“Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The LORD is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
As the Apostle Paul concludes his letter to the Philippians he must draw their attention back to the circumstances that they are facing. The Church in Philippi is a Macedonian Church. When Paul writes to the Corinthians, seeking to encourage them in the ministry of giving that they have been committed to, he makes reference to the Macedonians. He writes in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, “We want you to know brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the Churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favour of taking part in the relief of the Saints – and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the LORD and then by the will of God to us.” The Philippians were a Church that knew trials and affliction. This is why Paul’s concluding thoughts in his letter to them are of such great help to us in our present circumstances.
Paul calls us to real rejoicing in the LORD in our present circumstances. Notice that we are not called to rejoice in our circumstances. We are called to rejoice in the LORD. Our circumstances are a call to real Godly living, which is always the work of the Spirit of God in us. At its heart this Godly living is to be centred upon the LORD Jesus Christ.
Such a life is always lived by faith. And it is characterized by a gentle, loving care for one another. Even now, especially now, we must be caring for one another. The reason for this caring is because the LORD is near. In times of testing we can be confident that He draws near to comfort us.
Again Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians 1:3-6. “Blessed be the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.”
What Paul calls us to is a gentle and compassionate life of faith where we deal prayerfully with the trials which make us anxious. This includes the one which we currently find ourselves facing. God’s people always cry out to Him in prayer. As we live this way we find ourselves guarded by the peace of God. Faith, hope, joy and love are maintained as we cry out to God.
Paul goes a couple of steps further here. He calls us to godly, Biblical thinking and to a life of Christian discipleship. Biblical thinking and living are crucial. Right now we are confined to our homes and as a result we have the opportunity to spend time in the reading of the Bible, and good Christian books that will stimulate us to wholesome, Biblical thinking.
I am praying that during this time you are being blessed by God as you trust Him in faith.