SQUIRREL: One thing you begin to notice about Paul's writing style is that sometimes he goes off on tangents and then later he comes back and picks up where he left off. It's not that the tangents don't give us valuable insight - they do! - but it helps to put everything back in context when you step back a bit and see how it all fits together. The phrase in v4 should ring a bell: Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again I say rejoice! Look back at the beginning of chapter 3, it starts the same way. Basically, 3:2 - 4:3 was a rabbit trail (again, that's not to say it's not important), and starting with 4:4, things are back on track.
DOING THIS LEADS TO GETTING THAT: There are some awesome promises made in this chapter, but God delivers those promises by aligning our actions with Him. Here are those promises:
The Lord is near (v5)
The peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (v7)
The God of peace will be with you (v9)
Now look back at the words that precede these promises. What things must you be doing to align yourself with God's will in order to enjoy the benefits of these massive promises?
MUCH BETTER TRANSLATION: One of the biggest mistakes people make is taking Bible verses out of context, and v13 is one of those verses that is often butchered by separating it from its context:
I can do all things through him who gives me strength (v13, ESV).
Often this verse will be used as an inspirational phrase for sports teams, or to encourage someone who's sick, or in some sort of dire straights. But what happens when that team loses, or the sick person gets sicker or even dies, or when circumstances don't improve? Did those bad things happen because God didn't hold up His end of the bargain and give the strength needed?
However, when you read this verse in its entire context, and adjust the translation to more accurately reflect that context, which the latest version of the NIV does, it makes much more sense:
I can do all this through him who gives me strength (v13, NIV).
The 'all this' refers to being content in every situation, not being able to do all things. This is why it's so important to read the Bible in larger chunks than just a verse at a time!
AAA Prayer Tips:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our God who meets all of your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus (v19)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Do not be anxious about anything (v6a)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: By prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God (v6b).