8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. — Phil. 4:8 NLT
If we follow Paul’s advice, we will pray and be thankful for all things that God has done for us. We must continually guard our thoughts and the desires of our hearts. We need to focus on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, excellent and worthy of praise. Then we will become God-conscious. Witnessing for Jesus will be a natural outflow of this kind of thinking. Our actions will be Christ-centered and people will know that we have something they don’t have. If we let our guard down, satan will rush in and have us thinking about the pleasures of the flesh. Then, satan will keep telling us about all the things we don’t have. After listening to that for a short while, we become sin-conscious. In that state of mind, we are of little use to God, ourselves or anyone else. Fight the good fight and stay focused on Jesus. Then we will enjoy God’s peace, joy will overflow and it will be completely natural for us to praise Him for His goodness.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
— Matthew 6;21 NLT
A lot of people spend most of their lives making money. It is true that we need to work to take care of ourselves and our families. But when making money becomes our obsession and our goal, we need to step back and take a long, hard look at our lifestyles. When we spend too much of our time making money that we don’t need for our livelihood, perhaps we are laying up treasures in the wrong place. It might be time to spend more time with our families and with God. Since God has blessed you with money and most likely a good family, shouldn’t you stop to give Him thanks every day? Remember that everything belongs to God. He allows it to rain on the just and the unjust alike. He can also stop the rain if He so desires. You could be a millionaire today and a pauper tomorrow. So, don’t spend all of your time laying up treasures that will fade away, spend some time laying up treasures in heaven and those treasures will last forever. As you practice this, you will find that the desires of your heart change from an earthly, material, temporary focus to a heavenly, eternal one.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ — Col. 2:8 NLT
Col. 2:4-10 NLT
With so much information available today, it is almost impossible to get through a day without hearing a lot of high-sounding nonsense. As I go about running my errands each day, I see billboards, listen to talk radio and watch the opinion shows on TV, I am amazed at the amount of nonsense that is sent out everyday. I sometimes wonder if the producers of these things think everyone in this country is of low intelligence. Empty philosophies and words abound everywhere. How does one keep him/herself from being overly influenced by this worldly chatter?
Those of us that have accepted Jesus Christ must understand that there is a spiritual battle being waged 24/7. It is just as real as any military operation and it has consequences that last for an eternity. The mind is the battlefield and that is where we win or lose each battle. We must keep our spiritual eyes and ears focused on Jesus. We must put on the full armor of God each morning before we hear the first human voice speak. God is the Commander of the Heavenly armies and we are a part of that army. Before you leave home each day, check in with the Commander and see where He needs you to be today. He is looking for warriors to stand in the gap for families, neighbors, and our country. Christ is the ruler and authority over the whole universe. Be committed to Jesus and be so convinced that nothing can change your mind. If we suffer with Him here, we will reign with Him there. Show the world Jesus by helping and loving those around you today.
8 Stop being angry! Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm. — Psalm 37:8 NLT
Considering all that is going on in this country and around the world, this is a very timely message. Every day we see the wasteful results of those that choose to express their anger with violence and illegal acts. God gave us our emotions and one of those is anger. There is an anger that comes from righteous indignation when we see the evil being done to others in our cities across the world. But that anger must be controlled and pointed in the right direction. Our response must be to hate the sin and love the sinner. Unless we are expressing our feelings about sin and evil actions, we should never use the word “hate”. Jesus has set the standard. We are not allowed to pick what we will love or hate, He has already shown us the right way. We are all guilty of allowing our anger to control us at times, so we need to learn to pray before we react to any situation.
We must pray for those that have been deceived into thinking that violence is a solution to their issues. Each of us needs to set aside a few minutes of each day to pray about this issue and for praying especially for the cities that we call home.
1 O Lord, I give my life to you. — Psalm 25:1 NLT
Psalm 25:1-7 NLT
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to abide within our hearts and minds. God has sent Him to be our guide and our teacher. If we are sincere about our repentance and listen to His teachings, we will soon discover that Jesus wants to be not only our Savior, but also our Lord. If we are going to allow Jesus to be Lord of our lives, there will have to be some changes made. We are becoming new creatures and that requires tearing down the old. We have new hearts inhabited by a new master. He also wants to renew our minds. Jesus, better than anyone, understands that the true battlefield is the mind. It is where our thoughts and ideas originate. We have to learn to control our thoughts and imaginations and bring them all into the obedience of Christ Jesus. Once our thought patterns change, our words and actions will change and our words and actions will let those around know which God we serve.
2 Cor. 10:3-6 NIV
16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. — Malachi 3:16 NLT
“and the Lord listened to what they said.”
It is both comforting and frightening to understand that God hears every word we say and knows every thought that we think. It is frightening to think that the King of Kings hears some of the things we say to each other. Our unkind remarks and thoughts that we have surely displease Him. They are a sin in His eyes. We must pray that we never get to the point that our consciences are seared over and we are not convicted of our foolish remarks. We must learn to fear God in the correct way. The fear that we should have of God is a feeling of respect and reverence that is so deep that it causes us to be in complete awe of Him. It is comforting to know He hears when we pray and knows our thoughts when we just think a prayer. Think a prayer? Yes, we have those times when we don’t verbally pray but, instantly, a thought that serves as a prayer crosses our minds. It is also comforting to note that God records the names of those who revere Him and always meditate on His name. It is also comforting that He says nothing about recording our sins, just our names. Thank God for His mercy that He does not give us the punishment we have earned, instead He gives us grace, a gift that we do not deserve.
12 And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” 13 When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear. — Hebrews 8:12, 13 NLT
In yesterday’s passage, we read about erecting landmarks and altars to remind us of the goodness of God. We were reminded of how He provides for us and watches over us so that we might proceed safely on our journey. He has established a new covenant with us beginning with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Instead of an earthly high priest, Jesus is our high Priest. He has made each us members of the royal priesthood. We can now speak directly to God Himself. He is the complete, final sacrifice so that it is no longer necessary for us to carry out the rituals required in the Old Testament. Along with that new covenant, He has written His laws in our hearts and in our minds. He has chosen to forget our sins against Him The Holy Spirit testifies that this is true. ( Hebrews 10:14-18). Just as God forgives and forgets our sins, we are to forgive others. To do that, we are going to have to go back through the memories of our lives and tear down some mental landmarks. All those memories that birng back the times we have felt or actually been mistreated are going to have to be dealt with and released into God’s captivity. As humans, we may not be able to forget entriely, but if we follow the instructions given us in 2 Cor. 10:3-5 to bring every thought captive and teach them to obey Christ, then we will find that it is completely possible to make those bad times in our lives insignificant. If not insignificant, then, at least, no longer worthy of mentioning. Otherwise, they become the roots that produce fruits of bitterness. Give those thoughts to God and allow Him to tear down the landmarks before they become strongholds that keep our relationship with God from growing into maturity.
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. — Hebrews 4:12,13 NIV
Since God knows our every thought we need to be very careful of the thought patterns that we allow to develop. Of course, thoughts drift into our mind and that is beyond our control to a point. But we do have control over whether or not we dwell on those thoughts. In Corinthians, we are instructed to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”. We can also take some control of our thought patterns by making better decisions about the things we read, the things we see, the conversations that we have and the people we associate with daily. We must be careful that our pride doesn’t lead us into believing that we are influencing others more than they are influencing us. The things and the people that we spend the most time with are the ones that influence us the most. Pride says “I would never” but we all have at some time or other done or said those things that we are not proud of later. Those things that we did and the words that we spoke are results of thought patterns that we have developed over the years. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us purify our hearts and minds. We can help by studying God’s Word and making it a bigger part of our daily thought patterns.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you. — Psalm 119:11
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. — Psalm 51:10 NIV
23 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Phil. 4:7 NIV
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. — Proverbs 4:23 NIV