Encouragement and Exhortation

A passage that has been on my mind and heart for the past week is Philippians 4:4-7 which says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This is such a rich passage. In these four verses, the Apostle Paul speaks of rejoicing, gentleness, God’s nearness, anxiety, prayer, gratitude, and peace. There’s probably something in these four verses that speaks to each one of us, and perhaps all of these things may apply to what we’re going through currently. Though this was written many years ago for a completely different group of people, it speaks to us universally as we see God’s reassurance, instruction, and desire for us. Really life hasn’t changed from the early believers’ experience 2000 years ago to what we go through today, at least not in the sense that life still has its highs and lows, joys and sorrows, blessings and struggles. I think all of these things are implied in this passage. I feel like I’ve experienced all of these things recently. And they affect our peace and stability.

We need God’s Word and His constant input to keep our hearts right, our eyes on Him, and our perspective in life.  As you think about this passage, I want to encourage you to rejoice in all the goodness that is found in God and His blessing.  For He is good. He is kind. He is loving and merciful. His faithfulness never fails. Because of that, it says let your “gentleness” be evident to all. This doesn’t mean be meek but live with patience and self-control. Some versions say forbearance. In other words, live in a Christ-like manner for the Lord is near. He is present with you!  At the heart of the good news is the announcement that God is near, not distant. He knows you and He sees you.  Paul says to not be anxious. Anxiety is not something you can always control but when you do feel this way, call upon the Lord. Present your requests to God. Not only present your requests, but I would say present your heart and emotions to God. He can take all that you have to say to Him! 

In the midst of our circumstances, all of these things – to rejoice, to be patient, to remember God’s goodness and nearness, to pray with thanksgiving, to give up our anxieties – are difficult.  This is our challenge. Sometimes I would rather just sulk or turn to distraction or preoccupation rather than actually turn to God. But how can we not want the peace, the comfort, the care that only God can give. Often this may involve the help and support of other believers. I love how this passage ends in verse 7.  This is one of my constant prayers for my kids and those I love: that God would guard their hearts and minds in and for Christ Jesus our Lord. And that’s my prayer for you.

God bless,

Pastor Darren