The God Of Peace

 

 

 

 

SCRIPTURE TEXT: Philippians 4:8-9, NLT

 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

INTRODUCTION

As we pointed out in our last message, we have peace with God on the basis of the blood of Christ (Romans 5:1–Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.) This is PEACE WITH GOD but Paul is talking about the PEACE OF GOD and the GOD OF PEACE in Philippians 4. Peace with God is our spiritual status or standing. It is where we are in relationship to God. The peace of God is our inner attitude or mindset. Peace with God is relates to our regeneration which is like a birth, a once in a life time event. The Peace of God is a sanctification issue. It is something we work on daily and it can be a struggle.

Paul gives us some encouragement in 2 Corinthians 10…The truth is that, although of course we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level. The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare but powerful in God’s warfare for the destruction of the enemy’s strongholds. Our battle is to bring down every deceptive fantasy and every imposing defense that men erect against the true knowledge of God. We even fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ. 

You might call this “The battle for the mind.” If you read Philippians 4 closely, you will discover that they theme is the “Peace of God.” W.W. Wiersbe says that James 4 is the war chapter and Philippians 4 is the peace chapter. What Paul is saying in verses 8-9 is that we have to win the war for control of the mind to have peace. Our success in this battle for the mind depends on the level of our commitment to obey and follow Paul’s example.

[1] FIRST OF ALL: WE MUST FIX OUR THOUGHTS

The NIV says “Think about such things,” the NASB reads “Dwell on these things.” The same principle is found in Isaiah 26:3–You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Thoughts are invisible. They are a product of the soul. They cannot be seen with any X-ray or modern technology but only a fool would deny that thoughts are real. Now let’s be honest: [1] You do not say or articulate everything you think. They are thoughts that go through your mind that you never mention aloud. So not all thoughts are expressed. [2] All thoughts do not become actions. You do not articulate every thought and you do not incarnate every thought. So this idea that a “Thought” is prophecy is false. Martin Luther said, “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head or even landing in your hair but you don’t let it build a nest.” The danger in the thought process is to become obsessed with the wrong thoughts. When the bird builds a nest in the hair, we are looking at serious problems.

William Barclay said, “It is a law of life that, if a man things of something often enough and long enough, he will come to the stage when he cannot think about anything else. He thoughts have carved a rut in his mind and he cannot get out of the rut. If you were raised on a farm like myself, you know that the old wagons created ruts in the wet weather. If you were to get your wagon in a frozen rut, you would have a hard time getting it out. I did not say impossible. The natural thing to do in run in the rut and that is what we do in our thinking. We have to be careful about the ruts we make.

God has given us some amazing help: Romans 12:2 states… Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. {NIV} I also like the way the NLT states this truth…Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

[2] THE NEXT STEP IS TO PRACTICE THINKING

We do physical exercise, why can’t we do mental exercises? This is why it is good for us to do cross word puzzles, etc. as we grow older. Literally, our brain will get rusty if we don’t use it but using it is not enough, we have to discipline ourselves to think about the right things. We have to practice thinking about the right things. Since we are thinking during most of our waking hours, we need to practice thinking about the right things.

Charlie Thompson sent me some things for the DIGEST today and one read like this… Just for today, I will improve my mind. I will learn something new, something useful. I will read something that stimulates my mind; something that requires me to think, to focus, to concentrate.

Our thoughts are influenced greatly by what we see, read and hear. Psalms 101:3 reads, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.” The NIV reads “vile” and the NLT reads “Vile or Vulgar”. Read good books beginning with the Bible. Watch good programs. Listen to good music. You are kidding yourself if you think you can feed on the vile and vulgar and maintain pure thoughts.

To help us, Paul gives us a list of things to think about:

  1. Things that are TRUE. The Greek word means things that are, things that exist. In other words ‘Reality.’ It is not surprising that Paul would start with truth. Jesus said in John 8:44-45…For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! Believing lies cannot only lead to heresy, it can lead to doubt, depression and deep anxiety. Just a few weeks back, I was called to make a visit and I was given false information about the situation. I worried and prayed all the way to the man’s house [10 mile drive] but when I got there, the situation was nothing like I expected. I realized within minutes that I had assumed that the info was true and it was not. {The Brian Williams thing is no surprise to me. The media does not deal in truth. The modern media is a propaganda machine. They would not know truth if it bit them on the neck}
  2. Things that are HONORABLE. The Greek word literally means to be venerated for character, honourable. It is referring to something or someone who we revere, respect, possible give reverence to. Matthew Arnold translates the word “Nobly Serious.” Barclay thinks the word “Dignity” is a good fit. He says it referred to something that is not flippant or cheap. Our word to-day would be “Not trivial,” but things that are serious. {I think Jacob and Esau are perfect examples: Jacob had a serious mind while Esau never entertained a serious thought. To Esau, life was one big party…he thought about a bowl, beer, burger, broad…He was a hedonist. Pleasure drove him.
  3. Things that are RIGHT. The Greek word can be translated upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God. There are those who set their minds on entertainment and pleasure but this refers to the person who is committed to do his duty, to do what is right. You have to admire a person who does what is right in spite of personal loss.
  4. Things that are PURE. I have looked at 20 translations and the one word they all agree on is ‘Pure.’ This world means morally pure, undefiled, ceremonial clean and fit to be in the presence of God. Not sordid, shabby, soiled or smutty. We have no chance of be pure in heart, or pure-minded when we think on things that are sordid and smutty.
  5. Things that are LOVELY. Moffatt translates it attractive. Barclay says winsome. Blue Letter Bible says the Greek word means acceptable or pleasing. It is not a reference to a lovely woman, not in the sense of physical beauty. The true sense of the word is things that endear love. Things that cause us to love. Things that encourage us to love. Antonyms would be vengeance, fear, hate, bitterness. Those who minds are set on criticism breed resentment whereas those who minds are set on LOVELY things produce kindness, sympathy, forbearance, patience and all these foster love.
  6. Things that are ADMIRABLE. Moffatt translates this high-toned and he is not referring to pitch but to things that lift a person up. Things that encourage and exalt. It is not flattery but honest praise that has a view of future success. The RSV translates it ‘gracious.’ Again, antonyms would be…harsh or ugly words, discouraging words, dirty or impure words.
  7. Things that are EXCELLENT. Some translate it virtue but most go with excellence. It could be translated virtue, moral goodness, any particular moral excellence such as modesty and purity. The word could be used of persons, animals or things. An excellent piece of property, an excellent horse, etc. Think on the highest, noblest things.
  8. Things that are WORTHY OF PRAISE.  A good word would be commendable. There are some things in all of us that do not need to be encouraged but there are some commendable things….Think on these. It takes more effort to think about things worthy of praise than things worthy of criticism. Criticism is natural, it takes no effort but we have to think hard, long and soberly to praise. We think it is wrong to praise men but actually the right kind of praise is encouraging.

[3] PRACTICE MAY NOT MAKE US PERFECT BUT IT WILL PRODUCE PEACE.

Philippians 4:9–Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. {NLT}

J.B. Philips–Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will be with you.

Barclay says: There are tragically few preachers and teachers who can speak like Paul. Most of us are afraid to set ourselves up an an example to follow but it is true that “Personal Example” in a fundamental part of teaching. A teacher most demonstrate the doctrine he or she professes. If I teach you to tithe but I myself do not: there is such gross hypocrisy that I lose all credibility.

Paul believed in the God of peace and he uses this term twice in Romans, also in I Thessalonians and I Corinthians. It is also found in Hebrews 10:23 which is one more reason I believe Paul had something to do with Hebrews. Paul taught the Philippians that if they were faithful to practice the presence of God and the things above, they would surely experience the PEACE OF GOD.

Isaiah 32: 16-18–Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace.

F.W. Faber

For right is right, since Yahweh is God,

And right the day must win.

To would be disloyalty,

To falter would be sin.

To the Jew, peace was paramount and bound up in a relationship. Moses and Abraham were friends of God. Only the God of peace can enable us to live life at it’s highest level which Jesus referred to as “Abundant Life.” It all depends on how much time we spend on our relationship; in His word and on our knees.

The battle for the mind is just that, it is a battle. Most battles involve a struggle and take time. When George Washington entered the picture he told the Adam boys…”War is inevitable and necessary but I warn you, It will not be easy and it will last a long, long time.” Their are no quick fixes, no easy battles in the CHRISTIAN LIFE. But if we don’t control our minds, our minds will control us. I am sorry to say, at least from the male point of view, that time alone is no ally. We have to work had in the renewal process. As we grow older, we must spend more and more time in the word of God. Mildred Stephenson lived to be 100 and she spend at least 4 hours a day in the word of God. Mrs. Ona Holladay is 99 and she spends hours in the word. She read other books until a year or so ago and now it is all bible.

 

Advertisements