Have you ever felt a surge of joy bubbling up inside you and then you catch it in your throat to keep from exploding with a shout or a song or exclamation? Maybe you tame it down to a slight smile. When it comes to Rejoicing in God, our passage this week says to let it all hang out!
READ Philippians 4:4-9
What strikes you in these verses? What challenges you? What raises questions? What offers encouragement?
ReRead Verse 4:
Because at North Harbor, we’re about practicing elements of our spiritual life so that we can really see life transformation, try practicing what verse 4 talks about as many times as you can manage [shoot for at least 3 this week]: Rejoice in the Lord! When you get together with your group, share when and where and how you rejoiced. Say it outloud, sing it, write it down, do something to remove whatever inhibitions might typically hold you back, and when you feel love for God, joy in Him, let it out!
Note: this verse says “Rejoice in the Lord always.” What does this command say about God’s expectations around joy and how much He expects it to be dependent on our circumstances? Have you ever had joy in the Lord in an unlikely time?
ReRead Verses 6-7
I love how this verse is essentially acknowledging that things come up for us all the time that cause us concern AND it offers us something to do with this daily reality: talk to God about these things.
Traditionally, Christians conclude prayers by saying, “Amen.” This comes from the Hebrew word “aman” (ah-MAHN) and shows up in the bible for the first time in Genesis 15:6, where it is translated as “believed.” Feel free to check out the context and story around the word there to see if it offers additional insight on these Philippians passages. But the point is, as Peter Enns puts it, “Amen” isn’t just how we signal that prayers are concluded, it is a declaration of trust. We’re telling the Lord, “We’ve said our peace, gotten this stuff off our chests, and now we release this matter into your hands. Now we TRUST you with it.” (See Peter Enns book: The Sin of Certainty, page 95)
What does it mean to you for the peace of God to be able to surpass every thought? Have you known that protection? What was or what would that be like?
ReRead Verses 8-9
These verses hit home with strong conviction for me right now. I’ve been having trouble pulling myself away from the news lately, and that lack of self-control works directly against the intent of these verses, and I am fully aware of the negative consequences. Many thoughts pass through our minds throughout the day (and night?), but what does your mind tend to dwell on? What is one thing that fits this prescription that your mind would delight to dwell on for the coming week?
Peace comes up a second time in this short passage here. What do you learn about who God is, and how His peace is related to our joy in these verses?
Read Psalm 23
If you hadn’t found something lovely for your mind to dwell on, this passage is never a bad idea! Do you see any connections between this chapter and the verses in Philippians? What do you come to know about God looking at them together? What are God’s desires for you as far as where and how you dwell? Where do you see joy in Psalm 23?