October 15, 2023 | The Peace of God





Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who with the Holy Spirit are three-in-one


Today’s text will be from our 2nd lesson in Philippians 4, especially verses 4-7, but before we dissect this passage from Philippians let me tell you a story about little Bobby.  Little Bobby had a habit of stretching the truth just a bit. One day while walking home from school he saw a large black dog run across the street in front of him. He rushed home as fast as he could and told his mother, “Mom, you’re never going to believe what I just saw!” “What did you see Bobby?” his mother asked cautiously. “While I was walking home, a huge black bear jumped out of the bushes and tried to eat me! But I was too fast for him and ran home as fast as I could!”. By this time his mother was somewhat distraught and began to worry about Bobby’s “truth-stretching”.


When Bobby’s father returned home from a business trip the next day, Bobby excitedly ran to his father and told him about his adventurous walk on the way home from school. His father promptly instructed Bobby to go to his room, get down on his knees and ask God what He thinks about his story. Within minutes Bobby came bouncing out of his room and into the kitchen. “Well son, just what did God think about your story?” asked his father. “Well, replied Bobby, God told me that when He first saw that dog, He thought it was a bear too!”


 Yes, sometimes life can be a bear. Sometimes life just doesn’t go the way that it should. Sometimes it’s very stressful. Many of us see this through the hustle and bustle of life, but, through it all, God is there to give us His peace. What we are going to discover this morning is how to have God’s peace, even in stressful situations.


Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!


Can you remember a time when you went through a really hard time? We’ve all had them. Prince of Peace has had them. Do you remember how you felt in those situations? It’s a hard thing to rejoice when things are not going well.


Luckily Paul says that we only need to rejoice when things are good. Hang on a second,… that’s not right! It says rejoice in the Lord always. And he even repeats himself to make sure we get it. Don’t you want to give Paul a good slap around the head and say “but Paul that’s alright for you to say, you haven’t suffered any hard times like us”…hang on a second…


We might want to say it, but we can’t, we can’t because Paul was writing this when he was in prison – facing execution. Not only that but he had no legal aid, there were relationship problems between people in his church, and other leaders were creating problems for him. No, what Paul is saying is that even when the circumstances are not conducive to rejoicing, we should.


 It doesn’t mean we have to pretend. It doesn’t mean we don’t get upset. It doesn’t mean we can’t get angry, because even Jesus got angry. It means that deep down, in the midst of the hardship and regret, we can still rejoice in what God has done for us.

No matter what happens, we still have that knowledge that God the Father loved us enough to send His one and only Son to die on a cross so that one day we might live with Him in heaven forever.

Do you think that in 200 years you are going to worry about how unfair your neighbor was to you or how your cousin called you something mean?


 Imagine how God sees your situation. Verse five says: Let your gentleness be evident to all. What does gentleness mean? Sometimes I feel that if I went on being gentle all the time I would fail. It seems weak. But all I have to do is look at the example of Christ to see what a great gift gentleness is. Christ knew that gentleness was sometimes the most effective tool He had, and He knew exactly when to use it.

In fact, gentleness is the key word in this verse. The original Greek word is complex and there is no one English word that we can use. In this case, gentleness means generous treatment of others even when they are treating you in an unjust way. It makes sense, then, why Paul used this word in his letters to the Philippians who were suffering persecution at the time.

 It shows the Christ like way Paul has already encouraged us to emulate – basically seeing people like God sees them. When things happen to us, especially when we think we have been treated badly by other people, we need to be filled with grace and humility. Be humble and gracious to others. Jesus asks us to be this way in preparation for His coming.


Verse five goes on to remind us that the Lord is near and Jesus’ return in the last days should affect our every outlook and action. What do you do when important visitors come around? I know that, even if the UPS person is to deliver a package, Cheryl will tidy up just in case the delivery person might set foot in the house. I can’t even imagine what would happen if Jesus were to call to let us know He was dropping by. The simple fact that Jesus is returning should motivate us to act like Him. The early church didn’t know exactly when Jesus was coming back, the fact that He was, was enough.


Paul continues in verse 6 with words that seem especially appropriate for us in our world today. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

It is sometimes so difficult to remember this when we’re facing the stresses of life. Its importance, however, cannot be questioned. Communication through prayer is essential to find our footing.


Often prayer is the 3rd or 4th thing we do after we have tried solving the problem ourselves. But it should always be first on our list. We’re to ask God through prayer immediately and with thanksgiving. We can have this attitude because we know that no matter what is happening, God will ultimately bring good out of it.


So, what is the result when we do this? Verse seven says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


What is the peace of God? I believe it means to have a quiet confidence within ourselves, regardless of our trials or circumstances. God helps us have an inner calm even when things seem out of control, this is why it transcends all human understanding.


What does this peace do? It stands guard. Paul was probably writing this with a guard standing next to him. The guard was there as a filter, he could let certain people pass but not others, he could let Paul do some things and stop him from doing other things. Peace is the filter in our lives; it guards the 2 things that create worry, our hearts through wrong feelings and our minds through wrong thinking. It was this peace that helped Paul go through the trials that he did and still be able to rejoice.


When we see things how God sees them, we can exercise gentleness to others and pray, we receive Gods peace. We see this pattern repeated by many of the great men and women of the Bible, let’s look at one.

The story of Daniel and the lions den is one of my favorites and not only because I share his name. This story is a perfect example of God’s peace being put into practice. Daniel 6:3-11.


Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.  At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.  Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”   So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: “O King Darius, live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.


 Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”  So King Darius put the decree in writing. Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.  Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.”


Daniel had bad circumstances. Imagine if it were us – not allowed to pray or be killed. What was Daniels reaction? When Daniel found out, he didn’t go to the king in a panic, he trusted in God through prayer, and notice he prayed asking for Gods help with thanksgiving.

What would have been going through David’s mind as they were rolling the stone over the den? What would be going through yours?

Verse 23 tells us what happened after Daniel had put his trust through prayer and petition in God alone when we read, “the king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”


He trusted in his God even when his circumstances looked bad. The outcome was that the king saw Daniels actions, and this led to God being glorified. Through the faithfulness of our lives, God will also be glorified.

Life will continue to challenge us. The future certainly holds more surprises. What is not certain, however, is our reaction to these challenges and surprises. I pray that all of us can look past the negatives with the peace that surpasses all understanding and grow in our relationship with Christ to a point that we put all our trust in Him.


Paul tells us to step back from our troubles and see things from Gods perspective, continue to treat others well and pray, trusting God that He will bring about His will in our lives. As we do this we start to go through life with less anxiety because we know that ultimately God is in control. It is then that we experience the peace of God which transcends all understanding.


Let’s bring about a new sense of harmony to Prince of Peace with a renewed peace that comes from trust and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.


It’s so important it bears repeating. Now may this peace, that transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.