Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
— Phil. 4:7 NLT
When we follow Paul’s advice, we find that we have a whole new outlook on life. We also find that the joy of the Lord is contagious and those around us will soon be rejoicing with us. Then God’s peace will guard our thoughts and our emotions. This peace is not an absence of offenses and bad situations, it is a peace in those situations. We live in a world of wars, violence and chaos, but we, as Christians, can experience an inner peace in the midst of the storm. As someone once said, “When we are in a storm, sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes He calms us.” Either way, we can have that peace that the world knows nothing about. So rejoice and give thanks, sing spiritual songs, psalms and hymns. Thanksgiving and praises are the life jackets in the sea of life.It is good to know that singing “Joy to the World” is appropriate anytime of the year. Our joy-giver is also our Prince of Peace.
27 “I’m leaving you peace. I’m giving you my peace. I don’t give you the kind of peace that the world gives. So don’t be troubled or cowardly.–John 14:27 (NLT)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation — 1 Peter 1:3 NLT
Because of God’s great mercy, He sent His Son to pay for our redemption. When we accept this fact, we also accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are spiritually born again at that very moment. We have our salvation immediately, but we live with great expectation because this is a beginning, there is more to come. We have an inheritance that is kept for us in heaven. God’s Holy Spirit is the earnest payment for that inheritance. And using that portion of faith that God has given to each of us, God is protecting us by His Power until the process of salvation has been completed and revealed on the last day. We are saved by His resurrection power, we are kept by the power of His word and we will arrive at home by His power. In this world, we will be offended and have some trials. We should count it all blessing to be chosen to suffer with our Savior. But on that last day, there will be “joy unspeakable and full of glory”. Praise God in every situation. He inhabits the praises of His people and He is always here with us to carry us through. Salvation and joy, now and forevermore!!!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
— Philippians 4:4 NLT
If you spend any time talking with non-Christians about Jesus and why they have not accepted Him as their Savior, you soon learn that their views on Jesus are not the primary reason for not accepting Him. It is their view of what they think Christianity is and what it requires them to do or not do. They have this idea that Christians have little or no fun and that to be a Christian, they are going to have to completely change their lifestyle. There will be some changes required. For some, it will be a very dramatic change. For others, it will only be a change in their mindset about why they do the good things they have been doing. The “good” ones are usually the hardest ones to convince that they need a Savior. Back to the point. Have we ever considered where the outsiders get this view that Christians must live a dull, joyless life? Since most of them don’t spend much time, if any, reading the Bible, they get it from watching us and listening to our conversations. Do we show them that “the joy of the Lord is our strength” or do they see us as sad, beaten down people who are forced to stay home on Saturday night so we can go to church on Sunday morning? Is our lifestyle a good advertisement for Jesus or does it turn others away from seeking Him? Think about it.
38 “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? — Luke 24:38 NLT
As the two men who had met Jesus on the road to Emmaus were sharing their story with the disciples, Jesus suddenly appeared among them. Jesus spoke to them and said “Peace be with you”. But they were startled and frightened, how could this be? After three years of walking with Jesus and hearing HIs teachings on a daily basis, the disciples were still not convinced that Jesus would really be resurrected. They thought they were looking at a ghost. Jesus told them to look closely and see that it was really HIm. He invited them to touch Him and know that He was real. Still, they were not fully convinced, so Jesus asked for something to eat. We can wonder at the unbelief and lack of faith of the disciples but we show that same unbelief and lack of faith when we are fearful and worry about things. We need to examine ourselves and ask ourselves the same questions that Jesus asked the disciples, “why are we frightened and why are our hearts filled with doubt”? God has told us over 365 times in the Bible in one form or the other, :“DO NOT FEAR!”. Yet, is there a day that goes by that we do not express fear and doubt with our words and/or actions? Instead of accessing the peace and the joy that Jesus has promised and is waiting to give each of us so that we can enjoy today with Him, we obsess over what MIGHT happen tomorrow. If we really believe that Jesus can and will provide our every need, then we should just rest in His arms and allow Him do exactly what He said He would do.
1 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
2 I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.
— Psalm 9:1, 2 NLT
As we tell and retell the Gospel story and talk about all the marvelous things God has done for us, we are filled with joy. The more we tell the old, old story, the more sure our hope becomes and the more joy we have to help us get through each day. That old liar, satan, comes around every day telling us how bad things are and pointing out all the things we don’t have. But all we need to do is stop and consider all the things with which God has blessed us. Then we need to thank Him and praise Him for all that He has done, is doing and will continue to do for us. We need to remind ourselves and satan about Paul’s admonition to us in Philippians on the things we need to focus on in our daily thought patterns.
Philippians 4:8, 9
God tells over and over that we should not worry, fear or be discouraged, yet, we spend more time considering what we are going to do when bad things happen than we do praising God for what He has done, is doing and will continue to do for us. Just as we don’t want to hear our kids complaining about what they don’t have all the time, neither does God want to hear our murmurs and complaining every day. It was this kind of behavior by God’s chosen people that caused Him to be angry with them on their trek through the desert. Do we want best friends who only tell us about their problems or those who share their concerns and their victories with us? God is our best friend, let us treat Him like we would our best friend. Talk with Him, not just to Him every day and praise Him for all of His goodness, then we will be filled with HIs peace and His joy, which is His gift to us.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In God’s great mercy he has caused us to be born again into a living hope, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. — 1 Peter 1:3 NCV
The hope that we have of our final salvation is a living hope. It was searched for and studied by the prophets of old. The Holy Spirit revealed things to them and as much as they desired to grasp this hope, they were told that the truths they were revealing were not for them at that time but for a later time. That time came when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, ascended into heaven and sent us the great Comforter, the Holy Spirit. When we receive the Spirit and He abides within us, He brings with Him a living hope. It may start as just a tiny flame of hope, but as our understanding matures, it grows with each passing day. We are saved, we are being saved and one day we will have our final salvation.
The prophets desired it, the angels desire to look into it and understand it, but, by the grace of God, we have it. We need to feed that hope daily by studying God’s Word, praying and praising Him. As we practice these things, we will find that our hope grows and that we experience a peace and joy that we cannot explain. A joy full of glory because each day we are nearer to the ultimate goal of our faith — which is the salvation of our souls.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.–Phil. 4:4-8 NIV
Some of the things that Paul wrote are hard for us to understand. “rejoice in the Lord always” and “pray without ceasing” come to mind. In our busy society how does one spend 15 minutes a day rejoicing and praying, much less continually, and still get everything accomplished. I believe that what seems impossible is the key to how we accomplish Paul’s admonitions. Happiness is caused by externals and is temporary. We sometimes confuse that with joy, which is internal and eternal because it is given to us by God. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” What God gives to us cannot be taken away from us. We can lose our focus on the joy but it is still there all the time. Praying is a gift from God as well as an attitude, not a body position. we can mentally pray while doing anything else. Verse 8 is the key to being prayerful and joyful all the time. We need to change our thought patterns so that they focus on the goodness and mercies of God instead of the sin in the world around us. Then we can enjoy the joy and thank God for it.