How Do I Receive the Peace of God?

Nathanael Winkler

The best-known verse in Philippians is probably, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4). The subject of joy runs through the entire letter. Paul again and again calls for living consciously in this joy. It’s one of the most important principles of the Christian life of faith.

Paul was known to the Philippians. They knew of everything he’d had to go through in Philippi. He had experienced persecution, been imprisoned in the dungeon, and had been beaten. Paul had to suffer a great deal. And yet he remained steadfast. The suffering apostle said, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians from prison in Rome. He wasn’t a free man. From his letters we know that Paul wasn’t a healthy man, either. He likely suffered a great deal physically due to persecution. Nevertheless, he said, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

What does our joy look like? Are we always happy? No, and there are situations in life (illness, an unexpected death or separation) that are actually grave. We can also have sudden financial hardships. But Paul is speaking of a completely different kind of joy; namely, joy in the Lord. This joy isn’t dependent on earthly circumstances.

When our joy is dependent on something carnal, earthly, or circumstantial, then we’ll constantly experience an emotional roller coaster. When joy is dependent on our environment, then it’s as precarious as an unprotected candle on a stormy night. Difficult times that we don’t understand will come in every life. But when the Lord allows these things into our lives, He will also grant us the necessary strength. Our relationship with Him is a prerequisite for this. Jesus told His disciples, “I am with you always” (Matt 28:20). He promised that He wouldn’t leave us alone, because His Holy Spirit lives in us. Even if I were completely alone on this earth, the Lord would still be with me. The Creator of heaven and earth is near to me; His Holy Spirit lives in me.

Paul, once a zealot for religious Judaism, testified, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil 3:8). Paul was ready to throw his career, family, and status overboard, for the singular goal of knowing Christ Jesus. That is why he could say: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” It means a constant joy that continuously grows. That’s how it should be.

Paul also gives the order to, “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand” (Phil 4:5). Other translations use “gentleness” or “graciousness” instead of moderation. The word can also be translated from the Greek as “contentment, generosity, compassion, forbearance, patience, devotion, faithful dependability,” and “willingness to give up one’s own ways.” Mildness and gentleness contradict the nature of our old man. We can only possess it if we live consciously in connection with Christ Jesus.

The principles that Paul wants to give us here lead to the command: “Let the Lord work!” One principle that Christ can work within us is to act gently and mildly toward all people. Not just toward our spouse and children and, from time to time, our fellow church members, but toward every single person. We are gentle with our neighbors, friends, our family, our enemies, and people we humanly don’t care for. They should realize that the peace of God is in us. Through our change, they should recognize who lives in us.

Why all of that? Paul explains: “The Lord is near.” This can be understood in two different ways.

For one thing, the Lord is spatially present; He is with us and will give us the strength. A Christian should live in the conscious understanding of the omnipresence of his Lord. If we’re honest, it’s easier to sin if we think that no one sees us. But with this kind of attitude, we reveal our false view of reality. Our Savior sees everything. The Holy Spirit in us is grieved when He must witness sin. The Lord is close to us in every respect, as well as providing protection and companionship.

Having said that, this passage can also mean that the Lord’s coming is near. As Christians, we should consciously live in the belief that our Lord is coming soon. He can come today. That’s why we want to be witnesses, before it’s too late.

In verse 6, Paul says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

All of us have worries, whether they’re financial or familial. So, are we all disobedient, since it says, “Be anxious for nothing”? Indeed, we actually worry (cf. John 16:33), but where do we go with our worries? We shouldn’t have any worries that weigh us down or disturb our faith life by standing between us and God. There are also concerns that can disrupt relationships in the church or growth in the faith.

We should develop the understanding that the Lord is truly with us. He Himself declared in His Sermon on the Mount that we do not need to worry about anything, because He cares for us (Matt 6:25-34). We only need to do one thing: bring our cares to Him.

Our God is omnipresent and sovereign, and He has personally redeemed us. When the Creator of heaven and earth has saved us, then He wants only the best for us. He wants to have a relationship with us.

Our prayer life shows our dependence on God. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” That means there is no area in our life that God is not interested in. He’s interested in everything that concerns us and everything that’s good for us. He wants to hear from us and have fellowship with us through prayer. If anything burdens us, we should go to our Savior first. This prayer is not just the evening prayer or the morning prayer, but constant connection with God. My whole world of thought should be influenced by Him.

It’s a prayer with supplication. What is supplication? Supplication is when a concern becomes so important to us and we are in such great need, that we pray and pray until He listens to us. He wants to listen, and He has an answer.

Do we always have this attitude of joy in the Lord? Are we gentle and mild toward all people? Are we anxious for nothing, and is our prayer life right? When we can answer “yes” to these questions, then verse 7 holds true: “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

If we seek this relationship with our Savior, then He will care for and protect us according to His promise. The peace of God isn’t something natural; it’s not a joy that any person can give or that we can reach on this earth. We can have everything—great wealth, a beautiful house, the best car, a healthy family, but true lasting peace can only come from one Person: Jesus Christ. That’s precisely why believers are thankful people. They are content with what God gives them. They are happy people, because they know the Lord intends only good.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

If we go to Him, He will keep us according to His promise. Let us trust Him!

Midnight Call - 12/2018

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