January 21 – Think About Such Things – Whatever Is Lovely

Read Philippians 4:8

“Whatever is lovely—think about such things.”

Glamor has been a goal of some women for years.  In older films, there often was a chorus line of beautiful women dressed in flowing gowns.  Their hair was all pulled back close to their heads and sometimes they wore giant headdresses.  They usually had sparkling jewelry dangling from their ears, necks and wrists.  This was supposed to be the standard for being “lovely.”  Something every woman should aspire to.

But is that really lovely?

What do you think of as lovely?  Is it a butterfly, a baby’s laugh, beautiful flowers, a snow-covered tree or a cuddly puppy?  God has given us these things to think about in times of trouble, when we think we are at our wits end, after a long tiring day of coping with life. We can think on these things, smile, and see God.

When I think of lovely, I think of a young lady I met about 50 years ago while working at a home for handicapped children.  Her name was Renee.   I worked with about 20 different children but Renee is the one I think of when I think of lovely.   She was far from what the Hollywood elite would think of as “lovely.”   She was overweight.   Her legs and arms were all twisted, making her wheelchair bound.   Her oversized teeth made it impossible for her to close her mouth completely and so she often drooled when trying to talk.  She couldn’t speak clearly so it was really hard to understand what she was trying to say.    But, there was a sparkle in her eyes, a gentleness in her crooked smile that showed a true “loveliness.”  She may not have had jewels hanging from her body but she had a heart of gold. When she and I would have a private chat, she intently listened and, although she couldn’t verbally respond, she let me know she understood by her genuine belly laughs that almost threw her out of her wheelchair.  Although her body was twisted, she had a sharp mind that I am sure most people missed because they couldn’t get past the way she looked on the outside.  That is a real shame because they missed out on a chat with a lovely lady.

I don’t know whatever happened to Renee but, when I read the verse about thinking on things that are lovely, I think of her and smile. I truly think that God put Renee and me together, even for a short time, to let me know to look beyond the outside of people, beyond the skin color, beyond the circumstances into the loveliness inside and see the heart of God!

Think back on your life and see if you might have crossed paths with your own “Renee.”

Someone who makes you smile just thinking about them, not because of what they looked like but because of who they were!  If you still have contact with them, why not jot a note to them or give them a call to tell them how very special they are to you and how you thank God that you met.

In what way can you have the same effect on others?

Pat Arnold

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January 20 – Think About Such Things – Whatever Is Pure

Read Philippians 4:8

To be pure.

What do you think of? Water from a spring, an adolescent child, snow even? When researching “What does it mean to be pure?” to try and gain an understanding of the perspective of our culture, the main things that came up were “Purity of heart” or other articles regarding a movement of purity that is widely controversial.

However, when Paul was encouraging the Philippians to stand firm in the Lord, in Philippians 4 especially, he was trying to remind them of the things that root us in a strong foundation. Purity, of course, in the first century was one that was foreign to most because you had pagan cultures deprived of God surrounding you. The church was the minority.

Sound familiar?

Here is Paul reminding them to think of whatever is pure. Which, principally speaking, also pertains to what they do, see, think and walk in. In order to have a pure life, you need to have a pure heart. Pure living follows purity of the heart but also purity of the mind.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “what you put in is what will come out?” I think I first heard this in youth group, while in middle school. Like every hormonal teenager, I rolled my eyes only thinking, “I know some things are wrong but I’ll be okay…”.

Turns out, I wasn’t and I wish I had asked more questions about what that actually meant. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that the Lord showed me exactly how my choices in what I did, saw, watched and thought affected my walk with Him.

I think James says it best in the first chapter of his writings. Sin produces death. Now, does James mean physical death? No. However, he speaks of the death of our spiritual life. The more we give into the things that are not of God, the more we die spiritually.

When standing firm in Jesus and our walk with Him on this earth, we are going to be challenged by many things of this world; temptations, discontentment, greed, fear…etc. However, the Lord is with us. He provides the strength to stand firm in choosing that which is holy, choosing that which is set apart from the world and what culture is telling us is good or beautiful or right.

When I think of purity, I am challenged to think about what I watch, listen to, read, do… and compare that to the holiness of God. Would He approve? Does it cause me to glorify Him in my choices or satisfy what I want? I am challenged to evaluate my life. How do I spend my time? Is it pure of heart? Is it holy? Does it help my spiritual life grow or die?

Stand firm in the Lord… think of whatever is pure.

Kelly Lawson

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January 19 – Think About Such Things – Whatever Is Right

Read Philippians 4:8

“It is never wrong to do the right thing.”

This was the saying on one of my favorite bulletin boards at school. The message is clear – do the right thing. How do you always do the right thing? The answer to that is, you don’t. The simple truth of the matter is that we don’t always do the right thing. We may not even know the right thing to do.

Doing the right thing begins with thinking the right thing. We have to train our brains to dwell on what is right. It takes a conscious effort sometimes to not dwell on the wrong things. It is easy to dwell on our hurt feelings when we are on the receiving end of harsh words. Or we replay our own words over and over that were unkind towards our spouse or kids. We can get stuck thinking of ways to get revenge for a wrong we’ve endured. These are not helpful and definitely not where our mind needs to focus in order to think about things that are right.

So just what is right to think about?

It is right to think about God’s love for us. We can do this by thinking of how He loves us unconditionally. Think about His gift of forgiveness and grace. Think about His desire for us to be in a relationship with Him.

It is right to think about loving others. Think of ways to be kind and generous towards others. Think of ways to demonstrate love to someone who seems unlovable. Praying for people turns our thoughts towards God and loving others.

It is right to think about the spiritual fruit our lives bear. We should evaluate ourselves in terms of the patience we show ourselves and others; the peace we obtain and establish in our lives; the joy we feel and share with others; even the self-control we maintain in the heat of the moment.

We all know people who think they are always right. It can be a bit frustrating and annoying. Our goal in thinking about things that are right is not to have a sense of pride or arrogance. Our aim should be to obtain truth. It is not about being rigid and legalistic; it is about being full of grace.

In today’s society, we don’t often think of things in terms of right and wrong, or black and white. We like there to be a little gray area. We want a little wiggle room. Some would even claim that what is right for some, is not right for all.  It is as if the standard is different from person to person. So, how do we know what is right? God says only His way is right (John 14:6). He sets the standard for right and wrong. Early on in the Bible, God gives the Israelites the Ten Commandments. These were parameters for the Israelites to follow in order to be right with God and their fellow man. In the New Testament, Jesus tells the believers to love God and to love others. (Matthew 22:37-39) We can’t do this if we aren’t focused on doing what is right. Right thinking produces right actions. We reap what we sow. When we put time and effort into focusing on what God wants us to do, we are more likely to do the right thing.

Today, take some time to focus your thoughts on what is right. Ask God to show you what is right. Remember, it is never wrong to do the right thing.

Tammy Finney

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January 18 – Think About Such Things – Whatever Is Noble

Read Philippians 4:8

During my career as a high school basketball coach, I worked with some young men and young women who could confidently focus on the positive. They believed they were going to make the next shot. The successful players were able to envision the ball going through the net.

You know – swish.

They knew from experience that negative thoughts ruin their efforts. Some of the players would get in “foul trouble” and have to spend time on the bench. Each had a different technique to help maintain focus until the crucial moment when I would insert them back into the game. Some would talk about other things with teammates. Others would sit by themselves at the end of the bench. Still others would sit next to me and stay focused on the game.

Eventually these players do what the apostle Paul suggests we do in whatever situation we find ourselves: focus on the positive – focus our thoughts on things that are noble, pure, good and right. On the basketball court, in our homes or at work, when we think of our spouses, our children, friends, or coworkers, we should fix our thoughts on what is noble and positive. We should think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Adopting a positive attitude, even when you’re under pressure or the odds seem to be stacked against you, can really help assure a positive outcome. Thinking of people in a positive light changes how you treat them.

So, thinking about what is noble is part of the teaching of this verse.

A definition of noble is having personal qualities that people admire – such as honesty, generosity and courage.

A part of being noble means to be honest – in every part of life. Honesty is to know, do and say what is right. It is how you act and live. It is to be genuine and not deceptive. Are you all-in?

When you are asked a question, what is needed is a thoughtful, compassionate answer.

“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Matthew 5:37

Another part of being noble means to be generous. “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Prov 11:25) What are some ways that you can be generous to others?

In my view, to be noble means outstanding character all of the time. Not just some of the time. Exemplary character!

You apply this by thinking about it and trying to live like Jesus. This is how He wants us to live. It’s something to think about every day.

Do you think about what is noble?

Tom Weckesser

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January 17 – Think About Such Things – Whatever Is True

Read Philippians 4:4-9

Most Jesus followers I know have had opportunity to practice the invitation of verses 6 and 7 from today’s reading. Through grateful prayer, they have surrendered their anxiety to God in exchange for His unexplainable peace. Is that a regular part of your life? Is there a worry you are carrying now that you should yield to your Father?

In your familiarity with those two verses and their encouragement, don’t lose sight of verse 8 that addresses the focus of your thoughts. How can the peace of Christ guard your heart and mind, if you allow your thoughts to roam freely into some treacherous or even unseemly areas? This current devotional series addresses areas of healthy thought. Over the next few days we will portion out the individual ideas of verse 8. We have titled the series after the apostle’s words: “Think on These Things.”

“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.” (Phil. 4:8)

First of all, we are encouraged to think about “whatever is true.” While that may sound pretty elementary, keep in mind the challenges we face.

  • The news we hear or read includes fake news designed to raise our eyebrows and influence our thinking. Some of it is written with a political party slant that may not offer a balanced perspective. Sorting through all of that to “fact check” and discover reality is no simple task. Still, think on “whatever is true.”
  • In addition, there is the commentary from others about ourselves that we hear. The accolades of others can lead you to a prideful perspective of yourself. The truth is, you are a sinner, saved by the grace of God. But the commentary of others at times also implies that you are a loser or failure. That is not true either! You are a deeply loved child of God (1 Jn. 3:1), who is valued and useful for His purposes (Eph. 2:10).
  • And then there are the things we tell ourselves…our self-talk. With truth, we must regularly remind ourselves that Christ is enough. We don’t need other crutches and escapes in life in order to function. He alone satisfies our longings (Jer. 2:13; Jn. 4:1-18).

Think on “whatever is true!”

Steve Kern

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January 16 – The Core 24 – It All Belongs to God

Welcome to our series on The Core 24!

Here at Grace, we believe that ALL that we have belongs to God! All that we have and are comes as a direct result of God’s provision for us!

Have you surrendered ALL that you are to God?

Come with us as we learn about how we can best worship God through what He has given us!

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January 15 – The Core 24 – Saved People Serve People

Welcome to our series on The Core 24!

Here at Grace, we believe that a natural biproduct of a relationship with Jesus is serving others. A huge part of Jesus’ ministry was serving others and we should do the same!

What are some practical ways that you can serve others?

Come with us as we learn about the value of serving others and some ways that you can easily do that here at Grace Church!

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January 14 – The Core 24 – Life is Better Together

Welcome to our series on The Core 24!

Here at Grace, we believe that we were created for relationships. Not only were you created to have a relationship with God, but you were created to have relationships with others! We passionately believe in surrounding yourself with people who are going to push you to grow in your walk with Christ!

Are you plugged into a Grace Group? Are you surrounding yourselves with people who are going to encourage you to grow in your faith?

Come with us as we learn about the value of fellowship!

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January 13 – The Core 24 – There is Always a Next Step

Welcome to our series on The Core 24!

Here at Grace, we firmly believe that there is a next step for everyone. No matter who you are or how long you have been a follower of Christ, there is a step that you need to take in order to become more into the person God created you to be.

What next steps have you taken?

Come with us as we learn about the value of next steps and some of the options that exist here at Grace!

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January 12 – The Core 24 – Life Change is an Invitation Away

Welcome to our series on The Core 24!

Today, we learn about our value that life change is an invitation away. Here at Grace, our mission is to develop all people into fully devoted followers of Christ by creatively leading and teaching families toward LIFE CHANGE. All that we do is so that people experience life change in Christ. Are you aware just how much power is in an invitation?

Come with us as we learn about the power of an invitation and are challenged to invite those we know who need to experience such life change!

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