Saturday, December 02, 2006

Saturday Sermon: The Way of Peace

Philippians 4:2-9

We are in a war with sin, self, Satan and situations, but we can have peace in conflict, chaos and calamity – 2 Corinthians 13:11 / John 14:27, 16:33 / Romans 5:1, 15:13, 12:18 / Hebrews 12:14.

Vs.2-3I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

This is what to do with quarrels in the church. Verses 1-4 say “stand firm thus in the Lord”, “agree in the Lord”, “help…me in the gospel”, and “rejoice in the Lord”. Start with the bottom line – we love Christ, we love each other, and we want to further God’s kingdom with the gospel. We must remember that everything else is less important than that common ground. We may disagree on how we do some things, but we start by agreeing that we want these things.

We may not be happy because we are not on the same page with someone, but we can have joy because we are at least in the same book, and all we have to do is turn some pages together, and with the help of others we can be seeing things the same way again. Also remember Philippians 3:15-17, lets make sure we are pressing on to maturity by knowing we are not perfected yet, by forgetting what was behind that we did wrong, by striving to learn more, by following the lead of others whom are our mentors, by doing what we know to do already, and by realizing those whom are mature in this way will be led by the Lord to discover and discern what is right.

These ladies weren’t heretics or apostates they were true believers, “whose names are in the book of life”. Even true believers can have disagreements. We can disagree vigorously without dividing. Do we trust God in the context of community? Disputes are inevitable, and are often necessary in order to iron our error, but how we handle, or process them is the key to whether we stay of the same mind or we split. The “same mind” (KJV) means toward the same goal, that of unity in verity, fellowship around the truth in Christ not the truth from self.

Vs. 4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Now Paul continues on with some practical application. The first bit here is to think about Christ, let those whom are in disagreement with each other agree about the worth of Christ together. Philippians 1:4, 1:18, 1:25, 2:2, 2:16, 2:17, 2:18, 2:28, 3:1, 3:3, 4:1, 4:4 – joy. Paul’s joy wasn’t based in a sunny optimism or positive mental attitude as much as it was the confidence that God was in control. It really was a joy in the Lord (1:6 / 2:13 / 3:14 / 4:13). Remember this about rejoicing “in the Lord”, rejoicing is not about a spirit or an attitude but about rejoicing in Christ Himself, that is the key. Not in situations or circumstances but in the person of Jesus Christ. Not a “way” of rejoicing but a “who” of rejoicing.

Vs.5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;

Paul is saying use mercy as another means to help with disputes and to foster joy in the community (James 3:14-18). It is putting others before you, recognizing Jesus as present within the community to help in this matter. This describes a person who is free to let go of anxieties and all the things that cause stress, because they know that the Lord will take up the cause. This has to be cultivated, be known to everyone, not just those whom we are in essential agreement with, such as Christians, but also those who we are not in agreement with at all. We will not be able to turn the switch on and off; it is a lifestyle as much as a choice. Even outside the context of the Christian community we must allow the Lord to fight our battles for us without us becoming like the world in bitterness, malice, and evil plotting. James 5:8-9 – the Lord is always a moment closer to coming back than He was a moment ago (Romans 13:11).

Vs.6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

We have concerns, objectives, wants and needs, but what we are commanded not to have is worries. Prayer is an important way to overcoming obstacles, in that Gods answer prayer, and through it He also reveals what the obstacles are, we see the problems within ourselves that we can handle and we gain perspective on those things we have no control of, and we ask God to control them or to give us wisdom in how to deal with them. Prayer is a word that can mean all of our communication with God, but supplication directly asks God to do something. If you will request, He will reveal (A-S-K – Matthew 7:7-8). Pray for peace and agreement in the fellowship, even when it’s going good.

With thanksgiving – Thank Him for what you have before you ask Him for what you need. Thank Him for the bottom line, the work of Jesus Christ for our salvation. Thank Him that He started it and He will finish it, that He is working in us to do and to will and that He gives us strength to endure all things that we may be going through right now and in the future. We are going to make it, and we need to always come back to this as our bottom line as to why we can give thanks at all an in all, accepting whatever God may have for us to do or for us to go through.

Tell God what you have done wrong before you ask Him to make it right. In this situation like Paul was describing with the two ladies and in any situation we might face we need to acknowledge the fact that we have split opinions and that we are not fully mature yet and that we need help to come together. We understand that we are together but we need the Lord to bring us to unity in verity. We have done wrong, not necessarily with willful malice, but the fact that we don’t see eye-to-eye means we are wounded in some way and we need God to heal us. We give thanks knowing that He can and He will act if we will act in accordance with the bottom line.

Vs.7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Getting the peace – If we do these things this will be the result, God will provide, guide, protect and direct us to peace with one another, and He will make us of the same mind (set). It will be beyond human comprehension. We cannot understand it but we can experience it. It comes to us most clearly and powerfully, not in individual situations, but rather within the context of Christian community, as Paul is explaining here (Colossians 3:12-16). Relate this to what Jesus said about His peace and unity with God the Father, Son, and Spirit in John chapters 14-17.

The peace happens when you do these other things together. This is the process of joy and peace, the kingdom of God (Romans 14:17-19); it is not arguing incessantly about meat, drink, or anything else, it is a clear understanding of Christ working among you. It comes through our unity in community working through our diversity. This same mind, this mindset, will be the same one Christ had when He came to earth, the same one He has now, and the same one He wants us to have, and prayed for us to have. Peace and joy are linked, they are both facets of the fruit of the Spirit, out of our love for the Lord and for each other these things begin to flow. They lead to longsuffering, and on down the line to number nine, self control.

Vs.8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Keeping the peace means keeping your mind set on the right things – Romans 8:6 / Isaiah 26:3

Vs.9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Not just the peace of God, but the God of peace. He brings His peace into the situation and as we and as you continue to walk in that His presence becomes more manifest in our presence. This is beyond peace for the moment or in the situation, it is peace as a continuous manifestation. You will become like the Prince of Peace if you follow the Way of peace. Amen.

Here is a poem I wrote to review all the points I just made

Peace happens when we agree; Peace is the way we should be
Peace banks on the bottom line; Peace, salvation yours and mine
Peace is willing to be wrong; Peace is knowing God is strong
Peace rejoices in the Lord; Peace with worship as its sword
Peace knows mercy is a friend; Peace doesn’t look to offend
Peace happens when we’re at prayer; Peace is what God gives us there
Peace will keep your mind set right; Peace will see God win the fight
Peace in the midst of chaos, Peace in the midst of sorrow
Peace doesn’t focus on loss, Peace sees gain for tomorrow

It is the same Way of Peace for chaos and calamity as it is for conflict

Realizing the bottom line (vs.2-3)
Relating to one another as peace agents (vs.2-3)
Rejoicing in the Lord (vs.4)
Readying yourself to show mercy to all (vs.5)
Realizing the Lord is at hand (vs.5)
Requesting God’s help with thanksgiving and not worry (vs.6)
Reaping the peace you have sown (vs.7)
Renewing your mind around this truth and these actions (vs.8)
Resting in the God of peace as He is with you (vs.9)

Are you at peace with God? You can have peace with God, and a peace that passes all understanding, even in the most difficult of times. Surrender to the Prince of Peace today.


David said...

If your church members read the Saturday sermon, do they get to skip church on Sunday? Just curious. That could be a new seeker-sensitive angle.

Even So... said...

Not this one, I gave it a few weeks ago...However, upon further review, maybe that is why we seem to be missing half of them every week....