I know  you join me in looking forward to a “normal” holiday season next year!  For now, be wise, stay safe, and love each other from a distance.  Yvonne and I have three children who are all having their first experience preparing  Thanksgiving turkey in their own homes.  We miss them and their families very much.  I also miss being with my mother, my father, and my sister and brother-in-law.  I thank the Lord for things like Facetime!

Today, we look at the final chapter in Paul’s letter to the church at Philippians.   In particular, we are looking at 4:4-13, but take a moment now to read the entire fourth chapter.  Now, let’s look at the focal verses of 4-13.  As Paul wraps up his letter, he offers some concluding words of guidance and encouragement that we should all take to heart today.  Remember, these words, while written by Paul, are words from the Lord to believers like you and me.  Let’s look at some of these key words.

REJOICE! (v.4).  Paul repeats it twice.  this is an incredible word for a man writing from prison.  Everything that follows in this chapter is a reason why we should rejoice.  He doesn’t say we should rejoice because everything is going great.  Instead, he says we should rejoice no matter what is going on.  We all need to hear this word form the Lord during these times.  Rejoice!

DON’T WORRY! (v.6).  Instead of worrying about everything, replace worry with prayer!  Talk to your Heavenly Father about the things that make you anxious.  He cares for you!  Trust Him!  Relax into His arms.  That is a very safe place to be.  (Check out 1 Peter 5:7).

PEACE! (v.7).  When we let go of anxiety and worry, we receive the peace of God.  Paul says it surpasses all comprehension.  trusting the Lord gives us a peace that makes no sense to the world.  Jesus considered peace one of the greatest gifts He could give us.  Take a moment to read John 14.  Read the whole chapter and then re-read Phil. 4:7.  Paul then says this peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  “Guard” was a word used to refer to an umpire or referee in a sporting event.   It was the person who kept the contestants from getting out of control. The peace of Christ is the referee who keeps all those things that worry you under control.  The source of worry does not go away.  The peace that comes from trusting the Lord keeps them in proper perspective.  In other words, the peace of Christ doesn’t let them run your life.  Peace!

FOCUS! (v. 8).  Paul sums it all up by reminding us to focus on the things that matter.  Focus on good and positive things rather than on all the negative elements of this world that shout for our attention.  This may require less time focusing on news, politics, and especially social media.  Focus on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.  Let you mind dwell on these things.  Focus!!

RESULT! (v.9).  Do these things and the result will be that the God of peace will be with you.  That’s a promise from the Lord!

Finally, Paul then describes how this looks in his own life.  He sets the example as he writes from prison.  In verses 10-13, Paul tells us that he practices what he preaches.  In verse 10, he REJOICES. In verse 11, HE DOESN’T LET WORRY run his life.  In verses 11-12,  he describes the PEACE he has.  He is content in every circumstance.  In verse 13, he is FOCUSED on Jesus, who makes all things possible!

So, brothers and sisters, in these uncertain times, return to Philippians 4 as often as you need to and the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!