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February 27, 2020

Three Faith Builders, Part 1

Summing it 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.” Philippians 4:8 (MSG)

Despite all the hardships, pain, suffering and unmet expectations, Paul didn’t miss the gift God had for him. He opened the gift of each day with hilarious confidence in the God who made it for him. One Bible teacher described him as “incorrigibly happy, utterly unafraid, and almost always in trouble!” If he couldn’t preach to the thousands in the Colosseum, he could preach to the one chained to him! He could share the Good News with the one in front of him. If he couldn’t be with other Christ followers and disciple them in person, he could write them letters of encouragement and ground them in the Word of God as an anchor for their souls in troubled times. He could set the example of how not to miss the gift of one day by showing us how to focus on three positive and powerful faith builders. These faith builders would keep fear from stealing the gift of one day and enable him to live with overcoming power and victory!  What are they?

First:  God’s promises are more reliable than our feelings. Chained to a Roman guard, Paul had no idea what his future held. Would he be executed for preaching the Good News? Would he be forgotten and left to die in prison? Despite how uncertain his future was, he was certain of one thing and he shared that in Philippians 4:19 when he wrote, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”  

Even though his circumstances were different than what he expected, he knew that every circumstance that could possibly arise in any situation was one in which God would show Himself more than able to meet every need! God’s riches are illimitable! Paul refused to succumb to an attitude of defeat or discouragement. He began his letter of Philippians with this assurance, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.” Philippians 1:12 (NIV) How could that be possible while he was in prison? He adds, “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.” (Vs. 13)  I can just imagine that every changing of the guards gave Paul another person with whom he could share the Good News of Christ’s love and forgiveness!  Those guards didn’t have a prayer not to get saved! He was more free than they were! He had a captive audience! His boldness was infectious. The next verse says, “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” (Vs. 14) I love that!

Paul believed that God’s promises were more reliable than his feelings, so he relied on those promises and the God who made them! How about you? Are your feelings dictating your life or God’s promises? To rely on God’s promises you need to know them.  The Bible is filled with thousands of promises for you and me. That’s why it’s so important to build our faith on God’s Word. In Romans 10:17, Paul wrote, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If you’re tired of your feelings dictating your life and you want to build your life on God’s promises begin with Philippians 4:19. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Apply it in your life with whatever you are facing today. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” Did you see that word “all”?  All means whatever need you are facing right now that threatens to rob you of the gift of this day. Pray that promise with thanksgiving back to God. Then replace those fears that have controlled your feelings and your thinking with this encouragement from Paul, “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.” Philippians 4:8 (MSG)

Begin to focus on God’s goodness in the midst of the pain. Our pain does not nullify God’s promises. His promises are more reliable than our feelings. What you’re going through is hard. But hard isn’t the opposite of good. Just as real as the hard things you’re facing is the goodness of God. Shift your focus to His goodness and fill your mind with His promises.