Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Journey to Contentment (Part III)

"4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
-Phil. 4:4-9

Peace: tranquility; serenity; calmness within the soul knowing God is in complete control; anxious for nothing

Peace, serenity, and contentment is not something that just automatically occurs in a Christian's life. So what do we need to "practice" in order to attain an inner peace?:
1- choose to give your anxieties to God
2- choose to pray specifically
3- choose to be thankful
4- choose to dwell on the positive

If we have time to worry, we have time to pray. We should try substituting prayer for worry, the positive for the negative.

Read Phil. 4:8 specifically. What's our part?:
-to continuously & consciously think things that are true, good, and pure
-to refute those thoughts that are contrary
-to trust in God's eternal will- that He will use bad/painful/evil circumstances for His good purposes

I don't say these things in order that we completely discard and/or ignore the difficult, anxiety-causing situations that crop up in life. But what I am saying is that we shouldn't dwell on them. Even in prison, Paul preached the gospel. He never complained about being dirty/smelly, being chained to a guard, having to use the restroom with no privacy. No, rather he focused on the positive: he could still preach about Christ! Even better, the guard was chained to him and he couldn't get away from Paul. He HAD to listen!

The more you focus and dwell on the negative things in life (financial problems, singleness, difficult marriage, inability to have children, a wayward child, health problems, etc.), the more whining, complaining, depression, and negativity become a part of who you are. Even in the most dismal/painful circumstance, there is SOMETHING to praise God about. Seek it. Look for it. Dwell on it. In the opposite direction, the more you seek to praise and give thanks to God, the more it becomes second nature. In a very real way, you are what you think.

What about you? What stream of thoughts play in your mind all the day long? Are you dwelling on the positives in your life or the negatives? Are you quick to judge, complain, find fault? Or are you quick to see God working, find a praiseworthy item, give thanks?

If practice makes perfect, why not try practicing being thankful. Practice giving praise to God. Practice always looking for the positive. Practice thinking that which is true, right, pure, and excellent.

More to come....

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