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The Secret of Peace - 2

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1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! 2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, 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. 9 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.

Again, the point of this passage is the peace of God and the presence of the God of peace. There are six steps that we must take to maintain the peace of God in our lives. Last Sunday we dealt with the first four steps. They are:

1. Standing firm (v.1).

2. Unity (v.2-3).

3. Rejoicing continually and repeatedly (v.4).

4. Strong gentleness (v.5).

Today, we will deal with the last two.

5. Prayer (v.6-7)

6. Positive Thinking(v.8-9)

If we fail to take these steps, we grieve the Lord. Unfortunately, when/if we lose our peace with God, several things happen...

• We become self-conscious, and sheepishly shy and guilty, and perhaps discouraged and defeated.

• We become cantankerous, critical, murmuring, grumbling, and divisive.

• We begin to slip back into sin.

The peace we once had with God and man becomes disturbed, and restlessness grips our soul. This restlessness can make us troublemakers or turns us to sin or else it plummets us into despair and defeat. We have failed. This is the importance of this passage: the secret of peace—the peace of God Himself.

I also want to point out two things. I do NOT believe we have this problem. But we have all heard of congregations where this has happened.

The only cause for strife would be if there is a perversion or teaching of false doctrine. Paul spends a great deal of time in his writing dealing with false teachers. He is very precise when he deals with this issue. He says do not allow it to happen.

Introduction:

Let me say again, this passage is speaking to Christian believers, not to unbelievers. Unbelievers do not have peace with God. They reject, question, deny, curse, and oppose God. God feels no peace between Himself and an unbeliever. No matter how mild the unbeliever's questioning and rejection is, it is still questioning and rejection and not peace. But when an unbeliever surrenders his life and accepts God, peace is made between him and God. Peace rules both within and between the person and God. In fact, God causes a flood of peace to surge through the heart and life of the new believer.

The question is this: once we have the peace of God in our lives, how do we maintain that peace? How do we keep the peace of God ruling and reigning within our souls? This is the discussion of this passage: the steps to peace.

1. The first step to peace is standing firm.

Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!

If we want the God of peace, we must do the things which Paul taught and did, and one of the major things he taught was to stand fast in the Lord. If we wish the God of peace, we must stand firm in the Lord.

Scripture exhorts us to stand firm in at least five things:

1) We are to stand firm in the faith.

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.

2) We are to stand firm in the liberty of Christ.

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

3) We are to stand firm in one spirit, striving together for the faith of the gospel.

Philippians 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel

4) We are to stand firm in the Lord which is the secret of peace.

Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!

5) We are to stand firm and hold the teachings or doctrines that have been taught.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

2. The second step to peace is unity.

Philippians 4:2-3

2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Here are three things about this unity:

1) To stand firm in one spirit and in defending the gospel.

Philippians 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel

2) To love each other and be of one accord and mind.

Philippians 2:1-2

1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

3) To esteem others better than our selves.

Philippians 2:3-4

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Mark 10:43-45

43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

3. The third step to peace is that of rejoicing in the Lord.

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

A person is to rejoice always, that is, continually; and then they are to rejoice again, that is, repeatedly.

Remember: Paul is in prison and the church is having a problem with some false teaching. Yet, Paul tells the believers that they are to walk about rejoicing in the Lord. In fact they are to rejoice in the Lord always—no matter the circumstances.

4. The fourth step to peace is gentleness.

Philippians 4:5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

We are to be gentle in dealing with everyone.

Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

And now, the last two: Prayer and Positive Thinking

Philippians 4:6-9

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, 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. 9 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.

This passage discusses two of the most important steps to possessing peace. It tells us how to have and maintain peace. If we do these two things, the peace of God will rule and reign in our hearts and lives.

1. Peace comes through prayer.

This is the point of Scripture. There is an answer to worry and anxiety: the peace of God. God will enable us to conquer worry and anxiety. God will overcome the trials of life for us, no matter how terrible and pressured we may be. God will give us with peace—with the peace of God Himself—a peace so great and so wonderful that it carries us right through the trial.

The point to see is the seriousness of anxiety and worry. Think for a moment about a few of your problems: how anxiety and worry cause us to suffer. This is serious. We all know people who suffer greatly because of anxiety and worry; they simply lack the peace of God. Yet, the charge of Scripture is forceful: be anxious for nothing, not even for a single thing.

Matthew 6:31-33

31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Matthew 7:7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray continually;

A person can experience the peace of God only as he walks and moves about in prayer. Why? Because only God can deliver man through the most severe circumstances and tragedies of life; only God can infuse assurance and security within the human soul. The wonderful promise about the peace of God is twofold.

a. First, the peace of God passes all understanding. It is beyond anything we can ask or think. It surpasses all our imaginations. Think of the most terrible situation you can imagine; then think of the peace you would want as you went through that trial. In actual experience, the peace of God is far greater than anything you could ever imagine or understand.

b. Second, the peace of God keeps our hearts and minds. The words "will guard" come from a military word meaning to garrison, to keep guard and protect. The peace of God is like a most elite soldier who guards and protects the most precious possession of God: the believer's heart and mind.

Note that God can keep us only as we are "in Christ Jesus." We can know the peace of God only if we have trusted Christ as our Lord and Savior and only if we walk in fellowship with Him.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

2. Peace comes through thinking positive.

The word "think" means to consider, reflect, reason, and ponder. The idea is that of focusing our thoughts until they shape our behavior. The truth is:

• what we think is what we become.

• where we have kept our minds is where we are.

• our thoughts shape our behavior.

• we do what we think.

William Barclay says, "...it is a law of life that, if a man thinks of something often enough and long enough, he will come to the stage when he cannot stop thinking about it. His thoughts will be quite literally in a groove out of which he cannot jerk them".

A person who centers his thoughts upon the world and its things will live for the world and its things: money, wealth, lands, property, houses, possessions, position, power, recognition, honor, social standing, fame, and a host of other worldly pursuits.

A mind set upon the world and the flesh is what leads to anxiety and worry, emptiness and restlessness. A worldly mind never knows peace—not true peace, not the peace of God.

The point is this: when a person accepts Jesus Christ, his mind is renewed by the Spirit of God.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer 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.

Ephesians 4:23-24

23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Once we have been converted to Christ and become a new person, we are to focus our thoughts upon the good things of life and upon God. We are to give our minds to positive thinking. In fact, we are to think only positive thoughts. Sinful and negative thoughts disrupt and destroy peace. For this reason, we are to struggle to conquer our minds and thoughts. What we think is so important that God tells us what we are to think.

1) The charge is to think and practice positive thinking.

a. "Whatever is true": real and genuine.

Many things in the world seem to be true, but they are not; they are false and deceptive. They seem to offer peace, but what they offer is a deceptive, counterfeit peace. We are to keep our minds upon things that are true, and we are to live lives that are true to both men and God.

b. "Whatever is honest": honorable, worthy, revered, highly respected, and noble. Barclay says: "The word really describes that which has the dignity of holiness upon it. There are things in this world which are flippant and cheap, things which are attractive to the light-minded; but it is on the things which are grave and serious and dignified that the Christian will set his mind".

c. "Whatever is just": right and righteous behavior. It has to do with right behavior toward man and God.

We are to keep our thoughts upon our duty toward men and God—upon doing what is right toward both. A mind filled with just and righteous thoughts will know peace.

d. "Whatever is pure": morally clean, spotless, stainless, chaste, undefiled, free from moral pollution, filth, dirt, and impurities.

Our mind and thoughts are to be pure.

e. "Whatever is lovely": pleasing, kind, gracious; things that excite love and kindness.

Our thoughts are not to be thoughts of unkindness and meanness, grumbling and murmuring, and criticism. They are to be focused on things that are lovely, that build people up, not tear them down.

f. "Whatever things are of good report": reputable, high-toned, worthy things; things of the highest quality.

We are to think only upon worthy things. We are not to fill our minds with junk; we are not to listen to bad reports. Neither are we to fill our minds with junk, through rumor, radio, television, music, off-colored jokes, or by whatever source. Our thoughts are to be focused only upon worthy things.

g. "If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things." Positive thinking is the answer to peace for the Christian believer.

2) The source or power for positive thinking is twofold.

a. There is the Word of God. Paul says that he had preached and taught the very virtues of positive thinking to the Philippians and that they had learned them. What Paul had preached and taught was the will of God. It is in the Word of God that a person finds the things that are to fill his mind.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

b. There are great examples. Paul says that he lived as a testimony before the Philippians. They could follow his example because he kept his thoughts and life upon the very virtues of positive thinking.

Philippians 3:17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

2 Timothy 1:13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance,

Conclusion:

It is our responsibility to do these things. We are to Pray continually and think always about the things that God has provided. We are to discipline our minds. The result is that the God of peace will be with and in us.

Romans 8:5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer 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.

Ephesians 4:23-24

23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Finally, in all things,

1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray continually;

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