4 Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
8 From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. 9 Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.
As we approach holidays we are pulling out our favorite time honored family recipes that are only served on special occasions. Some cooks like to precisely measure every ingredient, others, like myself, have been making these recipes for so long we can approximate the amounts needed. Either way the recipe comes out great, as long as we’re cooking with quality ingredients. The finished product is only as good as what we put into it.
The Apostle Paul called the church he had founded at Philippi “my joy and my crown.” But there was disagreement in the church, that caused their focus to be taken off of their mission, which was to serve Jesus and make disciples. So to get them back on track Paul gave them a recipe that shifted their focus back onto serving God with the gifts that God had given them through the Holy Spirit.
Paul is essentially giving the church at Philippi, and us, a recipe for joy and peace. What is in this recipe? We are to have our joy in the Lord, that can never be taken from us. We are to be kind to all people, as the Lord is near. We aren’t to be anxious, but rather to pray and give thanks to God. Then we will have the peace of God that keeps our hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
Paul says the peace of God comes from focusing our thoughts on things that are true, holy, just, pure, lovely and worthy of praise. By practicing these things that we have learned, received, seen and heard in our faith community, the peace of God will be with us.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
What we focus on, think about and add to our daily walk with God will grow. While life presents many challenges, if we keep our focus on following Jesus, we can have joy and the peace of God will be with us. Just as all the ingredients combined together in the right order make for a successful recipe, if we are missing ingredients, the results may be different. It’s important for us to be accountable to God for our daily walk.
Let’s ask ourselves, what on Paul’s list are we missing? Are we kind, prayerful, thankful and not anxious, trusting in God? Are we focusing on, truth, justice, holiness and practicing these things as we serve God and follow Jesus? When we focus and practice these things, the peace of God will be with us.
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, grant us your joy and your peace as we serve you and follow the example of Jesus. Amen.