Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, thing on these things.”
The mind is a powerful tool. Honestly, we must realize that the things that we think upon are the things that control our actions as well as our relationships. Our thought-life is the mechanism that builds or breaks our relationship with Christ as well as with others. The Lord gives us a great picture of what should be going through our minds. I would like to identify the things we are to think upon.
- Things That are True – Don’t focus on error when you can hold truth in the backdrop.
- Things That are Honest – There is nothing that brings us more frustrations than a lie. Remember that Satan is the most dishonest being ever to live. Don’t think about the author of lies.
- Things That are Just – God is fair and just. Life is unfair and if we get focused on the unfairness of life we will neglect the fairness of God.
- Things That are Pure – This may take changing a channel, even if it is something as simple as a news broadcast.
- Things That are Lovely – There is nobody more lovely than the Lord. There is nothing uglier than sin.
- Things That are Good Report – The glass can be half-full if you look at through these eyes.
Notice that these things have virtue and at the same time offer praise. They take our minds off the problem and help us to focus on the solution.
Today’s Challenge – Think on these things!
Philippians 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suffering, being made conformable unto his death;”
The verse begins with a desire to know Christ. It begins wanting a very intimate relationship with the Lord. Our relationship with Christ is leveled throughout this verse. Throughout life we work diligently to connect to certain individuals or even certain groups. We contemplate how we can connect in such a way that we develop a great relationship with them. We build such relationships by figuring out areas where we can relate to one another. However; I am afraid that we have completely failed in the area of relating to Christ. We have failed because we think He relates to things in our life that He does not have much experience. If we are going to connect to Christ then we must embrace the following principles:
- Salvation – no one will ever connect with Christ without first experiencing the resurrection power through salvation. Our religious experiences are not going to be what connects us to the Lord. A personal relationship through saving knowledge of Christ will be what connects us to the Lord. Christ can definitely relate to defeating death, hell, and the grave. Those that accept Christ as Savior will really be able to connect on the same grounds.
- Suffering – not the part of Christianity we want to accept, but it is definitely a reality. Jesus knows very little about the blessings of homes, money, or friendships. He knows a lot about suffering. Our suffering connects us to Christ on a level unlike any other. It is through our sufferings that Christ fellowships with His children
- Sacrifice – conforming to his death, means we must accept the principle of sacrifice within our lives. In other words, those things we normally count as a loss, God counts them as gain. Sacrifice is the ultimate connection point with Christ. None can Sacrifice the level of Christ, but when we sacrifice for Christ or because of Christ then we are bringing our relationship with Christ to a higher level.
Today’s Challenge – Which connection level do you see yourself? Embrace a relationship with Christ through these three experiences.
Philippians 1:27 “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”
Much can be drawn from the contents of this verse. The key phrase to this text is the words “striving together”. This reminds me today of the value of unity. The Lord values unity and harmony between his people. It is essential that Christians quit battling one another and start working together. I have come to the conclusion that much of American Christianity is lost in its own selfishness. We find Christians calling out other Christians over Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets of social media. They are gossiping, complaining, and belittling fellow believers rather than loving, understanding, and building them up. Someone the other day asked what I thought about the methodology of another Church and my first question was – “Are folks getting Saved?” Really, is that not the general objective? My heart breaks this morning over the fact that more congregations are battling and bickering over the minors, when we should be worried about the majors. Just for a reminder, I would like to discuss some essential steps that would help all of us strive together.
- Assess Your Conversation – When you assess your conversation, is it one that would promote the gospel or harm the gospel. Listen closely…when we talk poorly of other Christian Leaders, we could be directly effecting the salvation of others. Regardless of whether we like them, agree with them, or even believe if they are truly Christian we must guard our conversation because it could have a direct influence on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Avoid Badgering, Battling, and Bickering with other Christians – I feel as though the reason most of our battles are being lost is because we are so focused on the methods and actions of other Christians instead of concentrating on reaching the lost. I encourage you to ask yourself some questions – Is the Gospel Being Preached? Are People Getting Saved? If so, shout about it rather than scoff about it.
- Act Like A Christian – Lost people have a standard that they actually expect from the Christian world and they know when we are not acting like we should. You guessed it….it is called hypocrisy! Don’t be “that” in front of a lost world.
Today’s Challenge – Look at the actions, attitude, and conversation and decide whether you are the causing harmony or discord. Remember that we are to be battle together and not against each other. Don’t be the one that destroys the unity of God’s people or hinders the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 6:2-3 “Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”
Honor is the act of respect, and appreciation. There are many who believe that this scripture only applies to those that have not yet reached adulthood. However; this is a scripture that truly measures our adulthood. God gives this command and feels so strongly about the obedience to it that he places a significant promise along with it.
- Note the Precept – Honor the authority God has placed in our lives. Outside of God himself, our parents are and will remain authoritative figures in our lives. Those that cannot honor their parents will not be able to honor the Lord.
- Note the Peace – God want us to be able to say “it is well”. Those that struggle to honor the authority within their lives will be the ones that struggle with the peace of God in their lives.
- Note the Promise – Those that obey this commandment will have a long life on earth. That is a commandment worth keeping.
Today’s Challenge: Remember to honor those that God has given authority over you!
Ephesians 1:16-17 “Cease not to give thanks for you making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:”
Two of the most important things Christians need today lies within confines of this text. Paul prayed that the Church at Ephesus operate with two vital attributes:
- The Spirit of Wisdom
- The Knowledge of God
Those that follow Christ are in constant pursuit of the “spirit of wisdom” and the “knowledge of God”. This also narrows down the ones that are truly following the Lord. I am very afraid that we live a world that truly has very little knowledge of God. The more I learn about God the more I tremble in His presence. The key to gaining wisdom is to consume ourselves in God’s Word. Some would say that wisdom comes with experience. I would have to say that much wisdom comes from experience, but also wisdom comes through knowledge. The more God reveals about Himself to us the wiser we become. The depths of God’s character are endless. I pray that the presence and the pursuit of God drive us to our knees requesting the spirit of wisdom. I can’t help but think of the old hymn “I want to know more about my Lord.” We must ask God to reveal himself to us.
Today’s Challenge: Ask God to reveal something about himself that you never knew before. Pursue the spirit of wisdom and the knowledge of God.
Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
This is one of the most power pieces of Scripture in the Bible. The victories we experience in life our products of our obedience to the principles found in this verse. This verse teaches us the source of a Christian living out the Life of Christ. We see that there is an importance in being dependent up on the Savior. The verse teaches us of how we are identified with Christ. We are crucified with Him, but live by Him. We identify with His death, but at the same time we can also identify with His resurrection. The ability to experience victory over sin is not controlling situations yourself, but it is learning to allow Christ to live out His purpose through you. We also see that we are indwelt by Christ. Christ lives in us! Christ also lives through us! The Christ-life is essentially a complete life of faith. Most of the time we refuse to allow Christ to live through us. We compartmentalize Him and refuse to die to our self. We must understand that in order to completely surrender to Christ we must operate on the basis of faith.
Today’s Challenge: Remember that God can do more with you on accident that you can do with you on purpose. Let Him live through you!
Galatians 1:6 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:”
I, like Paul, find it amazing how Christians have been swayed by the message of other gospels. It is important that we realize that if we can get a lot of things wrong and still be okay. However; if we get the Gospel of Jesus Christ wrong it ruins everything. The Gospel is the most important message in the entire Bible. If we preach the wrong gospel then, according to verse nine we are preaching a curse upon ourselves. We must be very mindful of how we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to look for a moment at some of the gospels that we normally encounter. That way when we hear them we can mark them and then avoid them.
- There is the Wrong Gospel: Any message that avoids the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the wrong message. Anyone that teaches that there is another way to Heaven outside of Jesus Christ is teaching the wrong gospel. An example would be if you hear someone that says “It does not matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere.” Danger! Sincere people will end up in the Lake of Fire.
- There is the Water Downed Gospel: It is the message that accepts Jesus Christ, but does not stress it. The watered down gospel is the idea of easy believism that is being preached from many American pulpits. It is a message that avoids teaching on changed lives, repentance, and other controversial events that are suppose to take place at the moment a person is saved. It avoids the controversial issues involved in salvation and never reveals a person’s sinful condition.
- There is the Works-based Gospel: This gospel emphasizes works over faith. It believes that as long as you are performing your religious duties such as attending church, tithing, and serving then you are automatically destined for Heaven. Nothing could farther from the truth. Works never produce faith, but faith will always produce a work.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches a person places their faith and trust into the Lord Jesus Christ by Repenting of their Sins, and turning their lives over to the Lord. Salvation involves repentance, and faith. Without either of these, we are living by the wrong message.
Today’s Challenge: Examine the message that you are preaching and the message that you have received. Have you been removed from the real Gospel message?
2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves, Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
The Bible is clear that we are to examine ourselves. Typically, we are more out to judge or examine others before we are to examine ourselves. The Lord gives us to simple instructions:
- Examine Yourselves
- Prove Yourselves
There are some principles that would be good to highlight in order to learn to do a self examination.
- Make Jesus Christ Your Mark: We have a habit of comparing ourselves to others, when we are to make Jesus Christ our standard. Remember, if you don’t look like Jesus then you don’t have any business judging others.
- Make The Bible Your Mirror: The Bible is not just a composition of stories and fairy tales, but it is a mirror that reveals to us all our impurities. Reading the Bible requires us to align and adjust to it, rather than making it adjust to us. Allow the Bible to be the device that shows us our imperfections.
- Make The Holy Spirit Your Mentor: There is no greater accountability partner than the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to work in your life by giving Him complete access to your heart. Trust me; the Holy Spirit will definitely be a truthful physician in the examination process.
Today’s Challenge: Do a Self Examination using these tools and see what happens.
2 Corinthians 12:10 “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
This, to me, is one of those verses that confirm the fact that man was truly inspired by God when writing Scriptures. The natural man would not ever write such things. I have often wondered what caused the Lord to instill such qualities into those that follow Him. I am at the same reminded that God placed us here on earth to give Him glory. The greatest display of God’s strength is discovered in our greatest moments of weakness. The reason we can take pleasure in such difficult circumstances is because it gives God the opportunity to display His greatness. God wants to take us to the place of “I can’t” to the place of “He can”. It is at the moment where we say “I can’t” that God says “He can”. This verse teaches a great principle that when we are at weakest, God is at His strongest. The reason we can call are times of weakness our greatest moments of strength is because those are the moments that God gets to display His sovereign power. When we make statements like…
“I don’t know what else to do.”
“I have done everything I know to do.”
It is during the times of making these statements that we must realize that God has got us in the exact place He desires us to be. We must learn to quit operating in our own strength and start relying on God’s strength.
Today’s Challenge: Realize that your greatest moments of weakness, gives God His greatest opportunity to display His power and strength through you.
2 Corinthians 11:3 “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
We have many tendencies to complicate things that God meant to be real simple. We call things hard, that were intended to be real easy and we get confused about things that are supposed to be real easy to understand. We are reminded that Satan’s intentions are to keep us from obeying the Lord. The Lord makes His directions real clear, but Satan is the one that tries to confuse us. When we give place to the Devil we are allowing ourselves to be pulled away from Christ. The intentions of Satan is basically to corrupt our minds from the simplicity of Christ. When give ear to Satan we are allowing corruption to enter our minds.
Satan will corrupt the mind in order to confuse the mind.
God did not intend for the Christ-life to be difficult or confusing. Sure there are difficulties and hard times, but God offers relief, rest, and revival for those that bring those difficulties to Him. Man has tried to complicate the Bible while God intended for it to be quite simple. We must remember the simplicity that is in Christ.
- Christ had a Simple Message – Believe on Christ and you will be Saved
- Christ had a Simple Command – Follow Me
If you think about it, everything about Christ and the Christ-life is real simple. Just do what He says and it will not get complicated. However; we question, we doubt, and we rebel against the very simplest of lifestyles.
Today’s Challenge: Quit complicated things through unbelief and start believing in the simplicity that is in Christ.