8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
There are 4 other times that this phrase is used in the New Testament.
The God of peace be with you all. Amen. Romans 15:33
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Romans 16:20
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21
The previous passage in Philippians talked about how to experience the peace of God. This passage talks about how to experience the God of Peace. I don’t know if Paul, who was very fluent in Old Testament, had the story of Gideon in mind when he talked about the God of Peace but it would not surprise me if he did.
At a time in Gideon’s life when he was anything but a leader or a strong man of valor, at a time when he was anxious and afraid, God sought him out and revealed Himself to Gideon as Jehovah Shalom, the God of peace… (This is the only time in the Older Testament where God is referred to this way. It’s a great story to read if you are not familiar with it)
So the Lord said to Gideon, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” And then Gideon built an alter in that place and called it THE-LORD-IS-PEACE: Jehovah-Shalom. (Judges 6:23-24)
Gideon needed the peace of God in his life. But even more so he needed the God of peace. As do we! Ponder what Paul says here in Philippians 4 – there are some “secrets” revealed that will help you experience both the peace of God and the God of peace.
Jehovah Shalom, I am grateful for the peace you give even when life is crazy. And I have no doubt that I know the peace of God because I know You, the God of peace.
“Your worst days are never so bad that you’re beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you’re beyond the need of God’s grace.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
There are 4 words in this passage that are the linchpin of these verses – “The Lord is near!” Here is why I say this…
Because THE LORD IS NEAR we can rejoice always – One of the great promises that is reiterated again and again in Scripture is the promise that God is with us. You can’t get much nearer than that. When we know the abiding presence of God then no matter what the circumstances are that we face in this life we can still rejoice – knowing that God is in control and that His joy will be our strength through whatever comes our way.
Because THE LORD IS NEAR we don’t have to be anxious about anything – Statistics tell us that over 40 million US citizens suffer from anxiety disorders and more than $22 billion is spent trying to treat them. If this is true then there is a LOT of worrying go on out there. And I suspect that a lot of that worrying is being done by believers. But what if we really understood that at ALL times and in ALL circumstances and ALWAYS the Lord is near. Shouldn’t that help to curb our fears and our anxieties? If you deal with worry, start repeating these 4 words throughout the day, again and again… THE LORD IS NEAR! Remind yourself that He is indeed near. I can’t help but think that it will help.
Because THE LORD IS NEAR we can pray with confidence knowing that God will hear us. If I were to whisper something to someone that is 100 yards away from me, I would have little confidence that I would be heard. But if I were to whisper something to my dad in who’s lap I was sitting I feel certain I would be heard. This is what prayer for the believer is like. THE LORD IS NEAR. Our Father has invited us to come and sit in his lap as He sits on His throne of grace. We can talk to Him about anything – and even if we speak in whispers He will hear us.
May the Lord remind us of His nearness today as we deal with everything that today will bring our way.
1) Paul is not hesitant to tell the Philippians to follow his example. (v.17) He says, “Look at my life, watch what I do, listen to what I say, and imitate me.” He says this without reservation because he knows that he is wholeheartedly following Christ. Not so sure that I could say it as boldly as he does. But one key to standing firm in the faith is to follow Paul’s example. Watch him throughout the pages of Scripture and imitate his life.
2) He also tells the Philippians to look around and follow after those who are following after Paul (who is following after Jesus). (v.17) In other words, there are men and women in the Philippi church who are worthy of imitation. As you look around your church, who are the men and women who are setting the pace in following Christ? Don’t be shy about getting to know them because in getting to know them you will be getting to know Jesus. This is another key to standing firm – model your life after the right people that are around you.
3) He warns the Philippians about people that are not worthy of imitation. (v.19) We in America have not done a good job of choosing those that we want to model our lives after. Even believers are quick to emulate those who are good looking or successful or rich or famous even though they have serious character flaws. Be careful about who you choose to pattern your life after. Key #3 to standing firm – don’t model your life after the wrong people. They will drag you down with them as they walk away from God.
4) Finally, Paul says that he is eagerly awaiting his Savior who has the power to transform us not only in this life but in the life to come. (v.20). I can remember 34+ years ago how eager I was to make Linda my bride. I thought about her, wrote poems to her, talked with her about our future life together, and pictured that day in my mind when she would walk down the aisle and say “I do.” Key #4 to standing firm in the faith is to do these kinds of things with regard to Christ as we eagerly await His return.
“May the Lord gives us power from on high to stand firm against the evil in this world and against the evil one who is the enemy of our souls.”
“I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially to the extent to which it has been applied, will be one of the greatest jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so very flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity it has.”
“Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.”
“Toate Vestile Noi Sunt Vesti Vechi Care Se întâmpla Unor Oameni Noi.”
This verse is smack full of intentionality! The great apostle has just finished talking about his desire to know Christ better and to be like Him. He recognizes, though, that he falls far short of this goal (v. 12). But this does not keep him from taking intentional steps to get there.
He intentionally forgets – Paul could easily have beat himself up over his past.After all he was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a hater of all things Christian. He did a lot of things that could easily haunt his memories. But he chooses not to remember these things. He does not dwell on things that are in his past because he does not want to be weighed down by anything that he can’t do something about. The past is behind him. Paul chooses to look ahead.
He intentionally strains forward – Like a sprinter who is giving every ounce of his energy to reach the finish line, Paul strains toward his goal. He is not content to cross the finish line nonchalantly. He is not content to finish his race with ease. He is giving it his all. this verse begs the question, “What am I doing to know Christ better? Am I putting forth any kind of effort at all to become more Christlike?”
He intentionally keeps his eyes on the prize – Is is very very easy to get distracted in today’s world from the goal of knowing Christ. It was not any easier in Paul’s world 2000 years ago. I’m not exactly sure what Paul did to keep his focus the way that he did but here are a few things that have helped me over the years:
May the Lord create in us hearts that are not content until we find our satisfaction fully in Him.
People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.