“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
It would seem I have undertaken the impossible task this morning of trying to explain the unexplainable. After all, if the Bible declares that something ‘surpasses all understanding,’ then any effort on my part to clarify would be pointless, right? Well, we can all relax; I am not going to make any such attempt.
However, there is one thing I can share as it pertains to this ‘peace of God’ stuff ~ I assure you that it is real and worth having. Next to my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, my salvation and my hope of Heaven, it is one of my most prized possessions.
A Trying Couple of Months
“From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness…” 2 Corinthians 11:24-27
I cannot compare my issues to these. The reality is that I posted Paul’s account (here) as a reminder of just how slight my matters can truly be. The point I would like to make is that while some of my problems are personally significant and others trivial, nevertheless, in concert, they do tend to wear a soul down. In this way, all our problems are similar. However,
I am not complaining. I only make mention so that I might expound upon God’s peace and how precious a commodity it is.
What is peace?
Well for one, it’s what the ‘Occupy Wall Street Protesters‘ are severely lacking.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines peace as, “A state of quiet or tranquility; freedom from disturbance or agitation; applicable to society, to individuals, or to the temper of the mind. Freedom from war…Freedom from internal commotion…Freedom from private quarrels…Freedom from agitation or disturbance by the passions, as from fear, terror, anger, anxiety or the like; quietness of mind… quiet of conscience.”
Don’t you want that? Nobody in their right mind would say no. The true question is how do we get it? For that answer we must turn to the Bible. Precisely, we must turn to Jesus. More precisely, we must put on Jesus.
Put on Jesus?
Yes! Many people believe in Jesus, but few have put him on.
What’s the difference? Well let me ask you, do you believe in parachutes; do you believe that if the plane you are flying on was going down and a parachute was made available to you, do you believe that it could save your life?
Most of us would say yes.
We also understand that belief in that parachute is not enough; we must put it on in order for it do what it was designed to do—save us. The same holds true for Jesus Christ. If you want to be saved, belief is not enough—you must put Him on and keep Him on until you have safely arrived. Would you loosen your parachute straps or remove it before you landed safely? Not unless you’re an idiot.
But doesn’t the Bible say salvation is by faith (belief) alone?
It sure does. The problem that arises is that many of us do not understand what faith is. Let’s go back to Webster’s. Faith is defined: ‘to trust; to persuade, to draw towards any thing, to conciliate; to believe, to obey.’
From this we can conclude that where there is faith there is also obedience. Obedience is proportionate to one’s faith, and ‘putting on Jesus’ is akin to obedience. In this regard, faith and obedience are synonymous. The peace of God that surpasses all our understanding begins with obedience to Jesus. Omit Jesus and you will never have this kind of peace.
The Path We Follow
The fourth chapter of Philippians provides a blueprint towards peace, but let’s keep in mind that outside of our obedient faith in Jesus, it’s of little value. Sure, the path is narrow, but let’s be grateful that God has provided a simple and convenient conduit for everyone. All that remains is choosing wisely.
Consider the Route
” Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:4-6
Rejoice in the Lord
It’s not a chore. Go back to the parachute illustration—your plane was on fire, you put on the chute, you jumped out, and you safely landed. When your feet hit the ground, did you need someone to tell you to rejoice? No. It’s a natural byproduct of having been saved.
Our joy is in the Lord!
Let your Gentleness be known
Gentleness by definition is an expression of joy. It is also the direct opposite of so many things that displease the Lord. Human beings are not born gentle, but when we put on Jesus, His gentleness adorns us. Concealing gentleness, or any other attribute of our Lord and Savior, is akin to removing Jesus.
Be Anxious for Nothing
The Lord is at hand! He is in control! He knows exactly what we’re going through, He knows how it winds up, and He knows the blessings in store for those who are submitted to His plan through it all. The tapestry God is creating is much bigger than what we can see, but we can declare, “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!” Revelation 15:3
Let your Requests be Known to God
With thanksgiving, bring everything to God by prayer and supplication. Webster’s reminds us that supplication speaks to praying earnestly, sincerely, sacrificially, solemnly, and with humility. As a result,
“…The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
If it were not so, I wouldn’t bother telling you.
Losing Your Peace
I don’t believe a Christian can lose their peace, but I do believe we can walk away from it from time to time. I’d be a liar if I told you my peace never waned. The only reason I am at peace today is because today I am practicing what I am a preaching. That’s not always the case. But our God is gracious and merciful and faithful. Although we might wander away from His blessings occasionally, He will never wander away from us. A person can walk a thousand miles from his home and when he turns to face it, be a thousand miles away. Not so with Jesus. Regardless of how far away you walk from Him, when you turn around, there He is.
“My yoke is and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:30