Summary: Finding personal peace in a time of war.
14 Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.
16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem, "Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.
17 The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
18 "The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you; they are a burden and a reproach to you.
19 At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame.
20 At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes," says the LORD.
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.
In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah says there come times when people say “Peace, peace, but there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14)
There certainly is no peace in our world today.
And I don’t know anyone who feels at peace.
We feel fear.
We are afraid for the young people who are fighting in a war.
We are afraid of the future of our nation.
We are afraid for where our nation and world are headed.
We are afraid of terrorist attacks here at home.
The Terrorist Alert has been elevated to Orange – and the last time that happened many people bought duct tape and plastic sheets to cover their windows.
This week, we invaded Iraq. Once that war is settled, we still have to deal with the people who attacked us September 11th. Al Quada is still out there, at large and still a threat. On the horizon, there are other threats to peace – North Korea is just one.
Jesus warned us in Matthew’s Gospel (24:6) that we would “hear of wars and rumors of wars.”
We are certainly seeing such a time in this present age.
And violence is not just overseas – it is here.
The Terror Threat has been elevated to Orange. We scurry about getting duct tape and plastic sheets for our windows.
And it is not just foreign terrorists. We are surrounded by violence everywhere.
Elizabeth Smart came home safe, but we should not forget she was abducted and held against her will for months.
Just a few months ago, snipers were killing innocent people in Maryland and Virginia.
In our own lives there is domestic violence. The threat of home invasions.
Add to that the economy, the gas prices, the uncertainty of jobs and layoffs.
If you are not afraid, you must certainly feel some anxiety about these times.
How do Christians survive such times?
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, writes about peace. He gives a wonderful benediction to the readers of his letter in which he says that the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.”
In this benediction of Peace, Paul tells us how we can experience peace in our lives.
The first step is to have a positive attitude.
Paul says in verse 4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
I’m not talking about putting your head in the sand and ignoring the troubles around you. I’m talking about having a realistic, but positive attitude about life.
Someone emailed me with a story this week about a 92 year old woman whose family decided it was time to move her into a nursing home. The family worried about the change, but the woman took on a positive attitude. On the long drive, the family began to talk positively about the nursing home, talking about wonderful staff, the nice view, the good food. Finally the woman declared, “I love it.”