For weeks now, we have been giving Psalm 23 a close reading. We find similar themes of security and peace in Philippians 4:
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. (Philippians 4:4–7)
Peace and rejoicing! Rejoicing can come as a response to positive circumstances, and it can come as a response to a command.
Really? We are commanded (exhorted) to be joyful? Really. And we can do it. Here’s how.
Paul gives us reason enough to rejoice: God is near. Think: The LORD is my shepherd. I lack nothing.
God himself is enough. When we don’t feel like God is enough, there is simple action we can take: "present our requests to God.” He is near, he hears, he invites our prayers, he can handle our anxiety.
We pray, and God guards our hearts and minds. He guards our emotions, our hopes, and our habits of thinking.
The Message paraphrase:
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6–7)
Letting God in our anxieties shapes not only our emotions, but our thinking. When we let him guard our heart, we become able to think more clearly and — importantly — more kindly. God’s care puts us on firm ground, making it possible to love of neighbor, coworker, and family member. Even the difficult ones. Kindness to the unloveable.
Anxiety begins to drain away; love begins to flow.
Peace within; peace without.
Lord, I give you my anxious thoughts today. Calm my anxious heart, that I may love like you love. Amen.
Pastor Mark loves his wife and grown children, the Word of God, and words. And coffee,
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. (Philippians 4:6–7)
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