, I just want you to join me in a word of prayer as we thank God for the way he has truly blessed America, let's get before the Lord right now. Heavenly Father, it is a privilege on this July 5th after celebrating our independence as a nation and celebrating just the gifts and the blessings that you have lavishly poured out on the United States of America, to come before you in worship, and to remember that you are the one who has provided these tremendous blessings. And Lord, I pray that we would honor you in that, that we would remember the giver of good gifts, that we would lift our eyes toward you in gratitude, in worship, and in thanksgiving. And so Lord, as we step into your word now, and as we remember who you are and what you have done, I pray, Lord God, that we would not be the same as a result of that, which you say, guide us in this time for your glory. It's in Christ's name I pray. Amen.

George Wright: 01:31 Today for this message, this is a new adventure for us here at Shandon, as we have had a gathering in person and also a gathering online. And so we are thankful that you are joining us for online worship, but we do want you to know that we now have worship in person as well and we'd love for you to join us when you are ready, and as you see fit.

George Wright: 01:57 We are going to be in Philippians chapter 4 this morning, and so I would encourage you to go ahead and grab your Bible. And I want to read just one verse to get us started on this weekend, that represents a weekend of rejoicing, a weekend of celebrating, and a weekend of remembering the great freedom that we have in our nation. We see a verse in Philippians 4 that is all about rejoicing. And I do want to ask you if you're willing and able to stand with me. And I know that may feel a little strange if you're watching at home, sitting on a couch, or in your bedroom, or your porch, or wherever you may be. But the reason I ask you to stand, we do this in person as well at Shandon, is so that we all can be reminded the word of God is our authority. And as our authority, the word of God is the foundation that we stand upon, the foundation of what God says is right and good and true.

George Wright: 02:56 So this is the word of the Lord in Philippians chapter 4, beginning in verse 4 the scripture says this, "Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I will say, rejoice." "Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I will say, rejoice." You can be seated if you were standing with me for the reading of the scripture, thank you for standing.

George Wright: 03:28 As we think about rejoicing in our household over these last couple of weeks, we've had a lot of different reasons to rejoice. And just recently, our oldest daughter, McKenna turned 16, and so we have been celebrating with her that milestone in her life. She is behind the wheel of a car often now and enjoying driving and celebrating this new stage in her life. Not only that, but Megan and I just recently celebrated our wedding anniversary, 19 years that we have been married. And so we are very grateful to celebrate our anniversary, and just to reflect on all that God has done in our marriage and in our family has been a tremendous blessing for us. And then just yesterday was my birthday. In addition to the country, celebrating our birthday, I got to celebrate my birthday. And I've said this before, but for many years I had our kids, when they were very young, convinced that all the fireworks and parades and the celebrations were in honor of dad, but they now know that's not true. We had fun celebrating my birthday, as we celebrate the gift that we have in the United States to celebrate this freedom.

George Wright: 04:47 Rejoice, isn't it good to rejoice? And yet we're coming out of a season, and in many ways are still in a season, where rejoicing has not been the most prominent idea, guiding most of our responses and reactions and decisions. In this season of uncertainty that we continue to navigate, there have been many moments where I'm sure for you, as it has been for me, it has been difficult to rejoice, challenging to rejoice. When our plans get flipped on their head, when there is tension swirling all around us and even in our own lives, it is challenging to even consider rejoicing.

George Wright: 05:38 And yet, as we step into the scripture today, there is this very interesting statement, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice." What is the Apostle Paul wanting us to see in this letter to the church? Plain and simply the scripture is showing those who are followers of Christ, that there truly is always reason to rejoice. This is not about circumstance, this is not just about milestones or celebrations like a birthday or an anniversary. This is about joy, rejoicing in what the Lord has done in all things. This reminds us that God is in control. This reminds us that God is at work, even when our circumstances are not playing out the way we had in mind. This reminds us that God is sovereign and reigning over all things, even when the circumstances of our lives are challenging and difficult. And the reason why I can say this as we read Philippians chapter 4, is because as the Apostle Paul wrote Philippians under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he was sitting in a Roman prison cell. Those are circumstances, that's a situation that no one would want to be in. Sitting in a Roman prison cell, primarily because of his faith, because he was following the Lord because he was preaching the gospel. He finds himself in a very difficult, painful, dangerous, uncertain situation. And in the midst of it, he says, "Rejoice in the Lord always." Let me make sure you didn't miss it, "Again I will say rejoice."

George Wright: 07:54 The scripture is showing us that there is a joy of the Lord that is available to the people of God, that is over and above any circumstance or situation that we may be navigating. The Apostle Paul is saying, when I think about the Lord, and when I think about what the Lord has done for me, when I think about the gift of Jesus Christ and the provision that he has made for me through his forgiveness, through his grace, through his mercy lavishly poured out on me, the gift that I did not deserve, that was freely given to me. When I think about what the Lord has done, I recognize that I have reason to rejoice in the Lord always. This is a joy that is deeper than circumstance, this is a joy that is rooted and grounded on the unwavering solid rock of the provision of God, a firm foundation on which we stand.

George Wright: 09:09 But we need to be reminded to rejoice, do we not? Perhaps today, perhaps this weekend, the word of God is reminding you that there is reason to rejoice. Maybe you're in the midst of just a very, very difficult situation. Maybe personally, the last few weeks and months have just felt so overwhelming, maybe anxiety and worry has been leading you every single day, maybe fear has captured your thoughts and your heart, maybe there is a tremendous difficult struggle, and you haven't been able to see beyond your circumstance. And yet here, the scripture says to you, and to me, if you think about what the Lord has done, when you think about the provision of the gospel, you will be reminded that there is always reason to rejoice. Even in the midst of a struggle, even in the midst of a Roman prison, there is reason to rejoice in the Lord because of what Jesus Christ has done. Let the Lord lift your spirit into joy because of the gift we have in Christ.

George Wright: 10:37 When we turn back to the scripture, in verse 5, we see this very interesting statement that follows the statement about rejoicing. "Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.", the scripture says. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. Stand on the solid unwavering rock of the gospel in joy, and then let your reasonableness be known to everyone. What does this mean? Well, here, the Apostle Paul is saying, when we rejoice in the Lord, we are reminded that as our circumstances change, and as our journey through life may lead us to the unexpected, and as we may be hit with things that we never planned for and never could have seen coming, we don't need to freak out. We don't need to feel overwhelmed. We don't need to be consumed by worry, fear, and anxiety. We can walk and live in a reasonable way because we are rooted and grounded in what Christ has already done. This is a call to self-control, or what could be called civility, even in the midst of disagreements, frustrations, challenges, struggles, painful circumstances. The word of God is saying to the Christian, your response, your words, your reaction can and should be seen as reasonable, even when the world around you freaks out and goes crazy or seems to lose control.

George Wright: 12:28 This is really echoing what the Apostle Paul writes in Romans chapter 12, verse 18, look at this verse. The scripture says, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." What an important statement to consider, especially in light of our situation culturally right now, as disagreement seems to be winning the day. And people on opposite sides of the aisle, whatever the issue may be, seem to be more and more hostile in the way they interact with one another. The scripture is saying strive to live at peace with all and let your reasonableness of Philippians 4, be known to everyone.

George Wright: 13:18 Here's the point, when the gospel is the foundation of your life, and the finished work of Christ is the lens through which you view the world, and specifically the lens through which you view your circumstances, as difficult as they may be. The scripture is saying, the follower of Christ, the people of God, those who are Christians should react differently, and interact differently, with others then the world around us is interacting and reacting. We should be different from the world. We're going to disagree. We're going to have times where certainly we are incredibly frustrated. We're going to have circumstances where we have been hurt by others. We're going to have circumstances where we can't line up on anything. But as we disagree, the scripture is saying disagree in a Christian manner. This is again the call to self-control and civility, that's what civility, after all, is all about. Civility is about disagreement, but disagreeing in a way that is civil, disagreeing in a way that is reasonable. Disagreeing in a way that the world around us can see, and experience, something different from the people of God than they see and experience from the rest of the world.

George Wright: 15:10 And please hear me, to live in a reasonable way, to live and strive for peace with all as far as it depends on you or me, to live in a civil and self-controlled manner does not mean that we compromise what we believe. It does not mean that we cave in, in the midst of disagreement. It does not mean that we refuse to speak up or engage in difficult conversations where tension may be involved. Civility means we disagree in a spirit, and with an attitude, that points to Christ above all else. Civility means that we engage in difficult conversations, and navigate difficult circumstances, with a mindset of what we have received. To live in a way that is reasonable, to live in a way that points to peace with those with whom we disagree, to live in a way that reveals civility and self-control, is to live in a way in the midst of disagreement or in the midst of challenging circumstances, that shows and displays the love and the grace that we have received in the good news of the gospel. When there was tremendous tension between us and a Holy God, to put it lightly, God in his love and grace for us stepped into that tension to offer us what we never could have received on our own. It is this mentality that is to guide the way we interact with others in reasonableness, so the gospel can be seen through us.

George Wright: 17:20 I'm going to read to you a quote from Bruce Ashford, in a book that he wrote about disagreement in the midst of our cultural context. He says this, "The essence of civility is not spinelessness, but self-control. It is the capacity to show love and grace, particularly when we disagree with others, and even when we dislike them. Civility, undergirded by genuine Christian Love and concern, signals that while Christians are a strange people, we are also a good people whose primary goal is to contribute to the common good by being ambassadors for the Kingdom" This is the call for the church to stand out as different in the world around us, in the midst of disagreement, in the midst of uncertainty, in the midst of frustration with those who might not see the world the same way we see the world. We are called to allow our reasonableness to be known to all. We are called to strive for peace. We are called to conduct our lives, and our conversations, and our social media posts, in a way that points to the love and grace of God that we have received through Christ. It should appear strange to the world the way Christians respond in disagreement, a way that is civil, a way that is peaceful, but a way that is strong in conviction on the truth that we have in the good news of the gospel. Let your reasonableness be known to all. And verse 5 says, here's why plain and simply, "For the Lord is at hand."

George Wright: 19:40 What a great reminder on this independence day weekend, as we think about all the reasons to celebrate in this great country, but then we're reminded of all the reasons to disagree in this great country. The Lord is at hand. God is at work. God is in control. God is on the throne. The Lord is at hand. We need to be reminded of this truth over and over and over again because it's when we live in light of this truth that we actually do appear different than the world around us. I can interact with you even as we disagree in a civil manner, in a reasonable manner. Why? Because I know that at the end of this conversation, and at the end of this debate, and at the end of this argument, or the end of this tense moment, my God is in control. And that truth, that foundation, guides the way the people of God are to interact with the world. The Lord is at hand, God is with his people, and he is at work even in the midst of challenging, difficult, uncertain, tense, even hostile situations. The Lord is at hand.

George Wright: 21:40 With that in mind, we then turn our attention to verse 6, what a beautiful verse it is. "Do not be anxious about anything." the scripture says, "But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." This is the call to prayer. A very simple call that runs all throughout the scripture. As the people of God, remember, in the midst of uncertainty, in the midst of difficulty, the Lord is at hand, the Lord is in control. Let us cry out to God because prayer realigns our hearts with God. Prayer reminds us that he is in control. Prayer is a posture of humility that says, God, I need you. I am asking you to move mightily. I am asking you to show me how you are at work. I'm asking you to remind me of who you are and what you've done, and remind me that even though it may not seem like it in this moment, or even though my circumstances are very difficult, you are God and you are in control. And so I look to you and I pray, and I ask you to do what you alone can do. Oh, how we need to be a praying people today. Oh, how we need to be a praying people in our current circumstance, asking God to move mightily in our midst for his glory to realign our hearts with him, and to show us what it is he wants us to do in this situation, in this moment, for such a time as this.

George Wright: 23:51 So with that in mind, I'm going to ask you to take a moment right now with whoever you are watching this service, and just stop and pray. Would you do that? Would you ask God to move mightily in our midst for his glory? Would you ask God to realign our hearts with his, that we would conduct ourselves in a reasonable way, that appears very different and strange to the world around us? Would you ask God to use us to point to the hope that we have in Christ? Would you ask God to bring healing in our land? Do that now, take a moment and pray.

George Wright: 25:35 Heavenly Father, we need you. We believe that the Lord is at hand, that you are at work, that you are in control, that you are with us. And so Lord, we come before you in prayer and we ask you to move mightily in our midst, in this generation for your glory. Lord, we pray that many people would turn to you, seeing the hope that comes through Jesus Christ. We pray that there would be healing in our nation, and healing in our culture, and we pray that the church would be at the center of it. The church would speak up for the truth that we know, and the good news of the gospel. But as we speak, I pray, Lord God, that we would speak in a Christlike manner. That you would give us the words to say, that you would use us to point others, to the beautiful message of forgiveness and grace that is available to all who trust in Jesus. Now, Lord, we believe that you are a healing God, that you are a reconciling God, that you are a forgiving and gracious God. And so we look to you asking you to do what only you can do, show us where we need to return to you as a church, show us what needs to die in us so that we can live for you, and use us for your glory in this time. This is our prayer. It is in Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

George Wright: 27:40 Something interesting happens when we pray, as the spirit of God meets with us in prayer, as we cry out to God. Verse 7 of Philippians 4 shows us what often takes place in prayer. Look at this scripture, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." What an amazing statement to consider, maybe you just experienced this. As we turn to the Lord in prayer, the scripture shows us that the spirit of God meets us in that prayer, and the spirit of God brings peace into whatever circumstance we may be navigating. A peace that defies logic, a peace that surpasses all understanding, a peace that is rooted and grounded in the finished work of Christ, in the beautiful, beautiful provision of our God.

George Wright: 29:01 As we pray, as we turn to the Lord, we are reminded of who he is and what he has done. And when your heart and your mind is fixed on who God is, and what he has done through the beautiful gift of the cross, and the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord, the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, guards your heart and guards your mind, that you can live in light of the gospel as you rest in what Christ alone can do.

George Wright: 29:51 As we close this message today, we remember this promise of peace that is made available to us through the finished work of Christ. If you're joining us today knowing you need the peace of God, having perhaps never experienced a peace that surpasses all understanding, we would invite you today to turn to Jesus. To say, Jesus, I need you, I need peace, I need to be forgiven, I need to be made right with God, and so I am trusting in you above all else as my savior and my Lord. The peace of God that surpasses all understanding is yours in Christ if you will trust him in faith.

George Wright: 30:50 I'm going to close with another word of prayer as we wrap up this message today. And if you know today that you need the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, would you just join me in this prayer? Maybe you need to return to the Lord, maybe you need to be reminded of what God has done for you, or maybe today for the first time, you need to trust your life to Jesus Christ. Join me in prayer right now. Father God, we are so thankful for your provision, for the amazing grace that is the message of the gospel. That while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. While we were at our worst, you offered us your best. When we could not get to you, you came to us. This is the good news of what Jesus Christ has done. And so we pray with those right now who are in need of peace with God, the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. I pray that in this moment they would turn to you, they would say, Jesus, I need you. And in that simple prayer, I pray, Lord God, that they would experience the gift that you alone can provide, peace that surpasses all understanding that will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. I pray, Lord God, for those longing for peace, that they would trust Jesus. Oh, we praise you for the gift of salvation, and we praise you for all that you have done. Give us eyes to see, and be reminded of, the reasons why we can rejoice because of the finished work of Christ, and let us live our lives as a light of the gospel, in light of what we have received. Use us for your glory. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. God bless you. We look forward to seeing you again real soon.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206