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Peace that Passes All Understanding: A Bible Study on Phillipians 4
Peace can be a very aloof thing when we are going through stressful, trying times. It can be puzzling to watch some people breeze through trials and tribulations, while lesser circumstances cause others to fall apart. The Bible talks about a peace that passes all understanding, and that peace is available to all believers.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:7 (KJV)
The keys to finding this kind of peace are right here in Phillipians chapter 4, and God wants all of His people to have it.
And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow labourers, whose names arein the book of life.
Phil 4:3 (KJV)
These yokefellows, or workers, who worked beside Paul, laboring for the Gospel's sake had their names written in the book of life. They were believers and therefore they had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Before salvation, we have no relationship and no true peace. We are at odds with God. We are aligned with the devil, whether we realize it or not, and while God is a God of order, Satan is all about chaos. Satan does his best to keep our emotions in chaos, because it makes us easier to control. Before we are saved, his goal is to keep us lost. After we are saved, he still tries to keep us from excelling in our faith because he doesn't want us to be effective laborers for the Gospel and see others saved. (Learn more about how he does it here.) You may have read in James about the double-minded man. That's one way that this chaos comes out in people.
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
James 1:8 (KJV)
Being double-minded is possible both before and after salvation. Someone who is double-minded is a "doubter". He lacks faith. A lack of faith makes sense in a lost person, but it is a sad fact that many believers are also double-minded. Their names are written in the book of life, but they are living in the same chaos and confusion that they lived in before salvation. They don't fully understand the value of the relationship they have entered into upon coming to salvation.
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
John 15:15 (KJV)
Understanding that we are friends of God and that our relationship is joint heir, bride of Christ, and Child of God is an important part of having peace in any situation. Our youngest son was one of the last children we adopted, and he was older than our other five children when he entered into our family. He came to us at three and a half as a foster child, but his adoption wasn't finalized until a month before his sixth birthday. As young as he was, my son realized the significance of his adoption day. He grasped that he was suddenly a son that would never have to leave his father's side. Forever he will be identified as his father's son, and if he ever finds himself in a situation he can't handle then he will be able to call on his father (or his mom) to help him. This child had been a disciplinary nightmare for his entire time in our home as a foster child, but suddenly, as a son, he became a well behaved family member. What was the difference? He had entered into a new relationship with us. He knew that he wasn't going to have to be without us again. No one would be taking him from our home, so he could depend on us. Sadly, many believers never grasp the true nature of their relationship with Christ, choosing to live in the chaos instead of rest in the peace.
Once we grasp the importance of our relationship with God, we need to gain an understanding of our true purpose. God didn't make us because He needed us to fill some void in His life. He doesn't need us at all. He doesn't need anything. The companionship? He already had the hosts of heaven. The challenge? He didn't need to create us to prove that He could do it. Our God spoke and nothing became something, dark became light, and life came into existence. We are no challenge for God. We were created to worship.
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
Phil 4:4 (KJV)
How does this help on the goal of having peace? Well, when we are under stress then we often feel hopeless. Hopelessness is an enemy to peace. When we feel hopeless, we feel weak and powerless and alone. We need God's presence. Our praises usher in the presence of God.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Psalms 22:3 (KJV)
What dispels the confusion, chaos, and stress? Only the presence of God. We must routinely enter the presence of God by praising Him if we want to be truly at peace. In Him is our strength. The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
Neh 8:10 (KJV)
This joy isn't our joy. It's His joy. We rejoice in the Lord. This brings Him joy and ushers us into His presence. We, through praise, enter into the Holy of Holies and are comforted and prepared to deal with our current trials and tribulations. In His presence, while bringing Him joy and doing exactly what we are created to do, we find a strength that isn't available elsewhere. That strength turns our hopelessness into hope and peace.
The final key is prayer. Instead of immediately worrying about a worst-case scenario that may not even happen, we are called to pray. Remember the first two keys are relationship and praise. Well, if we have a relationship with anyone then we are going to want to spend time with that person. Our methods of spending time with God are through our time spent praising Him and our time spent praying (speaking and listening) to Him.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Phil 4:6 (KJV)
We can go before God and tell Him our problems and our needs, and trust (takes some faith) God to handle them. Jesus had something to say about worrying instead of praying.
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Matt 6:25-34 (KJV)
If the bird don't have to worry about the their food and the flowers don't have to worry about their clothing and they are not classified as friend of Jesus or the bride of Christ then we don't need to worry either. Instead we need to pray in faith. Remember the mustard seed?
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
Matt 17:20-21 (KJV)
When the chaos begins to take away the peace, we must pray in faith. That open line of conversation between ourselves and the God who created us and gave everything for us is always available to us. If we want the peace that passes all understanding then we cannot ignore this tool in our arsenal. Sadly, many believers have no problem speaking at prayer time but fail to take the time to listen. If our prayer life becomes so onesided that we simply put our petitions before the Lord, throw Him a few praises, and then say amen without taking the time to listen then we may miss the point of our trials completely. We must be willing to learn from the circumstances we go through and accept that sometimes we are in that trial so that we can learn a lesson that God knows we will never learn any other way. In those cases, simply praying and listening and responding to what God is trying to tell us may not only bring us peace in our storms but may shorten our time in the storm.
We all have troubles and we all have stress, but we believers can have that peace of God that passes all understanding if we just understand the keys that God has given us right in His word.
Do you feel more stressed than blessed?
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