Welcome to Daily Steps!
Please visit the Sermon Series Resource page for additional instruction and/or guidance on how to navigate Daily Steps.
Philippians 4:1,4-9 (NIV) — 1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! 4 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.
The Prescription for a Peaceful Mind and Joyful Heart
As the current pandemic challenges all of us, the command to not be anxious seems especially difficult to accomplish. But as hard as it is to imagine, the Philippians were living in no less difficult circumstances than we are today. That’s why Paul begins in verse 1 with “stand firm” in belief, progresses to "rejoice always" in verse 4, and then finishes by telling us how to release our anxieties and fears into the hands of the only One who is capable of managing them. We begin with belief, we rejoice in the truth of our belief, and then we take all of our concerns to God with humility and gratitude — because we believe He can, and will, actually do something about them. Of course, when God does something, it almost always includes changing us in the process. And that’s the amazing thing about hardships — the more we are pressed by our circumstances — the more we will be like Jesus if we press into our Heavenly Father. The weaker we become, the greater He will become in us. The more thankful we are, the more likely we are to experience miraculous joy and supernatural peace in the midst of our pain and suffering.
One of Billy Graham’s last written messages, “How to Be Thankful in All Things,” was published in late 2017. It was no secret that Billy was ready to be with Jesus in eternity. He often talked of seeing his beloved wife Ruth again, and said many times that he was excited about the day of his earthly departure. “I’m looking forward to it — I really am. I’ll be happy the day the Lord says, ‘Come on. I’ve got something better planned.’” Billy’s belief and trust in his God had consumed his heart and mind to the point of living out Psalm 63:3-4: “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.”
And so, Billy's words about gratitude are particularly poignant and wise for those of us a tad bit younger than his 99 years and wrestling mightily with the grief, anger, fears, and frustrations associated with today’s global crisis. “Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness,” Billy wrote. “I don’t know what trials you may be facing right now, but God does, and He loves you and is with you by His Holy Spirit. Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness even during trials and heartaches.” Billy then goes on to tell stories of both ungrateful and thankful people alike, all of whom he’d met or had received letters from through the years. He comes to the conclusion that those who are richest, most joyful, have the best relationships, and enjoy the most rewarding lives, are those who are thankful in every circumstance and throughout each day.
As human beings, we all have weaknesses, frailties, fears, and doubts, and for many of us, the current crisis is unearthing feelings and reactions like we’ve never experienced before. But the amazing thing is, God does not hold you accountable for those unsettling emotions and thoughts. Rather, you are held accountable for how you choose to deal with them. Your Heavenly Father wants to use the things you’re struggling with to showcase the splendor of His Son alive in you. His plan is for you to depend on Him so much that you radiate Jesus through the cracks, broken places, and fault lines. The only question that remains is whether you’re willing to be a trusting vessel for His glory, or if you’d prefer to wear yourself out by wrestling for control and attempting to patch up the holes with your own resources. For those of us raised with a DIY, perfectionist, or pessimistic mentality, the prescription for healing our minds found in Philippians 4:4-9 seems to be the equivalent of a personality transplant. And in a way, it kind of is… little by little the Holy Spirit is transforming our minds to be more like Jesus (Romans 12:1-2). In the process, we will struggle. We will have setbacks. But as the peace and radiance of Jesus grow ever brighter, our longing and attachment for our old selves will grow dimmer and dimmer until we eventually don’t recognize who we used to be at all.
Bible Readings with Prayer Prompts
As you contemplate these passages throughout the week, make time to pray before you read them and then again afterward. In each reading, ask God to show you what the verses mean specifically for you. God’s Word is alive, so even if you’re familiar with these Scriptures, approach them with an expectant heart and an open mind. God wants to converse with you.
Monday — Read Philippians 4:8-9 slowly in several different translations of the Bible, including at least one paraphrased version like The Passion Translation or The Message version. Spend time in prayer asking God to show you how to apply verse 8 like a thought filter for your mind. Then, select a negative thought you’ve been struggling with and run it through the filter of God’s Word. Ask God to help you see things through the lens of this verse every time you struggle with fear, worry, or anger. You may also want to try using this Negative Thought Worksheet.
Tuesday - Read Romans 8:37-39 and James 1:2-4. When we praise God and give thanks to Him, we will receive a greater sense of security and peace. Spend time worshipping and thanking God that He is alive and at work in you, no matter what circumstances you face.
Wednesday - Read Galatians 5:22-23 and 2 Corinthians 4:14-15. When we release our need for control to Jesus and ask Him to be the strength in our weaknesses, the fruits of the Spirit will emerge in news ways in our lives. Ask God to show you which fruits of the Spirit He wants to cultivate in your heart, especially in this season of difficulty.
Thursday - Read Psalm 28:7; Psalm 118:15, and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Select one of these verses to meditate on in quiet stillness before God. Then ask Him to help you praise and thank Him in a way that produces overwhelming joy in His presence.
Friday - Read Romans 12:1-2 and Isaiah 26:3 and ask God to show you how to keep your focus on Him instead of your fears or frustrations. Start a new note on your phone or on a piece of paper to jot down any ideas that come to your mind in the weeks ahead. Ask God to help you follow through on them and renew your mind in the process.
Invite God's Presence
Select one or two of these spiritual practices to try this week. For ideas on how to practice these and why they are beneficial, watch the brief video series about Daily Steps at the bottom of this resource page.
- Worship by singing along with your favorite praise tunes. Here is a playlist you might like.
- Meditate on a verse from this week’s readings
- Be still and listen for at least 5 minutes
- Spend time outdoors in solitude (i.e. a walk in nature)
- Journal about the ways you see God moving
- Create (paint, sculpt, draw, write poetry or music, etc.)
- Fast from something that allows you to spend more time with God