Hi, this is Bill Vanderbush, Pastor at Community Presbyterian Church in Celebration, Florida. You are watching God Today. I love the Bible. Who doesn’t? The reality is, some of it just doesn’t make sense. Even the stuff that makes sense to everybody else sometimes doesn’t make sense to me.
Let me give you an example. I am going to read out of Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding will keep and guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”
Maybe these verses make sense to you, but I am going to point out why they don’t make sense to me. The first one: rejoice in the Lord always. I don’t know about you, but in my life, I have had moments where rejoicing did not seem like the appropriate response. I think we do not rejoice for everything, but we are encouraged to rejoice in everything. The Bible doesn’t say, “for everything give thanks,” it says, “In everything give thanks.”
There is something about joy that actually becomes the appropriate response in the hardest situations. It is in hard situations you need strength. The Bible declares, “the joy of the Lord is your strength”. The other thing you need in hard situations is the presence of the Lord. In the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy. Maybe I get it now. Now, that is how you can rejoice in the Lord always.
It talks about in the next part, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known.” This doesn’t make sense to me for this reason: it would make more sense if they said, “Let your requests be made known. And then, after God performs up to what you think He should do, then you give Him thanks.” If Paul said that it would make more sense to me. My thanksgiving is a reward for somebody’s fulfilling my expectations. But, that is not the way this works. He actually says, “With thanksgiving make your requests known.”
In other words, I am supposed to start with thanksgiving, before He has even done anything. How does that make any sense? Unless maybe I begin to see that He is faithful in everything He does. I am so confident in the victory He has laid out for me, that I can actually give thanks before I have even seen the answer manifest. Now that makes a little bit more sense. If I let gratitude become the soil from which a fruitful life can spring. I know He is going to be faithful in everything.
The last part: the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind. That doesn’t make any sense! My heart and mind are guarded by sticking with what I understand. Right? If I move beyond things I understand then I am unsure, I am uncertain, I do not know what is happening. Yet, the peace of God that passes understanding, that is where it is accessed. When I have given up my right to understand everything that is going on in my life around me, and I simply trust that God understands the things that I don’t – it is in that place of resting in His faithfulness and resting in what He knows that my peace is guarded. My mind is guarded. My heart is even guarded. As a matter of fact, that is the place I stay the freest from any deception at all. That is when I give up my right to understand what is going on around me.
Maybe Paul does actually make some sense. Maybe these words can apply to your life today. Maybe today you are going through a situation where you think joy is not the appropriate response. I release the joy of the Lord over your situation. Maybe you are going through a situation where you don’t understand. Give up your right to understand. Maybe you will find access to the peace that is just beyond that place of understanding. Amen.