In 1959, Rogers and Hammerstein gave us this sound advice,

“When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don’t feel,
So bad.” My Favorite Things, Sound of Music

Raise your hands, those of you who grew up singing along to this. It felt good back then, didn’t it? It felt right. It was uplifting. And for some of us, myself included, it still feels right, and it is still uplifting. But why is it?

Looking at it from a logical point of view; when the dog bites, go get a tetanus shot. When the bee stings, take some antihistamine. See a doctor and don’t just simply remember your favorite things, right? Now that we are older, wiser and more cynical; or maybe that’s just me; we see some degree of futility in that song. Yet we can’t deny it ability to make us feel less ‘bad’ when we are feeling sad.

But beloved, did you know that there is a Biblical version to My Favorite Things? Yes, there is and here it is.

“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 is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8

In fact, The Message’s translation even made it rhyme.

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” Philippians 4:8 [MSG]

Fill your minds with only the best, not the worst; things to praise, not things to curse.

Beautiful, isn’t it? But isn’t it a little like an ostrich burying its head in the sand? Is Paul being impractical and telling us to ignore our problems?

By no means beloved. In fact, it comes at the end of a long ‘To Do’ list when we are in trouble. So let’s see what those things are and when we should fill our minds with only the best, not the worst; things to praise, not things to curse.

Firstly, I am sure you would not have missed how this passage starts. “Finally…”, “Summing it all up,…”. Now it doesn’t take a linguist to realize that this means the passage comes at the end of a list. So what is on that list?

“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.” Philippians 4:6-7

It’s a good thing Paul isn’t going to grammar school today, because his teacher would have given him an earful for putting so many ideas into a single paragraph. Notice just how many things he tells us to do?

Be anxious for nothing
As I have often said, English is a far cry from the original Greek, because this is what Paul is actually saying;

“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything,…” Philippians 4:6 [AMPC]

“Do not be anxious or worried about anything…” Philippians 4:6 [AMP]

The first thing we are told to do, before filling our minds with good things, is to not worry. Now, was Paul living a privileged life? Was he protected from the troubles and trials that we go through on a daily basis? Not at the least. In fact, not only is it a well-known fact that Paul was imprisoned more than once, he was in prison as he wrote the words that we are studying today.

Yet, though incarcerated, he could still say,

“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 1:12-14

He was imprisoned for preaching, yet he was still preaching while in prison. Now that takes some faith and dedication. So what was it about Paul? What special revelation did he receive that we didn’t that enabled him to have such faith?

Well, practically, none. Yes, he could have had more revelations personally delivered to him; after all, he did spend day and night in the company of the Spirit; and we know that the more time we spend with anyone, the more we know about that person, so what more the Spirit.

Yet, we are in no way shortchanged, or less blessed than Paul was; because to us was also revealed the very foundation of this teaching of Paul’s, and here it is;

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25

Yes, Jesus was the original teacher of ‘do not worry’, wasn’t He? And what justification does Jesus give for us not needing to worry?

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26

We are, aren’t we? We can’t seriously think that God values the birds more than us, can we? After all, remember what He said when He had the idea to make man?

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26

Crudely put, not only are we made in His image, we were made to ‘lord it over’ the birds as well. And then,

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:28-29

“Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Matthew 6:30

Makes a good case, doesn’t He? So because our Father loves us and is looking out for us, there is no need for us to worry. What else then should we do?

But in everything, let your requests be made known to God
Now, because our relationship with our heavenly Father is built upon is His unchanging love for us, this promise of Jesus is true;

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Mark 11:24

So that is why Paul says that the next thing that we should do after ‘not worry’ is ‘let your requests be made known to God’.

Look, Jesus already told you that our Father in heaven loves you. He also told you that He knows what you need. And if there is anything you think is still lacking in your life, Jesus has also told you that you should just come out and ask for it. So why are you holding back?

Think about it, if you pick up a lamp one day, rubbed it and out popped a genie, and this genie gave you three wishes; will you be shy about asking? Now, I’m not suggesting that we treat God like a wish-granting genie, of course not. But that He has offered, what reason do we have not to take Him up on His offer?

And the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus
So then, you know that God loves you. You know that God is for you. You know that since God takes such good care of even the birds and the flowers, He will surely do an even better job of looking after you. And for the areas which you think He has missed, Jesus has promised that you can just come out and ask for it. How then should you be feeling, if not at peace?

Now, I don’t want to get into the needless discussion of whether God’s peace is the Holy Spirit or some other entity. But just consider this. Jesus said,

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

Couple that with what we have just read in Philippians 4:7, don’t you think that God’s peace is a whole lot more than merely a ‘good feeling’? Whatever you think God’s peace is, the undeniable fact is that its job is to guard you; guard your hearts and your minds. But guard them from what? Well, isn’t it obvious?

“sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you,” Genesis 4:7 [AMP]

And Satan is constantly asking excessively that all who believe be given up to him and taken out of the power and keeping of God, that he might sift all of us like grain (Luke 22:31 [AMP]).

When things don’t seem to be going well, that is the time when what fills our minds are only the worst, not the best; things to curse, not things to bless.

Isn’t that true? So our Father wants to guard us against those thoughts, for because our Father loves us, they are needless and baseless. And that is why we are guarded by His peace.

So then, we know our Father loves us. We know that our Father is for us. We know that our Father will take good care of us. And anything we think He’s missed, we can ask. What then is there left to do?

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].” Philippians 4:8 [AMP]

Fill your minds will all the good that our Father has done for you. Center your mind on them and implant them in your heart. Let nothing take them away from you and then you will truly see whey there is no need to feel so bad when you are sad.

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