Does it seem like the division, hatred, and pain in the world is getting worse? Satan, whom Jesus refers to as “the thief,” seeks to ruin this world and our lives. Consider the evil, turmoil, trouble, and destruction we see and hear about. Jesus said that Satan “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” but, in contrast, our Lord continues by saying, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)
We want to have the FULL LIFE that Jesus offers, including a life of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV); forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38); the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with others (Mark 16:15-16, Matthew 28:18-20); and the opportunity to serve Christ in our work and not simply humans (see Galatians 5:17, 23, 24), to name but a few examples of the full life Jesus offers.
But how do we turn our attention away from the sadness and pain of this world and ENJOY the life Jesus offers?
When the Apostle Paul wrote the letters to the church at Philippi, he was in prison. Some of his writings in what we know as the book of Philippians in the New Testament indicate he was facing death. Yet he wrote this beautiful, encouraging passage —
“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 NIV)
Regardless of our circumstances, we can CHOOSE to follow this Scripture.
- “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” The word “rejoice” means to recognize God’s grace (favor) and be glad about it.1 How has the Lord shown you grace or favor? If you are a Christian, you have been saved by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8). [There are many Scriptures about His grace. Click this link to read more — https://biblescan.com/search.php?q=grace] There are many things to be cheerful about. We don’t have to be in a certain situation to rejoice in the Lord! He is the source of our joy.
- “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” One of the ways we can humble ourselves before others is to be gentle. And remember the Lord is near! What joy and peace it brings to know that He said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV)
- “Do not be anxious about anything . . .” Whew! That’s a difficult task for some of us, me included! The word “anxious” can mean “worry” or “distracted.” Thankfully the Holy Spirit, through the writings of Paul, tells us what to do instead — “but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” So instead of focusing on the things that disturb us and allowing them to lead us to worry, we are to PRAY in every situation, PETITION (ask) God in every situation, and GIVE THANKS in every situation.
- When we choose to pray, petition and give thanks, God’s answer is PEACE! “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This peace will guard (protect) our hearts and minds, so our thoughts and feelings do not need to feel pulled in many directions, as happens when we worry! Jesus is the solution. And His peace surpasses all understanding.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS OR SMALL GROUPS
- What part of this Scripture speaks to your heart or stands out to you? Why did you choose that part?
- What part is the most challenging?
- What part is most comforting?
- How will you put this Scripture into practice?
1 BibleHub.com. Discovery Bible, HELPS Word-studies https://biblehub.com/greek/5463.htm Retrieved 11/29/2022
by Jo Umberger, Vice President, NewLife Behavior International