Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Philippians, Chapter 4

Today we finish our short jaunt through the book of Philippians and we see that Paul takes the time not only to thank those that have helped him and encouraged him along his missionary journeys, but to praise God well. This is yet another important part of our Christian walk because being a Christian is about more than spreading the message and helping those in need. It is also about giving in encouragement to those who need it and being thankful for that which we are given. Sometimes it is easier, when we don't know what to pray about, to simply sit and give thanks for that which we are given. It brings a smile to my face when I think about all I am given and how thankful I am for it.

"4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." – Philippians 4:4-7

This paints a totally different picture about what God is than we have seen before in this book. Really it is the ultimate picture of closeness and the personable character of God. We are told here that we need not fear taking anything before God, because through Christ we can come to Him for anything. Last night in the weekly Bible study my wife and I attend we had our second session on the Phillip Yancey book The Jesus I Never Knew. We were talking about the nature of Christ's birth and what we learned about the nature of God it in. Yancey argues that one of the traits we learned here is the humbleness of God.

Now you may ask yourself, "What on earth does God have to be humble about?" I think He shows this by the fact He came to earth in Christ. There is no way we can ever reach His glory or attain righteousness on our own, but He loves us so much He chose to lower Himself to our level in Christ Jesus, the man who was fully man yet fully God, in order to save us. Not only is this very humble, but it shows the personal and caring nature of God, as He was able to experience life as we lived it.

"12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength." – Philippians 4:12-13

How wonderful would it be to reach this point of peace that Paul reaches in his heart? In this day and age we have a bad day if our morning coffee isn't prepared just right. Paul, however, knew what it was like to be rich or poor, full or hungry, or anywhere in between but he still had a deep-seated peace and joy upon his heart at all times. Here was a guy that wrote these words from prison and later faced beheading because he boldly proclaimed the faith, but he still carries a countenance of joy because of his faith.

God always gives us the strength to do what he wants us to do. He may not provide in the way that we think He should provide, but He still provides. I use my own life as an example to this. I have not had a permanent, full-time job since three weeks after I got married in January of 2005. For more than two and a half year, while learning the ins and out of marriage, I have worked a series of temp jobs that have seen me grade standardized tests, substitute teach from first grade through high school, stock ice cream shelves, stock greeting card shelves, answer phones, be a general temp lackey at an insurance company, and write sports articles for a few newspapers. It's not a glamorous life of "hookers and Chrystal" as the rappers would have it (not that I would want that, but it's a metaphor), but God has provided for our needs. For that I am thankful, and I know some day this period of transition will end. I simply need to learn what God wants me to learn in it.


  1. How do the lessons of humility from the last two chapters carry over into the lessons of this one?
  2. What is the peace that Paul talks about in the first highlighted passage?
  3. What can we do to reach Paul's place of peace?

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