Peace in Our Times
- Tuesday, August 10, 2010
We live in the worst of times. At least in our lifetime, these times are the worst we have faced. Never has the world been so dangerous. Never has the economy been so disastrous. Never has the future appeared so treacherous. So what will the worst of times mean for us? Will it bring the worst out of us? Or will it bring the best out of us?
The choice is ours. If it brings the worst out of us, it will make us fear driven, anxiety ridden, anger bidden. But if it brings the best out of us, it will make us peaceful beyond comprehension. As I said, the choice is ours.
Many things create anxiety in us:
the spiritual needs of our adult children;
the lack of direction in our adult children;
the frightening direction of our government;
the confusing direction of our economy as we enter the unchartered territory of bailouts and banks that have proven the economists don't know what they're doing.
And all of this on top of our normal anxieties.
So what do we do with Paul's exhortation that we must not be anxious about anything? How can we not be anxious when there are so many things going to be anxious about?
Let's look at Philippians 4:6-7 to see what he could possibly mean. As always, these verses have a context; in fact they have both a far and near context, something that is true in all biblical passages. The near context begins in Phil. 4:1 and it starts with a reference to the far context, found not so far away in Phil. 3, perhaps the most comprehensive summary of the Christian life anywhere in the Bible.
Philippians 3 gives us five major realities that lie at the heart of the Christian life.
1. Security: "rejoice in the Lord, (Phil.3:1)," i.e., find your strength and your security (that's what rejoice/joy mean in the Bible—a sense of strength, security, and stability) in the Lord.
Don't look to yourself for security and stability; look to the Lord and count on Him for these core life realities.
Time out questions:
How do you look to yourself for your security and stability?
How do you depend on yourself to provide this for you?
If you are depending on yourself for this, do you realize you are taking God's place in your life and replacing Him with you?
How good a trade is that?
What can you do to cancel that trade?
2. Dependency: "worship in the Spirit (Phil.3:3)." Worship in this passage does not speak of prayer and praise as much as it does our daily lifestyle. In our daily lifestyle we consciously depend on the Spirit—this is what the filling of the Spirit and walking by the Spirit are all about.
Time out questions:
So what is your walk with the Spirit like?
How do you consciously turn to Him for strength and wisdom in your life day-by-day?
In what ways is your day one of dependency on the Spirit?
3. Identity: "no confidence in the flesh (Phil.3:4-6)." With Paul we have turned from all the benefits of the flesh, from drawing our significance from where we went to university, from our degrees, from our accomplishments, from our network, and traded that in for something better. Of course we use our education, benefit from our accomplishments, and build through our network, but these are no longer the things that define us. We turn from these things even as Paul did.
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