“Rejoice In the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which passes all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
Rarely has so much essential wisdom been jammed into such a tiny package. Joy is the dynamite of the soul ignited by the slightest spark of prayer. Peace is the by-product of a prayer life that seeks consistent companionship with The Champion in the line of battle, not the absence of war.
“Rejoice” is a repetitive term, not a one-time experience. Like breathing to the physical lungs, so rejoicing is to the spiritual heart. Without repetition, joy becomes a faint memory in the life of a believer. What was once a living, breathing, vibrant conversation with Jesus fades into dust-covered nostalgia. When the walking dead assemble together they do not express life-giving joy of The Body of Christ, but a death-defying, man-made, rouge-colored corpse. Big difference.
Like a three-strand rope, joy, along with peace and prayer are woven together by those who have come to the end of their own rope. They are not ashamed to admit they have come to the end of themselves, and their own resources. They are relieved to let go, and let God have what they have made. They gently yield to Him to put His handprints all over their lives. The prideful keep making rope, and at the end of it, tie a knot into their man-made rope and hang on. Man-made rope is highly effective at creating a great noose, but it never delivers Good News.
“Rejoice in the Lord always;” Express joy continuously, not intermittently. There is little hope of joy being repeated where prayer is never expressed. The world seeks joy by entertaining themselves, but it is only found in intimacy with Jesus. He is the calmer of storms and the conqueror of death. He can bring calm and confidence in the middle of any crisis. For more joy in your heart, you don’t need more of Jesus. He needs more of you. The prayerful give more of their heart to Jesus.
“Let your gentle spirit be known to all men..” What is in the heart of a joyous person cannot be contained. It will be seen on the faces of those who have it within. Joy, peace and gentleness express the aroma of The Fruit of The Spirit. The gentle are those have been bought, broken, bridled, and brought to good use by The Master. Gentleness is the opposite of rebelliousness, and can be seen on the believer’s face. Gentlemen and gentlewomen face agreeable and disagreeable people with the same face. Whether in crisis or in calm, they are yielded to The Master.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control …” Galatians 5:22-23
“The Lord is near.” Consistent companionship with the Lord Jesus Christ releases the life-giving component of joy with an inward calm and confidence. When recalling past grievances, experiencing current crises, or facing an uncertain future, there is nothing like The Presence of The Spirit of The Risen Christ. Prayer has a way of preparing the ears of a child of God to hear Jesus say, “I am here.”
“Be anxious for nothing…” Paul reveals the sign of the cure prior to providing the remedy for the illness. Prayerless people are anxious people. They come to the end of their rope, but then start making their own rope. When the strands of joy and prayer are not woven into a person’s life, peace is snapped like a thin thread.
“In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Paul leaves no wiggle room for fear and anxiety in the heart of the believer. He doesn’t mince words. “Always”, “nothing”, and “everything,” are clear. There is simply no excuse for prayerlessness. Making excuses for oneself is no satisfying substitute for making requests to God.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,” Intimate, consistent companionship with Jesus releases the peace of God. Peace with God forgives sin. Peace of God restores fellowship. This is not the absent of war, or the end of all conflict. Peace is The Presence of The Spirit of The Risen Christ in the middle of constant crises, and in the face of contentious people. Praying releases peace. Talking about the crisis du jour, or the village idiot only creates more fire-works.
When I was a student, the standardized examinations of the day had a section in the test called “Reading Comprehension.” Test questions followed the reading of a provided text.
Everyone being tested read the same passage. In this sense it was a fair, open book test. All the answers to the questions could be found in the text. The reader who paid attention and recalled the text could answer all the questions accordingly.
The text and the questions and the test were all the same. The reading comprehension was not. Some skimmed the text, and answered the questions quickly. Others watched the clock fearing they would not finish. They raced ahead without reading the text or the questions and just filled in the blanks randomly.
Frantic fear disrupts and delays an adequate apprehension of the text, and a calm and confident comprehension of it. Those who are anxious are rarely in a hurry to be teachable. They just want the test to be over, The gentle are prayerful and focused on the lesson to be learned. They find answers, and they find peace.
“…Will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Prayer releases a profound comprehension of the peace of God,. It stations the prayer warrior right next to The Champion in the heat of the battle. Peace is not the absence of war, but the victory that is found in Jesus. Guarded hearts are prayerful hearts that have taken up the Armor of God, and stand next to The Champion to face the enemy. Prayer puts joy in the heart of the prayer warrior, but it strikes fear in the enemy camp. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!