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Thinking Like a Christian – Philippians 4v8-9

21/06/2020

Service delivered to the Congregation and friends of Ballymacashon Cngregational Church on CD during the Lockdown.

To listen to this service as a podcast, click this link.

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Praise: Psalm 1:1-6 (Tune, St Petersburg)

1 HOW blessed the man who does not walk
where wicked men would guide his feet,
or stand in paths with sinful men,
or sit upon the scorners’ seat.
2 The LORD’s law is his chief delight,
his meditation day and night.

3 He will be like a growing tree
well planted by the water side,
which in its season bears its fruit,
and has a leaf which does not fade.
In everything that this man does,
he’ll surely prosper in that cause.

4 Not so the wicked! They are all
like chaff the wind will drive away.
5 They will not in the judgment stand,
nor sinners with the righteous stay.
6 The LORD the way of just men knows;
the sinners’ way he overthrows.

(Psalms for Singing)

 

Thinking Like a Christian

Text Philippians 4:8-9

What’s on your mind?  Worry fills our mind with negativity and saps our spiritual energy.  But when we stop worrying, our thought-processes don’t just stop.  We always have something on our minds; there’s rarely a time when our brain-cells aren’t working, thinking about something.  The question is what?

Of course there are religions and philosophies that encourage us ‘empty our minds and find peace.’  But the whole idea of ‘emptying your mind to find inner peace and calm’ is alien to Christianity.  In Philippians 4, Paul teaches us to FILL our minds with GOOD THOUGHTS, not to empty them.  Let’s see what these good thoughts are.  Let’s see:-

1 The Content of Christian Thoughts. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; 

Paul actually gives us a list, to help us see where the focus of the Christian mind should be…   

  • True things.  Think about TRUTH.  In particular think about Christian truth.  It is a good thing, every day to remember what the Lord has done for us.  To remember our unworthiness and sinfulness, and to remind ourselves that Christ Jesus, God’s spotless Son, willingly gave his life for us, taking upon himself my sin.  Think of vastness of that burden, think of the depravity that was laid upon him, rejoice that all MY sins are covered by his shed blood, be thankful for the TRUTH of the Gospel.   
  • Honest things.  AMP: whatever is honourable and worthy of respect, 
  • Just things.  AMP: whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, 
  • Pure things.  AMP: whatever is pure and wholesome 
  • Lovely things.  AMP: whatever is lovely and brings peace, 
  • Reputable things.  AMP: whatever is admirable and of good repute 

Now, these are the thoughts that should fill our minds, they are godly thoughts, they are Christ-honouring thoughts, and they are positive thoughts – so use them to replace the worries and cares that we have brought to the Lord, the burdens that we have asked him to lift from us.  The phrase ‘think on these things’ is continuous.  We are to meditate on these graces continually. 

2 The Consequence of Christian Thoughts.  if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things 

We are to demonstrate a Christian disposition and character to others.  We noticed this a couple of weeks ago when we looked at verse 5, Let your moderation be known unto all men.  We are to be generously minded towards other people.  That will be seen in two great Christian attributes that Paul wants us consider.  They are VIRTUE and PRAISE.

  • Virtue.  AMP: ‘excellence.’   The word ‘VIRTUE’ was often used in pagan society, to describe the best qualities in a man or woman.  Because we know and believe that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, that does not mean that our pagan neighbours are utterly without any common human goodness. Many of them put Christians to shame in their charity and concern for others, and in their love for their families, for their self-sacrifice for their country.    Paul brings this up deliberately.  When he speaks of virtue, his Greek readers would be thinking of their neighbours.  As a Christian, wouldn’t it be a travesty if our lives were less virtuous than theirs?  
  • Praise. No-one should seek the praise of men.  We seek the praise of God!  That’s what motivates our lives and our beliefs – we want to please God.  If we lived for the praise of men, we would have to lower our standards to match those of the world.  Yet there is no doubt that there are times when people will praise us.  Even when that is unsought, it can be embarrassing, but it can also be encouraging!  Romans 2:29  

3 A Case-Study in Christian Thought.  9. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do.

 Notice how these instructions were being conveyed to them…

  • Learned and received.  It’s significant that not only have they learned these principles from Paul, but that they had received them – owned them and made them their own.  That’s the difference between assimilating raw facts and life changing learning. Not just knowledge but an intense application of Biblical principles to our personal ethics, our attitudes and our lifestyle. 
  • Heard and seen.  Our example in practicing ‘Thinking Like a Christian’ is the apostle himself.  Paul’s Christian faith, his doctrine, and his lifestyle all matched.  When Paul tells the Philippians to think like Christians, to rejoice in the Lord, To be gentle with all people, to stop worrying, to be thankful for everything, he was not being two faced.  In the gaol cell in Rome, those things are exactly what he was doing.   AMP: 9. The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life].

Paul concludes by telling us that when we keep our minds filled with Godly thoughts, we will experience the peace and presence of God.  The key to well-being is not to empty your mind, and not to centre your thoughts, and certainly not to repeat your mantra and focus on your breathing – it is to fill you mind with Godliness!  and the God of peace will be with you.  In our next look at this text we’ll ask what Paul means by the phrase, ‘The God of Peace.’

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