Thursday, September 10, 2009

9/11- Philippians 4:4-9 Finding Peace

(Calvin being made fun of by the libertines of Geneva)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. 9 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.

Calvin abridged: 4:4- Rejoice in the Lord- Dangers and troubles affected the pious on every side, and it would be possible for them to give up, overcome by grief or impatience. Nevertheless, Paul encourages them to rejoice in the Lord despite hostilities and disturbances. The Lord refreshes and gladdens us by spiritual consolations since the Lord is standing on their side come what may. The joy of the world is deceptive, frail, fading, and Christ says the world’s joy is even accursed (Lk. 6;25).
4:5- “Let your gentleness be evident to all”- He could mean that they should give up their right so that no one complains about their sharpness or severity. Or Paul may be exhorting them to endure all things with moderation, which is the way I prefer to take it. For the Greeks talk of moderation of spirit—when we are not easily moved by injuries, annoyed by adversity, but retain composure.
“The Lord is near”- Worldly sense would oppose the foregoing statement. The wicked rage the more we are patient, and the more we endure, the more they are emboldened to inflict injuries (Lk. 21:19). Worldly proverbs say, “we must howl when among wolves” or “Those who act like sheep will quickly be devoured by wolves.” So we tend to say that the ferocity of the wicked must be met by corresponding violence, that they may not insult us. Paul instead encourages confidence in divine providence, because the Lord is at hand. He promises He will aid us provided we obey his commandment. So we learn that ignorance of the providence of God is the cause of all impatience, and that is the reason we are thrown into confusion. Often we become disheartened because we do not recognize the fact that the Lord cares for us (Psalm 145:18). 4:6- “But in every situation”- In these words Paul exhorts the Philippians (as David does in Psalm 55:22 and Peter in I Peter 5:7) to cast all their care upon the Lord. For we are not made of iron- as if temptations do not shake us. But this is our consolation to deposit or disburden in the bosom of God everything that harasses us. Confidence is a tranquilizer but it only comes when we pray. Whenever we are assailed by any temptation we should go to prayer as a sacred asylum. “Requests” means desires or wishes. He would have us make these known to God by prayer and supplication, pouring forth our hearts to God- committing all they have and are to Him. Those who look here and there to the vain comforts of the world may appear to have some degree of relief; but there is only on sure refuge—leaning upon the Lord. “With thanksgiving”- Many pray amiss by complaining and murmuring- as if they had a basis for accusing God. Others cannot take it when God delays and does not immediately gratify their desires. Gratitude has this effect upon us- that the will of God becomes the grand sum of our desires.
4:7- “And the peace of God” This is a promise for us who put confidence in God- peace in our hearts and minds. Mind means understanding, while “heart” denotes disposition or inclinations- so the whole soul is covered. “Transcend all understanding”- noting s more foreign to the human mind than to exercise hope in despair and see opulence in the weakness, and rely on the promise of not wanting when we are destitute of all things. 8- “Finally”- he commends “truth”- which is integrity; “noble”- an excellence of vocation (Eph. 4:1); “right”- or just- having to do with mutual intercourse of human beings; “pure” which is chastity; “If any praise”- among the perverse judgments praise is often bestowed upon the blameworthy. Christians desire to give true praise to God and are forbidden to give glory, except in God alone (I Cor. 1:31). Paul does not ask them to gain applause by virtuous actions, but to help the wicked to be constrained in the midst of their reproach and derision toward Christians. 4:9- “What you have seen in me”- The main thing in a public speaker should be, that he may speak not merely with his mouth, but by his life. “The God of peace”- He has spoken of the peace of God, now he speaks of the God of peace, since God is the author of peace.

Thought: These are some of my favorite verses. Paul was able to say that the Philippians have seen in him his ability to rejoice in any and every situation, and being content whether well fed or hungry. His ministry in Philippi began in a prison where he was singing and the Lord delivered him. Paul, who had been terribly persecuted, knew how to find peace in a prison and how to give thanks in every circumstance. In a recession, in hard times, these are great verses for our day. In a time of terrorism (the 8th anniversary is today), there is still a peace that passes all understanding- that not even terrorists can take away. Paul knew this peace and we can too.

Prayer: Help us, O God to find your peace, and thanksgiving, even in the tough times and tough losses in this life.

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