What’s the Strategy?
You’ll find the strategy in Philippians 4:4-7.
How do we know it’s the Holy Spirit’s battle-strategy? From the fact that the passage ends by saying that the peace of God will “keep” our hearts and minds. The Greek word here is phrouresei, which can be translated guard as by a sentry, a bodyguard, garrison, keep an army keeps a fortress. As you probably know, the Jewel Huse at the Tower of London is the part of the fortress where the royal jewels are guarded. The Holy Spirit inspired the use of a military term here, which indicates that He is speaking in the context of battle to guard your heart and mind.
What then is the strategy?
It’s a 6-point strategy, which can be outlined as follows:
The first step in the strategy is startingly simple, and seemingly impractical. But remember: It’s the Holy Spirit’s strategy for battle. It says: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
First of all, remember that rejoicing itself removes many problems. For instance, the book of Proverbs says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22a.)
This is something that Norman Cousins found out accidentally. In 1964, doctors told Norman Cousins that his chance for full recovery form a painful collagen illness was only 1 in 500. However, with Vitamin C, laughter and a generous dose of “the will to live,” he was able to conquer his crippling disease. Norman Cousins was the former editor of the Saturday Review and is author of the bestseller, “Anatomy of An Illness.”
Norman Cousin’s discovery led Dr. Lawrence Peter to write the management book “The Laughter Prescription” in which he recommended to managers to spend time each day laughing, with or without reason, in order to stimulate the good hormones that come with “eustress” (good stress) and overcome high blood pressure, ulcers, and other problems that come with “distress” (bad stress).
If only we would believe the Word of God rather than the proponents of modern psychology. Just by rejoicing, many problems can be eliminated before they start! In that case, we won’t even need the remaining steps of the strategy!
The real problem that many have with Step One is that they think they have a right to be depressed and to express their depression. They believe that expression of depression is a basic human right. The Bible gives us no such right. The Bible tells us that we have no business being depressed. Rather, we should be impressed. Impressed with what? Impressed with what Jesus has done for us. He has redeemed us, saved us, made us whole. Impressed also with what Jesus is doing for us. He is right now seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us! Aren’t these cause enough for rejoicing?
Don’t try to force this joy. Just find it in the Lord. That’s because we are to rejoice in the Lord. To find joy in the Lord, meditate on His goodness and grace to you, and what He has done and is doing for you. Be like David. Often, in his psalms, you will find that he starts off on a note of depression, or anger, or bitterness. Yet, by the middle of the psalm, the tone has changed to one of rejoicing in the Lord.
You’re rejoicing in the Lord all the time? Hey, where’s your problem?
Philippians 4:5a says, “Let your moderation be known to all men.” The Greek word here is epieikuswhich means moderation, patience, sweetness, considerateness, magnanimity. The Holy Spirit is telling us, “Let your epieikus be seen by all.” You see, people are watching. This is the test of your testimony. Don’t ruin it.
Philippians 4:5b says, “The Lord is at hand.” He is not on the other side of the world, or far away in heaven. Literally, the Lord is by your side, as near to you as your hands are. He’s also watching you. Not critically, not wanting to test you, but available, ready to help. Prove it to the watching people by calling on the Lord for help.
Here’s what the Lord may do when you call on Him for help. He may take away the problem. Or, He may minimize it. Or, He may do nothing to it, but in this case He will strengthen you in the problem, so that you triumph in it. Like Daniel’s three friends in the fiery furnace. God didn’t take them out of it, but He joined them in it, and this was seen by the people watching outside. This led the King to command Daniel’s friends to come out of the furnace, and when Daniel’s friends were taken out of the furnace, there was on them not even the smell of burning. Read the thrilling story, why they were thrown into the fiery furnace, how God preserved them and what happened after they came out in Daniel 3:1-30.
Philippians 4:6a says, “Be careful for nothing.” In other words, don’t panic! It is absolutely and strictly prohibited for us Christians to behave as if we don’t know what to do next. In fact, the passage tells us exactly what to do next. If anxiety arises to tell you there’s no solution, cast it out in the Name of Jesus!
Philippians 4:6b says “Let your petition be made known to God.” But how? The Holy Spirit gives us three ingredients that our petition must have, namely “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.”
Prayer: To pray is to ask reverently. In a court of law, we pray the judge or the bench of judges. We don’t ask, we pray the court. This means we ask with the respect due to a judge or a bench of judges. In the days of monarchs, it was so also in the palaces of the kings. That’s how we should pray to God. He is the Judge and King of all the Earth. Pray hurriedly, if the matter is urgent, pray in a split second, pray with your eyes open if you must, but pray reverently. It’s God we’re speaking to.
Supplication: Supplication is earnest prayer. Pray earnestly, out of a sense of great need, knowing that the issue, the solution of the problem, the victory in the battle, depends on God.
Thanksgiving: Be thankful. The Lord is at hand, and you’ve put the matter in His hands. We can depend on God. Thankfulness demonstrates to the world and to demons and angels, our faith in God.
When we’ve taken the first five steps, God promises in Philippians 4:7 to take the sixth and final step. Peace invades our hearts and minds. This is the peace of God, the peace that comes from God. (Distinguish between “peace with God” — which comes when we are reconciled to Him by admitting our sins, repenting of them, and trusting Jesus and His death on the cross for our salvation — and “the peace of God” — which is the peace which has only one source, namely God Himself. This peace of God garrisons our minds through the power of Jesus. Our hearts become calm. Our minds become clear. We can confess the word of faith. We are able to see the solution of the matter, what we must do to win the battle. And at the end of it, we can’t even boast that “we did it” because the peace which came to our aid “passes understanding” — even we don’t understand how we became so peaceful and how we triumphed over Satan’s forces operating through others or through nature itself.
Where and When to Apply It?
In everything! Philippians 4:6. In every problem or battle, big or small. No problem or battle that we face is too big for God to handle — or too small for God to take a personal interest in our victory.
Why not start applying this battle strategy now? Think of a problem or battle you find yourself entangled in. Now memorize and start applying God’s formula, His strategy for victory. Start rejoicing in the Lord. Remember: the world is watching. This is the test of your testimony. Remember: Jesus is watching too and is already by your side, ready, willing and able to help. As you rejoice and meditate on these truths, if panic or anxiety arises cast it out. Instead pray reverently, earnestly and with thanksgiving. Tell God how happy you are that the problem is not yours but His. And experience right now, the rejoicing and peace of God that surpasses your understanding and the understanding of the world.