My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons from Philippians 4:8 for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. Blessings.
Friday —Whatever is Lovely
When Paul said to meditate (think, KJV) on these six things he used a word that means to focus on, to closely scrutinize something as one would do if he were carefully counting his money to record the exact amount.
Today we meditate on things in this world which are lovely. It is remarkable that every translation consulted for this article translates this word the same: lovely. Furthermore, this is the only time the original word is used in the New Testament. Merriam-Webster says lovely means delightful for beauty, harmony, or grace. Dictionary.com says, pleasing, highly satisfying, or the like.
To grasp the word, we need to spend time in the Old Testament where the English word is used about a dozen times describing various things: an army, skilled soldiers who are friends, a beautiful young woman, and what a man sees when he views his wife:
“How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your encampments, O Israel!” (Num. 24:5).
“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; They were swifter than eagles; They were stronger than lions” (1 Sam. 1:23).
“He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter” (Esther 2:7).
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!” (Psa. 84:1).
There are at least six uses which reference the attraction a man has for his beautiful wife: (Prov. 5:19; Song of Solomon 1:5, 1:10, 2:14, 4:3, 6:4).
Consider the word lovely as it applies to a man looking on a woman as perhaps it is most often used today. In Philippians 4:8, of the six things we should make the focus of our meditation, “lovely” is standing between two soldiers to guard it. The word before lovely and the word after it serve to guard it; to show us the way Paul uses it: The words that sandwich lovely are pure, and of good report. Lovely, in this context of what we are to think about, is something that complements purity and a good report or reputation. The lovely Vashti illustrates this well: “…to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. But Queen Vashti refused…” (Esther 1:11-12). She apparently considered it inappropriate for men to enjoy her loveliness in the way her husband enjoyed viewing her. Her loveliness was guarded by purity and a good reputation.
Why is it so important to think on things that are lovely? Because… “For as (a man) thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).
Plato said, “The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.” We can feed on the darkness in this world so much that it slowly influences our thought processes. It comes inside us. Choose to minimize your exposure to the world’s darkness. Be a student of God’s Word. Be with Christians whenever you can and make them your best friends. Pray without ceasing (1 Th. 5:17). Make sure your home is a place where the Lord is referenced easily, openly, and often. Be sure to avoid dark and sinful forms of entertainment and gaming. The darkness is out there and we know what it looks like. It isn’t that we are pretending that it doesn’t exist; it is that we want to live in the light and, to do that. we must meditate on that which is lovely.
Tonight, when you pray, thank our Father that there is so much in this world that is truly lovely.
Tonight’s Story Time…
Tonight we return to Joseph, Genesis 41:33-57. Tell the account to your children in age-appropriate language. Tell it with energy and make them see these events. It is one of the most encouraging passages to Christians about God’s plan for our lives. Joseph went to bed in prison poverty. The next night he went to bed with respect, power, and riches.
- Think of Joseph as an employee working for Pharaoh. One day you may work for a man who does not love or serve Christ. That is not wrong if you are determined to always do the right thing. What challenges can you imagine a Christian having as he works for an unbeliever? What would you do if your boss asked you to lie in order to keep the business going? What would you do if your boss wanted you to go to a bar and have a beer with him? What if your boss made fun of you for not using bad language? What if your boss wanted you to work on Sundays instead of worshipping God? What would you do?
2. Despite the fact that God was blessing Joseph, Joseph worked very hard each day. If God was blessing him so much, maybe Joseph could have become lazy in the palace and just let God work out the needs for the famine in Egypt. Does God require us to work while He blesses us with our needs? How is that like the sickness that’s around us right now? Does God take care of us? Does He want us to do certain things to help ourselves to stay well, too?
3. Verse 51 says that when Joseph had his first son he called him “Manasseh” because God had caused him to forget all his toil and all his father’s house. Talk about this. Did Joseph really forget all that his brothers did to him when they sold him into slavery? How can God make us forget about the bad things that happen in our lives? Have you ever had any bad thing happen to you, but then God made you feel better by blessing you and blessing you more and more?
4. God is the one who declared that there would be seven years of plenty of food and then seven years of famine, and that’s what happened. How did God know that? Did someone tell Him? Does God already know when the sickness that’s in our world right now will be over? How can we show others that we still trust in God, even when there are problems or sickness around us? Can we talk to them about God?
Write the letters below down the left side of a piece of printer or construction paper. Have your child/children draw something that God is faithful to provide for us for each letter. (The first one, in this shortage time, can be toilet paper! =) This is a phonics lesson, too! Put your child’s phonics/art lesson on the fridge. Say a prayer and thank God for each thing drawn. Remember to review this lesson tomorrow using the list on the fridge. Remind your kids that Joseph knew Who was taking care of him.
Last of all, have small children try and fall backwards into your arms. Tell them that “trust” is knowing you will do what you have said you will do. (“I will catch you!”) Tell them that trusting God is knowing that He will do all that He has promised. Read Matthew 6:33 to them and explain what that promise means.