Today’s reading: Psalm 93-95 Philippians 4
As I read through Philippians 8 the words, peace and contentment, seem to resonate with my heart. Those are two things that are in short supply in today’s world but are defining attributes to those who bear the title of Christian. We all know how strife in the workplace hampers our effectiveness, and similarly strife in the home can be destructive to the family. Strife and conflict can severely hamper the effectiveness of any congregation and Paul here exhorts the Philippians to be intentional in their relationships so that the harmony of Christian love might edify and strengthen the Church. Not only does Paul recognize the necessity of peace and contentment among the congregation but addresses the same need in the heart and mind of each individual.
So how do we find contentment in a world filled with marketing majors who’s well constructed advertisements are skillfully designed to help us identify those areas where we are lacking? I was content with my Jeep until I rode in my son’s new truck. When I drove the Jeep home that night I noticed that it was beginning to show the cumulative effect of hundreds of thousands of miles. It wasn’t as shiny as it used to be. I heard rattles and creaks that I hadn’t noticed before. To make maters worse, the check engine light came on as I pulled into the driveway. Could this be a sign? Apparently not because my wife says it’s “not in the budget.”
In verses 6 thru 9 Paul gives us four principles for maintaining inner peace and contentment.
First in verse six we read, “But in everything, by prayer and petition …. present your requests to God.” By bringing all our needs and concerns to God we can rest assured in his provision. By spending time before Him in prayer we continue to develop our relationship. As we look back over the years and recall how faithful He has been to help us in every need we can find peace in knowing He is always with us. Which brings us to the second point and that is how we are to bring our needs and request.
Verse six tell us we are to bring our needs, “with thanksgiving.” We are to be mindful that all we have obtained is through His grace. Our strength, our talent and our skill are gifts He has given us. It’s through Him or by Him that we receive our many good gifts.
In verse eight we find the third principle meditate on the positives. (v8) “Finally, brothers, 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.” By being mindful of the positives and the past victories we shape our attitude towards the challenges that lay ahead.
The fourth principle Paul addresses is ‘obedience.’ (v9) “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.” Well said Paul! I can’t add to that so let me close with one more quote from Paul.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”