I have always had the gift of gab. It can be a good thing if I’m speaking life and spreading encouragement, inspiring people to dig deeper into God’s Word and live by faith over fear. But at the same time, this can be a bad thing. James wrote, “The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.”
When we think of a spark that could set a great fire, we could think of revival. We can think of that teacher who inspired someone who did some grand thing in history. Maybe that one coach who inspired an all-star athlete. But the tongue is often seen as a dangerous weapon. And the small spark that sets a blaze, can set a fire that will burn everything in its path. That is why it’s compared to a forest fire. Think of all the wildfires that get out of control every year and cannot be contained.
Remember today the power of your words. Understand that someone you may say could turn into a forest fire. Be intentional with your words. Speak what is lovely, what is helpful, what is right, what is true, what is praiseworthy—speak encouragement and life into people day. Plant seeds of truth and love; don’t set a forest ablaze.
“In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” – James 3:5-6 [NLT]
A few months ago, I started to take more interest in the foods my family was eating. I began considering what convenience took away from my family. Instant potatoes rather than fresh potatoes. Processed foods rather than fresh foods. I decided I needed to make a better effort. I tried better to stay on the outside of the grocery store. I have noticed improvements since the changes were made with the grocery shopping and diet adjustments. I have also enjoyed the natural, fresh foods more so than the processed foods.
Why am I sharing all of this? Well, after a nice discussion with my children, on the importance of putting good things in our bodies—foods that are healthy for us, good for us—that it is the same when it comes to other things we allow to enter our bodies. Good things should be seen through our eyes. Good things should be heard through our ears. We should surround ourselves by good things. Because what good goes in, then allows good to come out. When we eat this purer food, we get in return better health, better energy, etc. When we allow better words, better images, better things to enter our spiritual lives, it allows better to pour out to others.
The Bible tells us where to place our focus. God’s Word shows us the good things to give our attention. When we focus on these things, when we drown ourselves in the godly things, when we keep ourselves away from the darkness that will drown out the light, we will see fruit in our lives. We will be rewarded by these good things. We will be blessed by these good things. We will bless others by these good things. These good things will allow us to continue to grow more like Christ Jesus. Today, ask yourself—where is your focus? Is it on the good things?
“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.” – Philippians 4:8 [ESV]
He is your life
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. [MSG]
- Christ Raised (v. 1) – Raised along with Christ, raised to life with Christ
- Christ Ruled (v. 1) – Christ rules at God’s right side
- Christ Focused (v. 1-2) – Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth]
- Set your heart on what is in heaven – Seek the things above
- Think – phroneó – Direct your mind to, seek for, observe, care for
- Christ Hidden (v. 3) – You died, your life is hidden with Christ
- You died – apothnéskó – dying off (separation / away from)
- Life – both physical & spiritual (present & future)
- Hidden – kruptó – concealed, secret, hidden
- Christ Glory (v. 4) – Christ gives meaning to your life, and when he appears, you will also appear with him in glory. Glory (doxa– “dox’-ah”) – praise, honor, glory, high renown, splendor
Bible Study Questions:
Seek the things that are above (v. 1) and set your minds on things that are above (v. 2)
These things make the subject of CAREFUL REFLECTION
Think on these things – Give them weight in your decision. Allow them to shape you.
1) In Philippians 4:8, Paul wrote, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT).
This is to be our FOCUS. This is part of seeking and setting your mind. What do these words mean? How does the world derail us from focusing on these things?
HONORABLE / HONEST / NOBLE / WORTHY OF REVERENCE
RIGHT / JUST
PURE / AUTHENTIC
LOVELY / ACCEPTABLE / LOVABLE
ADMIRABLE / GOOD REPORT / KIND AND GRACIOUS
EXCELLENCE / VIRTUE / VIRTUOUS
WORTHY OF PRAISE / PRAISEWORTHY
2) What can we do to follow Proverbs 4:23 command to “watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life”?
This is one part of a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on Colossians. The 12 weeks include:
We can look around and see so many things. As technology improved, we have the capability to see so much more than when you and I were younger. With this great advancement comes an open door to allow more things to pass by your eyes. Some things are great and some things we could do better without.
Paul told us to “fix our thoughts.” To put our attention in a particular area. To focus on certain things. It is something that I remind myself of daily. With all of opportunities we have to see things, it is clear that we need to filter what we see so as to focus on what is “excellent and worthy of praise.”
If you look at a magazine shelf at a store, you will see so much destruction. So much divorce. So much scandal. So much drug addiction. So much gossip. So much impurity. As you focus on all this sin, it starts to draw you inward. The marketing experts know what they are doing. You won’t see many “admirable” magazine articles plastered in the more frequently used aisles. You have to seek them out in the aisles rarely opened. But we are challenged to fix our focus. I say “challenged” because it is a challenge but it can be done. Today, be boldly focused. When you find yourself seeing things that are not worthy of praise, fix your focus. Allow more of what is good to come in, and gradually you will find that there’s a great benefit with this intentional focus on what is good.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” – Philippians 4:8 [NLT]
As I have been reading Job, I am gleaning so much from the suffering and continuing speeches between Job and his friends. In Job 21, he says that he “will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking” (v. 16 NLT). Those words certainly peak my interest. Are there times in our lives when we should say that we will have nothing to do with a particular kind of thinking?
Job was suffering from the loss of his family, his land and possessions, and his health. He lost so much and yet he understood the importance of not letting particular things get into his head and cause him to be pulled into another area. We are to focus on what is pure, what is true, what is right—and so there are times when we would put our hands up and say we will have nothing to do with a particular kind of thinking.
If you accept a type of thinking, it will blossom and it will continue to spread and be more difficult to remove. Job reminds us how we must be mindful of our thoughts as well as our attitudes. In keeping ourselves from considering particular types of thinking, we will keep ourselves from walking readily into a bad situation and planting trouble. If there is something that pulls you from God or could possibly be against what God has commanded, tell that something that you “will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking” and move onward. God has so much more for you!
“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.” – Philippians 4:8 [NIV]
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” – Philippians 4:8-9 [MSG]
When the temperatures rise, my dog Max likes to be in the air conditioning. Though he comes down in the morning for his breakfast, bone, and a walk, he quickly persuades me to let him back upstairs with the kids because of the air conditioning. He wants to be where it feels good. He wants to be where he is comfortable.
We are told to focus on what is good, pure, and lovely. We should seek those things out, focus on those things, and keep ourselves from turning elsewhere. Sometimes we find ourselves losing our focus because other things catch our eyes. Perhaps the things that are good do not look to help us feel comfortable. Sometimes we are to stay away from what appears comfortable, stay focused on what is pure, and patiently wait for the true comfort that only God can give us.
Comfortable does not always mean it is right. Something that feels good to us may not be good in the eyes of God. Continue to focus on Him. Today, remember these words from Paul and trust God’s promise of peace. Oh, the peace that only He can bring.
My dog has an obsession with rabbits. When he sees them, he feels the need to go after them. The neighborhood rabbits have become quite familiar with my dog. I have noticed that when we approach the path where the rabbits are gathering, they relocate to the other side of the street. When we turn and come back up the other side of the street, they again travel across the street to get away from my dog. They understand the threat and from their actions it appears that they are protecting their well-being.
Paul tells us to focus on the good things—the pure things of the world. Philippians 4:8 says, “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” (NIV). We are to focus on these things because if our eyes go elsewhere we are tempted and there is a threat. Yet, unlike the rabbits, we so often think that we can avoid the situation or threat that arises by standing still amidst the chaos. The rabbits move to the good side of the street—the safe side that promises hope.
Today, consider your focus. Are you focusing on the good things? Are you focusing on what is true, noble, right? Or are you allowing yourself to be knee deep in the bad things, believing that you can handle it? Are you paying attention to lies? Are you keeping yourself in a bad situation instead of crossing the street? Redirect yourself to the true, pure, and excellent.