Wednesday (3/18/2020) - Lord God, by your Word fill me with a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving
Philippians 4:1–9 - Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work. Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life. Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord.” That may be one of the most difficult to follow commands in all of Scripture! There are just so many things in life that can steal our joy if we let them, especially over the last few weeks. Paul makes it clear that joy is an expectation for every believer and he gives a list of things we can do to help keep our joy even in difficult situations. Paul tells us to remember that the Lord is coming soon. If we keep an eternal perspective, these temporary circumstances aren’t nearly as powerful against us. Next, Paul encourages us to not worry but instead pray. Prayer is one of the ways we maintain a strong relationship with God. It helps to align us with his will and keeps our hearts and mind focused on him.
And then Paul mentions thankfulness. This is a truth that I have found in my own life – thankfulness drives joy. If I can keep myself focused on having a thankful heart, it is much easier be joyful. The difficulty is keeping my mind focused. I am certain this is why Paul gives us “one final thing” in verse 8. Instead of focusing on all the negative things going on around us and in us, we should focus our thoughts on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise.
I refer to that verse as a filter for my mind. When I have a thought come into my mind I run it through the filter of Philippians 4:8 – if that thought doesn’t match up to each of those characteristics Paul mentions in this verse than that is not a thought I want in my life because it will ultimately steal my joy and hurt my relationship with God.
Do yourself a favor today. Start using this filter for the mind and intentionally gauge your thought life. I think you will be surprised first of all by the number of thoughts that fail this test. But you might also be surprised by how much joy you can find when you focus your mind on Christ. This will take time to incorporate into your life as a discipline – Paul said to had to practice these things. But it can be done and it will be a change that will bring great joy and thankfulness into your life.