In this broken world we all struggle to keep peace in our hearts and minds. This morning I re-read some encouraging words that a pastor friend of mine shared the other day, and have done some further study in God’s Word that I want to share with you. We start with rejoicing. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4) Our joy comes from our position in Christ, and does not depend upon circumstances.
The next verse tells us to “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Phil 4:5) We are to be gentle (reasonable, fair-minded, and charitable) to others, both believers and non-believers. This means we don’t seek revenge against those who treat us unfairly, nor are we to be overly vocal about our personal rights. We are to give to others the same grace that we have been given by the Lord, and we are to be good and humble citizens. “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” (Titus 3:1-2)
As we rejoice in our Lord, and are humble and gentle with others, then we don’t worry. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;” (Phil 4:6) Instead of fretting, we turn our worries into prayers to the Lord who controls all things, with thanksgiving. Even while we are in the midst of a trial, we are to thank our Lord: for what the trial will accomplish in us and that He is always with us: “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20).
As we rejoice in our Lord, and are humble and gentle with others, turn our worries into prayers with thanksgiving, then “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard [garrison] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7) That word garrison means to occupy for the purpose of strengthening (as in military); so God’s peace actually strengthens our hearts. Every moment we choose what we will allow to rule in our hearts and minds–will it be God’s peace or satan’s lies? “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Col. 3:15)
What we put into our minds determines what comes out in our words and actions. Paul tells us to program our minds with thoughts: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Phil 4:8) My mom always said, “garbage in, garbage out”. Paul is putting a more positive spin here, by telling us when good and noble things go into our minds, it is good that will come out.
As we rejoice in our Lord, and are humble and gentle with others, turn our worries into prayers with thanksgiving, put noble things into our minds, then “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil 4:9) Exposure to God’s Word isn’t enough–we must put into practice what His Word says (James 1:22).
Then when we rejoice in our Lord, and are humble and gentle with others, turn our worries into prayers with thanksgiving, put noble things into our minds, put into practice what His Word says, then “the God of peace will be with you.” Do you see it? It’s not just the peace of God.. but the God of Peace HIMSELF who is with us!