Bible Book: Philippians  4 : 4-7
Subject: Peace; Christmas; Trust; Jesus, Birth of

He came out of the sun, diving at more than 400 miles per hour! He first knew the attack plane was there when holes appeared, as if by magic, first in the wing and then in the fuselage of his airplane. With the hair trigger reflexes of a 19 year old pilot, he flipped his plane over into a barrel-roll and dove. Then he whipped back up into a loop, trying to get behind his pursuer but to no avail. He was dealing with an experienced Japanese fighter pilot.

This continued for sometime but again, the Japanese pilot got the American in his sights and the bullets ripped through the plane, pilot and all. Smoke billowed out of the plane's engine and blood flowed into the pilots eyes. The next thing he knew the plane was spiraling downward toward the jungle below. He tried valiantly to gain altitude without success. The plane's left wing was ripped off. The plane spun, hit some trees, and went down. The pilot was thrown with a tremendous force into the front of the cockpit.

Fearing that the plane would soon explode in flames he dragged himself out of the plane onto the jungle floor. There he lay half a world away from home, away from his parents, away from his friends, away from his girlfriend-with machine gun bullets in his body, his bones broken, on an uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere. There was no doubt in his mind that he was dying.

Such an experience as this would fill even the bravest soul with sheer terror, with a sense of tremendous dread and fear, with hopelessness and helplessness. There was no one there to help this young man. He experienced the lostness of being alone, dying in a foreign jungle, on an uninhabited island. What anxieties and fears must have gone through his mind in those final hours! Weeks later his body was found. When his hand was pried open a crumbled piece of paper was found on which was written these words: "Peace like a river. It is well, it is well with my soul." His was a life cut short at the age of 19 and yet the life of a young man who had found something that millions of people, though they live to old age, never discover.

Another young man brought to an elderly gentleman a list of his ambitions--things that he intended to do in life--all of which focused upon wealth and success. The aged man looked at the list and with wisdom one by one marked through his list and wrote at the bottom of the page "Peace of Mind."

A recent poll indicated that millions of Americans are seeking first of all in their lives peace of mind and serenity and tranquility of heart. In fact many are doing almost anything to seek it. They are seeking it in all of the wrong places-joining cults, taking drugs, drinking alcohol, careening through a life of immoral activity. They are looking for peace in a world that is dominated by stress.

That's right, stress. You have heard that world haven't you? It's a word that used to be used only by engineers when referring to bridges and such, but now the word stress is applied to a human emotional fatigue. It is related to terms such as burnout. Many people today are suffering from stress. Stress has incredible effects upon the human body. When stress is short term one doctor said, so are the affects of the chemical imbalances created. But when stress is prolonged then a series of hormonal reactions take place that increase blood sugar, speed up the metabolism, suppress the immune system and make preparations in the body for every kind of problem imaginable.

How do we get stressed out? Most people think that stress is created from without--that it is those things on the outside of us buffeting our lives that cause stress--stressful situations, stressful jobs, stressful responsibilities. Interestingly enough that's not what one doctor has said. "Since stress comes from the way in which you think, and not from the situation or people involved in your stress, you can begin to practice mind control." Now that is interesting, isn't it? Two thousand years after the Apostle Paul wrote Philippians 4:8 and 9 we hear that we can control stress and gain peace through mind control (read Philippians 4:8 9)

Four hundred twenty-nine times in four hundred verses in the Bible we find the word peace. God's word is filled with references to peace because it is mankind's greatest need and it is a need that God can meet. Practically everyone that I talk to is looking for peace.

In our text the Apostle Paul gives us some steps that lead to peace. I count four in this particular text. There are many others in God's Word. I believe in this passage Paul is telling us to be joyful, be gentle, be prayerful, be trusting.

I. Be Joyful

So much of our worrying which destroys our joy comes from things that we can't do anything about anyway. Someone has said that 40% of the things that disturb us are in the past. 50% of the things we worry about are in the future and only10% of the things we worry about our problems we can deal with today. Separate your upsetting thoughts and deal with that 10% that you can do something about right now.

Paul said "Rejoice in the Lord always." Only "in the Lord" is it possible to get a view of life that will stand the shock of sorrow, pain, death and sin and still come out rejoicing. Paul is fully aware that he has said, "always" and that this word covers the darker side of life as well as the brighter side. After pausing in contemplation of trials and tribulations Paul says it again, "Again I will say, rejoice." For the apostle this is no haphazard emotion but rather a settled principle, a deeper feeling that underlies all of the storm tossed waves that are on the surface.

When I was a child playing in the surf of the Gulf of Mexico, I would enjoy riding the waves especially when the surf was up. Every now and then when the waves were particularly large and rough, I would go underneath the water just before the wave reached me to avoid the crashing impact. Underneath the surface the water was relatively calm while on the surface the wave was churning and knocking everything over in its path. This is our experience spiritually as we get down deep in the Lord and find peace and serenity even though the waves are crashing and crushing upon the surface. Paul knew about all of those waves because he had experienced them. He also knew what it was to be deep in the peace of the Lord. No one could rob Paul of the joy that he felt in Jesus Christ.

II. Be Gentle

Paul says "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand." The word "moderation" here means gentleness or graciousness. Courtesy is not far from the true idea, says Dr. A. T. Robertson. It is graciousness with strength and poise of character. It is the opposite of obstinacy. The word does not imply only a negative restraint, but rather a positive giving up to the reasonable desires of others. It is the mildness of disposition that leads one to be fair and go beyond the letter of the law. Robertson says, "In a word, what Paul here urges is the grace of giving up, not because one has to surrender to superior force, but because of the nobler impulses of generosity and gentleness...It includes the chivalry of the true man towards a woman, his own sister or mother or wife, or anyone's sister or mother or wife. A gentleman. He is a gentle man." (Robertson, Paul's Joy in Christ, pp.233-234)

You know what I see when I think of this word gentleness with regard to peace? I see a person who is at peace with himself, a person who is secure, who does not have to strive with others to try to prove his own personal worth.

I see here a necessity for peace in the home. Without this kinds of gentleness there can be no peace within the family. If a husband and wife are constantly involved in one-upmanship, never willing to give up to the other no matter how wrong he may think the other may be, then there can be no peace. Such an attitude is in direct contradiction to what Paul is talking about here.

A giant step towards peace in your heart and in your life comes when you are secure enough to allow someone else to get the attention, someone else to be right, someone else to be honored, even though you may deserve it. This trait shows not only a willingness for someone else to receive praise, but even an eagerness on your part to see others achieve. We see this gentleness in John the Baptist who referring to Jesus said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." How could John make a statement like that? The only answer to that is that John was at peace with himself and with God. He knew who he was. He had a very strong self-identity. He felt no need to continue to be in the spotlight.

May I pause just a moment to say to all of the husbands and wives who are here that the best way I know to maintain peace in your home is to constantly wish the very best for your spouse rather than for yourself. You know, you don't always have to be right. No one wants to live with someone who thinks he is right all of the time. No one is an expert on everything! There are some ways in which your spouse is more intelligent than you are and has a greater grasp on things than you do. If you want peace in your home you will not always have to be first. Instead there will be a gentleness about you that "gives up" to the other rather than strives with the other all of the time.

Achieving gentleness in your personality and in your relationship with others is to achieve a massive step in the direction of peace in your life and in your relationships.

Let me share with you a few gems from the writing of Dr. Charles Allen. In his book Victory in the Valleys of Life, Dr. Allen suggests that many times we are too self-centered. If we will develop interests in other people, what they are doing, their needs, their joys, and sorrows, this will bring to us great rewards. We need to develop a habit of making everyone we meet, however humble that person may be, feel that he or she is important.

Never tell a joke at somebody else's expense. Stop worrying about whether or not you have been dully rewarded. Do your own work. Be patient. Keep a cheerful disposition and you can be certain that eventually you will receive the respect that is due you. Don't worry about it. You will be recognized. Learn the word imperturbability. This word means that no matter what happens you are going to be calm and peaceful. You are not going to let outside events destroy you inside.

Change your concerns from being self-centered and make them other-centered. As these words suggest:

“Lord, lay some soul upon my heart,

And love that soul through me;

And may I bravely do my part

To win that soul for Thee.”

Develop the art of praise instead of criticism. Often time when we correct other people, we are trying to make ourselves believe that we are interested in helping them. But most of the people who pick out the flaws in other people are expressing their own insecurity. Begin praising others and you will find that peace is restored in your own heart. (Allen, Victory in the Valleys of Life, pp.54, 55.)

III. Be Prayerful

The third step that Paul offers to peace is that of being prayerful. The words "be careful for nothing," mean don't worry about anything." Communion with the Lord through prayer is always the answer to the problem of worry. Jesus Christ is the only cure for anxiety of the heart. To the disciples He said,

"Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me."

At the very root to the solution of worry is the word that Paul shares with us here. "Let your requests be made known unto God." The idea is that you come into the presence of God and open up your heart bearing your soul to Him. As we bear our soul to the Lord it should be in the spirit of gratitude. Paul uses the word, "thanksgiving." We are to pray "with thanksgiving." This is an essential element for if we go to the Lord in a spirit of dissatisfaction with Him it will "clip the wings of prayer".

Another scripture that gets very close to the meaning of this text, I believe, is found in Isaiah 26:3.

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee."

It is obviously the will of Christ that we experience peace (read John 14:27) (read John 16:33).

Richard Swain said that the first time he saw God was in the face of his mother. He remembered the Sunday that they went to the worship service. He was just a child, but he recalled the tension that stretched and contorted his mother's face for there was something that was troubling her. He remembered looking up at her face as the minister led the congregation in prayer. At once he said I could see the tension leave my mother's face. It was replaced by a peace and calm that came over her entire being. That, he said, is the first time that I ever saw God and I saw him in the face of my mother.

If you want peace, real peace in your life Brother Lawrence, who wrote that magnificent little booklet entitled "Practicing the Presence of God", learned to practice the presence of God. In his experience, he found perfect peace and tranquility in focusing his mind upon God in every experience. You and I need to practice the presence of God in prayer. The result will be peace.

IV. Be Trusting

The final step to peace that I see Paul mentioning here in our text is that of trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ who is able to bring the much needed peace to our hearts and minds.

The only way that I know to have lasting peace is to receive the forgiving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ who died upon the cross to save you from sin.

No wonder the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:1: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

We who have been redeemed from our sins know how wonderful the peace is that follows that experience. We can relate with New Testament understanding to what Hezekiah expressed in his hymn of Thanksgiving recorded in Isaiah 38. Verse 17 reads: "Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins from thy back." This is the peace that passes all understanding through Jesus Christ our Lord.


One of the greatest ministers in America has ever produced was Phillips Brooks. He preached for many years at the Trinity Church in Boston. He wrote the beautiful Christmas carol which just breathes peace.

“O little town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by.”

It is one of the most beautiful of all Christmas carols. Once Phillips Brooks said that one of the most important lessons he ever learned was when he was a young boy. He was at the family dinner table. Times were hard, and the Brooks household was having difficulties. His mother, in a moment of despair, spoke bitterly about the injustice of it all. When she had finished, he remembered that his father said quietly, "I have trusted the Lord for 40 years, and I do not mean to stop now."

Trust the Lord and never, never, never stop trusting Him and your life will be marked by the rich and lasting, witnessing quality of peace.