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 (Galatians to Colossians)
lesson 23
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Lesson 23

I.       Observation

A.     Outline

Pleas for Unity in the Lord (4:2-3)

Be Joyful and Prayerful (4:4-7)

Pursuing Higher Virtue (4:8-9)

B.     Key Words/Phrases

The same mind in the Lord, Book of Life, rejoice, be anxious for nothing, true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good report.

II.    Segment Analysis

1.      Paul reminds the believers the basis and reasons for unity—that they all have one Lord, that they all labor for the same gospel, and that they all have a share in the Book of Life. Unity among believers is possible and necessary because of their spiritual ties and common goals.

2.      The register in heaven of those who are saved.

3.      Paul repeats the command to rejoice probably because it is easy to be discouraged in the midst of sufferings, disharmony, and the threat of false teachings. But Paul wants them to transcend all these difficulties and live above the problems of life by having the joy of the Lord, for joy is the key to a victorious life. Paul’s emphatic exhortation is also an expression of the overflowing joy in him.

4.      Following the command to rejoice, Paul presents the peace of God as the basis of joy and teaches us how to receive that peace. Peace from God is the foundation of true joy.

5.      Happiness is an emotion. Joy is an attitude. Happiness is based on the circumstance. Joy is founded on Christ. Therefore, in order to have true joy, we need to have a Christ-centered attitude. While our circumstances may change, our Lord does not change. He has overcome the world, and through faith in Him, we can transcend problems and difficulties in life. If we have Christ in our lives, no circumstance can take away our joy.

6.      Paul is in chains, but he can still exhort the believers to rejoice. This is a powerful demonstration that Paul’s joy surpasses his adverse conditions. Not only so, his joy overflows to others, bringing comfort and encouragement.

7.      We need to show gentleness to all, not just the people we favor.

8.      Gentleness involves great patience because it requires us to deal kindly even with those who are against us. When there is disharmony among believers, showing gentleness can be a great challenge. But instead of arguing and complaining, we should wait for the coming of the Lord, who will judge everyone according to their deeds. Knowing that the Lord is coming soon to examine our works and reward us encourages us to persist in our gentleness (cf. Jas 5:8).

9.       “In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (4:6). When we cast our cares on the Lord (Ps 55:22; 1Pet 5:7), we have no need to be anxious because we trust that He will take care of us. Being thankful always also relieves us of our anxiety because, by counting the blessings of God, we are constantly reminded that God will always watch over us, just as He always has.

10.  Anxiety does not solve problems but only adds burdens to our hearts (cf. Mt 6:27,34; Lk 12:25-26). Besides, knowing that God will take care of our needs, why should we be anxious?

11.   God’s peace can give us an inner tranquility so miraculous that it is beyond rational explanation. 2. God’s peace can calm our hearts so perfectly in ways that our own attempt to alleviate anxiety by means of reasoning or positive thinking can never do.

12.  The peace that the world gives only provides a temporary sense of security that is easily unsettled when trouble comes. For example, we may pay for health insurance, but when we become ill, the insurance cannot help us deal with our sorrows, fears, or depressions within. The peace from God, however, goes much deeper. It does not necessarily change the circumstance or remove the difficulties we face, but it is able to give us inner joy and strength to overcome the difficulties.

13.  Godly conduct begins with godly thoughts. What we put into our mind determines what comes out in our words and actions (Mt 15:18-19). We must reprogram our thinking. It takes practice, but it can be done. Fill our hearts with the Word of God and ask God to help us focus our mind on what is good and pure (cf. Ps 139:23-24).

14.  We must do the word of God (9).

15.  Verses 6 and 7 teach us to let the peace of God keep our hearts and minds from anxieties through prayer, petition, and thanksgiving. Verses 8 and 9 go even further and teach us the way to have God’s continual presence in our lives. If we do God’s Word, God Himself, the author of peace, will be with us at all times. Therefore, not only should we come to God for peace when we have trouble in our lives, we should all the more seek to let the God of peace dwell in us by living out His Word. When God’s living Word is embodied in our lives, we will naturally experience God and all His blessings.

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