VIDEO Whatsoever Is Lovely

 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” — Philippians 4:8

Philippians 4:8 is probably the original proclamation of positive thinking. In this passage lies the secret of a happy life, a positive attitude, a winsome personality, advancement in life, and acceptance by others. Certainly we all desire these things. As we fill our minds and hearts with the true, the noble, the just, the pure, the lovely, and the good, then God will lift us up and grant us peace.

What do you spend time thinking about? Do you meditate on virtuous things?

Keeping our minds and hearts trained on the praiseworthy is difficult. Because of their separation from God, many media producers create material that is the opposite of all these wonderful things. They show us the false, the ignoble, the unjust, the ungodly, the unkind, the crass, and the ghastly. All of this pours out of television sets, movie screens, novels, and magazines of modern times.

Television and movie producers defend their creations by saying, “We’re only reflecting reality.” Well, I want to say back to them, “Yes, but life is more than the gutter, the toilet, and the brothel.” We can’t deny the reality of the gutter. But roses are just as real and much more worthy of our devoted attention.

Today and every day, set your thoughts on things above. Surround yourself with everything praiseworthy. Drink in the true, noble, pure, and lovely, and allow God to grant you His peace as you do so, for He is the source of it all.

“”Where there is beauty, there is the Spirit of God.”” —R. C. Sproul

Think What to Do; Do What You Think – Philippians 4:8-9 – Skip Heitzig

More than Conquerors

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

When my husband coached our son’s Little League baseball team, he rewarded the players with an end-of-year party and acknowledged their improvement over the season. One of our youngest players, Dustin, approached me during the event. “Didn’t we lose the game today?”

“Yes,” I said. “But we’re proud of you for doing your best.”

“I know,” he said. “But we lost. Right?”

I nodded.

“Then why do I feel like a winner?” Dustin asked.

Smiling, I said, “Because you are a winner.”

Dustin had thought that losing a game meant he was a failure even when he’d done his best. As believers in Jesus, our battle is not confined to a sports field. Still, it’s often tempting to view a tough season of life as a reflection of our worth.

The apostle Paul affirmed the connection between our present suffering and our future glory as God’s children. Having given Himself for us, Jesus continues to work on our behalf during our ongoing battle with sin and transforms us to His likeness (Romans 8:31–32). Though we’ll all experience hardship and persecution, God’s unwavering love helps us persevere (vv. 33–34).

As His children, we may be tempted to allow struggles to define our worth. However, our ultimate victory is guaranteed. We may stumble along the way, but we’ll always be “more than conquerors” (vv. 35–39).

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

When has your confidence in God’s love helped you press on? How has He affirmed your value as His beloved child even after a great loss?

Father, thank You for helping me rise up through trials in victorious praise.

Sunday Reflection: The Best Offering

Have you given God your whole heart, or are you offering Him substitutes?

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the scriptures referenced throughout.

The prophet Hosea spoke a condemning word to the nation of Israel at a time when they were prospering. In fact, the Israelites were so successful, and so diligent in offering sacrifices to God, that they began to rely on Him less and less—and more on themselves. That’s what prompted the Lord to speak through Hosea: “For I desire loyalty rather than sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

Jesus echoes this phrase later in the company of Pharisees, saying, “Now go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, rather than sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13). Though Christians don’t offer animal sacrifices to the Lord, we can be tempted to think in a similar way about our good deeds, sound theology, and hours logged in church. But what God wants from us is our very selves—He values our trust and reliance more than anything else we might offer Him.

Think about it

• What is something you typically “offer” to God? Consider setting it aside this week. How can you genuinely connect with Him apart from that?

If by Any Means

“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Philippians 3:11)

The usage of this seemingly insignificant phrase “if by any means” (Greek ei pos) follows a significant order of development in the New Testament. Occurring only four times, it is used to express the urgency of an object sought and the background needs and means for its attainment.

The context of the first occurrence is the presumed need for physical comfort and security. “Because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter” (Acts 27:12). This particular goal, however, was never attained.

The second is a more noble object, that of reaching an area of spiritual ministry. “Without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,” Paul said. “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you…that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift” (Romans 1:9-11).

The next occurrence speaks in even greater urgency, the object being the conversion of Paul’s Jewish brethren. “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles….If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:13-14).

The final occurrence is in today’s verse, speaking of the supreme importance of a Christ-centered life: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11). By all means, therefore, we should, like Paul, seek to live for Christ, minister to others, and win souls for Him. HMM

“When Thou Prayest”

Matthew 6:5-13

IN the Sermon on the Mount our Lord reproved all worship done with an eye to the public. Those who so worship “have their reward”; they did it to be noticed, and notice is what they get. He said little concerning public prayer but commended the secret place with the closed door. That our Father knows what we need before we ask is not an excuse for not asking; it is here given as an incentive to asking. The Lord’s Prayer is His only in that He gave it to us. He did not need to pray it, for it asks for forgiveness which He needed not! But it is a fitting prayer for us, and how balanced! There is the worshipful beginning with its adoration; the prayer for His coming kingdom; the general desire that His will be done on earth. Then, the particular requests for daily bread, forgiveness, help in temptation; and the worshipful close with its eternal outlook “forever.”

Jesus cautions us that an unforgiving spirit on our part hinders God forgiving us. Then He holds up the ideal of true riches in heavenly investment, where misfortune and Depressions cannot reach. We are to have a single purpose: our eye must be single, “this one thing we must do.” We cannot serve God and the things of earth.

We are not to live in anxious care about tomorrow—what we shall eat, drink and wear. The birds and the lilies are examples of our Father’s provision. The true believer knows God has promised to supply all his needs, and he reckons on God’s faithfulness. Trusting in the Lord and doing good, he dwells in the land and is fed. The things of God are put first, and all else is added. Each day has enough troubles of its own.

These admonitions from the sixth chapter of Matthew are familiar. They have been read and memorized and treasured, and perhaps no portion of the Bible has been practiced less. Care is the “white sin” of most believers—who imagine that worry cannot be prevented. But we are expressly told to cast our care upon Him for He cares for us. The caring is His business, but most of us insist on helping Him attend to it.

In the seventh chapter we are bidden not to judge others or to look for faults in others, overlooking greater faults in ourselves (verses 1-5). Holy and precious truths aren’t to be wasted on those incapable of receiving them (6). We are assured that God answers prayer (7-11). The golden rule (12) has been misused, for only Christians truly can keep it. The way to heaven is narrow and few travel it (13-14). False prophets can be known by the fruits of their ministry (15-20). And it is not lip-worship but obedience that counts (21-23).

Our Lord closed His message with a parable about one house built on sand and another house on the rock. Christ is the sure foundation (1 Cor. 3:11), and lives built on Him shall endure. Where the life is unworthy, the soul is saved if it be on the Rock; but how much better when soul and life are to His glory. “The day shall declare it”—the last day will show up all shams and realities (Mal. 3:17-18).

“The Lord our righteousness.”

Romans 10:12-21

The New Testament is the key to the Old. There we find an explanation of the position of Adam in reference to the race of man. He represented us all, and we all share the sad effects of his transgression. He was the door through which both sin and death entered into our world. So the apostle Paul teaches us in

Romans 5:12

All men sinned in Adam who stood as representative for them all, and therefore all men die.

Romans 5:14

It is clear that there was sin in the world before the law because men died; that sin came in through the fall,

Genesis 5:14

even infants die through Adam’s sin, though without personal guilt,

Genesis 5:14

For Jesus is the second head of the race, the second representative man. As we fell by our union with Adam, so if we are in Christ we shall rise by virtue of our union with the Lord Jesus, who is here intended by the term, “him that was to come.” But he is the Head and Leader of a believing people: the great question is, are we believers in him?

Romans 5:15

Note that salvation is not the reward of merit, but a free gift; and mark how God’s grace outruns human sin. The apostle speaks of “much more,” as if he meant, more likely, more easily, more abundantly. It was Gods strange work when he condemned the race for Adam’s sin; but it is his delight to accept men for the sake of his dear Son.

Romans 5:16

One sin destroyed us, but grace blots out many sins.

Romans 5:17

Ruined by one man’s sin, restored by one man’s righteousness. The rise will be greater than the fall.

Romans 5:18

All in Adam fell by Adam, all in Christ are restored by Christ.

Romans 5:19

This is the fundamental doctrine of the gospel; Jesus makes us righteous in his righteousness. We are accepted in the Beloved.

Romans 5:20

The law of Moses makes us conscious of sin, it probes our wounds, it brings out into action the evil which lurks in our hearts, and so by the blessing of the Holy Spirit it drives us from self-dependence, and compels us to look to the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

The floods of grace prevail above the mountains of our sins. Almighty love paints a rainbow on the blackest clouds of human transgression.

Romans 5:21

Happy are those in whom reigning grace has implanted spiritual life, for the same grace will sustain, increase, and perfect that life till it melts into glory. Are all the members of this family saved in Christ Jesus? Endeavour every one of you to answer the question. Let us not be divided, but let us together seek the Lord, and may we all meet in heaven.

We were lost, but we are found,

Dead, but now alive are we;

We were sore in bondage bound,

But our Jesus sets us free.

Strangers, and he takes us in,

Naked, he becomes our dress,

Sick, and he from stain of sin

Cleanses with his righteousness.

Therefore will we sing his praise

Who his lost ones hath restored,

Hearts and voices both shall raise

Hallelujahs to the Lord.

True Worship: Fully Seeking the Lord We Adore

O come, let us worship and bow down.... Psalm 95:6

An old creed says that we worship one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

If we could set forth all of God’s attributes and tell all that He is, we would fall on our knees in adoring worship.

The Bible tells us that God dwells in light that is unapproachable, whom no man can see or has seen, and whom no man can see and live.

It says that God is holy and eternal and omnipotent and omniscient and sovereign, and that He has a thousand sovereign attributes. And all of these should humble us and bring us down!

I have come to believe that no worship is wholly pleasing to God until there is nothing in us displeasing to God. If there is anything within me that does not worship God, then there is nothing in me that worships God perfectly.

Note that I am not saying that God must have a perfection of worship or He will not accept any worship at all. I would not go so far; if I did, I would rule myself out. But, I do say that the ideal God sets before us is to worship as near to perfectly as we can. Faith and love and obedience and loyalty and high conduct of life—all of these must be taken as burnt offerings and offered to God!

True worship seeks union with its beloved, and an active effort to close the gap between the heart and the God it adores is worship at its best!