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1 Kings 17:2-6 & Philippians 4:4-17 by Robert Dean
Series:Kings (2007)
Duration:46 mins 52 secs

No worries; Trusting God. 1 Kings 17:2-6, Philippians 4:4-17

 

The things that we see in 1 & 2 Kings in the Old testament and the ministries of Elijah and Elisha are parallel to what is going on in the United States today. We see in the Old testament a time when the northern kingdom of Israel had succumbed to the paganism of that era, as expressed especially in the worship of Baal. Romans chapter one tells us that when we reject God as the creator then we will substitute the worship of the creature or creation in His place. Ultimately man always worships something. No matter what the atheist in our world today says he is just as religious as the most devote Islamic cleric, Hindu worshipper, or the most devout Buddhist monk, they are just as religious. The inclusion or exclusion of anything to do with the God of the Bible or spirituality of a religion is equally religious. So we as believers find ourselves living in a world very much different from the one in which we grew up. But what else can we expect from the world? What else can we expect from worldly, fallen unbelievers but to act like worldly, fallen unbelievers? The more they gain control over the institutions of our world and the institutions of our culture the more they are going to target believers in their opposition and hatred of us because ultimately it is a spiritual war. As Paul said in Ephesians 6 it is not flesh and blood but it is the spiritual forces of wickedness. We live in the midst of an angelic conflict and Satan is constantly attempting to destroy whatever God is doing within human history and to destroy the effectiveness of the Word of God and the believer in history and in this age, and so we have to be careful not to be distracted by what he is doing but to keep our focus upon God's Word.

 

There are many lessons that we can learn about this from looking at the Old Testament, looking at the ministry of Elijah and Elisha. James tells us that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours and that is an important point to emphasize because so often we think that there is something qualitatively different about these Old Testament heroes. What James is telling us is that there is nothing qualitatively different. The fact is actually that we have something better, because as church age believers we have been identified with Christ, baptized into Christ by means of the Holy Spirit, we have the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit, the completed canon of Scripture, and we have far more resources spiritually to handle life than any Old Testament believer. The Gospels tell us that John the Baptist was the greatest of the Old Testament saints but what we have is even greater. But we can still learn because many of these spiritual principles that made them great and gave him tremendous courage and strength and stability in the midst of their crises are the same that apply to us with the distinctions related to the canon of Scripture and the Holy Spirit.

 

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours and he prayed. That is part of the solution, as we will see. When we look at the life of Elijah and going back to the Old Testament there are six areas in which we see a comparison between 9th century BC Israel and the United States.

 

  1. A biblical worldview has been replaced by a pagan worldview.
  2. As at that time, today we see that success and the worship of material prosperity was foremost.
  3. We see from the Scripture that the trend of the sin nature, once it rejects God, is to create a false world and a false view of life. It is a fantasy world. Functional atheists live as if there is no God, and when they start making policies based on fantasy that will eventually snowball into massive crises.
  4. We see that life is viewed as disposable.
  5. The result of religious decisions ultimately impact policy decisions, and so when the religion that dominates a culture is a false religion, a false view of God, a false view of reality, then the policies that come out of that are also false and destructive.
  6. We see that those who stand up for absolutes and objective truth will be demonized, marginalized and criminalized.  

 

What we need to remember is the five basic principles:

 

  1. As long as we trust in God there are no hopeless situations.
  2. If God is for us who can be against us, the Scriptures say. We never stand alone, God is always with us. Romans 8:31.
  3. We always take tests and multi-layer tests and God uses the adversity in our lives in order to teach us to trust in Him. That is what is going to happen with Elijah.
  4. We realize that when we do the right thing the right way the result might not always be what we originally intended or expected. Elijah did not know that God was going to hide him for three and a half years, feed him by the ravens by the brook Cherith for a while, then later take him into the heart of enemy territory in Zarephath and there feed him by means of a widow. But God doesn't show us what is happening, what tomorrow will hold, for we are to live one day at a time.
  5. When a nation is under discipline even the positive believers will suffer by association, and we need to remember that this is just a time when we need to accelerate our own spiritual growth. We need to be reminded of key promises in God's Word, such as:

 

 Psalm 56:4 NASB "In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can {mere} man do to me?"

 Psalm 18:2 NASB "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." He fortifies our soul with   

 His Word and its doctrine.

 Psalm 20:7 NASB "Some {boast} in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God."

 

The circumstance of the Philippian epistle is that he is under house arrest. He lived for two years in his own hired house. Even in the midst of his crisis and adversity his focus is on joy, major theme in the epistle—joy in the midst of calamitous circumstances. No one who has ever been in combat will tell that they were without fear, but courage is overcoming that fear and not letting the fear dictate decisions. Paul is not letting fear control. He addresses the Philippians from a position of strength, understanding what it is like to live in the midst of terrible circumstances, circumstances that are shaped by adversity, oppression and persecution. Real joy and peace in life is not determined by circumstances but by a mental attitude that is grounded on the Word of God. To get that mental attitude demands discipline, mental discipline. As believers to handle what is coming in this country we have to become mentally tough—not just bootstrap tough but tough because we have devoted ourselves to the teaching of God's Word and it has become a part of us.      

 

Philippians 4:4 NASB "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" This is a present active imperative. Almost all of the commands in this section are present imperatives. The reason that is important is because the present imperative stresses something that is to be the normative standard operating characteristic of a believer's life. When he shifts to an aorist he is making a priority out of that but a present imperative emphasizes that this is to be the day by day, moment by moment mentality of the believer. We are to have a mental attitude of joy. Jesus said that of His Word abides in us then we will have His joy. So this joy isn't something that is separated from the Word, that is distinct from the Word or that is somehow divorced from the relationship with God. It is not just something that we create in the strength of our own flesh but it is the result of the W0rd of God and the Spirit of God.

 

Philippians 4:5 NASB "Let your gentle {spirit} be known to all men. The Lord is near." The word in the Greek for "gentleness" really defines a type of thinking, an objective, stable way of looking at life. It refers to a considerate, thoughtful or rational mindset that is able to objectively evaluate life situations without either falling into self-interest or emotion and panic. It is a mindset of objectivity; and because of that we are not going to yield to the panic and the pressure and emotion of a situation—one of the ways in which Satan can distract us from our job. Paul is talking in this passage about a mindset that remains stable and focused, keeping our focus on the path that God has given us, what He has called us to do in the Christian life. The command that is here is to let this "gentleness" be known; it is something that becomes known, it is passive. We don't tell everybody about it, they observe it. They watch us. People around us observe what is going on in our lives and how we respond to the adversity around us and they see that there is something solid, something stable, something that doesn't get ruffled by the details of life. We are commanded to let that way of thinking be observed by those around us; the motivation is "the Lord is at hand [near]."

 

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 positive command. To be anxious for nothing is a present active imperative, it is to be present all of the time. It is the Greek verb merimnao [merimnaw]. It is the present active imperative here, indicating that normal mentality. The idea of anxiety here, sometimes translated "care" or "concern," is really the negative side of that word. It has a positive use but also a negative sense which is what is being prohibited here, and it is really the idea of taking an emotional responsibility for something that we have no control over. Paul uses this word is a positive way earlier in the epistle in 2:20 NASB "For I have no one {else} of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare." But in contrast to its use in 4:6 we are to go to the Lord is prayer. We are to focus our attention, our mind, on God as the one who controls history, the one who controls the details of life; and we are to approach Him in prayer and supplication.

Luke 10:38 NASB "Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. [39] She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word." They were both believers and focused on doctrine. We read in verse 40 that Martha was distracted; she let the details of life distract her and she began to focus on things that some of us would naturally focus on. [40] "But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up {to Him} and said, 'Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.'" Mary understands that this is the Lord and what He says is a lot more important to listen to than making sure that everything in the house is straight and squared away. The important thing is the Word because that is what stabilizes us in life. Martha wants the Lord to correct Mary and have the Lord get involved and tell Mary to help her. [41] "But the Lord answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things.'" That is the way many of us have become, especially when it comes to politics and economics and the details of life; we are just so distraught over current affairs and events and things that are going on in life that we forget what the real issue is. The real issue is our spiritual life, our spiritual growth and our testimony. [42] "but {only} one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." When things get worse,  a whole lot worse, the only thing that is going to really stabilize us is our relationship  with God which is based on the Word of God and the Spirit of God.

So we are to take everything, not just the things we think are important, to Him by means of prayer and supplication. Paul uses both words for prayer here that we find in the New Testament Greek, euchomai [e)uxomai] and deomai [deomai] and the point of what he is saying is that we need to pray. By using both words he is emphasizing the fact that we need to communicate with God. That is what prayer is, the privilege of every believer to have personal communication and conversation with God. Because of the death of Christ on the cross we have direct access to the throne of God at all times. WE need to come in fellowship but we need to bring to the Lord our prayers, requests and needs with thanksgiving. We are to be thankful in all things and for all things. So we need to look at the trends of our era and be thankful for those things that we know are not good because there is a reason for these things. God is in control and so we are to focus. Thanksgiving makes us focus on God's grace—gratitude is the other side of the coin to grace. The result of our taking our requests to Him is given in verse 7.

Philippians 4:7 NASB "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." The peace there is a peace that comes from God. It is not bootstrap tranquility, it is a stability that is supernatural. Galatians 5:22 says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace. This is produced by the Holy Spirit as we walk by the Spirit. So as we walk by the Spirit, along with the application of the Word of God, then we have peace and stability and contentment in our souls. This protects us. The word "guard" in the Greek is phroureo [frourew] which has the idea of fortification, of preservation, guarding, setting up a garrison, setting up a fortress. It is the same idea that we see in the Psalms, that God is our fortress, our rock; He is our defense. 

So what we need to do on a consistent basis is apply the three steps of the faith-rest drill. Claim a promise. We need to have promises in our control. We need to know the Word of God, to memorize the Word of God. We then think through it, mediate on it, think about it, roll it over in our minds and focus on what is said and why it makes the promises it says. As we do that we come to understand the thinking that is embedded in the promise, the rationales, and it leads to the conclusion—that we can trust God and therefore rest and relax.

Illustrations