I started dissecting scripture last week because I realized I’d become somewhat unteethered from my faith at a time when I desperately needed to rely upon it. I had to add to the list this week when I was reminded of how powerful Philipians 4 while pulling one of the all time most memorable scriptures in my life for a post. I think verse 13 is one of the first memory verses any church kids learn because it is short and empowering. But I went back and read the whole chapter again. Wow. There were three things that really struck me, and may have always struck me, but particularly did so during this season in my life. Here are verses 4 – 20:
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
This is what encouraged me:
1. God’s peace guards me (through Christ). The baby has been struggling with some pretty serious fear. He has always had this remarkable sense of hearing and vision. He sees and hears things before anyone, besides dogs, can. He has also always been the most sensitive. Lately, he’s been incredibly fearful. I have prayed over him and with him, I ‘ve prayed over his room and our house, I have claimed that we know through Christ we are victorious, I have talked with him about every aspect of whatever the issue is that is scaring him at the moment, but still he struggles. I loved reading these words. I plan on reading them to him though he’s far too young to comprehend their implications. We are instructed to: (1) give our anxiety to God, and (2) He will guard our hearts and minds with His peace. Whether you are 2 or 92, I hope that provides you with comfort today. Take your cares to Him, and rest in the knowledge that His peace will guard your heart and mind. Can’t you picture peace as a centurion in full metal armor protecting you? I can. I breath a sigh of relief at that promise.
2. Fill my mind only with things that are pure and noble. We are so surrounded in this day and age with negative messaging. I can’t watch the evening news because I hear about graphic crime. I can’t turn on most radio stations without hearing about some pretty immoral stuff. The television and magazines attack my self-esteem. The computer tempts me with frivolity and needless spending. If I did a percent ratio of the amount of yucky stuff that filters past my eyes and ears measured against the virtuous, pure, and just things, I would be embarrassed to report the statistic. The Bible tells us we are in the world, not of it, but it clearly acknowledges we ARE in it. There is no way to live with my head in the sand, nor should I, but there is so much I voluntarily choose to expose myself to and I could just as easily replace it with something that would strengthen my faith and not diminish it.
3. My state of contentment is also linked to relying on Christ to strengthen me. My life is pretty good right now. I am not hungry. I am not in need. So how could I possibly grow discontent at times? Simple. I am not relying on Christ to strengthen me because there is not some obvious need. My babies aren’t in the NICU. We’ve gotten through infertility. Our families are in health and we are employed. It’s easy to quickly feel self-sufficient when there is not an urgent need to draw me to Christ. Yet this is exactly the time when I should deepen my faith and rely ever more on His direction. If I could daily wake up and commit to that one action, I feel confident my fulfillment and contentment would grow exponentially because I would be connected to my true souce of strengh.
There are so many incredible words to find from Genesis to Revelations. I’ve studied Daniel 9, Ephesians 3, and Phillipians 4 these past couple weeks. I’d love to hear what chapter or verse speaks most meaningfully to you.