Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Philippians 4:10-13


Paul gets back to one of the primary themes for writing this letter in the first place.

1. Joy from the concern and love of the Philippians for him and his need. 10But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. The believers in Philippi were completely on Paul's team and backed him in every way.

2. Joy that is beyond circumstances. 11Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

As we have discussed before, joy has nothing to do with circumstances. Paul sets forth two extremes between having nothing (humble means) and living with prosperity and he assures his friends that no matter the circumstance, he has learned the secret of being filled in the midst of going hungry and having abundance while suffering need.

3. Joy that is found in JESUS PLUS NOTHING. Paul now gives his secret of being content no matter what-whether in poverty, hunger and need or having prosperity and abundance. Here it is. It is simply: 13I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Paul learned that being content is found in the strength and support Jesus gives. Whether you are rich or poor, Jesus is always there to strengthen you. We all experience ups and downs, but Jesus is the constant--the only one who will not flake on you!

Here's the dynamic that is miraculous. If you are in deep trouble or need, hang on to your relationship with Jesus and you will have the strength to get through it. If you are wealthy and it seems like all is well, don't forget your relationship with Jesus or you'll find yourself depending on your wealth rather than Him.

Contentment is only found in Jesus, no matter your external life situation. YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH HIM WHO STRENGTHENS YOU. This means you can live anywhere in any condition, because you don't find your strength in your life situation but in your relationship with Jesus.

So, don't let your minds be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus. Anything more or less than JESUS PLUS NOTHING will surely end in discontentment. JESUS PLUS NOTHING means contentment and contentment is all about inner, long-term, totally satisfying, joy!

Philippians 4:8-9


8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Just yesterday we saw that by taking your requests to the Lord, He will give you the peace that passes all understanding and that peace from God will guard your heart and mind. Once you have offered up your desire to the Lord, I think He will either give you that desire or change it!

Now, the concept of peace continues in these next two verses. NOTE the word "whatever" here. WHATEVER is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and of good repute. DWELL ON THESE THINGS. I like this word WHATEVER, because it fits what I understand about our relationship with the Lord. He first wants us to be interested and then we are called to FOLLOW HIM. And within this followship we have an amazing freedom to dwell on the WHATEVERS, as long as they are not illegal, immoral or fattening. This all fits very nicely with Jesus' words of invitation when He says, "Come unto Me, all of you who are weary and burdened down with all of the do's and don'ts of religiosity and trying to be acceptable to God." COME UNTO ME and I will give you REST. This rest involves a lot of freedom-the whatevers here!

So, first of all, dwell on the things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and of good repute.

And, second, practice the things that you have learned, received, heard and seen in me. THEN, the God of peace will be with you. In verses 6-7 the PEACE OF GOD will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus. Here, the GOD OF PEACE will be with you, if you practice the things you have seen in Paul. Let me ask you something here. If those around you were to practice the things they have learned from you, received from you, heard from you and seen in you, what would be the result? Would they be assured of the GOD OF PEACE showing up in their lives? Or, would they experience just the opposite?

So, if you find yourself overwhelmed with the stresses of this life, work on applying the formula for peace here. Set your mind to dwell and meditate on the good things. Be a good finder. AND, if you want the God of peace to be with you, then practice the things you have learned, received, heard and seen in those who are spiritually mature around you.

There is one more thing that is the challenge to me throughout the letter to the Philippians. CAN I SAY TO OTHERS, "DO AS I DO!" or am I relegated to "DON'T DO AS I DO, BUT DO AS I TELL YOU TO DO!" I am more aware than ever in my life that those around me are counting on me to be faithful in my walk with Jesus. If I am not faithful, then those around me will not be challenged or encouraged at all, but will embrace more complacency in their lives. But it's important for you to understand that this is not all about me and those around me. But, more importantly, what we're discussing here in this passage is all about you and your walk. As you are walking your walk of faith, walk it in such a way that others will get something out of it--that you have something significant to share with others.

This is how we can all experience the peace of God that is beyond all comprehension and how the God of peace will be with you. It's the difference between living in peace or pieces. YOUR CHOICE!

Philippians 4:6-7


6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This is one of my favorite passages and so practical and powerful! Let's unpack each phrase.

6Be anxious for nothing, Now this is relevant to our lives. Don't worry about anything! What part of this do you not understand? It's not don't worry about some things or most things, do not worry about anything at all!

but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving BUT IN EVERYTHING, not in some things, but in everything use general and specific prayer and don't forget to base it in gratefulness and thanksgiving.

Let your requests be made known to God. Offer up your desires to God. Now, think about this. Whatever you may desire-whether good, bad or ugly-tell the Lord about it. He already knows them, but there is a clarity and a powerful dynamic that emerges when you actually share your heart's desires with the Lord. It's like you're coming clean with your best friend.

Now, here's the result of refusing to worry, but to take your requests to the Lord. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, The peace of God which is far beyond anything you have ever experienced or imagined. Now NOTE, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Can you imagine anything more relevant than this? The most wholesome peace ever experienced and your hearts and minds will be guarded by it. Also, think of it this way. Paul and Timothy had experienced some pretty bizarre and nasty receptions most everywhere they went, yet they have discovered a secret for countering worry and anxiety in life.