READ Phil. 4: 4-7. As Paul begins this final chapter of his letter to the church at Philippi he desires to help them and to give specific and practical teachings which will help all believers. This is true in regard to the believers search for peace in God through Jesus Christ.
Worldly people never find God's peace. That is because they look for peace in worldly things: relationships, careers, health, appearance, success, possessions and money. Jesus promised a peace to His followers that is "out of this world". In Jn. 14:27, Jesus told His disciples, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let it be afraid." The believer's peace comes through Christ, not through worldly things.
In verse 7 Paul says of this peace, that it "surpasses all understanding." Why is this? Because it defies human logic! Human logic says, "I am at peace because of my circumstances." Because all my requirements are met, all my needs are met this is why I have peace.
But this is not the case with Jesus' disciples. Our peace is present when circumstances say, "It shouldn't." Stephen, the first Christian to die for the faith had this peace and it was obvious even to the members of the Sanhedrin who were about to stone him. In Acts 6:15, Luke tells us, "And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel." Even the prospect of death did not shake the peace of God through Christ that Stephen had.
After Paul and Silas were wrongfully beaten with rods in Philippi and were cast into jail with their legs uncomfortably "fastened in the stocks", they still felt God's peace in spite of their circumstance. In Acts 16:25, "But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them." No crying, no complaining, no cursing their situation. Only a peace that led them to worship God, even in a jail!
Paul told the Colossian church to "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts." (Col. 3:15) Sadly, many believers do not know this peace of God. In vv. 4-6, Paul tells them three behaviors that we all should incorporate in our lives, that we too, might have this peace of God.
The first is that we should rejoice in the Lord. Paul emphasizes this behavior stating, "Again I will say, rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4) Obviously the believer should rejoice in all blessings received from God, but this rejoicing in the Lord was previously noted by Paul in Phil. 3:1-3 as being the result of the nature of their salvation. Their salvation was not of the flesh and justification by works of the Law, but rather it is a GIFT! When you and I realize God has literally "given" us this great gift of salvation it should be the primary reason we rejoice.
This great joy literally re-shaped the lives of the first Christians. Read Acts 2:44-47 and pay special attention to their commitment to the kingdom of Christ. They shared their lives with one another. They helped brethren who were in need. They met daily and engaged in worship and fellowship. And they rejoiced! They were praising God. Why? Because they were saved.
Jesus reminded the seventy disciples that He had sent out in Luke 10:17-20 that the reason they should rejoice was NOT because they had power over demons, but because, "your names are written in heaven." Is that why you rejoice? Or do you require ideal circumstances?
Secondly, Paul tells them in Phil. 4:5, "Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand." Paul had no clue as to when the Lord might return and neither do we. We must make sure that we are striving to live in peace with all men. In Acts 2:47 we are told by Luke that the first church "had favor with all the people".
Though we are told in Scripture that "All who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (2 Tim. 3:12) We should remember that we are still obligated to treat all men well. Peter reminds us that while suffering for Christ is good, suffering because you are sinful or simply being a busybody is NOT good. (1 Pe. 4: 14,15) So we must seek peace with all and avoid provoking the anger of others, if we desire to know the peace of God.
Finally, in v.6 Paul tells us that instead of being anxious we should be in prayer. While earthly men are all sinners, there are still some wonderful parallels that we can see between a good earthly father and our Heavenly Father.
Fathers like to hear from their children. So does God. Paul tells us in 1 Thess. 5:17 "Pray without ceasing." If God was bothered by your continual prayers, HE would never have allowed Paul to say this! God loves to hear from you.
He does not want you to feel as if you have no hope. In Luke 18: 1-8, Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow and the dishonest judge. Luke tells us in v.1, "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart." He goes on to tell how this widow was seeking justice from this judge. At first he quickly dismissed her, but she kept coming! Everyday she was showing up. So what does the dishonest judge do? He gives her justice. Jesus' point is that God is more likely to reward your persistence in prayer. So don't lose heart, pray!
In times of uncertainty it is easy to become anxious, but God is still your primary resource. So why do we treat Him as if He is only our last resort? Concerning the anxiousness about our daily provision (food, drink, clothes) Jesus tells us in Mt. 6:31-33, two things: 1.) God knows you need these things, and 2.) Our primary responsibility is NOT to worry, but to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."
In summary, if you want to know this "peace of God through Christ Jesus that surpasses all understanding you really need to add these three behaviors to your life. Rejoice in your salvation! Strive for peace with all men. Replace your anxiety with prayer. Then you will find the peace of God.
1. True or False, the believer's peace is dependent upon worldly circumstance?
2. What is the chief reason why the believer should rejoice in the Lord?
3. True or False, Stephen was trembling and fearful as he stood before the Sanhedrin?
4. "Let your ____________ be known to all _________. The Lord is at __________."
5. Jesus told the seventy disciples, "rejoice because your _________ are written in _______"
6. Instead of being anxious, we should do what?
7. "and the _________ of God, which __________ all _____________ will guard your
____________ and ___________ through Christ Jesus."