A friend of mine, a distinguished retired Naval Officer, came into a liquor store. He found what he wanted to purchase, then made his way to the checkout counter. The owner of the store rang up his order and told my friend the amount. As he pulled out his credit card to pay the bill, he noticed me out of the corner of his eye. I was sitting by the counter.

“What are YOU doing HERE?” he abruptly asked before he had time to think.

I simply winked. His face reddened a bit in embarrassment. “Well, I guess you could be asking me the same question, huh?” He smiled sheepishly as he said it.

I smiled in return, then told him I knew the owner. He and his wife had been coming to our church and bringing their young children. I then introduced him to the owner and gave him the names of the man’s wife and children and urged him to look for them at church. My friend wasn’t quite sure what to think as he paid and left us alone in the liquor store to continue our conversation about Jesus, his life, and his family.

“What are YOU doing HERE?”

That was the sort of question critics asked Jesus. Jesus answered this kind of question in different ways at different times in his ministry as he sought to make his mission clear both to his closest followers and also to his critics:

  • I am not here to be served, but to serve and give my life to ransom many (Mark 10:45).
  • We must go to other villages and towns because that is why I came (Mark 1:38).
  • I came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
  • I came to call sinners — not those who think they are religious — to repentance (Luke 5:32).
  • I have come that my followers, my sheep, can have life to the full, truly abundant life (John 10:10).

While we could list several other mission statements of Jesus, let’s focus on that last one.

Jesus came to give us abundant life — life to the full, life overflowing!

The way of Jesus is not a throttled down, boring, or drab way of living. Jesus came to give us and came to call us to full lives, abundant lives, lives overflowing with grace and love of God because we are connected to God. We live in the overflow of God’s presence and grace!

To put this in a more Jewish way, Jesus came to bring us God’s true shalom.

Unfortunately, we normally think shalom means “peace” — a good feeling in our heart when there is no conflict around us. God’s meaning of shalom is much richer. Far more than the absence of conflict, God’s shalom makes us whole so we can live life to its fullest, knowing his presence is always with us. God’s shalom is living with the assurance that we are never alone, not even when we face life’s greatest challenges. More than the absence of conflict, God’s shalom is peace in the middle of conflict, crisis, and difficult. God’s shalom is knowing our heavenly Father is at work in the messes in which we find ourselves to bring us through those messes into the grace of his blessings (Philippians 2:13; Romans 8:28). Living in God’s shalom is recognizing that God is at work in us to conform us to his righteous character and gracious compassion as we become increasingly conformed to Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:29). Living in God’s shalom is knowing that the Spirit of God lives within us and is our source of overflowing grace, peace, and joy (John 7:37-39).

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul promised his beloved friends at Philippi this true shalom, this true peace in all circumstances that can only come from God being present and at work in our lives. Over these last six weeks, we’ve returned again and again to Paul’s promises of the Lord’s presence in our lives. Paul is promising us God’s true shalom with these promises (Philippians 4:4-9):

  1. The Lord is near.
  2. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  3. And the God of peace will be with you.


We know that in the storms of life, Jesus will come to us through the storm to still our winds and calm our troubled seas (Matthew 8:23-36; Matthew 14:22-33). We trust that we are not left alone in a tough and troubled world, but God comes to us in the Holy Spirit and makes his home with us (John 14:15-23). We know that we will never be abandoned (Hebrews 13:5). We can trust that nothing will separate us from God’s love for us that we’ve received in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:32-39). In the face of suffering, hardship, and persecution, God is working to bring us to an eternal glory that far outweighs any hardship (Romans 8:18). We know that when things are so hard that we cannot even find words to pray, the Holy Spirit empowers our prayers to be heard by our Father in heaven (Romans 8:26).

As we finish our thoughts on Paul’s three promises about the Lord’s presence,[NOTE] let’s seize these promises. Let’s trust Jesus is at work to bring us home to the Father, knowing that until that day we can be assured that the Lord is always near and is working to bring us into God’s full shalom, life to its fullest!

Shalom!


Special thanks to Free Bible Images for all Jesus related pictures.

NOTE This is the last of six articles on the promises that Paul made to the Philippians as they faced their challenges to rejoice in the face of difficult and trying times (Philippians 4:4-9):

  • The Lord is near.
  • And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • And the God of peace will be with you.

You can find all six titles on the LORD’s abiding presence listed with the posted articles linked below: