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Sunday, July 19, 2020

“The Peace of God” [Matt's Messages]

“The Peace of God”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
July 19, 2020 :: Philippians 4:6-7

This is one of those passages of holy Scripture that I have a love/shame relationship with.

Not a love/hate relationship, but a love/shame relationship.

I love this passage, and I’ll bet you do, too!

I remember memorizing it when I was 18 years old and a freshman at Moody Bible Institute. I can still see where the words were on the page of my student Bible. I underlined these words. I loved these words! These words are so beautiful and all-encompassing and the promise here is very so precious!

In these two verses (Philippians 4:6&7) we are promised "The Peace of God.

What a phrase! I don’t know all of what it means. It means, at least, that peace that comes from God.

It’s a divinely given gift, the peace that originates and is gifted to us from the Lord Himself.

But I suspect that it’s more than that. I suspect that this is not just a peace that comes from God, but a peace that belongs to God. Paul calls it, “The peace of God.”

A divine peace. Not that we become God, but God shares with us a piece of His own peace.

Could that be?! That the Bible would promise you and me a piece of the very peace that belongs to God Himself?

Because make no mistake, God is at peace. He is not shaken. He is not disturbed. He is not troubled. He is not anxious. He is not fretful. He is not jolted. He is not vexed. He is not worried. God is at peace. And He offers us a piece of His peace. “The peace of God.”

I love this passage of Holy Scripture. There is nothing here to hate.

But when I read it, often feel shame because of how often I don’t do what it tells me to do.

I love to quote it.
I love to tell other people to do it.
But too often I don’t do it myself.

And so I miss out on the peace of God.

I don’t want to miss out on the peace of God, and I don’t want you to either.



I’ve got three short points of application from these two verses that are obvious just from reading this beautiful passage. Here’s number one.

#1. DON’T BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING.

I get that from verse 6 where it says, “Do not be anxious about anything...”

And here’s where I begin to feel some shame because I can get anxious about just about anything.

We said last week that this section of Philippians sounds good (because it is!), but it’s also easier said than done. It comes at the end of the book because you need the gospel from earlier in the book to empower the applications at the end of the book.

And so often we miss the immediate context!

What are the words that appear right before this statement about don’t be anxious about anything?

“The Lord is near.”

How many times have I missed that?

Philippians 4:6-7 were not written by Paul to stand alone as an Instagram or Pinterest post. They are a part of the fabric of the whole letter, and the words that Paul has just said are, “The Lord is near.”

Now, last week, we emphasized that meaning the return of Christ will be soon. And that should make us tender and gentle towards others. It should also relieve our anxiety, because when He returns, He will make all things better, all things new. We can count on it. “The Lord is near.”

But it probably also means that the Lord is near spiritually. He is near personally.

And if that’s true, if Christ is in our boat, what storm should we be anxious about?

Don’t be anxious about anything.

Now, let me also say this. This verse here, while it is a command, is not here to shame you if you have been anxious. Not primarily.

It is here to reassure you. “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything.”

So often when we encounter the verses about anxiousness in the Scriptures, we think they are a club to beat us over the head (and Satan loves that when we do that to ourselves). But they are not a baseball bat for our heads, they are a pillow for our heads.

Philippians 4:6 is a place to rest.

“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything.”

Now, that is a command. So if you willfully ignore it, then you are being disobedient and you will suffer for it. But it’s not here to shame you. It’s here to bring you comfort.

When a little child comes crying to daddy or mommy after a nightmare, and they say to the child, “Don’t worry; I’m here” they are not shaming the child. They are comforting them.

Don’t be anxious about anything.

But so often we are. I know I am. I have often said that worrying is my super-power. (That, by the way, is the worst super power ever. Nothing to be proud of.)

But I can get anxious over so many things.

This week, my brain has turned on about 5:15 every morning and started it’s daily churn.

I’ve been anxious about the church, and whether we’re doing it right.

Will people come back?
Are we keeping them safe?
Will people stay away because of the virus or because of masks being required?
Will I get sick?
Will someone I love get sick?
What if I was the reason someone else got sick?

What if, what if, what if?

I can worry about my finances.

I can worry about my kids. This Sunday is Isaac’s 16th birthday. Soon, all of my kids will be drivers out on the open road. Maybe you all should be worried!

I can worry about all kinds of things.

And I’m sure you can, too. Everybody has a mental list of their concerns that they can turn into worries like that.

And Paul says to the Philippians that they should not let their concerns become worries.

“Do not be anxious about anything...”

But he doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t start there. He starts with “The Lord is near.”

But he doesn’t stop there, either. He doesn’t leave it up to us just quit being anxious.

Anybody ever try that?  “Ok. I’ll just stop being anxious.” How did that work out for you?

No, Paul gives us what to do instead, and it’s our second point of application.

#2. BE PRAYERFUL ABOUT EVERYTHING. V.6 again.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Be prayerful about everything.

I love how Paul uses at least 3 words to say it.

“By prayer and petition...present your requests to God.”

Three different Greek words to basically say the same thing, “Pray!”

Have you prayed about it?

“O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer.”  (Joseph M. Scriven)

This is how we fight against anxiety. We take it to the Lord in prayer.

“...in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

How many of those things that I have been anxious about, have I laid before the Lord?

What if at 5:15 in the morning, when my brain turns out, my prayers begin to rise up?

I was out for a morning walk this week. I was walking the long way to church out Reservoir Road, and I was really agitated about whether or not to continue to have 3 worship services. We definitely will need them when (if?) everybody comes back on campus. But that is a slow process that is three steps forward and two steps back. And I was just churning on it in my brain while I walked.

I always said that I hated story problems in math class. Remember story problems?

And now I feel like I’m living a story problem!

But what am I doing here? I’m complaining. And that’s what I was doing to myself. I was talking to myself about my worries. And they kept growing!

And then I realized. Why am I not talking to the Lord about these problems?

I mean, laying it all out before Him.

By prayer and petition, presenting my requests to God.

“With thanksgiving!” Don’t miss that little phrase. We don’t just ask. We thank.

And we thank Him in advance for what He’s going to do, because we know it’s always good. “With thanksgiving.”

Be prayerful about everything.

How are you doing at that?

Notice that Paul is not saying that we should pretend as if there is nothing wrong in the world.

That’s not what “Don’t be anxious means.”

It doesn’t mean “Pretend like the world is fine. Everything is fine. This is fine.”

Don’t forget where Paul is.

Paul is in prison.
Paul may soon be executed for preaching the gospel.

Everything is not fine.

But the Lord is near. And the Lord is listening.

“Present your requests to God.”

And here’s promise. Verse 7.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

#3. BE PROTECTED BY THE PEACE OF GOD.

In response to our prayers, God will give us a piece of His peace.

And it’s a peace that (King James) “passeth all understanding.”

It’s beyond comprehension. It’s supernatural. It’s mysterious. It’s unexplainable.

But it’s real. And it’s divine.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

How many times have you and I experienced this?

How many times have you and I had that inexplicable peace?

I know there have been times when people have said to me, “I don’t know how you can be so calm right now.”

I have to say, “Yeah, I don’t know either. This isn’t like me!”

It must be the peace of God.

Like Paul and Silas singing in their prison cell.

The Philippians knew the story, Acts 16. They were jailed for preaching the gospel, and they were doing verse 4, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I’ll say rejoice.”

And an earthquake came and their chains fell off. And they didn’t run away!

And the jailer was amazed that they hadn’t run away. That they were so joyful and so untroubled by their troubles, anxious for nothing.

And he said to them, “What must I do to be saved?”

He wanted the peace of God.

He wanted peace with God.

And Paul said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

Notice where this verse ends. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

And only in Christ Jesus.

You can only know this peace if you are in Christ Jesus.

Are you in Christ Jesus?

He died for your sins.
He came back to life to give you life.
He invites you to come into Him and find the peace of God.

Paul says that those who pray like this will experience the peace of God, transcending all understanding, and look what it does. Verse 7.

“[T]he peace of God...will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul knows all about guards! He knows more than he ever wanted to know about guards. So when he looks for a metaphor for a protected mind, a protected heart, he says, the peace of God is like a guard.

Not one to keep you locked up though but to keep the bad guys away from you.

It’s a garrison. It’s fortress. It’s a fence. It’s a protective layer of security.

Who wants one of those for your mind and your heart?

Paul wanted one for every one of the Philippians’ minds and hearts. Do you see how it’s plural? “[T]he peace of God...will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Now, of course, this is not one and done.

This isn’t something you do once and then you have that peace 24/7.

It’s something to do every day. It’s a rhythm to get into.

The Lord is near.
Don’t be anxious about anything.
Be prayerful about everything.
Be protected by the peace of God.

The Lord is near.
Don’t be anxious about anything.
Be prayerful about everything.
Be protected by the peace of God.

The Lord is near.
Don’t be anxious about anything.
Be prayerful about everything.
Be protected by the peace of God.

I want that for myself.
I want that for my family.
I want that for my church family.

And it’s possible because of Christ Jesus.

To experience a piece of the peace of God.


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