I have to confess that I do not read the Bible as I should. I have, at times, had very long periods when I consistently read the Bible everyday. There have also been times when I did in depth studies on certain books or themes in Scripture. The opposite has also been true. At times, I've seriously neglected the Word of God and I've found such neglect has harmed my Christian walk as well as my prayer life. I am always in need of prodding to be better at reading and studying the Scriptures as I should.
With all that said, I want to say a little about a segment of the Bible that I have found most practical and useful. I believe the WHOLE of Scripture to be the Word of God. It is the medium which God has chosen to communicate to us and “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Tim. 3:16, 17)
Now back to that section of the Bible that I have found most practical in my daily life. It is found in the fourth chapter of St. Paul’s epistle to the church at Philippi and it reads thus, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 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. 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. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
These words always affect me, because they have been so important to my own life. These words are, to me, some the most wonderful, practical words of advice that I have ever received. I have, often failing, tried to live by this advice.
As a child and as a young man, I was fairly a negative person. I was a pessimistic person. My dad preached to me about being positive all the time I was growing up and I am thankful to my dad for his encouragement and persistence in this, but it is when I read these words in Scripture and began to try and practice them that things began to turn around in my outlook on life.
My dad used to call me a “worry wart” because I was, but here Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing” and gave me advice on how to deal with my worry. He wrote. “In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” and he assured me that “and the peace of God” would overtake me.
I did not stop worrying all at once (and Lisa can tell you that I still worry from time to time) but I have worked at it and I found, over time, that I worried less and less. I also found that I had more and more peace.
Through the Apostle Paul, the Lord tells us how to think about things, again by very practical advice. He says think about “true, noble and just” things. This is good because if your thinking about items like these than you are not thinking about pessimistic things. This is not magic it takes practice and work on our part, but is doable
Paul is not done yet. He continues and says that we are to think about “whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report.” How can you be a pessimist and think about what is pure, lovely and of good report? You can’t do it. Thinking about these types of things warms the heart and brings joy to the soul.
Still St. Paul knew that not all things were such, so he now he goes a little further and says, “if” because some times good things are not the first thing you see. He writes, “if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.” Even in the direst of circumstances there will be something of virtue in the situation that you can dwell on and push out those non-virtues thoughts. It is clear in his advice, the praiseworthy may not be immediately obvious but we are to seek it out and then meditate on those things that are virtues and praiseworthy.
I know this advice is sound. It has made me to be a far better and happier man than I ever could have been without it. The Bible is full of very sound, practical advice like what we find in Philippians 4: 4-8.