I thought I would try something new. In addition to the things that I post rather sporadically, I would like to start each week with something that has been on my mind—something from my Bible studies for the week or something that God has laid on my heart. These entries will typically be shorter than what I might normally include, but hopefully will just inspire you in some way as they have me. So here we go with the first one…
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness by evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.
Most of us are probably familiar with that passage. I have repeatedly in my life called on verses 6 and 7 to help me through hard times. It is truly wonderful that we can present our requests to God, and He will give us peace.
I think, however, that we can cheapen the true meaning of these verses if that's all we get out of them. Remember that verse numbers were added much later—the apostle Paul didn't divide his letters into chapters, verses, and sections. J To get the bigger picture of what he is saying, we need to look at the whole passage.
Paul isn't just calling on us to go to God with our requests, he is exhorting us to focus on God with everything we have. The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds when we do all of the things he mentioned: rejoice in the Lord always, be gentle, remember that the Lord is near, do not be anxious, AND take your concerns to the Lord in prayer. It is not just about getting relief from our concerns, it's about keeping our focus where it should be—on Christ.
To look at the even bigger picture, Paul was addressing some fighting and disagreements among the believers. These women, Euodia and Syntyche, were so focused on being right that they were taking their eyes off of Christ. They weren't rejoicing together; they weren't treating each other gently; they weren't treating each other as they would if the Lord were sitting there with them. Paul knew that true peace, both within us individually and among the believers, would come only when their focus was right.
Whatever your situation, whatever is on your mind this week, whatever is on your calendar, keep your focus on Christ. Rejoice in the Lord always. Remember with each word you say that the Lord is near. Present all of your requests to God, with thanksgiving. And let the peace of God in.
Have a blessed week.