I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Philippians 4:4-9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
4 Rejoice[a] in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.[b] 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, beloved,[c] whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about[d] these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Here’s today’s question: What’s on your mind? What are you thinking about? When you’re not thinking about anything in particular, what do you find yourself thinking about? When you’re imagination runs wild, where does it take you?
When Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians, he was in prison. Perhaps that is why Paul is so focused on the interior life — the head and the heart. Paul challenged the Philippians of his day and challenges us in our day to pay attention to our thought life.
There are probably a lot of reasons why Paul advises this deep inner focus. For one thing, what we think about really shapes who we are.
Gil Hodges was the manager of the so-called miracle Mets of 1969. After a horrible season in 1968 they made a great turnaround under Hodges and beat Baltimore in the World Series in five games. Hodge’s heart attack the year before had much to do with the turnaround because as he recovered, he determined to stress to his players the fundamentals of the game and the proper attitude toward defeat. This is the way he put it: “You tend to become what you think about.” [Elliot Johnson, The Point After, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Daybreak Books, Zondervan Publishing House, 1987)]
You tend to become what you think about. What does that mean for us in practical terms? It means that we need to pay attention to our thought life: what we think, what we dream, and what we imagine.
Fit Bit. I wear a Fitbit. It tracks the number of steps, the number of flights of stairs I take, the number of active minutes, and the calories burned each day. At any given moment, I can also check my heart rate. It also tracks the amount and quality of my sleep. I can pay attention and track a lot about my life. I have an app for entering the food I eat and recording my weight. But, I don’t have an app for tracking what I think about, what I dream about, or what I imagine.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, started keeping track of his thought life when he was a student at Oxford University. Wesley kept a diary where he recorded the resolutions he had kept or broken and what he called his “temper of devotion.” He started out doing this daily but then progressed until he did this hourly. It was, frankly, a bit compulsive. I have a mixture of awe and horror at the thought! Why would he do such a thing? I think it is because you tend to become what you think about.
Our thoughts do make a difference; our dreams make a difference; and perhaps most important of all, what we imagine makes a difference. In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul says, “Have the same mind in you that was in Christ Jesus.”
When we think with the mind of Christ, when we imagine what he is calling us to do and who God is calling us to be, then we can see the great possibilities God has in store. Thinking with the mind of Christ also makes it much easier to see God at work around us, in us, and through us.
In that light, Paul calls us to think about these things: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
How do our thoughts make a difference?
— Thoughts affect our relationships with others.
— Thoughts affect our relationship with God.
— Thoughts affect our mental, physical and spiritual health.
— Thoughts precede actions.
Knowing that our imagination has the power to bring about action, just imagine what good we can do when we work together.
The kind of love of God, love of self, and love of others to which God calls us comes down to an act of will that becomes a habit. It is an act of the will that says,
Today, I will pay attention to my thinking and
I will replace false thoughts with true thoughts,
I will replace dishonorable thoughts with honorable thoughts,
I will replace thoughts of injustice with just thoughts,
I will replace impure thoughts with pure thoughts,
I will replace disturbing thoughts with pleasing thoughts,
I will replace despicable thoughts with commendable thoughts,
I will strive for excellence in my thoughts and
I will concentrate on that which is worthy of praise.
What a difference it will make in our lives if we think about those things and about God’s action in our lives and in our world. Imagine!
There is a lot of theology woven in to hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Love Divine, all Loves Excelling”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster
Love Divine, all Loves Excelling
Love divine, all loves excelling
Joy of Heaven to Earth come down
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling
All Thy faithful mercies crown
Jesus, Thou art all compassion
Pure, unbounded love Thou art
Visit us with Thy salvation
Enter every trembling heart
Breathe, O breathe, Thy loving spirit
Into every troubled breast
Let us all in Thee inherit
Let us find that second rest
Take away the love of sinning
Alpha and Omega be
End of faith, as its beginning
Sets our hearts at liberty
Come almighty to deliver
Let us all Thy life receive
Suddenly return and never
Never more Thy temples leave
Thee we would be always blessing
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above
Pray, and praise Thee without ceasing
Glory in Thy perfect love
Finish then Thy new creation (Finish then Thy new creation)
Pure and… More