Sunday, March 18, 2007

Thursday Morning Bible Study: Peace in Philippians

Thursday morning was Bible study and we looked at one of those great passages of Scripture in Philippians:

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 everything, 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. (4:4-9)

Do not be anxious about anything - haha! Does God know what He's asking of us here? What would my life look like if I actually stopped worrying about everything? What would I do with my days? (Sheepish grin.) I have to say, though, God has brought me a LONG way when it comes to this. When I was younger, I worried about every detail of every day. Fear ruled my life. It was not fun. So if God can bring me as far as He's brought me, I guess He can bring me even farther than I can imagine.

Jesus says: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27) and "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Here Jesus points out reality: in this world, you will have trouble. But He also hands out hope: I have overcome the world. In Me, you can have peace. Jesus offers hope, peace, joy, love - all these fantastic things - but we have to accept them or it doesn't do us any good, does it?

Back to the Philippians passage and "the peace that passes all understanding" - which we can have when we 1) stop worrying, 2) talk to God about the things that burden us, and 3) give thanks. I reread a quote by C.H. Spurgeon last night that I love: When we praise God for mercies - we prolong them. When we praise God for miseries - we usually end them. And tonight, the end of the passage in Philippians struck me... "and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus."

The Greek word is phroureo, which means "to guard, hold in custody, preserve, protect." In 2 Corinthians 11:32, it refers to a city being guarded; in Galatians 3:23 it says, "Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed"; and in 1 Peter 1:5, it is translated "Through faith you are shielded by God's power..." So if I stop looking at my troubles and instead look at Jesus (Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace - great hymn!), His amazing peace will guard, shield, protect, keep my heart and mind in Him. Wow - imagine the life that would be.

Oh Jesus, You know how I worry about the people I love, how I focus too much on the things of this world instead of my heavenly home, and how I so often forget to turn to You. Thank You that You are faithful and loving and patiently waiting for me to turn to You, and that You are so generous and want to give the gifts of joy and peace and comfort. Remind me moment by moment, one day at a time, to give my burdens up to You that You may hold my heart and mind captive in Your perfect peace. How can I ever thank You enough, Jesus? Thank You that I am always Yours and You will never let me go.

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