God promises His Shalom-Peace in the Midst of Trouble…
“Most Christians are being crucified on a cross between two thieves: yesterday’s regret and tomorrows worries.”
— Warren Wiersbe
In Philippians chapter 4, Paul admonishes the Philippian Christians:
DO NOT WORRY (be anxious) about the future, but pray about your concerns.
Only think about good things, and God will give you peace.
The Apostle Paul goes on to say, “Even though I have learned to be content with little, I am grateful for your gift to me, and I am happy that God will bless you for it. God will take care of you.”
The Parable of Death
Death was walking toward a man who stopped him and asked,
“What are you going to do?”
Death said, “I’m going to kill ten thousand people.”
The man said, “That’s horrible!”
Death said, “That’s the way it is; that is what I do.”
As the day passed, the man warned everyone he could of Death’s plan.
At the end of the day, he met Death again.
He said, “You said you were going to kill ten thousand people, and yet one hundred thousand people died.”
Death explained, “I only killed ten thousand. Worry and fear killed the others.”
Worry is one of the biggest problems we face in life, and it tends to get worse as we get older.
Its destruction is sure.
Charles Mayo of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said, “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system, and profoundly affects the health.”
Corrie Ten Boom knew the destructive force of worry when she said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”
Its destruction starts like a little trickle through the mind and cuts out a furrow until it becomes a Grand Canyon and all other thoughts drain into it.
Do you ever engage in imaginary, “what if thinking?
Do you ever blow things up in your mind by jumping to a conclusion or making a mountain out of a molehill?
Have you ever looked at a dilemma and imagined the worse-case scenario?
If you engage in any of these draining, negative mind games, then you need to know that God’s plan for you is peace and joy not worry.
His plan for you is rest not stress, peace not turmoil.
In this final lesson from Philippians, you will learn how to keep worry from robbing you of your joy.
You will discover how to have peace and joy in your relationships with God and others.
Peace in the Midst of Trouble
Believers are to rejoice (return-to-joy) always, not to worry but to pray, and to keep our minds fixed on good thoughts.
As you do, you will experience God’s peace, knowing that God will bless your generosity.
Joy in Friendship
Friends standing fast in the Lord bring joy to other Christians.
In verse 1, Paul demonstrates his love and friendship for the church at Philippi.
He addresses them as my brothers and dear friends, that is, as equals under God not as a superior church authority to subordinate members.
In this most personal of his writings, Paul expressed his fond affection and the pain of separation by telling them that he both loves and longs for them.
They are his joy and crown because their growth in the Christian life makes him proud.
He points back to everything he has written in the previous three chapters as the reason to maintain a firm foundation in the Lord.
He points forward to the following verses to show how to stand firm.
He remains ever concerned with believers’ spiritual lives.
Deeper spirituality can come but only by heeding the rapid-fire list of imperatives
Paul is about to throw at us.
Joy in Unity
Be at peace, and help one another.
In verse 2, Paul addressed a specific situation in the Philippian church, a quarrel between two Christian sisters—Euodia and Syntyche.
This discord may be why he wrote what he did in Philippians 2:1-4.
Although he believed their conflict would negatively affect the entire church, Paul did not reveal the nature of their problem or take sides.
He did appeal tactfully for unity by asking them to agree with each other in the Lord.
To agree is a strong Pauline word, which
basically means “to think, form an opinion,” or “to set one’s mind on something.”
It came to mean to be in agreement, to live in harmony.
This is the picture of the Christian church standing firm in Christ.
Paul then asked (v. 3) a specific member of the congregation to help these women.
Despite numerous guesses, no one knows who the loyal yokefellow was.
Some even think Paul referred to the entire church. At least he set a precedent for church disputes to be settled by mediation within the church.
Paul uses strong, urgent language to insist that the church get the problem solved and get back to the Christian position of standing firm “in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” (1:27; compare 2:2-4).
Disagreements even among mature Christians are not new.
Mature Christians do not allow these disagreements to interfere with love and unity in the body of Christ.
Quarreling is not the nature of the church nor was it of the women involved.
They had fought alongside Paul like gladiators in the arena to spread the gospel message.
God had written their names in heaven’s registry of citizens alongside all the others to whom he promised eternal life.
Paul sets the women on an equal level with others whom the Philippian church knew as faithful soldiers of the cross.
Paul names one specifically—Clement.
We know nothing else about him.
The third bishop of Rome was named Clement, but we have no evidence to connect the two persons.
Joy in God’s Peace (vv. 4-9)
Rejoice in the Lord, pray in all things, and keep your mind on positive thoughts, and as you do, God’s peace will be yours.
Again Paul returns to the key theme of this letter: joy.
He calls believers to rejoice at all times and repeats the call for emphasis.
This includes the bad times as well as the good (compare Jas. 1:2-5).
Christians should be known as joyful people.
Such joy resides not in circumstances or positive attitudes toward life.
Joy reigns in the heart only when Christ is Lord of life. Joy is always in the Lord.
A practical way to have joy is by exhibiting gentleness to all.
This lets the church and world see that you belong to the Lord.
The Greek word epieikeus means “yielding, gentle, kind.”
It includes the ability to go beyond the letter of the law in treating others, to provide something beside strict justice.
It does not insist on personal rights or privileges.
Christ embodied such gentleness in His dealing with all people (2 Cor. 10:1; compare 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 3:2; Jas. 3:17; 1 Pet. 2:18).
Why should we surrender personal rights for others?
The Lord is near.
In both time and space, God is available to us. He is not far removed in heaven but present in our hearts to hear and relate to us.
His nearness also means He knows us and what we are.
In time, God is near, for He is coming again. Then we will receive our rewards for living like Christ rather than like the world.
(v. 6) Joy replaces anxiety in life, so Paul advises the Philippians not to be anxious about anything.
The cure for anxiety? Prayer!
Worry and anxiety come from focusing on your circumstances such as imprisonment or persecution which Paul and the Philippians faced.
Anxiety or worry doesn’t accomplish anything, but prayer does (Jas. 5:16).
Jesus warned against worry which demonstrates a lack of trust in God (Matt. 6:25-34).
The peace of God comes from prayer involving both asking God for earthly needs and thanking God for His presence and provision.
The expression appears only here in the New Testament.
God’s peace reflects the divine character, which lives in serenity, totally separate from all anxiety and worry.
Such peace is like a squad of Roman soldiers standing guard and protecting you from worry and fret.
Such peace is not a dream of the human mind. The human mind cannot even comprehend this kind of peace, wholeness, and quiet confidence.
Such peace protects the two organs of worry—heart and mind that produce feelings and thoughts.
Such protection is real, available in Christ Jesus.
Those who do not trust and commit their life to Christ have no hope for peace.
(v. 8) Continuing his strong imperative style, Paul suggested what should occupy our minds rather than anxiety and worry.
Paul understood the influence of one’s thoughts on one’s life.
Right thinking is the first step toward righteous living.
What is right thinking?
It is thinking devoted to life’s higher goods and virtues.
Thus Paul picked up a practice from secular writers of his day and listed a catalog of virtues that should occupy the mind.
Such virtues are not limited to the Christian community, but are recognized even by pagan cultures.
True is that which corresponds to reality.
Anxiety comes when false ideas and unreal circumstances occupy the mind instead of truth.
Ultimately, thinking on the truth is thinking on Jesus, who is the truth (John 14:6; Eph. 4:21).
Noble refers to lofty, majestic, awesome things, things that lift the mind above the world’s dirt and scandal.
Right refers to that which is fair to all parties involved, that which fulfills all obligations and debts.
Thinking right thoughts steers one away from quarrels and dissensions to think of the needs and rights of the other party.
Pure casts its net of meaning over all of life from sexual acts to noble thoughts to moral and ritual readiness for worship.
Thinking on the pure leads one away from sin and shame and toward God and worship.
Lovely is a rare word referring to things that attract, please, and win other people’s admiration and affection.
Such thoughts bring people together in peace rather than separating them in fighting and feuding.
Admirable is something worthy of praise or approval, that which deserves a good reputation.
Pondering ways to protect one’s moral and spiritual image in the community leads away from worries about circumstances and possessions that project a different image to the community and which thinking cannot change.
What we put into our minds determines what comes out in our words, desires, and actions.
Paul tells us to train our minds to focus on thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise.
Do you have problems with impure thoughts and daydreams?
Examine what you are putting into your mind through movies, the Internet, books, conversations, television, video games, and magazines.
Replace harmful input with wholesome material.
Above all, read God’s Word and pray.
Ask God to help you fill your mind with good and pure thoughts.
This takes practice, but it can be done.
(v. 9) It’s not enough to hear or read the Word of God or even to know it well.
We must also put what God is teaching us into practice.
How easy it is to listen to a sermon and forget what the preacher said.
How easy it is to read the Bible and not think about how to live differently.
How easy it is to debate what a passage means and not live out that meaning.
Exposure to God’s Word is not enough. It must lead to obedience.
(vv. 10-14) Are you getting along happily—being content—in any circumstances you face?
Paul knew how to be content whether he had plenty or whether he was in need.
The secret was drawing on Christ’s power for strength.
Do you have great needs, or are you discontent because you don’t have what you want?
Learn to rely on God’s promises and Christ’s power to help you be content.
If you always want more, ask God to remove that desire and teach you contentment in every circumstance.
Thank Him each day for all the blessings you do have.
He will meet all your needs, but in a way that He knows is best for you.
In 1 Corinthians 9:11-18, Paul wrote that he didn’t accept gifts from the Corinthian church because he didn’t want to be accused of preaching only to get money.
But Paul maintained that a church has the responsibility to support God’s ministers (1 Corinthians 9:14).
He accepted the Philippians’ gift because they gave it willingly and because he was in need.
(vv. 12-13) Paul was content because he could see life from God’s point of view.
He focused on what he was supposed to do, not what he felt he should have.
Paul had his priorities straight, and he was grateful for everything God had given him.
Paul had detached himself from the nonessential so that he could concentrate on the eternal.
Often the desire for something more or better indicates a longing to fill an empty place in a person’s life.
To what are you drawn when you feel empty inside?
How can you find true contentment?
The answer lies in your perspective, your priorities, and your source of power.
Can we really do everything?
We receive all the power we need in union with Christ when we do His will and face the challenges that arise from our doing it.
He does not grant us superhuman ability to accomplish anything we can imagine without regard to His interests.
As we contend for the faith, we will face troubles, pressures, and trials.
What does God want you to do?
Step out in faith and do it, trusting Him for the strength you will need.
(vv. 14-17) The Philippians shared in Paul’s financial support while he was in prison.
They provided the means for him to get food and likely the materials he needed to write his letters.
What makes money so magnetic and giving it away often so stressful?
Money insures we can get what we need.
It gives us stature and represents our day-to-day security.
Giving money away puts our work and our futures at risk.
Not every charity deserves your attention, and you’re wise to scrutinize missionary appeals as well.
But once you’ve determined that a project honors the Lord, don’t hold back—give generously and joyfully.
Like the Philippians, you’ll be establishing an eternal partnership.
(vv. 17-18) When we give to those in need, it not only benefits the recipients but benefits us as well.
It was not the Philippians’ gift, but their spirit of love and devotion that Paul appreciated most.
Paul was not referring to a sin offering but to a peace offering, “a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God” (Leviticus 7:12-15 contains the instructions for such offerings of thanksgiving).
Although the Greek and Roman Christians were not Jews and had not offered sacrifices according to the Old Testament laws, they were well acquainted with the pagan rituals of offering sacrifices.
(vv. 19-20) We can trust that God will always meet our needs.
At those times when you find yourself pressing in against the trials and tribulations of life, make a mental list of how God has provided for you in the past.
And use that as the basis for recognizing how He will provide for your needs in the future.
Instead of complaining or worrying, take your requests directly to the Lord.
Sometimes however, God will stir our nest for further growth.
Sometimes God is like the mother eagle, who stirs up her nest intentionally, so that her baby eaglets can learn to fly.
Perhaps, God is stirring up your nest for that same reason.
Mating eagle pairs return to the same nest year after year. They repair it with branches and twigs until some nests will weigh over a ton.
Inside, they carefully line the nest with moss, feathers, and fur – a soft, warm home for their babies.
The parents care for the newly-hatched eaglets until, eventually, the mother begins to pull out the fur and feathers so that the babies become uncomfortable, unwilling to remain in their prickly home.
They perch on the edge of the nest and pluck up the courage to take their fledgling flight.
As the eaglet attempts its wobbly flight, the mother hovers protectively over it.
If it falls, she swoops it up on her wings to return it to the nest.
Repeatedly, she rescues her child until his wings are strong enough to take to the skies.
As we venture out to discover our new normal, in Jesus, we can likewise trust in our Abba-Father, who hides us under the shadow of His wings and Who faithfully leads us in the lessons that teach us to soar.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Monday, June 6th
by Two Listeners
HOW MEN SEE ME
“But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
— Philippians 4:19
I came to help a world. And according to the varying needs of each so does each man see Me.
It is not necessary that you see Me as others see Me – the world, even the Church, My disciples, My followers, but it is necessary that you see Me, each of you, as supplying all that you personally need.
The weak need My Strength. The strong need My Tenderness. The tempted and fallen need My Salvation. The righteous need My Pity for sinners. The lonely need a Friend. The fighters need a Leader.
No man could be all these to men – only a God could be.
In each of these relations of Mine to man you must see the God.
The God-Friend, the God-Leader, the God-Savior.
Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25)
Come join the Adventure!