Hi, guys. Hope you're all well. I am myself. Just a bit busy here and there, but God’s Grace is, and will always be, sufficient. For His strength is made perfect in (my) weakness!
Straight to the matter of the day.
I love the content found in the book of Philippians. Just a preamble, Paul wrote this letter to the church in Philippi at a time when he was imprisoned and most likely under immense torture from the guards there, considering the human rights movement wasn’t as active as it is in modern culture.
What's amazing, however, is that throughout the epistle, he commands believers to ‘rejoice’; at one occasion saying: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice.”
This joy comes from the same man undergoing pain and suffering in the hands of a ruthless ruler, all for the sake of God, who Paul knows is Almighty and All-powerful, as when he said in Romans 1.20: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead...”
And yet despite going through all this pain and suffering, Paul doesn’t run complaining to God and voicing his disgust at the situation he is facing under the pretext of “I have a right to be angry”, but instead he commands us all to rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say rejoice.
What then does he tell us to do?
Let’s turn back to the Scriptures. Philippians 4.6-7.
“6aBe anxious for nothing...” Let’s pause there for a second. This man is facing possible death via execution and the best thing he can tell us is ‘Relax’? This completely goes opposite to our human nature of ‘I don't have money to do this and that...*starts biting nails in anxiety and nervousness*’. Whereas more often than not we claim to have faith, life’s frequent trying times lead us to moving from ‘Have faith in God; the ultimate healer’ to ‘Let’s be real; she has cancer!’
Does not God have power over that cancer? Does not He who placed the stars in the sky have dominion over that arthritis that is causing your grandfather pain?
Let’s turn back to the Word:
“6b...but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God...” Let’s pause there once more.
It’s almost like Paul is asking us; “So you have a problem? Ahhh...okay! I understand and totally relate with you. This is what you do: pray about it.”
James reiterates further about the power of prayer in 1.5:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him”
He additionally urges us, all under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to thank God even as we present our needs. To quote rap guru Sevin of HOG MOB Records, God is calling us to move away from the idolatry, depression and self-worship of “I don't have this...why don't I have that?” and mature up to a level of recognizing what it is that he has already given us. To that point where we can bow down before Him and simply say “Thank you, GOD...I worship you today for who you are!”
Verse 7 of the same chapter is AMAZING! Check it out:
“7 ... and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
First of all, please note that the verse says nothing! about our requests first being answered for us to therefore get peace. On the contrary, we are being told “Simply by virtue of you praying with thanksgiving, God’s peace will guard your heart.”
This comes as an unknown teaching to a human mind which is only satisfied when its requests have not only been heard, but gratified fully. I shall illustrate.
A child cries and demands for milk. Only once it has been breastfed will peace and sobriety reign in the home.
We are naturally born as hedonists seeking for pleasure (as we discussed 2 articles back in ‘Salvation’ here). As a result, when we pray, we often feel as if our happiness will only come through fulfillment of that desire.
To this I respond by saying that one of our biggest mistakes as Christians is the mindset where we think we are so omniscient that we know exactly what's best for us; be it “God give me that job” or “God, I need a boyfriend in my life right now or I will die”. Oh how wrong this belief system is where we think that what we think is best for us truly is!
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
And so, God tells us in this verse that once we have (1) not been anxious, and (2) made our requests be known in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, then at that point, (3) His peace which ‘transcends all understanding’ will guard our hearts and minds in [the knowledge of] Christ Jesus.
To conclude, somebody may then ask; “Why is it that when I pray, I don't feel this Peace of God?”
The answer to this is given right there in the next 2 verses of Philippians 4 (The word of God has ALL our solutions, I tell you!!):
“8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things.
9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you”
You see, Paul urges us to forsake anything and everything that is not of God, and instead chase only that which is God-like. That is, only that which is noble, just, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy.
He then says that only once we have done these things can the God of peace be with us (verse 9).
To reiterate further, Proverbs 4.23 reads as follows:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”
We ought to guard what we expose our hearts to through what we listen to, what we see, what we allow our minds to think on, etc.
This may therefore mean that we will have to consider forsaking some of the music that we listen to. Some of the music that glorifies sex, money, self worship; that may just have to go. They are not noble or of good report, now are they?
Some of the movies and series that exalt what isn’t right in the eyes of God such as infidelity in the marital bed; surely, are they praiseworthy?
As you contemplate on the aforementioned matters, remember that God loves you immensely and that His desire is for you to develop a relationship with Him; not through your own effort of reading and cramming through the Bible pages, but through having faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is our only Salvation! He alone can save us from our wretchedness!
Take it to Him in prayer.
Praises be unto His Name!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Soli Deo Gloria!