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11. Joyful Thinking

Philippians 4:6-9

Day One Study

1. Read Philippians 4:6-9. What do you see in Philippians 4:6 that could cause you not to have joy?

Focus on the Meaning: What’s worry? The Greek word translated “anxious” in verse 6 means “to be pulled in different directions.”…Worry is the greatest thief of joy. It is not enough for us, however, to tell ourselves to “quit worrying,” because that will never capture the thief. Worry is an “inside job,” and it takes more than good intentions to get the victory. The antidote to worry is the secure mind. (Warren Wiersbe, Be Joyful, pp. 125-126)

2. What does Paul tell the Philippians, and you, to do about this potential joy-stealer?

3. What should be our attitude in prayer? Why is this attitude important?

Focus on the Meaning: The word for prayer is a general term meaning worshipful conversation with God, while petition (supplication) refers to a prayer with a sense of need. Thanksgiving focuses on the attitude of one’s heart in approaching God. Requests refers to directly asking God’s help regarding specific needs. (Life Application Bible Commentary, Philippians, Colossians & Philemon, p. 115)

4. Read Matthew 6:25-34. Answer the following questions:

·         What does Jesus say in this passage about worry?

·         What does this passage reveal about God?

·         What does Jesus say to do (verse 33), and what does this mean (how can you do this)?

The result is a promise! Let’s take Philippians 4:7 apart and examine each phrase individually. Observe and define what each phrase means (use a dictionary as necessary):

5.              The peace of God

·         Isaiah 26:3, 12—

·         John 14:27—

·         John 16:33—

6.              Transcends (surpasses) all understanding (comprehension)

·         Psalm 147:5—

·         Isaiah 55:8-9—

7.              Guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (There is only 1 other instance of the word “guard” used similarly in the New Testament. In 1 Peter 1:5 it is used to mean we are secure in salvation through Him.)

Focus on the Meaning: The Greek word for “guard” is a military term that means to surround and protect a garrison or city. The Philippians, living in a garrison town, were familiar with the Roman guards who maintained watch, guarding the city from any outside attack. (Life Application Bible Commentary, Philippians, Colossians & Philemon, p. 116)

8. Your Joy Journey: Summarize in your own words the truths learned above and record what Philippians 4:7 means to you. Feel free to use any creative means to describe this (drawing, poem, song, other).

Think About It: Every time we pray, our horizon is altered, our attitude to things is altered, not sometimes but every time, and the amazing thing is that we don’t pray more. (Oswald Chambers)

Day Two Study

9. Read Philippians 4:6-9. Paul knew that our pervading thoughts would determine our actions that would in turn reveal our heart attitude. In Philippians 4:8, Paul describes what should pervade a believer’s thoughts. Why is it so important for us to focus our minds on true and excellent things? See also 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 and Colossians 3:1-3.

10. Your Joy Journey: Are you currently worried about a difficult circumstance in your life? Can you think back to a time when you went through a difficult circumstance that caused you concern? You can work through your difficulty using the qualities listed in verse 8 as a guide for rightful thinking. Select 3 or 4 principles and explain how “thinking on these things” can help you work through any difficulty. It might help to consider also the opposite to these.

11. Your Joy Journey: What could you meditate and think upon that would most definitely measure up to all of Paul’s criteria? Consider how you might apply these guidelines in verse 8 to your day-to-day choices (TV, books, radio, other). Share your insights with your small group to encourage one another to right thinking.

12. Read the instructions Paul gives in verse 9. Discuss this in light of what you learned about mentoring in Lesson Seven.

13. Your Joy Journey: What have you learned from this passage in Philippians about the connection between practicing right thinking and knowing joy in your life?

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