Here is a rough outline of the sermon for this week, to help you follow along.
I. Signs Paul is closing his letter
A. More "Do this" and "Don't do that."
B. Practical concerns take front and center.
C. Connects big themes to daily life.
II. Peace of God
A. There are many definitions of "peace."
B. The Bible has a specific definition.
C. According to the Bible, the "peace of God" is not the absence of something, but the presence of God and God's order.
III. Traits of God's peace
A. The world functions as it was meant to.
B. Everything has purpose
C. The broken things are fixed.
D. Fully established when Jesus returns.
E. Revolves around God's presence.
IV. We don't have to wait entirely
A. While God's peace won't be fully established until Jesus returns, Paul makes clear that some portion of it is available to us now.
B. God's peace can protect our hearts and minds in the here and now.
C. Paul gives imperatives that will helps God's peace grasp our hearts and minds.
V. Paul's Imperatives
1. We don't have to wait until joy hits us.
2. Setting up times to remind ourselves of God's work can strengthen our joy.
3. Celebrating God's work reminds us of God's presence, which strengthens God's peace within us.
B. Let your gentleness be known.
1. When we believe Christian faith is about fighting, gentleness is not a core value. Strength and power are values.
2. Gentleness was core to Jesus' message, though. He said "blessed are the meek" and "blessed are the humble."
3. Displaying gentleness reminds us that God has already fought whatever fights needed to be fought, the victory is won and our job is to point people to God.
4. Gentleness reflects God's character and helps us point to Jesus more clearly.
5. Living with the knowledge of God's victory deepens the peace of God within us.
C. Don't worry
1. Worrying is common and natural, but displays a lack of trust in God's victory.
2. Not worrying is hard, but Paul gives us practical advice on how to decrease worry.
3. Regular prayer reminds us of God's presence, which deepens the peace of God within us.
VI. The Lord is Near
A. God's peace is rooted in God's presence.
B. Paul reminds us that the Lord is near, which means God's presence is near.
C. The Lord is near you now. God's peace is near you now.