Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chill Out!

Philippians 4:7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
 
We hear that verse often enough.  Usually in application, out of context.  There’s nothing wrong with that, except I think we really miss the full impact of what God is telling us.  More often than not, that verse gets abused by drawing us into thinking that either it’s some magical state that we might fall into or that it’s something we need to strive for.  Until we study it in context.  Take a look.
 
The chapter starts with Paul naming some of the disciples.  So they pay attention to what comes next.  And, remembering that God is no respecter of persons, so should we.  Verse 4 tells us to rejoice in the Lord.  And Paul is so emphatic about it that he mentions it twice.  A pretty good sign it’s important.
 
The original Greek word for “rejoice” is related to the word we translate as grace or being gracious or having joy.  Strong’s dictionary says that rejoicing includes being calmly happy.  Think about what that’s saying.  I’ve talked a lot about trusting God.  If we don’t, is being calmly happy possible? 
 
Verse 5: “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.”  Although moderation in all things is good, I don’t see that as being what Paul is saying.  The moderation refers to the calm, relaxed, confident joy from trusting in God.  And just to make sure we don’t miss his point, Paul tells us the Lord is right here.  Not off someplace else, focusing on something else.
 
When we look at verse 6, we see Paul telling us not to be concerned about anything.  Instead, give it all to God in prayer and supplication, being thankful for it all.  When I say that Paul tells us not to be concerned, I mean he says not to be worried.  His own life is enough example that this was his thinking, not lazy inaction.
 
That brings us to verse 7.  The peace beyond our understanding.  Paul made it clear that it was possible for all of us.  But he doesn’t just leave us there, wondering how we achieve it.  Paul follows up with two verses of instruction.
 
First, in verse 8, there’s a good sized list of things to think and meditate about.  I’ll let you read them and absorb them yourselves.  Paul is well aware of the explosive chaos that goes on around us, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear.  So, he makes sure we know the things to focus on.  Then in verse 9, he tells us to do what we’ve learned from the Word and from examples of living in the Word.  Obviously, we're supposed to be participants in the process.  The result of these two verses is that “the God of peace shall be with you.”  God will be with us, we can trust Him and the result for us is “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding”.

What meditation is bringing you closer to that peace beyond understanding?

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