This Week’s Passage and Memory Verse (in red): 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
If I were to outline this passage I would have 2 main points: 1) How to know the peace of God (vs 4-7) and 2) How to know the God of peace vs 8-9). Let’s look at each of these.
1) How to know the peace of God: We tend to find joy in a lot of things that have nothing to do with God. Our favorite sports team. Food. Another person. Our children. A good book or movie. Nothing wrong with these at all. And it is evident by the way that we talk about these things that they bring us much joy. The problem is that all of these things are temporal and most of them at one time or another will seriously disappoint us which will wreck any sense of peace that we might have concerning them.
That is why Paul stresses that our joy is to be first and foremost IN THE LORD! He will never disappoint us. This is a great starting point for experiencing the peace of God. Make sure that He is your joy above all other things. And then never ever forget that “the Lord is near.” Sometimes the pressure and the pain of life makes us feel like God is nowhere to be found when in fact He is as close as a prayer.
Prayer is not supposed to be a last resort that we utilize to get rid of our worries and anxieties. Our prayer life should be such that we have been praying about EVERYTHING, thanking God for EVERYTHING. And by so doing we are building up a fortress of protection around our lives so that when the difficult days come our hearts are safeguarded against the evil one who wants to destroy our peace.
2) How to know the God of peace: Thesis – We will never know the peace of God until we know the God of peace! Paul makes an incredibly bold statement that few of us would ever make. He basically says “If you want to know God then watch what I do, listen to what I say, and you do the same.”
Here’s my take on what he means by this. Paul was a man who lived, breathed, and ultimately died for the gospel. He was passionate about knowing Christ (see Phil 3:8-11) and equally passionate about making Christ known (see Phil 3: 12-18).
So Paul is saying in effect that if you want to know the God of peace then consume yourself with the gospel. Consume yourself with the life, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and exaltation of Christ. If you live the gospel the gospel will live in you and you WILL know the God of peace – and then as a bonus you will know the peace of God.
I’m just sayin’!
(Happy Thanksgiving! I’m grateful to all of you who take the time to read my ponderings and have encouraged me along the way to keep it up. It has been a very good exercise and discipline for me.)
Next Week’s Passage: John 1:14-18
Next Week’s Memory Verse: John 1:14