Season 2 | EPISODE 8

Walking in Peace: A Life Founded on God’s Love

40:30 · October 24, 2023

In this episode, Josiah Bancroft delivers a heartfelt devotional from Serge’s Launch Week, the final sendoff before new missionaries set out on their overseas journeys. Drawing on Philippians 4:4-9,  Josiah shares insight on how to navigate anxiety and rejoice in the Lord—even in our hardest times. Through personal stories, he speaks to the importance of anchoring our hearts and minds in Jesus – paving the path to profound inner peace and capacity to extend Christ’s gentleness and love to others. 

In this episode, Josiah Bancroft delivers a heartfelt devotional from Serge’s Launch Week, the final sendoff before new missionaries set out on their overseas journeys. Drawing on Philippians 4:4-9,  Josiah shares insight on how to navigate anxiety and rejoice in the Lord—even in our hardest times. Through personal stories, he speaks to the importance of anchoring our hearts and minds in Jesus – paving the path to profound inner peace and capacity to extend Christ’s gentleness and love to others. 

In this episode, they discuss...

  • Why the call to rejoice is more than a Christian sentiment (3:37)
  • How to avoid a false pathway to peace (8:42)
  • Is worry a sin? And why that might be good news (14:00)
  • The only heart attitude that will truly combat our anxiety (17:17)
  • The key to building up peace in our hearts in a time of stress (30:32)

Thank you for listening! If you found this conversation encouraging or helpful, please share this episode with your friends and loved ones. Or please leave us a review—it really helps!

Referenced in the episode...


Our guest for this episode was Josiah Bancroft. Josiah served in Serge’s executive leadership for decades. Now, he and Barbara mentor and consult with leaders, couples, and pastors in the US and abroad. This episode was hosted by Jim Lovelady. Production by Anna Madsen, Aaron Gray, Brooke Herron, Ashlie Kodsy, and Sunny Chi. Music by Tommy Leahy

𝑮𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑭𝒓𝒂𝒚 𝑷𝒐𝒅𝒄𝒂𝒔𝒕 is produced by SERGE, an international missions agency that sends and cares for missionaries and develops gospel-centered programs and resources for ongoing spiritual renewal. Learn more and get involved at serge.org.

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Questions or comments? Feel free to reach out to Serge’s Renewal Team anytime at podcast@serge.org



Welcome to the Grace at the Fray—a podcast that explores the many dimensions of God’s grace that we find at the frayed edges of life. Come explore how God’s grace works to renew your life and send you on mission in His Kingdom.


0:00:24.0 Jim Lovelady: Hello, beloved, welcome to Grace at the Fray. So I want you to imagine for a moment that the Lord has called you on the mission field and imagine that you’ve raised all your financial support. You’ve watched God build a team of individual donors and churches who are praying for you and have put their money where their prayers are, and they’re participating with you in sending you to wherever it is that the Lord has called you. And imagine having completed your month long cross-cultural training out in Colorado, and you’ve made all your preparations with friends and family. Your children have said their goodbyes to their friends. You’ve sold your house, your cars, and all the stuff that you knew you never needed, but never had the excuse to sell. And about a month ago, you bought your plane tickets and you put all your belongings in a shipping crate and sent it to your new home. Hopefully it arrives this year. Imagine all the excitement and the anxiety you would have as you set out on this new adventure. 

And now I want you to find yourself sitting in Serges sending center, the home office during what we call Launch Week. It’s the final week of preparations before workers leave for the field. What would you want to hear in your last week of preparation before you leave? Well, today I wanna share with you the closing devotional that Josiah Bancroft gave at our most recent launch week. 

A few episodes ago, I interviewed Josiah to talk about his new Bible study on the book of Philippians. I’ve been hanging out with that book ever since. And man, I’ve come to realize just how much Philippians has shaped my imagination around what it looks like to build my life on the story of Jesus. Well, Josiah has been meditating on Philippians for the last few years now.

And you can really tell that it has captured his imagination. And I want you to listen to this as if you were about to go on the mission field, because the fact of the matter is, wherever the Lord has called you, wherever you’re headed right now, and whatever you’re doing, you are a missionary. You are part of God’s kingdom moving forward on earth as it is in heaven. 

So I wanna read this passage from Philippians 4:4-9. And then I want us to get ready to see what it looks like to follow Jesus wherever he may lead.

0:02:53.5 Jim Lovelady: Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone the Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

0:03:37.5 Josiah Bancroft: If you would turn to Philippians chapter four, and the hope that I have would be to move from verse four through verse seven. Your outline goes through verse nine. If I’m able to get further, I will. I would struggle to say just how deeply, especially this passage has been working in my life for really a couple of years, and especially for this last year. And I don’t want to, I’ve really struggled about how much to share, but this has been an awful year. I got terribly sick in the summer, so sick. We had to look at replacing me. I’m not fully recovered from long COVID. I have a wealth of really weird symptoms that are getting better but are not gone. I don’t travel, used to travel 60 to 70 percent of my time.

0:04:55.3 Josiah Bancroft: I’ve lost the team I’ve led. I’ve lost the team I was part of. I’ve lost income, I’ve lost health, travel. Those were social relationships. They’ll be gone. And so when I come to you, I don’t come as someone who has got things together, okay? I come from a place of real struggle and of difficulty, in my life. And so this is the passage God has used repeatedly, has used this week to encourage and strengthen my faith and my heart. So I don’t live out of fear and worry and loss and difficulty, but I have something else to talk about, even though I battled to keep those things from overwhelming me at times. And so the passage I need to hear is Paul stuck between two or more stuck with guards in a Roman jail, not knowing if he will live or die. And what is Paul’s response to his dear friends in Philippi? Verse four: “rejoice in the Lord always.”

0:06:39.2 Josiah Bancroft: Is that helpful? Deeply, deeply helpful because part of what it does is, I’m not rejoicing in what I see. I’m rejoicing in the victory, but love the presence, the provision, the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And that’s something to rejoice in. And my attention moves from all of these other things that could overwhelm me. It has to move not just once, but repeatedly from all the distractions of this life, all the gains, the losses, the hopes of a new job coming, the hopes of the next sea from everything to the person in the presence of Jesus Christ. Rejoice in the Lord, always. I will again. I will say rejoice. Now, he has said this to the letter, so he ends the letter saying the same thing. Somehow the things that I brag about, boast about, I am energized and most focused on need to be the person, the work, the kingdom, the rule, and the progress of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I will tell you for certainty that when that is actually true of me, I’m sane. I’m a different person. I’m not someone who is covering worry with Christian platitudes. Brother, I’m not worried. ‘Cause there’s a difference.

0:08:42.6 Josiah Bancroft: There’s a difference between knowing what’s right and knowing what the passage teaches and living it. And so God has been teaching me to live this. Rejoice in the Lord when things go well. Pray to be able to rejoice in the Lord because you have such, Paul doesn’t say any of that. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say rejoice enjoy, peace, love those things in our heart. The Spirit gears up and He expands as our attention rejoices in Jesus. So to rejoice is more than just feel joy. What are you focused on? What most consumes you? What are you most interested in or do you brag about? Boast about joy. His name is Jesus. And when that is actually turning your life, these spiritual fruits are a byproduct of his presence by the spirit working in you. So as you rejoice in Jesus Christ, you can find some of them at work in your heart and your life tangibly. And I want you to know people around me like me a lot better when I’m walking with Jesus. Maybe that would be your experience as well.

0:10:42.1 Josiah Bancroft: Let your reasonableness, verse 5. Sorry verse 4, rejoice in the Lord always. Verse 5, let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. I don’t like doing this because I want people to have confidence in what they read. But reasonableness is not the way this word is most often translated, and it does not fit well here. The translation they’ve given you, in my opinion. Now, obviously here, Greek scholars, I’m disagreeing with ’em.

0:11:20.6 Josiah Bancroft: So take it for what it’s worth. Alright. The word is gentleness. The passages, let your gentleness be known to everyone. Jesus is, was a gentle savior. And so part of what Paul is saying is, let your gentleness be known. I want you to be reasonable as well. So that’s not a bad thing. But in the context, in the verses just before where Lindsay, went through conflict with you, reasonableness is good, gentleness is better. And so let your gentleness be known to everyone. Think of the church today. Do you think of it as a gentle or reasonable place? Somehow the spirit of this world has subverted much of the church and focused it on earthly politics rather than a king in heaven, for whom I did not vote.

0:12:55.1 Josiah Bancroft: I did not make him king. I did not install Him as king. His Kingdom is forever with or without me. And so Paul reminds me, the Lord is at hand. He doesn’t use the word Jesus. He uses the word Lord, the Lord, the ruler, the one who loves me. The Lord is at hand, and there is a double meaning that isn’t there. At hand could be, soon coming to establish His Kingdom in power, visibly. Maranatha, come Lord Jesus. I know it’s 10:15, I’m gonna ask you again. Maranatha, come Lord Jesus.

0:13:53.6 Guests: Amen.

0:13:54.9 Josiah Bancroft: Amen indeed. So that’s one meaning. But the other meaning is, He’s here. He’s both. And we talk about the now, not yet. Jesus is now present and He is coming. And so I rejoice in His presence. And as I do that, spiritual fruit in my life like gentleness happens, is given to me by the spirit in my new man and a changed life. And then verse six is, you know where I’m going. Do not be anxious about anything. I remember where I was at age 18, shortly after my conversion, listening to Elizabeth Newbold and at the Pool’s house as she taught a Bible study. And she was going through Philippians, the first book I studied after my conversion. And I remember where I was sitting. I remember when she said, worry is a sin.

0:15:19.3 Josiah Bancroft: And I remember thinking, that can’t be true. I do it all the time. Worry is a sin. I went up after the class and argued with her and lost. And one of the things she said to me is, “Josiah, if worry is a sin, it will disappear when Jesus comes.” Oh, that would be good. I’m for that. And here, Paul says to us, and I would say, he says it to you, “don’t worry.” Now, what I have found helpful, daunting, but helpful, is for you to write it down. What are you worried about? What are you afraid of? What drags you around by your hair at night so you don’t sleep as you get into those worry loops? Anybody? Has that ever happened to you? Just, not wheel of fortune, wheel of worry, spin it and this topic comes up. Yeah, I worried about that a half an hour ago, but let me worry about that some more and spin it. And the next topic, and the next topic and you get in this game of worry and it ruins your life. It ruins your sleep. You wind up struggling to worry for nothing.

0:17:17.1 Josiah Bancroft: Do not be anxious about anything. Don’t worry about anything. Well, what do you do? By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Let your request be made known to God. I’d like to encourage you to act like God loves you and he hasn’t given you this pile of worry and said, now when you sort that, we’ll talk. I act that way sometimes, but it is a smoking sulfurous lie from the pit. My God loves me. He welcomes my request. Ask, seek, knock. Let your requests be made known to God. Pray about it. And you don’t have to pray about it with promises. Lord, I’m really worried about the next month, but I’ll do better. I’m working on that. Don’t give up. All that stuff. One, like a toddler to your daddy, To this week, yesterday or today, have, I believe I’ve learned something new about this verse. And that is, but in everything with prayer and vibrant supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God. My confession is that I can put the thanksgiving at the front like you see in the Psalms, and was using thanksgiving to try to warm my heart up enough to pray.

0:19:37.0 Josiah Bancroft: I don’t think that’s bad, but I think there’s something that’s even better about this passage. I don’t know enough to pray. I can see the train coming. I know I got problems now and ahead. I can’t even sort through them well enough to make a reasonable supplication and prayer to God. I can’t sort it out. You ever been there? Thank God, Jesus covers my sin. Thank God, the spirit intercedes for me. Thank God, he loves me enough to make sense of what my real needs are, and to answer and care for me when I can’t even pray right. Now that’s something to thank God about.

0:20:50.0 Guests: Amen.

0:20:51.4 Josiah Bancroft: Thank you. [chuckle] Yes, that is something to thank God about. I can’t even name it all. And that’s what happened to me this week. I’ve encouraged you to get out what worries and bothers you, and to make a list. Well, I made my list and I couldn’t finish it. It was… It got longer and longer, and I thought, “What do I pray for in this list?” And I didn’t know. I can pray for specifics, I did. But when I backed up and looked at the whole thing, I thought, “I don’t know what I’m doing. This is not helping me. I’m depressed by this list I made. And now I’m supposed to pray through it and that… ” And then thanksgiving swept it away. Because He cares for me. He loves me. All those things. He will take care of, cover, walk me through. I have a savior, I have a spirit, and I have a Father. Thank God. And in that moment, making the request, not hiding them or muscling through them. Not doing some psycho ninja, relying on medication and meditation to solve. And I am for that. Anxiety is a problem. Medication is not our enemy, is not an opposition to what I’m teaching.

0:22:52.0 Josiah Bancroft: We want to get good at helping people with rhythms and rest. And we want to do what we can to manage wrong responses, both in our body and our minds and emotions, to the difficulties we express. But part of what I’m saying to you is, that above all of that, around all of that, through all of that, is the power of the Spirit of God to do something in your life that is more lasting and significant than all the other processes and plans we put in place. You have a father who will help you. Thank God, you have a savior who has covered you. Thank God, you have a Spirit that intercedes for you, with words that you cannot even say. Thank God. Pray. Make your supplication with faith and with thanksgiving that you’ve got some help with all that, and that God’s gonna take care of even your stupid prayers. You know there’s some hope in that. When I talk like this, people often can’t even imagine what it would be like to be free. To turn off that background tape of fear, anxiety, difficulty that runs through your head. It’s almost like everybody’s got their AirPods in. I need to go around and just slap each one of you, slap those things outta your head.

0:25:06.7 Josiah Bancroft: Turn that thing off. It’s killing you. Take your heart to Christ and listen to him, and his promises. Let your request be made known to God. And I’m so glad it says it in this order, that with thanksgiving and request, even before I see how it all works out, I can have peace. Can you believe it? A heart of peace. Look, when you run through this and it doesn’t work, do it again. Take your heart to God until he gives you the confidence of his love, the willingness that he has to answer, the knowledge or the presence of God, the hope of the infilling spirit, so that you can be at peace. Now, the key to this is not denial. Paul’s not saying, “I’m not in jail. I’m not in jail.” [chuckle] I hear people preach like that. That’s the word of faith. No, that’s the word of denial. Faith is something different.

0:26:49.7 Josiah Bancroft: And they teach that denial is somehow faith. It’s not. Paul is completely aware of what’s going on in his life and has peace. Peace without denial. Unbelievable. And notice what he says and the peace of God. Let me ask you, what’s God worried about? What do you think God’s worry list looks like? I mean, He’s just up there, just frightened. Oh, who knows how this will turn out? He’s up there worried about what comes next. He’s up there feeling inadequate. He’s up there. What kind of peace does God have? What is God’s peace like? Then you just say, the peace from God says, I’ve God. And that’s a peace that’s worth having. And He says, which surpasses all understanding. For me to have peace in this moment is ridiculous. And a promise. I mean, it just doesn’t, it doesn’t seem possible. But it is true. And my heart can be, and my heart is at peace. As I step into this reality, the peace of God, which surpasses understanding will guard your hearts and your minds. Really, all of you in Christ Jesus. 

0:29:10.0 Josiah Bancroft: And I want you, I’ve got this nifty little program that gives me the Bible and I mark it up because that’s what I used to do with my old New American standard. That’s what we used to have. I had a big old hard back, new American standard and a yellow highlighter. I knew I needed to get a new Bible when most of the book was highlighted. I needed to start over. [laughter] Right? And they had dry markers. Well, I mean, in my Bible, I have underlined it, guarded ’cause he can’t hang on. I need peace to guard my heart. And think about Paul when he says God, do you think he has something tangible in mind? Was Paul under guard? Was he limited in prison by guards? Did he know what it meant to be guarded? Of course he did. And he promises that God will guard my heart against the loss of his love so that I live in worry.

0:30:32.0 Josiah Bancroft: Isn’t that remarkable? The peace of God will set up guard around your heart so that all of the hardships and suffering and losses and difficulties and unexpected trials and opposition that you face do not define or ruin the peace of your heart. Because it’s a peace from God that guards your heart and keeps you safe. And when you find yourself leaving that guard, you need to run right back. And so this isn’t a once raw inoculation.

0:31:29.2 Josiah Bancroft: This is a relationship that you live out and stand in. And as you stand in it more, that’s growth to believe it better, to believe it again, to find it true some more. To find that it applies here. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. I’m not gonna go through eight and nine, but I’m going to point you through them. What it says is, and if you’d like to write this down, that would be helpful. Just write down, turn off the news. Just, I know your life will be an empty shell without the sight and without everybody telling you what’s going on, and you feeling responsible to do this, that, or the other. That would be real loss. Well I would turn it off if it’s dragging your heart around, turn it off. Whatsoever is true. Whatever’s honorable, whatever’s just whatever’s pure, whatever is lovely. Whatever’s commendable. If there’s anything excellent, if there’s anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

0:33:14.0 Josiah Bancroft: What you’ve learned and received and heard and seen me practice these things instead. And the God of peace will be with you. Sometimes we introduce things, habits into our lives, ways of thinking that subvert the peace of God. Turn it off, put it down, to quote the psychologist Rob Newhart, “stop it.” And don’t just stop it. Go to the one who loves you. Take the problems to him. Let him give you something the world can never give you, which is his peace that passes all understanding in Christ Jesus. Well, let me pray for us and I’ll stop there.

0:34:21.5 Josiah Bancroft: Father, I do pray that you would give us your peace. I know it doesn’t just hang out there, in the ether. Help us to take hold of it by bringing the things that distort our thinking and our trust and our walk with you to you. Help us to thank you that even in our poor ability to do that, you still engage and help us. Father, we would pray that your peace is beyond comprehension, will guard our hearts in Christ Jesus and that we might be free. We pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

0:35:23.5 Jim Lovelady: If you were about to go on the mission field, what would you want to hear? For me it’s this God loves you. In the middle of that devotional, Josiah said this, “I’d like to encourage you to act like God loves you.” When Josiah said this, I’ll never forget I remember exactly where I was in the room. I was in the back corner, when he said that to a group of folks who were about to go on the mission field. But it hit me too. I’d like to encourage you to act like God loves you. This is the life of the Christian faith lived on mission and faith is the bridge between the reality of God’s love and our actions. Faith means moving through my day’s activities, behaving as if God loves me. Now, your faith today may be at what feels like an all time low and to act like God loves you may feel more like pretending that God loves you.

And I want you to know that if that’s you, it’s not a bad place to start, especially if you talk to your heavenly Father about it. A wonderful prayer for this is from Psalms 143 verse 8, let the morning bring me word of your steadfast love. How would your actions today be different if they were grounded in the assurance that God loves you? What if you write that email acting like God loves you? You start that load of laundry acting like God loves you. You face your temptations acting like God loves you. You confront that one person that you’re in conflict with, acting like God loves you. You take that bold risk because God loves you. You apologize to that person that you hurt because God loves you. You give all your worries to God as an act of trusting that he loves you.

How would your actions today be different if they were grounded in the assurance that God loves you? Now, here’s the good news. Just in case you were wondering, the Lord loves you so much. So let me encourage you to act like God loves you, and you may not be a missionary waiting for your shipping crate of belongings to arrive in your new home. Maybe you’ve settled into your location, a long time ago. Whatever the case you right now are in the place that God has sent you, it may feel mundane and meaningless. But the challenge of faith is to act like you are currently in the place where God has sent you. God loves you and has placed you here. You are sent. So allow your mundane to be raptured into the daily eternal. And you can’t do that on your own.

We wanna help you. We wanna help you be on mission. We partner with churches and individuals to help them see that gospel renewal leads to mission. And we have a variety of resources to help you. So when you check out serge.org, S-E-R-G-E.O-R-G, you’ll find books and webinars and individual as well as group training cohorts, retreats, conferences, a whole world to explore as you prayerfully consider how to live on mission in God’s kingdom. And while you’re there, go pick up Josiah’s book on Philippians: Finding Joy When Life is Hard, and go to Josiah’s blog at josiahbancroft.com and you’ll discover that his content there goes really great in conjunction with his Philippian study. 

And if you don’t believe me that you are sent, well, we’ll have a book for you. [laughter] It’s called You Are Sent. So there. [chuckle] It’s by Nathan Sloan and it’s for churches and small groups that want to begin to build a missional culture among their people.

I’ll have all of these links and more in the show notes. So go ahead and start there. Go check out the show notes. 

You are sent and you are more loved by God than you realize. You are God’s beloved sent one. So receive his blessing, the pleasure of his grace as you go blessed to be a blessing. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to smile down on you. May the Lord be gracious to you. Turn his bright eyes to you and give you his peace. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God life everlasting. Amen.

Josiah Bancroft

Josiah Bancroft is Senior Advisor at Serge and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. A church planter, pastor and missionary, he now oversees all the ministries, mission work and publications of Serge. Together with his wife, Barbara, they trust God’s grace at the fray.


Jim Lovelady

Jim Lovelady is a Texas-born pastor, musician, and liturgist, doing ministry in Philadelphia with his wife, Lori, and 3 kids, Lucia, Ephram, and Talitha. He is passionate about the ministry of liberating religious people from the anxieties of religion and liberating secular people from the anxieties of secularism through the story of the gospel.

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