It is so easy to get caught up in the stresses in life that we tend to forget how important it is for us to focus on the cross daily. As you read this familiar passage written by Paul the Apostle, see if anything that he says speaks to you in a new way.
PHILIPPIANS 4:8-9 4
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 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.
8 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. 9 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.
CONSIDER THESE QUESTIONS
- What does it mean to "be full of joy in the Lord?"
- How does Paul instruct us to combat our human tendency to worry about things?
- In what areas of your life do you struggle in focusing on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable?
- Paul really focuses on having control of your thoughts in this passage. In what areas of your mind or thoughts do you need to practice control over?
- How can you develop a habit of focusing on Christ in the midst of worry and stress?
I am writing to you as a veteran "worrier," so this passage always convicts me, yet holds a special place in my heart. Throughout college and even now I have to deal with intense bouts of anxiety. It is definitely not fun, but the Lord has shown me parts of himself I would have never known had I not had to go through these experiences with anxiety! Over the last couple years I have learned how vital it is for me to not let my mind completely take control when I am stressed out or worried about something.
I have learned that the most important combative tool I have in my pocket, however, is not my own control over my mind, but the fact that Jesus will fight the anxiety battle for me. I just have to pray as Paul instructs in verse 6 and Jesus does the rest! I'm not saying that self-control isn't important in the battlefield of the mind. Self-control is definitely a discipline that we need to embrace, especially when it has to do with our thoughts and the things we dwell on. Most importantly though, Christ saved us from any earthy or eternal worry with what he did on the cross. Praise God!
As you get further into the school year, I encourage you to set aside some time to really talk to God about what areas he wants to redefine in the way you think. What does he want you to have joy in or think about in a positive light? Pray that he reminds you multiple times daily of what Jesus did and what we really need to focus on!
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