Philippians 4: 6 – 7 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – NLT
As we come near to the end of 2022 and we are quickly approaching the Advent season, I am reminded of these words from the Apostle Paul. Paul was a person who thought he had life figured out. He was a follower of God, a Jewish Pharisee of the highest order. His life had purpose and he knew, or at least he thought he knew, who he was. In the middle of his persecution of these people who were following the risen Messiah, Jesus, he had a life changing experience where Jesus met him, changed him, and forgave him. Paul was then called to a life of following Jesus. Because of the profound impact on his life, Paul said yes and changed his life.
None of this would have happened without Jesus. However, Paul would go on to live a life of hardship and persecution because of this choice. His perfect life and the order that it had would never be the same. He would suffer because of this relationship in Christ. The beatings, most of which nearly led to his death, the imprisonment, none of it would stop him. I have always wondered why Paul never had a moment of despair, fear, or even denouncing God. Maybe he had those moments in his private life, but we can read so many times about Paul praising and thanking God in the middle of his worst days, and even on his greatest days.
We would do well to see Paul’s words, not just in Philippians but all of his letters to the churches, as a beacon of hope. I pray that we are found seeing the incredible hope of Jesus, our cornerstone, the only rock worth standing on. So that when the troubles of life come, we will have the courage and strength to see the promise of hope and peace that is found in Jesus, and we will never be without gratitude to a God who loves us so much.
Being grateful is choice. We have the ability to see it when we are focused on the truth. God’s peace, “exceeds anything we can understand”. What does our gratitude tell the world around us about the God we serve?
– Pastor Mike
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