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There's A Prescription For That!

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." 

Good Morning My Beloved,

Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!

We would like to welcome our new brothers and sisters in Israel and Japan. 
We're so glad to have you of you here with us today.

I believe that it has become more than obvious that the Bible believing church has been losing cultural influence over the past several decades. At the turn of the 20th century, Judeo Christian values were promoted in this nation. Once celebrated in the 1940's and 50's, were merely tolerated in 70's, 80's, and 90's. By the late 2000s, they were hated in popular secular culture. While there are many reasons for this, in short, the Bible confessing church has lost the culture wars. And by the word "lost," I do not believe that it is a done deal, however for now, it has lost its cultural influence.
The massive shift from anointed pastors teaching sound biblical doctrine towards seeker-sensitive public speaking entertainers, have shifted the Church’s focus from theological to "socially relevant, therapeutic and motivational" messages. In their search to reach more people and be more culturally relevant, the Church ceased being cultural reformers, to cultural pleasers, therefore losing its cultural influence.
One of the many results of this shift, is a society who struggle with anxiety, not knowing the true peace of Christ described in John 14:27. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
Let us bow our heads in prayer.
Heavenly Father,
Today, we again give You thanks for this wonderful truth, the marvelous instruction in Your Word. Lord, touch our hearts, open our eyes and ears, and cause us to be changed by it. That we would be transformed from hearers of the Word to do-er's. Make us to commit ourselves anew to the principles that can bring about genuine transformation, that we might live lives that will "put to silence the ignorance of foolish men," and shut the mouths of those who would criticize and condemn our faith because our lives haven't matched the faith we have professed. Help us to live the truths of the gospel, so that our actions, not our words, will witness to an unbelieving world. Let us give to You the praise and glory that You deserve.
In Christ's name we ask and pray

Today's Message: There's A Prescription For That!

Many self righteous Christians today, have focused their ministry on politics and a particular candidate, they either like or dislike, rather than addressing the cultural issues of our day, sin. Politics is merely a reflection of our culture morals rather than a foundation for formulating them. Our culture is formed from through media, music, arts, entertainment, through education and most importantly, through the teaching of sound biblical doctrine. When you focus your witness on politics and neglect the other cultural spheres, you may have short-term victories, but you will ultimately lose in the long term.

It was the problem two thousand years ago and it's still a problem today.
It cause me to think of the account of the well known author, Ernest Hemingway. It brought to mind an article I once read about him. The article had a by line account that said that, "Hemingway had proven that you could, you could beat sin."
The article went on to say that he had truly achieved success and done everything possible, fought in revolutions, traveled the world, was the winner of both Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, had obtained great power and wealth. He was living proof that you could cheat death, beat the consequences of sin and get away with it. However, rather than proving you can beat sin and get away with it, he ultimately had proven that he really hadn't learned to live for Christ, and he paid the price for it, his life.
Hemingway told a writer for Playboy magazine in 1956 that "What is immoral is what you feel bad after." By his own standard, he was a man of unimpeachable morals—"nothing made him feel bad." 
A chronicle of repeated suicide attempts, paranoia, multiple affairs and marriages, ten years to the very month after that article came out, Hemingway returned to his Ketchum, Idaho hideaway, he took a gun, put it to his head, and blew his brains out.

He previously has received a letter from his mother, written in 1920, which illustrates just how completely he had divorced himself from their beliefs: "Unless you, my son, Ernest, come to yourself, cease your lazy loafing and pleasure seeking...stop trading on your handsome face...and neglecting your duties to God and your Savior Jesus Christ...there is nothing for you but bankruptcy; you have overdrawn."

Regardless of ones positional circumstances, I believe that one thing is for certain, that most people can't cope with life!
Open with me your Bibles to the book of Philippians chapter four, verses 4 through 9. As we continue our amazing journey through this marvelous epistle, the Apostle Paul begins verse 4 with certainly one of the most well known, often quoted passages in chapter 4.

I would like to encourage you to follow along with me as I read to get our text set in our minds. Philippians 4:4-9.

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

Our Lord Jesus said in His infamous Sermon On The Mount, that we should not worry about our physical concerns, about our clothing, about putting food on the table, we should not even be worried about tomorrow because each day had enough troubles of its own. Do not have this kind of anxiety. 
Some two thousand years later, here we are in the age of computers, space rockets and advanced medical science and technology, yet we have the the same problem as those who two thousand years ago, or in any time, anxiety in the heart. Even with all the letters we've acquired to place before and after our names, showing the world our highly prioritized degrees, have we still not learned how to "truly live"? A life of Christ.

I believe that it is clear, it does not matter if you are a young person dealing with anxiety regarding your parents, your popularity or your academic grades in school. If you are new, young parents with anxiety about your children. If you are grandparents or great grandparents, whoever it is you are, you are not exempt from this problem we call anxiety.

If anxiety is the number one problem that plagues the human race then we should be asking ourselves the obvious question. "Is anxiety just for those who do not know Christ? Or does anxiety exist within the walls of the church, in the lives of Christians?"

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul has been dealing with a number of issues with the church in Philippi. He has been writing about conflict in the church. One Christian in conflict with the other. Paul did all he could to bring peace among these Christians. But real peace is more than just the absence of conflict.

We might be in good fellowship and harmony with one another, but there still might not be real peace inside of us, because real peace is internal. Real peace comes within the heart. The tranquility of the soul and the assurance that comes with trust in Jesus Christ. That is what real peace is. That is what God desires us to have.

Beloved, Christians were never meant to live a life filled with anxiety, but rather Christians were meant to live in peace. Our anxiety displeases God. And, if we are really quite frank about it, we can call anxiety what it is, sin. Anxiety is sin. Anxiety is like a sickness. It is a spiritual illness that needs a cure. And we have in these verses the prescription that God gives for an anxious heart.

In verse 4, Paul exhorts us to "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" I believe Paul's message to us here is clear, "in Jesus Christ, we have all we need to make us happy, to experience true joy. To live a truly anxiety free life." 

I have had a number of Christians say to me, "But pastor, you just don't understand, you don't know my circumstances! I have nothing to rejoice about." Perhaps, there are some of you among us today, who share in that sentiment. 

The first thing that Paul points out to these Christians struggling with anxiety is found in verse 4. He tells them to "Rejoice." Paul has been speaking about unity. He has been speaking about peace and about conflict resolution. He is now about to emphasize some of the positive attributes that we need as believers if we are going to be free from anxiety.

I'd like to direct your attention to the key to rejoicing is, even in our less than desirable circumstances. Three simple, yet extremely powerful words. "in the Lord." Bear in mind, Paul was in prison, facing death, when he wrote verse 4. "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" 

Paul speaks about joy again and again in this epistle. Paul wants the church of Philippi to be people of joy. Christianity was never meant to be a life lived apart from joy. Authentic Christianity is a lifestyle of joy. If people want joy, they will have to find it in a genuine personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In other words, joy, is an inward quality of life. So why should authentic Christians live a life of joy?
Because of the abiding presence of Christ in their lives. Because of the abiding presence of Christ in their lives.
Jesus promised believers a full and meaningful life. They have joy because they have a glorious future hope in Christ. All these things give the true believer in Christ joy, I'd like you to note, that not a single one of these things, have anything to do with our circumstances. None of them depend upon our circumstances, but our relationship with Christ. Our joy is "in the Lord." Therefore, we can Rejoice!

This is why Paul told the believers in Philippi to rejoice. 

Again, I'd like you to remember that Paul wrote this letter from prison, he was on death row. Paul waiting to find out if he will be sentenced to death or if he would be released from prison. He had all this to deal with yet he was able to tell the believers in Philippi to rejoice, to have joy in your life. 

How could there possibly be joy in this kind of situation? Because true joy in Christ is not connected to circumstances.

To have joy it does not matter if you are going through difficult times. We can still experience true joy in Jesus Christ, even in the midst of very difficult and trying times. Paul calls the church, who faced all kinds of difficulties, to joy.

Paul then says in verse 5," Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near."

What we see in verse 5 is another vital internal characteristic. It is the kind of quality that we put ourselves in the shoes of another person. "Let your gentle spirit be known to all." Depending on the translation you're using, your Bible may say have moderation or considerateness. It may even say softness. Whatever the translation, the call is the same. It is a call to the Christian to understand other people. 

Further, it calls us to oppose all arrogance in our own walk with God. It is a quality that allows us to bear the injustices of life with patience. "The Lord is near." We have the abiding presence of the Lord. This should cause us to have a lifestyle of gentleness and understanding of others.

That is the kind of quality that Paul is calling Christians to. An understanding of the other person and what they have been through. It requires putting yourself in their position. Then, it calls us to act in kindness. In other words, it is treating the other person in the way you would hope others would treat you. That is what Paul calls the Christians to, a life of joy and life of gentleness.

Then, in verse 6, Paul switches from the positive characteristics and he gives us a negative command.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

Paul tells us, do not be anxious. He says I do not want you to be anxious. Here, we talk about the hard truths of the Bible that are difficult to live up to and I would have to say, for the majority of Christians, this is certainly one of them. How many Christians, as hard as they try not to be anxious, still end up finding themselves, over and over again, overcome with anxiety, when the real difficulties come. They begin to worry.

I'd like you to think about something. When you are a believer in Jesus Christ, when you become anxious, and that anxiety fills your heart, as much as you may hate to admit it, what you are actually saying is "God, I'm sorry. I know what You tell me to believe in Your promises and for the most part, I do. But I really can’t trust You with this one. I have to take this one on by myself, by worrying and becoming anxious. In our relationship, I just don’t have the ability to trust You God with this problem."

Beloved, plain and simple, that kind of anxiety, has no place in the life of true believer in Jesus Christ! The very root idea of anxiety is like a mind that is divided and can not find a place of rest. 

In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus said. "That’s why I’m telling you to stop worrying about your life-what you will eat or what you will drink-or about your body-what you will wear. So never worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

And here we have the apostle Paul writing the same. If anyone had something to be anxious about, it was Paul. He could have been anxious about so many things, sitting there on death row. Yet Paul says, "Do not be anxious."
Paul is actually giving the secret. He does not want people to be anxious, but he knows it is not enough to just say the words, "Do not to be anxious." If anxiety is a spiritual sickness then we are going to need a prescription. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6, what the prescription is. "but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

The prescription for a troubled heart is prayer. It almost seems too simple, doesn't it? I know some of you are asking "With all this anxiety, you are telling me all I have got to do is pray?" Yes. You see Paul says take it to the Lord in prayer. If our anxiety is dividing our mind and causing us to have this division where we cannot find a way to be settled then prayer is focusing our mind on God and giving us the peace of a settled mind. The answer to the problem of anxiety is prayer.

I know what you're thinking, "But my problem is so big, you could not possibly understand my problem." While that may be true, but God can understand your problem! God can understand all of your problems, both large and small.

There is no problem that you can have that is so big that God cannot understand that. I have had some people say, "But my problem causing me anxiety is so small that I would not want to trouble God with it." Let me tell you this: There is no trouble that is too small. That is what the Bible commands us to do, to take everything that is causing us anxiety to God in prayer.

In our troubles, our trials, we need not be anxious, we needn't become discouraged, but take it to the Lord in prayer. Anxiety contradicts a life of faith. We need a life of faith and trust in God but anxiety destroys that faith. When the storms rage internally God desires us to have peace, tranquility in our soul. While on this earth, we cannot escape anxiety, sooner or later, it will come to all of us and when it does, we are to take it to God in prayer. 
That is the biblical prescription for an anxious heart. Allow me to just add as a footnote, I can assure you, it works! If you knew anything about my family, you would know that peace in the storm is not indicative to my family's genetic makeup. Yet, through Jesus Christ, I have a unimaginable peace, an inexplicable joy. Sure, I have concerns, but I'm certainly not anxious. That is the result of taking our anxieties to God in prayer. The result is peace in our lives. 

That is why, like the Apostle Paul, I can say, " And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." And I do not just tell you this because as your pastor I am supposed to, I'm telling you this because it is true! I know, because I live it!

This peace cannot be explained. However, let me assure you, we can experience peace, even though we cannot explain it. It is a divine gift that comes from God, through Jesus Christ, so even our unfavorable circumstances cannot remove or change this peace.
In these verses Paul is emphasizing the need for a good thought life. The Christian life is more than just the external. It is more than a list of rules, obeying the do's and refraining from the don’ts. The Christian life is is something internal and that is more challenging than obeying a set of rules.

Christianity is about the internal and it's about your thought life. Therefore, we must transform our thought life. You may need a revival of the mind. The Bible speaks about this kind of transformation in your life. Let me tell you something, it will literally transform your Christian life, if you can keep your thoughts on things that are pleasing to God.

For example, when someone commits a sin, it is most likely a manifestation of what has already taken place in their mind.
I remember some years ago, reading the story of a young seminary student who had a gun put to his head, the shooter had threatened to kill him. He was shot twice, with blanks and even though they were blanks, it still caused his head to bleed. He said that during that time he prayed to God. He even prayed for the salvation of those who had a gun to his head and who had stolen his car. He prayed about it. He said he was overcome with peace. 
Are you beginning to see the result of taking your anxieties to God in prayer yet? If someone who had a gun put to their head and their life threatened could find peace through prayer, then certainly you can find peace, in whatever you are anxious about!
So, in verse 8, Paul says this to us "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." Notice that he is telling us what thoughts we are to put our mind on. "...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." 
As humans, our mind is determined for itself to be set itself on something. The question is on what? Here, Paul is telling us our minds on the things that are honoring and pleasing to God. In other words, the Christian mind should be on thoughts that are worthy to be taken before the Lord our God. On thoughts that are praiseworthy and excellent. Paul calls the Christian to have thoughts that are high and lofty thoughts.

I cannot emphasize this enough, how you think is so important. How you think forms your character. A sure way to experience renewal of your mind, is to set your thoughts on things that are worthy of praise. That is how the revival of your mind begins.

That is why Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." 

We are not to be like those of the world, and that includes our thought life. That to must be different.

I'd like you to note, that Paul does not simply say from now on I want you to no longer think of any bad thoughts. Instead, he says not only do I want you not to think bad thoughts, I exhort you to concentrate on the positive ones, the things that are above, godly thoughts.

For those of you who don't believe how crucial this process is, imagine for a moment, that you just received a text or phone call about something horrible happening in the life of someone you dearly love. 

Now, I want you to stop thinking about that, and focus your thoughts on what I am saying to you right now. How's that working? If you are like most people, you're still focused on something bad happening to a loved one. 

That is the kind of instruction Paul is giving us here. He is not just saying to stop thinking on your negative thoughts that are dragging you down in your Christian life, but let your mind be on exalted to thoughts that are worthy of praise. Think on the things that are good and honorable. That is the positive way Paul gives us to keep our minds right before God. 

We do that by keeping our mind on the thoughts as we read them in this verse. Paul gives us eight virtues to keep our mind on. They are "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise,"

Look, each of us has our own battles to fight. The greatest battle however, is for the mind. To have a mind that is pure and honorable before our Lord. How do we do this? Do we lock ourselves in our houses and shut ourselves off from everything in the world?

If we did that we would be ignoring so much other admonition in scripture and the goal to reach other people for Christ. We have this dilemma. We must be out there where all these bad influences on our mind are found. We must because if we are going to have an influence for Christ we must be out where the people are. Yet when we are out where the people are so many things there are not pleasing to Christ. 

Whenever we are out where the people are and whenever something comes before us that will take us away from Christ, then we can stop at that moment and pray for that influence. We can right then and there, pray for our own mind and for the mind of others, who will be effected by what also caused us to have thoughts not pleasing to God.

There is another thing that we can do to experience this revival of the mind. We can keep our mind on God’s Word. Psalm 1 says, "blessed is the man who delights in God’s law he meditates on it day and night. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water. Whatever he does prospers.

Keeping our mind on scripture means our minds are on things that are praiseworthy. We need to memorize scripture so that when those times come when our minds are dragged away from things pleasing to God we can focus on the scripture we have in our minds.

How did Jesus face Satan in the wilderness? What was his weapon to keep from being dragged away? How did He withstand letting His mind be dragged away from things pleasing to God? He used Scripture. He used Scripture. Jesus quoted the Scripture. If we want to keep our minds pure we are going to need to memorize Scripture. And when we face the attack of the enemy, we must be prepared to use it!

Paul talks about our minds as the battleground for spiritual warfare. Satan is constantly battling for the minds of believers!

II Corinthians 10:5 says "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,"

Can you imagine if we took our every thought captive to the obedience of Christ? 

When you put your mind on things pleasing to God you are waging a battle against the unseen enemy. It is spiritual warfare. Keeping your mind on the pure thoughts will make the difference in you becoming more like Christ.

Paul not only calls for a revival of the mind, but he moves from the thoughts of the mind into action.

In verse 9, Paul says "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

The authentic Christian has this wonderful and marvelous promise: The God of peace and the peace of God! So not only is God with us but His peace pervades us. What amazing truth!

I believe that as Christians, we can handle anything that the enemy throws at us in this life. I truly believe that. We have been equipped to not only handle but overcome the attacks of the enemy.

One good deed is worth more than one thousand good intentions. It won’t do to have a good Christian life only in our thoughts, but it must impact our actions! While it's true, we must have a pure thought life, but we are called beyond that, we are called into right actions.

Romans 8:31 teaches us "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?"

In Closing...

I would like to encourage you to take those thoughts captive for Christ, but don’t just allow them to remain as thoughts, put them into action.

The Apostle Paul uses his own life as an example. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. Paul followed the example of Jesus and he is calling others to follow his example of following Christ.

If teachers want their students to learn something, they must have their students put the lesson into action. We must do more than meditating on scripture, reciting the Word of God, to show others what we know, exalting ourselves before men. It means putting the Word of God into practice in our lives. In other words, to practice what we teach!

The Bible calls us to take our thoughts captive for God’s honor and to put those thoughts into actions. What are the results of having thoughts that honor God. Paul tells us; The God of Peace will be with you. 

The results of a pure mind is that you will have the presence of God. The God of peace will be with you.

May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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