EVERYBODY’S CHANGING AND I DON’T FEEL THE SAME
In Philippians 4, the Apostle Paul emphasizes four important ideas: faith, unity, finding joy in the Lord, and letting go of anxiety. According to Paul’s teachings, these concepts form the bedrock of our spiritual journey. They are relevant and meaningful for everyone. Every day, we face the ongoing battles of integrating faith, promoting unity, experiencing joy, and overcoming anxiety.
Something To Talk About:
- Rejoice in the Lord: Learning to rejoice in all things is an exercise. It is a faith-stretching exercise. Maybe you were just laid off or had an unplanned major expense pop up out of nowhere. It is counterintuitive to think you could rejoice in those things, but that is what God commands us to do. Philippians 4:4 (ESV) says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” This command doesn’t mean to find joy in your hard times but in the Lord during your hard times. Your hope is in God, not your marital or job status. He has a future for you, not your bank statement or ring finger. You don’t embrace health concerns, you embrace God. Thank Him for being there and walking with you and allowing you to overcome the world because He has overcome the world. He is also not calling us to rejoice in the overwhelming feelings we have; He is calling us to rejoice in Him.
- Consider Others: We should only look for the good in others and ignore the bad. Think the best of others because this is what you expect them to think of you. Please give them the same benefit of the doubt you desire. Believe that they have your best interests in mind. The temptation to be skeptical or suspicious of their motives is not what God expects of us. We cannot judge a person’s heart. Our role is to think the best of the people God put into our lives. Thinking good of others is not easy. It is hard to set your default to thinking the best of others, but that is what we should do because that is what God does. When God looks at us, He sees Christ. He doesn’t look at us as sinners with bad habits and hang-ups. The Lord looks at us and the potential we have.
- Instead of worry, pray: Peace of mind is something that we all want. We all want to be able to rest, and not have to worry. But whenever I stop worrying about one thing, something else seems to rise up to tempt me to worry anew. Paul talks about worry in two passages in Philippians 4. “… I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” – Philippians 4:11. “. – Philippians 4:6: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.’ Martin Luther once said to, “pray and let God worry.” Everything is small and important to God, so pray to Him. “So, let our requests be made known to God, “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7.
- Think wholesome thoughts: God is far more interested in changing your mind than changing your circumstances. God wants to work on you first because transformation won’t happen in your life until you renew your mind, until your thoughts begin to change. Manage your mind because your thoughts control your life. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” (GNT). Your thoughts have a tremendous ability to shape your life for good or for bad. Manage your mind because it’s the key to peace and happiness.
When you don’t try to control your mind and how you direct your thoughts, you will have enormous stress in your life. But a managed mind leads to strength, security, and serenity.
- Keep doing good: Or, in other words, if you are doing well, you should do good. At times it may seem passive, like standing in line. But generally, our waiting for God is the kind of waiting a gardener does. He plants seeds and keeps working as he waits for the harvest. Paul encourages the Galatians to do this—to keep working as they wait. “The harvest is coming,” he says, “so don’t allow weariness to discourage you from what you do.” And the heart of this work, Paul says, is to live out the gospel’s promises where we are. “While we have the opportunity,” Paul continues, “let’s do good to all people” Galatians 6:10). Doing good comes naturally when we believe the gospel’s promises about the future. As we wait for the Lord’s return, let’s look for opportunities to bless others. And we can trust God will be faithful to bring a harvest “in due time” (v. 9).
- What would daily life look like if we rejoiced in all things?
- What makes the command to rejoice in any circumstance hard for you to do? What do you think in your life robs you of joy or rejoicing the most?
- Read Psalm 118:23-24. What is the basis for God’s command to rejoice in these verses? Is that our natural perspective or something that we instinctively do? Why or why not?
- What’s your natural response when you are worrying? Read Philippians 4:6-7: What is the most significant thing in these verses God asks you to do in response to when we worry or feel anxious? How can you practically apply this to your life?
- Read Luke 10:38-42. What does this section in Luke tell us about “dwelling” with Jesus versus “doing” for Jesus? Does this verse tell us where the best place to start is? What keeps us from starting here? How does this impact our ability to “rejoice” and “do not worry?”
- Who do you rely on for prayer support? Who can you count on to faithfully pray for your spiritual growth?
- Philippians 2:3 encourages, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves..” Is there someone in your life you need to actively consider more important than yourself? How can you seek to humbly show preference to that person over your own desires or wants?
- What do you often worry about – money, physical problems, your children? What exceptions do you usually make for your worries? How does this affect your daily walk with God?
- What are some areas of worry you can take to God this week?
- List some breakthroughs you have had with worry. Pray and ask God for more success in finding joy.
- What was your main takeaway from this week’s message?
Take One Thing Home with You:
And isn’t that the longing in our hearts as we approach the new year? Whether we are a child, a high school or college student, middle-aged or in our golden years, we believe that the future will be better. We “are being renewed every day” by God. His mercies are new each morning, and we can grow each day in our understanding of Him and personal relationships with Him.
The new year brings with it the thought of new opportunities. The new year seems the perfect time to make commitments and take action. If you are dissatisfied with how you have lived this past year, there will be new opportunities before you. It can truly be a new year for you, with a better and stronger relationship with God.
Our prayer is that we will embrace the new year. It may be filled with headwinds, transitions, and trials, but for the believer, there is such incredible hope and unexplainable joy as we serve Him no matter the circumstances. May this be a new beginning for a new you where you see the Lord move in your life.