I love, love, love, the -ians of the New Testament. You know, Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians...my Bible is marked up all over, but especially in those very relevant books. As I was preparing for today's devotional post, I came across Philippians 4. I had "Rejoice!!" and "God's peace is awesome!" and "Everything is affected by prayer!" all over that page. So I read on and realized that these verses were exactly what I needed, not just for a post, but for this moment in time.
As mentioned before, the Lord has placed on my heart the need to pray for the trouble times that will be coming. Philippians 4: 4-9 is a great passage to pair with what I've been studying. This is what it says:
"Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy.
Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind. The Lord is coming soon. do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God's peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. Do what you learned and received from me, what I told you, and what you saw me do. And the God who gives peace will be with you."
A few points I felt the need to underline and write notes about:
1. "Be full of joy" : This doesn't say, "get happy", but it says be full. Fill it up! You can go so much further on a full tank of gas, why not continue to go through this world with a full tank of the Lord residing in me? Find joy in all things, and remind myself that God is in all things, therefore, I should experience the joy the Lord is offering me.
2. "Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind." Ouch! I mean really, really ouch! In the past few years I have put on this facade of seriousness. I have let it consume me in so many situations. My spirit, though, is gentle and kind. But others don't always see that. My kids need to see it; my husband needs to see it; my friends at church need to see it; the bus boy at the restaurant needs to see it; that person who really gets on my nerves needs to see it. If I want my children to learn and show these fruits of the spirit, then I need to learn to show it first.
3. "Do not worry". Yup. Yet another reminder that I sin in this area. I shouldn't worry! Why? I rest in the arms of the Lord! I sleeping baby doesn't jump every time something happens when he is in the protective arms of his mother. If I am truly resting in His arms, then why do I let myself worry about things that God has control of? Don't I know that those troubling times are the ones when the Lord is refining me? When things get tough, I need to not worry. My God is in control!
4. "always giving thanks." I do not do this nearly enough. Sure, I bless the food. I thank the Lord for a good day at the end of the day. I praise Him when it rains, but those are the obvious times! Do I thank Him that I have food to eat? That I have the internet to interact with others who are far away from me? That He has blessed me with an intelligent mind, and yet the desire to apply that knowledge to making my home a better place for my family? Do I thank Him when Abigail makes it another night without wetting the bed? Do I thank the Lord when my husband comes home from a long day at work? Some times yes, but "always"? No. Regretfully, no.
5. Skipping a few really good points, but I'm not a preacher, and I don't want this post to take 30 minutes to read. :)
6. "Do what you learned and received from me." DO. Do. Do. Do what you have learned. It doesn't say, absorb, file away, write a post about it, make it your FB status. It says DO. Are all those other things bad? No! Of course not, but what is the point of just talking about it, when we are commanded to learn and act? He promises that if I do it, He will reward me with peace. Does that mean I need to be like a child is needs incentive to clean my room? Absolutely not! Because my Lord will give me peace, I should thankfully, gratefully, joyfully DO for Him.
Not only are these verses full of joy and should give me reason to click my heels and do a little jig, but they are also inspiring. It is such a great reminder that my job as a Christian is not to sit back an receive the reward, it is to be a messenger for Him so that others can see Him. The world constantly categorizes God as demanding, mean, angry, etc. But really, He is a God of love. And if I am to be called by his name, I need to REJOICE, Show Gentleness to Others, Not Worry, Be Thankful, and Do what I've Learned. When I use the gifts God has given me to show Him to the world, peace falls upon me, and the cycle starts again.
Go and "be full of joy in the Lord."