-Rev Barbara Taylor Minton-
Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:5-7 CEB
Peace, an absence of conflict, freedom from disturbances, the end of war. Expand that definition to include the spiritual aspect of peace, an inner sense of wholeness and well-being, Shalom, in the Hebrew language. Pondering these verses from Philippians we see both aspects of peace embracing one another—the absence of conflict in our gentle treatment of others, and the inner calm as we commune with God, grateful for reconciliation through Jesus Christ.
Today’s verses challenge us to a take a personal inventory, a self-evaluation, if you will. When the Spirit of God moves in our heart, our character begins to reflect a godly nature. Moved by God’s best purposes, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, informed by the life and teachings of Jesus, we begin to look out for the well-being of others. We rejoice when others rejoice, weep when others weep. We become aware of the community around us and, with a nudge from the Spirit, we respond with compassion, gently and faithfully, as we grow in grace.
However, our continued growth is a commitment to a multifaceted process, not an instantaneous magical occurrence when we embrace particular doctrines or exercise specific disciplines. Scripture says Jesus grew tall and wise, loved by God and others. In other words, Jesus grew just as we grow, from child to adult. As we mature, our bodies fill out. We acquire knowledge and learn how to use it. We begin to recognize ourselves as spiritual beings, and as we interact with the Lord and with the community around us, our being is nurtured. We grow as Jesus grew, in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and with people.
Informed by the verses from Philippians, we are challenged to take a personal inventory and discover our progress in this process of growth. If you journal, respond thoughtfully to these questions in writing, then share your insights about yourself with someone, if the Lord moves you to do that.
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Lord, as I come to the end of myself, I turn to you, embracing your goodness and your righteousness.
Where I am harsh, remind me to be gentle. Help me remember your nearness so that my faith is encouraged.
When I am anxious, reveal your love to me, yet again, so that I might be calm. Quiet my soul. Revive my spirit.
Now, with grateful heart I receive from you the peace that is beyond understanding.
And I celebrate the unmerited favor revealed to us all in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Rev Barbara Minton, ordained April 1, 2001, now semi-retired, gladly serves a small rural congregation in Henry County KY, Berea Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She also volunteers in local interdenominational outreach ministries. Barbara describes herself as wife of one, mother of three, and Mamaw to eight. She enjoys journaling, which she began while living in Switzerland and Germany for 16 years. Now she will occasionally write on her blog, which she fondly entitled Muesli. http://bjm-muesli.blogspot.com/ Her hobbies include bird-watching and word-botching. She claims to get her exercise by jumping to conclusions, running at the mouth, and climbing the walls. Her partner in these adventures is Thomas, her husband of 53 years, and presently pastor of Eminence Christian Church in Eminence, KY. (When she grows up she wants to become a retreat speaker!)