(This is a continuation of previous posts on Philippians 4.)
Dear PRCW members and readers: Are you at peace? How about when things are go all haywire? Everything seems to go wrong in your life. Your child is in the hospital with seizures or b/c of a bad car accident. Your car suddenly breaks down. Again! You find out your neighbour is in trouble with the law and you think “what in the world am I doing in this part of town?” Some days can be like that – very hard where everything goes wrong. Or your own health is not that good and life seems to be spinning out of control. Such troubles cause us to exclaim: “This world is not our home!”
But the Lord in His amazing way gives you peace. You stay calm even though it is so chaotic. We can’t think for a minute that this comes from us. It is b/c God is infinitely good and infinitely sovereign. The peace of God is able to guard your heart b/c the God of peace comes near to our hearts through the Holy Spirit. The Immanuel promise “God is with us” which we usually celebrate at Christmas is something that we know and apply all year long. It is in force all the time. We know this b/c Jesus said in John 14 – “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you”. And when He was about to go into heaven he said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age”.
As we stop wasting energy in worry and turn to the Lord in prayer, “the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” verse 7 says. That is repeated in verse 9 – “and the God of peace will be with you.” The word “guard” is military term that often refers to a soldier’s duty to ensure that prisoners do not escape. God’s peace guards us. It guards our hearts and minds.
As Dr. Dennis Johnson so wisely puts it, “Fixing and feasting your mind on Jesus must ignite the fire of our will and motivation, so you are eager to express your love for him by loving others. In that move from ponder[ing] to practice[ing], God’s Spirit quietly conforms our desires to the mind-set of Jesus, so we are no longer preoccupied with our safety or rights, no longer intimidated by threats, no longer paralyzed by anxiety. As trusting children, we learn to let our wise and mighty Father deal with factors beyond our control…. We could even add to these that, in some circumstances, there are other practical steps that we may take to address…occasions of our anxiety. If you have accrued looming debt by living beyond your means, beginning to practice responsible stewardship before the Lord – spending less, paying of overdue bills and saving more – may be God’s means to bring some relief to your stress. If the strain in your relationship with another believer is persisted because you are afraid to speak the truth in love or too proud to confess sin and seek forgiveness, consider your discomfort God’s prod, prompting you to pay the price of gospel-grounded peacemaking” [Philippians p. 274].
God’s peace also extends wider than our own peace of mind. It’s found in peace making and peace keeping. We experience this peace in our relationship with each other. We read that earlier in Colossians 3:13-15, where Paul instructed the believers to bear “with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
In the context of a family, whether that be a church family or a home, this is where we have to let these words sink in – “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts”. This means that Christ’s peace and not our own personal self-interest have to set the agenda for our attitudes and interactions.
How much we need that peace. We can come to the Lord with our concerns in this. Not just rushing into His presence with all our problems. But coming to Him as a heavenly Father, just as we have been exhorted by Philippians 4:6 “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Martyn Lloyd said this, “If you have problems that seem insoluble, if you are liable to become anxious and overburdened, and somebody tells you to pray, don’t rush to God with your petition. That is not the way. Before you make your requests known unto God, pray, worship, adore. Come into the presence of God and for the time being forget your problems. Do not start with them. Just realize that you are face to face with God. The idea of being face to face is inherent in the very word ‘prayer.’ You come into the presence of God and you realize that presence and you recollect that presence – that is the first step always. Even before you make your requests known unto God you realize that you are face to face with God, that you are in his presence and you pour out your heart in adoration. That is the beginning” (D. M. Lloyd-Jones, “The Life of Peace,” pp.171&172).
Are you protected by God’s peace? You can be when you feast upon Christ and follow Him. Let us then find our joy in the Lord and may we know of His presence through all our troubles and our joys. Let our thoughts constantly be on that which is true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy. And let us rest in the Son of God who loved us and gave his life for us.
Pastor Rich Anjema