The Secret Of Contentment

  SCRIPTURE: Philippians 4:10-14, NLT

10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.

Authorized Version

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. 14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.

The Secret of Contentment


The word translated content is autarkēs and it is used only once in the New Testament. There is good reason why we don’t see the word anywhere else in the bible: it was the word the Stoic philosophers used for peace or contentment. It literally means to be self-sufficient; to be strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support; to be independent of external things. Socrates said, “Contentment does not consist in possessing much but wanting little.” He also said, “The wealthiest man is he who is content with least.” It is true that you do not make men more content by adding to their possessions. Contentment does not lie in circumstances or possessions. Generally speaking, prosperity does more harm to our character than adversity. Paul lived in a Greco-Roman world. Greek philosophy was common to the culture. Most people thought in Greek.

Before I get into the message, I want to talk about the Stoics and their view of contentment. The reason for doing so is that it is not the same as Christian contentment: not even close. The stoics believed that you reached a state of contentment by mortifying all your desires. Over a period of time, they denied every emotion and desire. There goal was to abolish every feeling, every emotion to the point that you could watch your best friend die without feeling any emotion. The Ancient Spartan’s practice a similar philosophy. They called this discipline agôgê not to be confused with agape [divine love]. The Greek word  agôgê means to carry away. Epictetus, the Roman philosopher defined it in two words, “endure and renounce.”

The Spartans put every male child age 7 into the school of agôgê. It was not a 4 year degree. The Spartan men did not graduate until age 30 and the weak did not survive. They had a 100% graduation rate of those who endured the training. They were trained in the strictest disciplines: forced to go without food, exercised hand to hand combat, trained in martial arts and were even beaten on a regular basic as a part of the program. The goal of agôgê is to destroy all emotions and feelings. The Spartans were fighting machines who knew no fear and had no weaknesses. We do not know if the stoics influenced Sparta or vice versa but the Spartans are good examples of stoicism. They were content because they and renounced every emotion.

Obviously, Paul is not suggesting that we renounce all our feelings. Neither is he teaching us to get into asceticism by punishing our bodies. Whereas there is some truth to the Stoic definition of contentment, it is not all together true. They are right when it comes to possessions and circumstances making us happy. No amount of possessions and no set of delightful circumstances can make us happy or content. Someone said, “More ills could be healed if gratitude came in pill form.” I concur, an attitude of gratitude is definitely in order.

Whereas the stoics believed in total independence, Paul did not. What he says to the Philippians sounds a little crude in the AV as if he is saying, “Thanks for the gift, it is appreciated but not needed. I have all I need without your help.” Moffat states it clearer, It was a great joy to me in the Lord that your care for me could revive again; for what you lacked was never the care but the chance of showing it. Not that I complain of want, for I have learned how to be content wherever I am. Some people have the opportunity to give but they don’t care. The Philippians cared but could not find the opportunity to give. So what is Paul saying?


I like John Donne’s Poem….

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory [cliff hanging over the sea] were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

Nothing in the N.T. encourages us to work independently of the body of Christ. There is no precedent for a “Lone Ranger” ministry.  As a matter of fact everything teaches us to work together. In I Corinthians 12 Paul said…The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ…Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

It would be ridiculous for the hand to say to the arm, “I don’t need you.” So we know definitely that Paul is not saying to the Philippians, “God provides for me, I don’t need you.” It is true that some churches refuse to provide for their spiritual leaders, in which case pastors should not become bitter because God is the ultimate provider. Here Paul is thankful for the gift. It came at a very good time and there is no doubt that it was a source of encouragement to the Apostle.


It has always amazed me that Philippi, one of the poorest of churches, gave Paul the most financial support. On the other hand, Corinth, an affluent church, gave him nothing. There is no record of anyone from the church in Philippi being critical of Paul. On the other hand, Corinth was merciless in their criticism of Paul. Was Paul a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; was he one thing at Corinth and another at Philippi? No, Paul was the same every where he went but the churches were different. Paul did make the mistake of getting bitter toward the Corinthians for their lack of support. This fact simply reveals that Paul is human. Any preacher would have taken it personally. Dudley Hall taught preachers to depend upon the LORD for their needs. He quoted verse 19, And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. A pastor should never depend on his church to provide all his needs. Sometimes our needs exceed our salary. I was almost 30 years old before this truth took root in my life. We should not expect the church we serve to provide all our needs. This could tend to make us idolatrous. I have had to go to God with my needs. I have been doing this for 36 years and I can tell you it works. This doesn’t mean that I am ungrateful to the church. They have been a tremendous help and I am grateful but I know it was God who provided my needs. I am grateful that they have been a part of His provision.

I am not an island. I need help and I have received a lot of help in these 46 years of ministry. Although I have worked hard and put in many hours, I do not deserve what has been given to me. I would be embarrassed matter of fact to tell you how much help I have received. Not many are blessed with friends who give us $6,000 at the blink of an eye. I have friends who give far more than I could ever hope to repay but they do it because they want to and in cases, this is what the Lord directed them to do. I do not go to them with my needs. I go to God with my needs and he uses others to help me. It is wrong for me to even hint. I tell Him and if it is legitimate, He tells them. At all cost, bitterness and ingratitude have to be avoided. If we are angry with people, it will hinder our fellowship with God.

Paul is independent but only in the sense that he does not make himself dependent on any person or church. If there are strings attacked to a gift, you need to decline the gift. I have had to refuse some gifts because I realized they were being given in an effort to control me and if I had continued to take them, I would have been obligated to please these folks instead of Christ my Lord. Some gifts have to be declined. Unfortunately, it can get tricky. If a check is made out to me, I assume it is for me and even if I put it in the offering plate, I have to put my signature on it and technically of legally, it becomes my contribution. I try to make it clear so there is no misunderstanding. You make a check out to the church and it goes to the church. I would have to commit a crime to claim it. When I have doubt, I put it in the offering. There have probably been a couple of times where people were putting me to the test. Every pastor must learn to receive but you do have to be careful. God’s way of providing for you is not limited to the church budget.


Philippians 4:13 is often quoted: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Barclay says, “I can do all things through Him who infuses strength in me.” J. B. Phillips says, “I am ready for anything through the strength of the Him who lives in me.” Dr. Taylor translated it, “I can do everything God ask me to do with the help of Christ who gives me strength.” The ERV reads, Christ is the one who gives me the strength I need to do whatever I must do. The VOICE reads, “I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength.”

Jesus Christ is the invisible resource that gives us strength. We do not see the most important part of the tree. We see the trunk, the limbs and the leaves and we often admire their strength and beauty but without the roots, the tree would not survive. Not only do the roots provide the minerals and nutriments needed, the roots are the strength of the tree. I like to walk in the woods behind our humble cottage and I have noticed that pines are easily blown down by the wind. Rarely do I see an oak that the wind has blown over. The difference is in the roots.

Spartan’s and stoics may be self-sufficient but this is not our goal: our goal is to be Christ-sufficient. Jesus said in John 15:5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”  The branch abide is the tree or vine just as the eye abides in the body. As the True Vine, Jesus is our all in all: He is the roots, the trunk, the limbs, the leaves and the fruit. A part from Jesus, we can do nothing. Paul’s statement, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” does not imply that Paul is a wonder worker, a spiritual super-man who towers above the rest of the believing world as a paragon of strength. It implies that he was a man who had boundless confidence in the ability of Christ to match every situation and whose power [dunamis] is made perfect in human weakness.

Hudson Taylor was a devoted Missionary who served in China. No one questioned his devotion but he personally labored without joy then one day as he was reading a letter from a friend, his eyes were opened and he saw something he had missed. Hudson Taylor had been laboring in his own strength and suddenly he saw the victory in Christ adequacy, not ours. He stops relying on his faithfulness and began to rely on the FAITHFUL ONE. He learned to depend solely on Christ and everything changed.

This is the secret to contentment, rely solely on Christ. Do you need your sins forgiven–rely on Christ. Do you need direction–Ask Christ to guide you. Do you need financial resources–Depend on Christ, tell Him your need and trust His provision.

On an October Monday in 1971, June and I loaded up a U-Haul trailer and hitched it behind our Chevy-II and headed for New Orleans, Louisiana. We had $185 and a Gulf gas card [not a credit card]. We pulled on to the campus 10 minutes before the business offices closed. I had not made housing arrangements and for a while, I thought we were going to be sleeping in the car. Long story short, one of the office workers had mercy. I have not forgotten her name; it was Margie Griffith. She worked overtime without pay to get us into an efficiency apartment. Had we been ten minutes later or she been cold hearted: we would have had no place to go. When we got checked in; we had $11 to our name and neither one of us had a job. Everyone there thought I was crazy but I thought I was following the example of Abraham. I found a job the next day but would not get paid for two weeks. June found one the next week but our $11 had run out. Then on Saturday morning, after the Monday arrival. June got her last check in the mail from her previous employment; $243.00. We had to wait for the Seminary office to open on Monday to get it cashed but at least we knew it was in hand. I have a dozen or more Seminary stories of Christ providing out needs.

Bro. Calvin Inman told the story of the prospective Seminary student who called the Seminary and expressed his desire to enroll but confessed his doubts about starving while he was in school. The Dean of the Seminary said, “Son just take a drive and come to the campus and I will show you all the graves of the boys who starved while they were in seminary.”


Extravagant Love

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 26:6-13, NLT

Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head.

The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me? 11 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. 12 She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. 13 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”


This story is told in two gospels: Matthew and Mark. John alludes to the story and tells us it was Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Mark’s account adds some detail. Luke tells a similar story but it happens at Simon the Pharisee’s home and this is Simon the Leper. Obviously, he is no longer a leper but perhaps he still bears the scars or people identify him as the man who once had leprosy. We are not told but I think there is reason to believe Jesus had healed him and this banquet is in honor of Jesus his Savior. We know there were at least 17 people there but probably several more. Martha was being Martha and was helping with the serving. The story Luke tells is of a woman who has a reputation on the street and this does not seem to fit Mary although she did love deeply like the woman in Luke. This is a fantastic story about worship and love which you really cannot separate. I think the degree of your worship will be determined by the degree of your love and vice versa. Mary excelled at worship. You might say, “It was her strength.”


Remember the story in Luke 10 of Martha preparing lunch for Jesus and Mary sitting at His feet listening to every word. Martha came to Jesus an complained about her lazy sister…do you remember what Jesus said to Martha?  “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Mary had this ability to tune everything out other than Jesus. I honestly believe that our worship is corrupted by vain thoughts. We come in here thinking about everything in the world except the right thing which of course is Jesus. We have had some tough Sunday School lessons lately and the one today was very hard on me. I struggle not to be distracted. I have the Martha tendencies. Luke says that Martha was distracted with all the preparations [Luke 10:40]. I sit on the front row so I will not be distracted. I close my eyes at times to keep from being distracted. There is no one in the building trying to distract me. My problem does not lie with others, my problem is within. I do not maintain my focus. Mary was a laser; Martha was a shotgun. A shotgun can make a lot of noise but a laser is much more powerful. When we come in here {Sanctuary}, we have to tune the world out. We have to tune everything out except Jesus.

I love the last verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn LOVE DIVINE ALL LOVES EXCELLING….

Finish, then, thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee;
changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise

Mary was lost in wonder, love and praise. What is it like to be lost in wonder? I think it is to be absorbed into the infinite greatness of Christ to the point that you don’t exist. Our self is consumed by his glory. Isaiah got lost in wonder and he cried “Woe am I, for I am a man of unclean lips.” Peter got lost in wonder and he cried, “Go away from me LORD, for I am a sinful man.”


As far as Mary was concerned, there was only one man in the room and that was Jesus. She did not enter the room thinking about Simon or Judas. She was focused on Jesus to the point that no one else was in the room. Mary was just being Mary, she was not distracted by all the others in the room. She really didn’t care what they thought about her gift or her manner of presenting it. She was so focused on Jesus that He is all she seen. This is why Mary can teach us tons on worship. She did not allow the distractions or the others in the room to hinder her worship.

Mary lived in a man’s world and the room was filled with men. It is very possible that those seated around the table were all men. We know Martha was there but she was serving which is what women are supposed to do in that culture. Mary in uninterested in the meal or serving the meal: she goes directly to Jesus and anoints his head with the costly perfume.

Is there anyone else in this room who thought like Mary? Is there anyone in this room that would embarrass themselves for the sake of Christ? Was there anyone else in the room who didn’t give a rat’s rear end what the others thought?

None of the men with the exception of Jesus appreciate what she did. They looked down on her with contempt and were openly critical. Mary did not use her brain, she wasted a year’s wage by pouring this expensive perfume on Jesus head. The men in the room were indignant. Why such waste? This perfume cost a small fortune. Today it would be worth 50-60 thousand dollars. The rational men in the room jumped on Mary, what she did was so dumb to them. But she did not do it for them.

Jesus rebuked them for criticizing Mary. “Leave her alone. She has done a good thing. She has done what she could.” Mary could not take Jesus place on the cross but she could anoint his body for burial. She was making every attempt to lighten Jesus load.

How inhibited are we in worship? I would say ‘extremely!’ We are self-conscious and crowd-conscious. We are more worried about pleasing or displeasing the person sitting beside us than we are Jesus. Mary gave her best; she refused to hold back. Do you give Christ your best when we sing? I know the answer. Very few people in this building give Him your best and the number one reason why you don’t is your lack of courage. You are afraid of what others will think of you. Who give a rip. Did they die for you? Would they die for you? He died for you!


This bottle of perfume was costly, very expensive, much more than Mary could afford. The men were thinking…”This woman is crazy. Jesus is going to be dead by the end of the week, why the entire bottle. Why didn’t she use a few drops and save the rest.” You are thinking like rational men, she was thinking like a person in love. Love never gets out the calculator. Love does not think, “How little can I give and this gift still be respectable.” Love is self-sacrificing. Mary would have given 10 bottles of perfume had she had them. She wanted Jesus to have the most precious thing in her possession. She is probably wishing she had more while they are thinking, you did too much.


Mary was a listener. The first time we meet her she is sitting at the feet of Jesus soaking up every word. Mary was the only one of Jesus followers who seemed to sense that the end was near and I am not surprised because men are not good listener, she picked up on things they had missed. She could tell by what Jesus said and how He said it, the cross was immanent. She sensed His burden: the men didn’t have a clue. Jesus has less than a week to live. She acted before it was too late. She seized her opportunity. These men are going to have some regrets but Mary did all she could when she could. They accused her of wasting the perfume but nothing done for Jesus is a waste. Dr. Vance Havner use to say, “We have but one life and it will soon past and only what we do for Jesus will last.” Mary was a good worshipper because she was a good listener and very sensitive to what Jesus said.


Jesus lived a lonely life. No one understood Him. His disciples did not want Him to return to Jerusalem. They knew the Jewish leaders were hostile and were capable of anything but Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem and He would not relent. On the trip in, Jesus walked several feet in front of his entourage. He had talked of His death openly but no one wanted to hear it so they just tuned the part about the suffering and death out. Mary was one of the very few who had listened. She was sensitive to Jesus burden. She may not have done much on the grand scheme of things but she did what she could and Jesus appreciated her devotion, her love and her gift. Who can say what her act of kindness meant to Jesus? I don’t know and have no way of finding out but I can tell you how it would work in my life. If I had a rough ordeal in my path, an act of devotion, love and kindness like that of Mary would be a treasured memory. I would use that memory to help me get through the tough times. We know that Jesus thought of others while He was on the cross but He may have thought of Mary’s loving kindness. REMEMBER: Mary had a small window [6 days]. She anointed Jesus for his burial before He was crucified. It was a timely act. A once in a life time opportunity and Mary did not let it slip by. Who do you have the opportunity to help? Is there someone in your life that needs their roses before their funeral. You can wait until the funeral to send the roses but it would mean more to them if you did it now.



SCRIPTURE: Matthew 25:31-46

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations [Ethnos] will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ 44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ 46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”


This is not a parable, it is a prophecy. Jesus is talking about a universal judgment that includes all nations [ethnos]. I don’t generally disagree with W.W. Wiersbe but his commentary on this scripture is weak. He states that Paul uses the word ethnos to describe all nations other than Jews but Jesus never used the word in this way and this is Jesus talking. I must admit there is a lot of mystery here as in chapter 24 but I think we can make some general comments and be on solid ground.


The story about the talents is about accountability. All of us who are beyond the state of innocence must give an account for the life we have lived and the choices we have made. This day of reckoning is coming. I don’t know when and I admit I don’t know details but we will all stand before Christ. We will all be judged. There are millions who do not seem to be aware of our accountability but aware or not, we are accountable. Whereas we are free to makes choices, we are not free of the consequences of those choices.

I went on my first Mission Trip, if you can call it a mission trip [not questioning the trip but my ability as a missionary], back in 1986. I was 36 years old which was much younger than I realized at the time. We went to Nigeria in Africa. When we got into the country, every member of the team except myself went to the bank and transferred some America dollars into Naira [Nigerian dollars]. I decided I would wait. Then I discovered that the Nigerians loved American dollars. One American dollar would buy three cokes [cold]. Several people told me not to do it but I used dollars all week. At the souvenir shops, I was getting 20 to one over what the others were getting because I used dollars. There money was worthless, I knew it and they knew it. All went well until we began doing our paper work to get out of the country. They brought me a balance sheet. I had to account for all the money I had brought into the country. I had forgotten that I filled out a similar sheet when I came into the country and obviously my money did not balance out. I had spent one hundred American dollars and there was no way I could balance my funds.

The older guys were having a ball with this. I was the most home sick cat in the bunch and they were saying, “You aren’t going home. You are staying in Nigeria because you broke their law and you can’t reconcile your balance sheet.” In truth, they were praying for me and one of them came up with a solution. He had lacked $100 declaring enough when he came in to Nigeria so he allowed me to carry the $100 out. The moral of the story was: I was accountable but did not fully realize how much. I was accountable all along but I just didn’t realize the consequences. I was saved by grace and grace is the only way any of us will be saved from God’s judgment.

Make no mistake; we are all accountable and we will stand before Christ someday.


In this story, the wicked [goats] don’t remember being wicked. They do not see themselves as deserving of judgment. The presume innocence but there is not argument once the sentence is pronounced. The righteous [sheep] don’t remember being righteous. They are not even aware of their good deeds. The wicked did not remember their sin: they assumed they were all right.  I think 1 Corinthians 10:12 would be in order today, “Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” The second admonition that comes to mind is 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine.” I am not trying to get you to doubt your faith: I just want to remind you that your faith must be in the atoning work of Christ. A goat is not going to slip by the Shepherd. You are going to have to be a sheep to get in and your were born a goat. You have to be born again to become a sheep. The primary difference between the two animals is their nature: Goats are self-willed. They are exceedingly rebellious. Sheep are smelly and ignorant but they do  not have the rebellious nature of the goat.


If you punch at a worm, it curls up or rolls over. If you punch at a snake, it strikes back immediately. The snake does not have to think to respond. Snakes react, they don’t think about it our pray about. You threaten them, they strike at you.

There is an old proverb: put a rat in front of a cat and you’ll find out if you have a cat. Put a needy person in front of a Christian and you will find out if you have a real Christian. In this story, the righteous are their brothers keepers. They feed the hungry. They give water to the thirsty. They help strangers, people they don’t even know. They invite people in to their homes and show hospitality. They give clothes to those who need them. They visit the sick. They visit those in prison. They remember the persecuted. What stands out about these things? Nothing, they are all simple things. Do I need to be gifted to visit a nursing home or a hospital? Must I be wealthy to give away a coat, a pair of jeans, a pint of blood? Do I have to have a special gift to help a stranger. NO! This is the beauty of it: we don’t have to be gifted or rich but we must have a compassionate heart and only Christ can give us this heart that cares for others.

You are, we are being judged every day by the way we treat others. The great judgment is simply going to reveal the truth to us.

The verse in this passage that challenges me is verse 40, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Then look at verse 45 to see the mirror opposite…. ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ We have to see Jesus in others.

I want to tell you a story about a man named Francesco [which means the Frenchman] or at least that is the nickname given to him by his father. Being the son of a wealthy textile merchant, Francesco had the best of everything but early in life he revealed his unhappiness with this world. His father left him to sale his merchandize but Francesco would give away more then he would sale to the displeasure of his father. Francesco served in the military twice and was a POW for over a year. It was during these times that he did a lot of meditating. When he finished his second stint in the army, he renounced his wealth and took a vow to poverty. He spent the rest of his life helping others and preaching the gospel. According to his testimony, the defining moment was when he got off his horse and went over to a leper and hugged him. His face was scarred and wretched but after hugging him, Francesco saw the face of Christ. He was never the same from that moment. Francesco became known as St. Francis of Assisi.

Martin of Tours was a Roman Soldier and a Christian. Late one winter day, he was entering the city where he served and a beggar was pleading for alms. Martin did not have a cent. He took off his cloak and pulled out his sword and cut the garment in half giving one half to the beggar who was shivering in the cold. That night Martin had a dream. In the dream he saw Jesus wearing half of a Roman Soldier’s cloak. It was a defining moment for Martin.

Many years ago, on a Friday, I was returning from the abortion clinic in Huntsville. I was discouraged because few preachers would take a stand on the issue and quite a few looked down on me for my involvement in the pro-life movement. This passage came to my mind. I cried out to Jesus, “We are still killing You aren’t we, surely these little unborn babies represent the least of these. Folks we cannot be mean and unloving to our neighbor without it hurting our Savior.


The God Of Peace





SCRIPTURE TEXT: Philippians 4:8-9, NLT

 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.


As we pointed out in our last message, we have peace with God on the basis of the blood of Christ (Romans 5:1–Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.) This is PEACE WITH GOD but Paul is talking about the PEACE OF GOD and the GOD OF PEACE in Philippians 4. Peace with God is our spiritual status or standing. It is where we are in relationship to God. The peace of God is our inner attitude or mindset. Peace with God is relates to our regeneration which is like a birth, a once in a life time event. The Peace of God is a sanctification issue. It is something we work on daily and it can be a struggle.

Paul gives us some encouragement in 2 Corinthians 10…The truth is that, although of course we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level. The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare but powerful in God’s warfare for the destruction of the enemy’s strongholds. Our battle is to bring down every deceptive fantasy and every imposing defense that men erect against the true knowledge of God. We even fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ. 

You might call this “The battle for the mind.” If you read Philippians 4 closely, you will discover that they theme is the “Peace of God.” W.W. Wiersbe says that James 4 is the war chapter and Philippians 4 is the peace chapter. What Paul is saying in verses 8-9 is that we have to win the war for control of the mind to have peace. Our success in this battle for the mind depends on the level of our commitment to obey and follow Paul’s example.


The NIV says “Think about such things,” the NASB reads “Dwell on these things.” The same principle is found in Isaiah 26:3–You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Thoughts are invisible. They are a product of the soul. They cannot be seen with any X-ray or modern technology but only a fool would deny that thoughts are real. Now let’s be honest: [1] You do not say or articulate everything you think. They are thoughts that go through your mind that you never mention aloud. So not all thoughts are expressed. [2] All thoughts do not become actions. You do not articulate every thought and you do not incarnate every thought. So this idea that a “Thought” is prophecy is false. Martin Luther said, “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head or even landing in your hair but you don’t let it build a nest.” The danger in the thought process is to become obsessed with the wrong thoughts. When the bird builds a nest in the hair, we are looking at serious problems.

William Barclay said, “It is a law of life that, if a man things of something often enough and long enough, he will come to the stage when he cannot think about anything else. He thoughts have carved a rut in his mind and he cannot get out of the rut. If you were raised on a farm like myself, you know that the old wagons created ruts in the wet weather. If you were to get your wagon in a frozen rut, you would have a hard time getting it out. I did not say impossible. The natural thing to do in run in the rut and that is what we do in our thinking. We have to be careful about the ruts we make.

God has given us some amazing help: Romans 12:2 states… Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. {NIV} I also like the way the NLT states this truth…Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.


We do physical exercise, why can’t we do mental exercises? This is why it is good for us to do cross word puzzles, etc. as we grow older. Literally, our brain will get rusty if we don’t use it but using it is not enough, we have to discipline ourselves to think about the right things. We have to practice thinking about the right things. Since we are thinking during most of our waking hours, we need to practice thinking about the right things.

Charlie Thompson sent me some things for the DIGEST today and one read like this… Just for today, I will improve my mind. I will learn something new, something useful. I will read something that stimulates my mind; something that requires me to think, to focus, to concentrate.

Our thoughts are influenced greatly by what we see, read and hear. Psalms 101:3 reads, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.” The NIV reads “vile” and the NLT reads “Vile or Vulgar”. Read good books beginning with the Bible. Watch good programs. Listen to good music. You are kidding yourself if you think you can feed on the vile and vulgar and maintain pure thoughts.

To help us, Paul gives us a list of things to think about:

  1. Things that are TRUE. The Greek word means things that are, things that exist. In other words ‘Reality.’ It is not surprising that Paul would start with truth. Jesus said in John 8:44-45…For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! Believing lies cannot only lead to heresy, it can lead to doubt, depression and deep anxiety. Just a few weeks back, I was called to make a visit and I was given false information about the situation. I worried and prayed all the way to the man’s house [10 mile drive] but when I got there, the situation was nothing like I expected. I realized within minutes that I had assumed that the info was true and it was not. {The Brian Williams thing is no surprise to me. The media does not deal in truth. The modern media is a propaganda machine. They would not know truth if it bit them on the neck}
  2. Things that are HONORABLE. The Greek word literally means to be venerated for character, honourable. It is referring to something or someone who we revere, respect, possible give reverence to. Matthew Arnold translates the word “Nobly Serious.” Barclay thinks the word “Dignity” is a good fit. He says it referred to something that is not flippant or cheap. Our word to-day would be “Not trivial,” but things that are serious. {I think Jacob and Esau are perfect examples: Jacob had a serious mind while Esau never entertained a serious thought. To Esau, life was one big party…he thought about a bowl, beer, burger, broad…He was a hedonist. Pleasure drove him.
  3. Things that are RIGHT. The Greek word can be translated upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God. There are those who set their minds on entertainment and pleasure but this refers to the person who is committed to do his duty, to do what is right. You have to admire a person who does what is right in spite of personal loss.
  4. Things that are PURE. I have looked at 20 translations and the one word they all agree on is ‘Pure.’ This world means morally pure, undefiled, ceremonial clean and fit to be in the presence of God. Not sordid, shabby, soiled or smutty. We have no chance of be pure in heart, or pure-minded when we think on things that are sordid and smutty.
  5. Things that are LOVELY. Moffatt translates it attractive. Barclay says winsome. Blue Letter Bible says the Greek word means acceptable or pleasing. It is not a reference to a lovely woman, not in the sense of physical beauty. The true sense of the word is things that endear love. Things that cause us to love. Things that encourage us to love. Antonyms would be vengeance, fear, hate, bitterness. Those who minds are set on criticism breed resentment whereas those who minds are set on LOVELY things produce kindness, sympathy, forbearance, patience and all these foster love.
  6. Things that are ADMIRABLE. Moffatt translates this high-toned and he is not referring to pitch but to things that lift a person up. Things that encourage and exalt. It is not flattery but honest praise that has a view of future success. The RSV translates it ‘gracious.’ Again, antonyms would be…harsh or ugly words, discouraging words, dirty or impure words.
  7. Things that are EXCELLENT. Some translate it virtue but most go with excellence. It could be translated virtue, moral goodness, any particular moral excellence such as modesty and purity. The word could be used of persons, animals or things. An excellent piece of property, an excellent horse, etc. Think on the highest, noblest things.
  8. Things that are WORTHY OF PRAISE.  A good word would be commendable. There are some things in all of us that do not need to be encouraged but there are some commendable things….Think on these. It takes more effort to think about things worthy of praise than things worthy of criticism. Criticism is natural, it takes no effort but we have to think hard, long and soberly to praise. We think it is wrong to praise men but actually the right kind of praise is encouraging.


Philippians 4:9–Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. {NLT}

J.B. Philips–Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will be with you.

Barclay says: There are tragically few preachers and teachers who can speak like Paul. Most of us are afraid to set ourselves up an an example to follow but it is true that “Personal Example” in a fundamental part of teaching. A teacher most demonstrate the doctrine he or she professes. If I teach you to tithe but I myself do not: there is such gross hypocrisy that I lose all credibility.

Paul believed in the God of peace and he uses this term twice in Romans, also in I Thessalonians and I Corinthians. It is also found in Hebrews 10:23 which is one more reason I believe Paul had something to do with Hebrews. Paul taught the Philippians that if they were faithful to practice the presence of God and the things above, they would surely experience the PEACE OF GOD.

Isaiah 32: 16-18–Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace.

F.W. Faber

For right is right, since Yahweh is God,

And right the day must win.

To would be disloyalty,

To falter would be sin.

To the Jew, peace was paramount and bound up in a relationship. Moses and Abraham were friends of God. Only the God of peace can enable us to live life at it’s highest level which Jesus referred to as “Abundant Life.” It all depends on how much time we spend on our relationship; in His word and on our knees.

The battle for the mind is just that, it is a battle. Most battles involve a struggle and take time. When George Washington entered the picture he told the Adam boys…”War is inevitable and necessary but I warn you, It will not be easy and it will last a long, long time.” Their are no quick fixes, no easy battles in the CHRISTIAN LIFE. But if we don’t control our minds, our minds will control us. I am sorry to say, at least from the male point of view, that time alone is no ally. We have to work had in the renewal process. As we grow older, we must spend more and more time in the word of God. Mildred Stephenson lived to be 100 and she spend at least 4 hours a day in the word of God. Mrs. Ona Holladay is 99 and she spends hours in the word. She read other books until a year or so ago and now it is all bible.



SCRIPTURE: Matthew 25:14-30

14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.

19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’

21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!

22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’

23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’


Tonight we, LORD willing, are going to talk STEWARDSHIP. Stewardship has to do with managing something that belongs to someone else. The Annuity Board of the SBC manages my retirement account. Legally, it is my money but at present, they are managing the funds with my permission.

Tonight I want to talk to you about STEWARDSHIP and use Jesus story as a guide. We will call this “Principles of Stewardship.”


[Psalms 24:1,The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.] As long as you claim ownership, there is going to be a problem. You must acknowledge that you are a trustee of God’s property. You don’t own anything. The earth is the Lord’s. The right to own property is a fundamental civil right that our forefathers fought and died for but we must understand that our ownership is not really ownership: we are simply trustees of God’s resources.

I love Dr. George W. Truett stories and I came across one in William Barclays commentary. Dr. Truett was preaching a revival in West Texas and one of the church members was a multi-millionaire [1940’s] who had built a huge mansion on his ranch that had a tower with windows on every side. He carried Dr. Truett up into the tower to show him his ranch. He had made his money on oil and cattle. He pointed South and said, “As far as you can see, I own this land.” Then he pointed East and said, “As far as you can see in this direction, I owe the land and all the cattle on the land.” Then he turned North and said, “Look to the North and as far as you can see, I own it all.” Then he turned west and said, “See all those oil wells, as far as you can see in that direction, I owe it all.” Dr. Truett was not intimidated, he pointed toward heaven and said, “If you will look in that direction how much do you own?”


We are all stewards or managers of God’s resources. Save and lost alike are managers. Unfortunately, most people do not understand what they possess is actually God’s. He has simply entrusted to them for a short period of time.

Since everything belongs to the LORD, any ownership is a form of STEWARDSHIP. You don’t God will hold Anheuser Busch accountable? On what ground do you base your belief? The earth is the LORD’s and everything on the earth belongs to HIM. Do you think Anheuser Busch has been paying his rest. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are not exceptions: God is going to hold everyone accountable. These unfaithful stewards will be cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. [v.30]

REMEMBER: everyone is a steward and everyone is accountable. There are no exceptions.


Verse 15…He gave five bags to one, two bags of gold to another and one bag of gold to the last–dividing it in proportion to their abilities. What this means is you are responsible for only what He has given you. More was expected out of the guy with 5 bags because he had more ability and the gift was in proportion to his ability. In terms of wealth, rich people have more responsibility which is one of many reasons to be thankful that you are not rich. God will hold them to a higher standard. But our stewardship is not just money. Some people are highly gifted. I was relieved when this principle leaked into my brain. God does not expect me to do what Adrian Rogers did or Charles Spurgeon. These men were highly and rarely gifted. God is not going to punish me for spending my life at a rural village church with 600 members instead of a mega-church with 6,000 members or in Dr. Rogers case, 26,000 members. We are to be faithful with what has been given to us but we are not responsible for what we do not have.


Verse 16…The servant who received five bags of gold went out immediately to invest the money and soon he doubled it. Investing is putting money to work, putting in to use with the expectation of getting a return whether it be financial or otherwise. It is particular good when we invest in good things.

Once again, we don’t want to limit our thinking to money. We do need to invest money but there are other ways of investing. We can invest our time into profitable causes. We can invest in peoples lives. We can endow them with principles, wisdom, guidance and other character attributes. No one can be a good steward without investment.


Look at verses 24-25…“Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

It is a sin against Holy God for you to take His resources out of circulation. Had this moron {fool} put it in a bank, they would have invested. Someone would have gotten some use of the money but by hiding in the ground, this money was idle and helped no one. He committed a cardinal sin, he took God’s resources out of circulation. Never hid or bury money. It reveals a greedy heart and a tremendous lack of faith. This man had no confidence in his Master. As far as he was concerned, his Master was untrustworthy. He had a twisted view of his master and so does every other miser and all around bad steward.

I can tell you right now, no doubt whatsoever, if you are a bad steward, it is because of your view of the Master. If you love your wife and children, you will support them financially. You will not be arguing or rationalizing about your poor giving habits. Same is true with Christ. If you love Him, you will want to give in support of His work. When you get tight fisted and hold on to His resources, it reveals a terrible lack of faith.


Verse 21 or 23…‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!

I don’t think about or worry about rewards but that does not mean that I don’t believe in them. The bible teaches clearly here and through out that the faithful will be rewarded. You say, “Heaven is heaven, as long as I get there, that is all that matters.” Within the confines of grace, I do not know how He will do it but I am sure that it will matter. Stewardship is not a laughing matter. The next time you read through the N.T. underline the verses that deal with stewardship. You are in for a shock, stewardship verse will be two to one over any other subject. Jesus talked more about our relationship to material things than He did heaven or hell. You don’t believe me, check it out.


Can you imagine what would happen if every member of DBC began tithing right now? Keep in mind that out of 600 members, about 40 tithe [Husband and wives]. Out of 150 families, 20 tithe. If my math is right, that is 13%. That 13% give more than 80% of the budget. By just doing the simple math, if every family began tithing, our Sunday Offering would be $66,000.00. We would pay off all our debt in one quarter; pave the parking lot in the 4th month. Finish the feeding center in Guatemala in the 5th month and build the new medical building before the end of a year. Wow! Is that awesome or what? I think it would lead to REVIVAL. I know I would be excited.  You are thinking, “Yeah and you want a raise, right!” I tell you what I would be willing to do tonight: I will sign a contract that I will never get another raise if everyone starts tithing. Honestly, which do you think would happen first. You know the answer. I will sign on the dotted line tonight but you have no intention of tithing, do you. The Lord will take that up with you on judgment. Personally, I have other things to be concerned about.

Story of The Bridesmaids


“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids[a] who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, 4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’ 7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ 9 “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ 12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’ 13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.


This is not one of my favorite stories. I suppose the reason is that it contains the sting of judgment, a door closed which will not be opened. I really don’t like “Too late” stories, I prefer “Happy every after.”

The story teaches us three very simple lessons…


Jewish wedding are nothing like what we are accustomed to. First the Groom went and claimed his bride from her parents and then he brought her back to his father’s house for the wedding. The wedding did not start at a certain time, they started whenever the bridegroom returned. The wedding did not a few minutes or even a few hours; they lasted 7 days. Once the bridegroom returned with his bride, he entered his father’s house and the celebration was on.

This is the picture Christ gave to us of Himself, He is the groom and the church is the bride. He is coming to claim His bride and then take us to His Father’s house for a long celebration.

Five of the virgins were wise, they were prepared but five were foolish. The greek word for ‘foolish’ is moros from which we get moron. In other words, five of the bridesmaids were wise and five were morons. Why would they be morons? Because they knew the customs, they knew that the Groom came unannounced at whatever time his father deemed and they were not prepared.

How foolish is it to not prepare for things that are inevitable. June and I just purchased our tomb lot a few weeks ago. Our next step is to buy our rock and have it sat. I just lost a good friend to cancer. He knew weeks in advance that we had only a short time and he had his son carry to the Funeral home where he picked out everything. He picked out his Pallbearers, he wrote thank you cards in advance. His son gave me an envelope where he had purchased $300 in Cracker Barrel cards for my wife and I. He was prepared. He left no stone unturned.

Wise people prepare: foolish people procrastinate. Are you ready to die? Are you prepared.


When the bridegroom came, the foolish and unprepared virgins turned to the ones who were prepared saying “Give us oil,” but they refused. They said we don’t have enough for ourselves and you. You must go buy oil. I had a driver when I went to Iraq named John. He was a Babylonian Assyrian and proud of it. He had a rather belligerent attitude toward our entire group. Finally, I ask him, “John, are you a Christian?” “Yes” he said, “I was born a Christian.” He did not say he was a ‘born again Christian,’ he said he was born into the Christian faith. I understand this is what the Greek Orthodox Church teaches. I tried to explain to him that you have to be born again and you cannot be born into but he did not understand.

You can’t go to heaven on the faith of your parents or friends. You must trust Christ personally. You have to repent of your sins and ask Him to save you. Being Greek Orthodox will not help. Being Baptist will not help either. Salvation is in Christ and Christ alone.


But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked.  Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’ In other words, “It is too late.”

There are some who teach that people have additional time to be saved after the return of Christ but there is nothing in scripture to support their belief. Let me remind you that mankind does not have a good track record on interpreting scripture. The Jews, who were not short on knowledge, totally miss interpreted the first advent and these so called “Prophecy Expects” could be wrong. I would put my faith in Jesus, not some theory that you will have another chance after He comes for His bride.

I read a story about a young man named John. He died at the age of 28 after a three- to four-year-long addiction to Vicodin that his own mother was not aware of and they lived in the same house. John was a very high-functioning addict.

John’s teenage years were very trying, as he was drinking and smoking pot almost every day. Calls from the police in the middle of the night were becoming common. And yet, he looked like the proverbial boy next door. He was an outstanding athlete, with many trophies and awards. He played baseball and was also very gifted intellectually and artistically.

John settled down, got a good job and worked long hours but he fell at work and hurt his back. He was prescribed Vicodin and went for his physical therapy regularly. His mom was very concerned about John taking Vicodin, and she questioned him about continuing to take the drug after his physical therapy had ended. John lied to his mom.

John’s addiction grew worse and then one morning John pounded on his mom’s bedroom door doubled over in pain and begging her to take him to the hospital. He was diagnosed with pancreatitis, but lied to the doctor about his drug use. When his mom went home to get some things for him, she found literally hundreds of empty little pill bottles stashed all over in his room. She also found what he titled his “Drug Schedule.” He was taking 30 to 40 pills a day, and it was eating up his whole paycheck, which finally explained why John has grown dependent on his mom.

On October 4, 2008, John went into cardiac arrest while he was still in the hospital—the day before he was scheduled to be discharged. This led to his being put on life support, which was shocking for his mom who days earlier did not realize that there was a problem. Doctors and nurses worked frantically with John but he did not make it. The medical examiner who performed John’s autopsy said that John was a ‘dead man walking.’ The acetaminophen in the massive amount of Vicodin he was taking damaged every single one of his vital organs. He never stood a chance.

John could have been helped had he not waited until it was too late.

The Peace Of God


Philippians 4:6-7, NLT

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Our subject tonight is the PEACE OF GOD which is to be distinguished from PEACE WITH GOD. Paul says in Romans 5:1, Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. We have peace with God the moment we trust Christ as our Savior. The Peace of God is impossible without first having peace with God. Everything I say tonight about the Peace of God is predicated on you having peace with God through the blood of Christ.

But although we have peace with God through the blood and this will never change, we can lose our Peace of God or God’s peace that garrisons our heart and mind. There are many things that can disturb our peace and Paul deals with them in Philippians four. We will not get to all of them tonight but we will mention them in passing.

  1. Circumstances can disturb our peace.
  2. Prayerlessness can disturb our peace.
  3. Believing a lie can disturb our peace.
  4. Worry and anxiety can disturb our peace.
  5. Disobedience can disturb our peace.
  6. Bitterness can disturb our peace.
  7. Unbelief can disturb our peace.

We are not going to deal with all of these tonight, we will get into the battle for truth next week but tonight we are going to focus on verses 6-7 and from them take the keys to PEACE.

THE FIRST KEY IS TO –“Pray about everything.”

Prayer is a grand privilege. I don’t have an open line to the President, nor any of my congressmen. I could not speak with any of them today if my life depended. They will not return a call and it will be a staffer that responds by email if they respond at all. The writer of Hebrews says in chapter 4, So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testing we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Joseph Scriven states this truth clearly in the hymn, What a Friend We Have In Jesus….What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief’s to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer!

Not only are we to pray but we are to pray about everything. Anything that is big enough to create anxiety is big enough for prayer. Pray about everything. I am praying right now over my expense report, how much mileage to claim. I am praying about our gifts to the church and to missions. I don’t want to make those decisions without the LORD’s help. I pray about trading cars and trucks. I have a very intimate relationship with Jesus: I tell Him everything. I don’t talk to Him about some things, I talk to Him about everything.

THE SECOND KEY IS…”Don’t worry about anything…be anxious for nothing.” Anxiety is a Peace killer and it worked indirectly to destroy your quiet time {prayer}. Sometimes I meditate on scripture or listen to good music before I pray. Practically all my praying comes after bible reading. I know YouTube has some bad stuff but it also has some very good. I can click on Michael W. Smith’s Agnus Dei {Worthy Is The Lamb} and somehow be transformed into a state of worship. Our peace will come out of our prayerful worship but anxiety hinders our worship and our prayer.

M.R. Vincent said, “Peace is the fruit of believing prayer.” William Barclay said, “There is nothing too great for His power and there is nothing too small for His concern…pray about everything.”

THE THIRD KEY IS TO BE THANKFUL “Thank him for all he has done.”

Sometimes it is good to make a list of things that God has already done for you. Always, we can begin with our Salvation in Christ. Thank God that He loved you so much that He sent His only begotten Son into the broken sin-cursed world to become the curse of sin in our behalf. Thank Him for His mercy and grace. He has shown us mercy by not giving us what we deserve and He shows us grace by giving us what we have not earned. Then start with His attributes. Thank Him for who He is…

  1. Thank God for being holy, for hating sin and loving good. The entire creation is sustained by God’s integrity. Our God is a holy God: He cannot be tempted with sin. He is incorruptible. He cannot lie. He cannot deny Himself. When Caiaphas asks Jesus if He was the Christ, Jesus did not lie to save his physical life. He confessed the truth because He was God and could do no other. We are governed here on earth by men who cannot tell the truth but God cannot tell a lie. Have you thanked Him lately for being perfectly honest, for being Holy, pure from sin, untouched by sin. God is holy, high and lifted up, He transcends all sin and moral decay. Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God almighty, all of creation is filled with His glory.
  2. Thank Him for His personal love for you.
  3. Thank Him for His wisdom. He has a master plan that is a mystery to man. His thoughts are infinite, His ways are infinite, beyond our finding out. He has the ability to make all things work together for good to them who love Him and are called to fulfill His purpose. Joseph got into a bad situation: he lost his family and freedom in just a days time but He trusted God and did not become bitter. God made all the bad things work together for good; Joseph’s good, Egypt’s good and the Israelites good. The world and its problems are not on your shoulders or mine. God created it all and He can manage. At some point, if we are to have the peace of God, we have to surrender to His will. Rebellion is an enemy of peace. Remember, Paul was in prison, in chains, when he wrote this letter. He had peace because he trusted God’s wisdom.
  4. Thank Him for His power, His omnipotence. We can always admire and appreciated his handy work. We can stand in awe of his majestic creation.
  5.  Thank Him for His benevolent goodness. God said through Malachi, “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.” It is only by His mercy that we are alive.


Gratitude in the ground for prayer. No unthankful person can pray with passion and power. The key to the garden of prayer is thanksgiving. The two keys to prayer are a grateful heart and a surrendered will. Of course everything depends on our relationship to Christ. There is no peace a part from Christ. No peace with God and no peace of God within. Everything hinges on our relationship to Christ.

When we have give thanks for all that God has done and asked for what we need, He promises to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The word ‘guard’ is a military word. Some translate it ‘garrison’. Paul was under Roman guard when he wrote this letter and they rotated shifts. He always had a guard. His message to us is that God will put a garrison of angels around our heart and mind to protect us from doubt and fear and thus enable us to maintain peace. The circumstances around us may not be good but between us and the unpleasant circumstances is God’s garrison to stand between us and the circumstances, keeping them from invading our peace. It is the same word used in 2 Corinthians 11:32 when the king of Damascus had Paul under guard in the city. There were guards posted everywhere to keep him for getting out.


While Jack Taylor was serving as pastor he had a female member to be diagnosed with terminal cancer. The woman was a widow of a few years but not that old. She did not take the bad news well. She became so embittered that no one could stand to be around her. Finally, her friends came to Dr. Taylor and told him the problem; he agreed to pay her a visit. He knocked on her door and she invited him in; for the next hour or so he listened as she poured out her complaints. When she ran out of steam, Dr. Taylor asked: “Have you given thanks to God?” She erupted with second diatribe….“Give thanks to God, are you crazy. Do you actually expect me to give thanks for cancer?” Dr. Taylor responded, “I did not ask you to thank Him for the cancer; the question is, have you thanked Him for all He has done in the midst of all you are suffering? The bible says, ‘In all things, give thanks’…it does not say, ‘for‘ all things give thanks. Don’t thank Him for the cancer but thank Him for what he has done for you.”

Suddenly she saw the truth that is expressed in today’s scripture…Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Paul said, once a believer has done these two things, the peace of God that passes all understanding will become a reality. Don’t expect to receive His peace until you are willing to thank Him for what he has done. By the way, the woman in the above story died with cancer a few months later but she died in peace. She became an avid witness for Christ during the remainder of her life.