How we think has a great affect upon how we feel.
How we feel greatly affects how we view the world and our circumstances.
Our circumstances will change. Many times we can’t control those circumstances. So, the way we discipline ourselves to think becomes extremely important.
In Genesis God reveals the the inclination of man’s heart is evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5, Genesis 8:21) It is proper for us to recognize that there is a battle that is going on between the new hearts that God gives us and the flesh that we are currently living in. In essence we must learn to live the new identity in Christ.
This is one of the reasons that The Apostle Paul gave specific instructions to the church in his teachings. To the Philippian church he wrote, “Think about these things…” Paul is giving instructions for us so we may align our thoughts and live out this new identity we are given. Take a look:
Philippians 4:2–9 (ESV)
Exhortation, Encouragement, and Prayer
2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
This portion of the text begins with Paul pointing two Christian women who are in a conflict to agree in the Lord. That is, realign with His will, His purpose, His strength, His reign, His focus, His identity, His gospel. Paul even instructs those who are seeing the conflict to help these women and expect them to do so because they are part of Jesus body and bride, the church. They are fellow members of the body that are needed. Paul is pointing us to remember that we are fellow workers advancing the message of the Gospel and building the Kingdom.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Paul’s points us to the reality that our joy (over and over again “rejoicing”) is in the Lord. Many of us have came to fight for preferences and methods that we enjoyed, passionate pleas for styles of music, liturgies, service times, decor and activities that we like. The reason we are fighting about these things and allowing them to define us is because we have lost sight that Jesus reconciliation and forgiveness of sin is the place our true joy is found. Not in stuff, not in methods but in the milk and meat of who the Scriptures say he is.
Paul continues to call us into difficult waters. “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” The first place for any of us to start would be, “Am I focused on the reality of my joy being in Christ and am I being reasonable?” Many times we can see the ugly truth that we are on the verge of or even throwing a tantrum for our preferences rather than the advancement of the Kingdom. Paul continues that thought by reminding the church that Jesus, the Lord is at hand, close by, as he promised in the Great Commission.
His instruction upon prayer is lofty, as the life and conduct of any follower of Jesus should be. “Do not be anxious about anything.” He instructs us to bring all of those things to Father in prayer and requests. This is difficult, because we have a current tendency to try and control things for the outcome we desire instead of really turning over our anxieties and concerns to the God that loves the church far more deeply than any of us do. Our passion for anything in regard to the church will never surpass Jesus passion for His church. And as if Paul hadn’t instructed enough he adds this, “…with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.
Paul is teaching us the necessity of acknowledging before God, in prayer, that we recognize the presence of God, His goodness and His work among His church with thanksgiving. If we simply choose to present our requests and supplications to God without thanksgiving we have not accepted the revelation of His will in our lives or the relationship He has called us to in the conversation of prayer. Far deeper, we separate our selves from the, “peace of God, that surpasses all understanding” that “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Are you willing to separate yourself, your church from the kind of peace that guards your heart and your mind, your churches heart and mind?
Think about these things…:
8 Finally, brothers, 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. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
When we discipline our minds to yield to the Scriptures instruction we are submitting to the transformation of our minds, hearts, souls, our very being into the image of Christ.
When we do not submit to the teaching of Scripture we are in rebellion and demanding our expected results without being in the relationship with Jesus where He is not only Savior but in His rightful place as Lord of our life and church.