A Perfect Peace For A Perfect Storm
Fix Your Thoughts
Day 1: Read Philippians 4:4-9 two or three times. What phrases stick out to you? Reflect on what is real in your life that leads those phrases to be more prominent to you at this time. Present a request to God. As you read the verses, hear them spoken to you, over you, for you. What is the tone and tenor of the voice speaking these words to you? Is that voice pulling for you, wanting something for you, revealing mercy and love for you? Or do you hear anger, condemnation, and failure spoken at you? What has most formed in you the character of the voice you hear? A parent, teacher, pastor, or some other figure in your life, or the voice of the Spirit pointing you to Jesus’ life and words? Present a request to God, the Word of Life, to speak words of life to you.
Day 2: Reread Philippians 4:4-9. Paul seems clear on who he is and who he is following. His identity is set, not shaken by imprisonment. He seems convinced God is good, present with him, and in him. Paul’s confidence is not misplaced for he has released trying to control circumstances and is accepting of what has come his way. He is choosing to trust. He has recognized that he has been given peace. He is calling the Philippians to a peaceful way to live and be. He is becoming peace to others. God gives us peace and calls us to live in a peaceful way. What is a practical step you can take to live on a more peaceful path or bring peace to a relationship?
Day 3: Paul is in prison writing about God’s presence, nearness, peace, and trustworthiness. What do we know of Paul’s experiences that formed him to this level of trust in God? What practices could have helped convince or deepen his conviction of God’s goodness, presence, forgiveness, and his identity in Christ? Flip through Acts chapters 8-28 to begin to discover or rediscover this imperfect person’s faith. Paul had trusted during some difficult times, and it built trust into him. He can say God is present and good because Paul had found God to be present and good in the past. These experiences helped shape how he sees current and future trials. Because of his past, he now knows God is trustworthy. What experiences have helped build trust in God in your life? When were you reminded of His presence to give you sufficient confidence that it is right to depend on Him now?
Day 4: On Sunday Cory asked us a couple of important questions; “Think about what you think about.”, and “Think about how you think about how you think.” What kind of lens does your thinking create? How might that lens affect not only how you see an issue or event, but how you might respond to it as well? Paul tells us to “fix our thoughts on…” How could this simple call help us identify the lens we tend to look through? This isn’t a simple “thought replacement” exercise he is calling us to. It is a call to remember, to realign our perspective to who Jesus is, what He has said, what is real and of value in His Kingdom. It is a call to help move us from how we view an event to what is ultimately real about the event. What do you spend most of your day thinking about? How does that affect your words and behaviors? Consider a past experience where your lens saw one thing, and yet God acted in another way. Read Romans 8:28-29.
Day 5: Yesterday we ended with reading Romans 8:28-29. Reread it again today. If it is familiar to you, be slow to allow it to speak to you. These verses aren’t meant to talk us into thinking different, rather they are meant to show us something meaningful about God, His care and love for us even in a storm. God is working for our good toward a purpose. All things contribute to us being formed to the likeness of His Son. It is a call to remember, like communion, that God is with us, in us, knows us, and loves us. Even in a storm, we can be assured. We are not forgotten or misplaced. Some of us can get lost on asking questions like did God cause or allow this storm or did I do something wrong that led to this storm. These questions are God’s business not ours, and we may miss the reality that God is with us at a time when we most need Him and His assurance. Pray. Allow God the privilege of defining what is “for our good”. Ask God to shape you to be more like His Son and to see good that He is working out in you and those around you.