Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

5 People Peace – Part 3

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Philippians 4:4-9

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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

In verse five Paul reminds us that the Lord is near, God’s presence should alter how we look at peace. It should also change how we handle conflict with others as well as conflicts residual internal turmoil. As conflict and inner turmoil rob us of energy we begin to lose focus leading to bad judgment as well as added stress. We become afflicted with anxiety, which rarely stays self-contained, but bleeds out infecting and inflicting our relationships. We have already discovered that prayer is the first key to experiencing peace and the second is:

This second key to acquiring divine peace is found in verse 6. Paul says that we are to submit our requests along “with thanksgiving.” The problem with worry and fear is that because it becomes our focus we often fail to count our blessings. We fail to see or acknowledge how good our God has already been to us. There is a stanza in the great hymn Amazing Grace that reminds us of His faithfulness: “Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come. Tis grace that has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.” When was the last time that you reflected upon how God has faithfully brought you down the path of your past and to the present? When was the last time you thanked Him for His past care? What are the many dangers, toils and snares that He has delivered you from? What if right now you stopped to reflect and recount how your faithful Father has lovingly led you thus far?  But, don’t stop at thanking God for His past provisions, blessings and deliverance. We need to thank Him for our present blessings as well as our past ones. When we intentionally celebrate in the Lord, we invite his presence and comfort into our lives. No matter how distressing or difficult our current circumstances or situation, we have a Savior that will never leave us or forsake us. You see despite the difficulties we can still experience His Divine blessings because no matter the problems we still experience His presence.  Johnson Oatman, Jr. dreamed of being either a great preacher or a great singer like his father but God gave him a different talent, writing songs. It was through his sermon in song that he reached millions of people that he would never have reached from a pulpit. He wrote an average of over two hundred gospel songs and hymns a year for over twenty-five years. His total output reached past the five thousand mark and when publishers insisted, for business reasons, that he set a price for each hymn, Oatman stipulated his own terms, he would only accept one dollar per hymn. In 1897 he wrote one of his most famous hymns, ”Count Your Blessings.” I want you to take some time to read through the words he pended over a hundred years ago and reflect on the reality that just as Oatman discovered God’s divine grace even in difficulties so can we. Oatman put to song what Paul penned to the Philippians in verse six:

When upon life’s billows

You are tempest tossed

When you are discouraged

Thinking all is lost

Count your many blessings

Name them one by one

And it will surprise you

What the Lord has done.

 

Are you ever burdened

With a load of care

Does the cross seem heavy

You are called to bear

Count your many blessings

Every doubt will fly

And you will be singing

As the days go by.

 

So, amid the conflict

Whether great or small

Do not be discouraged

God is over all

Count your many blessings

Angels will attend

Help and comfort give you

To your journey’s end

The third key to peace is:

  • Pondering the Positive.

The third key to peace of mind is partially connected to the second in that it also revolves around our thinking. We need to think about and dwell on the positive, Paul commands us, in verse 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.” Pondering the positive is probably one of the least preached and least practiced aspects of the Christian faith.  How often do we fail to focus on the positive, and instead allow our minds to dwell on the negatives? Many of us are masters at seeing our glass as half empty rather than half full. Yet as believers we should be able to see a silver lining in even the darkest cloud. When we remember that God is with us, for us and working in our lives, we should be the most optimistic and positive people on the planet. Paul reminds us to place our focus on what is true instead of the lies, noble instead of what is unjust, right instead of wrong, lovely instead of the horrible, admirable instead of the bad, pure instead of the counterfeits and fakes, and praiseworthy instead of the problems. When we place our focus on these things they will penetrate our problems, influencing and impacting our perspective. The fourth key to peace is:

  • Obedience

The last key to experiencing and enjoying peace of mind is striving to obey the teachings of Christ. Paul says, in verse 9, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Obedience leads to peace because one, if we obey God’s Word, we will avoid many of the pitfalls in life that lead to unnecessary heartaches and headaches. Psalms 119:165 reminds us of this truth: “Those who love Thy law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.” As well as Proverbs 3:1-2: “Do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments;….peace they will add to you.” Second there is a peace that comes when you know in your heart and mind that you are doing all that you can to please God. Paul reminds us in Acts 24:16: “I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.” With obedience comes a clear and clean conscience which promotes peace of mind. Lastly, Christ’s teachings call us to take up our cross deny ourselves and follow Him. We are called to look beyond self and serve others. The more I take my focus off of me, my predicaments and problems and place them on others and how I can make their lives lighter the more my life is liberated. Paul calls us not just to listen to the preaching but to put it into practice. So in what ways do you need to “Bear others burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2. What is dominating your thoughts, is it thankfulness, are you pondering the praiseworthy and the pure or are you pouring over the negative? Are you being obedient to the One who called you to live and walk in peace even in the problems?

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