Sunday, June 15, 2014
The Connection Between Joy and Peace
Phil. 4:4 ¶ Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Phil. 4:5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
Phil. 4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Phil. 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This admonition to rejoice and focus on the good comes through again in this letter to the believers in Philippi. We’ve already been told to rejoice and now Paul brings up the subject again and repeats it for emphasis. At this point he goes on to point out the connection to rejoicing and the very nature or attitude of the rejoicing believer. There is a resultant gentleness in the life of the believer who rejoices because their very temperament allows them to draw near into the presence of the Lord. In this presence we learn to bring our needs before the Father, instead of worrying about them. Again, it is this attitude and spirit of rejoicing which permeates the believer instead of being anxious and worrying.
Rejoicing brings us to a place of dependence upon God. True joy, the type that reaches to the depths of our being comes from spending time in God’s presence. It is in this place that we can bring to him our requests. We leave the seemingly insurmountable problems which we face at the foot of Jesus. This, however, takes time spent in “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.” Notice again this positive attitude of “thanksgiving.”
We see this trajectory that begins with rejoicing leading to a person transformed in the very presence of Christ. There is a comfortableness in bringing petitions before the God as a result of the deeply personal relationship with him. This leads to peace — God’s peace — God’s got it all in control kind of peace! He promises that this peace “which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds.” The peace permeates our hearts — the center of our emotions where we are feeling deep pain, and our minds, which go crazy thinking about all the negative possibilities in life — and yet, God’s peace envelopes us and takes away the worry, but it all begins with rejoicing.
Anxiety and worry can become overwhelming emotions, ones which may paralyze a person, keeping them in such a state of fear that there is no ability to move forward. It is in this place that we must turn ours eyes toward the one we love, the one who can lead us and guide us through the difficulties of life.
How do I practically apply the principles presented here by Paul?
1) Intentionally rejoice in the Lord. Enjoy God and his holy presence. Relax and have some fun!
2) Spend time on a daily basis in a place of intimacy with the Lord. We must set-aside time to pray and be in the word. Then, the very presence of Jesus goes with us throughout the day and it is his gentleness that will be “known to everyone.” The more time with spend with the Lord, the closer we draw to him. The reflection of Jesus in our lives becomes larger and larger and there comes a point when those around us really can’t figure out if they’re seeing us being like Jesus, or Jesus in us. That’s a beautiful moment.
3) I stop worrying (which can do nothing) and get busy bringing my requests to God — and listening for his leadership and guidance. He says to bring him everything — and that means, everything! Our own personal strategic plan is nothing if it is not infused with prayer. Praise him, thank him and glorify him in prayer and then leave the concerns at his feet.
4) Be still and allow the peace of God to come into the very depths of your being. Jesus is the prince of peace. God’s peace is truly more than we can understand and reaches to the depths of our anxiety, if only we will allow him to have space in the midst of our fears.
Begin today with rejoicing, walk through some thanksgiving and allow God’s peace to permeate every part of our being. This was Paul’s plan that he was sharing with his beloved friends and he knew that it worked, for it had transformed his own life. He knew there was a connection between joy and peace!
Lord, thank you for bringing peace to our anxious moments. Amen.