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Week Four Introduction The purpose of this study is to move us closer to the love of our Heavenly Father. Once we move closer, our goal is to remain there. Spending quiet time reflecting and meditating on God’s goodness can help us to achieve this goal. Are you ready to relax and remain at the feel of Jesus? If so, this lesson is for you! ____________________________________________________ Focus Verses Philippians 4:6-8 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 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.
Biblical History The book of Philippians was written by Paul. He was one of the greatest Christian missionaries of all times. At this time in history it was very dangerous for a person to spread their beliefs regarding Jesus. During these early years of the church there were several groups of powerful people who wanted to end the spread of Christianity. Because these people desired to destroy the early church, it was not uncommon for early Christian leaders to be both tortured and even imprisoned for their faith. Paul was one of these targeted leaders. He had been both beaten and imprisoned more than once for his missionary work. Throughout all of this turbulence and hardship, Paul never lost faith in God. When chapter four of Philippians was written, Paul was actually being held in a prison cell. What kept Paul strong throughout his many prison stays was reflecting and meditating on God’s great LOVE and protection for him in the past. In this chapter, Paul was writing to a group of church members in Philippi. He was in prison, yet Paul was writing to encourage his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. He was encouraging them to not be anxious. This is incredible! Paul had every reason to be both anxious and worried, yet he chose to be the opposite. He chose to meditate on the positive and look to God’s prior love and provisions to uphold him! In doing this he was able to remain steadfast in both his joy and faith. We can learn a powerful lesson from Paul! Through Paul we will be reminded that our focus controls our outlook! :)
As we continue to discover the deep and loving nature of God, we will not only be growing in our faith, we will also be getting more and more comfortable sitting at His feet. It is human nature that people usually feel a little bit uneasy sitting really close to people who are unfamiliar to them. Think about the last time you went to the movies or even sat on a church pew. Unless you knew the people you are about to sit by, you probably chose to sit away from them. Before we sit at the feet of someone, we must first really KNOW them. We must not only KNOW them, but we must also have a sense that this person actually cares for us. Why else would we choose to sit within “kicking” distance of someone’s foot? As we sit at the feet of Jesus, He wants us to know that He truly does care about us! He sincerely desires to be fully KNOWN by us! The Lord wants us to feel absolutely comfortable and totally willing to draw near to Him! We learned through a previous devotion that in order to honestly know and trust who God is, we should both behold and reflect upon the Lord’s past provisions in each one of our lives. For this reason, this week we will be writing lists of all of the ways that God has proven His love to us. We will write down all of the ways that God had shown us that He loves and cares for us. To help us learn how to meditate, let’s keep these lists near to us throughout this week and look at them often. Before we go any farther, let’s grab a pencil and paper and begin our lists now.
Important Words Monday 1. anxious- drawn in opposite directions; “divided into parts” Original Word: μεριμνάω Definition: anxious, distracted 2. Nothing- no single thing Original Word: μηδείς Definition: not even one (man, woman, thing) Usage: any (man, thing), no (man), none, not (at all, any man, a whit), nothing. Connection to us It is so easy to make exceptions to rules especially when those rules involve us and our emotions. This verse is literally telling us to not be anxious about ANYTHING! There are no exceptions to that. Be anxious for nothing means exactly that- NOTHING! God is completely aware of every issue that we are dealing with at any given time. There are absolutely NO issues which would be an exception to this verse.
God wants us to hand over ALL of our worries to Him. He does not want our minds filled with anxiety over ANY problem or issue – no matter how big or small. This is sometimes difficult for us, but we can do it! Let’s ask our Heavenly Father to help us! Connection to me:
Challenge activity for today 1. Write down every worry or concern that you can think of. 2. Color code each statement. 3. Choose one color to underline (code) what you consider to be the “big” worries and another color to underline (code) the “small” worries. 4. After you have “coded” each issue, choose a third color. 5. With the third color completely cross out each statement. 6. Finally, using this same third color- write “GOD WILL HANDLE THIS” beside each statement. Pray again and THANK God for His continuous protection and provision in your life.
Tuesday Thankfulness- (noun) conscious of benefit received- or for what we are about to receive. Original word: εὐχαριστία Definition: gratitude; actively, grateful language (to God, as an act of worship) Connection to us: Notice in the definition of thankfulness it mentions “a consciousness” of what we are about to receive- this is HUGE! This means that as soon as we ask God to resolve an issue- it is resolved! God immediately works out the perfect solution! Because of this, we need to go ahead and THANK Him and move forward actually knowing that God has once again provided! It is vital for us to understand that He as soon as we ask, God creates the perfect solution tailored specifically for us. Once this solution has been created by God, we must be LED us to it! This is where faith and patience come in. It is at this point that we must relax and allow our Heavenly Father to guide us! If we remain steadfast and follow Him, God will LEAD us to the solution. We must not get anxious and actually snatch our problem back. This is critical! If we want to achieve the perfect ending that God has designed for us, we must remain on His path! Connection to me:
Wednesday Peace- (noun)a state of tranquility or quiet, freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotion, harmony in personal relations. Original Word: εἰρήνη Definition: peace (literally or figuratively); by implication, prosperity Connection to us: What is the most peaceful place you can think of? The ocean, a mountain trail, a hammock on a spring day? For most of us there is at least one place which represents peace. This is a place which allows us to temporarily leave both the world and our issues behind. When we are there, our worries simply float away in the beauty and tranquility of the surroundings. The amazing thing is that as children of God, our Heavenly Father is wanting to give us an even GREATER peace! The peace of God is an even more tranquil feeling than even all of these favorite places combined. It is up to us to search for God’s Heavenly peace, but sadly this “spiritual” feeling is sometimes difficult for us to totally experience.
Because we are physical beings who are loved and cared for by a spiritual God, we need God’s help to both connect with Him and feel His peace. When we can’t feel Him, we often assume He isn’t there. Our minds begin behaving and worrying as if the latter is true, when in reality God’s arms are reaching out to us continuously. Our Heavenly Father desires for us to feel both his embrace and His PEACE each and every day! Starting now let’s ask God to help us to FEEL him! Our Heavenly Father is willing and able to help, but we must be sincere in our asking. Are you ready to live life feeling light and free? Let’s Pray for God to guide us. Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You love me so much. You do not want to me to be worried or full of stress. As my Father you are waiting with open arms to calm my mind and give me peace. Please help me to stay in your protective arms and actually feel your PEACE. I know what peace feels like. I can feel it at certain times when I visit special places. I love the stillness that my mind feels during these times. I deeply desire to feel an even greater peace, your peace, on a daily basis. I know you also desire for me to feel this. Please help me! I love you so very much. Thank you for loving me with your all powerful love. In Jesus name I pray, Amen Connection to me:
Thursday Mediate- (verb) To dwell on anything in thought; to contemplate; to study; to turn or revolve any subject in the mind.
Connection to us Have you ever noticed how easy it is for our eyes and minds to wander towards our problems? This can be a very dangerous thing! What our minds wander toward often tempts us into action. It is kind of like driving down the road and getting distracted by signs. For example, we see a sign, our mind begins wandering toward the image we see and then we are tempted to act upon it. One common example is when we see the famous “Hot Now” sign glowing at the local Krispy Kreme! Although we did not feel hungry before we saw it, upon the letters our minds begin to taste that delicious treat. Before we know it, we are then tempted to ACT! We immediately feel like we MUST have a scrumptious doughnut. Notice how quickly our gaze affected our action. We went from not feeling hungry to feeling starving all within a few seconds! We were tempted to pull through the Krispy Kreme drive thru and cheat on our diet all from a three second glance! Moral of this story: What we gaze upon can alter our thoughts and actions in very powerful ways!
This can be dangerous with doughnuts but it can really be dangerous when our “gaze” turns towards our problems and off of God. In these verses, God is not telling us to discount our problems, instead He is reminding us to not be distracted or pulled off course because of them. When we feel anxious over something, even something very small, it becomes very easy for us to make a rash and oftentimes bad decision as a reaction. Our ACTIONS can many times lead to even more anxiety! Our focus verses for this week were written to help us understand this. When the scripture says to be anxious for nothing, it literally means NOTHING! In these verses, God is reminding us to not focus our gaze on ANYTHING but Him! It is up to us to direct our gaze, thoughts, and actions! Let’s begin by turning our gaze away from worry and back toward peace. Let’s intentionally meditate upon God’s amazing LOVE! Connection to me:
Meditate on Me ~ Meditate on Me ~ By Deborah Ann Meditate on Me, put aside some time to spend alone and ponder Me. Moan to Me, groan and whimper and express your heart to Me. Mutter to Me, sigh and cry and whisper your love for Me. Talk to Me, hum sweet words and murmur your praise to Me. Pray to Me, beseech and plea
and implore your need for Me. Meditate on Me, put aside some time and lose yourself . . . in Me! ~~~~~~~~~~~ Psalm 19:14 King James Version “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Copyright 2013 Deborah Ann Belka
Discussion Questions 1. Would you describe yourself as an optimist or a pessimist? Why? 2. Do you find it easy or difficult to control your thoughts? Why? 3. If you let your mind run wild, what are you most likely to think about? Do these thoughts cause worry or peace? 4. How can mediating on the list of God’s provisions help you to have a more positive outlook?