“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:4-8).
What do you really focus on? Do you get all wrapped up in the most broken thing in your life, or concentrate on that one area that is not functioning well? If we aren’t careful, we can become obsessed with one problem and forget the many beautiful things God is doing.
A few years ago, my wife and I bought a new car. It was so quiet and I loved driving it. But one day a pebble flew up off the pavement and hit the windshield, causing just a little defect. I put off getting it fixed and little by little that small hole started to enlarge and before long it was all I could think about. Every time I thought about my beautiful new car, I fixated on that damaged window that was getting worse and worse because of my neglect.
That happens in our lives sometimes. Things that are meant to be precious gifts from God become obscured by a little (or not so little) annoyance and we begin to murmur, complain, compare. And instead of walking in victory and gratitude, we are consumed by the broken parts.
Paul is addressing this here, instructing us to practice living an overcoming life of joy and thanksgiving, thinking and speaking of things that are pure and noble and worthy. The glorious result is that the God of peace will be with us!
We are living in the last days and the world as we know it is going to plunge into unspeakable darkness. Biblical prophecy is unfolding before us daily, and soon we will see Jerusalem encompassed by armies.
Jesus warned that in the last days, many false prophets are going to arise and many Christians are going to be deceived (see Matthew 24:11). Let me tell you why they are going to be deceived: Quite simply, because they are not staying in the Word of God! They are following books, fads, and fancy speakers — but they are not opening the text of the Bible.
Remember, the Bible is a living Word. “The entrance of Your words gives light” (Psalm 119:130). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 3, 14). “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11-12).
The Word of God is alive with the power to create and recreate the human heart. It has the power to give sight, freedom, hope and strength. And perhaps most importantly of all in this generation, the Word provides direction. There will be a myriad of confusing voices sent by hell itself to divert the people of God and ensnare the lazy, yet God promises that his Word will be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (see Psalm 119:105).
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). The love for each other described here is not a mere handshake, a quick hug or flattery. No, this kind of love sees another’s need and does something about it. In fact, according to John, if we see our brother in need and do nothing, the love of God is not in us.
“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Obviously, loving one another pleases God, but it is impossible to love others until you are fully assured of God’s love for you. John writes, “God is love and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (4:16). We simply cannot love others until this truth has been firmly established in us: “In spite of all my weaknesses and failures, God loves me!” If you are convinced of God’s love for you, his love will flow out of you naturally.
If we hold a grudge against a brother or sister, we do not possess God’s love. Moreover, if we withhold forgiveness from another, God withholds his forgiveness from us. So love is not just something to talk about. It is a matter of doing, acting, living.
If you truly want to please God, the Lord will open your eyes to the needs of those around you. Selfish Christians do not know this kind of love for others. The gift of caring is given only to those who seek it and pray for it. The Spirit of Christ will alert you to the needs of others, causing you to cry, “Brother, sister, let me help. I want to stand with you during this difficult time.” God will send you one person after another in need — yet it won’t be a burden. On the contrary, it will thrill you because you will share in God’s own joy!
The church of Jesus Christ today has been mightily blessed by God but unless the driving force behind any ministry is total dependence upon the Holy Spirit, all efforts are futile. Great music, eloquent preaching or persuasive personalities are fine but only the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit can bring people to their knees.
Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. He was well-organized, much more educated than his father David, and he did everything bigger and better than any previous generation could have conceived. Everything about Solomon was breathtaking, extravagant, highly impressive! Yet the driving force behind Solomon was wisdom and knowledge — and he delivered a powerless message.
Let’s compare the two types of churches, Solomon’s and David’s. In Solomon’s church, a preacher merely gathers truthful, biblical information and creates a sermon out of it. Then he tells himself, “It’s the Word of God, so it must have an impact.” But no matter how persuasive it is, without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, it is a dead word.
On the other hand, David’s church is filled with godly sorrow toward sin and a deep desire to know the Father. When David was on his deathbed, he spoke to Solomon about intimacy with the Lord. “My son, I want to tell you the secret of my ministry, why God has been with me everywhere I have gone.” Listen to some of David’s last words to his son: “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2).
David was saying, “I didn’t trust in my knowledge and wisdom; in fact, I didn’t trust in any part of my flesh. I was a weak man but I depended upon the Holy Spirit! Every word I spoke was under his unction and anointing. His words filled my mouth!”
All the true treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Jesus Christ (see Colossians 2:3) and they are available to us.
Why did God wait until Abraham and Sarah were old to give them a son? Why did he wait until the situation had become humanly impossible and only absolute faith in him could bring about the promise? It was because this seed was to be birthed completely in faith.
Abraham and Sarah both knew the amazing promise of God to give them a son but their faith was not yet ripe. Sarah became impatient and devised a plan and Abraham went along with it. Ishmael was born and while it was true that he was of Abraham’s seed, he was not the promised heir. In a twist of human nature, Sarah then raged at her husband with jealousy and blamed him. They were both trying to make God’s promise come about by their own efforts (see Genesis 16:1-15).
Perhaps you are wondering why your promise has not yet been fulfilled. You are trying to figure out how God will meet your need, becoming all bogged down concentrating on the hindrances instead of the possibilities.
Abraham and Sarah were given their miracle child but not until they became fully persuaded that God would fulfill his promise in his way and in his time. We know they became strong in their faith but only after having wavered — and Ishmael was a sign of that lapse in faith. Later, however, it was said of Abraham: “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform” (Romans 4:20-21).
Beloved, any wavering you have comes from unbelief; do not try to figure things out or debate the issues within yourself. Having faith means you have settled all your arguments and are fully persuaded that God will keep his Word. He wants to do the impossible because the more impossible the situation, the more glory he receives!