Verse Mapping: Phillipians 4:8
Well, here we are again studying the 7th week in the Stressed-Less Living online Bible study. I can't believe it is already week 7! It doesn't exactly feel like we just started yesterday, but it doesn't feel like we should be on the seventh week either, which makes the challenge of retaining what I'm learning seem even greater. I definitely don't want to forget anything I am learning!
This week is truly an amazing and special week for me because as I type I'm surrounded by my beautiful family, including my husband and daughter of course, but also my parents and my brother and his beautiful family...and I've got the ocean in the background. We are in the Outer Banks enjoying even more of God's creations. This is such a fantastic place to dig into this study even more than usual #1 because of the amazing physical surroundings, and #2 because I'm not distracted with all of my daily to do lists that are usually resting on my counter at home and on my desk at work. My mind isn't distracted with thoughts things needing to be done because I am 10 hours away from home and work, and can't literally do none of it...and if feels great! Talk about stressed-less! Yes, the lists will still be waiting for me when I get home, but my prayer this week is that I return to my daily to-dos with a new outlook and a new perspective. I want to use this week to get plenty of sleep and rest, an area I've been depriving myself of over the last six months at least. I pray that I grab this opportunity that God has given me to get a true headstart on a stressed-less life. Let's get started:
Here is our reflection verse for this week as it is written in the listed translations:
"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious--the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." MSG
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." NLT
"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." ESV
I love this verse, and I love how the different translations describe the thoughts we should always be allowing our minds to consume, as opposed to the occasional times we allow those thoughts to take the place of the negative ones that can usually reside in our minds. I know I am not alone in this, otherwise I don't think we would have 7,000 women engaged in this awesome study. If we all were constantly walking around with these above thoughts in our heads all the time we wouldn't have a reason to even participate in this study. Unfortunately, I cringe when I think how many times everyday I allow anger, resentment, bitterness, hatred, anxiety, and fear creep its way into my mind. As I said before, I know I'm not alone which is why this study is so important and can be such an awesome opportunity for spiritual growth and peace if we just close the door to our pride, slam it even, and let God in so He can get to work on healing our imperfect and undoubtedly messy souls.
The individual words describing the positivity our minds should possess all share relatively the same meaning: true, noble (honorable), right (reputable/just), authentic (pure), compelling (lovely), gracious (admirable/commendable)
However, it was the last portion of this verse that really caught my eye. The New Living Translation (NLT) and the English Standard Version (ESV) both discuss thinking of things that are "excellent" and "worthy of praise." The Message, however, describes a little differently what content in our minds is truly pleasing to God.
"...the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." MSG
The words of the verse that I've underlined influenced my heart and my mind the most. It is a very easy concept to grasp to think the best, not the worse;the beautiful, not the ugly. Sounds simple, right? I don't know about simple, but with God holding onto us I know that it will sure be a lot easier to try.
God Is Here:
I have no doubt that God is everywhere in my life in every moment of everyday. He is always watching, He is always loving, He is always holding on to me even when I am having trouble holding on to Him. I've experienced situations when God has revealed His presence to me through the healing of a loved one. As I've matured in my faith and my walk with Him, it has become easier for my heart as well as my mind to accept His plans for the lives of my loved ones, whether His plan is to heal them physically and allow them to remain another day on earth or instead to give peace to their fragile earthly bodies and bring them Home for eternal rest.
Another area of my life when He's made His presence unmistakable is in my job and my husband's job. I've always said and will always believe that the current occupations which my husband and I hold were a gift from God and no one else. We didn't get the jobs because of the qualifications or our character. We got these wonderful blessings from God, and as a result, our faith has grown in leaps and bounds. Our previous jobs caused us many tears, high stress, and rough times. But we know now that there was a reason for it. When God chose to reach down and pick us up out of those occupational rough patches to put us jobs we truly love, we learned how important it is to keep our eyes and hands open to God's blessings and to not take them for granted. Now, even on the "bad" days, we still remind ourselves outloud that these jobs are truly a blessing from God and that we are grateful to have them. He gave us the strength to take leaps that changed our lives forever! For that reason, and many others, we give Him thanks!
Not My Goliath:
I'm always facing some kind of giant. At work, I have many responsibilities, and find myself always taking more and inevitably getting strapped for time. Sometimes, I can really buckle under the pressure of my everyday at work. I always have a list of things to do when I get to work, but it feels like I can't get left alone long enough to complete the list! Patients call and need something; patients walk in and need something else; co-workers and bosses need something else. It never ends! My giant in this situation isn't just the load of work and dependants, but also being able to keep my cool in a situation that could physically, mentally, and spiritually break me if I were to let it.
A giant I'm facing at home is similar, in that I have a list of things I "need" to do at home, but just like at work, distractions inevitably arise. Caroline gets sick or hurt, and the list takes a back seat to her needs. My husband is a volunteer fireman, and I am very proud of him. But being a volunteer means that we don't really know when he will have to go out. It may be in the middle of dinner, church, early in the morning, middle of the night, or right in the middle of our family's night time routine. He usually puts Caroline to sleep every night, giving me time to tidy up the house, finish laundry, or do dishes. I'm a couponer and a "Troop-on"er, so I often use this time to organize and sort...which I ironically love because I can literally think about nothing else. But if my husband gets called out to a fire or a car wreck, this obviously trumps my housework as it should. I am not proud to say that many times I don't convey a loving, proud attitude toward my husband's work when it has to be done at an inconvenient time for me. My giant in this situation is my very own selfishness. Only when I'm ready to ask for His help can God give me the strength to set my selfish wants and tendencies so that I can actually show my husband how much I love him and how proud I am of him instead of completely taking him and the fact that he does many jobs I could never do for granted.
Dear Lord: I pray to you today first for forgiveness. The situations I find myself in are stressfull and frustrating only because I choose for them to be. Please give me the strength to change my perspective and to change my heart. Help me to replace my frustration toward others with an attitude of patience and kindness. Help me to replace my attitude of stress with a flooding of your peace. Keep the demons of anger and resentment from my heart and my mind, and grant me the blessing of your grace to get through tomorrow possessing a better spirit than I had today.
In your precious name I pray,
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