PJ’s Daily Devotional for Sunday, February 12, 2017.
Paul starts with a promise: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Paul moves to prayer: “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).
Paul then gives us some perspective: “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).
Paul finally gives us the plan: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
In life, all four of these elements are important: a promise to claim; a prayer to pray; the right perspective on circumstances; and a plan to execute. Without one of these you may find yourself overridden with an anxious or fearful heart, aimless in your life, and buried in your circumstances. It is my desire to help you choose the better way; the way of the Holy Spirit!
Here is a brief example of how to apply these four elements in your life:
- The Bible is filled with the promises of God; whereas, our habitual thinking is filled with half-truths and misconceptions. For example, you may think, “If I am not successful in this situation, then my life will fall apart.” The natural result of such catastrophic, slippery-slope thinking is anxiety and fear. Replace that faulty logic with the promise of God, “Even if I am not successful in every situation, God who began a good work in me will bring me through this to completion.” This promise will decrease the fear-inducing self-focused thinking, and keep our mind meditating on the power of God to fulfill the promises of God!
- The Bible is filled with prayers that are effective and in God’s will: pray these prayers! The Psalms were Jesus’ prayer book and the Bible has example after example of prayers God has already declared as prayers He will answer. Memorize them, practice them, so that in your 9-1-1 moments (emergencies/crises), your communion with God will be unbreakable by neither of the normal fleshly responses caused by your autonomic nervous system: adrenaline rush (fight) or detached retreat (flight). For example, Psalm 23 is my personal go-to prayer. I memorized it and I walk through my days with it for three reasons: it relaxes me; it reminds me of who God is; and it focuses me on God’s promises for my life and eternity!
- Our circumstances overwhelm us so often that we lose perspective on what is true and real in life from God’s reality. Yes, it is true that our perception shapes how we view what is real to us, but it is often NOT true that perception is reality. Paul remembers God’s promises, Paul prays, and now Paul can give an accurate assessment of reality—God gives Paul his perspective: what has happened to me, though difficult, has served a greater purpose; my suffering has meaning! In life, we are going to suffer, but will our suffering have meaning, purpose, and hope attached to it. It is perspective on life that shapes our contentment and ability to rejoice in all circumstances!
- Finally, because his life was built on the promises of God, because he prayed effective prayers, and because he kept a right perspective, Paul was able to stay on plan for his life—“to live is for Christ and to die is gain.” No fear in life and no fear of death! No reason to give oneself over to anxiety or worry, because God is sovereign and bigger than our circumstances! To take the confusion out of all of this, let me summarize God’s plan for each of us in one word: REJOICE! God’s will is for you to rejoice in Jesus Christ through the indwelling power and abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.
You may ask: What does it mean to rejoice?
To rejoice means to claim God’s promises as you walk through your problems—to keep a godly perspective, to keep on praying God’s Word, to claim the promises of God, and to keep on plan!
This is the power of the promises of God available to every believer who learns to activate the Holy Spirit so that the Spirit is the dominant counselor, teacher, and guide in his or her life!