Think on These Things…

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV via biblegateway.com)

Sometimes I have to ask if I have a “Hollywood Musical” kind of faith: the kind that breaks into song and dance in the face of trouble, and expects all of life’s problems to be solved by sheer optimism and a catchy tune. But life is full of real problems– ones that cannot be “solved” by putting on a determined smile and skipping down a Yellow Brick Road or twirling through the Alps. In fact, most of life’s problems are bigger and darker than my ability to sing or dance or even think away. I can’t sing away cancer. I can’t end injustice just by whistling a happy tune. I can’t dance my way through mass shootings, economic downturns, famines, or war.

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But I CAN choose my attitude– every day, no matter what my circumstances. I cannot ignore realities around me, but I can control HOW I view them: I can choose how much of my attention and energy I spend on negative things, and the perspective from which I view the world around me. Positive thinking won’t make problems disappear, but it will determine my response to circumstances– even unexpected ones.

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The Apostle Paul wrote of this to the church in Philippi. Paul himself was facing very difficult circumstances– imprisoned, awaiting a sentence of death, in poor health–circumstances that would cause most people to be depressed. But Paul was sending encouragement and hope and words of joy and peace to his friends.

Notice the difference, though, between the “power of positive thinking” espoused by Hollywood, and the Power of Faith that Paul practiced. Hollywood tells us to think of our “favorite” things–kittens and mittens and snowflakes and schnitzel. Such thoughts can bring us a temporary measure of comfort and reassurance, but they cannot give us the power to endure a constant onslaught of negative viewpoints and bad news. Paul, in contrast, asks us to think of higher and bigger things– GOD’S favorite things! And he gives us the imperative–this isn’t just a “helpful hint,” meant to make us feel better for a moment. This is a consistent practice; whether the sun shines and the birds sing, or the “dog barks” and the “bee stings.” And, though they are divided into two separate verses, there is a second part of the imperative–we are to put into practice what we have learned. We need to be positively active, as well. We need to BE true and noble and pure; we need to share and promote all that is lovely, admirable, and praise-worthy.

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Just thinking about “nice” things won’t change the world. Just thinking positive thoughts about ourselves or reciting positive thoughts to ourselves won’t necessarily lead to positive results. But training ourselves to think “above and beyond” our circumstances; to think about the positive ways we can respond to them; and preparing to actively pursue positive actions, no matter what– these steps put us in a position to be used by God to create positive change.

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Praying the attributes of God will automatically help us to think of all that is true and noble and pure– because God IS all that is true, and majestic, and holy. Remembering all that God has done– throughout history and in our own lives–will remind us how even small acts of faith can make a difference in a cold, dark world.

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And let’s not forget the end of verse 9– “And the God of peace will be with you.” Never forget the positive promise of God’s abiding presence in all of our circumstances. Not only will he give us joy and peace, he will give us the power to endure and prevail!

Do You Know Him?

We offer prayers to God, but sometimes, we lose touch with who He really is.  One way to freshen our prayer life and our spirits is to rehearse the names of God.  There are several throughout the Bible– too many to list them all here, though I will leave some at the end of today’s blog and links to sites that list more.

prayermotherdaughter

The pursuit of prayer isn’t just about the act of praying– it is about knowing God better; getting to know who He is, and who we are in Him.  God is so much bigger than any one name or title, and the more we rehearse and remember His attributes, the more we discover Him to be beyond all that we can think or imagine.

That’s My King–Dr. S. M. Lockridge  In just over four minutes, Dr. Lockridge builds an amazing word picture of Jesus Christ– one that I have turned to often over the years.  If this pocket of a sermon doesn’t give you goosebumps, I don’t know what will.  Here’s the PDF version if you can’t get the video.

green grass field during sunset
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It is also a wonderful idea to keep a running list (or start one) of your personal names for God– in fact, many of the names we use come from names given by others after a personal encounter with God.  “The God Who Sees,” “The God Who Hears.” “God My Provider,” “The God Who Heals,” and many more are scattered throughout the Bible as God revealed Himself in a personal way to various people.  There are also names and titles God has used to introduce Himself– “The God of Abraham,” “Yahweh (I AM),” “King of Kings,” “Almighty,” and many more.

God is spirit– we may feel His presence, but we do not see Him as He really is– not yet!  And when we don’t see Him, we can lose sight of His Glory and Honor and Power.  So let’s take some time today to “see” Him with new eyes– eyes of wonder and awe as we get just a bigger glimpse of Who HE Is!

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I wonder…
Do you know Him?

A 30-Day Prayer Guide for the Names of God (Navigators. org)

Q and A about the Names of God (Bibleinfo.com)

A few of the Names and Titles of God:

Yahweh/ Jehovah
Abba/Father
Adonai
Almighty
Alpha and Omega
Ancient of Days
Author and Finisher of Our Faith
Beginning and the End
Beloved
Bread of Life
Breath of Life/Breath of Heaven
Christ
Comforter
Cornerstone
Counselor
Creator
Deliverer
Divine
Dwelling Place
Elohim
El Shaddai
Eternal
Everlasting Father
Exalted
Example
Father
Fisher of Men
Foundation
Glorified
God
Good
Gracious
Guardian
Help
High Priest
Holy
Hope
I AM THAT I AM
Immanuel
Immortal
Incarnate (Jesus)
Infinite
Intercessor
Invincible
Jesus
Just Judge
Kind
King
Lamb of God (Jesus)
Law-giver
Living Water
Lord of Lords
Majestic
Maker of Heaven and Earth
Merciful
Messiah
Mighty God
Most Holy/Most High
Name Above All Names
Noble
Omnipotent (all-powerful)
Omnipresent (ever present)
Omniscient (all-knowing)
Perfect/Perfector
Prince of Peace
Promised One (Jesus)
Provider
Quick to Hear
Ransom
Redeemer
Refuge
Resurrection (and the Life)
Righteous One
Ruler
Sacrifice
Sanctuary
Savior
Shelter
Shield and Defender
Strong Tower
Teacher
Truth
Unchanging
Victory
Well-Spring
Wise
Worthy
Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (The Same)…

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