Week 2 –Monday — “Of good report”
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 (Phil. 4:8-9).
According to Strong’s, the word praiseworthy means well spoken of, i.e. reputable; of good report…sounding well; uttering words of good omen, speaking auspiciously.
Paul means we should meditate on things that good people would admire. Consider three illustrations from Scripture:
- Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27). Paul is urging them to reflect well on the gospel in their community by the way that they live.
- The qualifications of men we need for our church elders include, “…he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:7).
- Jesus taught us to live our lives so that, in general, people will admire His Father because of the lives we live serving Him, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16).
Perhaps the application of this principle fluctuates with cultures, but the meaning is this: Generally speaking, there are things which good people in any society approve and appreciate. These are the better things in us. Perhaps it is less true in America today—we’re in a time when political assemblies can erupt into crowds booing when the name of God is mentioned in a positive way—but the general recognition of good exists, nevertheless, and arguably, still among the majority of people in our country. Think for a moment about praiseworthy ideals: to honor one’s parents, to possess good manners, to show respect toward the elderly, to protect women and children when they’re in trouble, to be honest even when our dishonesty might go unpunished, to obey the law as a matter of conscience (Rom. 13:1-5), to respect other people’s property, to respect God’s laws about sexuality (avoiding adultery, homosexuality, rape, lasciviousness, etc… [1 Cor. 6:9-11]), to be kind to people who are kind to us and even to those who are not. These are things that are respected by the communities in which most Christians live and work.
There are still many in this old world who appreciate these things. Paul exhorts us to meditate on them. To do so contributes to our spiritual health and to preventing impediments to our successful evangelism.
Tonight’s Story Time:
Today, during the day, read Genesis 42 so you’ll be well prepared to tell the details to your children in a way they can grasp and from which they can learn.
1.The famine prophesied by Joseph had reached to Jacob and his family. Jacob, the father of this large family, was doing what every husband and father should do. He was providing for his family (42:1-4). He instructed ten of his sons (Benjamin wasn’t sent because Jacob was afraid of harm coming to him.) to go to Egypt where food could be bought. God was working His plan to bring the family together with Joseph and save a people—soon to be called Israel—through which the Christ would eventually come. Your children may not be old enough yet to understand all of this, but they will understand that God uses our lives to make things work out the way He has planned.
2. God provides for His children. We call that providence, yet sometimes it may be years before I can understand just how God has worked something out for my good. When Joseph, dressed like the Egyptians and talking like them, saw his brothers, he did not tell them who he was. He had a “secret identity.” (Do your children know of anyone who has a secret identity?) In his heart, he remembered those dreams he had when he was 17, in which his brothers bowed down before him (42:5-9). Now they really were bowing down before him. Now he understood why God made him dream all those things when he was a boy.
Tell your children that, throughout their lives, during good times and bad, they must trust that God’s working in their lives. Have them think of some good things that are coming even from all the sickness in our world today. Beginning here, Joseph started a lengthy and complicated test to learn if his brothers had changed. Were they still mean and wicked? Did they hate Joseph’s little brother, Benjamin, just like they had hated him?
It must have been hard for Joseph to not immediately tell them who he was. Ask your children if they think this was wise or if they’d have done it differently. Discuss.
4. Now talk about how that sometimes it is very hard when God’s people are separated from the people they love. Talk about how hard it must have been for Joseph all those years. It is hard for people today to serve God when there are not a lot of other Christians around them. Talk about how sad it is even for us when we cannot gather together with our Christian family.
Special Activity: This week, Cindy (my wife) has heard from a faithful Christian preacher’s wife in Vermont. Her name is Sarah Floyd. The Christians in Vermont are very few and they are struggling. They are not getting to meet together very much right now and many of them live far from each other. They don’t get to have lots of activities like many of us do. They don’t have KidSing or Lads to Leaders or Youth devotionals or even lots of Bible classes. These Christians and children would LOVE to get cards or pictures from your family. Just a picture or a verse or a photograph from your printer; a little spring flower from a coloring book or a handmade bookmark…anything would brighten their days, make them feel less isolated, and encourage them to be faithful. Make as many of these in the next five days as you can. Put each one into a separate envelope with the following first names on them. Then stuff them all into a larger envelope and mail them to the address at the bottom. If you could do a couple each night this week, then by next weekend, you’d have a little stash to send. (But even if your children are very small and you just make one, that’s still a blessing to one person!…And it’ll bless your child, too!)
Be sure to put one first name (or two or more names if it’s obviously a couple or family) on each card you make. Then put all the cards made by your family in one big envelope and mail to: Bennington church of Christ, 524 South St., Bennington, VT 05201.
Here’s the list (this seems like a good number, but I believe they have about 15 -20 on a usual Sunday):
Widows/widowers/single older people: Joyce, Doug, Lin, Mitt, Ruth, Nancy
Older couples: Bob and Carol (elder and wife), Ken and June (elder and wife), David and Joyce
Lady who lives alone because her husband works overseas: Mary
Only teenager in the church: Teen Mary
Her 10-year-old sister: Rachel
Parents of Mary and Rachel: Doug and Wendy
Newer Christian: Tina
Newer Christian family: Nate, Amanda, Haylee, William
Needs encouragement: Alan and Jen
Pray together and especially pray tonight that we will soon be able to get together and hug and worship with our church family. Pray for the people in Vermont who are struggling to be faithful to our Father.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.