Philippians 4 is Paul’s farewell to the church at Philippi. But as he goes, he encourages them to “stand firm thus in the Lord….agree in the Lord”. He challenges them to not be tossed by the waves that will come at them and try to move them from their walk with Christ. He also challenges them to learn to agree. The key to both – three simple words – “in the Lord”. We won’t accomplish either on our own steam. We can’t withstand the attacks of the enemy nor can we live in agreement with those in our patch. But with Jesus at work in us – and we know that because Paul reminds them that their “names are in the book of life” – we can do both in the Lord! Is your name in the book of life? Don’t wonder – make sure!
Paul then gives us a very practical command to follow – “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice”. Short verse – begins and ends with the same direction – we are to rejoice in the Lord. We are to celebrate Jesus. Do you take time to rejoice? Or do you let the world weigh you down and keep your joy covered up. He comes right along and reminds us why we struggle to rejoice: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”. Ok – admit it – you worry about stuff. And often it is worry about things you have no control over and can’t possibly change. So why do we worry when it is out of our control? Because we lack faith. We fail to trust God. Paul gives us the secret here – prayer, supplication, thanksgiving – ask God. Quit carrying the burden and turn it over to Him. Cast your burden – He can not only handle it – He is ready and wants it.
What Paul promises next is amazing: “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. Have you experienced peace, God’s peace? There is nothing like it. When we are able to allow God to be God and let Him handle the rocks in our lives – turn over our burdens and concerns to Him – He can give us peace. He can provide peace for us when we face major life crisis – or when we are dealing with little nagging things. We don’t have to understand how or why – we just have to trust Him. Paul tells us a bit later in the chapter that “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”. God is able – more than able – to meet whatever need we have and hand over to Him. It is not a resource problem. It is a trust and faith issue on our part. Don’t keep wallowing in your worry – find His peace through trust and faith!
Finally Paul tells us that what we think matters – the things we allow to fill our hearts and minds is really important. He begins this last guidance this way: “Finally, brothers” – he is giving us the secret to God’s peace. Listen to what he tells us to “think about these things”:
– “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”
We need to focus on godly thoughts – ponder positive things – be considering what is near to God’s heart. But it is more than just right thinking: “what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you”. We need to think right, but more important – we need to live right. Obedience is part two of the equation. We get the right mindset and then we walk faithfully in obedience. That is how we experience peace. Paul goes on to tell us he has learned to be content in every situation, but most of all he knows for sure “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”. That same God is our God today. We too can do all things if we are walking in His power and in His strength. Too often though we try and do it on our own steam. We want to do it our way. We spend our time focusing on negative and earthly thoughts – not God and His ways. What an encouraging wrap to the folks at Philippi. It was also addressed to you and me as Christ Followers. Do you have God’s peace? Are you walking in His power and rejoicing as you go? He is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is up to us to walk with him!