Sunday Sermon: ‘Don’t Let Life Get You Down’ pt 1

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All of us have times when life gets us down. There are days  and even seasons of our lives when it seems like the more you try, the harder life gets. If not handled properly such times can not only get us down, but even tempt us to give up. But giving up isn’t God’s answer to handling our problems.

Over the next few weeks, I want us to concentrate on some of the answers scripture gives for dealing with our difficulties. I’m calling this mini-series: “Don’t Let Life Get You Down”. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t have a magical answer to give you that will enable you to live a care-free life. Quite the contrary. What we are going to be focusing on is not so much how to avoid life’s problems, but rather, how to respond to life’s problems in a way that will bring God glory and help us  to find peace. Is that possible? Consider these words from the Apostle Paul –

Philippians 4
9  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

We often think of the spiritual greatness of Paul and indeed he was a spiritual giant. Yet he also faced a lot of opposition and difficulty during in his Christian life. For one thing, Paul had to deal with emotional suffering through loneliness and isolation. Many have questioned whether or not Paul was ever married. Some say yes, but the Bible never says so. In 1 Corinthians 7:8, Paul refers to his singleness. Did Paul struggle with isolation and loneliness?

Perhaps not such much when he was young and a ball of fire. He was so focused on winning the world for Christ that he probably didn’t slow down long enough to think about friends or family. But as he got older, it seems that the years of loneliness and isolation began to weigh heavy upon him. In his final letter Paul wrote –

2 Timothy 4
9  Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:
10  For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
11  Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

In addition to the emotional suffering Paul faced, he also had to deal with physical suffering. Consider this part of Paul’s testimony concerning what it cost him to serve the Lord.

2 Corinthians 11:24-27 (HCSB)  Five times I received from the Jews 40 lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the depths of the sea. On frequent journeys, [I faced] dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the open country, dangers on the sea, and dangers among false brothers; labor and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and lacking clothing.

Reading all that Paul had to suffer has made me ask myself – “How much would I be willing to endure for the cause of Christ and not give up?’ Paul suffered greatly and yet he said this about all of his hardship  – “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (2 Cor 4:16)

I believe that we also could say that Paul experienced spiritual suffering. Paul cared deeply for the church. He knew that Satan was doing everything he could to tear the church down and Paul’s constant concern for the spiritual well-being of these Christians weighed heavily upon him. In 2 Cor 11:28 he writes,Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” Literally he is saying that the needs of all the churches weighed upon him like the ‘attack of a mob of anxiety.’

Paul had an extreme amount of stress in his life, both emotional, physical and spiritual, yet he didn’t let his stress get him down.

Philippians 4
9  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Notice that he refers to God as being the “God of peace.” We have been learning in our study of Experiencing God, that people in the Bible often gave God a special name that revealed something about their personal relationship with Him. By the title Paul gave to God, what can we assume that this suffering Apostle had experienced in his relationship with the Lord? Paul experienced Him as the God of Peace. Over the next three weeks I want us to study some of the things Paul did that enabled him to experience the God of peace. My prayer is that you will experience Him as well.

Paul tells us that if we will do the things he did, we too will experience the God of peace, even in the midst of suffering. What things did Paul do? The first thing Paul shares with us is that we must Always Be Rejoicing in the Lord.

Philippians 4
4    Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

Can we always rejoice, even when we are suffering? That doesn’t seem logical or sensible, and yet, I have witnessed many a time a suffering saint with a smile of joy on their face. Perhaps we need to stop here and determine the difference between worldly happiness and Christian joy. Worldly happiness is an emotion that is based upon our circumstances. If our circumstances are favorable, we’re happy. If they are not, we’re not. But Christian joy goes beyond that. It may or may not include happiness. Paul spoke of those who were sorrowful, yet rejoicing. (2 Cor 6:10) Christian joy is a gladness in our spirit that is based, not upon our circumstances, but upon our certainty. Certainty in what?

1. Rejoice in the Certainty of a Person

Philippians 4
4  Rejoice in the Lord alway…

Paul is not saying for us to rejoice in our pain or problems, but to rejoice in the Person of Jesus Christ who is our Lord. When difficulty arises often our first reaction is to express emotions like fear, despair, discouragement and even anger. These are all emotions and they waver with our circumstances. Have you ever heard someone speak of being on an “Emotional Roller Coaster?” Unfortunately, often when we are on an Emotional Roller Coaster, we are on a Spiritual Roller Coaster as well. To experience peace, we must have something more stable to lean upon than our emotions. Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace, wants to give to us His peace.

John 14
27  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Several years ago the church used to sing a little chorus that said – “Learning to lean, learning to lean, learning to lean on Jesus. Finding more power than I ever dreamed. I’m learning to lead on Jesus.” Friend, if you want to experience God’s peace, you’ve got to learn to lean on something other than your circumstances or your emotions. You’ve got to learn to lean upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. Rejoice in the Certainty of a Provision

Paul’s fear was that his difficulty would cause the Philippians to become discouraged. That’s why he wrote to them this letter and in it he uses the word ‘rejoice’ or ‘joy’ at least 16 times. Rejoice and joy are pretty much the same word in the original Greek and they have a close relative – grace. The words rejoice, joy and grace are all linked together. How can a Christian experience joy during a time of trouble? How can a saint who is suffering rejoice? There’s only one way and that is their confidence in God’s provision known as grace. What is grace? I was taught as a boy that grace is God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. When someone accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, they are baptized ‘into Him.’ That phrase or some form of it is used numerous times in scripture. When we become someone ‘in Christ’, we then become heirs with Him of all the riches of heaven. Paul had great confidence in the provisions of God’s grace and that’s why he wrote just a few verses later –

Philippians 4
19  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

All of your need – in proportion to His riches in glory – by Christ Jesus. Brethren, that is a reason to rejoice!

3. Rejoice in the Certainty of a Purpose

The first question that comes to our mind whenever we experience difficulty is – “Why?” We don’t have time today to study all the reason why God allows His children to suffer; however, Paul does share one with us in Philippians 4:5

Philippians 4
5  Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

There are many reasons why God allows one of His children to suffer, but let me mention just two: Purifying of our faith and the Praise of His glory. How can suffering bring God glory? Many translations will state vs 5 as – “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.” If you study how Paul used this particular word in other passages, it seems to refer to the demonstration of a gentle spirit while in the face of difficulty. I can’t think of anything that is a more powerful witness to the power of God than a suffering saint who maintains a smile of joy on their face.

4. Rejoice in the Certainty of a Promise

Philippians 4
5  … The Lord is at hand.

One of my favorite verses is Ps 34:18 – “The LORD is near the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” The Lord is near in His presence. God’s saints never suffer alone. And He is near in His promise. Jesus told His disciples when He went away that one day He would return and take them from this world to be by His side forever. Even so come Lord Jesus!

So many great songs have been written to help us express our faith in God. A song that came to my mind as I was preparing this message is entitled – “When We See Christ.”  (Words and music by Esther Kerr Rusthoi)

Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We’re tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over – in God’s eternal day.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face – all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Brethren, consider

  • Where it is that you can rejoice.      “In the Person of Jesus Christ”
  • How it is that you can rejoice.            “By the Provision of His grace”
  • Why it is that you can rejoice.           “For the Purpose of His glory”
  • What will be the result of your rejoicing.  “The Promise of His presence and perfect peace”


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