Does God ever speak to you simply in the text of a sermon? I mean, you hear the text, look down at the words in your Bible, and wham! The Holy Spirit gives you a sermon that is completely independent of the preacher’s mouth. Am I the only one?
Last week, this happened to me again. I looked down at these verses of the sermon text and all the things that I’ve been learning in my “walking through the desert” Bible Study converged on these verses, bringing new illumination to a very familiar passage.
Phil. 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It’s fairly straightforward. I’d been reminded of the “don’t be anxious” and “prayer and petition” parts of this passage while thinking through the ways God teaches us dependence on Him in both literal and figurative deserts. But it was the “peace of God” part which walloped me this time. I’ve always thought of this “peace of God which transcends all understanding” as an all-encompassing thing. Something that stretched out into the future of whatever the situation I was choosing not to be anxious about but instead to pray through. But as I stared at those words on the page of my Bible, another thought struck:
The peace of God which transcends all understanding is like manna.
God doesn’t give us peace like a loaf of bread to sit on our shelf. If He did, we’d take comfort knowing it was there to continually feed our hunger. No, God gives us peace as wafers gathered daily, stretching the amount to exactly meet our hunger. But only for a day. After that, it is no longer fit for consumption.
It occurred to me that sometimes my faith gets all tangled up because I expect God’s peace to carry over. I count the “by prayer and petition” as once and done. But God wants me to relinquish my worry every single day–sometimes even every single moment! He doesn’t get tired of my requests. Quite the opposite. He’s waiting for me to “be anxious about nothing.” Then His peace descends. Transcends. But not for the long term. For His ultimate desire is that we follow like sheep, completely dependent on His daily, hourly, sometimes even minute-by-minute provision. Even for peace.
In this season of “peace on earth, good will toward men,” maybe you needed to hear this Holy Spirit sermon. I know I did!