April 20, 2011 – Rejoice Always!

April 20, 2011 – Rejoice Always!
Pastor Karen Troxler

Philippians 4:1-13

At the opening of this chapter, we discover that two well-known women leaders in the church are at odds with one another (conflict in a church—who would have thought it possible?). We don’t know what the conflict is about, but apparently, their disagreement went beyond a simple misunderstanding. Paul felt it necessary to address the situation in a public way, because their rift had grown to include others in the church.

Paul addressed his concern, not by criticizing or chastising, but by encouraging. He gave a wealth of sound advice that not only applied to Euodia and Syntyche, but to the other members of the Church at Philippi and to you and me as well. We cannot argue with the truth of verses such as, “Be glad in the Lord always!” “Don’t be anxious about anything; rather bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions.” “If anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.”

Our thoughts play a major role in our attitudes and moods, which in turn affect our behavior and our relationships with others. Unfortunately, this is as true for disciples of Jesus as it is for anyone else. Almost from the moment we wake up in the morning, many things happen that can discourage us (starting with the fact that we cannot give into the temptation to lay in bed!)

Sometimes we forget that the opposite is also true. No matter how much a person or situation may irritate or upset us, we of all people, have a myriad of things in our lives that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy, but we tend to skip right past them on our way to the Complaint Department. As we follow Paul’s advice to focus on the positive aspects of our lives, we will find that many of the negative things that consumed us will fade into the category of “unimportant.”

Dear God, help us to focus our minds on all the blessings we have in you. May we be able to say along with Paul, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation; I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” In your name we pray, Amen.