“What is true, right, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy? It isn’t in a thing or any human endeavor. It is the Lord.”

Where do I set my mind when trouble comes my way? I hum Philippians 4:8 to the tune of Keith Green: 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. This verse set to song can go over and over in my head, but sometimes it lacks the power to get me thinking about anything lovely. And sometimes when the dog bites and the bee stings, twirling around in the Alps like Julie Andrews and singing about my favorite things amounts to futility.

The only true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy thing isn’t a thing at all. It is found in knowing the Lord Himself, the very source of my salvation.  

This past year, some of our closest missionary friends started meeting with a group of new believers on Friday mornings. The believers were so hungry to be fed by the Word of God. It was terrible news when I heard this past month that our good friends had to pack their bags and leave the country because the leadership didn’t support their church planting methods.

I thought that I had been thinking on something noble when thinking of church planting, but it has left me jaded. I’m being broken by the realization that what I thought was noble - the blood, sweat, and tears of reaching people in a faraway land - has been a poor substitute compared to keeping my thoughts fully set on my Noble One.

It is hard work to defeat Satan and his attacks, especially if we define God according to our circumstances. Tim Mackie, in his podcast Exploring My Strange Bible, taught on Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Jesus was alone in the wilderness, so he must have shared those experiences with his disciples so that it could be recorded and we could all be strengthened by it. What stood out to me from this message was that Satan tried to get Jesus to question who he was: “If you are the Son of God, why are you in these circumstances?” Thinking upon what is good, right, and pure requires that I see God from the truth of His word, knowing that He is trustworthy even when circumstances seem to demonstrate the opposite.

What seemed right to Israel was a king who would conquer the Romans. Instead, we have a Savior who suffered to conquer our deeper problem of sin. What Satan thought finally accomplished the complete annihilation of our Savior only proved that His power was greater than death itself. And today, He continues to prove that power in my own life as He changes me by His Spirit. What I was incapable to do because I was dead in my sins, Jesus did for me. 

I’m so thankful that nothing I ask of the Lord is too hard for him. I love how Romans 8:32 states it: ​He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?​ I can plead with the Lord for His already-won-victory to reign in my thoughts. Jesus said in Matthew 7 that my heart is full of evil, so why would I ever think that I could conjure any godliness up on my own? Being bought as His, God’s unlimited resources means that sin doesn’t have to have power over me. I can humbly come to Him. He promises to carry to completion the good work of Christ-like thinking He has started in me.

What is true, right, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy? It isn’t in a thing or any human endeavor. It is the Lord. He is the Judge, not me. He hasn’t returned yet, but it doesn’t mean He won’t. God stands at the door as the Holy Judge, with all authority, but perseveres in His compassion and mercy towards me and the world. What a beautiful truth to set my mind on!

Kelly M.

Kelly and her family are global partners with Cornerstone West LA.

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