It’s important to be aware of our feelings. But we need to be honest and recognize that our feelings change all the time. We can feel horribly down and something good happen or we even get a phone call from someone we dearly love and our feelings change. Also, the fact that I feel a certain way, doesn’t mean that I’m right about what I feel. I can feel guilty when I haven’t done anything wrong. I can feel innocent when I am guilty and need to change. Solomon declared, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but the end of it is death.” I’ve known people who felt God was calling them to kill someone else that they believed had wronged them. I’ve known those who were sure their husband or wife was being unfaithful to them based solely on their feeling that something just wasn’t right. Perhaps this is the reason God doesn’t command us to feel in any particular way.
He does tell us to do some things that will certainly change our feelings. For example, when he commands us to “Rejoice in the Lord” and to “Let your gentleness be evident to all” our obedience to do these things will certainly change how we feel about life. He went from that to telling us not to worry about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” He promised us if we did these things the result would be that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It would seem to me that the greatest feelings I could possibly long for would be to have joy in the Lord and to have His peace that is far beyond anything we can imagine to stand guard over my heart.
But, notice God led Paul to take another step before stopping this discussion. This is in Philippians 4 beginning in verse 4 and going through verse 7. He then concludes the thought in verses 8 and 9 thusly: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
I would love to live everyday filled with the joy of the Lord, having peace from the inside out and praying regularly to God as he blesses and guides me. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live without worry, no matter what happens to us? I don’t know about you but worry comes easy for me. I can very easily sit down and worry about family, about children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I can easily worry about the future of the church or of the country or a thousand other things in life that I have little or no control over. I can certainly pray about them. I do know that God not only controls the future but can change it at any time. It has always amazed me that Jesus in the greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount, would take a rather large segment of the sermon to talk about worry and tell the people how useless worry really is. We can’t turn one hair white or black. Our worry certainly won’t add any years to our life. His answer for what we should do instead of worry was twofold.
First, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things (things we are worried about) will be added to you.” Second, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Isn’t it interesting that close to two thousand years before Dale Carnegie made famous the idea to “Live one day at a time” Jesus had said the same thing. Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, added one more answer that we could call the third response and it was to pray about everything, with prayer, supplication and thanksgiving to let our request be made known to God. His fourth point is to THINK about the right things.
How can we get our minds focused so that we think on the right things all the time? Surely we would all both like to think on the right things and see the value of doing so. But it is near impossible to think on things that are noble, right, pure, admirable and praiseworthy if we are spending lots of time on social Media watching and listening to all the grips that people have in the world. I love some people who post positive, godly and caring kinds of things and build you up, but they are rare. It is near impossible to watch the news that runs 24 hours a day and hear every horrible thing that goes on in the world and keep our minds on the right things.
So, how can I really focus my mind to think about these things and not be carried away with all the troubles that surround us? It is vital to follow God’s lead in how. Remember his lead was to not focus on things and worries of life but to seek before everything else his kingdom and righteousness. That is even before Covid. Then, live one day at a time or as Carnegie said, “live in day-tight compartments.” Rejoice always in the Lord and pray about everything. When we follow that plan of action, it suddenly becomes the natural thing to think on the pure, noble, truthful, lovely, admirable and praiseworthy.
What if we all followed that plan? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to sit down and talk with fellow followers of Jesus and talk about all the things that are good in the world? I suspect it would lead to a complete change of focus and our fears would fade away like darkness as the sun rises each day.