Tuesday, January 3, 2017

“Prerequisites of Peace” Part 6 - “The Peace of God, Which Passeth All Understanding"

"Prerequisites of Peace"

Part 6 - "The Peace of God, Which Passeth All Understanding"

    "Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). 

   The prerequisites, as taught by the Apostle Paul:

1.  The determination to not be governed by fear.
2.  Prayerful fellowship with God.
3.  Supplication, or humbly acknowledging our need for His help.
4.  Thanksgiving.
5.  Specific offering of requests for God's help.

   Peace that passes understanding clearly references a tranquility of heart as known in the difficult times of life.  Tranquility in our triumphs can be understood.  However, the Apostle Paul's teaching concerns our experience of peace when it seems our hearts should not be at rest.  "I will be with him in trouble" promised our Lord to born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ (Psalm 91:15).  The promise includes the realized peace of the Prince of peace.  "The Lord will bless His people with peace" (Psalm 29:11).

   Such truth constitutes a blessed assurance, but also great challenge.  As previously considered, our Heavenly Father guarantees peace to those who fulfill the prerequisites as set forth in the passage we consider - "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  A heart without rest reveals our failure to properly respond to our Lord's bedrock assurance.  The matter lies not with Him.  God has done and is doing everything necessary to lead us beside the still waters of His presence.  "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3).  The matter lies with us.  Through the Spirit of Christ, believers are more than equipped to know the Lord's peace in any and every circumstance.  We may not always do so, but we always can do so.  Thus, an unrestful heart results not from the absence of God's presence and working to still our hearts.  Nor does the nature or extent of our difficulty determine whether not we know His peace.  Have we fulfilled the prerequisites of peace so clearly set forth by the Spirit of God and the Word of God?  This is the question we must rightly answer if we are to walk in consistent peace that glorifies the Christ who gave so much to bless our hearts with His heart-securing salvation and presence.

    Recall Paul and Silas, beaten and imprisoned in the very venue, Phillipi, to which Paul later wrote the words we consider.  "At midnight, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God" (Acts 16:25).  How was this possible?  These men of God had lost their freedom, the skin of their backs, and seemingly, their capacity to minister the Gospel.  How did they so clearly know the Lord's peace, to the degree they not only prayed, but sang?  The answer lies first and foremost in their faithful God, who met them in their trial as "a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).  However, the experience of peace also required Paul and Silas to respond to God's promise, presence, and provision.  They clearly did so by the leading and enabling of the Holy Spirit.  These prayerful men determined to not be governed by fear.  They sought the Lord in their pain and prison.  They recognized their complete dependence on Him.  They gave thanks, in the form not only of prayer, but with songs of praise.  They made specific requests for God's working on behalf of His glory, and their need.  An earthquake ensued, with subsequent deliverance, comfort, and restoration to freedom.  These were miracles.  However, the greatest miracle involved our battered brothers' capacity to know God's peace before the outward display of their Lord's earthshaking and prison destroying power.  "Glorify ye the Lord in the fires" (Isaiah 24:15).

   We must believe that peace is always possible.  We base our confidence completely on our Lord.  However, we also recognize that we must respond to His faithfulness by exercising our Christ-enabled capacity for faith.  God's presence and help grace us in every challenge, as do the prerequisites of peace that must be fulfilled if our hearts are to know our Lord's keeping.  The prophets and apostles of both Old Testament and New declared such truth, and we close with Isaiah's promise and challenge….

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee."
(Isaiah 26:3)

Weekly Memory Verse
     I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
(Psalm 4:8)

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