Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Scripture Memorization Week Three {Philippians 4:8-9}

“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you”

So this is the last part of the little three part memorization on some of Philippians 4. I’m unfortunately already a week  two weeks behind. I have been all over the place lately, with some changes in my husband’s work schedule! Anyways, I’ve learned a lot from these six verses. I’m excited that I have picked them all apart and can now piece them all together in a way that make sense. I can see the bigger picture of what Paul really meant in part of his letter to his friends, the Philippians. And the best part about all of this is that it’s so applicable to our lives today.

If you look up several versions of these verses, you’ll see that from 4:2-9, these verses are under “Final Exhortations”. The definition for exhortation is “an address or communication emphatically urging someone to do something”. In my Bible it’s grouped together with Thanks and Conclusion. These are some of Paul’s final words in his letter to his friends in which he aims to “exhort” or urge them to understand fully what it means to live like he did, a life that is lived for God, and to communicate to them how immensely blessed they’ll be because of it.

Focusing on Truth

Paul says “Finally…”, meaning, this is the last thing I want you to hear “brothers and sisters”, mediate and think of all things true. It seems kind of odd that he starts out with the word “true”. If we’re thinking from worldly standards here, there is no objective meaning of the word truth. It’s based on what each individual person believes is truth. Plus, Paul follows up the word truth with other more pleasing adjectives: lovely, admirable, etc. So why not just say whatever is lovely, to think about those things? But here’s the thing, I think Paul starts out with truth, because as Christians, we only know one meaning of truth. How do we as Christians recognize the one truth that I’m talking about? We can recognize truth by knowing God’s word. That’s why I’m so excited to be on this journey because by knowing his word, all of my thoughts will first go through this filter that will be built up in my mind from knowing God’s Word.  The rest describes what the Bible says is truth: things that are noble, reputable, authentic, lovely, admirable- “anything excellent or praiseworthy”- think about such things. If anyone is in a place to give this advice, it’s Paul. Paul has been the ultimate example for these people of what it’s like to lead a life focusing on God’s truth. And that truth is one that he preached about and taught wherever he went. Preaching about a crucified Messiah, whosedeath on a cross served both to redeem us and to reveal the character of Godinto which we are continually being transformed”. By doing that, he was blessed immensely by Christ’s peace, that peace that transcends all understanding that I talked about in the last post.

An Exhort for Intentional Positive Thinking

In Proverbs 23:7, I love that Solomon wrote “as a man thinks in his heart so he is”. On a daily basis, I am a glass-half-empty kinda gal. I see the bad in people, situations, and myself. What I think in my heart, has made me what I am. Don’t get me wrong, I yearn to be a positive thinker, but I’m just a Negative Nancy. I am. But if I am to call myself a Christian, I can claim boldly that I understand truth, and by understanding truth, by God’s grace, can I be a glass-half-full gal. God’s grace allows me daily to be able to see the true, noble, reputable, lovely, and admirable things all around me, which will in turn free up so many opportunities for me.  Essentially, what I have concluded is that from Paul’s exhortation to his friends, he is encouraging them to daily intentional positive thinking: focusing on Biblical truth and the good things in our daily lives as Christians. It’s a call to focus our attention on things that are noble, things that are right, things that are pure, basically anything worthy of praise in the eyes of our Father. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says that we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. The connection between verses 5-7 and 8-9 is clear: 6 and 7 are Paul’s advice on how to communicate with God, 8 and 9 are Paul’s pleas to communicate with ourselves in a way that is influenced by the Lord in order to receive his amazing peace.

The God of Peace Will Be with You

I like the message’s version of these two verses. I like them because of the end of verse 9, where it says this:
Do that, and God, whomakes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
Paul would know first hand what it is to experience having things work out into God’s most excellent harmonies. He says “do that”, do all these things that I told you, and that you learned from me and saw me do, and I promise you, God will work you into His most excellent harmonies, He’ll richly bless you, He will bring with Him His peace into your life. This is not the first time Paul wrote to the Philippians about this very thing: the God of peace will be with you. Verses 4:4-9 talk about how when we rejoice in Him for he is near {verse 4-5}, trust in His Sovereignty in our lives {6-7}, and changing our thinking {8-9}, He will do some amazing things in our life. I love this. Paul’s story is such a powerful testament to how shifting our thoughts to focusing on truth and embracing what is good in the eyes of the Lord, we will be blessed immensely. I love this quote by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

'Tis the set of the sail that decides the goal, and not thestorm of life.

What a difference it will make in our lives if we choose to find the beauty in life and shift our thinking just a little to the truth that is the Word.

So what are your thoughts on verses 8-9? 

No comments:

Post a Comment