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Devotional - Top Ten Searched Bible Verses - Number Nine - Philippians 4: 6 God's Peace Plan For You

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Nov 19, 2013.

  1. 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 (NIV)

    As we continue through the top ten most searched Bible verses we come to number nine; Philippians 4: 6. As we did with Number Ten, we have included the surrounding context for our exposition, as it really enhances the key verse. We hear so much these days about peace and the lack of it in our lives. Constant turmoil in the world, wars and rumors of wars, one natural disaster after another, falling wages, no work to be found, inept politicians, and any number of other daily grievances make up our daily lives. Then there is always the more personal problems. Family, health, children, finances, all can seem to turn against us in the blink of an eye. If you polled most people you would find one of the top things they wish they had was not money as much as it would be peace. Money can be here today and gone tomorrow but real inner peace is priceless.

    God understands this beloved and He did not leave the subject unaddressed in His Word. In fact He gives us His peace plan in the key verses today. There are many moving parts to consider, not just the ninth most searched verse but the surrounding context as well. The first part of God's peace plan is rejoicing in the Lord. It is so important to the plan that God repeats it twice in verse four. I will say it again! Rejoice! When? Is God suggesting that we rejoice in the Lord when things go our way? When all is right with the world? When the bills are paid, the kids are safely in bed and we are basking in the light at the top of the mountain? NO. Rejoice in the Lord always!

    Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” - Nehemiah 8: 10 (NIV)

    Beloved there is an almost unspeakable joy found in God. What makes us strong as believers is that there should be nothing in this world that can shatter our inner joy in knowing who we are in Christ. In knowing that no matter what happens our name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and that we are assured of an eternity in heaven. Do we grieve and mourn? Of course but those are temporary conditions we cannot allow to disrupt our permanent position in Christ. People want peace but they live with no joy. No understanding of how awesome God is and how much He loved us in giving His only Son for our sin sick souls. The opposite of joy is misery. How many Christians do we know that live just as miserable a life as their unsaved counterparts? Here is today's deep theology - you will never find peace inside of misery. If you are desperately seeking peace within a life of misery you are seeking the wrong thing. Find the joy of the Lord and use that as your strength to begin the process of finding His peace.

    The second plank in God's peace plan is to let your gentleness be evident to all. Hmm...what can that mean preacher? Well, I think that too often we do not lead gentle lives as Christians. It is not evident to all. In fact, I have seen far to many Christians lead disruptive, mean-spirited, or even antagonistic lives. I understand that it can be difficult in this world we live in but remember who we are supposed to be:

    But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; - 1Peter 2: 9 (KJV)

    The sad truth is we spend too much time trying to fit into a world that we are not supposed to be a part of. Do your co-workers find you peculiar? They should! We are supposed to be different! A royal priesthood! A Holy Nation! What will be the result of us approaching the world with the gentleness of Christ? We will find ourselves in a lot less drama. In case we forgot, drama leads to lives lacking peace. Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We need to cultivate it more in our lives and we will find ourselves leading more peaceful lives as a result.

    The third part of the peace plan of God is perhaps the most overlooked four words of this entire set of verses. We always hear about transcending understanding and submitting prayers with thanksgiving but there is a predicate that gets overlooked too often. Those four words that should bring comfort and peace all by themselves are these - the Lord is near. The Bible says that Christ is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. That God will never leave us nor forsake us. That Jesus will be with us until the end of the age. Yet how many times do we find ourselves thinking God is somehow moody and withdrawn. Far away and the heavens are brass. Nonsense. If I ever feel further from God than I once was I know who moved. The Lord is near!

    David said about him:“‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. - Acts 2: 25 (NIV)

    I will not be shaken! Nothing shall disrupt my peace! How? Because David always put the things of God before him. The Lord always went before David. The result was that David knew the Lord was always at his right hand. When you live in those assurances you live with God's peace. The sad truth is that we often are living our lives for ourselves and not God. We put ourselves before God. We live with a temporal perspective instead of an eternal perspective. We need to adjust our thinking. The medical report came back bad? The Lord is near! The kids are rebelling? The Lord is near! The job market dried up? The Lord is near! The world can come and take back the things of the world and we have little control over that. But nothing can touch our peace unless we give it access. The Lord is near beloved. The Lord is near.

    Now we get into verse six and the nuts and bolts of the peace plan of Almighty God. The fourth imperative is that we are to be anxious for nothing! God realizes the debilitating affect anxiety has on us. The statistics in this country are staggering. The billions of dollars wasted on treatments designed to help people cope. God doesn't want you to cope - He wants you to give it to Him! We can tend to worry about everything and anything and Jesus has warned us not to:

    "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? - Matthew 6: 25-27 (NIV)

    But worrying can sure take an hour away from our lives. Or a day. Or a year. Or even a lifetime. There can be no co-existence between peace and anxiety. By definition anxiety is the absence of peace. So God is letting us know in no uncertain terms that there is NOTHING we are to be anxious about. The nature of anxiety is also the opposite of faith. We need to have deeper faith than that. We need to be anxious about nothing.

    Easy for you to say preacher! Well first of all, I suffered for seven years with panic, so I do know something about it personally. Secondly however, God doesn't just say something like "be anxious for nothing" without telling us how! The way to being anxious for nothing and the peace plan of God starts with and ends with prayer. While that sounds simple enough, there are two important facets to prayer that contribute to God's peace. The first is that we are to pray in every situation. God wants to be God in ever area of our lives beloved. He doesn't want to be called on after we make the mistakes but before we make the poor decisions that lead to those mistakes. The reality is that we often bemoan a lack of peace in our lives after we have allowed some situation to get way out of control. The fact is that if we had included God at the beginning, we would avoid those very things that rob us of our peace. Too often we allow God to access of only part of our lives. Invariably it is in those areas that we omit God from that we find ourselves lacking peace. Maybe we have an area of secret sin that we struggle with or a temptation we are facing. It matters not. The more we seek God in every situation the less we will feel a lack of peace.

    Secondly, we have to present our lives to God with thanksgiving. This takes on two meanings. First, we need to be thankful for all God has already done. We live in a "what have you done for me lately" world but God doesn't work that way. Remember all God has done will lead to peace in the most tumultuous of times:

    David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” - 1Samuel 17: 45-47 (NIV)

    Does it sound like there is a lack of peace on David's part here? All the fighting men of Israel were panicked with fear because they only saw the giant while David saw all God had already done for him:

    But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” - 1Samuel 17: 34-37 (NIV)

    Beloved, the Lord who rescued you from one situation is the same one that can deliver you from whatever you face. If you are thinking He has never rescued you from the bear or lion then you are forgetting your salvation! Once we were headed for eternal destruction but now we enjoy eternal life! Once we were walking in utter darkness but now we walk in the light of Christ! There is not giant greater that we will face and God already has proven that He is God! Thanksgiving in prayer reminds us exactly who we serve. Secondly however, thanksgiving acknowledges that what we pray is already accomplished if we are in the will of God. It serves to strengthen our faith.

    “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.“TrulyI tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. - Mark 11: 22-24 (NIV)

    When we boil down a lot of our situations that lack peace we will find that we are actually lacking faith in who God is in our lives. When we have no peace about our job situation we might be lacking faith in God to provide. When we have no peace about our medical report we might be lacking faith in God as our healer. The Bible is filled with the promises of God and He can never deny Himself. The enemy whispers lies into our lives at our most desperate situations. Those lies are always in contradiction to the promises of God. A lack of peace indicates that we might be believing the lies over the promises. Thanksgiving in prayer acknowledges that God will perform that which He has promised.

    God's peace plan for your life starts with joy. It starts with rejoicing in the Lord always. This creates harmony in our lives with the God we serve that is difficult for the world to infect. It continues with letting the fruit of gentleness be evident in everything we do. This limits the amount of drama we invite into our lives. We must always remember that the Lord is near. He is not some distant being but a friend that sticks closer than a brother, always at our right hand if we would gain an eternal perspective in our lives. The peace plan is centered on our prayer life with God. It must be a prayer life that encompasses all of our life, not just the parts we want to bring to God. Whatever we hold back from God will be where we find ourselves lacking peace. It must be a thankful prayer life that remembers all God has already done and is confident that He who started a good work in us will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. Never forget what is at stake in this plan. Not just any old peace. Not the fleeting peace the world offers. No. The peace of God is at stake.

    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. - John 14: 27 (NIV)

    It is a peace that literally transcends anything any human being can even begin to understand! Think about that for a moment. Look, no one can possibly walk in that peace 24-7. Our flesh and the world are constantly fighting against us and the enemy is always on the prowl. That does not change the fact that the peace of God is available if we would make ourselves available to God's plan. It will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Just stick to the plan beloved.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - November 18, 2013

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