PRACTICE THESE THINGS

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:8,9

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8,9)

Our behavior must follow our beliefs and not just our feelings. Our normal tendency is to act on the basis of our feelings. If we are feeling depressed, we usually act out these feelings. We may withdraw or become irritable and frustrated. Our feelings are greatly affected by the circumstances we are experiencing at the moment.

Feelings are deceptive and uncertain. But truth gives us clarity and direction. When we feel down and depressed, we must let our minds think on God’s truth — “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, things worthy of praise.” We must focus on what we know is true about God and His providential care over us. We have to go back to the basis of the faith. When we are focusing on truth, we have God’s direction as we make choices on our actions.

Once we have moved from feelings to faith, we then begin to act on the basis of the truth and not on the basis of our feelings. Remember our feelings can be deceptive, but truth is always dependable. We must recognize our negative feelings, and let our minds immediately go to what we know is true. Then we can make wise choices about our actions.

Throughout each day we will make choices about our behavior. These choices will be driven by our feelings or by our beliefs. When we act on the basis of our feelings, our actions will be reactive. But when we act on the basis of our beliefs (God’s truth), then our actions will be proactive. We will be obedient to the truth.

When we begin to practice our beliefs (act on them), then we will experience the peace of God, for the God of peace is with us. On the other hand, when we our actions are based solely on our feelings, especially when we have negative feelings, we will have a lack of peace.

Let me summarize. When we are experiencing negative feelings, we must immediately think on things that are true, things we have learned from Scripture. Then we must put into practice what we know is true rather than what we are feeling at the moment. It takes practice and discipline, but God’s truth can change the way we act in a dramatic way.

Lord Jesus, give me the ability to act on the basis of Your truth rather than on the basis of my fickle feelings. Help me to discipline my mind to think on things that are true, pure and right. Then enable me to act on these things. I know I can do this because the God of peace is with me.

Standard

MINDSET

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:8,9

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

We have control over our thoughts. We must discipline ourselves to think on things that honor God and that lead us to a life of holiness — “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). Our default mode is to be earthly minded. We tend to focus on temporal, immediate things. We often forget that there is a bigger picture.

We can easily let our minds dwell on our difficulties, trials and disappointments. Usually that is where our minds go first. But we must learn to look above the circumstances and let our minds focus on God’s grace, love and providence. We have to set our minds on heavenly things.

During these difficult times it is easy to focus on all the negative things. It seems that each day we are bombarded with bad news. Dwelling on the negatives can be depressing. If we allow our minds to focus on all the negatives, we will spiral downward toward despair and lose hope.

Or course, we have to be realistic about the issues of life. Part of being realistic is to remember that God is in control and He has blessed us beyond measure. He has “blessed us with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly placed in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:3). Learn to concentrate on all the good things the Lord has done for your and is doing for you. “Set your minds on things above.”

Be sure to keep your focus on the Lord and not on all the difficult things you may be facing. When we hear all the bad news, let’s remember that the gospel is good news. I really think Paul is telling us in this passage to keep our eyes on Jesus, for He is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and worthy of praise. When our mindset is on things above, we will see Jesus and He will set us free from anxiety, fear and despair. Think on the Lord Jesus and He will give You His peace and joy no matter what you are facing.

Lord Jesus, enable me to keep my eyes on You this day and to seek the things that are above. When I am overwhelmed with difficulties, troubles, and bad news, let me remember the good news that I have a Savior who is with me. When I think about You, Jesus, I am able to focus on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and things worthy of praise. Enable me to control my thoughts this day. Let me set my mind on things above and not on the things of this earth.

Standard

THE PATH TO GOD’S PEACE

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:4-7

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your forbearing spirit be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

These verses in Philippians show us the path to finding the peace of God. We have to look at them collectively in order to discover the way to experience God’s peace in our lives. There is an order to the verses.

First, we must learn how to rejoice in the Lord. Rejoicing in the Lord causes us to focus on the Lord and not on our worries and troubles. When we are rejoicing in the Lord, we find great delight in who He is. We focus on His character and attributes. We rejoice also in what He has done for us. When we are rejoicing in the Lord, we are brought into His presence and in His presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).

Second, when we get our focus right (rejoicing in the Lord), we are able to approach life with a reasonable and forbearing spirit. We are able to see life from God’s perspective, which then gives us the ability to let our forbearing spirit be known to others. We become reasonable when we face difficulties because we know that we can fully trust the Lord no matter what. We can become forbearing and keep ourselves calm. We will not go to pieces when we face trouble because we know that the Lord is at hand. We are not alone and we have nothing to fear. Jesus is with us every moment of every day.

Third, when we become reasonable, we know that the solution to our anxieties is found in prayer. We do not have to be anxious because we can give our worries to the Lord and leave them with Him. We can cast all our cares on Him and know beyond any shadow of doubt that He cares for us.

When we have done these things, we will experience the peace of God. We cannot manufacture the peace of God; it is a gift from Him. When we are in intimate fellowship with Him and are being filled by His Spirit, the Spirit Himself will bring us the fruit of God’s peace. It is God’s peace that will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. Then we will be set free from all our worries and cares, for we know that we are safe and secure in the hands of our Savior.

Lord, I am so thankful for the peace that You give me when I am in fellowship with You. Jesus, I know what it is to experience Your peace. I have done so many times across the course of my life. There is a calmness and sweetness when I do. I rejoice in You, Lord. Let my forbearing spirit be evident to all today. I cast my cares and worries upon You and with thanksgiving I know that I have no reason to be anxious. May Your peace guard my heart and my mind today through my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Standard

THE PEACE OF GOD

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:4-7

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

The Bible speaks of two kinds of peace — peace with God and the peace of God. Peace with God is the result of our justification — “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Prior to our justification we were alienated from God because of our sin. But the good news is that Jesus came to reconcile us to God — “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:8,9). It is through faith in Jesus Christ that we are justified and as a result of our justification, we have peace with God.

The peace of God is something we experience inwardly. It is the sweet peace that originates from God, who Himself possesses it in His own being. God is the God of peace. Peace is one of God’s communicable attributes, which means that we are able to share in His peace.

The peace of God is a gift from God given to His children. It is a fruit of the work of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23) and is founded upon God’s grace. The peace of God surpasses all understanding. God’s people can experience when humanly speaking there is every reason not to experience it. Experiencing God’s peace during times of great suffering is something that cannot be explained. I have known people who experienced terrible suffering and tragedies but who had incredible peace. The only explanation for such peace during those circumstances is that God produced it deep within their souls.

The peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. The Greek word translated “guard” is a military term used by a detachment of soldiers who stand guard over a city and protect it from attack. The peace of God guards our hearts and minds. It is as though God is holding our hearts and our minds in the palm of His hand, guarding and protecting them.

We must be very clear that one cannot have the peace of God apart from Jesus Christ. He is the Prince of Peace. When we have a vital, growing relationship with Him, we will experience His peace. He made this promise to us — “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, thank You for the gift of peace that You make available to Your children. There have been times in my life when I have experienced the peace of God that brought comfort, hope and joy to my soul. I know that Your peace will guard my heart and my mind. Because of Your peace my heart does not need to be troubled and I do not need to be afraid of anything. Grant me Your peace this day.

Standard

DO NOT BE ANXIOUS

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:4-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Prayer is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. It is amazing how much anxiety we bring upon ourselves because of the lack of prayer. Prayer shows our dependance on God. It means that we recognize we can’t but He can! Prayer takes us to God’s level. It enables us to see life from His perspective. I love the words of Fannie Crosby’s hymn, I Am Thine, O Lord — “O, the pure delight of a single hour that before Thy throne I spend, when I kneed in prayer, and with Thee, my God, I commune as friend with friend.”

God invites us to come to His throne of grace in prayer — “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:12). We become overwhelmed with worry when we fail to cast our anxieties on the Lord — “Casting all our anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). God cares for us. He knows when we are overly burdened and anxious. He wants us to cast ALL our anxieties upon Him. The problem I have is that I give them to Him but quickly take them back. We need to learn how to leave our anxieties in His hands. Doing so is a matter of faith and it takes practice to leave our worries in His hands.

Jesus said — “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap or gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25,26). God cares for us and He will provide for us. He wants us to cast our anxieties on Him and leave them with Him. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Lord, forgive me when I allow myself to be filled with anxiety. There are times when I find myself overcome with worry. You have told me not to be anxious about anything. I am to bring my worries to You and cast them upon You and leave them there. Today I do so again. I cast my anxiety upon You because I know that You care for me.

Standard

REJOICING IN THE LORD

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:4-7

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:4,5)

When we rejoice in the Lord, we are able to experience the deep inward quality of joy. Joy is the deep contentment that is in the Lord based on trust in the sovereign, loving God, and that is always available, even in difficult times. Rejoicing in the Lord causes us to focus on God and not on circumstances. Paul was in prison facing a death sentence when he wrote these words. Yet, he was able to rejoice in the Lord, for He knew that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21). He had a deep contentment knowing that He could trust the Lord no matter what.

Rejoicing in the Lord enables us to face whatever comes our way. Let me say it again, rejoicing in the Lord causes us to focus on the Lord and not on our circumstances. Rejoicing in the Lord is so important that Paul says it twice — “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice!” Notice that we are to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, not just when things are going our way but also when we are facing hardships and trouble — “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:6,7). When we have a deep abiding faith in our Lord, we know that He is in control of all things and that we are secure in His hands. We can rejoice because we know that He loves us and cares deeply for us.

Rejoicing in the Lord enables us to have a “forbearing spirit.” The Greek word that is translated “forbearing” doesn’t have a good English word to describe its meaning. Some words that help us gain the true idea of the meaning of this word are yieldedness, gentleness, kindliness, reasonableness and generosity. When we rejoice in the Lord, we are able to have a reasonable and gentle spirit. Having such a spirit prevents us from being overwhelmed when we face troubles and difficulties.

We must remember that “the Lord is near.” Certainly this refers to the second coming of Christ, but it also means that He is near us all the time. We are never alone. We can rejoice in the Lord always because He is always with us. His presence enables us to have a forbearing spirit no matter what we are facing. Remember that rejoicing in the Lord causes us to focus on the Lord and not on our circumstances. When we do so, we will find a deep contentment in Him and experience His joy.

Lord Jesus, I rejoice in You. I am so thankful that You are with me and that I have nothing to fear. I rejoice in the fact that You are in control of all things and that You hold me in the palm of Your hand. When I am rejoicing in You, I find deep joy myself. Let me keep my eyes on You and not on the circumstances I am facing. Enable me to have a forbearing spirit no matter what comes my way.

Standard

EXPECT CONFLICT

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:2,3

“I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” (Philippians 4:2,3)

Conflict is inevitable because we are all fallen people. We must remember the words of Scripture — “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We will disappoint one another and we will sin against one another. We will disagree over things and we will have conflict. No one is exempt from it. What is important is that we deal with conflict when it occurs and seek to be reconciled with one another.

The members of the church at Philippi were not exempt from conflict. Two of the members, Euodia and Syntyche, were experiencing some sort of conflict with each other. We are not sure what the conflict was, but it was serious enough for Paul to address the matter in this epistle.

It is evident that these two women were committed to the gospel. They had worked side by side with Paul. They were godly women who were committed to serving the Lord and His church. The point is that even godly people can have conflict. We must expect it and not be surprised by it.

Ideally, when people face conflict, those directly involved in the conflict should seek to resolve it themselves and seek to be at peace with one another. “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:19). Each party is to seek to resolve the conflict as much as they can — “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).

However, there are times when a third party is needed. The conflict with these two women is an example. Paul asked on one of the other members of the church to intervene and help these women resolve the conflict. Sometimes it takes a third party to help those who are having conflict to see the real issue and to help them take steps to resolve it.

The key to resolving conflict is “to agree in the Lord.” In other words, we are to seek God’s will in every matter and yield to it. In some cases, it may be difficult to find specific directions from God’s Word. But we must always remember these words when we face conflict — “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31,32).

Lord Jesus, give me wisdom when I face conflict. Enable me to have your mind and heart. Let me deal with it in humility as I seek Your will in the matter. Grant me grace to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. You have forgiven me so many times. Dare I not be a forgiving person.

Standard

STAND FIRM

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:17-4:1

“Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm then in the Lord, my beloved.” (Philippians 4:1)

Paul had a special place in his heart for the Philippians. He prayed regularly for them — “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (1:3,4). Paul was a role model for the Philippians — “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (v. 17). He had reminded the Philippians about their true citizenship — “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 20). He also told them about the power of Christ — “who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself” (v. 21).

Paul was preparing the Philippians for the battles they would face in this world. Therefore he wrote these words — “Stand firm then in the Lord, my beloved.” Paul loved these people. Look how he addressed them — “my brothers,” “whom I love and long for,” “my joy and crown,” ” my beloved.” Because he loved them so much, he wanted them to know that life in this fallen world is filled with temptations, disappointments, difficulties, and suffering. So, he wrote to them — “Stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.”

We must realize that we too will face times of uncertainty and disappointment. We must be prepared for the battles we will face. We must stand firm in the Lord no matter what comes our way. Remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is omnipotent! He is our fortress and our refuge.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).

Lord Jesus, I know that I will face temptations and spiritual battles this day. Let me stand firm in You. I know that You are all powerful. You are with me and You will defend me and give me strength to face whatever comes my way this day.

Standard

THE OMNIPOTENCE OF CHRIST

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:17-4:1

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20,21)

What enables Jesus Christ to transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body? The answer is — “by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” Jesus Christ is omnipotent,that is, all powerful. His power enables Him to subject ALL THINGS to Himself. Nothing is more powerful than the power of Jesus.

It was the power of Christ that brought about creation — “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). It is the power of Christ that holds all things together in the universe — “And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).

It is the power of Christ that has disarmed Satan and his evil forces — “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him” (Colossians 2:15). It is the power of Christ that will defeat all the enemies of Christ, including the last enemy, death — “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (I Corinthians 15:25,26).

Let us never underestimate the power of Jesus Christ. His power is available to us, especially in our weakness — “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9). When we are weak, He is strong. He comes to our aid. We have nothing to fear for the all powerful Lord Jesus Christ is with us always.

Lord Jesus, omnipotent God, how comforting to know that You are all powerful. Nothing and no one can stand up against Your power. You subject all things to Yourself. I have nothing to fear, for You are with me. You will protect me, defend me, and deliver me. I rest in Your all powerful hands.

Standard

TRANSFORMED BODIES

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:17-4:1

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20,21)

Paul is referring to our glorification in this passage. Glorification is the future tense of salvation. It occurs when Jesus returns to earth again. At that time there will be a resurrection of the bodies of those who have already died. Their resurrected bodies will be reunited with their eternal souls. Paul describes these resurrected bodies in I Corinthians 15 — “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body” (I Corinthians 15:42-44).

But, what will happen to those who are still alive when Christ returns? The answer is found in our passage — “(Christ) will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” When Jesus returns, He will transform our earthly bodies and make them like His glorious body — “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (I Corinthians 15:51,52).

We will live forever as citizens of the new heavens and new earth, the new Jerusalem. We will have bodies that are healthy and that will not age or experience any form of suffering and pain. We will have physical bodies and we will live on the new physical earth. “Death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Our true citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a glorious future in store for us! Thus, we eagerly await the return of our Savior.

Lord Jesus, thank You for the hope that we have. I know that I am destined for glory. One day I will see You face to face. I will be given a body like Yours and live in the new heavens and new earth with You throughout all eternity. I eagerly await Your return!

Standard