Sermon for 21st Sunday after Pentecost October 14, 2018
Text: Philippians 4:4-13 ILCW-A 18:2088
Theme: What’s On Your Mind?
“Edwin, what’s on your mind?” I used to hear that from Mom or Dad when I was a kid. When they asked it that way, they suspected that I was up to something. And if I heard my whole name called – “Edwin Arnold Lehmann, what are you thinking about?” – their suspicions took on a more serious tone for often it happens that what goes on up here (mind) comes out down here (hands) in our behavior. They didn’t want me to get off on the wrong track, so they were concerned about my thoughts.
God is concerned with what’s on our minds, too. His apostle writes: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things….keep doing these things” (v.8-9).
Christians should be concerned about what goes on up here, in their minds, because that’s where sin begins – inside us. In fact, Jesus said that the heart is the source of all wickedness (Mt.15:19). And if we have wickedness inside us, sooner or later it will show itself outwardly. Jesus’ admonition was to “first clean the inside…and then the outside also will be clean” (Mt.23:26).
To keep a clean inside, Christians are concerned about what goes into them. You’ll be concerned about the television shows you watch, the music to which you, the movies you go to see, the books you read, the people you hang around…you will seek to see, think, and do only that which glorifies Christ, your Savior, not that which entices to sin. “Whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy…think about such things.” So, what’s on your mind today?
I. Think about it because the Lord is near. Paul writes: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is near” (v.4-5).
You can think of that from the standpoint of Jesus’ Second Coming at the end of time. The Bible constantly encourages us to be ready for Him at any moment because He will come suddenly, without warning, quietly, like a thief in the night. “He will come at an hour when you do not expect Him” (Mt.24:42f). To that the Bible adds that the last day is much closer now than it was the first day that we believed (Rm.13:11). You are nearer to the end of the world today than you were 5, 10, 30, or 80 years ago. “He is coming soon” (Rv.22:20). So, it’s true: “the Lord is near.” You could take the meaning of those words from the standpoint of time. You could also take the meaning of those words from the standpoint of location. “The Lord is near,” He is right next to you. He sees what goes on in your life. He knows what is within you. What’s on your mind? Are your thoughts true, noble, and pure from God’s standpoint? Think about it, because the Lord is near.
Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “You are what you eat”? Well, it is also true to say, “You are what you think.” It will be evident to others by the ways you act and treat them, whether you are concerned about glorifying Christ or just concerned about yourself. Our thoughts reveal themselves in how we look and act.
There is a story about a man who was mean and ugly. He did not like things that were pretty and lived all alone in a dark old house.
One day the man fell in love with a young girl. She was sweet, friendly, and very beautiful. He wanted to marry her, but she said, “I will never marry a man whose face is not lovely.” So the man bought a mask which made him look like a kind and good person. He also did his best to be good to the girl, and together they did lovely things. They read good books together, they listened to beautiful music, they walked together in the parks, and they enjoyed God’s pretty birds and flowers. They got married and were very happy.
One day an old enemy came to the man’s house. He tore the mask off the man’s face in front of his wife. The man tried to hide his face, because he didn’t want his wife to see how ugly he was. But when he looked into a mirror, he saw that his face had become like that of the person he tried to be.
It’s not a true story, but its meaning is, and it has Godly significance. Whatever is true and good in God’s eyes, think about these things. As we do, we become more and more like the Savior.
Our thoughts and behavior won’t of themselves save us. Only Jesus’ blood can wash us clean inside and out. But our thoughts and behavior will reveal our gratitude to Christ for His redemption and mercy in our lives and it will reveal our faith in Him for the Bible says, “It is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Ro.10:10). In other words, what’s in here (mind and heart) will come out here (mouth and hands).
So, dear friend, what’s on your mind? Think about it because the Lord is near.
II. Think about it because it involves your happiness.
So, faith is not just something you know on the inside; it comes out in what you do. It affects your whole life and it determines your happiness knowing that the Lord is near. So Paul writes, “I have learned to be content in any circumstance in which I find myself. I know what it is to live in humble circumstances, and I know what it is to have more than enough. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, while being full or hungry, while having plenty or not enough.”
Because he knew up here (head) that the Lord was near in time and eternity, Paul could be happy no matter the circumstance of his life. His faith in the Savior adjusted to everything and helped him through as he waited for Christ to return.
When he was hungry or had other needs or problems, he didn’t blame God. If the stock market crashed and he lost all his money because the economic situation went bad, he didn’t throw up his hands in despair. In faith he knew that Christ still loved him.
When he had a lot and all was going well, he did not think it was because he had earned it and could get along on his own without God. He remembered that he lived by the grace of Christ who would enable him to live and do whatever was necessary to survive. He could adjust to all situations for Christ was with Him and Christ would stay by His side to the end when He would take Him to be by His side forever. Thinking this way enabled Paul to be happy, content in everything; he could adjust to anything life dealt him.
Think of it this way. Suppose that I had a wooden board with a number of different sized bolts in it that I had to tighten. To do that, I need a wrench. Fortunately, I have one here; it’s a 9/16th size – perfect for a 9/16th bolt. So I can get that part of the job done. But now I’ve got a problem. This wrench won’t fit the other bolts because some are smaller and some are larger. So I can’t finish the job – – unless I have a wrench like this, a monkey wrench. It’s adjustable. It can go smaller to tighten the small bolts; it can go larger to tighten the bigger bolts. With this wrench I can do the whole job, because it is adjustable.
In a similar way Paul tells us that faith in the Savior is like a monkey wrench; it adjusts to the situation; it fits any circumstance and so we are content.
Such contentment is not a natural response to life. It is learned as one realizes that Christ gets you through everything. And it enables one to rejoice in the most challenging of situations that confronts a person. Faith fits all. Why? – because no matter the situation faith trusts the Savior’s promise to be at hand, to relieve or support us as we go through it. Faith knows that with Christ at your side, nothing can be against you (Ro.8:32). Is that your thinking? So Paul rejoiced, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me,” even though he was in prison.
That’s an adjustable faith. It involves happiness in a Savior who died to give us eternal life. Such a mind is at peace and says with Paul in any circumstance, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: ‘Rejoice’!” What’s on Your Mind? God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.