Thursday, January 13, 2011

What are you thinking on?

The whole Bible good. It's useful for helping me to understand God's ways and plans, for convicting my heart of sin, for providing me with Hope, and so much more. There are many books in the Bible that I adore.

But the book that's had the biggest impact on me these last couple of years is Philippians. Perhaps that's because I tend toward melancholy by nature, and then these past couple of years have brought me some tough stuff that's hit me at my most vulnerable spots.

Philippians has been described as the book of Joy and I've reached out for it - with both hands.

The fact that Paul wrote this letter from a dank, dirty, jail cell, yet it's contents are filled with hope, peace, and celebration never ceases to grab my mind. Make me realize that I can, by God's grace and power, choose how I want to live.

Repeatedly the words in this letter have helped me deal with specific situations in my life. There's just SO MUCH good stuff here. Philippians 4:8 has become a verse that I look to repeatedly. The reminder there to:

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.

is one I need to apply frequently. It's not just fluffy positive thinking either. To think on what is true is a big one for me since I've found that almost every time I get out of step it's because I've started thinking on some lie of the enemy.

In my current job situation I could think that God abandoned me and I'm just stuck in a backward situation; but that's not the truth that I see in the Bible. The truth is that God loves me and has a plan for my life. The truth is that He has me right where I am for His reason and purposes. The truth is that I get to find what He wants to do and join Him in His work (instead of throwing a pity party because things didn't turn out the way I'd planned).

Or sometimes with my husband, or other close relationships; sometimes people disappoint me. At those time I can either choose to start thinking negative lies about the person, such as that he doesn't really care for me or can't really be trusted, or I can choose to believe the truth - that people sometimes fail, but that does not mean that they are not true friends and great blessings in my life.

Besides the truth part in this verse there's the whole choice to think of praiseworthy things instead of perseverating on the negative. How contrary to our culture that is!

I'm constantly praying and asking God to open my eyes. To empower me to see His many blessings around me, instead of getting caught up in looking at, and for, all that's not as I would want it. I ask God to enable me to see the good things that my employees and sons do, and give me the words to praise them, and encourage them. I want to live that way, instead of focusing on what's wrong all the time. This doesn't mean that I ignore or fail to deal with problems; only that my focus is on the good stuff.

Another couple of verses out of Philippians that I'm constantly applying are Philippians 4:6-7 :

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

With all the bad choices I've watched my middle son (who is currently a Sr. in high school) make this past year, through all our conflicts, as I sadly observe his lack of interest in spiritual things...instead of giving in to a sense of hopelessness, I can apply the words from these two verses. I can pray and ask for God to work his life, all the while praising God because I know that the truth is that God loves him far more than I do. Repeatedly as I've come before God this way a sense of knowing that God is working in his life has permeated, giving me peace and hope.

What about you, is there a specific Bible book that God's been using in your life lately?


Tony C said...

Amen Tracy! It was tough for me to chose between Philippians and the book I write about tomorrow. Paul's letter has served me well in a number of tough spots in my life.

Thanks for your personal touch and testimony.

David said...

It is certainly easy to focus on what we don't have. I guess that is what makes a daily, and deepening, relationship with the King so precious.

rcubes said...

I'm thankful that He left His Word to guide us, truly a light unto our path..

I love the Book of Psalms because it strengthens me when I read the same cries of prayers written long time ago. Or just merely to thank God when I start realizing how truly good He is to us. When I read the words, it helps me shift my focus from worrying or if I'm facing a trial back at Him. It surely lightens up my load to know that He is always with us.

And working in the prison, I'm thankful for the hope and encouragement Paul gave through those different letters to churches. That no matter where you are, no circumstances can steal the joy we find from knowing the Lord. God bless.