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:
When you are living for Christ, there should be a noticeable difference from the life you had to the life you are living. People should see a difference. People should be asking, “What is different with her?” or “What happened to him?” when they see you. If there is no change, it is likely that you are still living the same life. This is very easy if you stick with doing the same things as you did before.
Paul tells us to “check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.” This is not something done overnight, but it is something that helps us to grow in Christ. The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is not good for you. This can vary from person to person. If it is not good, toss it out. As you slowly remove what is not good, and you surround yourself with what is good and pure and true and worthy of praise, you will start to change. You won’t even realize it is happening.
If you stay right where you are and do not listen to the Spirit, you are neglecting the opportunity to become who you were made to be and you are missing out on so many great things. God promised you that you would do great things through Christ. That is an awesome promise and it is true. You cannot imagine the great plan He has for you. But if you start cling to the good and remove the bad, you will see that plan unfold—and it’s a beautiful plan.
“Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 [MSG]
There’s a phrase that I often hear from people when I ask them how they are doing. I guess I will say I am okay. It does no good complaining. No one cares anyway. Now for my complaint…
It really upsets me to hear people say things like this because I know that no matter what, someone cares. Always. And yes, complaining too much is a bad thing. The Israelites spent a lot of time grumbling in the Wilderness. But there are moments when we are upset and it is okay to verbalize our feelings.
I am currently reading the Book of Psalms. As I page through, again and again I read of the Psalmist crying out to God, pouring out his emotions. There is no holding back. There is nothing but pure, honest truth. And yes, there is some complaining. Today I want to remind you that God cares about you and EVERYTHING you are going through. And there are people in this world who care as well. Don’t go through your days not opening up and connecting. If you keep everything to yourself, then you are not really having a relationship at all.
“The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots
because I’ve lived so badly.
And now I’m flat on my face
feeling sorry for myself morning to night.
All my insides are on fire,
my body is a wreck.
I’m on my last legs; I’ve had it—
my life is a vomit of groans.”
-Psalm 38:5-8 [MSG]
When a danger is called “huge” it should not be taken lightly. In this case, the people were being warned of the danger of associating with a country that worshiped false gods. The concern was that by living closely with these people, the people of Israel would begin to accept some of the practices and culture that was against the Word of God.
Jesus ate with sinners. He spent time with many people who were not pure. However as we read the Gospel, it is clear that Jesus did not spend all of His time with these people. He spent a lot of time with His Father in prayer. He spent a lot of time teaching and preaching as He traveled along with His disciples. He was so engrossed with His mission and He spent much time with the Word as was demonstrated during His time in the wilderness and while teaching. He often recited Scripture. It was written on His heart. It was at the core of His being.
If we do not go out in the world to share the Gospel, then the Gospel won’t get shared. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world to stay safe from temptation. Even in isolation, you will be tempted. Temptation is everywhere. But you can be cautious and keep yourself from spending too much time around “huge danger.” Paul wrote about focusing on what is worthy of praise. You can opt to take in a lot of negative and find out that what you take in will eventually come out. Or you can opt to focus on Him and the right, the pure, the lovely and find that it begins to pour from you.
“Don’t make any deals with them or their gods. They are not to stay in the same country with you lest they get you to sin by worshiping their gods. Beware. That’s a huge danger.”
– Exodus 23:32-33 [MSG]
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.
This morning, I saw some children and a parent exiting their house. They noticed the fast approaching bus, and began to panic. They believed that the school bus was the bus they needed to catch, and so they broke out in a full on run, hoping to make it to their bus stop in time. The big picture was that it was the first school bus that always passes by their stop; the second bus, the bus they take, would not come their way for five more minutes.
There are moments in our lives when we miss the big picture, even when we are in a similar situation and should easily be able to see what is really going on. This parent sees the first bus pass by every day and knows the truth– that the bus passes by and then his kids’ bus comes by a few minutes later, but because he for a moment thought “what if” and was not looking at the big picture, he panicked. Many times there is a situation that arises in our own lives, and we know the Truth, but we still panic.
God does not want us to be panicking, nor does He want us to get scared and begin running in a direction that is not where we are supposed to be going. In life there are so many decisions, situations, and moments where we see a bus, and think it’s our bus, and so we run. The devil easily disguises falsities to appear as the truth. God provides us with discernment to know the Truth. If we ask Him to show us the Truth, He does. The issue is that we need to take the time to use this discernment, rather than allowing the devil to cause us to run after the first bus. We cannot panic and miss the big picture that God has given us.
If you are at a time in your life when you think you see the bus, ask God if it is the bus for you, or if your bus is still en route. When you ask God to show you the Truth, and you do not run before seeking His guidance, He will reveal the Truth. Be patient though, because the bus may not be traveling as fast as you want. God has the perfect speed limit set in place.
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
– John 7:24 [ESV]
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
– Philippians 1:9-10 [ESV]