Welcome to week nine of our fall series Philippians: Choosing Joy Under Pressure. Paul writes this letter to challenge and encourage a first-century church struggling with internal and external pressure. This week our conversation revolves around Paul’s encouragement to rejoice always and not to worry. This seems like a wild idea coming from someone chained to a Roman guard writing to a church under all sorts of pressure. Paul gives the Philippians and us three heart decisions that help replace our anxiety with joy.
Building healthy and life-giving relationships.
What has been new or challenging in your life since last time the group met? Spend 20–30 minutes checking in with each other.
How can your group be a safe place where you can talk about the things that make you anxious, worried or scared?
Share part of your story
When you were a kid, what was your biggest fear?
Taking next steps toward Christ together.
Look back to Philippians 4:2-9. Identify the main themes, big ideas and key words in these verses.
Focus on God’s Goodness
Joy and anxiety are opposing forces in our lives. They can’t co-exist. Paul gives three decisions of the heart we can make to help us find joy in difficult or anxious seasons. Why do you think joy requires us to make heart decisions?
Do you think the world is becoming more or less anxious? Why do you think that is happening? Are you becoming more or less anxious?
Senior Pastor Jeff Manion asked us to answer this question, “When you worry, what do you worry about?”
Often anxiety is based on the fear we will not get what we desire. This could be our kids’ safety, enough money for retirement, our career, our health, acceptance by the people around us or the fear of missing out. How do you see fear, desire and anxiety as connected?
Paul instructs the Philippians to “rejoice in the Lord always.” He wants them to focus on God’s goodness. What comes to mind when you think about focusing on God’s goodness?
Discuss some words that describe God’s character: wisdom, justice, knowledge, unchanging power, graciousness, unfailing love and mercy. How can habitually returning to “who God is” help us replace anxiety with joy?
When we experience pressure in our life, we often begin to believe we are justified to treat others poorly. How do you find yourself doing this? What are some particular stressors that tend to cause this on a regular basis?
How can finding joy in the midst of pressure not only help reduce anxiety, but also improve our relationships? What does is it take to be honest with ourselves and stop excusing our behavior in times of pressure?
Ask God for Help
Paul instructs the Philippians to take their requests to God on a regular basis. Why would Paul want them to do this regularly? Is this something you do?
Have some read 1 Peter 5:7 aloud. Does our culture believe God is interested in their lives? How can what we believe about God keep us from asking him for help? Why do you think A.W. Tozer said, “What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you?”
Do you think making a decision to take our requests to God could reduce our anxiety? Why or why not?
Have a few people in the group, who have seasoned prayer habits, share about how they made prayer a regular feature of their day.
Renew Your Mind
What types of things do you scroll through on your phone, listen to on the radio, read about, talk about or watch on TV? Which of these bring peace when you are driving, working out or have free time? Which increase anxiety?
What does Paul challenge the Philippian believers to think about in Philippians 4:8? Why do you think Paul connects thinking about those things to peace?
Paul encourages the Philippians to make the decision of the heart to renew their mind. To make this decision, what can you add to your life to renew your mind? What do you need to subtract?
This week’s sermon touched on the three heart decisions above. What steps can you take this week to begin making these things an active part of your life?
INVEST IN OTHERS
Valuing people outside the group and outside the faith.
Discuss how you and your group can better engage the people in your life outside your small group.
We discussed the importance of treating people better even in times of pressure. Is there someone in your life who needs to know Jesus that you often treat poorly when you are stressed? What steps can you take to treat that person better to help them see the difference a relationship with Jesus makes in your life?
Download a printable PDF here.