Click here for the reading: Philippians 4:4-7.
Paul, writing while suffering in prison, commands the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord! Nor is this meant as a passing remark, because he repeats the command again in the same sentence. Being a Christian brings with it joy in the Lord, so that the two are always together. What things do Christians face that threaten to steal their joy from them? How should a Christian approach the trials of life that distinguishes them from worldly attempts at joy? What can we learn about joy from the Psalms, especially ones like Psalm 96?
Reasonableness, or gentleness, is set in contrast to violence in 1 Timothy 3:3, quarreling and speaking evil in Titus 3:2, and injustice in 1 Peter 2:18. It describes the Christian who is peaceable, kind, and fair to all those around him. Why is Christian virtue a public matter and not a private affair? Why is this virtue especially important in how a Christian interacts with the world? In what specific ways does reasonableness or gentleness show itself in the life of a Christian? How do we see this at work in Christ Himself, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:1?
Anxiety regarding the future is a constant danger, because no one knows what will be except God Himself. Yet constant fear about what could be is deadly to faith, because it loses sight of God. What does anxiety make us forget with regard to the Lord? What are some examples of things in the world which cause anxiety even in Christians, especially in our present situation? How does God specifically calm those fears? Why is the nearness of the Lord’s return a reason to not be afraid? Compare what Christ has to say regarding anxiety in Matthew 6:25-34.
Prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving, not gloom or fear, should fill a Christian’s days. The Lord commands us to pray and to call on His name, because He is our help and our shield. Why do Christians forget to pray? How does prayer speak to the trials of life? What sort of practical advice would you give to Christians regarding prayer, especially if they do not have a habit of prayer? What is the difference between thanksgiving and making requests? Why should both be a part of prayer? How does Jesus describe the practice of prayer in Matthew 6, and how does He teach us by His own example?
Above all, being a Christian means possessing a peace beyond all understanding, a peace which lives even in the worst of circumstances. It is the joy of the martyrs, the calmness of the suffering saints, looking for something far better than this world has to offer. How does a Christian find such peace, especially when dealing with terrible situations? How should a Christian approach pain and suffering? What is the difference between Stoic indifference and Christian peace? What is the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the peace of God, as seen in John 14?