Insights - Jun 6, 2021 Author: Jeanette Green
Philippians 4: A series of reflection on scripture
To follow from the beginning
Prayer and peace
Php 4:6-7>Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God's peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.
I am often oppressed by fear and anxiety. So, I’ve memorized a few verses to use as weapons, when I toss and turn, in bed. One of them is Php 4:7 (And God's peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.) But today, I realize that Paul has shown us the pathway to this peace, in verse 6. Prayer. Grateful, confident prayer. This is an aha-moment for me. I should pray with my heart full of confidence in my heavenly Father's character and in the relationship we share, by grace.
Peace floods my whole being as I think of his faithfulness and what it means to be God’s child. I have just placed back my helmet on my head, strapped my breastplate onto my chest, and taken up my shield. My heart and mind are protected.
Guidelines to remain firm in faith.
Php 4:1>So then, my friends, how dear you are to me and how I miss you! How happy you make me, and how proud I am of you!---this, dear friends, is how you should stand firm in your life in the Lord.
The entire book of Philippians is full of advice for us on how to remain firm in faith, especially during the times when we are going through trials. Chapter 4, brings Paul’s letter to the Philippians to a close with a list of guidelines for us to follow.
Guidelines from Philippians 4
1) Body of Christ should agree, be in union (Php 4:2)
What should this unity and agreement between us truly look like? Today, I think of how the parts of my body certainly don’t look or function the same. Each part fulfills its specific task, which is crucial to the functioning of my entire body. My foot would say, being part of the body, means to walk. My hand would say being part of the body, means to do things. What would happen if my foot and my hand argue about what being part of the body means and how they should function? (1 Cor 12)
My understanding of this unity between us is not that there shouldn’t be different denominations, but that the different denominations of the Christian church should take hands and work as one system, fulfilling their different functions as are necessary for the healthy existence of the body. We should look at our differences, through the lens of love. Love covers a multitude of sins. (1Pe 4:8)
2) Help one another ( Php 4:3)
Burdens, shared, are easier to bear. Let’s have open hearts and servant attitudes towards our fellow believers.
3) Be joyful, in union with the Lord (Php 4:4)
Like us all, I have lived through heart-wrenching seasons in my life. During those periods smiles were few. Did I lose my joy?
A passage in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 6:4-10) cast some light on ‘joy’ for me. I believe that when I understand what Christ did for me, at the cross, that understanding forms a rock-solid foundation, deep within my soul. It is this rock foundation that produces a quiet spirit within me. As I go through the trials of life, my focus on what Christ did at the cross and the treasures God keeps for me in Heaven, produces joy in me, despite the pain I endure. I am sorrowful, yet rejoicing.
2Co 6:10> As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
4) Show a gentle attitude to everyone (Php 4:5)
Every one of us goes through trials, and when we live, conscious of that, it helps us to have compassion and to live with understanding towards one another.
5) Pray, trusting in God’s faithfulness (Php 4:6-7)
When we pray with thankful hearts, we are clothed in the armor God gives. Our hearts and minds are protected.
6) Thought-diet (Php 4:8)
I used to live my life, very much out of habit. Many things I just did, without questioning why. But when I became born again, I learned that I had to be conscious of what I allowed into my mind, into my spirit. Because the daily impressions that filter into my mind and heart, affect the way I think, and ultimately my entire life.
The thought-diet Paul suggests for us:
Fill your minds with things that are good and that deserve praise:
- things that are true,
- things that are noble,
- things that are pure,
- things that are lovely,
- and things that are honorable.
7) Practice God’s Word (Php 4:9)
In practicing God’s word, I fail. Often. My sinful behavior horrifies me. I wonder if I am like that man, who forgets what he looks like when he walks away from the mirror. (James 1:22-24) But, God reminds me of something else I learned during my reflection on Philippians – He will finish the good work He started in me. So, every day I have is a new chance to pick up my cross and submit to God’s will.
8) Contentment (Php 4:11-13)
Php 4:12>I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little.
Paul expresses that he has learned a secret - to be content in all circumstances. Over the last couple of years, I feel God has been teaching me about this secret. I am still a work in progress. But, already I can see that contentment in all circumstances ushers us into that place of victory and freedom. When we mature in faith, we become like little children, aware of our dependence on our Heavenly Father, and so we can become content with the decisions He makes for our lives.
My journey through Philippians comes to an end, today. Over the past four weeks, the wisdom found in this book has encouraged me greatly in my suffering. Paul’s example of encouraging the church while he himself was in prison, helped me to gain a fresh perspective. And the clear guidelines set out in Philippians 4 will help me remain firm in faith as I continue following after Christ.
Here are a few points that I hope will remain engraved in my heart:
- Serving Christ, through my suffering, is a privilege.
- My suffering helps the progress of the gospel, whether I can see it or not.
- Suffering creates boldness in me, and also in others who witness my testimony
- I should desire courage, as a courageous attitude shows my enemies that I will win
- Christ is everything
- Death is the doorway to eternity with Christ
- My attitude should be one of obedience and servanthood.
- Faith is a journey
- To have peace, I should pray with a thankful heart
- I need to be conscious of what I feed my mind
- Rejoicing in what Christ did for me at the cross, helps me to endure seasons of sorrow
- Contentment in all circumstances leads to victory and freedom
Father God, give us an understanding of the work You did for us, at the cross. Let that understanding grow into a rock-solid foundation, from which our prayers rise to You. Release Your peace within us, and by it guard our hearts and minds. Help us to be conscious of what we feed our minds with. And through our seasons of sorrow, strengthen us through the joy we have in knowing that we are yours. Teach us how to be content in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen