May 3rd

Heart and Mind Protection

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  8Finally, brothers, 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. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 NIV 

We live in a world where our hearts and minds are constantly being tested by the corrupting influences of sin.  Our internal sinful nature has been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20), yet the lure of the world’s delicacies relentlessly tries to revive our “old self.”  Since it’s so easy to go back down the familiar road of sin, many people allow their old self to revive and they subsequently fall back into sin slavery. 

Paul gives us some practical ways to protect our hearts and minds from being corrupted:

·        Rejoice in the Lord at all times

·        Be gentle to all people

·        Present all of your requests to God in prayer and petition with thanksgiving

·        Think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy

·        Put God’s commands into practice 

Rejoicing in the Lord is sometimes challenging to do, especially when the cares of life weigh heavily on us and things don’t seem to be going our way.  It requires us to rely on our faith in God’s goodness and the eternal perspective of our identity as sons of God.  From eternity’s perspective, our current struggles are like a flicker of a candle flame. 

Being gentle with all people can be a monumental task, especially when unloving people cross our path every day.  Sometimes people go out of their way to offend us.  We can consider each situation we get into as an opportunity to show God’s love.   

Anxiousness is a great enemy of our peace of mind.  There are virtually unlimited things we can be anxious about in our lives.  If we fail to restrain anxiousness, it can do things like rob us of sleep and damage our health.  Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  (Matthew 6:25-26 NIV)  The secret of defeating anxiousness is to believe that God cares for us and will provide for us what we need.  We exercise that faith by submitting our requests to God in prayer, with an attitude of thanksgiving.  When we do so, God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds. 

By training our minds to think on good things, we remove the opportunities for dwelling on sinful imaginations.  What we feed our eyes and minds with can have a powerful influence on our ability to keep our thoughts pure.  For example, if we’re watching a soap opera or a crime show every day, our thoughts are more likely to reflect the worldly values portrayed in the shows than Godly values.  A daily quiet time is a simple way to counteract any negative input we’re exposed to each day.  If we can have our quiet time and weed out the negative input we have control over,  we’ll be much better set for success in purity.  (See train the mind) 

Questions for further thought:

  • What kind of physical hardships did Paul experience that challenged his peace of mind and heart? (2 Corinthians 11:23-30) 

  • Why is it important to practice what God has commanded us? 

  • How does thinking about something influence what we do? (Matthew 12:35) 

  • How does anxiousness weaken our faith?

Prayer:

“Lord Jesus, thank you for the practicality of your word.  Thank you for specific instructions that I can put to practice and perfect my walk in purity.  I put off the sinful deeds of the past. Please cleanse me from them with your blood.  Please help me rediscover the joy of your salvation.  Help me to show your love to every person that comes across my path today.   I will not be anxious about anything, but will submit my requests to you in prayer and petition, with thanksgiving. I have your mind, Jesus and I take control of my thoughts today.  Thank you for loving me and providing for me!.  I put my trust in you anew today.  In your name I pray, Amen.”