Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:4–9, NIV)
Even during a time that may seem difficult or even impossible to find something for which to be grateful … rejoice!
What are the reasons you most often think of for rejoicing? How do the things you think of compare to life as you know it right now?
How do you see gentleness and rejoicing as related to one another? How does the Lord’s presence help this comparison make sense?
How does prayer help you find reason to rejoice?
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
“Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’ ”
10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
(Jonah 1.1-3, 2.8-10, NIV)
“Because it means that you can never run away from God.”
Why do you think Jonah wanted to run away from God?
Why do we often need a large wakeup call, such as being swallowed by a giant fish, to pay attention to what God is doing?
In what ways do you try to run from God? How can you trust and follow hm more–even when he asks you to do things you might not want to do?
13 See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 52.13-53.12, NIV)
In the fourth of the Servant Songs of Isaiah, Jesus is described as the one who bore the sins of many … he bore our sins.
Why would someone take on our pain and suffering when they did not have to? Are there any other places where you see this sort of action in our world today?
Do you consider yourself as one who has gone astray? Why do we have such a hard time recognizing this?
How should you respond to the fact that Jesus paid a price for you that you could not pay, that he made intercession for you?
Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
(Psalm 150:1–6, NIV)
Praise the Lord!
How have you seen someone give praise to God today?
While one way to praise God is to speak your praises, what are others ways your life can praise the Lord?
What reasons do you have to praise the Lord today?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6–9, NIV)
“Speaks of God’s will and guides for holy living”
We are living in an anxious time. What specific things do you worry about? How have you given these concerns to God?
How have you found peace in God?
What things in your life would you call true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable? In what ways do you keep these things at the center of your focus?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:19–24, NIV)
Recognition. Prestige. Accolades. All things money might bring us. What is does NOT bring us, however, is the treasure of heaven.
If we “Can’t take it with us,” why do you think people spend as much time and effort as they do trying to gain wealth and possessions?
Someone once said that our calendars and checkbooks tell us our priorities. Where are, in the words of Matthew, your treasures? Where is your heart?
What are ways you can be focused on serving God more than your money or possessions?
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
(James 1:19, NIV)
Another one of those verses that is easy to understand what James is calling us to do … it is just much harder to actually do it.
How well do you listen? Why would listening be a challenge for people?
Publilius Syrus is quoted as saying: “I often regret that I have spoken; never that I have been silent.” When have you found this to be true in your own life?
Why do we become angry and what things can we do to NOT react in anger? What things help you be slower in angry?