what if? one.
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Seems I recall that Sybil Shepherd insisted film footage of her be shot with a soft filter so that her features would be their most flattering . . . so that she would look her best. Prompted me to think - what if we looked at people through a soft filter?
What if we looked at everyone through the lens of grace, the best sort of soft filter?! We would be kinder, gentler and more generous.
And here's another thought: what if the end was the beginning?
What if Paul's fantastic prayer at the end of the chapter was intended to show all he had written was do-able if
the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with our spirit?
Indeed, what if Paul's fantastic prayer was not the last thought but the first at the start of Philippians chapter four? If you did not get a chance to read "A Fantastic Prayer," my last briefing - I am including the link here: http://pastorwoman.com/ReadArchive.aspx?id=2971
Empowered by the grace of the Lord in our spirit ~
We are free to express affection openly for one another, just as Paul did for the Philippian believers, the little congregation he had established 10 years earlier.1And we encourage one another to stand firm in the Lord, not to waver.
Mindful of the grace of the Lord in our spirit, we resolve grievances among us so that unity is not threatened.2 Gossip, back-biting, criticism have no place in our midst.
Rejoicing in the Lord is as natural as breathing because our hearts are filled with his love. And our graciousness is evident in how we deal with people: giving the benefit of the doubt, smiling easily, living out of the kindness growing in our hearts4. Ha, I was in WalMart today, and exiting the check stand, when my eyes landed on a lady just pulling up her cart. Can't really explain it, but felt compelled ... abandoned my cart, walked over and embraced her, breathed "God Bless You" in her ear. She hugged me back and said 'oh yes, thank you sister,' and I turned and walked away. For some reason, no one has ever pushed me back and said 'no!' Seems a hug is an international language of grace.
Before the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ flooded our spirits, worry oft creased our brows and darkened our moods . . . no more! Prayer has taken worry's place, and along with thanking God for his goodness, peace abounds. Others ask how we can be at peace in the midst of such circumstances, and we just smile and say, 'Only Jesus.'5
But indeed the mind is a powerful thing, so we must be disciplined about fixing its gaze on the beautiful, the good and the great. Beauty in nature always causes my mind to smile. Walking an old sidewalk in Flagstaff today, I spied these double-bearded irises that had awakened after winter snow and shot proudly through the hard ground:
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Wow! I could not help but stand and admire their colors, textures and delicate design. How wonderful is God's creation when we take time to really see and appreciate it!
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Yes, Paul, I shall think about the lovely!6 I will train my mind to follow the dictates of a heart filled with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ filling my spirit - looking at others with less judgment and a ready smile . . . and of course, ready to offer a hug!
What if the world adopted a soft filter of grace?
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
1 - vs 1 Paul expresses his love for his Philippian friends
2 - vs 2 and 3, he urges the two women to get along!
3 - vs 4 Rejoice in the Lord always! Paul admonishes.
4 - vs 5 got graciousness?
5 - vs-6-7 Don't worry . . . pray, with thanks
6 - vs 8 Think about these things.