Let me preface this post by assuring you I will not put any pictures or videos with it… You’re Welcome!
May 2015 has ben crazy in Oklahoma! We have had flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes… we even had tigers escape from a safari because of storm damage… seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. It has been the wettest month in the history of Oklahoma – by a lot – and at the time of this blog, the month isn’t even over yet and we have more rain in the forecast. So I bring to you, from the pages of Duh Magazine…. record rain equates to record flooding. A lot of flooding. So, with this flooding we experienced something I have honestly never experienced before. Long story short, the city sewer system was overwhelmed with all the storm/flood water – which apparently caused our toilets to not be able to flush – for 3 days. Knowing that we have 3 kids, you can see what this situation led to… feel free to use your imagination – but I will give you no details… (and again, you’re welcome for no pics).So why in the world would I write about this?? That’s just gross!!! 1. I used to be a youth pastor so there is something about it that is inherently funny – but 2. (and the main reason) is that it drives home a principle in life.
When you have no outlet for the stuff in your life, it can become toxic and disgusting – and nobody wants to come around.
We are bombarded with negative thoughts and situations most every day. It’s simply just a part of living on Planet Earth. Watch the news, go to work, go to church, go to your kid’s school – go anywhere – this world can be a pretty messed up place (my house included). The key question for most of us is “What will we do when we are bombarded with toxic thoughts/situations?” Notice I didn’t say “IF” we are bombarded… are we going to let it build up, pile up, eat away at us, etc… because if we do that, the results are TOXIC – to us and everyone around us. The writer of Hebrews reminds/warns us of the danger of this…
Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
So what does bitterness do? What does all the junk in our thoughts and emotions do? It springs up and causes trouble, and here is the kicker…. many become defiled. I think it’s human nature to think that our toxicity only affects us (typically because we are only thinking about us) – but when things like bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, envy, lust, etc… spring up – it can bring devastation to those around us as well. I’m reminded of the example I used in my recent post (Running on E) where the irritability of my children increased as my frustration with other things in my life increased… in other words, my patience, understanding, self-control, peace, etc… decreased as I focussed on the junk around me… and my children took the brunt of it…
So – again – what do we do? I’m simply going to walk us through a scripture that I believe will help – and I believe it will help because I have seen fruit of it in my life. Let me be honest, though, it’s not a 1 time thing – there is a reason there is instruction in the Word to meditate on scripture… this is part of renewing our mind (Romans 12:1-2). So here’s the passage…
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 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. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
1. Start with REJOICING (vs 4)
We all have reason to rejoice. A healthy heart is a rejoicing a heart – a joyful heart. And rejoicing is a choice! The Bible is full of scriptures that drive home rejoicing (Psalm 37:4, Psalm 100:4, James 1:2 just to name a few). As we rejoice, even in the midst of difficulty – I believe something supernatural begins to happen. I’ve always loved this quote – “Our heart needs to notify our face we love God”
2. Replace WORRY with THANKSGIVING and PRAYER (vs 6)
This is a big one for me. I can fool myself into believing that “thinking” about something is the same thing as praying about something… it is not (that’s about as blunt as I can be) Don’t be anxious about anything… in other words, don’t worry about the junk/trash/toxicity… don’t sit around and meditate on all the bad, on the bitterness, how you were wronged, what’s wrong with life (you and everyone else) – as we meditate on all these things, it leads to anxiety… which results in more worrying, which leads to more anxiety, which leads to worry… and the cycle continues. SO – instead of being anxious, be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and bring your requests to God. In doing this – you are casting your cares upon Him – and He can handle them a lot better than we can. I’m a firm believer in being honest with God – if you’re struggling with anxiety and worry – tell Him – Ask Him to help you with this – Rejoice, be Thankful… vs 8 is the result of doing this.
3. REST in his PEACE (vs 8)
The promise in this scripture isn't that God fixes every situation. The promise is that His peace will guard our hearts and minds – in other words, His peace will guard what we feel (heart) and what we think (mind). And it is vital that we guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).
4. You have a CHOICE as to what you THINK on (vs 8)
I love this part… evaluate your thoughts… when a thought hits your mind, ask yourself the question…
Is it true?
Is it honorable?
Is it just?
Is it pure?
Is it lovely?
Is it commendable?
Is it of excellence?
Is it worthy of praise?
Our thoughts are so powerful… and we have a choice as to what we think on. Everything starts with a thought…
Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
5. PRACTICE makes perfect (vs 9)
All throughout scripture there is a God part and there is an “us” part. There are things we can do, things we are responsible to do – in this case, Paul instructs to practice these things – practice rejoicing, practice praying instead of worrying, practice watching what we think about – the result? The God of peace will be with you.
I’ve always loved the analogy of a sailboat. We raise the sail and God provides the wind. It takes both. In other words – we do what we can do (raise the sail, watch our thoughts, pray, rejoice, etc…) – and trust that God will do what only He can do (give peace, joy, patience, hope, purpose, etc…)
Like I said, this is a process – God’s grace is there when we fail – and we do, and we will. Don’t lose heart. I believe with everything within me as we continue looking to Him for health, direction, purpose – we will find the toxicity in our soul, that junk that would love to pile up and contaminate us and those around us, flush out of our system so we can enjoy the LIFE God has for us.
May God continue to be your treasure (Matthew 13:44-46).