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Joy, Prayer and Peace

Joy—Prayer--Peace

 

4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

      Verse 4 

  •  
    • Rejoice always in the Lord.  This is a commandment to all Christians. 
  • Paul never wearied in writing that holy joy is a chief Christian duty.
  • Christian joy like this must be grounded in the Lord, independent of all things on earth.  Not circumstance but Christ made Paul happy and he could always rejoice because he always had Christ.
  • That means—regardless of the day, whether dark or bright, whether it is difficult or easy, whether it brings problems or temptations—no situation is beyond the Lord's help!
  • Rejoice in the Lord; in His presence, in communion with Him. 
  • He who rejoices in the Lord—always rejoices, even in affliction.  It should be unchanging because God never changes.   
  • 2 Corinthians 6:10
  • Joy is something we can't produce ourselves.  It's a fruit of the Spirit.  So to be able to rejoice always, we have to yield to, not grieve or quench the Holy Spirit.
  • This is very important—be  careful what you say during a time of trying and testing. 
  • The whole purpose of storms in life is to learn to be able to maintain your peace—be like GOD—unchanging and unyielding. 
  • 1 Corinthians 14:  3  Let the Word of God will comfort and calm you. 

       Verse 5

  • The next command Paul gives is one of Moderation—forbearance or gentleness.  (Same word occurs in 2 Cor. 10:1 where it is describing Christ.)
    • In the Aristotelian 'Ethics' the word stood for the temper which is content with less than it's due, and shrinks from insisting on its strict rights. 
    • There is no joy in a narrow selfishness; joy involves an open heart and a generous love. 
    • Joy in the Lord tends to make men gentle and mild to others. 
    • There was some tension in the church (verses 1-3). Therefore in that situation and yours, you need to be as patient and gentle as possible.
    • Possibly Paul means that their peace depends on this.  “It is he who shows forbearance and graciousness all round who can preserve an undisturbed heart” (Kennedy EGT 466)
    • One translation uses the word "Reasonable."  A reasonable person seeks what is best for everyone and not just oneself. 
    • Matthew Arnold interprets is as "sweet reasonableness".
    • We need to be reasonable believers, not bigots in our faith. 
    • We need our deep convictions, but we should not be given to bigotry or standing on our soap box—always emphasizing some little point. 
    • Instead we need to emphasize the big point—Christ!
    • be known unto all men—this should be obvious and evident to everyone that knows you, spends time with you or has any time of dealings.
    • The Lord is at hand—emphasizes the fact that Jesus will surely return as judge and hold people responsible for their deeds.  James 5:8-9

       Verse 6

  • Be careful for nothing—Don't be anxious for anything.  Worry about nothing.
    • The word actually means a "distracting care" or “a divided mind,” so it describes a mind looking two ways and not being able to find a place where it can settle down.
    • Don't fret or worry.  Worry shows a lack of faith—a lack of trust and belief in God and that God is aware of your situation. 
    • Paul is not wanting the church to be careless, but free from that over-anxiety about worldly things which might distract their thoughts from service of God and hinder their growth in holiness. 
    • 1 Peter 5:7 
    • The thought of the Lord's nearness should lead us both to be forbearing in our relations to others, and also to keep ourselves free, as far as may be from, from worldly anxieties.
    • Jesus spoke about anxiety in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6: 25-34), where He stated the most common causes of anxiety.
      • physical attributes, clothing, food and drink, and the future.
    • The reason we are to worry about nothing is we are to pray about everything.
      • Prayer is the cure for anxiety. 
      • In everything; in each emergency, little or great, as it arises, pray; cultivate the habit of referring all things, great or small, to God in prayer. 
      • Fenelon, a mystic from the Middle Ages, said this:

            Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one's heart, its       pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend.  Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober   them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your             dislikes, that He may help you to conquer them; talk to Him of your             temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the         wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your       indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability.       Tell Him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity             tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself as others.           

  • “Prayer” is the more general word, which emphasizes prayer as an act of worship or devotion, while “supplication or petition”  is a word used to describe a single feature of prayer, namely a request for specific necessities.
  • Christians must practice both in prayer and in that order—devotion before petition. 
  • Pray with thanksgiving.
  • Thanksgiving is not a season or holiday—but a mood and attitude of the heart. 
  • Thanksgiving is the background music that hushes all distracting and disconcerting noise.
  • Paul’s command is not necessarily to feel thankful but to give thanks.  Some anxieties can resist everything except thanksgiving (Robbins 128).
  • The attitude of gratitude accompanies all true approaches to the Father. 
  • Paul never lets prayer become a leap in the dark.  It rests on a foundation.  Romans 10:17
  • Prayer rests on faith, and faith rests on the Word of God.

      Verse 7

  • The answer to anxiety is the peace of God. 
    • This peace is divine.
    • It transcends all understanding.  Sometimes it doesn't make sense to others that you're still trusting God.  Ephesians 3:20
    • Peace excels over knowledge. 
    • Sometime you can't explain a situation and sometimes an explanation doesn't help. 
    • Peace always meets the needs of the heart. 
    • Going back to vs. 6, that kind of praying will lead to this kind of peace. 
    • Prayer does change things—but that's not the main purpose.  Notice, you entered this scripture with worry and came out with peace.  What was in the middle?  Prayer. 
    • Have things changed?  Maybe.  Not really.  They don't have to.  Because you have!!
    • That kind of peace, says Paul will guard their hearts and minds.  “Guard”--to watch for, or to pay attention to something, preserve, keep.  
    • It is a military word for “standing on guard as a sentry” (Barclay DSB 96).  The posting of Roman sentries to guard the cities both in Greece and Asia Minor was a familiar sight.  So the sentinel of God’s peace mounts guard before the door of the heart and mind against all foes who would break in and disrupt (Kennedy EGT 467f).  He does not keep the outer man from trouble but he keeps the citadel of the heart in the midst of trouble.

           

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