Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, 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. (NIV)
For years, it has been a pattern. Evening comes, it's time to get ready for bed, and into my mind come memories and thoughts from the day or the past. Every one is tainted by hurt, and at its heart, by self-pity or my desire for self-justification. Then, with my mind in turmoil, comes the struggle to get to sleep.
In a recent Bible study, as we discussed the enemy's work of robbing us of peace, suddenly, Ted broke in, declaring, "Stop! Check inventory!" He gave counsel: he, you, and I — we have all faced trials and attacks. The hurt that these caused is very real, and our memories can recall the pain in all its intensity. But when old resentments and fears come up, the enemy is putting a wedge between us and God, robbing us of peace. So, first, let's stop! Just stop! And next, let's check our inventory! — God's promises in His Word, preserved for all His children, which includes us. When we are stung by hurt, we often forget that He has given us an inventory of words of comfort and wisdom, which speak to our very situation. What verses have we already memorized, because they touch us deeply? We need to think of them again. Would the anguish and the faith expressed by the psalmists remind us that we are not alone? His Word promises that the Lord "will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6b and 8b NIV) How often I have needed to stop and remember that Jesus, in His death and resurrection, has already freed us from the power of the past, and we do not need to go back there again!
Paul's words in today's verse are not a suggestion that we try to hide in a never-never land of nice fantasies. It is instead a command and a divinely-inspired counsel to turn deliberately from old habits and patterns, and to rely upon what God promises and what Christ has done for us. Jesus said, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36 NIV) He did. We are.
Prayer: Loving Father, help us to turn, in Your strength, from old patterns to find new life in Your words, and thus, to grow each day to be more like Your Son. Amen.
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