In today’s reading, the apostle Paul extols the Philippians to show their gentleness to all people. He also encourages them in their discipline of prayer. Their prayers, supplications, and requests should be directed to God, Paul tells them. Only God can respond to our prayers, and we can trust that God knows us completely and knows what is best for us in all situations.
This passage also talks about the peace of God, a peace which is beyond all human understanding. It is God’s peace that will guard the hearts and minds of Philippians through Christ Jesus. Is there anything more desirable for a guarding presence than the peace—the shalom—of God?
God’s peace is different from the way most of us typically think of peace, which often tends to be merely about the absence of war or hostilities. This way of thinking represents only a very narrow definition of peace. But in Ephesians 2:14 we learn that Christ Jesus is our peace. That means that the presence of Jesus Christ in the world is breaking down the dividing walls of hostility among people, creating a new humanity, and bringing harmony among different tribes and ethnicities. God’s faithful love acts for peace in our world.
Let us trust in Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace in whatever situation we may face in our lives today and in the days to come. And let us trust him not only to give us the peace which passes understanding but also to teach us the best ways to work for peace in our world.
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, you are the source of peace in the world. Give me peace in my heart this day, that I may be able to share it with others. Amen.
Reviewing the scripture passages for this week, the hymn title “Rejoice, Give Thanks and Sing” might come to mind. The writers of this week’s texts advise us to do all these things. At this time of year, these responses often seem to come naturally for many of us. The prophet Zephaniah exhorts his audience to sing aloud and rejoice. The prophet Isaiah calls on the people of Judah to “give thanks to the Lord.” In the letter to the Philippians, Paul advises his audience to “rejoice in the Lord always.” The tone of the Luke passage for this week is more somber; through the words of John the Baptist, Luke challenges his audience to maintain right relationships with God and humanity. Taken together, these passages provide a number of life lessons.
Read Zephaniah 3:14-20. Recall a time when you have experienced joy in the midst of trouble. Give thanks to God for your joy.
Read Isaiah 12:2-6. How does your trust in God enable you to overcome fear?
Read Philippians 4:4-7. Are you able to release your worries to God when you pray, or do you tend to hold on to the worry even after you have prayed about it?
Read Luke 3:7-18. Where in your life are you being nudged to do the right thing? How will you respond?
Respond by posting a prayer.