Well, if we believe in Christ, Jesus comes to live inside us. And He promises us that He has a good plan for us, even when we can’t see it. But that’s the kind of rejoicing we are invited to do any time we want–and all those times we don’t want.
So we get to have a dance party with God anytime we want. Haven’t you ever watched someone dancing to loud music all by themselves, off in their own world, in their room or alone in a dance studio, and felt a mixture of wonder and envy? We rejoice because we believe that God has a good plan and that He loves us.
We rejoice because God made us for a loving relationship with Him, and that love buoys us through all, throughout all time. Be gentle Paul says to “let your gentleness be evident to all.” Phil. But how can our gentleness be “evident” to all if we’re not being gentle? So where do we find this gentleness to claim as our own?
So if we’re a believer, we just have to figure out how to get out of Christ’s way; we need to let the Jesus in us be evident to all. Think about the lovely Paul also says: “brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Phil. I think something excellent on “purpose” and discover how different it is from whatever thought was on autoplay in my brain.
The only way to do that, I think, is to spend time with Jesus, in humility. This verse is a perfect example of how we don’t read the Bible; it reads us.
And if you’re not a believer yet, then please do ask him to forgive and save you. So after I read this verse, and am reminded to think about good things, I admit: I’ve never really understood how to think about of these things, because I get so transported focusing on any one of them. Once we start to think about “true” things, the lies we tell ourselves or that the devil tells us melt away, and joy floods us. And once we take X out of the equation, our path becomes a shining bright light before us–leading into joy. It often isn’t until we actually do what God asks of us that his commands make sense.
Or if we start to think about “right” things, our confusion melts away. We can replace anxious thoughts with lovely ones, always. Do it Paul adds that whatever we’ve learned or received from him we are to “put it into practice. I think it’s because our ability to rationalize sin is just too strong; so when we’re in the middle of not practicing God’s way, our way seems fine. Contentment through Him Paul has the audacity to tell us: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I had to attack all and any anxiety, big and small, with the secret recipe here provided. And what’s the point of writing a phony Christian blog? But after a while, as always when we procrastinate something that we know will transform our lives, the pressure built …and built …until it exploded–and boom. He repeats himself: “I say it again: rejoice.” So if we want joy we are to rejoice? And no matter how great some circumstances are, we always have a ground note of despair because of other circumstances.
I told myself that before I could write about Philippians 4, I had to start doing what it says. So I felt like a phony every time I tried to write. As always, when we obey something that feels unnatural, it brought surprising results. Paul’s Eight Secrets to Peace First, we will briefly examine Paul’s eight secrets to peace. If you’d rather stay stuck in anxiety, fears, self-sufficiency and denial, like I apparently did, go read those other articles. Rejoice First, Paul asks us to “rejoice in the Lord, always”. The key phrase is that we should rejoice “in the Lord.” Rejoicing in our circumstances doesn’t bring lasting joy, because circumstances fluctuate.
But even though I read this chapter so many times I could have memorized it, I couldn’t write about it. Because among other provocative things, it says: “do not be anxious about anything.” Not be anxious about ?! If you want to find supernatural peace–even when you lose a man and the wrinkles bunker down and stay–here’s what to do: 1.
So what does Paul mean when he says to rejoice “in the Lord”?
Because one of the loveliest of thoughts is that God brings good out of bad for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. But once we actually obey God, whether it’s by forgiving the unlovely person; by standing up to the bully; by refusing to cover for someone; or by making healthier choices; we find the peace on the other side of the storm, waiting for us, sparkling and exuberant. We all hear of bad things happening to other people, whether in foreign lands or even in our own homes, and we discover to our horror that we feel almost nothing on their behalf. Because I know I should be doing more of it myself. But we can’t let our inadequacy stop of from starting. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
But we can’t find the peace until we trample the part of us that hates to obey. Empathize Paul shares another secret to joy: that we renew our “concern” for others. We might feel fear, outrage or confusion–on our behalf. Don’t we wonder at our coldness, our numbness, our hardness of heart? We start to feel the pain of others as if it’s our own. We can feel true concern one heartbreak at a time–and we will discover our own heart beating more loudly, in tune to theirs. Give (cash) Paul says that our gifts (and yes, here he means financial) are a “fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” Phil. When we give as the Philippians did to help Paul’s mission work, Paul says “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Phil. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. And perhaps, discovering our dependence is the key to contentment. So maybe discovering the embarrassing depths of our need, in itself, brings God’s peace. It’s not a sin to have an anxious thought attack us.
But what about actually feeling a deep, godly sorrow for their pain? We get to feel others’ heartbeats almost as loudly as we feel our own. When I hear of people helping those in need, the floodgates open. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Phil. I don’t know anyone who could make such a broad claim of contentment. Why do we procrastinate meeting our every anxiety with concerted prayer, supplication and thanksgiving? We have to start catching ourselves every single time we feel anxious about anything, big or small, and remind ourselves to pray, to ask, and to do so with thanksgiving. But frankly, I don’t think the real problem is the “work”, because the work is all God’s. Because the more we seek God, the more we find Him. The sin is to believe it, to sit with it, to nurse it, and act on it.