In Part One, we learned from Philippians 4 that the key to unlocking God’s peace lies in our daily choices. When we practice the daily discipline of Choosing JOY and GENTLENESS (v. 4,5) the peace of God is unleashed through our prayers.
We get to experience PEACE in a very REAL WAY.
To keep this powerful excerpt practical--I broke some of what Paul was saying into the 4 Cs. (Read More in Part 1!)
The TRUE Beauty Behind Verse 8:
Sometimes, when we read pretty scripture, we get lost in the loftiness of the words. They just sound so HOLY, like something only the Super-Christians (who are they, anyways?) can truly apply.
But the power of holy scripture comes when we break down each verse and feed on it like our lives depend on it!!! It EMPOWERS us through Jesus Christ.
He was a smart one, that man.
The word “guard” in v. 7 is a military term used to protect something against the invasion of the enemy. Paul was in the thick of it when he wrote this letter and no doubt his own God-inspired words were being used to protect his own heart and mind.
Protect from what, you ask?
From thoughts of uselessness, loneliness, defeat, resentment, fear….all lies Satan was flinging his way. Lies that he continues to fling at us.
Paul knew the key to guarding his heart required a shift in MINDSET for him.
He chose to THINK 7 specific thoughts that invite the Peace of God to guard his heart.
I will call them the Arsenal SEVEN.
Verse 8 lines them up:
- 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...
Your THOUGHTS determine how you FEEL.
It’s not just about keeping impure thoughts out--it’s about inviting STRONG thoughts IN.
By doing so---we allow God to slowly but surely shift our MINDSET.
I have much to say on how the Christian mindset differs greatly from a secular perspective, but for now--I’m going to offer some key verses and actions we can apply to each of the 7 thoughts.
I’m going to try to keep these in tidy, bulleted form but there is so much meat here, sister. For this reason, I’ve chosen to tackle the first 3 Thoughts and save the remaining 4 for Part 3. Who is with me?
THOUGHT #1 - TRUTH
The Philippian church didn’t have the New Testament bound together to read from front to back like we do. They had the written stories from the Old Testament and they had the Gospel of Jesus. No doubt they memorized the stories of the great heroes of faith and used their testimonies to fuel their mindset. Here are a few suggestions to begin your own TRUTHING quest:
- The writer of Hebrews 11 goes through a list of Old Testament Faith Heroes, which begins with the faith of Abel, son of Adam and Eve. Go through this list and commit to learning their stories and WHY their faith in God led them to trust and obey God. These truths are eternal and relevant in your life today.
- Read a daily chapter from the Book of Psalms aloud and choose to memorize selected verses. There is power in our words and committing to reading these words--even when it doesn't feel warm and fuzzy--allows TRUTH to penetrate our hearts and minds.
- Choose to read the book of Matthew or John with the MINDSET of a 1st Century Christian reading these words about Jesus for the first time. At the end of the day, THIS is all we need--to learn who Jesus was and is and what He did for you and me.
THOUGHT #2 - HONOR
Honor God. Do your thoughts bring honor to God? Honor your Husband. Do you think and speak about your husband in a way that brings him honor?
The difference between honor and respect is that respect is more of an action but honor is the deep admiration that comes with the actions.
Deeply admiring God and all His good things means training our minds to find pleasure in the good things He placed in our lives. Sometimes we get bogged down with the more trivial list of to-dos and forget to take time to deeply admire what He’s given us….including YOU. Yes! We forget to admire that God gave us...us. We dishonor ourselves as God’s creation when we tear ourselves down.
I cringe to think of all the minutes I waste complaining about my weight, my skin, my gray roots, my chicken legs-ha! This is nonsense stuff--instead I choose to honor the gifts He endowed me with so that I can bring Honor to him.
I saw this quote the other day and reminded me of Honoring God:
THOUGHT #3 - JUSTICE
As an Enneagram #8, I am passionate about justice. I am so passionate about it that I have gotten lost in my pursuit of it on behalf of orphans. However, I’ve had to remind myself that Social Justice and Biblical Justice are different. No amount of justice is worth it if we lose sight of the one who created it. Here are two of my favorite justice verses:
Learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow's cause.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Biblical Justice is to make things right according to God. His priority is to “make us right” with Him (being justified). As believers, we are to help administer God’s justice by lovingly walking alongside people to assure that they align themselves with God. Biblical justice has eternal implications. We are all called to tell others about God and to think of ways to do so.
The secondary meaning for justice is making things right for those who are marginalized like widows, orphans, foreigners, the poor, the abused, the homeless, the single mom, the drug addict, the list goes on. We are to think about these things not because we need to be a goody-two-shoes or take up a cause so we can feel like a useful part of society. The main reason we do this is because...
God LOVES the poor and marginalized. God LOVES you. There is no direct action we can do that fills a need for God. He has no needs. He chose the poor and suffering as vessels for which we can show our love for Him and his people. When we do this, we are also making things “right” here on earth. We are his hands and feet and are to execute justice starting in our homes.
Here is a practical suggestion. You know when your kid says, “That’s not fair” for the hundredth time? There is power in that because he is feeling the injustice of his circumstances (however wrong or selfish) in his heart. Explore those feelings with your child and explain that is how God wants us to feel for others. He wants us to feel the pain, cry the tears and walk alongside those who truly have been treated unfairly. How can they start to impart justice at school? At home? On the playground?
Justice begins at home.
I invite you to add these thoughts into your arsenal so that you can strengthen your mindset and guard your heart. Remember, our thoughts determine how we feel. King Solomon said:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” - Proverbs 4:23
Thank you for reading this. Please know that I am also applying these words to my #quarantinelife right now. I know we can do this because Philippians 4:13 says we can……We can DO this in Christ who gives us strength.
Catch Part 3 next week! Please forward this to a friend you think needs this!
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