Thursday, November 3, 2016

Whatsoever Things Are Good

     During this long election season we have gone through, it is hard to keep a positive outlook.  People are tense, out of sorts, and often rude, and a lot of it can be related to the atmosphere created by the contentious times in which we live.  In fact, today I read a story about a woman who wore her
candidates button into a doctor's office.  A fellow sitting across from her in the waiting room got into a disagreement with her over her choice of candidate and went over and struck her on the side of the face with his newspaper.  He indicated he was very sorry for such action but will face legal consequences for his behavior.
     While we may look at that incident and consider it extreme, I do believe it is easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment.  So, as believers, how do we get through times like these without losing our peace and perspective?  The Apostle Paul has a clear answer for us in the letter to the Philippians.
A lighthouse in Peninsula Park Wisconsin
Christ is our lighthouse!
     At the time Paul was imprisoned, he wrote to the church to encourage them and thank them for their support.  In chapter 4 verse 8, we read:  "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."  Paul's concern for his brothers and sisters in the faith was that their minds dwell on things uplifting rather than on earthly circumstances.  I believe he had a twofold purpose in writing this.
     First, Paul knew man's propensity for sin.  We have the Holy Spirit living and dwelling in us when we committed our life to Jesus Christ as our Lord.  However, the old man with bad habits and thoughts is there to try to pull us back into the path of sin. An old saying goes, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop and our hands his tools."  When we do not spend time in God's Word, we have put down the sword of the Spirit as our defense.  If we do not talk with God daily, we are missing out on His comfort and guidance.  In addition, we are to be "transformed" by the renewing of our minds, but this only comes as we are immersed in fellowship with the Lord both through His Word and prayer.
     Secondly, I believe that Paul wants our witness to be different than that of the world.  Many in our culture look at only the circumstances and have no peace of mind and heart.  They come across as negative, discouraged and hopeless.  By contrast, as Christians praise the Lord and recount in our own minds all that God has done for us, we are thinking good, pure and lovely thoughts.  After all, we are citizens of heaven not of earth.  We are pilgrims passing through, and God does not want us so caught up in worldly affairs that we lose our witness to a dying world.
     By keeping our minds focused on the pure, lovely and commendable, we are far less likely to gossip, judge one another or meddle in the affairs of others.  It was Jesus who told us in Matthew 12:26: " I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak..."  Idle words come from idle minds that are too immersed in the matters of this world.  Let us strive to live this verse  so that our light may shine before men who can see our steadfast trust in the Lord who works all things together for good to those who love Him.  Be encouraged and think on all He has done for us!  Selah!                                                                            

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