On a scale of 0 – 10 (with 0 being “non-existent” and 10 being “breathtaking”), how would you rate your daily experience of the peace of God? If you are like most of us, the number probably fluctuates throughout the entire range as you go through your week. Today’s word of encouragement is dedicated to helping us all crystallize our own “personal peace plan” in order to maximize our daily experience of the peace that passes all understanding that God promises to us in Scripture.
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. (Philippians 4:6-7)
If you are a student of the Scriptures, you are probably quite familiar with these verses. I certainly have preached on them and prayed through them more times than I can count. Yet how often I still find myself needing to lay hold of this promised peace! How often I find myself being delivered by God’s mercy and still doubting God’s might, as if He cannot handle what I am currently going through. These are the times when I need another dose of Gospel sanity to slay the dragon of doubt.
To be sure, the God who created order and beauty out of chaos can surely meet my need for personal peace, regardless of what I may be facing. And the passage from Philippians provides us all with the only personal peace plan that really works. The key to crushing our anxiety about anything is found in the truths of the Gospel, and not in the bottom of a bottle . . . or a package of pills . . . or the countless other ways we try to dull our distresses in life. That is why we must preach the Gospel to ourselves every day—and not just daily, but moment by moment.
The Gospel frees us, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, to boldly come before the throne of grace and come face-to-face with the living God. He invites us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). In Christ we are granted access to the One who created all things and sustains all things; in Christ we are handed the key that unlocks the door leading to the pathway of peace.
Anxious about your finances? Pray with thanksgiving and present your requests to God. Unsettled about your career path? Pray with thanksgiving and present your requests to God. Disillusioned about your parenting? Pray with thanksgiving and present your requests to God. Stressed in your singleness? Pray with thanksgiving and present your requests to God.
Worried about prodigal child? Pray with thanksgiving and present your requests to God.
Overwhelmed by obstacles in your opportunities? Pray with thanksgiving and present your requests to God. Know this: the Bible never tells you what to do (imperatives) without first telling you who you are (indicatives). Going back to the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Philippians we read this:
To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:1-2)
The Bible tells us who we are first before it tells us what to do because the key in doing is found in remembering. God’s personal peace plan is rooted in our remembering who we are “positionally” before we can begin living out His commands “practically.”
You may ask, “What am I to remember about my position?” The answer is that if you have trusted in Christ’s atoning work on your behalf, you are a saint—literally, one who has been set apart for God. You are a child of the Most High God! Remembering that each day will go a long way toward conquering your anxiety . . . and anything else that threatens your peace.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!