When you’re reading a book and turn the last page, are you like me and think, “Oh good. That book is finished, now on to the next one?” I turned the last page in the devotional I’ve been studying this past month and thought, “No! How can this be the end? I thought I had another chapter!” But no, the book Total Bliss: Discover True Joy in Philippians by Linda Barrick ended. Just. Like. That.
Of course, so did the book of Philippians, the joy book of the Bible. My favorite book in the Bible. I’m sad that the study is over, but in the final pages the author asks some reflective questions and I’m going to be courageous and share my answers.
What is your biggest takeaway from the book of Philippians? Mid-way through the book, one of the questions was, “Would you change your story?” I had to think about this because there have been times, in fact many seasons of my life when I would have traded in my jalopy life for an SUV that could get through anything. This verse in Philippians 4:11 has been my companion and constant reminder, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Contentment isn’t normal, but it is necessary. My life isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for me.
What is your favorite verse in Philippians and why? Before I answer that, can I just say this? I don’t pre-study or plan anything that I post before I start to write. When I flipped the last page of the Total Bliss Bible study today, I knew then what I wanted to share with you. Should I? My answer was waiting on the homepage of Bible Gateway where I find various translations of scripture. There it was – my favorite verse. “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 4:8
Why is this my favorite verse? I believe that the foundation of how we do life comes from how we do thought. Every act was first a thought. If the ultimate goal is to live in harmony, to have peace, to be joyful – our thoughts need to be cleared out and cleaned up of all the crud. Here’s the same verse in another version, “my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.” Whatever is true. Whatever is right. Whatever is holy. Whatever is proper. Infuse your mind with those things.
What is one way God’s Word has changed your life over the past few weeks? I was shocked to read this confession from Linda Barrick because it was like reading my own thoughts. “My biggest battleground is my mind. Thoughts of inadequacy are my greatest obstacle …. I would miss the joy of serving people if I obeyed my thoughts.” I don’t wallpaper my house with sticky notes with affirmations like Linda does, but the truth is, I know God created me and he created you to be uniquely talented, gifted, and bundled with our own personalities. We don’t have to be anyone else, we are not like anyone else. We need relationships with other people who are not like us.
These past few weeks as I’ve worked through this study, I’ve grown in my desire to make my plans for me align better with God’s plans for me. What I want most of all is to be discerning and make choices that are God’s best. More than ever I want to reflect the character of Christ. Philippians 2:5 says, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” I don’t know about you, but that’s the mindset I want.
This photo is of the Barrick Family: Andy, Linda, Josh, Jen – Hope Out Loud Linda wrote the Total Bliss Bible Study.