The Lord is near…

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Philippians 4:Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Two things strike me about this passage:

First, the promise articulated here (v.6-7) is not that the reader’s problems are going to disappear in an instant. His outward circumstances may or may not change at all, but he will be  blessed with “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding”. God is ready and willing to take the spiritual, emotional, physical burden from the reader. From you and me. Through prayer. Sounds too good to be true, but it is.

Secondly, Paul exhorts the reader to do several things: rejoice (v.4), be gentle (v.5), refrain from worry (v.6), pray to the Lord (v.6). That’s quite a list. Any one of those things would be difficult for most people, including me. How are we supposed to do all of them? Seems pretty outrageous to me. But v.5b offers the key:

“The Lord is near”

I can’t really do any of those things, but our Lord (the triune God who is Father, Son, Spirit) is near. Is available. Is present with us at all times. And so Paul writes in v.13,

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

I can’t do any of these things, but through Christ I can do all of them because of the Kingdom reality than the power of the living God is made perfect – not through my strength but through my weakness.

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