An attitude of significance is a way of life that finds purpose and meaning in God and His will for our lives. It’s when we realize our importance isn’t rooted in what we have accomplished but in the importance that God gives us because He loves us and in what Jesus has already accomplished for us. As a result we allow God’s purpose to rule in our lives and become set free from attitudes insecurity, inadequacy and inferiority.
Ecclesiastes 3:11; James 1:18; Proverbs 16:4
Our Identity, Meaning, Purpose And Destiny Are All Found In God
- Significance is the state or quality of being important and worthy to merit attention. It means that you are noteworthy. As believers, this significance is directly connected to knowing and making Jesus known. Feeling significance is hard because we mistakenly try to become significant through the wrong “stimulus” such as our achievements or we had a hard life and were told that we are not significant and believe the lie that we aren’t important. The truth is you are already significant. To realize this significance you need to know your purpose in life—the reason you exist. Therefore, an “attitude of significance” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our purpose and importance in Him and enables us to live for the purpose that we were created for.
- You are already significance because God is your Creator. You were not an unfortunate accident, an unexpected happening, or unintentional life. You bear the image of God because you were made in His image. God knew you before you were born. God brought you into existence. God is the source of your life. He knew your body type, your skin color, your gender and yet you were fearfully and wonderfully made. You are awesome. God wanted you to be born. He knows the what, when, where, how, and why of your life. He even knows all your days—how long you are going to live. And He brought you into existence for a reason or a purpose: to know and glorify Him.
Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 139:13-16; Acts 17:25-28; Romans 11:36; Revelation 4:11
- You were made for a purpose and this purpose means you are significant. God made you to love you. God loves you. He loves you so much that He did everything to restore you to Himself—so you could know Him. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. He showed us His love. He even chose to love us before the foundation of the world. It has been His plan the whole time. You were created to be loved by God. He wanted us to be part of His family. All of this was done in accordance with His good pleasure and will for the glory of God.
John 3:16; Romans 5:8-9; Ephesians 1:4-6
To Allow God’s Purpose To Rule Your Life
- God wants you to know Jesus. The work of God is to believe in Jesus who was sent by God to save us. The one way we can know the only true God is through Jesus. By knowing Him we receive eternal life. This means we are eternally significant. We enter into a relationship with God through Jesus and this relationship is eternal. We are to grow in knowing Jesus with every passing day. We joyfully live for the glory of Jesus’ name.
John 6:29; John 17:3; 2 Peter 3:18
- God wants us to make Jesus known. We are given great significance, but not to live for ourselves. We are to live for Jesus—the one who loves us and gave Himself for us. We are to be salt and light to the world—meaning letting the world see our good works and glorify God as a result of it. We are to preach Jesus’ love to every person. We are to boldly proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Galatians 2:20; Matthew 5:13-16; Colossians 1:27-29; Ephesians 6:19-20; 1 Peter 2:9-10
To Overcome Attitudes Of Insecurity, Inadequacy And Inferiority
- As believers who have received the light that Jesus has given us, we need to understand what the will of the Lord is so that we can make the most of our time here on earth. God’s will concerning our significance includes establishing a biblical, healthy and secure self-worth, image or concept—how we think about ourselves. This includes three main areas that need to be brought into submission with the bible.
- (1) Acceptance—accept yourself but reject conceit and boasting. We need to humbly accept certain aspects about ourselves that are predetermined before we were born that we cannot change—whether good or bad. David did this by consenting that he was fearfully and wonderfully made by a marvellous God. We should agree with David. We also need to consent that we sinned against God and only through His marvelous grace are we saved. This acceptance leads to boasting not in ourselves but in the triune God—Father, Son, Spirit.
Psalm 139:14; Jeremiah 9:23; Galatians 6:14; Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Romans 12:16
- (2) Love—love yourself but reject selfishness. We need to humbly love our souls which were created eternally to be loved and to love. (For how can you hate what God loves?). Naturally, a person loves himself and chooses to nourish and cherish their own bodies. As believers, we are to love ourselves in the sense that we see ourselves the same way that God does and to know that we are significant. But this love is never to become self-centered. We should never seek self-love directly, but instead know the best way to gain love for our souls is to love God and love others. The Bible warns of those that are “lovers of their own selves”—which is self love characterized by affections concerned chiefly with self or self-worship. This is wrong and should be rejected. The result of truly loving ourselves is always outward focused and not inward. To love yourself is to be secure in Jesus’ love.
Ephesians 5:28-33; Matthew 22:39; 1 John 5:1; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Corinthians 10:24; 13:4-6; James 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:2
- (3) Esteem—esteem yourself but reject pride. We need to have confidence in the fact that we are valuable to God and He wants to use our lives for His honor and glory. Paul had this confidence and knew that he was “apprehended of Christ Jesus” to be conformed into His image. He knew that he wasn’t already perfect like Christ. But He pressed on toward this mark or goal by “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before”—meaning he didn’t let past failures, sins, insecurities or successes and achievements become roadblocks from him pursing Jesus and becoming like Him. We labour and aim to be accepted of Jesus. What in your past is holding you back?
Philippians 3:12-16; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10
- Why are we already significant?
- What is God’s purpose for our life and what should we let it do?
- God wants you to know who?
- God wants us to make who known?
- What are the three main areas of biblical, healthy and secure self-worth?
An attitude of contentment is a way of life that focuses on being satisfied and happy in God and with what He has provided for us. Great gain doesn’t come from material possessions or from great positions of fame or authority but from godliness and contentment. Thus we are to learn to be content in whatever situation and with whatever we have through Jesus who strengthens us. Thus we are set free from covetousness, discontentment and materialism.
Godliness With Contentment Is Great Gain
- Contentment is the state of being satisfied and happy with your situation in life. As believers, this contentment is directly connected to being satisfied and happy in God’s provision. Contentment for many is hard because we mistakenly believe contentment is a future product of a certain goal (when I make more money, when I get married, when we have children) instead of an acceptance of our current circumstance with an unwavering faith in God. Therefore, an “attitude of contentment” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses satisfaction and happiness in Him and extends to His provision for our lives no matter if it is much or little.
- Contentment with godliness is great gain. The desire for “great gain” is not wrong, but there is a biblical formula about how we are to obtain it. First, we need: “godliness”—this means that we have the right beliefs about God (from the Bible) and serve Him in response to these beliefs. It means that we have an active spiritual life that is growing more in love with Jesus every day and that we are being transformed through the Holy Spirit’s sanctification in our lives. We are devoted to God and seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. Hopefully, this describes all Christians. But there is a second part to the formula, we need: “contentment”—this means you are satisfied with what you have and that it is sufficient. But what if we don’t have a lot? What is the minimum we should be content with? Paul answers this question saying that if we have “food and raiment” (clothes that cover our body and maybe extends to a place to stay that covers us for protection) we should be content. This gives us great perspective and shows us that material possessions are not the key to happiness.
1 Timothy 6:6-9; Matthew 6:25-34
- Contentment also means we are living for something and Someone greater. (1) Paul’s states that: “we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” This gives us an eternal perspective and makes living for earthly gain (money, possessions, achievements, spouse, family, power, position) foolish because we can’t take them with us. As believers, our “something” is laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven because we know those are true eternal rewards. (2) Matthew states that: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon (money).” This means that we can ultimately only truly live for one thing or one person. There is only one thing or person that motivates you to do what you do and that you give your time, talents and treasure to. It has your heart. As believers, our “Someone” is God. Our sufficiency is of God. He is able to make all grace abound toward us so that in all things at all times, having all sufficiency (having all that we need), we may abound to every good work. God and His sufficiency is the foundation for being content.
1 Timothy 6:7; Matthew 6:19-24; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 9:8
- Contentment is not loving money, and gaining more of it does not bring contentment. Those who “desire to be rich” fall into temptation, a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful desires (lusts), which plunge and drown people in destruction (ruin) and perdition (destruction). This is the opposite of being content—this is discontentment with their current situation and going after money as the thing that will fix all their problems. Instead, it traps people and keep them from being content and often pushes them away from godliness. Many people want to serve God but they have fallen into the “trap of desiring to be rich” and live their lives “trapped”. As believers, we need to understand that the love of money (or any material possession) is the root of all kinds of evil. Because of this even believers who have coveted after money have wandered away (erred) from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows, griefs, and pangs.
1 Timothy 6:9-10
To Be Content In Whatever Situation And With Whatever We Have
- Contentment is learning to be content with whatever your circumstances are. It means that we know both how to be in need (abased, hungry, to be worse off), and how to have plenty (abound, well fed, to be better off). Paul learned the secret of being content is to be content in any and every situation. This means that there is nothing wrong with prosperity or poverty, but we shouldn’t seek or desire either one (or any stage in-between) to find contentment. Both have their own challenges and difficulties. The secret is to be content with your current situation and not the next stage of life. But we don’t have to do this on our own, for we do all things through Jesus who strengthens and enables us.
Philippians 4:11-13, 19; Luke 3:12-14
- Contentment is learning to be content with what you have. We can do this because we have a wonderful promise from God who said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” God is always with us no matter our financial situation. He cares for us. We choose to live right and according to His purposes and not according to the world or culture around us. Based on this promise we can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” We trust God in all situations (financial, persecution, daily living, etc.) (Note: In verse 4 it says, “Marriage is honourable in all”—thus we should also be content with our marriage and spouse, keeping the bed undefiled, not seeking another.)
Hebrews 13:5-6 (4); (Genesis 28:15; Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 28:20; Psalm 118:6)
To Overcome Covetousness, Discontentment And Materialism
- We become discontent when we don’t keep our lives from covetousness. Covetousness is the love of money; it is the unrestrained desire for acquiring wealth; it is the attitude that wants more and more. It is the great longing or craving for something that will cause you or others harm (often irresponsible or thoughtless). It is to wish for something or someone that is not rightful for you to wish for (especially that which is another person’s). It is wanting something or someone that is incorrect to want; or wanting it for an impure reason; or wanting it at an inappropriate time; or wanting an immoral amount of it; or it is yielding to any of these—wether in thought by dwelling on it or by acting upon them. We are to keep our lives free from covetousness.
Hebrews 13:5; Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21
- We covet when we don’t control our thoughts, feelings and attitudes. We allow ourselves to compare our situation to that of another or to what they have, and if it is perceived to be better than what we have it leads to envy or jealousy. This then leads to resentment or hatred towards others or even God because others are better off than you or their situation has turned out better than yours. This ultimately is selfishness—lacking concern for others and their success and chiefly concerned about yourself and your success.
2 Corinthians 10:12; (Israel is an example of a covetous people in Numbers 11:4-35)
- We are to mortify (put to death) whatever belongs to our earthly nature and this includes “covetousness” because it is idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of an object (material or immaterial) in the place of the one and true God. This is what happens when we live a covetous life—we are worshipping the idol of materialism—meaning that material possessions, physical comforts, or trying to live our “best life now” is the most important. It is an idol of the heart that expresses itself through the way we live. Serving God has been replaced with the business of trying to acquire more. The cycle never ends because once you get “enough” it isn’t enough and you continue to strive to gain more. As believers, we can overcome this by telling ourselves and believing that, “In Christ, I have enough” and if riches increase we will not set our heart upon them, but continue to declare, “In Christ, I have enough!”
Colossians 3:5-7; Philippians 2:3; Galatians 2:20; Romans 12:3; Psalm 62:10
- Godliness with what is great gain?
- Contentment is learning to be what?
- Contentment also means we are living what? Who?
- We become discontent when don’t keep our lives from what?
- We can overcome covetousness by telling ourselves and believing what?
An attitude of gentleness is a way of life that focuses on being kind and caring towards others because of God’s great kindness and love towards us. We learn to be focused on how we are treating others in spite of how they are treating us. This helps us overcome harshness, unkindness and critical spirits that so easily besets us.
Gentleness Is A Fruit To Be Produced, A Command To Be Obeyed
- Gentleness is a manner or quality of being meek, kind, gentle, friendly, generous, considerate, mild-tempered, compassionate and merciful. Gentleness and meekness are often paired together and/or used interchangeably. Meekness is humble and gentle submission. It also represents the inward attitude that learns to properly (by Jesus’ example) accept unfair, unkind or unreasonable treatment from others without becoming bitter and angry. Gentleness then is the outworking of this meekness and includes extending mercy or leniency towards those who are undeserving. Therefore, an “attitude of gentleness” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses His kindness and love—thus showing forth and being rooted in the fact that we are the elect of God, holy and beloved.
2 Corinthians 10:1; Colossians 3:12
- Gentleness (and meekness) is a fruit to be produced—the fruit of the Holy Spirit includes “gentleness” and against such there is no law. Naturally, it is easy to be kind to those who are kind to us and treat us in a good manner. But, spiritually, this gentleness means that no matter how others treat us, we choose to treat others with gentleness—tenderness, warmheartedness kindness, compassion. Thus, the Holy Spirit produces in us a gentleness of a new quality—one that strives to have an attitude of kindness and love for all men without reservation.
- Gentleness (and meekness) is a command to be obeyed—we are commanded to be gentle and to show all meekness to all people. This literally means that we are given an order to be kind and tender to everyone. As servants of Jesus (church leaders or anyone who is preaching the gospel) we should not be characterized by quarreling (striving) but by being gentle and kind to everyone. Even if others want to fight orally, we don’t participate but gently deal with them hoping that God will save them. We are to flee all kinds of evil, but gentleness (and meekness) is to be pursued. As the elect of God, we are to “put on” gentleness (and meekness) which helps us to forbear and forgive one another even as Christ forgave us.
2 Timothy 2:24-26; Titus 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 6:11; Colossians 3:12-13; (1 Timothy 3:3, patient/lenient)
To Be Focused On How You Are Treating Others, Not Vice Verse
- To not be focused on how others are treating you—Paul, Timothy and Silas suffered, were shamefully entreated (treated) and spoke the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict, but they didn’t focus on how they were treated by others. From a worldly perspective, they had many reason to become bitter, unkind, and angry people. But they kept their attitude in check by making sure they were focused on their personal motives—to please God—and that they were being faithful to God who entrusted them with the gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-4
- To be focused on how you are treating others—Paul, Timothy and Silas exemplified sincere “gentleness” towards the church at Thessalonica in spite of how others treated them. This gentleness has several characteristics: (1) Tenderness and affection—Paul says their gentleness towards them was “even as a nurse cherisheth her children”—meaning that a nursing mother tenderly and affectionally takes care of her own children. A baby is needy and seemingly ungrateful but the mother is patient and tender towards it. (2) Forgoing rights and privileges—as the apostles of Christ they could have made demands for a certain type of recognition (glory) or to be supported financially by the church, but they didn’t. (3) Pure motives—they weren’t being gentle so that they could trick them with flattering words or covetousness. God knows our motives and God is the true witness to the motivation behind why we treat people in the way we do. Are your motivations pure before God? (4) Genuine Care—they were affectionately desirous—meaning they strongly desired or longed for the Thessalonica believers—they had become very dear to them. This means that they genuinely cared about people. They were ready and willing to share the gospel with them, but also to share themselves (their own souls). They were willing and very glad to spend and be spent for them. They didn’t come to seek what was theirs but to seek “them”. (5) Holy, righteous and blameless behavior—gentleness isn’t weakness but it is firmness—like a godly father with his children who exhorts, comforts, and charges them to walk in a manner worthy of God.
1 Thessalonians 2:5-12; 2 Corinthians 12:14-15
To Overcome Harshness, Unkindness And A Critical Spirit
- Harshness, unkindness and critical spirits should not be characteristic of believers. This means that we might need to change the manner in which we communicate and act with others. Criticism is expressing disapproval because of faults or mistakes and serves to tear down and not build up. This is often rooted in the inward sins of pride, self-righteousness, hypocrisy or jealousy. Sometimes it is intentional, others times it’s not, but as believers we are to be intentional how we treat others—with love. If another believer needs to be restored, it is to be done in the spirit of meekness (gentleness).
Ephesians 4:1-3; 15-16; Galatians 5:14-15; 6:1-5; (Wrong Judgement: Matthew 7:1-6; Right Judgement: John 7:24)
- Meekness (gentleness) of wisdom comes from above—we need to ask God to give us wisdom. This wisdom effects what kind of person we are and how we treat others. It is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason (easy to be intreated), full of mercy and good fruits, impartial (without partiality), and sincere (without hypocrisy). This leads to “peace making” and the fruit of righteousness. We need this wisdom from above to overcome our “earthly wisdom” which is characterized by bitter envying (jealousy) and strife (selfish ambition) in our hearts. This leads to confusion (disorder) and every evil work. This is earthly, sensual and devilish. As believers, this should not describe us, we don’t allow the wrong kind of thoughts to dwell in our hearts. We need God’s wisdom.
James 1:5; 3:13-18
- We are not to speak evil of anyone. We are to avoid quarreling (to be no brawlers). We are not to let corrupt communication or cursing come out of our mouths. We are to eliminate all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (shouting), and evil speaking (slander), and all malice. We are to replace this with gentleness and showing all meekness. We are to start speaking things that bless, that are good, that edify and that ministers grace unto the hearers. We are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave us.
Titus 3:2; James 3:5-12; Ephesians 4:29-32
- Gentleness is a manner or quality of being what?
- What does it mean that gentleness is a fruit to be produced?
- What does it mean that gentleness is a command to be obeyed?
- What does it mean to be focused on how you are treating others?
- To have a gentle attitude we need to overcome what?
An attitude of thanksgiving is a way of life that focuses on being thankful for God and the gospel. As we grow spiritually we gain a greater appreciation for God. We learn to give thanks to God for everything. We learn to be busy in thanksgiving and give no time for complaining so that we can shine as lights in the world.
Revelation 4:9-11; 7:11-12; 11:16-18
The Focal Point Of Our Thanksgiving Is God And The Gospel
- Thanksgiving is the expression, in our attitude and actions, of our gratitude and appreciation to God. Thus, the core of thankfulness is to recognize and take joy in the good qualities of God and what He is doing in our lives. As believers, the focal point of our thanksgiving is the gospel because it has radically changed our lives and God is working all things for our good, thus as we identify with and take pleasure in the gospel we respond to God with thankfulness. Therefore, an “attitude of thanksgiving” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our gratitude and appreciation to Him because of His work of salvation in our lives and is ultimately reflected in the way we express our state of affairs.
Psalm 97:12; 136:1-3, 26; (Romans 8:28-31)
- Giving thanks to God is a natural result of true salvation. God the Father has made us fit or qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (the inheritance of His people in the kingdom of light). He hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated or transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son Jesus—in whom we have redemption, peace and the forgiveness of sins through the blood of His cross. We were once alienated from God and “enemies in our minds”—our entire disposition and attitude, the very core of our being, were opposed, hostile and hateful towards God because we loved our wicked works and not God’s righteousness. But through Jesus we have been reconciled. Paul prays and desire that our spiritual growth (in knowledge, wisdom and spiritual understanding) will result in “giving thanks unto the Father” because of this work of salvation He has done.
Colossians 1:9-14, 20-21
- Our thanksgiving should be abounding—abundant, plentiful and overflowing. As believers we confess Jesus as “Lord” and thus we should walk in Him—to live our lives after the manner of Jesus. The Colossians were to remember what they were taught, knowing that God caused them to be firmly rooted in Jesus and continues to build them up in Jesus, thus they are established in the faith—to be soundly and firmly grounded in the gospel and Christian doctrine. Again, this should result in abundant thanksgiving—which also serves as a reminder of the “Bible facts” and protection against “fiction”.
To Give Thanks To God In Everything
- We are to “put on” thankfulness. As believers, we are to put on the new man—which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Jesus that created us. We allow the peace of God to rule in our hearts—meaning that our “inner person” should allow salvation and God-given serenity that comes from it to fill us in such a manner that it produces a definite result—especially that of thanksgiving. We can do this by: (1) The Bible—letting the “word of Christ” dwell in us richly—abundantly, extravagantly, distinctively. The Bible has to enter our lives and find residence there—the Holy Spirit uses the Bible to transform our lives. (2) Scriptural Music—to teach and admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace (thanks) in our hearts to the Lord. (3) Jesus Communication and Actions—to do everything, whether in word or deed, in the name of the Lord Jesus—meaning all our interactions are lived in submission to and in the sphere of what Jesus approves of—not with an attitude of compulsory but with thanksgiving to God the Father through Jesus.
Colossians 3:7-17; Ephesians 5:18-20; (Psalm 18:49; 26:7; 30:4; 30:12; 35:18; 50:14; 69:30; 75:1; 79:13; 92:1; 95:2; 100:4; 105:1; 106:1; 106:47; 107:1, 22; 116:17; 118:1, 29; 119:62; 140:13; 147:7)
- We are to give thanks in everything because it is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. We are to give thanksgiving in the good times and for all of God’s blessings, but we are to also give thanks (by God’s grace) even when we go through sufferings, hardships, bad times, misfortune, heartache, punishment or consequences of our sins. We can search and try our ways and turn again to the Lord with thanksgiving knowing He is good and in control. Paul exemplified this by enduring suffering for the sake of the Corinthians so that God’s abundant grace wouldn’t only change his life but also their lives—thus as God’s grace was reaching more and more people it would cause the thanksgiving of many to redound—overflow, abound—to the glory of God. Thus the purpose of our thanksgiving to God is His glory. It means to be focused on the good even in the midst of tragedy.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (8-11); 2 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Timothy 2:1-2; Lamentations 3:37-40
To Be Busy In Thanksgiving Thus No Time For Complaining
- Our speech needs to be controlled and changed in Jesus. The following manners of speech are out of place for believers: filthiness (obscenity), foolish talking, jesting (coarse joking). Instead our manner of speaking should be the “giving of thanks”. Ungodly deeds are characterized by not thanking God but instead murmuring and complaining against God. Instead of humbly giving thanks to God, the ungodly speak “great swelling words”—inflated words of self-importance and pride. This is not to be characteristic of believers.
Ephesians 5:1-2, 4; Romans 1:21; Jude 14-16
- Complaining is the expression, in our attitude and actions, of our annoyance and dissatisfaction to God. Israel is a notorious example of this and their example was written for our admonition: don’t murmur—complain, grumble, talk under one’s breath. After Moses brought Israel from the Red sea and they went out into the wilderness (God liberating them from Egypt) Israel complained about what to drink and about what to eat. Instead of focusing on the incredible works that God had done to save them they lusted after evil things and evil pleasures which resulted in idolatry, fornication, tempting God and murmuring against God. Israel also complained about their leaders and ultimately God’s plan for their lives. All of this complaining displeased the Lord, but the Lord was both extremely gracious to Israel when they complained and at other times He exercised judgement on them. We are to “take heed” lest we fall into the same errors.
1 Corinthians 10:1-11; Exodus 15:24; 16:2-3; 7-12; 17:3; Psalm 78:17-25; Numbers 11:1; 14:2, 27, 29, 36; 16:1-3, 41; 17:5
- We are to be busy shining as lights in the world, not complaining like the heathen. As we work out our own salvation, we are to learn to do all things without murmurings and disputings—arguing, debating, quarreling. All such complaining comes from resentment, negativism, dissatisfaction, discontent, displeasure, unhappiness, bitterness or selfishness. We overcome these issues because we know that God is working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Thus as we change our conversation from “complaining” to “thanksgiving” we become very distinct from the crooked and perverse world and culture around us. We become “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke”—meaning our manner of speech becomes free from evil connotations.
Philippians 2:14-16; James 3:1-12
- Thanksgiving is the expression of what?
- Thanksgiving should be a natural result of what?
- When should we give God thanks?
- What example of complaining was written for us to learn from?
- We should learn to do all things without what? But with what?
An attitude of confidence is a way of life that finds strong and firm trust in the fear of the Lord. As this confidence in the Lord grows we learn to prominently seek after the kingdom of God above all else and to continually pray with thanksgiving about all things. This leads to a God-given peace which passes all understanding and keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Psalm 16:1-2; 65:4-7; 118:8-9; Proverbs 3:26; 12:25
There Is Strong Confidence In The Fear Of The Lord
- Confidence is the feeling and conviction of firm trust in someone or something. Thus, the core of confidence is trust—to strongly rely on—but trust is only as useful as its object—the person or thing you put your trust in. For believers, there is a strong confidence in the fear of the Lord. Fear means to respect. It means we have the highest reverential respect for God because He is the creator of everything and this respect demands trust. Therefore, an “attitude of confidence” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our firm trust and reliance in Him—which leads to seeking God above all else and relying on God in prayer with thanksgiving in all things which ultimately results in peace in God and courageous bold faith-filled living for the glory of God.
Proverbs 14:26; 25:19
- As believers, we have a “continual confidence” if we walk by faith and not by sight. This confidence is rooted in the truth and hope that if we are “absent from the body” we will be “present with the Lord”. This means that once our soul/spirit leaves our earthly bodies we are certain that God will give us a glorified, resurrected body in heaven. God gave us the “earnest” or deposit of the Holy Spirit to give us the confidence that this will come about. Therefore, in this good courage we labour, aspire, aim and make it our goal to be accepted of or to please Jesus—no matter if we are still in this body or present with Him. Also knowing that we will receive what is due (rewards not punishment) for what we have done in our bodies at the judgment seat of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:13-18; 5:1-10; Philippians 1:6, 21; 3:2-12; (John 5:24; Romans 8:1; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
- As believers, we have a “confidence of access” through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. This confidence of access means that through the incredible gospel of Jesus we can boldly and confidently approach God. We are given the opportunity to have direct access and communication to God through prayer and the hope of one day literally being admitted into the presence of the Lord. Because of this, Paul tells the Ephesians to “faint not” or to not lose heart or be discouraged over his tribulations for them because it is preceding their glory—to know, experience and enter into our eternal state with God.
Ephesians 1:18; 2:7, 18; 3:7-13; 2 Timothy 2:10; Colossians. 1:27; 3:4; 2 Thessalonians. 2:14
- As believers we have “confidence in God’s sovereignty”—that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Paul exemplifies unwavering confidence in God, His eternal purpose and gospel plan. Paul confidently prays to the Father that the Ephesians might be granted three requests and each can also be applied to us and build our confidence in God’s sovereignty as we pray these requests: (1) Transforming power—out of the riches of God’s glory we will be strengthened with might by God’s Holy Spirit in the inner man, so that Jesus may dwell in our hearts by faith. (2) Thriving love—all who are rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend, grasp, and know what is the breadth, length, depth, height and to know the love of Jesus. (3) Thorough sanctification—that we might be filled with all the fulness of God.
To Prominently Seek After The Kingdom Of God Above All Else
- Confidence in God leads to seeking God first. We are to “take no thought” for our lives—meaning we don’t need to be anxious and worry about our lives (such as food, clothes, etc.). God, our Heavenly Father, wants us to pray and trust Him to take care of all our needs. We are to trusts that God knows what our needs are and that He cares for us. But even though we aren’t worrying about these things but trusting God to provide for us, this doesn’t mean that He wants us just to be idle. Instead He wants us to use our time to seek first—as the most important—His kingdom and His righteousness (God’s will, not ours). When we do this—not only will all these things that we were anxious about will be added unto us (needs, not all desires), but we show forth our confidence in God.
Matthew 6:25-33; Luke 12:22-34
- Confidence in God leads to focusing on today. We don’t need to be anxious (take no thought) about tomorrow. We focus on today. Everyday we should defer our worries until tomorrow—meaning we are to never worry because worry never comes, it is always today and never tomorrow. This doesn’t mean life will be easy, because Jesus says that everyday has its own sufficient amount of trouble (evil). He is saying that everyday we should deal with that day’s problems and decisions and not worry about the future. How many people make decisions today based on tomorrow’s anxieties? This points to a lack of faith in God. If we can trust God in the big things (salvation) then we can trust him in the small things (daily necessities). We live by faith—confidence in God—not by anxiety.
Matthew 6:34; Proverbs 27:1
To Continually Pray With Thanksgiving About All Things
- Genuine confidence in God should lead to peace. Peace is to be harmonious, to be free from disturbances and disputes. The peace of God is a God-given serenity that only comes from Him. The opposite of peace is anxiety, likewise, the opposite of praying is worrying, thus peace comes through a lifestyle of thankful prayer to God about all things and not through anxious worrying about self, life, etc.
- Paul commands us to “be careful for nothing”—meaning that we are not to be anxious about anything. Anxiety is when we are worried—allow our minds to think at length—about difficulties or problems that often lead to unhappiness, uneasiness, and uncertainty. Thus, he is commanding us to not dwell on such “anxious thoughts”. Instead, he tells us to pray about everything with thanksgiving. This has three key components to battle anxiety: (1) Instead of worrying about something, we are to let it be made known to God. Prayer (petition), supplication (entreat) and requests (ask) are all different aspects of the same mode of communication to God. (2) All prayer should be done “with thanksgiving”. This puts our prayers into perspective so we come before God without murmurings and disputings but with gratitude and appreciation. (3) We are to come before God in prayer with thanksgiving about “everything”. Only through applying this manner of “thankful prayer” to every situation can we replace our habits of worry and anxiety. The direct result of this is that the peace of God, which is superior to all understanding, will keep, guard watch over our “hearts and minds” in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7; (1 John 3:19-24)
- We are to cast all of ours cares or anxieties on God. To do so means we have to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God but also know and trust that He cares for us. We have to reckon that problems are relevant and important to God and He wants me to hurl these worries on Him. He doesn’t want me to fret and worry about them, but instead to trust and have confidence in His sovereign hand.
1 Peter 5:7
- Where can believers find strong confidence?
- What are the three aspects of confidence that we have?
- Confidence in the Lord means to prominently seek after what?
- Confidence in the Lord means to continually do what?
- What are we do be anxious about? Why?
An attitude of joy is a way of life that rejoices in the Lord always. Joy is a fruit that has to be produced by the Holy Spirit but at the same time it is a command to be obeyed. As the Holy Spirit produces this spiritual appetite within us we are responsible to partake in Jesus’ joy through abiding in Him and willingly rejoicing in our tribulations without disgruntlement.
Psalm 16:11; 90:15; 97:1
Joy Is A Fruit To Be Produced, A Command To Be Obeyed
- Joy is an emotion or feeling of great happiness and great pleasure. Joy and happiness or gladness are interrelated and indivisible (for who can claim to be joyful and yet unhappy). The “stimulus” or “circumstance” that evokes or causes the emotional state of joyfulness is the determining factor to whether a person is joyful. Therefore, an “attitude of joy” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our happiness and pleasure in Him and leads to an unwavering state of being happy in God.
Romans 5:6-11; (Evil Joy—Hebrews 11:25; James 4:16)
- Joy is a fruit to be produced—the fruit of the Holy Spirit includes “joy” and against such there is no law. Naturally, joy is an emotion expressed in response to circumstances of delight in the temporal sphere of life—such as the birth of your child, eating your favorite food, listening to your favorite song, etc. Spiritually, joy is an emotion expressed in response to circumstances of delight in the eternal God and His workings—such as one sinner that repents, the statutes of the Lord, singing unto the Lord the rock of our salvation, etc. Thus, the Holy Spirit produces in us a joy of a new quality—one that has spiritual appetites, motivations, and expressions. He rouses “joy in God” in us.
Galatians 5:22; Romans 14:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6 (Luke 15:7, 10; Psalm 19:8; 95:1; 3 John 3-4; Acts 15:3)
- Joy is a command to be obeyed—we are commanded to rejoice in Jesus always. This literally means that we are given an order to feel happiness and pleasure because of our Lord Christ Jesus. We can accomplish this by not having any confidence in ourselves but by being content in and boasting with triumphant joy in Jesus’ achievements. Therefore, this is a command to anchor our joy to Jesus and His unchanging work of grace in our lives and not on other wavering and fleeting circumstances.
Philippians 3:1-3; 4:4-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; (Matthew 2:10; 13:44; 28:8; Luke 1:14, 44; 2:10)
To Abide In Jesus And To Be Filled With His Joy
- Jesus wants His joy to remain in us and our joy to be full—to have as much as possible. He wants us to share in the same “joy in God” that Jesus Himself experienced. So we need to know what is the stimulus for this “Jesus joy”. Jesus gives us the answer telling us that the key is “abiding in Him”—apart from Him this quality of joy is unattainable. This “abiding” has the following characteristics:
John 15:9-17 (1-8); 17:6-19; 20:19-20; (Isaiah 35:8-10)
- (1) True salvation—not everyone who says they are Christians really are. Do you have a true personal faith in Jesus alone for salvation? Are you a true believer? Consequently, a true believer finds that the foundation for lasting joy—that no one can take from you—is the resurrection of Jesus. Our hearts should always rejoice at the thought of the resurrection because Jesus has overcome the world and He now lives in us—greater is He that is in you, than He that is in the world. We are to greatly rejoice in our salvation with a joy unspeakable and full of glory. We are to rejoice in being justified by faith and in this hope of the glory of God.
John 16:19-22; 16:33; Romans 5:1-3; 1 Peter 1:3-6; 1 John 1:3-4; 4:4; Acts 16:34; (Matthew 13:20-21; Luke 8:13)
- (2) Bearing fruit—bearing fruit is a natural result of repentance and faith in Jesus. Believers produce good fruit because Christ is good. Therefore, the fruit we bear gives evidence to the faith that we say we believe. What kind of fruit are you bearing?
- (3) Pruning—as true believers God cultivates our lives removing anything that would hinder us from producing fruit and making us holy which leads to producing much fruit and glorifying God.
- (4) Jesus’ words abide in us. This is the “renewed mind”—meaning our hearts are reestablished to know and submit to the truth of God as the foundation of all things right and good. Jesus’ words transforms our thinking which transforms our lives. Thus, knowing the Bible and its correct teaching affects our joyfulness.
2 John 12
- (5) Asking and receiving—those who are abiding in Jesus and His word have the privilege of praying, being heard, and getting their prayers answered. Jesus invites His disciples to an active prayer life so that our joy may be full. Are we not joyful (joy-filled) because we are not prayerful (prayer-filled)?
- (6) Obedience—we are to continue and abide in Jesus’ love. Jesus defines this by saying that if we keep His commandments and keep His words we are abiding in His love. This is summarized as loving God and loving others. Jesus is the greatest example of this—He joyfully obeyed God in all things including the cross.
John 13:34-35; 14:15; 14:21-24; Mark 12:29-31; Hebrews 12:2
To Willingly Rejoice In Tribulations Without Disgruntlement
- We are to glory or rejoice in our tribulations because of the spiritual virtues that it produces in our lives. Therefore, as we rejoice in our tribulations (trials, sufferings, persecutions, hardships) we produce patience—meaning we learn to correctly endure such hardships; and this produces experience—meaning we have been tested and have continued on in our faith thus showing proof of it (compare Matthew 13:20-21; Luke 8:13); and this produces hope—an established and unwavering confidence in God; and this hope “maketh not ashamed”—meaning that it will not disappoint us because of God’s great love which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is graciously given to all believers. Thus, to rejoice in our tribulations leads to a more mature and deeper hope in God which results in greater happiness, pleasure and satisfaction based solely in God alone.
Romans 5:3-5; 12:12; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-9; 4:12-19; Hebrews 10:34; Acts 5:41; 13:48-52; Colossians 1:11; 1:24
- Therefore, when something bad happens, I can joyfully accept it because God and His faithfulness to me has not changed—this doesn’t mean that we won’t have other conflicting emotions, but it means that we do have a confident joy that sustains us in the hardest of trials. Even when our emotions fail to uphold joy in the midst of such devastating trials, we still have hope that the Holy Spirit produces this fruit in us. The joy of the Lord is our strength knowing one day we will enter into His presence which is fulness of joy.
Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 16:11; (Matthew 25:21-23; Luke 6:23; Revelation 19:6-8; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Romans 8:18)
- Sometimes we loose our joy and become disgruntled with our situation, dissatisfied with God, disillusioned by the gospel and full of bitterness. Often this is because we loose our focus or because of some unfulfilled expectations. At such a time, we need to re-align our focus to the hope that is in God, to become re-enchanted with the truth of the gospel and re-align our expectations with that of the bible (stop having wrong expectations about God). We need to stop listening to the wrong “inner thoughts” of despair and the voices of others who are telling us that we are cast down, but start preaching and speaking truth to ourselves, exhorting ourselves to put our hope in God, and proclaiming that we shall again praise Him—the health of our countenance (our salvation), and our God.
Psalm 42:5-6, 11; Philippians 2:16; Psalm 23:1-6; (Ephesians 4:30-32; James 3:11-15)
- What does it mean that joy is a fruit to be produced?
- What does it mean that joy is a command to be obeyed?
- How do we abide in Jesus and be filled with His joy?
- Should we rejoice in tribulations? Why?
- What should we do if we loose our joy?
An attitude of worship is a way of life that worships God from the heart. True worship is done in spirit and in truth. It thinks rightly and fearfully about God’s infinite worth which results in a life chiefly engaged in thought about God and not self.
True Worshippers Worship “In Spirit And In Truth”
- Worship is the expression, in our attitude and actions, of our reverence and adoration for God. Our attitude towards God (mindset, worldview, inclination) expresses what we truly think and feel about God. Our actions reflect our attitude, but our actions can be manipulated to express an attitude that doesn’t truly exist (hypocrisy). Furthermore, outward forms of worship (actions) can change because of time and culture, but the “attitude of worship” transcends all culture, traditions and time because it is rooted in the truth of God’s unchanging attributes (nor can any actions contradict these attributes to be counted as worship). Therefore, an “attitude of worship” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our reverence and adoration to Him because of our understanding and faith in His attributes—who He reveals Himself as—and ultimately this is reflected in the way we act.
Matthew 15:7-9; Mark 7:6-7; Isaiah 29:13
- Jesus tells a Samaritan woman four things about true worship: (1) Worship is no longer confined to just a place. This is because, as revealed in other parts of scripture, upon salvation our bodies become the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in us—thus we can worship anywhere. (2) Worship is based on what you know. The Samaritans worshipped false gods, things they didn’t really know. But salvation came from the true God through the Jews. Thus knowledge of the Messiah—Jesus Christ—is required to worship. (3) Worship must be “in spirit”—meaning that we must worship God from our heart and in our attitude (inward passion). (4) Worship must be “in truth”—meaning that we must worship God according to truth. This truth is that which He has revealed to us in His Word. Therefore, true worship is towards God from the heart and based in a growing knowledge of the truth through the Bible and God’s Son Jesus.
John 4:19-24; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:19-22; Philippians 3:3
- Salvation should lead to an attitude of worship. We receive a “kingdom which cannot be moved”— a place where there is no more crying, no more death, no more mourning, and no more pain. All evil will be done away with. We will be in the presence of God’s glory with great joy. Therefore, we are to: (1) have “grace”—meaning to acknowledge our thankfulness and appreciation to God whereby we may (2) “serve”—to obey as an act of worship. This service or worship is to God and should be “acceptably”—in a manner that is well-pleasing; with “reverence”—very great and heartfelt respect; and “godly fear”—an overwhelming feeling of awesomeness, wonder, greatness, and holiness, knowing that our God is a “consuming fire”—His justice will bring final judgement on all evil.
Hebrews 12:28-29; Revelation 21:4; 23; 22:4
To Think Rightly And Fearfully About God’s Infinite Worth
- An attitude of worship recognizes God is incomprehensible. He is infinite and we are finite. Thus, for us to know what God is like, He must reveal Himself to us. God reveals Himself through natural revelation—letting us know the Someone greater than ourselves definitely exist. He also reveals Himself through special revelation—His Word and Jesus, so that we could understand He created us to know Him and enjoy a right relationship with Him. We are not equal to or greater than God, therefore we will never comprehend Him in His entirety. But in the context of His revelation He can be worshipped.
Psalms 19:1-6; 145:3; 147:5; 139:6; 17-18; Isaiah 40:28; 55:6; 43:7 Jeremiah 32:17; Ephesians 1:1-10; Exodus 33:18-33; Titus 2:11; Job 11:7-10; Romans 11:33-36
- An attitude of worship starts with “knowledge” and the beginning of knowledge is “the fear of the Lord”. Fear means to respect. It means we have the highest reverential respect for God because He is the Creator of everything. It means that everything has to be put into perspective: a high and lofty view of God (the incomprehensible Creator) and a low and timid view of mankind (the comprehensible creation). It is the ultimate concession—that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than our ways and God’s thoughts than our thoughts. It is through this “contrite and humble spirit” that God says He will have respect unto, He will revive the heart and the spirit, He will save.
Proverbs 1:7; Psalm 24:3-4; 138:6; 147:10-11; Isaiah 55:7-9;57:15; Ecclesiastes 5:1-2
- An attitude of worship learns and thinks about God’s attributes—to understand more fully and accurately what God is like. Logic and reason will eventually fail us in our attempt to fully grasp the “the beauty of holiness”. Thus it is through faith that we know and accept God and the attributes that describe who He is. This includes the following: God is the true God and there is no other like Him. He is everything beautiful and the source of true happiness and joy. God is a spirit and invisible. God is independent, unchanging, jealous, and sovereign. God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. God is good, holy, perfect, righteous, and just. God is love, and God hates sin.
Jeremiah 10:10; 23:23-24; 32:17; Psalm 27:4; 29:2; 96:9; 99:9; John 4:24; 1:18; Acts 17:24-25; Numbers 23:19; Exodus 20:5; Isaiah 48:11; Ephesians 1:11; 1 John 3:20; Luke 18:19; Matthew 5:48; Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 John 4:8; Romans 1:18
- An attitude of worship learns and thinks about God’s works—to understand more fully and accurately what God has done. From the beginning, God created mankind to be His people and for Him to be their God. But they rejected this when they sinned against Him. Thus God was on mission to redeemed them to Himself and save them from their sin and its penalty of death or eternal separation from Him. God has and will ultimately accomplished His mission by saving “whosoever will” from all nations, kindreds, people and tongues. This is possible because through a virgin birth God became man in Jesus. He lived a sinless life. Mankind rejected and crucified Him. He was buried, but three days later He rose from the dead. He defeated sin, death and evil. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and whosoever wants to worship God must do so through faith in Jesus alone. God is to be worshipped for who He is and for His marvelous works among all people.
Genesis 3:15; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:12-21; 16:20; Revelation 12:9; 20:2, 10; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8; John 8:44; John 1:29; 3:16-17; 4:42; 6:33; 8:12; 9:5; 12:32, 46; 14:6; Psalm 96:3; 111:1-4
To Chiefly Engage In Thought About God And Not Self
- An attitude of worship helps us overcome one of over greatest problems: selfishness. Worship is not about us, but it is about God. An attitude of worship means that we are going to chiefly be engaged in thought about God and His infinite worth and not about ourselves. Selfishness means we are lacking in heartfelt thought for others because we are concerned about our own personal gain and satisfaction (often without moral inhibitions). It is when our hearts orientation is focused on ourselves. But true worship changes this because it makes loving God as our primary orientation or thought and loving others as the secondary orientation or thought.
James 4:8-10; Mark 12:29-31; 1 Corinthians 10:24
- Selfishness is sin. As believers, we are to deny ourselves. We are not to do anything with “strife”—selfish ambition, but in “lowliness of mind”—humility, we are to count others better than ourselves. Thus through an attitude of worship we incline our heart unto the testimonies of God—overcoming our selfishness and respond to Him and others in love.
Matthew 16:24; Romans 12:3; Philippians 2:2-4; Galatians 5:20, 26; James 3:13-16; 4:3; Psalm 119:36; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
- What is worship?
- What four things about worship does Jesus tell the Samaritan woman?
- An attitude of worship recognizes what? And starts with what?
- An attitude of worship learns and thinks about?
- An attitude of worship helps us overcome what sin?
The biblical framework for christian thought starts in the heart. We need to teach our own hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel. Through the Holy Spirit, the word of God and biblical meditation we renew our minds and transform our lives so that we don’t conform to a sinful world system. Therefore, we need to learn to think on the right things so that we can shape our attitude and conduct to glorify God.
Christian Thought Starts In The Heart
- The heart is the wellspring of all our “inward attitudes”—meaning that the heart represents the “inner person” or the real orientation, belief, motivation and attitude of a person. It is from the heart that we think, feel and make decisions. It is the source from which everything we do in life is issued from (wether good or bad). The problem is our hearts are born sinful—meaning it is not neutral but deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked or incurable on its own and if left untouched will lead to destruction. But the gospel changes everything—starting with our hearts. Therefore, the goal for christian thought is to train our own hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel so that we can fulfill our reason for existence (to glorify God and enjoy Him forever through the gospel of Jesus) and guard it against our sinful inclinations.
Mark 7:20-23; Luke 6:45; Matthew 15:8-9; Proverbs 4:23; Jeremiah 17:9; 24:7; Psalm 58:3; 51:5, 10
- The first step is being born again. You can’t just clean up your life morally and starting thinking positive thoughts. This leaves you empty inside and leads to a worse conclusion (self-righteousness and selfishness). But true salvation results in the permeant indwelling of the Holy Spirit who guides us in a radical “heart transformation” and causes us to change from the inside out. This causes the principle of replacement to take place: we stop thinking about the wrong things but we start thinking about the right things—which leads to us stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right things—all for the glory of God.
Matthew 5:44; 12:43-45; Ephesians 4:28; John 3:3-8
Renewing Our Minds Leads To Transformed Lives
- As believers, we have experienced the incredible mercy of God through the gift of salvation in His Son Jesus. Because of the great salvation that we have received by the mercies of God (which are expounded by Paul in Romans 1-11) we as believers should offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice—meaning we completely give our lives over to God and live what is holy and acceptable to Him. Therefore, we are to be “transformed”—meaning it should be apparent that we are different and that we no longer walk according to the course of this sinful world. We no longer conform to the sinful world and society around us（all that is not oriented towards God and the gospel). The transformation starts with “renewing our minds”—meaning that our minds (hearts) need to be reestablished so that we can properly live out this transformed life. This transformed life results in a life that tests, discerns and lives according to the will of God—just like a priest would know what sacrifice was good, acceptable, and perfect.
Romans 3:22; 12:1-2, (3); Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17-18; 1 Peter 1:13-14; (Leviticus 22:19-25)
- What is the renewed mind? The renewed mind is when our hearts are reestablished to know and submit to the truth of God as the foundation of all things right and good. The “spirit of your mind”—meaning your mindset, attitude, worldview, and inclination come into submission with the word of God so that what we want to do becomes what we should do. Our longings and our obligations become one and the same—which leads to true freedom—thus we are to stand fast and have no other mindset or view.
Ephesians 4:22-24; Galatians 5:1, 10
- How do we renew our minds? (1) Holy Spirit—the Holy Spirit works in a person’s life to allow the light of the glorious gospel of Christ to shine into their “blinded minds” and bring them to salvation. Once a person believes in Jesus they receive the Holy Spirit who continues His work of “renewing” them and bringing them into humble submission to the truth as our attitudes and actions come into alignment with our new identity. (2) The Word of God—the Holy Spirit before and after salvation works through the word of God. It is the word of God that provides the truth the Holy Spirit uses to cause God’s people to be renewed and thoroughly equipped to carry out God’s will. Therefore, we need to fill our minds with the bible (read the bible, listen to correct bible preaching and teachings, sing songs full of bible lyrics, memorize and quote scripture, etc.). (3) Biblical Meditation—the bible encourages us to actively and intently think about all the things the bible has to say. Through prayerful consideration we are to apply these “bible thoughts” to our everyday lives and decisions until we develop a “bible attitude”—a biblical disposition, propensity, or natural tendency towards the will of God.
Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; 16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 1:2; 19:14; 119:11; Colossians 1:28; 3:10, 16; John 16:13; 17:17
- What does the renewed mind do? The renewed mind puts everything to the test to see if it is the will of God or not. Your mind becomes a type of “biblical filter”—meaning everything is filtered through biblical truth. This helps in two main areas: (1) Conscious decisions—meaning we purposely think about something and try to make the best decision according to God’s will through the knowledge that we have; (2) Unconscious decisions—meaning all decisions we make without taking the time to think about it beforehand but make in an instant—thus the renewed mind allows us to automatically and unconsciously filter all these decisions through the “biblical filter” and change our sinful inclinations into godly ones (for example: lust, anger, pride, covetousness, anxiety, jealousy, envy, etc.). The general principal of the renewed mind is this: a good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things—the renewed mind is the good treasure which allows us to live God honoring lives according to His will.
Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16; Matthew 12:33-37
Thinking On “These Things” Shapes Our Conduct
- Our thoughts govern us. Therefore, what we choose to think about, what we allow ourselves to ponder on will dictate what we do. If we think about the right things, it leads to us doing right, but when we think about the wrong things, it leads us to do wrong. Therefore, Paul tells us to think on certain things so that our actions will embody those same characteristics. These are not “relative” characteristics that change from person to person but are ultimately characteristics found in God and expounded through the bible. (Note: This isn’t “positive thinking,” “positive self-image” or some type of psychology that tries to manipulate reality to profit self.)
- Paul gives us several things to think about. Thus, “Christian thinking” should include: “any virtue” (moral excellence) and “any praise” (worthy of commendation). These are broken down into six characteristics: (1) “true things” (not false or deceiving things)—absolute facts wether positive or negative and is ultimately found in God and through His word; (2) “honest things” (not irresponsible or vulgar things)—the things that are honorable or worthy of respect because it has the qualities of applying biblical truth seriously and correctly; (3) “just things” (not evil or unrighteous things)—those things that are right according to the law and morality of the bible; (4) “pure things” (not immoral or defiled things)—those things the bible defines as moral and holy—all ethical purity—especially in relation to our body and sexuality; (5) “lovely things” (not rude or inhospitable things)—those things which are pleasing to others in a gracious and kind manner and communicates the love of God; (6) “things of good report” (not bad or contemptible things)—everything that can be defined as good and doesn’t contradict any biblical teachings but is in full alignment with it. Paul had exemplified these characteristics in his teaching and life and encourages us to not just constantly think on them but to also do them—to live them out—allow our thoughts to shape our actions.
- The heart is the wellspring of all our what?
- What is the first step?
- What does renewing our minds mean?
- What does the renewed mind do?
- Thinking on what shapes our conduct?
When you read the Bible it seems that all of us are called to live the life of the persecuted. But what determines why one would be persecuted? Paul pledged his allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ and was constantly persecuted because he constantly preached the Gospel—no matter the cost.
What Did Paul Mean About Being Miserable?
1 Corinthians 15:12-19
- What did Paul mean when he said, “We are of all men most miserable?” Paul is addressing the false teaching that there wasn’t a resurrection, and he gives several points for a person to consider if Christ is not risen: our preaching is in vain; our faith is in vain; we would be false witnesses of God; there would be no resurrection of the dead; we are still in our sins; those who are already dead in Christ are perished. But then He also says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Meaning if we lived for only one purpose, one hope in life—that of the Lord Jesus—and we find out it isn’t true then we lived a very miserable life.
- But what would be our response if the resurrection wasn’t true? Would it be the same as Paul’s? Or would we say: (1) “If it wasn’t true, at least I lived a comfortable and content life with a few mistakes.” (2) “If it wasn’t true, at least I learned how to live my best life now and store up riches.” (3) “If it wasn’t true, at least I raised my children in a moral place and we lived good lives.” I’m afraid there wouldn’t be many “miserable” people because we are not “all in” for Jesus.
- Why was Paul’s response to the idea of the resurrection not being true that of being “miserable?” Paul said we are of all men most miserable if there was no resurrection because he lived a life of suffering—and if there was no resurrection His life of suffering was lived in vain. He held nothing back. We are also called to live a life of suffering. We are called to salvation but also to suffer. What kind of suffering? The same that we see and hear to be in Paul. That’s why he said we would be “miserable.”
Philippians 1:29-30; Paul’s Persecutions: 1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 11:23-28
Why Was Paul Persecuted?
2 Timothy 3:11-12
- Paul names three cities in which he suffered persecution. A look at these three cities where he was persecuted gives us one common denominator why Paul was persecuted in varying degrees: preaching the Gospel. Thus, those who live “godly” in Christ Jesus are those who preach the Gospel. Not only was he preaching the gospel but he was preaching it to the world. He wasn’t just preaching it in the safety of the church building or in a Sunday school class but to the heathen. He preached where he was told not too.
- Paul’s example in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra:
- Antioch: Paul preached to the Jews starting in the Old Testament and then preached the gospel. After the message was done, many of the Gentiles couldn’t wait until the next Sabbath day to hear more about this message. Many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas. The next Sabbath day came and almost the whole city came together and the Jews saw the multitude and were filled with envy and spoke against Paul contradicting and blaspheming.
- Iconium: He spoke to the Jews and Greeks in the synagogue and a great multitude believed. The unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and made them think evil thoughts against the believers. Paul and Barnabas continued to speak boldly in the Lord and they did many signs and wonders. The city was divided, half with the Jews and half with the Apostles. The non-believing Jews and Gentiles got together with there rulers and planned an assault to use them despitefully and stone them. They fled to the next city and continued to preach the Gospel.
- Lystra: Paul and Barnabas fled into this city to escape being stoned in Iconium. They preached the Gospel. They healed the impotent man in his feet being a cripple from his mother’s womb. The people of the city saw the miracle that they did and they started treating them as if they were god’s come down from heaven. When Paul and Barnabas heard this they were very upset and ripped their clothes and ran among the people crying that they were just men and preached the truth. They were preaching to a non-Jewish crowd and therefore started at creation. The people restrained and did not offer sacrifices to them. The Jews who had persecuted them in Antioch and Iconium came to Lystra and persuaded the people against them and they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city thinking he was dead. But Paul stood up and went on preaching the gospel.
How Can We Endure This Type Of Life?
- Self-Denial: As a disciple it means you are willing to say no to what you want, desire, and/or need for the sake of the gospel and following Christ. You are willing to share the gospel in spite of what people think about you. You must die to wanting to always be accept by your peers and know rejection is a way of life.
- Take Up Your Cross Daily: As a disciple it means from the point of Salvation on, you are daily dyeing to yourself and plans and willing to bear “your cross” or God’s plan for your life. Just as suffering was part of God’s plan for the redemption of man, suffering is part of God’s plan to take the gospel to the world. Afflictions, trials, and persecutions are part of the Christian life and can be expected in a disciple of Christ just as evident as it was in the life of Christ.
- Following Christ: As a disciple it means you are willing to do anything He may ask of you to the point of death. You pledge your allegiance to the King of kings. Will you follow Christ in-spite of: (1) family and friends—we will be persecuted and hated for His name sake and this might include being persecuted by those closets to you; (2) government—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego followed God instead of the government and were willing to follow God if He delivered them (“If it be so”) and even if He didn’t (“but if not”); (3) death—Steven was the first to be persecuted after Jesus in the church and he was a layman. Where is your allegiance?
(1) Luke 21:16-17; (2) Daniel 3:16-18; (3) Acts 7:54-60
- What did Paul mean about his “miserable” comment?
- Why was Paul persecuted?
- What happened in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra?
- What three things can we do to endure this type of life?
- Where is your allegiance?
We help fellow believers being persecuted through remembering them and loving them as ourselves. As believers, we identify with the body of Christ, thus we are to show empathy when other believers are being persecuted for righteousness sake. All believers are to find their comfort in “the God of all comfort” and comfort others with the comfort we ourselves received from God.
We Should Remember Believers That Are Persecuted
- We should remember believers that are persecuted for Jesus’ sake. The Hebrew believers were told to “remember” the persecuted because they were “also in the body”—this has two possible understandings: (1) Identification—we are to remember believers that suffer adversity (cruel and mistreated, etc.) because we also identify as part of the body of Christ with them—we are all part of the family of God. If someone in the body of Christ is persecuted for Jesus’ sake, then if we were in their same situation, we would also possibly be persecuted for the same reason because we identify with the same Lord Jesus and with the same mission. Persecution shouldn’t separate believers or cause division but it should unify us. (2) Empathy—we are to remember believers that are “in bonds, as bound with them” because we are also in a human body and can understand their feelings and share in their pain. Either way, we are to be active in remembering the persecuted and we do that through loving them as ourselves. Below are some examples:
Remember: Hebrews 13:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; Identification: 1 Corinthians 12:26; Empathy: 1 Peter 3:8; Romans 12:14
- The Hebrews—The Jewish believers were already remembering the persecuted. Not only did they endure persecution and have a great confidence in God, but they also they had “compassion” on those in prison.
- Obadiah—When Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah hid a hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifties in caves, and fed them with bread and water.
Kings 18:13; Romans 12:13
- Ebed-melech the Ethiopian—When Ebed-melech heard that they put Jeremiah the prophet in the dungeon—(which was like a cistern for storing liquids), he went to the king to plead his case because he was afraid that he would die in there. This was risky move by him, but he was granted permissions to take thirty men to go rescue him.
Jeremiah 38:7-13; 39:15-18
- We should remember believers that are persecuted for Jesus’ sake because they are Jesus’ representatives. Jesus told His apostles that anyone who receives them also receives Him and thus receives God. They are official representatives of Jesus, therefore those who receive them should do so with the same respect due to those whom they are representing. Thus, those who receive a prophet or righteous man will also be partakers in their reward because they were a helper in the work. Therefore, there is incentive to receive and help the man of God. But also, anyone who serves a believer without the reputation like that of a prophet or a righteous man, but is just a disciple, will also be rewarded. Below are some examples:
Matthew 10:40-42; 2 Corinthians 5:20
- A Great Woman and Her Husband—When Elisha the prophet and a holy man of God went through Shunem, a women there would urge him to eat some food. Thus, eating at this families home became a normal habit for him when he visited this town. Then the women and her husband decided to build a chamber (upper room) on the roof of their house with a bed, a table, a stool and a candlestick. That way they could provide a place for him to stay whenever he came to them.
2 Kings 4:8-11
- Ahikam the son of Shaphan—Jeremiah and Urijah were both prophets that prophesied against the city of Jerusalem in obedience to the Lord. Urijah was apprehended and killed by Jehoiakim the king, but the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan (a government official) was with Jeremiah, so that he was not handed over to the people to be put to death. So Ahikam used his influence to support Jeremiah even when it was dangerous to do so.
Jeremiah 26:10-11, 20-24
We Should Find Comfort In “The God Of All Comfort”
Psalm 94:19; 56:8-9
- God comforts us in our tribulation (affliction). God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—He allowed Jesus to suffer on the cross, but used it for a greater purpose. God is the Father of mercies—He has great compassion on the suffering. God is the God of all comfort—He is the One who can give true consolation in times of suffering. We are persecuted because of Jesus, but our consolation also comes from Him. If persecution abounds, so does the consolation that He gives us. Thus, the comfort that is needed is never-ending and is given to us by a merciful God through His Son Jesus.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4a, 5; (Psalm 23:4; 86:17; James 5:11)
- God comforts us in our tribulation so that we can comfort those who are in any trouble. As we go through tribulations, sufferings, affliction, or trouble, God is working in our lives and as we trust in Him for strength, we learn what true comfort is. Thus, we are able to comfort others with the comfort we ourselves received from God.
2 Corinthians 1:4b
- Paul and Timothy understood this truth. They knew that their affliction and comfort would be used for the “consolation and salvation” of the Corinthian church—meaning they knew that the comfort they experienced through persecution would function to help the church to also know how to have comfort and perseverance when they patiently endured the same types of sufferings. It would also confirm the gospel because they weren’t unashamed of it—causing them to endure in the comfort of their salvation until they are fully saved out of this world. There is hope for all believers because if you partake of the sufferings, you will also partake of the consolation.
2 Corinthians 1:6-7; (Romans 1:16)
- Paul and Timothy exemplified this truth. They didn’t want their brethren to be unaware of the trouble and affliction they had when they were in Asia. Something had happened to them that is was beyond their control and it threatened to end their lives. It felt that everything had fallen apart and they were sentenced to death. But all of this was done so that they would not trust in themselves, but in God who raises the dead. God delivered them from this deadly event. They believe that He will even deliver them again because they set their hope and trust in Him.
2 Corinthians 1:8-10
- Prayer is a way we can comfort other believers in persecution. Paul told them that they could help through prayer. If God would answer their requests for them (“gift bestowed”) by the prayers of many, then thanks may be given to God by many on their behalf.
2 Corinthians 1:11; (Romans 12:12; Hebrews 4:16)
- God’s Word is a way we can comfort other believers in persecution. The Psalmist said that His comfort in His affliction was that God’s Word—His promises—gives him life (quickened). We are to think upon and obey God’s Words and take comfort in them—not forgetting them or forsaking them in the midst of persecution.
Psalm 56:10-11; 119:50-52, 76, 81-88
- Who should we remember?
- Why should we remember them?
- What are some examples of helping God’s people?
- Where do believers find true comfort?
- How can we comfort others?