Instructions

Written by Jennie Brackett

Scripture to Read: Philippians 4:2-9

When I was in my twenties, I was very much a worrier. Ok, who am I kidding, I still am, but I’d like to think that I’ve gotten better at it. My then boyfriend (now husband) got me a book called ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and It’s All Small Stuff). His intention was to remind me that I can’t control everything, no matter how hard I try. It was full of helpful ‘instructions’ on how to let the little things go. When I got married, I received a book, as a bridal shower gift, called ‘Where’s Mom Now that I Need Her?!’. This book was filled with all those instructions you should have been listening to all your life, but probably tuned out. I think the only ‘instruction’ I used from this second book was the baking soda salve to pull out a bee sting. Regardless, both books were full of ‘instructions’ on how to do life better. In this fourth chapter of Philippians, Paul is providing these ‘instructions’ for the people in Philippi.

Settle your disagreements with others
What kind of a representative are you of Christ if you have a quarrel with your brother? There is nothing more irritating than watching a disagreement between others. Both parties are motivated by selfish needs and want to be in the right? In the end, does the outcome even matter anyway? Ouch! Is your decision to argue with someone a good representation of Christ in you?

Leave justice in God’s hands because we know He is coming soon and will judge all
We all want justice – to see those who have wronged us made to atone for their mistake. But as we learned earlier this week, letting that judgement rule our thoughts detracts us from what we should be focusing on: Christ!

Always be full of joy in the Lord. Rejoice!
That little thing we talked about – whining and complaining. They do no good for anyone, ever. Instead, let us always be filled with joy. Really, in the big scheme of things, is there much that you haven’t been blessed with? Focus your mind on the amazing grace that has been afforded to us, the gift of a place in heaven, and the awesome blessings you do have in your life. When you do that, you can’t help but rejoice!

Don’t worry about anything – pray and give thanks
That book I received, it had some good tips, but none were as good as this: in the midst of chaos and circumstances beyond your control, remember to pray, give thanks, and remind yourself that God is in control, always, in all circumstances. Even in a pandemic. Pray and remind yourself that God is already on the other side of that difficult thing and is walking beside you there as much as He is here. He is a constant that should always be the focus of our thoughts.

Fix your thoughts
Paul tells us to fix our thoughts on what is 1) true, 2) honorable, 3) right, 4) pure, 5) lovely, and 6) admirable. Also he tells us to think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. If we can take the ‘us’ out of our thought process –what we want, the frustrations of our past, our worry, and our expectations– we can’t help but fix our thoughts on these amazing, powerful thoughts that turn our hearts to adoration of the One who is the source of all of them.

Put into practice what you have learned
Paul, for the entire book of Philippians, has provided direction and instructions on how to live a life that is Christ-filled and Christ-focused. All we have to do is listen to the instructions the teacher is giving before we leave the ‘carpet circle’. We can live the lives that God has sent us to live. We can achieve the goal he has set before us. We can live a life that is an example, and is pleasing to Him. What an amazing testimony we could be, if we just practice what we have been taught by the ultimate Teacher.

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