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Novi, Michigan 48375
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The God of Peace be with You
Paul's letter to the Philippians
This is the Word of the Lord.
Paul is writing this letter to the church in Philippi from a Roman prison. He is writing to thank them for their support and to encourage them to stay true to the Lord. He wants them to keep their eyes on Jesus and to remember that this world is not our eternal home.
In verses 2 and 3, Paul is talking to Eoudia and Syntyche and the other leaders in that church. Evidently, Eoudia and Syntyche are not seeing eye to eye, and Paul is concerned for them and the church. These verses are near the end of his letter, which leads us to think that Paul was uncomfortable in addressing this matter. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you kept talking about everything except what was really on your mind? Like the weather, the price of gas, a new restaurant you tried, and you finally brought up the subject that was weighing heavily on your mind. Some things are very hard to talk about and we find ourselves thinking of ways to get around the issue.
Paul knew it was very important to have Euodia and Syntyche solve their differences within the church. If they did not it could cause a split in the members and many more problems. I'm sure we've all seen things cause strains in homes, businesses and churches. It's much better to come together and work out our differences than to let them fester and cause a major split. By getting the two parties together and talking, they may find out that their ideas really aren't that far apart. Paul asked the other leaders in the church to help the women in working things out. So an important role of all of the leaders in the church is to watch and listen to the people, to be ready to reach out when a difference arises, and to help them work it out. This needs to be done quickly and in a loving manner. I'm grateful that God's peace reigns here at Faith.
Paul then quickly moved on and told the people to rejoice in the Lord always. He is in prison, and he is telling them to rejoice in the Lord. Even in a rough and probably scary situation, Paul stayed focused on the Lord. He was an example for us to remember to put the Lord first, and then everything else will fall in place and turn out for the best. I remember praying to God for my mom just before she died. I desperately wanted her to be well again and see the baby I was carrying, her first grandchild. But my prayer was for God to do what He felt was best. Within a couple of hours, she was at peace with Him in heaven. So I rejoiced in the fact that she was no longer suffering, and the knowledge that she was looking down on all of us from a much better place.
It's not always easy to be joyful and keep Christ at the center of our thoughts. We are human and tend to think we can take care of everything ourselves. We must also remember to reach out to those around us and care for them, not only our fellow Christians but also those in need in our community. Here at Faith we reach out in many ways. We host the Food Bank, walk in the CROP walk, and host two rummage sales per year. The HandiCrafters show love, and the Stephen Ministry reaches out to serve the congregation. Before we do any of these things, we need to ask God to bless and guide us in our efforts.
Have you ever taken a meal to someone who is sick, provided a ride for someone to an appointment or church, or taken time to listen to someone who is going through a difficult time? You will probably never know just how much of an effect that really had on that person. Just know that God knows what you have done, and that you reached out in love for Him. Remember, we are the hands and feet of God, which reach out and physically help those around us. Jesus told us that when we feed, clothe or visit those who are not able to get out, we are reaching out to Him. We find the reference to this in Matthew 25: 31- 40 in the Final Judgment:
In verse 7 of this morning's lesson it says, "If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Another version of the Bible says it in this way: "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could always turn everything over to God in prayer? No more worries about jobs, school, home, illness, family or friends. Paul tells us to turn our worries into prayers, so when something is bothering you, stop and pray about it and ask for God's guidance. Then remember to let go and let God take care of it.
When we turn things over to God, we can feel and inner sense of peace that we can get in no other way. Have you ever felt that peace that passes all understanding? When I remember to let go and let God I have felt it and it is wonderful. I pray that you too will find that peace.
©Jann Martin 2005