Antioch Devotionals- August 17-21

MONDAY, AUGUST 17TH Philippians 4:6-8
By Cindy Beckman
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”- Philippians 4:6-8

As a high school history teacher for 30 years, I sometimes disagreed with the decisions being made about policies/procedures or the education of our students.  Sometimes I was very vocal in my objections and even volunteered for that committee so I could help us move in what I thought was the right direction.  I sat on curriculum committees and personnel policy committees, not because it was fun but because it was important.

But other times, I just had to sit by and watch things play out, knowing that God was in control, no matter what.  Sometimes my concerns were ultimately realized while other times things worked out better than I could have imagined (Rom. 8:28).  Sometimes God closed a door and opened a window.

Through those experiences, I learned that it didn’t help to berate those making decisions or try to discredit them.  God would remind me that wasn’t how we should treat other people, even when we disagree with them or think they are making bad decisions.  We should pray for them to make good decisions rather than destroy them in the teacher’s lounge or social media.  He is still in charge and He loves them and me.

Instead, He gave us the right way to handle life’s difficulties in these verses.  And we are going through some pretty extraordinary difficulties right now!  Lift those challenges and concerns up to God in prayer and follow His instructions in verse 8.  

Prayer:  Thank you Lord that you are with us, even in these extraordinary times.  Place a hedge of protection around us.  May your Spirit remind us to lift our prayers to you and keep our mind focused on what is true, noble, pure, lovely, good report, virtuous and praiseworthy as we encounter challenges in the weeks ahead.  
TUESDAY, AUGUST 18TH Philippians 4:6-8 (NIV)
Thinking Straight by Chris Blacksmith
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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.”- Philippians 4:6-8

If you’ve been around industrial occupations of any kind you’ve heard of O.S.H.A. Basically it’s an organization that implements safety regulations so as to prevent workplace injuries.  Most of which could have been avoided had employers been proactive in making a safer working environment.  Our life isn’t any different.  God has given us instructions that, if followed, will help us live a rich and fulfilling life that honors Him.  One of the principles we find in Philippians pertains to our thoughts.  It’s easy to fill our mind with the garbage of the world, which always leads to grief and certain regrets. Conversely God is honored when we think of things that are pure, noble, right, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy.  The best result of thinking straight is that it helps foster our relationship with God who will in turn, “...guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19TH Matthew 23:28
“In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”-Matthew 23:28

Life isn’t like a box of chocolates; it’s like a salad bar. Garbanzo beans, pineapple, ham cubes, and chopped eggs can look good when they’ve actually gone bad.

Parts of our lives go bad if we don’t pay close attention.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us that “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” If my goal is seeing God, I want to maintain a good “salad bar” so that God doesn’t want to spit me out (Revelation 3:16).

PURE HEART I can’t let that lettuce wilt, I have to change it out daily...or maybe hourly or minute by going to God in prayer and submitting my will to His will.

PURE EYES: The cheese and eggs and bacon bits must be quality. They must be things that God would approve. If they’ve gone bad in some way, out they must go...not tomorrow but NOW. I must keep my EYES pure by looking to those things that would be approved by God.

PURE ACTIONS: If I am maintaining the salad bar, I choose: what I keep, what I discard, what I add, what I freshen. Your choices lead to the actions that either make your life quality or a toxic mess.  
Beatitudes by Paulette Herring
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”- Matthew 5:8

Our hearts are muscles that pump blood through the body and sustain physical life.  A cardiac arrest is when the heart stops.  Our hearts are the essence of who we are, our will and our character.
Psalms 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  It is to be uncontaminated. pure, holy, and good.
Proverbs 7:2-3 “Keep my commandments and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablets of your heart.”
Our eyes are very important to what goes in our heart.  We have to be very careful with cell phones, TV, movies, videos, and the internet.  It is so easy, no effort, no challenge, just the tip of our fingers.
Psalm 141:8 “But my eyes are fixed on you Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge- do not give me over to death”.  Hebrews 12:2 “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.”
How are we going to do all this?  Psalms 121:1 “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from?”  Read the rest of the chapter, it is short.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 21ST Matthew 5:8
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”-Matthew 5:8

Our Pastor’s sermon this past Sunday was centered around this verse.  He mentioned that in order to see God, (with your spiritual eyes), day-to-day, you must keep your physical eyes pure.  When your eyes wander places they aren’t supposed to go, they lead you away from being able to focus on the heart of God and His working in your life.  Bottomline: your physical eyes affect your spiritual eyes.
As a man who has worked with numerous Christian men who have had a problem with pornography, I have to say that truer words have never been spoken. PORN IS RAMPANT in our society; and trust me, it is way worse than you think! And when this drug enters the Christian’s life it damages and destroys both their ability to view the opposite sex in a God honoring way, as well as being able to see and sense the Holy Spirit in their life.  Encountering a Christian who has lost their purity of heart due to porn is a very sad and unsettling thing to see.  They want to “see” God but they can’t because their want to see the other has become a greater pull.  It truly saddens the one working with them, and I can’t imagine how it must crush the heart of the One who desires they “see” Him.
What is the answer to such a sight problem?  How does one struggling with what they are seeing and what they need to be “seeing” get victory? Here is where to start:
  1. Come clean with God.  Confession and repentance must enter the equation.  You must come to the point where you genuinely desire God to change you.
  2. Come clean with a trusted Christian.  You need a person who is walking with and seeing God in their daily life to help counsel you, direct you, and hold you accountable in this area.
  3. Think and rethink the Gospel daily.  When you begin to second-by-second, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day recall the price Jesus paid for your sins, you sense His incredible love for you and you begin to want to live a life of total appreciation and surrender to Him.  When you focus on the cross with all your spiritual sight, you will find that your physical eyes will begin to focus on what pleases the One who went to that cross