As the year comes to an end there are no shortage of things to think about. Many people are thinking about goals for the New Year. Others are making resolutions. Some may even keep them!
The final chapter of Philippians provides four promises for Christians. These are things worth thinking about year-round. They provide me with comfort and hope. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ they should bring you comfort and hope, too.
These promises are wonderful. They are not automatic. Each promise follows an encouragement to walk closely with our Lord. When we walk with Him we can be assured that He will respond by doing these four things.
I know a lot of people who worry. The world certainly seems uncertain at times. Who knows what 2017 will hold? God does.
Christians are not commanded to worry. We are commanded to rejoice. We are commanded to pray. We are commanded to let our gentle spirit be made known to all people. We are called to remember that no matter how uncertain the world may seem that the Lord is near to His people.
If we will live this way (Philippians 4:4-6), we are promised:
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
The world offers us plenty to think about. Celebrities. Sports. The economy. Politics.
Paul encourages Christians to set their minds elsewhere.
Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
This disqualifies an awful lot of thinking about worldly things. They simply aren’t true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, or worthy of praise! They do often take a lot of our attention though.
We can and should set our minds on better things. We should focus on what Scripture teaches. We should focus on how the Bible calls us to live. We should practice these things. Then we can be assured that God will be with us.
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9)
Often following Christ is difficult. Sometimes it results in unpleasant circumstances in this life. The Christians in Philippi whom Paul was writing to saw that Paul was imprisoned for preaching the gospel. They were concerned about his well-being.
Paul rested in God’s will. Paul’s heart and mind were guarded by the incomprehensible peace of God. Paul had the God of peace with Him as His comfort and strength. As a result, Paul lived in a way he urged other Christians to live.
To live a life of contentment.
Be content in your circumstances. Whether you have plenty or little. Whether you are comfortable or uncomfortable. Whether you are hungry or full.
Being content is the secret to enduring. Contentment is built off the understanding that God is able to lead you through whatever He has brought to your life. Paul knows that God’s will for his life is good. Even if it is uncomfortable.
Paul understood the truth that:
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
This promise can certainly be misunderstood. This is not some promise that God will give you the strength to accomplish everything you will. It is a wonderful promise that He will strengthen you to do all things that He wills.
We live in a materialistic society. Many people foolishly think that money will solve their problems. It won’t.
However, we are material beings. We do have genuine material needs.
Food. Clothing. Shelter. Oxygen.
Paul was thankful for the generosity of the Christians in Philippi. Paul had his material needs met through them. He encouraged them to know that God would not forget their generosity.
Christians should not worry about their material needs. We should be free to live and give generously. If we see someone in need and we have more than enough we don’t need to store up for some future day. We should have peace knowing if we lack that our God will supply our needs both now and in the future.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ. (Philippians 4:19)
May these four promises be an encouragement to you as we close 2016 and venture into 2017!