Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Peace Formula

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!  Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.  Remember, the Lord is coming soon.  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  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.             Philippians 4:4 - 7(NLT)

Stress is a word much tossed about in our society.  It seems life is more stress-filled today than filled with joy or peace.  I wonder just how many of us in this room today are under some kind of debilitating stress?   

I saw a cartoon that had a man sitting on the exam table.  His doctor was giving him a stress test.  The doc says, It’s called a stress test:  I listen to your heart while you review a copy of your bill.

 About thirty years ago I served a church on Parker Road.  It was there I met Mrs. Juanita Parker.  Granny Parker was a Godly woman who knew how to pray heaven down

Granny was already in her 70's when I met her.  She'd lived all her life on just two farms – her father's, and the one she and her husband worked.  She had given the two acres our church was built upon. 

Like anyone, Granny had her share of joy, sorrows and pain.  If you set a spell on the front porch she would talk with you all day about life, financial doings and the like.  In all, her life had been ordinary and wonderful, hard work and family.  A well-spent 70-odd years…Until that rooster came!  "Granny" Parker always had trouble with that rooster! 

I recall one Wednesday night in particular; Granny had just come into the church for Prayer Meeting.  She was bleeding from her leg and arm.  Blame rooster done it again!  Brother Russell, he's mean as Satan, himself.  That was the first I'd heard about that rooster. 

It seems that this bird had decided that Granny didn't belong in the yard with all his hens.  Whenever Granny ventured too close to the hen house, he'd come flying at her with spurs thrashing and slashing.  He got her a few times. 

Had that bird been a human, he would've been arrested for disturbing the peace on Parker Road.  But, he was a rooster, so one afternoon Granny ventured out the back door toward the hen house, carrying her garden hoe and calling, here chick-chick. Here, chick.  The hens knew what that meant; they all came on the dead run for chow.  That old rooster came too; he was bent on protecting his territory, but he made a slight miscalculation.  You see, over seventy years of handling problems, weather, crop failures, depression and stubborn barnyard animals, made Granny a formidable foe with a hoe.  She watched out of the corner of her eye as that whirling-dervish of a rooster came squawking and flapping his wings, brandishing those spurs like Freddie Krueger.  At the last second, Granny Make-My-Day Parker side-stepped the leaping rooster and swung the hoe like a Ninja sword.  R.I.P., bird!   (I think he was in one of those casserole dishes the following Sunday at dinner on the grounds.)

We all have our rooster events.  We all have those irritating circumstances of life that disturb the peace. 

For some it is a job that just gets under the skin.  It may be a neighbor that won't respect your privacy; it could be a bully who is a grade or two ahead.  Maybe it's traffic at rush hour. 

Now, I do not suggest the Granny Parker rooster method for every circumstance.  However, each problem needs to be confronted.  Otherwise our peace is disturbed, and sometimes taken away altogether.

Paul confronted a problem at Philippi.  Two of the ladies couldn't get along, and it was one of those rooster events in the church.  Paul pleaded for unity and cooperation, but he went further – he gave them a formula for peace that works! 

We live in an age of edgy, worried, peace-less people.  We exist in a pressure cooker of racial tensions, family crises, financial and generational stress.  And there is a whole internet-full of advice on how to have peace.  Most of them haven’t a chance of bringing real peace in your life.

The feel-good approach doesn't work; that’s where you attempt to don’t worry—be happy.  You can do it with positive thinking or substances.  But drugs and simple optimism wear off too quickly. 

The don't feel at all approach is worse.  You can only ignore a problem until it engulfs you and your stoicism.  Then it may be too late to do something!  That's like having an early lead in a football game, and playing defensively for the rest of the time.  You're on the field, but you're not really playing – just holding-on till time ends.

There are plenty of ways to seek for personal peace; only God’s way will provide real and lasting peace.  In our text Paul lays out the great formula for dealing with a rooster event, a disturbance of your peace.  The formula is P + P + P = P.


Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!  Philippians 4:4(NLT)

Praise is such a vital part of the believer's life.  Without praise we are prey to depression.  How can you get to praise from the pits?  Good question!  Praise is a matter of finding God's hand print on everything that happens!  When something happens that is really disturbing – perhaps if the dog bites you, or a financial crisis, or perhaps the death of a loved one, you don’t rejoice because you have suffered a difficult circumstance, you praise the God who walks through the circumstance with you.  He has a purpose, even when we can’t see it.

Paul says, Rejoice...rejoice!  There are no qualifiers in that sentence.  It does not indicate we should rejoice just when things are good -- we must praise the Lord always

Praise, plus:


Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.  Remember, the Lord is coming soon.  Don’t worry about anything;    Philippians 4:5-6a(NLT)

William Barclay calls this gentleness (which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit) your willingness to meet a man half-way.  Poise is that, and more.  Anxiety is a divided mind.  It is virtually the division that distracts from the main purpose.  James (1:7-8) says that a double-minded (or divided-mind) man is unstable…his prayers are not likely to be answered.  Poise is keeping focused on the reality of God’s care and purpose for your life…not the circumstances and storms that surround you.

I went to a clergy meeting a few years ago.  It was an important meeting, and I had cleared my schedule.  All pastors were to meet for a workshop, lunch and information-sharing.  When I arrived at the retreat center there were only a few cars there; I am usually early anyway, so I wandered over to the large meeting facility.  When I opened the door to the meeting room it was hard to see, as there were no lights on at all. 

Suddenly, I was startled by movement in the semi-darkness.  Can I help you, the disembodied voice offered.  When my eyes located the source of the question, and with my pupils finally dilated sufficiently to make out the smiling face of the woman who runs the place, I asked, isn't the District Clergy meeting here?  She answered, Yes; you're a little early.  I said, OK, I'll just take a little stroll.  The voice continued, You're about 24 hours early, but don’t worry – it's our little secret!

Poise has to do with stability in spite of circumstances.  It is closely related to faith.  Paul here says that the Lord is at hand.  Beloved, if we can ever truly come to the understanding that Jesus is near – closer than the breath in your mouth, we will remember that anything happening in our lives must be approved by Jesus first!  You can have poise when you live like that!  Life’s unexpected and difficult stuff will still happen; bad things may come our way, but there will be a difference.

Praise, plus Poise, plus,


instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Philippians 4:6b(NLT)   

Prayer is the tie that binds.  The word prayer comes from an ancient verb that means to tie or bind to.  In a sense, when you bow before God you are binding yourself to His decisions, His plan.  Of all the models for prayer, the Lord's Gethsemane prayer is the one I take for my example.  Not MY will, but Thine....  A prayer binds us to accept God's decision. 

What a burden that will take off your shoulders.  Have you got some major disturbance of the peace going on in your life?  Pray; bind yourself to God's answer.  Then, you can rest your worry-bone.  It is God who will work it out!

Praise, plus Poise, plus Prayer, equals:


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.   Philippians 4:7(NLT)

What is meant by the peace that passes understanding?  Literally, it is that which is above our comprehension

God's Peace Doesn’t Make Sense?

Exactly!  In the worst rooster circumstances of life you can have the peace that doesn't make sense.  Jesus promised that His peace isn't like anything else in the world.  It will guard your heart, your mind, your life.  And the world can't take it away!


We have choices.  Stress and a world system that will depress and dissect you, or peace that comes in the form of praise that brings poise through prayer. 

Are you going through a ROOSTER kind of day, week, month – life?  Praise, Poise and Prayer adds up to Peace…from the Prince of Peace.


[i] Title image:  via Wikimedia Commons

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