Philippians 4:4-9 NIV
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  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.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
There was a time that I was going through quite a bit of grief. I was having a hard time. I didn't know when I was going to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
These last few years, I’ve learned to apply the directions from this passage to my time of grief.
I admit. Sometimes it was pretty tough. But God is faithful.
He can give you peace that is more than you could ever understand.
I want to share with you some ways to get to that peace.
Who in their right mind rejoices when things are bad? I will admit it wasn’t me.
Paul did though.
He was completely sold out for Christ.
He said, since Christ suffered he was going to share in that suffering.
He was ready to die for the Jesus because He knew that he would have his reward in heaven.
I’m sure this is why God used him in such amazing ways.
I know I’m not like Paul.
I want to be.
I know that I love Jesus and I want to be with Him wherever He is.
I want to rejoice in my suffering. That just sounds so hard to do.
You might ask, how do you rejoice when you:
lose your sister at 21?
have 2 stillborn babies and 5 miscarriages?
It seems impossible, but when you learn that God has a purpose for your life and you turn your focus to Him, you learn to trust Him more.
There will always be problems in life. We learn that in the Bible.
And though this is not exciting news, I’m learning to TRUST GOD more.
There are times when depression hits back pretty hard.
Then I realize I need to:
Thank God for my husband
Thank God for my family
Thank God for my home
Thank God for food
Thank Jesus for dying for me
Thank God for peace in the storm
The more I thank Him, then I start to REJOICE.
I realize how blessed I am to know HIM.
Being thankful leads to rejoicing.
I admit it took some practice. But I know that when I start to list the things I’m grateful for I realize just how blessed I am.
So, if you want to rejoice, sincerely look for things you can be grateful for.
We all need grace.
Grace is what keeps us connected as a community.
We may not see eye to eye on a lot of things.
Paul knew this was true. That’s why he told the people in the church of Philipi to “strive” together.
Living together takes some hard work.
Grace can take work.
As Christians we have to learn to live with people who don’t believe as we do.
That’s why we need to be gentle with others.
Be gentle: With Others
People are going to say and do things that we take the wrong way sometimes. They may not mean it.
There are other times people are just being hurtful and unfortunately, that's the way they are.
We have to stay focused on GOD.
I know that people have in times misused what would Jesus do, but we have to come back to that.
What would Jesus do?
I'm not saying be a doormat, that's not what God intended for us.
Seek Him in EVERYTHING.
Be gentle: With yourself
Be gentle with yourself.
You can only do so much.
It’s okay to forgive yourself if you mess up.
It’s okay to start over. It’s okay to fail.
Learn from what you did. Encourage yourself to start over.
You are worth it!
Be gentle with you.
Prayer and Petition
One thing I’ve learned, is God moves in His on time.
Like Mandisa said in her song “Unfinished”, “He might make it a mystery, but He’s proven I can trust in Him."
Things may not have gone the way I wanted them to.
That doesn't mean I should stop trusting Him. I have to keep trusting. What else can I do?
Ask God for help
God will answer but you have to, like He said: “Seek me with all your heart and I will be found by you.” Jeremiah 29:13
We also can’t give up because God didn’t answer the first time we asked for His help.
We have to keep asking Him.
In (Luke 18:1-8), Jesus told the disciples to keep praying.
He told them a parable about a persistent widow.
This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible.
This widow needed justice and she wasn’t going to stop until she got it.
Think about if we all were consistent in going to God for our needs.
I’m learning that now, I have to go to Him. I can’t keep turning away from Him.
The more I turn to Him, the more He answers.
Keep knocking, Keep asking (Matthew 7:7-12)
In Matthew, Jesus tells us to keep knocking, asking, and seeking.
I know. I want things to happen right now too.
I want life to be fun and exciting all the time. Well, I guess not all the time.
When would I rest?
But I do want to know that God is hearing me.
That’s why it’s important to continue to seek Him. Because if we’re not seeking Him, why should He answer when we ask or knock?
When you have the peace of God, it’s hard for things to stop you.
I’m not saying that things won’t bother or upset you. That’s life.
I’m just saying focusing on God is important to lasting peace.
Read the Bible
I find peace when I’m reading my Bible.
I’m learning the Truths of God. I’m learning about His promises. I’m getting His instruction.
God’s teachings, His instruction are what I want to learn so that I’m living my life for Him.
Again, I’m not perfect at this.
Remember, I’m the one who turned away before.
But, I’m seeking Him more and more because I want His Peace.
Seek God's peace
Seek HIS peace.
Peace comes from knowing His Word and His character.
How will we know HIS peace if we don’t know HIS word?
When I hear or see the word “seek”, I pay attention.
I push myself to understand a little more.
Seeking is so important to learning God’s character and His instruction.
Manage your thoughts
How we think matters.
What we think matters.
We have to be careful about what we think because if we constantly think about negative things, our life will be negative.
If we are most focused on the positive, we will have more positive results.
Think on these things
This scripture says: “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.”
What if we trained our minds to think like this all the time.
...Instead of thinking about politics and what we read on social media?
What if we are thinking about what is true, what is noble, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely, and what is admirable?
What if we think about excellent and praiseworthy things on a more consistent basis?
How would our lives change?
I know that when I practice listing the people and things I’m grateful for, my whole day can change for the better.
We have to practice these things more consistently.
Be deliberate and dedicated
We have to be deliberate and dedicated to changing our thinking.
Making lists and actually seeing these things in black and white (or in color if you like color pens) are so important.
We can make lists of:
people we know who exemplify nobility
what we know is the right thing to do
what do we know about that is pure
what do we see that is lovely
who has done something admirable
All of these things can be encouraging to our lives.
We don’t have to write all of these everyday, but we could start lists in our journals or on an app and start thinking about these things.
If we want peace that SURPASSES all understanding, we have to find a way to stop focusing on the bad things and start getting to the good.
The percentage of bad things is less than the percentage of good things happening in the world, but the bad is magnified through so many media outlets because it gets people’s attention.
Do these things and God will be with you
Paul tells the church of Philippi to do the things he is instructing them to do and GOD will be with them.
He called HIM the GOD OF PEACE.
We serve the God of peace.
He is with us.
I’m more at peace than ever before.
I’ve been trying to put these things into practice. When I do, I see more positivity in my life.
When I don’t and I start looking through the news and allowing social media to dominate my time, I can feel some discouragement creeping in.
I have to remind myself to seek my SOURCE OF PEACE.
God is my source of PEACE.
His word fills my life with peace, especially in the hard times.
Please be encouraged.
Life can be tough at times, but you are an overcomer.
You are more than a conqueror.
God has you!
Until next time.
God loves you family and so do I! - CL