During this time of year, we often pause to give thanks. But giving thanks is not always easy. For some people, the holiday season can be filled with mixed emotions. For people who have recently lost loved ones, the holidays can be difficult and lonely. For others, this time of year can be challenging for a host of reasons: job loss, broken relationships, health struggles and more.
Paul the apostle understood difficulties, loneliness and struggles. When he wrote to the church in Philippi, he was all alone in a jail cell, placed there for preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul did not waste his time in prison. He wrote to his friends to remind them of some incredibly important things. And his God-inspired words continue to speak to us today.
Philippians 4:4-7 (HCSB)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
In this passage, we see one really big reason to give thanks. This truth will sustain you during difficult days. So what is the big reason to give thanks??
The Lord is near.
Did you catch it? The Lord is near! He is not far away. He is not hiding. He is not too busy. He is near. As a true believer in Christ, the Spirit of Christ lives in you. And when you’ve got Jesus, you have all that you need. Let’s say it again.
When Jesus is all you have, you will realize that Jesus is all you need.
Let me suggest five implications from Philippians 4, verses 4 through 7, that are true because the Lord is near.
Because the Lord is near, we can be full of joy! I know that circumstances are not always joyful, but because of Christ you can have internal joy and happiness that transcends your circumstances. He even tells us twice in verse 4 so that we don’t miss it. Rejoice in the Lord. Be full of joy. The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:4 (HCSB)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Because the Lord is near, we can be gracious with everyone. I know, I know, I know: some people test your patience. You probably test their patience too! Because Christ lives in you — because the Lord is near — He will empower you and fill you with His grace, so that you can be gracious with everyone. Remember this the next time you are tempted to be un-gracious with a family member, friend, colleague, or someone else.
Philippians 4:5 (HCSB)
5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
Because the Lord is near, you don’t have to worry about anything. Don’t miss this: Don’t. Worry. About. Anything. Cast all your cares upon Christ because He cares for you. When you are tempted to worry, remember that the Lord is near. Give your worries to Him. He will relieve your anxiety, helping you to focus on what He is going to do through you that day.
Philippians 4:6 (HCSB)
6 Don’t worry about anything….
Because the Lord is near, you can pray about everything. Some people don’t pray because they think God is too busy solving world problems to be concerned with their concerns. I have great news. The Lord cares. And He hears. He can solve the world’s problems and yours too. Even when you think your prayers aren’t getting past the ceiling, I have good news for you: the Lord is in the room. He is near.
Philippians 4:6 (HCSB)
6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Because the Lord is near, you can have incredible peace in your heart and mind. The peace that the Lord gives to us truly surpasses anything we could ever imagine. It’s the kind of peace to sustain us in the storms, the kind that fills us with contentment on the lonely days, the difficult days, the days when we don’t have all the answers. That is peace that He brings. Because He is near.
Philippians 4:7 (HCSB)
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The Lord is near.