Summary: This lesson is from the Philippian letter where Paul provides some keys to how we might experience the inward peace that God wants us to have.
Keys to Peace
Text: Philippians 4:6-9
In 1871, tragedy struck Chicago as fire ravaged the city. When it was all over, 300 people were dead and 100,000 were homeless. Horatio Gates Spafford was one of those who tried to help the people of the city get back on their feet. A lawyer who had invested much of his money into the downtown Chicago real estate, he’d lost a great deal to the fire. And his one son (he had four daughters) had died about the same time. Still, for two years Horatio--who was a friend of evangelist Dwight Moody--assisted those devastated by the fire.
After about two years of such work, Horatio and his family decided to take a vacation. They were to go to England to join Moody and Ira Sankey on an evangelistic crusade, and then travel in Europe. Horatio was delayed by some business, but sent his wife and four daughters on ahead, planning to catch up to them in England.
The ladies set sail without Horatio but their ship never made it to England. Off Newfoundland, it collided with an English sailing ship and sank within 20 minutes. Horatio’s wife, Ana, was one of only 47 survivors among hundreds but their four daughters were lost. The telegram sent to Horatio from his wife was only two words long: “saved alone.”
Horatio boarded the next available ship to join his grieving wife, and the two finally met up with Dwight Moody. “It is well,” Spafford told him quietly. “The will of God be done.”
Though reports vary as to when he did so, it was during this time that Horatio penned the words that would become the hymn - “It Is Well with My Soul.”
This morning we are going to take a lesson from the Philippian letter where Paul provides some keys to how we might experience the inward peace that God wants us to have. As we review them, note the imperative tenor in the verses; they are instructions not just suggestions.
I. Be Anxious for Nothing
A. Paul begins by saying: “Be anxious for nothing.” V6
1) That is quite a statement. We are not to have anxiety.
a. We are not addressing those natural concerns which all of us face in life when things are not going right, such as when someone is ill, or absent, or in danger.
b. What we are talking about is Worry involving undue concern over something in life which leads to a state of restlessness and agitation, producing mental disturbance, uneasiness, foreboding, and painful uncertainty.
c. Worry and fear can do much harm. Not only has it been proven that it is destructive to our physical health (being a large contributor to heart disease, weakening of the immune system, gastro-intestinal diseases, migraines, ulcers, high blood pressure, etc.), it is very destructive spiritually.
2) What benefits come from worrying? From being fretful? From being afraid? Absolutely nothing.
a. Our worrying, our being fretful, our being fearful does not improve our circumstances in any manner. We can worry and fret but it will not bring about any positive changes in our situation.
b. Jesus made this point in Luke 12:25-26.
3) What is the Lord saying? Worry and fear cannot bring-about any positive change and that we should put our trust in the Lord.
• Why? When we worry and fret - we lose sight of the Lord and His providential working;
• we lose focus on the Lord and His revealed Will and we are tempted to handle our situations with worldly wisdom and fleshly strength;
• we lose focus and try to correct the external circumstances when, perhaps, our circumstances were meant by the Lord to correct our inner-self;
• we lose sight of the Lord’s goodness and our blessings and we are tempted to become negative and ungrateful;
• we take our eyes off the One Who is the only source of true and lasting peace.
B. Paul tells us that “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” V7
a. The peace of God can act like a soldier on guard to protect our heart and mind. It will not allow anxiety and fear to sneak back in.
a. The peace of God is stronger than the worry and fear of the flesh. Just as God is greater than our situations and circumstances so is God’s peace greater than our inward worries and fears.
b. We can experience perfect inward peace and tranquility in the midst of the most trying circumstances and severe tribulations. This does not seem possible nor rational. But, that is why Paul says that “the peace of God… surpasses all comprehension.”
c. Jesus said, in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”