Joy in thinking about…

As Paul nears the end of his letter to the Philippians, he wants them to remember what they learned from him and his teachings, but he also desires them to refocus. He talked about rejoicing always, vs4, responding with gentleness, vs5, letting go their worries and stress, vs6, praying with a thankful heart, vs 6, and accept God’s peace that will guard their hearts, vs7. In today’s verses Philippians 4:8-9 Paul focuses on their need to conquer their minds. He knows Satan will try to use their minds to tempt them, to pervert their thinking and lead them away from God. Satan uses the same tricks and lies with us today. Here is God’s solution, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, 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.”

So many books have been written about the mind and the battles we face therein, but I thought I’d look at each of the words Paul uses to see if we can glean additional insight into what he is suggesting to us. Paul lists things that are worthy of our thoughts and he first lists what ever is true. John 8:31-32, 36 “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Thinking and mediating on the truth of Jesus and His saving work in the cross gives freedom to the mind and soul!

Whatever is honorable is found in Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” If we store good things in our heart, then we will have a storehouse to rely upon when our minds seem to wander.

Whatever is just. There are many reference to just and justice in scripture. Deuteronomy 32:4 gives us something to think about in reference to just, “God alone is our focus. “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong,  upright and just is he.” Thinking about God and His work will help us to think about what is just.

Whatever is pure. Scripture has many references to pure in the context of pure gold, pure wool, etc. These describe things that are fully what they are suppose to be without impurities. The references that focused on pure thinking that resonated most with me were: Psalm 119:8 “the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of are Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;” God’s Word is pure and can be a focus to keep our minds on track. Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” I know God can and will renew me when I trust by faith in Jesus. He creates in me a pure heart. This gives me joy and assurance of His love for me.

Whatever is lovely. Read these words from Psalm 84– truly something lovely to think about. “How lovely is your dwelling place,  Lord Almighty! Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.”

Whatever is commendable. Peter speaks of commendable acts that would be worthy of thought. 1 Peter 2:19-20 “ For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. Those who suffer or endure injustice are worthy of our thoughts and prayers.

Whatever is excellent. Titus 3:4-8 speaks of the most excellent thing we can think about – Jesus and what He has done for us. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Whatever is worthy of praise1 Chronicles 16:25 sums this up perfectly. “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;  he is to be feared above all gods.”

I pray these verses have given you new, different and encouraging things to think about. Rejoice and may your joy be found in the Lord and may He direct your thoughts today.

Linda

P.S. This post was longer than I usually write but covering each word revealed a positive avenue for my thinking that I had not considered before. Thank you for indulging me by reading all the way to the end. Blessings to you.

How to Live Towards Blessings

In Isaiah 56:1-2 the Lord reveals that blessings come from doing what is right, supporting justice, looking forward to God’s salvation, keeping the Sabbath and staying away from doing evil.  God promises that living a life based in His righteousness leads to blessings.

This is what the Lord says,
“Maintain justice and do righteousness,
For My salvation is soon to come,
And My righteousness and justice is soon to be revealed.
“Blessed (happy, fortunate) is the man who does this,
And the son of man who takes hold of it,
Who keeps the Sabbath without profaning it,
And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”  Isaiah 56:1-2 (AMP)   

Blessings are gifts of divine favor that bring happiness into our lives.  Living our lives with a desire to do what is right is a gift from God.  Seeking His righteousness that He reveled through Jesus will help us walk with Him each day and bring blessing.  I love the way God tells us to take hold, grab onto this lifestyle so we can receive His blessings and favor to the fullest.  Keeping the Sabbath, a day devoted to worship, family, praise and one that is a respite from our days of working that life requires, will bring blessing.  We must really strive to live apart from the world and its ways that are based in greed and self-fulfillment.    I like the description James gives us in 1:26-27 “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”   Watching what we say is of upmost importance, doing good for others and keeping ourselves unstained by the world’s standards and acts is what God is looking for in our lives and in our hearts as we seek to show love and devotion to Him.

today“Blessed (happy, fortunate) is the man who does this, is the goal God has set before us.  Knowing that a life lived for God is based on His righteousness and reflects His justice, love, mercy, compassion and hope for the world around us. Look for His blessings as you walk with Him today.  He is forever faithful and will do as He promises.

Linda