It’s difficult to miss a theme running through Philippians chapter 4.
“I always pray with joy”, “because of this I rejoice”, “I will continue to rejoice”, “joy in the faith”, “make my joy complete”, “be glad and rejoice with me”, “rejoice in the Lord”… well, you get the point!
Philippians 4 caps it off with words to paint on the inside of our eyelids. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” When? Did he say always? Always?
Perhaps the better question isn’t when but where to rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord always”. The reality of being “in the Lord” is the key. We rejoice because we are in the Lord, He is near.
In the Lord, with Him near, we can always rejoice. We can rejoice during good times or during challenges for He is near. That means during times of drought or times of timely rains the farmer can rest in knowing that God will care for the needs of the one that planted the seeds in faith.
The farmer (and his wife) can be thankful and sleep without anxiety after telling the very near Lord everything on his mind. Why? Because his requests are before God, the very God that causes the seed to grow , sends the rain and the harvest (how does a seed grow anyway?). The Lord is near.
Sit and still your heart. What is on your mind that causes you anxiety? Imagine the Lord on the chair next to you, talk to Him, thank Him, imagine Him laying His hand on your head and the peace of God coming from heaven like honey pouring over your head and running down over your shoulders.
God does His part and we choose to respond in faith. It doesn’t always feel like a choice, does it? But after praying, Paul gives a list of things to focus our minds upon.
So here is your one week challenge! Set your minds on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Each time the thoughts go south, negative, or down and the worry and anxieties come up- stop, recognize where your mind is going and the energy it is wasting. Repeat the challenge above and set the mind on thoughts that meet Paul’s criteria! Don’t get down on yourself, just keep praying and re-setting your mind.
Paul says we need to “put it into practice”, and boy does it take practice!!!
But do you see what he says is our secret weapon? “And the God of peace will be with you” Peace isn’t just a state of mind, it is a relationship in our heart with the God of the universe that has chosen to be near to us if we stand firm in the Lord.
So, are you up for a challenge? Let’s do it together for Paul says it is the secret he learned for being content in any and every situation and for strength in everything he did. Can’t you almost hear Paul talking?
“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Lord, forgive me for worrying. Thank You for being near, help me to practice setting my mind on what is true, to focus on You. Thank you that I can be in You now and forever. Guard my heart and my mind with Your peace that is above all understanding. Hear my requests ….and thank You for meeting all my needs as You have promised. Amen