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Have you ever heard of the show Fixer Upper? Chip and Joanna Gaines take the worst-looking house in a neighborhood and turn it into a beautiful home any of us would love to have. However, when they do this, they aren’t just painting the outside of the house, planting some bushes, and calling it a renovation. Instead, they rip the whole inside apart to truly rebuild.

Similarly, the next two things Paul wants us to think about require more than a simple paint job on the outside.

This sermon series will continue to focus on this one verse:

Philippians 4
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.

There are 8 words here: True, Noble, Right (or Just), Pure, Lovely, Admirable, Excellent, Praiseworthy. Let’s focus on Just and Pure for this sermon.

JUST: Greek word for “just” is dikaios, and as an adjective could be translated “righteous.” The Greeks used this word to describe a person who was duty-bound to the gods or other people.

PURE: The word pure in the Philippians passage is from the same root as the word “saint” and is defined as holy, morally clean, and undefiled. In a similar sense, a saint is one who is set apart, undefiled, and uninfluenced by the world around them.

Purity is not so much about outward actions (though they are included) as it is about the inward heart and mind. So how do we address this? This cannot be a simple paint job on a house, but a complete fixer-upper, from the inside out.

Paul speaks to this process:

Romans 12
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world,

Conform or Confound

To be conformed takes no intentionality, no discipline, no effort.    

I want you to be different. I want you to be transformed. “Duty bound” to the way of Jesus.

It’s like being pressed into a mold. Someone or something else shapes us. Don’t just be a cookie cutter of everyone else in society. Be different. Not like everyone else. We all want this. But how do we do it?

We do it “by the renewing of your mind.”

By your best wishes and hopes?

By buckling down and powering through?

No, by the renewing of your mind. You’re not transformed by engaging your will. Because your patterns outwit your intentions.

Renewing – renovation – demo day. It might sound easy and maybe fun, but it’s hard work.    

You have to spend a lot of time and effort removing the old. It doesn’t look better right away. Things actually get worse first.

Have you restored a piece of furniture, or do you know anyone who enjoys going to antique shows? They go to old barns or crazy shops and get something that looks dingy and beat up. Then, they bring it home and strip off the old finish completely. They work for hours – days – weeks – with an old toothbrush and dental instruments scraping the old finish out of the crevasses and cracks… exhausting.

And when that’s done… things actually look worse. Because then, they’d need to refinish and restore. The same is true with Fixer Upper. There’s a part where it looks worse.

And that’s the part of the show I think deceives us a bit.

In Fixer Upper, from start to finish, it takes a half hour to watch the renovation of a home. On the contrary, the average home renovation takes months. You might have to move out in the middle of it. But even if you don’t, you’ll definitely be disrupted and inconvenienced at some stage in the process.

Here’s the point…

Renewal is messy. Things often feel worse before they feel better. And – renewal takes time.    

Usually, in our lives, we hurry from one place or one thing to the next. This is because we’re looking for ways to save time. But in this scenario, time is your friend, and you want more of it. That’s why jumping from the last thing right into the next thing usually produces some version of the same results. 

It’s like trying to slap a new coat of paint on an old piece of furniture before removing the old paint. Does it stick?

Sincerity and commitment are not enough. Think of when someone signs up for a gym membership, yet they never go. Or they order one of those healthy meal kit subscriptions, but the meals end up in the trash.

There’s an old pattern that needs to be undone and a new one that needs to form.

If you’re looking back at a season, situation, relationship, or pattern that you know went the wrong way, one of the most significant gifts you can give yourself is to push the pause button before you jump into a new version of the same thing.

For instance, dating…

If you’re getting out of a relationship that didn’t go well, do yourself a huge favor, give yourself a year off to renew your mind and lean into the process.

Rarely do people have regrets for taking things slowly. More often than not, people who cranked up the intensity, intimacy, or jumped from one relationship to the next too quickly are the ones left second-guessing their decisions.

Now here’s the thing with time. Not many of us like to wait, it’s frustratingand we often hear many voices that sound like God that tempt us to jump back to a more comfortable situation. A slightly different version of wherever we were. 

Why do they sound like God? Because they want to rule us!

One of the best things that help with waiting is when you have something to do while you wait. For example, how often have you been stuck in traffic and made a phone call or two?

So it’s not just about embracing time. It’s doing something with the time.    

So, what’s that look like?

At the end of the list in our verse, Paul directs, not just suggests, a specific course of action: Think on these things. But that’s not just like a passing thought or a mental course of action.

It’s more like directing someone to set up shop here, build your life here, camp out here, purpose or determine the direction you go from this source. Dedicate yourself to it.

Now, it’s understandable to think, I have to live my life, I have a family, I have to eat and live indoors. I can’t move to a cabin in the woods for a season. Anyone gets that. We are all in that position, so here are some more practical steps:

  1. Create a PLACE where you dwell – Where you’re actively engaged in renewing your mind. It’s not going to happen to you. You need something intentional, and you need a group of people who are intentional with you.

  2. Create a SPACE where you dwell – That’s time. For some, it’s taking a year off from dating to renew your mind or taking a year off from cable news or social media. But even if it’s not that, you have to carve out space. Stop doing something so you can do something better.  

    There are spaces in your life that are beckoning you to conform and consume. To do it the way everyone else does. Start by renovating those spaces in your life. Now it’s easy to hear that as, “I should basically live at church, listen to Christian radio, only watch Christian moves, create a Christian bubble.”  

    Paul is not saying to isolate yourself so you have no impact outside the bubble. He’s saying dwell in the right places and space so that you CAN impact the world in a way different from what they’ve seen.  

  3. Give yourself the GRACE God gives you along the way – You need to be gracious with yourself. We think we should have it all together. So many people throw in the towel because they believe they knew better, could do better, or should be perfect at whatever they do. None of us are.

    And when we fall short – and we will fall short – there’s a condemning voice that tells and temps us to give up. That voice is NOT God.

So many of us don’t give ourselves and each other the grace God gives us. Give yourself grace. And remind others of it too.      

What happens when you renew your mind? When you’re continually renewing your mind?

Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

You’ll be able to see clearly, walk carefully, and discern what’s just (righteous) and pure. Think on these things.

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