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DEVOTIONS FOR MEN
This is the passage I spoke about this morning. If it's not on there already, you should be able to hear that sermon on our Teaching page soon. In the meantime, here are the basics:
There are only two kinds of real truth in the world. All other kinds of "truth" are interpretations of these.
First, there are facts -- raw data that is observable, measurable, reproducible, perceivable by the senses and/or easily confirmed with lots of harmonizing, reliable research). Second, there are absolutes -- deeper truths that (like facts) are true no matter what we believe about them. In John 14:6, Jesus Himself claims to be THE way, THE truth, THE life and the ONLY way to God--and said to build our lives on His teaching (Matthew 7). But what happens when what the Bible says and what we observe seem to clash? A great example of this is the "Peace on earth" the angels proclaimed at Jesus' birth and the hyper-violent state of the world today. Either the Bible is not actually true (Jesus did not bring peace on earth and does not deserve the title, Prince of Peace) OR we misunderstand what the biblical writers meant by "peace on earth." I believe it is the latter, and that Paul is expressing this very truth in a practical way in Philippians 4.
We must never separate the CONTEXT of biblical truth from the words themselves. For example, Jesus promised "peace of mind and heart" as "a gift the world cannot give" and urged his followers, "So don't be troubled or afraid (John 14:27, NLT), but He spoke these words the night He was betrayed, right before His worst suffering and their darkest moments were beginning. Similarly, Paul wrote today's passage (and roughly half of what we call the New Testament) from prison! Clearly, the "peace" they were promising was not an absence of any form or physical conflict or some kind of sentimental feeling. So what was it? And how do we experience it?
Paul explains in these famous verses that we experience Christ's gift of peace when we trust Him enough to obey Him--no matter our circumstances. He urges us to "set" our minds on all that is true and good and right in the world and to worship God for those things--even as we ask for what we need in the moment. It is no accident that this famous passage uses the word THEN so strategically...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. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9, NLT)