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1 Kings 17:2-6 & Philippians 4:4-17 by Robert Dean
Series:Kings (2007)
Duration:48 mins 51 secs

Don't Worry, Be Mentally Strong in the Lord. 1 Kings 16:28, Philippians 4:4-8

 

The title "Faith-rest Drill" indicates two things. First, the active component of faith. Faith means to trust God. We trust God because we know certain things are true about Him from the Scriptures. When we study the Scriptures we ask, what does this say about God? What does it say about His essence? Who is in control? He is in the control of the universe and that means He is able to bring about in history what he intends to bring about in history. In His sovereign will He has determined to give human beings created in His image free will or volition (emphasizing responsibility), and that means we can make decisions in certain areas and we are held accountable for making those decisions. But God ultimately is in control and there is not a conflict between man's will and God's sovereignty. People can't orient to it in their own lives because of the fact that God is infinite. His ways are higher than our ways but we can understand that God is so great and His knowledge is so vast that whatever variables are introduced into the equation by human choice God is able to bring about that which He intended to bring about despite human decisions one way or the other. It is that God who stands behind the Scripture, behind the promises that are within the Scriptures; so that the more we become oriented to who God is and His power, the more we can trust Him in the midst of the circumstances that seem completely out of control around us.

 

We trust God at a practical level through the faith-rest drill. Faith means trusting the God behind the promises because we know who He is. And the resting part of it doesn't mean that we fold our hands, twiddle our thumbs or close our eyes, it means that we relax, we rest in the provision of God. God's Word may say that we are to do something in the process of claiming a promise, and in that case the resting involved is doing something. So the resting isn't just a passive concept, it is an active trusting. We trust God that the promise is true, the promises related to fulfilling certain mandates, certain principles in the spiritual life involving prayer, memorizing Scripture, learning and studying Scripture, involving fulfilling our day to day responsibilities. When we are trusting God for a job it doesn't mean that we are going to sit at home with our hands folded and just wait for the phone to ring. On the one hand we are trusting God and on the other hand we are going to do our very best to put together an acceptable resume, network with people, and do whatever it takes, and we are not going to be overrun by anxiety or fear or press the panic button.    

The Philippians were faced with some challenging circumstances, they were not in the best situation in terms of the economics of the Roman empire at this particular time and they were not very prosperous, and it was difficult for them to provide for themselves. Philippians 4:4 NASB "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" Paul is commanding a mental attitude; a mental attitude of joy. He is not talking about an emotion here because you can't command an emotion; you can't command somebody to be happy and have them respond. You can, though, if you think of joy as a mental attitude, as a focus on the person of God and the plan of God. Jesus promised the disciples in John 16 that His joy He would give to us and that this was a joy that the Lord Jesus Christ never lost. It was a joy that was consistently stable, a joy that was the result of the thinking that was going on in His soul. Emotion comes out of what you believe to be true, and so Paul is going to focus in this last part of Philippians on what we have to believe to be true; how to have that strong mindset, that mental attitude, that fortified mindset that enables us to handle difficult circumstances. The command is to rejoice in the Lord always, not most of the time, not when things are going well, not when circumstances are pleasing, but to rejoice in the Lord. The important qualification there is "in the Lord"; we are able to have real joy because of our focus on Him. We can look at circumstances and maybe go one way or the other but we have to focus on who God is and choose not to let emotion shape our thinking and our mental attitude. That is where volition comes in. Having the rise of an emotion isn't any more a sin than having a temptation or lustful thought come into our minds. That is not the sin. The sin is when we act upon it and choose to let it come to fruition.

Paul says we are to rejoice in the Lord always. That doesn't mean that at the same time that we are rejoicing in the Lord we are not experiencing certain other emotions. You can have a measure of sadness, sorrow, grief. This is what the Lord was experiencing at the cross but he was not losing His joy. Paul told the Thessalonian believers, You grieve but not like those who have no hope. Grieving and having that sorrow isn't a sin, it is when  you move from natural or normal grief and sorrow to where it causes a move into the realm where you are operating on the sorrow and beginning to take emotional control of the circumstances for yourself, as if you can actually do something about it. That often leads to panic and that is where you move into emotional sin. The joy is what gives stability to your thinking while at the same time you are experiencing a measure of sadness or sorrow over the loss of a loved one, the death of a friend, but you are not going to let that dominate your thinking. That is where the Lord is in the garden of Gethsemane. He has perfect joy that is stabilizing His soul but at the same time He has been appreciating the reality of what He is going to go through the next day at the cross, and that brings a measure of sorrow, sadness and grief into His soul as he anticipates being made sin for us.     

Philippians 4:5 NASB "Let your gentle {spirit} be known to all men. The Lord is near." Two statements are made there. One is a command to let our gentleness be apparent, be obvious to people, and the second is a motivation: The Lord is at hand [near]. This is a reminder of the imminency of the return of Christ. We dare not procrastinate and put off learning how to handle these crises that affect us emotionally. We have to live each day in the light of the future, and the future could be tomorrow. This expresses the urgency of fulfilling this command. The gentleness that is stated here is an interesting word in the Greek. There are two or three Greek words for humility and for arrogance, and this is within the two or three words used in terms of humility versus arrogance and pride and the way the Greeks used that. This word is epieikes [e)pieikhj] and it was originally used in the Greek language to express a mental attitude that was balanced, intelligent, that had a healthy or appropriate outlook on life. It is often translated "sober-minded," i.e. being objective, stable, and clear in the way you think; not giving over to panic and not being dominated by emotion. So this original meaning of epieikes had to do with having a stable and an objective mindset where you are not going to react in anger or bitterness or resentment, panic or fear in life's situations. It is a balanced, intelligent way of thinking about life based on thought and not on emotion. As the word developed in its usage it became a word that was used to describe a considerate thought or attitude in relationships with people. Even when one had been defrauded or maltreated by someone then you would deal with them in kindness and in ways that they did not necessarily deserve. The word is used in contrast with anger, harshness, brutality, bitterness, etc. It might well be translated "be grace oriented" or "be gracious." Grace comes out of genuine humility, and true humility comes from our understanding that God is in control and so we are going to be able to relax no matter what happens. So this focuses on a character trait that is the result of a disciplined mind, a disciplined mindset. This is really a term for humility or grace orientation which would include a relaxed mental attitude in the midst of life's tumultuous circumstances. It is not a physical gentleness, not an effeminacy; it is a way of thinking that is objective and relaxed because life's circumstances are interpreted within a divine viewpoint framework.

It is out of that framework that Paul is able to give the command: Philippians 4:6 NASB "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." The word "anxious" is the Greek merimnao [merimnaw] and it means to care, to be anxious, to worry. It is an aorist imperative here and the aorist imperative emphasizes priority. Paul is saying to make this a priority in your life if you are going to get anywhere in the midst of the circumstances that you are facing. We need to drill this into our spiritual thinking and mental attitude to be anxious for nothing. What does that means, to be anxious for nothing? It isn't an easy question to answer because at one level when we think about life there is a certain good that comes out of a measure of worry or concern or anxiety. It gives an edge is a competitive situation to do the best we can do. But what this is talking about is taking a personal ownership, an emotional ownership for how things are going to turn out in a particular set of circumstances. So it is the idea of what you are doing mentally and emotionally is taking responsibility for the success or failure of what is going to happen in areas where you have absolutely no control. Paul is not talking about that lower level of concern that we have over the details of our lives that can control. Beyond that there is no control and we can't act like God and we can't take emotional ownership of things that are totally beyond our control. We have to learn to trust in God for providing.

This word is used in some interesting contexts. Matthew 6, the context of the sermon on the mount. This is perhaps the lengthiest statement that we have in the Scripture. Jesus is talking to Jews and He is talking in reference to the fact that he is offering the kingdom to them. So that within the context of accepting Him as the King and as the ruler they have to turn over control of the circumstances of life to Him. Matthew 6:25 NASB "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, {as to} what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, {as to} what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" Don't worry about the details of your life, you can only control so much. Jesus isn't saying that you shouldn't be concerned about looking nice, about eating healthy food, about the fact that you need to be able to pay your bills and put food on the table, etc. He is saying not to be consumed about this and think that ultimately it is something you can control. He is saying don't make an issue out of this, that you happiness, your values, your self-esteem, is dependent upon these factors. Who you are as a person is not based upon what you wear, what you eat, where you live; life is more than that. The priority isn't on the superficial externals, the priority is on the spiritual relationship with God. That is what the context of the sermon on the mount is talking about.

Matthew 6:26 NASB "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and {yet} your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? [27] And who of you by being worried can add a {single} hour to his life?" No matter how much energy you generate about whether you are going to have a job next month, whether you are going to survive cancer, whether your children are going to grow up and be a certain way, it doesn't affect the outcome one little bit. It is a waste of energy, a waste of time, and is a rejection of God's sovereignty in those areas and letting God handle things. It is self-reliance thinking somehow my energy devoted to worry and anxiety affects the outcome; and it doesn't. [28] "And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, [29] yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these." Again the point is that God is going to take care of what you need to accomplish what He intends for you to accomplish in life. [30] "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is {alive} today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, {will He} not much more {clothe} you? You of little faith!" We need to trust God to give us what we need to carry out the mission that He has given us. [32] "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things." This is the priority among the Gentiles, they focus on a superficial physical level. That is what they are concerned about all the time. God hasn't forgotten us, He is not asleep at the switch.

But there is a condition: Matthew 6:33 NASB "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." In other words, the priority is on the inner spiritual life which is based on having the right kind of righteousness before God, is based on the inner spiritual life and not the externals. Life isn't composed of what we have, life is composed of that relationship with God and that is where real life exists. [34] "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." The point is, we need to learn to live one day at a time. Live each moment in the light of God's Word. That is the point with Elijah; he has to learn to live one day at a time.      

Philippians 4:7 NASB "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Illustrations