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LESSON 10: HOW CAN THERE BE PEACEFULNESS THROUGH PRAYER?
by Dr. Fred Wittman
“Continually rejoice in 0Lord all the time! Again I shall say, Continually rejoice! 5Your& /reasonable quality is to be known to all humans! The Lord |is| near! 6Stop being anxious about one~ thing! But on the contrary, in everything by means of /prayer and /supplication [in company]with thanksgiving your& petitions are to be made known to The God! 7And the peace of The God, |namely| the^ one surpassing all comprehension as by a garrison shall protect your& /hearts and your& thoughts in the sphere of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:4-7 APT).
Paul was in prison and had cause to be anxious about his future ministry. He was concerned about the Philippians and the difficulty they faced in their church. There was a lack of unity due to the differences between Euodia and Syntyche. In the midst of a hostile world they were fearing and doubting and were possibly terrified by their enemies (Refer to 1:28). Paul considered that they were living in the midst of a hostile world—a crooked and perverse generation (or nation) among whom they shine as lights in the world. Paul recognized the need to put at rest the anxieties of the Philippians. They were anxious for Paul to be set free from prison, anxious concerning the enemies that opposed them, anxious concerning the disruption of the unity and harmony among them, and anxious about their enemies and this hostile world in which they lived to communicate The Gospel. There was a need for the Philippians to have peace and an attitude of peacefulness. How could they develop such an attitude?
There is a need for peacefulness today as we move closer to the coming of Christ. As the world situations increase in difficulty, disruption, and uneasiness over the unsettled political conditions in the world and not knowing what is coming next there is a need for the child of The God to display peacefulness. The cry throughout the whole world is ‘Peace.’ The nations want peace rather than terror. Paul wrote of peacefulness through prayer, and not of peacefulness only, but of perfect peace. Without perfect peace in the heart there can be no peacefulness in relationship to one another in The Church, much less in the world. How can there be perfect peace today? Paul indicated
I. THREE STEPS TO PERFECT PEACE (vs.4-6).
The colony of Philippi enjoyed peace through the protection of Rome. They rejoiced in that relationship. Well they should! It provided many benefits. Paul drew from that relationship an illustration of the greater benefits of the relationship with The Lord as citizens of Heaven.
A. Rejoice In The Lord (v. 4).
“Continually rejoice in 0Lord all the time! Again I shall say, Continually rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).
The first step to perfect peace is to rejoice in The Lord continually. Continually lift up your heart to The Lord in joy. Throughout this Epistle this is repeated (cf. Phil. l:26; 2:16,17,18; 2:28; 3:1).
1. What is rejoicing in The Lord?
To rejoice is to express joy and delight. In order to rejoice one must be filled with joy. True joy is only found in Christ. An obedient and abiding relationship with Christ assures that His joy will remain in us and our joy will be full (John 15:11). Jesus further stated that full joy comes from a relationship with The God in prayer (John 16:24). In Ephesians 5:19,20 Paul wrote that to be filled with The Spirit will result in an expression of joy and rejoicing by songs on our lips and thanksgiving in our hearts. “The purest, highest, truest joy is to fill the Christian life like sunshine” (Lenski p. 874).
Paul exhorted to rejoice always in The Lord. There is every reason to rejoice when we are in The Lord because there is nothing that can attack the child of The God without going through Christ. If we are ‘in The Lord,’ that is ‘in the sphere of the rational limitations of The Lord,’ we are in His protection, we are in His preservation, and we are under His provision. There is no need for us to be overly concerned or anxious. We are citizens of Heaven. And as such we are recipients of all the benefits that citizenship proffers. Paul commands his readers to express the joy and delight those benefits afford.
2. Why is the exhortation repeated?
Paul has experienced the results of rejoicing in The Lord always, even under difficult and seemingly impossible circumstances He realized how difficult it is to rejoice and how necessary it is. Therefore he stressed it by repetition. Each time he used the imperative of command. He expected an exercise of the will to express joy in The Lord. In order to obey and rejoice, the joy of The Lord must fill the heart. He repeated the command because there is a need to be reminded. There will come an occasion in which some circumstances will take up our thoughts and distract our attention from the joy that we have in Christ. There is a need to focus again on Christ and remember that we are His and in His hands, in His protection, in His guidance, in His control, in His preservation, and under His provision. Nothing can come to pass without getting through Him first. Thus we can rejoice continually.
The second step to perfect peace is
B. Demonstrate Yieldedness (v. 5).
“The reasonable quality of yours& is to be known to all humans! The Lord |is| near!” (Phil. 4:5 APT).
The verb tense of γνωσθήτω (gnōs-tháytō) is third person first aorist imperative passive, which means it is commanded or is absolutely necessary. The Greek word translated ‘reasonable quality” is the nominative, neuter, singular form of the articular adjective επιεικής (ehpee-eheekays) used as a noun, which other translations have rendered ‘moderation,’ ‘forbearance,’ ‘gentleness,’ or ‘sweet reasonableness.’ It also can be translated ‘yieldedness.’ Paul expressed his concern that there be a demonstration of yieldedness unto The Lord. Therefore the quality of ‘sweet reasonableness’ in relationship to one another will result.
1. How must this yieldedness be demonstrated?
It is demonstrated by peacefulness in relationship to one another. There will be a readiness to forgive others who offend. One will act charitably toward the faults of others and be merciful in judging the failings of others. This forbearance is to be demonstrated to all men. Not just those with a pleasing personality. Retaliation and a retaliatory spirit will not be manifest to anyone when the heart is filled with joy. By yielding to Christ in acknowledgment of His control over our lives and circumstances we take everything as from Him. Thus we can act differently, than if we take wrong treatment as from people, and can demonstrate our yieldedness. If we look at the people through whom the attacks are made, or through whom circumstances are changed, or through whom we have disturbance and aggravation, then we are going to have difficulty demonstrating yieldedness. But if we focus our attention on Christ and receive every circumstance as to be judged by Him, we will deal gently, without hatred, anger, and malice and thus demonstrate yieldedness.
2. Why must this yieldedness be demonstrated?
a. It is demonstrated because we are filled with the joy of The Lord and The Spirit of The Lord. As a result of rejoicing (expressing the fullness of joy), which comes from yielding to Christ, sweet reasonableness of yieldedness should be manifest. But Paul included another reason why it should be demonstrated.
b. Because “The Lord is at hand.” The coming of The Lord is near. This truth produces two concepts by Bible scholars and commentators. One group conceives the coming of The Lord in vengeance and judgment on one hand and to bring relief and delight on the other hand. He will soon set things right and we will have to answer for the way we acted toward others. The other group conceives the meaning of the coming of The Lord to be that The Lord as being right nearby, close at hand. If we think about The Lord at hand, being right there beside us we will then be conscious of His presence and our sweet reasonableness will be manifest through His enabling.
One man was quite concerned because he always thought of The Lord as far off and he could not seem to get through to Him because he thought of The Lord as being up in Heaven. His pastor told him, “Well, just think of The Lord as right by your side. When you are driving in the car think that He’s sitting along side of you. When you are walking think that He is walking along side of you. The Lord is right nearby.” He became sick and bedridden, so he had his wife put a chair right along side of him. He used to think of The Lord being in that chair and he would turn to the chair and talk to The Lord. Often she would find him sleeping and his hand would be over on the chair. When she finally came and saw that he passed away--had gone to be with The Lord, his hand was in The chair palm up because he had gotten used to talking to The Lord and thinking of Him as at hand.
With The Lord nearby, we can take things differently. We can be comforted in our problems and our difficulties. We realize that He is at hand and therefore He hears us when we get upset with one another. When conscious of His presence we can demonstrate a sweet reasonableness because we are yielded to The Lord. The Philippians could have harmony and unity restored if both Euodia and Syntyche demonstrated yieldedness--sweet reasonableness.
The third step to perfect peace is
C. Pray With Thanksgiving (v. 6).
“6Stop being anxious about one~ thing! But on the contrary, in everything by means of /prayer and /supplication [in company]with thanksgiving your& petitions are to be made known to The God!” (Phil. 4:6 APT).
This involves three aspects in relation to prayer.
1. Be anxious over nothing!
The Philippians really did not need to be anxious about Paul’s imprisonment. They did not need to be anxious about the enemies that were pressing upon them. Nor did they need to be anxious and terrified by the adversaries. We do not need to be concerned and in doubt concerning the people of our generation and what’s happening in the world around us. We do not need to become concerned with earthly things because we have been encouraged not to mind earthly things. The enemies of the cross constantly mind earthly things. But we do not need to become anxious over anything. Paul exhorted his readers to be full of care or anxious over nothing, but
2. Pray about everything.
“But on the contrary, in everything by means of /prayer and /supplication . . . ”
Now in the matter of requests and prayer, Paul uses two different words here: προσεύχομαι (prohseúxohmai) tranalated prayer and δεήσις (deh-aysis) translated supplication. The first is a general term for prayer to The God and includes all kinds of praying (asking, expressing desire, petition to a superior, and intrecession or pleading with The God on behalf of another). While the other term is used with various kinds of entreaty out of need that are made to The God but it can also be used for ernestly supplicating man. On the one hand δεήσις (deh-aysis) is used for requests which are made from man to man or man to The God while προσεύχομαι (prohseúxohmai) is used for prayer solely to The God. It is never made to man. So by prayer, just as you would make your requests known to man, make them known to The God. In prayer or by simple requests, come to The God about everything. Make everything a matter of prayer. But when you do,
3. Give thanks for anything.
“ . . . [in company]with thanksgiving your& petitions are to be made known to The God!”
If we give thanks for anything that The God sends our way we will have the ability to be at peace with The God and our fellowmen. We will trust The God to control our circumstances. We will take whatever He sends us for our good. We will not grumble or complain about our circumstances. Our anxieties will be diminished. Perfect peace comes through prayer with thanksgiving. When we have the peace of The God, we can manifest peacefulness with others.
II. TRUE SECURITY THROUGH PERFECT PEACE (v.7).
“And the peace of The God, |namely| the^ one surpassing all comprehension as by a garrison shall protect your& /hearts and your& thoughts in the sphere of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7 APT).
A. Perfect Peace Defies Description.
Perfect peace is the peace which originates in The Very God of Peace. This peace has its source in The God.
1. Perfect Peace is the possession of The God.
The God willingly offers His perfect peace to those who will come to The Lord Jesus Christ, The Prince of Peace. Peace belongs to The God. The God is characterized by peace. But He designs to share this peace with us. The peace which is the possession of The God defies description.
2. Perfect Peace surpasses all understanding.
This peace of The God exceeds every kind of understanding. All the thoughts and reasonings of peace that the mind of man can conjure are surpassed by this perfect peace. The mind of man though powerful and capable, cannot keep the individual from disturbance of conscience care and concern. It cannot compare with the peace of The God in restraining disturbing thoughts, reasonings, and questionings.
B. Perfect Peace Defies Disturbance.
The word ‘garrison’ or ‘guard’ conveys the following concept. Philippi was a colony of Rome. It was under Rome’s protection and received Rome’s provision. It was under Rome’s control and care. There was a high wall around the colony of Philippi that was wide enough for four chariots to race upon it around the city. Upon that wall around the city would be a garrison of soldiers spotted here and there watching, ever on the alert, keeping guard over the city. As the people in the city would look up in any direction and see the figure of a soldier on the wall either pacing back and forth or standing guard, they knew that there was peace. There was no sign of war. There were no enemies outside the city ready to attack. The only time they would anticipate that there was an enemy ready to attack would be when they would not see those soldiers standing or pacing on watch. Then they would be in a position of combat and anticipate disturbance and possible war. But as long as the citizens of Philippi could see the sentinels on duty they knew that the city was in peace. There was no threat of disturbance of their peace. The Lord Jesus Christ Who hears our prayers will guard and garrison our minds and hearts so that there is no disturbance nor disruption of our peace. The perfect peace of The God that protects both the heart and the mind through Christ Jesus defies description and disturbance. There is true security in Christ and no disturbance:
1. By guilt,
The peace that The God gives will not permit disturbance by guilt. The God’s perfect peace replaces the guilt of sin when the heart and conscience is purged by the blood of Christ. There can be no disturbance within caused by the conscience troubled by sin. When The God forgives He cleanses completely and removes the guilt. Our hearts and minds will be kept from disturbance of guilt through our Lord Jesus Christ, and from disturbance.
2. By concern,
Perfect peace depends upon Christ and our relationship to Him. Care and concern cannot disturb this peace. When we know that The God is in control of our circumstances. His peace controls our hearts and minds. When our minds are stayed on Christ we are kept in perfect peace (Isa.26:3). As a result we have peace with one another. We are kept in a state of peacefulness through prayer. We can commit our cares and concerns to Christ (1 Peter 5:7) and trust Him to care. We have true security through perfect peace. Peacefulness is developed through prayer and it is maintained through prayer.
C. Perfect Peace Depends Upon Christ
This peace that exceeds all understanding depends upon the proper association with Christ, The Prince of Peace. He produced peace through the blood of His cross (Col.1:20; Eph.2:15-17) and proclaimed peace. Through relationship with Christ peace is possible. Without Him there can be no peace! We experience peace with The God when we come to Him through faith in Christ. We experience the perfect peace of The God through yielding to His control and by praying about everything with thanksgiving. Thus we develop an attitude of peacefulness through prayer which is manifested in sweet reasonableness toward all men.
The need for peacefulness among the Philippians was accented by the differences which prevailed between Euodia and Syntyche. In addition there were enemies that threatened them in the midst of a hostile world which emphasized the need for peacefulness.
Paul presented three steps to perfect peace. He repeatedly emphasized the imperative to rejoice in The Lord always as step one. We are to express the fulness of joy in our hearts. Step two is to demonstrate yieldedness or sweet reasonableness by a readiness to forgive others to act charitably toward the faults of others, and to be merciful in judging the failings of others. By looking at the offences of others and disturbing aggravations as under the control of Christ and permitted by Him, our yieldedness will be manifest. By realizing and living consciously aware of the nearness of The Lord and His coming, we will be motivated to demonstrate this sweet reasonableness. Step three is to pray with thanksgiving. This involves three aspects in relation to prayer: (1) Be anxious over nothing! (2) Pray about everything! And (3) give thanks for anything!
There is true security in Christ through The God’s perfect peace which surpasses all understanding (thoughts, reasonings, and questionings). This perfect peace defies description and disturbance of guilt and concern. There is peacefulness of heart and mind free from guilt and care. This perfect peace depends upon association with Christ. Through yielding to His control and by praying about everything with thanksgiving we enjoy peacefulness. By taking these three simple steps outlined by Paul you can have peacefulness through prayer. Rejoice continually in The Lord always, demonstrate yieldedness in your life daily to everyone, and pray about everything with thanksgiving and without anxiety. You must determine if you will avail yourself of this perfect peace of The God or not. The choice is yours! You know your need. Our lesson has disclosed the blessed provision of our Lord Jesus Christ and the benefits available.
Who will take the steps to perfect peace? Who will manifest peacefulness? Who will benefit by prayer with thanksgiving? What choice will you make now to determine whether you will have The God’s perfect peace or turmoil and perpetual disturbance through the remainder of your life?
Now consider the practical meaning of this lesson.
1. What attitude in regard to interpersonal church relationships was needed in Philippi and is needed among church members today?
2. Why was there a need for an attitude of peacefulness through prayer in the local church at Philippi?
3. Why is there a need for an attitude of peacefulness through prayer in the world today?
4. What is required in order to develop this attitude of peacefulness?
5. How does prayer with thanksgiving produce peacefulness?
6. How does The God’s perfect peace defy disturbance?
7. How can you develop an attitude of peacefulness through prayer?
What will you do to meet the need for peacefulness in the world today?
What steps will you take to develop an attitude of peacefulness?
To what extent will you go to reflect such an attitude of peacefulness through prayer?
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