In your comments, feel free to address some or all of the questions presented.
You are also free to discuss the devotional reading outside of the study guide questions.
Sunday questions are from the study guide supplied by Brethren Press.
1. What moments this past week fostered a sense of fear, uncertainty, or dis-ease?
2. Where did you sense God’s presence and peace this week?
1. Read Philippians 4:4-7. What stood out to you in this reading of the text?
2. Paul was filled with joy, even as he sat in prison awaiting his execution. When in a time of fear or discomfort did you experience an unexpected sense of joy? Why?
3. What is the “peace of God”? Can we experience the peace of God without having peace with God?
4. Reading this passage shortly after Christmas, how does this intentional focus on an incarnational God inform this phrase from verse 5: “The Lord is near”?
5. How might you live into the commands to rejoice, be gentle, let go of anxiety, and be thankful in the coming year?
It does sound lovely, Amy!
The Biblical text for today prompts a question for me. My NRSV Harper Collins Study Bible has a footnote for the word Rejoice, which appears twice in verse 4. The footnote says, “Or Farewell.” That means the verse could be translated, “Farewell in the Lord always; again I will say, Farewell.” To me, rejoice and farewell have two very different meanings, and changing the words would change the meaning of the verse from “Be happy” to “Good-bye.” I can wiggle my thoughts around to make it work–maybe Paul meant for the people to “fare well” in the Lord. But, I am not a Bible scholar. I’d love to hear some insight about this.
As I think about the translation using farewell to mean “fare well,” I find that the verse makes more sense to me. When faced with tragic loss, it doesn’t seem appropriate to practice rejoicing. That sounds like party mode. But the idea of “faring well,” or continuing to walk with God does make sense to me. That interpretation has Paul telling us to remain calm, to exhibit “gentleness,” while leaning on the steadfastness of God–regardless of what is happening around us.
I’m glad I thought about that footnote. I am not a Bible scholar, though. I like my interpretation, but I don't know if it is well-founded or not. Thoughts from others on this?
In the devotional booklet, the author mentions praying for others as part of rejoicing. What a wonderful idea! I believe we are often led to pray for others when they are in need. There are so many stories of devastation due to fires, tornadoes, violence, and disease. Prayer in response to those events seems logical.
How perspective-changing it would be to develop a prayerful response mindset to good news, also! A new baby–I could pray for the family. Positive news about a health issue–I can pray with gratitude. A kind act–I could pray for the kind person behind it.
I found today’s scripture and devotional entry particularly inspiring. I hope other readers are finding benefit in the readings as well.