Oct 13 2019 Phil. 4- Replacing Negative Thoughts with Positive
13th October 2019
Last week we talked about anxiety and strife in relationships and how to be a non-anxious presence and how to deal with anxiety in our lives. We also talked about letting our forbearing spirit be known to all – to be approachable, to welcome criticism – we all need that at times
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.
Some translations – DWELL on these things. Others, PONDER these things. Paul is saying – related to peace and strife and anxiety: What we let our minds dwell on has significant influence on us. If we allow our minds to dwell on these great things – it will affect us positively.
What Paul does, having talked about the bad, gives some positives. But we need to go back to examples of negative thoughts that need to be replaced by positive:
First – sinful thoughts – we all have temptations. If you don’t think you have temptations – you have even bigger problems! Lust, greed, covetousness – we think the ones that get us are the worst – or the ones everyone else struggles with is the worst! Or you look at someone else’s problem and think that would be an easy one or easy to solve – but we need to learn to address ours.
You can be assured that there are others who have the same problem you have!
Second – negative self-talk. We say we are unlovable, or unworthy – or a failure. There are times we don’t like ourselves. We probably all go through that. There is healthiness in recognizing this is how God made me.
Third – thoughts of regret – wishing you could change things – but that doesn’t help, because we can’t go back to the past and change things.
We looked at that a few weeks ago – forgetting what lies behind – having short memories when it comes to those things. Press forward.
Fearful and conspiratorial thought-life. Thinking something bad will happen. Fear can grip our thoughts – We sang a couple songs that we don’t need to fear and God has given us the victory through His love.
How do we replace those thoughts? First, develop a plan or strategy before the thoughts come.
Here is a plan I have used. First – you must know what your bad thoughts are – and we must discover what triggers those. Where do they come from? Sometimes you need help from others to discover where those thoughts come from.
It is really important to know WHY they are there. They don’t just come in automatically – but things happen throughout our lives that create these underlying negative bad thoughts.
Step two is to say, “No!” to those thoughts. Titus 2:10 – the grace of God has appeared to teach us to say NO
In order to put on new clothes, we must put off the old – the bad and sinful and replace with the righteous and good. I remember being in a house with a bunch of guys to save money – but we took this so literally – that every now and then you would hear someone saying “NO!” to ungodliness.
The key to replacing with positive thoughts is to have a specific thought to deal with a specific problem.
One great way to do that is to use scripture verses that relate and address the negative or bad thought. You can use some of the songs we sing!
Jesus showed, when He was tempted in the wilderness, that you can use specific scriptures to deal with specific temptations. Ammunition, you might say, against those thoughts.
True thoughts about God – fill your mind with these things.
When you go back even to the garden, the serpent speaks to Eve – Did God really say that? God knows that if you do this that you will be much better off…. He attacks the character of God. So many of our thoughts attack the character of God. God LOVES US! I am a child of God! Loved by God! So many verses speak to how much God loves us! God is merciful! He does not condemn or judge! Whatever the truth is – Think on that! Remember your position in Christ! We have been made right, blameless in His eyes, because of what Jesus has done (not because we are so good!) Never get to a point where you think it is because of your goodness.
Remember how God has blessed and worked in our past – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of his benefits.
Philippians 4:8 not only relates to our souls, but to our relationships. So other thoughts that need to be replaced are judging others with blessing and speaking well of others. Negative thoughts about others need to be replaced with whatever is good, lovely, honorable…
9 And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.
After we have redirected our thoughts, we have to redirect our actions. Sometimes I get up at night – and getting back in bed, it is easy for my mind to drift – so that is when I pray – because that is when fear and anxiety tend to come in. But what is key is to have a plan. If nighttime anxiety is a struggle, have a plan! Here are the songs or verses that comfort me.
There are a lot of action things – serving others, gospel/kingdom stuff – cleaning the house or whatever! Do your work rather than letting your mind dwell! Take action!
It is not to just get psychology of our minds -but to live in the present – in the presence of God – in this moment – whatever that moment is!
The God of peace will be with you. The peace of God will guard your hearts and minds.
PEACE speaks of a wholeness, a fulness of life – we live in a world where so many people just don’t experience peace. We live in a world that is anxiety and conflict driven. Very rarely do you think – well that just gives me peace! This fills me with peace and wholeness! That is very rare. Peace on the inside and peace in relationships.
It is valuable to ask if there are relationships that lack peace. As far as it depends on you – be at peace with all men. You do what you can, but the other person is the other person. Do your best! If they don’t want it, there is nothing you can do about it – and that happens. There are plenty of situations where we try to make that happen and it fails.
To have general peace – having the same mind of sacrificial service in relationships – and Paul talks about forgetting the past and pressing toward Christ – forgiving and yielding in relationships – Being a non-anxious presence – and in our thought life – to have peace.
When Jesus was coming into Jerusalem, he turned to the people – Jerusalem – if only you knew this day those things which make for peace – but you do not, and judgment is coming upon you! He knew what was happening. The people of Israel were an occupied people seeking revenge – but Jesus was saying – if only you understood – if you only knew! The world does not know how to maintain or bring about peace. There is only one place to go: the teachings of Jesus. Here is what peace looks like.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
So, the people of Philippi – were supporting Paul – and he left, and probably stopped, and then they took a collection to support him. I am glad you have done that! Not that I speak from want….
In general, in our world, in the developed world – we tend to speak from want! We have a lot of want! And we don’t know the difference between want and need. To us it is all the same. A want is almost always a need – but those two things are very different.
12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
For Paul, and this is a very high standard, and very difficult to reach – to be able to say this. It is especially true when everyone around you seems to have more. It is hard at that point to do this. This is not to be condemning – I struggle with this also.
He learned a secret! That secret, not because he is a person who doesn’t care and can live on a shoestring – the secret is that Christ strengthens him – Christ in him, allowing him to be content.
14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. 15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.
These people were very generous.
17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
So there comes a promise at the end of this – “You have taken care of me – God is going to take care of you!” We have to be careful with that – we can make it a tit-for-tat kind of thing! We can think – if I give to this person, God will give to me! But no, Jesus says to give expecting nothing in return. You can see people using these verses to profit their ministry – and that is a horrible thing to do. God will supply all of our needs. Not wants. What do you think the Greek means here? Needs.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! That does not mean that I can go and play professional football today! That is not what this verse means! Playing professional football was not meant for the smallest guy in the class!
You can be content – through Him who strengthens you! You can be part of this gospel partnership through Him who strengthens you. You can live self-sacrificially – and have peace in relationship – and can continue on – through Christ who strengthens you