May 14, 2013

Peace That Passes Understanding? Yes, It's Possible

Paul, the first century apostle, wrote to early Christians that if they did certain things, the peace of God would guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

What does this mean, and is this available to everyone? What were the certain things that had to be done in order to get and maintain this special peace?

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 every situation, 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."  (Phillipians 4:4-7)

Paul tells those reading or listening to the reading of his letter to do the following things:

1) Rejoice in the Lord, always. Do not be jealous, resentful, or envious of anyone, regardless of appearances and circumstances. Rejoice in the Lord by re-membering and re-counting God's kindness and blessings. List and remind yourself of the good things done on your behalf by God, or at the very least, the bad things kept out of your path by God. Write these things down, sing them, pray them, speak them. That's what rejoicing in the Lord means.

2)  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  Why? Because the Lord is near. The Lord is not only near to you, the Lord is near to all creation and all creatures. God's work may not be evident in the life of everyone, but let God's work be evident in you! Yes, you can afford to relax and be gentle. Because the Lord is near, you do not have to fear that your gentleness will be used against you--to harm or to disadvantage you. You can afford to breathe deeply and live gently. The Lord is near, keeping guard and keeping watch and guaranteeing good outcomes for you.

3)  Because you have presented your needs and requests to God with a spirit of thanksgiving, you can leave anxiety behind. Your ability to leave anxiety behind is totally dependent upon you and God, not upon what other people do or choose not to do. What a relief!  By turning your concerns over to God in a spirit of thankful prayer, you are not longer depending upon the whims of others to have a peaceful life. Regardless of what others do, God can lift you higher!

When you have done 1), 2), and 3) listed above, you are ready and open to see and accept the peace that transcends, or passes, all understanding.

You are no longer responsible for struggling and straining to "be peaceful." God transfuses His peace into your heart and into your mind. This transfusion of peace guards you from becoming overwhelmed with the anxieties and fears that stalk all of us unless we turn them over to God and leave them there.

This is not a one-time, done-for-all process. Actually, it will become a way of life and the only way to live as you practice living with a joyful knowledge of God's goodness, gently acknowledging God's nearness, and leaving all of your problems on His doorstep. Allow His peace to rush into you, freeing you, increasing your knowledge, and making you a faithful witness of His goodness and His greatness.

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