Tuesday, August 17, 2010

“Growing in Joy and Peace” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday August 22, 2010

Purpose: To reclaim the joy, peace, and contentment that comes through faith in Christ

Scripture Text: Philippians 4:2-14 (NRSV)

Philippians 4:2-14
(2) I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. (3)Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. (4)Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (5)Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. (6)Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (7)And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(8)Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (9)Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

(10)I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. (11)Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. (12)I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. (13)I can do all things through him who strengthens me.(14)In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

I remember when I was a young father and working as a machinist, I thought if I could make just a $100.00 a week I would be content. Soon after achieving that goal I thought if I could make just a $150.00 a week, I would be content. Through all of my working life that continued until I retired. Although my ending wage was 20 times more than my beginning wage, instead of contentment, I found I needed boats and airplanes and bigger and better cars and houses, because my contentment was based on something that kept changing, rather than something that stayed the same. Such is our relationship with Christ, if we put our trust and faith in Him and in our relationship with Him,
we can become truly contented.

Paul begins this portion of our lesson with a personal note, to a couple of women within the Philippian church. Paul did not take a stand on the issue, but encouraged them to work it out with the help of a third party and try to come to an agreement, if only about disagreeing.

We had stated at the beginning of this series from Philippians that it was a book of joy, with the word appearing nine times in this letter. In the 4th verse Paul uses “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Note that our rejoicing should always be “in the Lord” just as Paul begins with urging the two women to be of the “same mind in the Lord.” This leads me to say, whether you are fighting or rejoicing you should always be seeking to be in the mind of Christ.

Paul continues in verse five with more guidelines for being an effective Christian, your joy should come off as gentleness, yielding, and sweetness to the rest of the world. The Judge that also rewards and avenges is always near. We should be careful about what we are anxious for, and always be willing to submit by prayer and petition what we fear. While it may not be prudent or wise to share everything with other people, it is always prudent and wise to share your concerns and fears, but we should always be doing it in a spirit of thanksgiving.

In Colossians 3:15 Paul says, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” Peace and thanksgiving are always linked together. In God there exist a tranquility of spirit and a heavenly rest which only He can give. We cannot understand or comprehend that peace, we can only experience it. This peace has been given to us as an assurance and guards us against the powers that work against God's plan for our life.

In verse 8 Paul starts his closing by summing up eight particulars; truth, honor, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellence, and praise. These are the things we should be focused on, and they should stand as goals worthy of obtaining. Not just for us, but should be a part of our teaching to others. These were things that were taught by the great Greek philosophers and Paul incorporates them into living a Christian life.

Paul closes by humbly acknowledging the gift that has been sent, but also takes a moment to teach again, that contentment comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ, the rock of our salvation that cannot be moved. Paul has experienced both good and bad times, but reaffirms his strength is in the Lord.

Circumstance-based joy is a fleeting thing; recent studies show most people that win the lottery are broke within five years and their happiness last only a year. Pleasures only last for a short time until we become tired of them and they no longer satisfy our cravings. As the old chorus goes: “if you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy, let Jesus come into your heart.”

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