Philippians 4

Philippians 4: The Guarded, Secure Mind

We have so far in our study seen the types of mind, attitude or outlook we must develop in order to work out our salvation. Paul said we need a single mind. Singleness of purpose is the first key. (Philippians 1) Paul writes we need a submissive mind and compares to Jesus and says ‘let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.’(Philippians 2) We need a spiritual mind, set our thoughts on things above. (Philippians 3) And now we read we need a secure mind- one guarded by the peace of God. (Philippians 4) These are the steps to experience the peace of God, having a secure, guarded mind by the peace of God.

Here is the text for today’s lesson: “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition (supplication, KJV), with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard (keep, KJV) your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally my brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble (honest, KJV), whatever is right (just), whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable (of good report) if anything is excellent (virtuous) or praiseworthy, think on these things. Those things which you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4: 4-9)

What Paul is sharing with us the antidote for worry. Antidote for a poison all of us have experienced. It not only poisons our minds, it has the power to make us physically sick. It steals what God wants us to have – joy.

TO CATCH A THIEF

The word anxious means to be pulled in different directions. When problems arise, when trouble and disappointment strike one- we are pulled in two different directions. Our hopes pull us in one direction; and our fears pull us in the opposite direction. We are being pulled apart. This anxiety or worry takes place in our minds. Our thoughts conjure up the wrong type of thinking and the heart where emotions lie are distraught. A dual problem is created we have the wrong thinking in our minds. (This was what AA called- “stinking thinking.”) And we have the wrong feelings which this wrong thinking creates. This feeling is the emotion of worry. And emotion comes from our hearts.

Remember John 10: 10, where Jesus said ‘the thief comes to steal and kill and destroy.’ Worry and anxiety is perhaps the greatest thief of joy in our lives. You can tell yourself don’t worry- but you cannot catch this thief. First of all this theft is an inside job. Often the police will look at those employees who work in the place which has been robbed to see if this was an ‘inside job.’

Some choose to disregard the theft and act as if nothing is wrong. Putting one’s head in the sand, closing our eyes to obvious concerns, or ‘sweeping it under the rug’ will not work. What is the antidote for this poisonous emotion of worry and anxiety so we can successfully deal with and negate worry? Paul tells us it is the ‘peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard (keep) your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” This is the only way you and I can have a secure mind. If the God of peace is providing a 24 -7 protection- why worry? Do you not trust Him to do what He says He will do? How do we obtain this ‘peace of God’?

Now Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us how to catch this thief of worry and experience the peace of God which secures our minds and hearts.

Do you have an alarm system protecting your home against thieves who break in? If you do, you know you must activate your alarm system in order for it to provide security. Paul tells us how to activate the system which will give us peace of mind and heart. There are three steps to activate this system and keep it activated 24-7.

  1. Right praying
  2. Right thinking
  3. Right living.

Failure to activate any of these three and the thief will find the way to break into your life and steal your joy. Let’s read the instructions so we can activate this alarm system.

Right Praying

Paul has mentioned three components of prayer: prayer; petition (supplication) and thanksgiving. (Read Benjamin Franklin’s request for prayer at the Constitutional Convention on July 28, 1787)* You can find this on internet. It is a real life example of right praying.

Prayer is a general word we use for making request, but we know prayer is a form of worship. Listen to these instructions from a well known Psalm- Psalm 100: “Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts (His presence) with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Jesus gave us the pattern prayer where He taught us: “Our Father, Hallowed be thy name…” Since prayer is a major component of worship – let’s make sure we understand worship as best we can.

Worship is defined or translated: “to fall down before; or bow down before.” Worship is an attitude of the spirit and as such is internal. Since it is internal, it does not depend on the external. In other words worship can be anywhere anytime for the individual believer. It should be all the time. Paul says “rejoice in the Lord always.

The nature of worship is from the inside out and has two equally important parts. We must worship in ‘spirit and in truth.’ (John 4) To worship in spirit means we must be born again. We can know nothing about God without the Spirit within us. “No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. We have not been given the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand what God has freely given us.” (1 Cor. 2) The Holy Spirit within us is the one who leads us and energizes us to glorify God and praise. All worship glorifies God.

Worshipping in spirit requires a mind centered on God and renewed by truth. Paul tells us to ‘present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship. And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will. “(Romans 12) {P+T=R) Must have a pure heart- confession and repentance. (Forgive us our trespasses – Jesus taught us.) Must worship in truth. Jesus told us ‘thy word is truth.’ Whenever we find ourselves worrying and worried- our first action must be to get alone with God and worship Him. Not just rush into the throne room and blurt out our requests our lists of problems.  Spend some time in sincere praise which includes adoration, devotion and worship. Tell Him how much you love Him and tell Him how in awe you are of His Majesty, His Greatness, and His Power. God is not egotistical and needs us to flatter Him. He knows what happens when we praise Him for His attributes we remind ourselves of the One we are privileged to have a personal relationship with. In doing so, you are also reminding yourself there is no problem He cannot solve. Nothing is impossible with God or for God. It calms us down.

Enter the throne room of heaven with praise and adoration followed by your specific requests, your petition. And last but not least- express your gratitude and appreciation to your Heavenly Father with thanksgiving.  Paul tells us this will result in the peace of God guarding our hearts and minds. This does not mean the problem or trouble which is worrying you will go away immediately. It does not mean your circumstances which caused you to worry will vanish with this praying, although they might. It means in spite of the circumstances, you will have peace. Your circumstances may not change, but you will. “You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast on You, who trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock Eternal.” (Isaiah 26: 3, 4)

I believe the way Paul has presented this sequence we must possess a: single mind, a submissive mind and a spiritual mind in that order to possess the secure mind.   A single mind is able to adore God in spite of circumstances believing He is in control and aware of our situation and has a purpose for the situation, however frustrating it might be. Worry creates a double-minded person who finds it impossible to praise. God. The submissive mind builds on the single mind, and recognizes apart from God we can do nothing. Which is why we are to pray about everything. A proud person does not need God – they can do it themselves in their own power and intelligence. And a spiritual mind looks to his/her Father from whom all good gifts come and in whom there is no shadow of turning and thank Him in sincere appreciation and gratitude.

Jesus not only taught on prayer, he lived a life of prayer. He arose early each morning to spend time in prayer. Hebrews 5:7 tells us: “ During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission”

James told us – ‘the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.’ And remember, we have been given the righteousness of Christ.

Right Thinking.

Wrong thinking leads to wrong feeling. The pull between your hopes and fears creates the anxiety which keeps you awake in the night. You imagine the worst possible scenarios. I know people who will not fly, for fear of crashing. Yet get in their cars where the odds of a crash and injury and fatality are much greater. Thoughts are powerful. Victor Hugo said, ‘there is one thing greater than all the armies of the world, an idea whose time has come.’

The battle is for the mind. For in any battle, the leaders know whoever controls the high ground controls the battle. The enemy fires his fiery darts at our minds. He creates fear and doubt. He causes us to imagine the worst things possible. What must we do? “Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience to Christ.” (2 Cor.10)   Thought replacement. Recognizing wrong thoughts and replacing them with the truth of God’s Word. His promises and principles for when we continue, abide, in His Word, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. Remember, every action first begins as a thought.

Satan is a liar. And he wants to corrupt our minds with lies. He has done this since the Garden of Eden. When Eve told him they could not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would surely die. The enemy said you will not surely die. They believed the lie and sin and death entered the world. The enemy always reduces the risk to increase your interest. He whispers this is enjoyable. This is fun- it provides pleasure. Everyone is doing this – it will not harm you.

Our minds are to be controlled by the truth of God’s Word. No wonder the devil does not want the Word of God in the schools, in our government and in our society. Whenever we believe a lie- the devil takes a foothold.   We must first know what is the truth, according to God’s Word.

We must know what is noble; the KJV uses the word ‘honest’ which I prefer. Do you have the discernment to know when someone is honest or when a statement presented as a fact is dishonest? Again the counterfeit money can only be detected by comparing it to the real thing.

What is right- (honest and just- noble and right)? Knowing right from wrong used to be simpler in our nation when we were one nation under God. If the Bible said it was wrong- that settled it. It still does, but our society is made up of those who say we will not live our lives according to your religious beliefs when they are contrary to the way we live. So there is no King in America and everyone does what is right in their own eyes.

Think about what is pure and lovely and admirable, (of good report KJV). Pure is just that –pure, unmixed, untainted. Pure is associated with morality. And sexual immorality is impure. But we have redefined the truth as defined by Gods’ Word to accommodate those who will not recognize God’s Word as truth. Lovely means attractive and beautiful.

Anything which is excellent and praise worthy, Paul says think about these things. And of course it is the Word of God which transforms our thinking. Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible tells us of all the benefits of storing the Word on God in our hearts. It gives us a built in detection system to recognize wrong thoughts. “Great peace have those who love your law.”(Psalm 119:165)

Right thinking comes from daily intake of Scripture through meditation and prayerful study.

 

Right Living.

Right living is a necessary condition for experiencing the peace of God that passes understanding.

Paul lists four activities we must be in place to activate right living.

  1. Learned.
  2. Received.
  3. Heard
  4. Seen.

These four activities lead to doing the right things. Putting into practice daily the instruction of God’s Word and then the God of peace will be with you.

  1. Learned. We must learn the truths- the facts. But facts alone, knowledge in our minds alone is not enough. Notice the problem with worry affects both our mind and our hearts. Our thought and emotions.
  2. The truth must be received in our hearts for as a man thinketh in his heart- so is he.
  3. Heard. Some learn by listening and/or reading.
  4. Seen. Others need example before them to follow and see so they can imitate it.

How does what we have learned through hearing and seeing get into our hearts? By doing it. By practicing it.

James said it best: “Therefore get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the Word implanted in you, which can save your soul.” The KJV says ‘receive with meekness the engrafted Word of God.’ Meekness describes a teachable spirit. Then James and Paul are in 100% agreement- be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

God has told us in His Word time after time- the ‘if’s and then’s. If we do this- then this will happen. When does what is right- right things will happen. When we do what is wrong- wrong things will happen. Blessings and curses.

God told Cain sacrifice was not acceptable. Cain was angry with God for accepting Abel’s sacrifice and not his, which he had worked so hard to prepare. God told Cain – if you do what is right, you will be accepted. In Jeremiah 6- we are told to walk in the ancient paths and we would find rest for our souls. But time after time we would not walk in it.

We reap what we sow.

“Sow a thought, reap an action.

Sow an action, reap a habit.

Sow a habit, reap a character.

Sow a character, reap a destiny. It is another example of the domino effect.

 

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and encouragement of scripture we might have hope.”

“ May the God of Hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.! “ (Romans 15: 4, 13)

 

Amen!

A word from your teacher: We cannot manufacture or produce joy in our human efforts. We can be happy, elated over wonderful circumstances.

Joy is: an obligation for Christians, like love one another. Joy is a mindset, an attitude let this mind be in you -the Mind of Christ. Joy is based on the Lord. So to enjoy the joy of the Lord – stay close to Him. The lukewarm heart or cold heart is one which has gotten away from the source which made it hot- the Source is the Lord. THE LORD IS NEAR.

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