My daughter loves to bake. When the mood strikes her, she flips through our family cookbooks and picks out something that sounds delicious – usually bread or cookies. The other day when she and I were preparing dinner, she decided she wanted to make some cheese biscuits. There was one problem: we were missing some critical ingredients. We had just returned from vacation, and we were out of many kitchen staples, including milk. We improvised and mixed everything together, replacing the milk with a bit of half-and-half and water. A few minutes into the baking process, we noticed smoke coming from the oven. There was too much liquid, and drips were falling from the pan into the bottom of the oven! Ultimately, we figured things out, and the biscuits were okay. Not perfect, but edible.
I was thinking about this story recently as I read a familiar passage: Philippians 4. Here, the Apostle Paul is writing to encourage the church at Philippi. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Many of us have heard this verse a lot throughout our lives. When we go through hard times, someone might remind us of it. Or we may share it with others ourselves. It feels like something you could see cross-stitched on a pillow or on a piece of Hobby Lobby wall art. It’s a great verse. But, we rarely seem to focus on the surrounding verses and how they contribute to this peace Paul is speaking about here.
We all want to experience peace. We find ultimate peace with God when we become followers of Christ. But, I believe the peace Paul is talking about here is that peace we need here on earth while we live out our faith. Peace that can help us rest amid the storms of life. This is the peace we need to experience as we go through various trials and the ups and downs of the human experience. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul gives us a recipe for peace that “surpasses all understanding.” If we are struggling to find peace, we should examine the areas of our life detailed in this passage and follow the instructions. If we leave out any of these ingredients, we may miss out on what God intends for us.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4)
Sometimes, it’s not easy to rejoice. We get caught up in the things around us, and we lose sight of the things that truly matter. It’s important to remember that rejoicing is a choice. Every day, when our feet hit the floor, we can choose joy. We can choose to fix our eyes on Jesus and rejoice in what He accomplished on the cross.
“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5)
We live in an unreasonable world. As followers of Christ, the way we can stand out is through our decency, kindness, and respect. As a matter of fact, this is how we should be known to everyone. Is reasonableness something you are known by? I know I can fall short in this area. The first step for many of us needs to be disengaging from social media periodically. Social media discourse is not conducive to being reasonable.
Worry Less by Praying More
Is worrying a sin? The Bible doesn’t say that directly, but it’s clear that when we worry, we are displaying a lack of faith and trust in God. In Matthew 6, Jesus says, “…O you of little faith…Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6: 30, 33-34). God’s desire for us is to put our trust in Him, not ourselves. He doesn’t want us to worry about things outside of our control. He knows that worry and anxiety can allow Satan a foothold into our lives, causing us to go astray. Instead, “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
“…with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6)
Most of us don’t feel rich, but from the perspective of the history of the world, we are. Owning a car, owning a home, having a job – these are things that make you among the richest people in the world, globally speaking. We are able to publicly live out our faith, attend church and read the Bible. God loved us so much that He sent His Son to bear our sins on the cross. We have a lot to be thankful for. Begin your day thinking about these things, and I guarantee you will feel God’s peace in your life.
Control Your Mind
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8)
My pastor likes to say that you can’t control every bird that flies over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair. The point is this: where your mind goes, your life follows. If you focus on negativity or sinful desires, you’ll see these things expressed in your life. The Bible says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). If we want peace in our lives, we should focus on those things that are pure and true. We should focus on Jesus.
Live Out Your Faith
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9)
Paul reminds us that to experience the peace of God, we need to walk close to Him. We are to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). If we are experiencing a close relationship with the Father and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we’ll produce fruit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22). If we have trouble finding God’s peace, we need to examine our walk. Maybe there’s an unconfessed sin in our lives that we haven’t dealt with. Maybe we haven’t been living out our faith consistently. We can rest in the promise of His Word, knowing that walking with the Lord will produce the peace we crave.
Photo credit: © Getty Images/evgenyatamanenko
Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at www.apparentstuff.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @brentrinehart