I’ve heard this before. Lots of times.
After my earlier post I decided to start with the most important change.
When I pulled my NLT study Bible off the shelf and dusted it off I had decided I wanted to look at Paul and try and figure out how he could be joyful in some pretty awful circumstances. Loads worse than anything I’ve been dealing with.
There are five little post-it flags in my Bible and I flipped to the last one. Philippians. One of the verses I have had memorized for over a decade, almost two. Somehow it still never quite sinks all the way in.
Always be full of joy IN THE LORD.
Um, yeah. Not joy in my circumstances. Not joy in the people in my life. Not joy in my job. Not joy in my stuff. NO! Joy in the LORD. Joy in what God did for me sending His son Jesus to die for my sins. Joy in the fact, plain and simple, that He loves me, despite the fact that I sin daily. Joy in the blessings he has provided: family, friends, a wonderful church. Joy in the truth that God never changes despite the ever changing world around me.
Let everyone see you are considerate in ALL you do.
I have had some seriously uncharitable thoughts over the last couple weeks. Sure these might be justifiable by the world’s standards and when I share the situation I usually receive a great deal of empathy, but this is not being considerate. How to learn to vent and share without being uncharitable, that’s the seemingly impossible part of life right now. Being kind and generous when I’m emotionally tapped and stressed does not come naturally. When that does happen it’s truly God working in me.
Don’t worry about anything
Seriously?!?!? Anything. Was Paul being serious here? I am a worrier. Lots of us are. I can worry about just about anything. Sometimes it’s like a warm fuzzy blanket when it’s cold outside and I don’t want to get rid of the familiar warmth. But here’s Paul, in prison no less, telling me not to worry. About anything. But what do I do? There are things in life that have worry-about-me-please written all over them …
Instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Hmm. Certainly easier said than done. Clearly not impossible because Paul lived this and was not only content in circumstances but joyful and his needs were met. Again like the joy because of who God is I can thank Him for what He has done and that will help take the focus off me and my drama to Him and His story for my life.
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.
This must be where the joy is. God’s peace. I don’t want to stay stuck in the muck of worry and fear and anger. I want to rest in the hammock of God’s peace that my human mind cannot even fathom. If only I can channel my brain to let go of the worry and focus on God.
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 have learned and received from me-everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
How? By doing what I know is the right thing to do. Surrounding myself with good and positive things. Immersing myself in God’s word. Living the way I know brings God glory. Then the focus shifts. Not me (my drama, my stress, my problems), rather God (His love, His plan for me, His heart for others).
Sometimes I get so caught up in how others treat me and those around me that I forget that I need to take a step back and think about how I am treating them. I never do that unless I’m focused on God and how he would have me live and respond to others.
I’m a sinner. Yes. Me. Sin. Lots. Why am I so surprised when others sin? Especially those who do not have Jesus in their hearts guiding their steps and actions. Yes it hurts. Sometimes more than I even realize. But sin is something we all fight and battle daily. I won’t win the war till I’m in Heaven praising God. Doesn’t mean I can’t have Jesus by my side helping me be more like Him.