The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting. We encourage you to please contact us if you would like to know more about us.

Click here: Philippians 4:1-9, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Philippians 4:1-9, for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.

Philippians 4:1-9, Five Keys to Effectively Live for God’s Glory:

  • Welcome to our new study! The purpose of our study is not to learn about coping mechanisms, which I don’t believe are entirely wrong, but we need to learn how to glorify God in our worst of circumstances. To honour the Lord through and with our trials! 
  • Take Horatio Spafford’s testimony as an example. In 1871, this prosperous lawyer and devout Presbyterian church elder and his wife, Anna, were living comfortably with their four young daughters in Chicago. And not only did they encounter one major trial, but various!
  • See, in that year, the great fire of Chicago broke out and devastated the entire city. Two years later the family decided to go on holiday with friends in Europe. At the last moment Horatio was detained by business, and Anna and the girls went on ahead, sailing on the ocean liner S.S. Ville de Havre.
  • On November 21, 1873, the liner was rammed amid ship by a British vessel and sank within minutes. Anna was picked up unconscious on a floating spar, but the four children had drowned! A fellow survivor of the collision, Pastor Weiss, recalled Anna saying, “God gave me four daughters. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.”
  • Three years after the tragedy, the Lord blessed them with a son, who then died at the age of four. What you also need to know is, before the great fire, and I mean, this is second to losing 5 kids. Spafford invested in real estate north of an expanding Chicago in the spring of 1871. When the Great Fire of Chicago reduced the city to ashes in October of the same year, it also destroyed Spafford’s sizable investment.
  • Nine days after the shipwreck, Spafford’s wife, Anna, landed in Cardiff, Wales, and cabled Horatio, “Saved alone. What shall I do…” After receiving Anna’s telegram, he immediately left Chicago to bring his wife home.
  • On the Atlantic crossing, the captain of his ship called Horatio to his cabin to tell him that they were passing over the spot where his four daughters had passed. Horatio asked the captain to stop over their watery grave, and it was there where he wrote the words of the hymn, ‘it is Well with my Soul!’
  • I guess on numerous occasions, the Spafford’s could have said, “Lord, I can’t… this is too much!” Instead, in the Lord’s sovereign grace, they said; “When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.
  • So how do we get there, how do we get to glorifying God no matter our stresses? You might respond in one of three ways; You can break out in a panic. Or you break down – you go inside and silently withdraw and eat your insides! Or you break through in victory. 
  • And to break through is the only way. And as our example today, we’ll be looking at Paul from Philippians 4. And his example of breakthrough for God’s glory was to live effectively for Him by standing firm, being loving, joyful, secure and knowledgeable. So the first key to effective living is…

1. Standing Firm:

  • Text – 4:1a
  • Explanation – So if you don’t know where you are, or know the reason for your existence, you’re in real bad shape. However dear friend, hear me now, there is hope. See we all need something where we can plant our feet and stand firmly.  
  • And Lord willing, this will reveal our reason for living! Hopefully you’ll agree that we all are here for a purpose. Therefore Paul tells us to “Stand fast in the Lord.”  Because that’s the effective purpose of our existence. To be in Christ!
  • Our union is in Christ. Our whole existence is soaked by the presence of Jesus Christ. But if a man tries to live in the world apart from Christ, he has nothing to stand on. All other ground is shifting sand.
  • Therefore, if we want to be glorifying God while facing all sorts of trials, we need to stand firm! And it begins with a personal relationship with a living God, through a living Christ, by faith.
  • Illustration – John MacArthur illustrates this from the prophet Habakkuk. Habakkuk noticed that Israel turned away from the Lord and in their foolishness, they enjoyed sin.
  • Habakkuk asked for the Lord’s intervention, and the Lord said He’ll bring the Chaldeans to wipe out Israel. The Caldeans were worse than the Israelites. Habakkuk thought, ‘how can God use somebody worse than they are, to judge them?’ Why doesn’t God just come down and give them a spiritual revival?  Why does He wipe them out like that? 
  • He was beginning to hesitate God’s Word. However instead of shifting away in the soft sand, this is what he does next. Habakkuk 1:12, “Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof.
  • The first thing he says is, “God, You’re eternal.” In other words, “God is above the world, outside time.” What’s the comfort? God can handle His dealings, and I can be comforted in the fact that God is eternal. Do you understand what Habakkuk did?
  • Application – Instead of complaining, he stands firm in the Lord. Now when Scripture uses the phrase “stand firm” it means that we rely on what the Spirit of God has given to us for our edification in His Word. It means to have the assurance that I’m standing on God’s promises!
  • That’s the only way to handle your problems – is to firmly stand on what you know about God; He is eternal, He reigns, He is self-existent, and this world doesn’t affect Him!  
  • Conclusion – Did Habakkuk understand the issue? Does he understand why God’s doing what He’s doing? How about Horatio Spafford? No. But they do understand God. Yes, they knew that God is powerful, and self-existent, and never does wrong, and takes care of His own. 
  • And having established this in their minds, they continued to trust in the Lord, standing firm. So there’s only one way to live and that’s to back up and stand on what you know is true. 
  • Bridge – If you’re frustrated and if you’re not able to cope with life, you can stand firm because God is on your side! However, that is one key to live effectively for God. In addition to standing firm, we need to be loving or…

2. Love Purposefully:

  • Text – 4:1-3
  • Explanation – Paul really loved the people in Philippi! Is it because they were easy to love? Absolutely… not! He loved the unloving in the form of Euodia and Synthyche.
  • Paul doesn’t say, ‘ah guys I care about you please stop fighting!’ he truly cares for them so much so, that he gets the most equipped members to deal with their issue.
  • Illustration – he gets the true companion, Clement, and others! To do what? To get them together. And that’s the kind of love He’s talking about. He’s talking about loving the unlovely. He’s talking about loving the people that are problematic.  And that kind of love, can only come from humility.
  • Application – In fact, that’s how we live effectively for God’s glory! If you are constantly overcome by bitterness, you will grow ill! Do you realise how much bitterness effects your mental health? In the 60s, Medical doctor, S.I. McMillan wrote a book, None of These Diseases, saying:
  • For centuries, ridiculers have mocked the advice of Jesus, ‘Love your enemies.’ They say it is impractical, idealistic, and ridiculous. Today, psychiatrists are recommending it as a cure for many of man’s ills. When Jesus said, ‘Forgive seventy times seven,’ He was thinking, not only of our souls, but of saving our bodies from ulcerated colitis, toxic thyroids, high blood pressure, and scores of other diseases.
  • Conclusion – Do you realise that there are people who are sick in hospitals because they have been eaten apart by bitterness and hatred toward other people? Paul put it this way in Colossians, “put to death anger, rage, malice, and slander.” Why? Because those are all things that come as a result of the lack of love. 
  • Instead Paul said, “You have stripped off the old nature and its practices.  Be clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and good temper, forbear and forgive each other and above all, you must be loving.” 
  • You can’t truly live for God’s glory unless you love people. Running around with bitterness – it’s disastrous. To really live is to truly love. And if there’s somebody you don’t love, you need to spend some time on your knees and ask God to help you love that person.  
  • And then you need to go to that person and ask their forgiveness for not loving them, and pursue, if possible a relationship of love. You might say, I can’t do that! Friends, the love of Christ is yours. 
  • Bridge – Meaning, you shouldn’t find love for that person, the love of Christ already flows in you, just let it get out. Love purposefully, that’s how you live for God’s glory! Is a relationship with all people possible? Unfortunately not, that’s why Paul said to leave peaceable with all as far it is possible. Next we have a third key to effectively living for God’s glory…

3. Understanding Joy:

  • Text – 4:4
  • Explanation – In October 2019, the SAME foundation recorded that every 4 seconds, someone commits suicide. In addition, their findings revealed that 16.5 percent of South Africans suffer with common mental problems. And that 23 South Africans take their lives every day!
  • Illustration – To add insult to injury, 75 percent of clinic staff do not have a caring attitude towards these patients. This is pre-corona by the way. But currently in Japan, suicide claimed more lives this October than Covid-19 has over the entire year to date.
  • The monthly number of Japanese suicides rose to 2,153 in October. However, asof Friday, Japan’s total Covid-19 toll was 2,087. We live in such a sad state.
  • That’s the results of the problem… what is the solution? Paul says “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say rejoice.” You might say, “Well I don’t have anything to rejoice about.” Did Paul say, rejoice in your problem or did he say “in the Lord“? 
  • Application – Did Paul have a good life? Well no, he said; “I have continual sorrow and heaviness of heart.” Did it stop him from rejoicing in the Lord? No! So whenever your circumstances get heavy, who do you rejoice in? You rejoice in the Lord. In fact, Paul wrote this very letter while in jail, that’s bad circumstances. 
  • What does he do? He’s singing. That’s rejoicing in the Lord. You can rejoice in the Lord. To rejoice, you need to turn to Jesus Christ in any circumstance. It’s to constantly say, “Lord, I’m yours, and I don’t understand what’s going on, but I belong to you.” 
  • Conclusion – That’s rejoicing. So here’s two qualities to help you understand joy. 1) Joy is continuous. Why? Because it’s in the Lord and not in the circumstances. Joy is not a good feeling, or a smile, joy comes because of your relationship to Jesus Christ.  And therefore, you can have joy in the midst of sorrow. 
  • Bridge – 2) Joy is independent. It’s not joy because of; it’s joy in spite of! In other words, experiencing joy isn’t a result of someone or something bringing you pleasure. You experience joy in spite of being robbed of pleasure and comfort, and assurance. Which will help us with the next one,

4. Rest in Security:

  • Text – 4:5-7
  • Explanation – Years ago, a group of thirty Russian peasants were met in secret to worship Jesus Christ. Suddenly their worship was stopped by the arrival soldiers of the Soviet Union. The soldiers marched in and ordered the name of every person to be taken down, and one of the other men came up and started taking names, and when it a was finished, an old man spoke up.
  • He said, “There’s one name you don’t have.”  “I have them all,” snapped the soldier. The peasant said, “No you don’t.” The soldier says, “Who is it then?” The man replied, “Well, it’s the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, He’s here too.” What was his security? What security did the Spafford’s have when turmoil took root in their lives? The presence of Jesus Christ. 
  • Application – That’s security. What do you have to fear? The Lord is here, He is at hand! The presence of Jesus Christ is our true security! It is the presence of Christ that gives us peace, assurance, joy, hope, and comfort!
  • Conclusion – and it comes through Christ-conscious living. To constantly have Christ in your mind. It means to have your mind filled with His thoughts. And there’s only one way to do that, and that’s to study the Word of God. The more you study the Word of God, the more God’s thoughts are in your mind.
  • Bridge – The more God’s thoughts are in your mind, the more the presence of Christ is in your mind. The more His presence is in your mind, the more secure you are. And that’s the key we will end with to effectively living for God’s glory…

5. Know the Truth:

  • Text – 4:8
  • Explanation – What are you supposed to spend your time thinking on?  Things that are “true!” Friends, whatever you feed your brain is what’ll determine the way you live. If you feed on rubbish, you’re going to pump rubbish out. Put the Word of God in and you’re going to find that you begin to live of the Word. 
  • And we learn through repetition. Take 1 John, sit down and read it straight through. Make notes on verses that stand out and that is useful for your life now. Then go back to them, and look at how you should apply them! Do that for 30 days, I tell you, you’ll those verses off by hard!
  • Illustration – You will be alive in God’s Word! You go to Ephesians next! Philippian, Colossians, and you’ll begin to live for God’s glory because you’ll know the truth. The truth about who you are, who God is, and where it puts you in whatever circumstance.
  • Application – You must read to retain. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time. Then you will begin to “think on these things.” You will begin to think God’s thoughts after Him.
  • Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, will fill your minds!  It will lead to you praising God no matter how heavy life’s storms may be.
  • Conclusion – Win the battle of your thoughts in God’s Word, not in your imagination. Feed your mind the truth! And so in summary, no matter where you are, or what you are going through, you need to live for God’s glory – and that means hanging on by standing firm in the God who is on your side!
  • And you continue to love! Love the unloving and love especially when you don’t feel like it! You love because it is Christ’s love pouring out of you! And you rejoice, as our joy is continuous in the Lord, in spite of being robbed of pleasure and comfort, and assurance.
  • You rest in the security that God’s got you! That He is with you. And you live in that truth, in the truth of His Word! And do you realise what will happen? In verse 9 Paul says, “And the God of peace shall be with you.
  • You will live in the peace of God. Not only is God with us but His very peace saturates us. There is where you cope! In the peace of God that guides your steps!
  • Bridge – you may never know why the storm suddenly rages around you, but this you can know, God cares for you on this path! You may never know what waits for you around the corner, but you can trust in His plan. Therefore, we pray, God help us to be able to live for your glory, to give you the praise for what you can do and to the peace that surpasses all understanding.