by my favorite Bible teacher, Colin S. Smith.
Three Pillars of Peace
Pastor Colin Smith
The first pillar of peace
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
Knowing peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of all peace. The starting point of "peace" or "shalom" is that things are the way they ought to be between you and God. And that happens when you come out of hiding, give up your rebellion against His commands, and submit to His lordship and rule over your life.
The second pillar of peace
Let your gentleness be evident to all. Philippians 4:5
After Paul talks about how things are between you and God, then he talks about how things are between us and other people. Notice Paul deals with pursuing peace in our relationships before he deals with finding peace in our hearts.
The world says, "The first thing you must do is to be at peace with yourself, then you will be in a position to do something about your relationships," but the Bible turns this wisdom completely on its head. The first thing is to seek peace with God. Nothing will stand secure if it is built on a foundation of evading God and disobeying His laws. Then pursue peace in your relationships.
Jesus made it very clear that if you come to prayer or worship, and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go reconcile with your brother. Peter makes the same point in the context of marriage. He tells husbands to be careful how they treat their wives so that nothing will hinder their prayers (1 Peter 3:7).
The third pillar of peace
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
Anxiety is a mighty power that grips the mind, the imagination and the heart. If you do not fight against it, anxiety will take you captive and make you a slave to fear.
Paul gives us a practical strategy for fighting against the power of anxiety: Pray! That one word will cause some readers to lose interest, because they feel they've already tried this and it doesn't work. But it's possible to think we've prayed, when in reality, we've done nothing more than worry on our knees. Paul uses three words to describe how we're to fight back against anxiety...
Prayer is simply entering the presence of God to fill your mind with who He is. This is where you begin. Don't start by telling God all your worries. Fill your mind with the truth about God. Focus on His greatness and glory. Let a sense of who He is fill your soul.
Fill your mind with the truth about God so it marinates into the recesses of your mind. God is sovereign. God is good. God is for you. God is with you. His purposes never fail. True prayer begins as you allow these truths to soak into your mind. That's one reason it is so helpful to link Bible reading and prayer together. As you receive God's truth, you will be helped to pray.
Petitions are specific requests that we bring before God. You might find it helpful to think of your anxieties as a large bag that you carry on your shoulders. We're not always entirely sure what's worrying us, and we're often afraid to look inside and find out. The only way to fight against worry is to open the bag.
Take that great burden off your back. Open it up and look inside. Face your fears by bringing them out of the darkness where they thrive. Put them into words and bring them to God-that's petition. Spell out your "what ifs" to God, keeping in mind His greatness as you unpack the bag. You need to know that God is great enough to handle the darkest fear in the corner of the bag.
Thanksgiving expresses confidence in God. It says to God, "I know that You are with me, and I know that You are for me; so whatever happens, I trust you, and I am grateful that my life is in your hands." Thanksgiving brings a balanced perspective to prayer, reminding us of the abundant goodness of God.
Without thanksgiving, prayer can easily descend into a shopping list of needs that we present before God. God wants to hear our requests, but he also invites us to count our blessings. So cultivate the practice of intentionally bringing to mind the great things God has done for you. Thanksgiving will refresh your soul and bring joy to the heart of God.
The peace of God rests on a three-fold foundation. When you have turned to God in faith and obedience, when you are showing gentleness to all and you are lifting your anxieties to God in prayer, then "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).
That's this week's LifeKEY!
Colin S. Smith
This LifeKey is based on the message "Peace," from the series, "Unlocking the Bible in Ephesians & Philippians," preached on October 28, 2001.