Bible Study for Feb. 19: Practicing Joy

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Philippians 4:4-9
Scott McVey, associate pastor
Northside Baptist Church, Brunswick

Don’t worry.

How many times has someone said that to you? Doris Day sang, “Que sera, sera,” that is, “What will be, will be.” Bobby McFerrin suggests, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Others have suggested, “If you find yourself at the end of your rope, tie a knot on the end and hang on.” Do you feel better now? Nor do I. Is it possible to experience a life of joy amidst the trials of life, and if so how does one do it?

Live a life of joy and graciousness – Philippians 4:4-5

Christians can live a life of joy and graciousness, however, it takes practice. There are two responses essential for you to experience this kind of life. You are to respond with praise to the Lord and to respond with grace toward others.

Praise is commanded. It is a choice and to be continual. The Psalmist reminds us, “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.” (Psalm 145:3) Our rejoicing is to be to the Lord and in the Lord. It is not to be governed by our feelings, it is governed by our will.

Live a life of prayer – Philippians 4:6, 7

Paul continues with a prohibition concerning worry. Paul literally tells, “Stop being anxious for even one thing.” In other words, Paul was saying, “Don’t panic.” So how do you stop from worrying?

In these verses, Paul expounds on two intentional practices to occupy your thoughts that will alleviate worry. Paul has already referred to the first of the two, i.e. to rejoice always. Continuous worship alleviates constant worry.

The other practice is prayer. Praise should always precede prayer. When we pray, we enter God’s gates, and when we enter His gates, we are to do so with praise.

Like praise, prayer is imperative. Paul uses four different words to describe the practice of prayer – prayer, petition, thanksgiving, and requests. As we pray, we are to cast our fears on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7).

When we continuously praise, never panic, and pray in everything, God promises to give us His peace.          

Live a life of right thinking – Philippians 4:8, 9

Paul reveals two things necessary to keep God’s peace in your life. You must dwell on the right things and do the right things.

The things on which a person mentally dwells determines the sort of person he is (Proverbs 23:7). For example, if you think about negative things all the time, you will eventually be a negative person. You can’t control what thoughts pop into your mind, however, you can choose whether or not you dwell on those thoughts.

To help the Philippians, Paul gave them a checklist of the kinds of things about which they were to think. He writes, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise – dwell on these things.”

The second thing that fosters transformation is doing the right things. Paul exhorted his readers to, “Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Transformation occurs in people who think about and act on God’s Word.”

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