You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. — Isaiah 26:3
It’s easy on Sunday to sing about rejoicing in the Lord, but when you leave church and the realities of life sink in, it can be hard to find joy and peace. When you focus on what you perceive to be bad or wrong about stressful situations, it’s hard to rejoice because you cannot see God or what God is doing. Only when you shift your focus from your anxiety to think about what is true, noble, right, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy about the situation does God’s peace and joy come flooding in. Only then do you perceive the unseen and catch a glimpse of what God is doing.
Paul writes to the Philippians from a Roman prison cell, and encourages them to “rejoice in the ord always.” In fact Paul lays out a black-and white scenario for the Philippians and for us. He suggests that you can choose to be anxious or you can choose by prayer and thanksgiving to present your requests to God. Paul chose the latter in his life, and in doing so he was able to rise above the tension and conflicts that surrounded him. Paul firmly believed that perfect love casts out fear, and that prayer alleviates anxiety.
Do you find yourself being torn apart as your hopes pull you in one direction while your fears tug you in another direction? Lay your fears at the foot of the cross, and allow the peace of God which transcends all understanding to guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Bring your hopes and dreams to the Lord, rejoicing that he chose you to fulfill these dreams and believes you are worthy to fulfill these dreams.
May your hearts be filled with joy as you boldly, in obedience take the first or next faithful step towards fulfilling your dreams.
Father, we thank you that you have searched us and know us. We thank you that you know our anxious thoughts. Help us to focus our thoughts and energies on what is true, what is noble, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely, what is admirable, what is excellent and praiseworthy.Father, we crave your peace and joy. Help us to live our lives unruffled by the storms swirling around us. Amen
HABAKKUK 3:17–18 (NIV)
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
PHILIPPIANS 4:4–9 (NIV)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.