Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God's Word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].
The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you.
Philippians 4:4-9 AMP
Paul's words to the Philippians. Words of peace. Words of
encouragement. Words of exhortation.
Words full of reminders.
Reminders of where to put our hope. Where to put our trust. Where to put our thoughts.
I remember, not that long ago, when I first shared with my daughter Philippians 4:8 as a grid for her thoughts.
You see she was struggling with fear. Overwhelming fear. The kind of out-of-this-world, mind-numbing fear that seems ridiculous to the person not experiencing it, yet completely real to the one who is.
And my admonishments, my encouragements, my cajoling and reminding were doing very little to help.
Until. Until God gave me Philippians 4:8, not just as a verse to spout. Not just as a good idea or a good sentence or a good thought. But as a real-time, real-life tool. A tool to use, with a heart of love, to help the one I love. To take her thoughts captive. To transform her thought life. To turn from anxiety to trust. From fear to peace.
And as I think on this, I'm reminded of how many times I, or others, have been tempted to just give a verse. Just give a good idea or a good thought. Oh, they may very well have been truth. But how real were they to the person giving them? And how real were they to the person receiving them?
For my daughter and I...Philippians 4:8 is becoming real.
When an overwhelming thought comes into her head, the question comes up: is this true? If the answer is no, we move on. When another
thought comes: is this lovely? If it's not, we say no. Another thought: is it excellent? Is it praise-worthy? Does it bring peace? If the answer is no to any of these questions, any of this list given by God through Paul, then it's not a thought worth thinking, because it's not a thought from our loving Heavenly Father!
And my daughter's response? Oh, mama! Thank you! Thank you for telling me this! Thank you for helping me!
Is she, or I for that matter, an expert at taking thoughts captive? Not yet...but we're getting there!
How? By actually putting into practice what the Bible says. By seeing the Bible, not just as a bunch of words strung together, but as a real-time, real-life tool. Useful in real-life situations. Everyday situations.
And...by reading with a heart of love. Listening with a heart of love. And receiving with a heart of love.
A heart of love from our Heavenly Father, our Papa, our Daddy. Our Daddy who loves us. Our Daddy who knows our every thought before we think it. Our Daddy who has already given us the tools we need and is teaching us both how to recognize them and how to use them.
Our Daddy who is true. Our Daddy who is honorable and worthy of respect. Our Daddy who is pure and lovely and worthy of all our praise!
Now those are thoughts worth thinking!
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