Philippians 4:8-9 (MSG)
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
What a week! No really this has been a doozy! After a long day that began before the sun came up, work frustration, endless piles of files, people problems, rushing home, pumping gas (arghh), grocery store stop, in the door to make dinner, doing some housework, walking the dog (highlight btw), hurrying home to finish some final tasks, plopping down in front of the computer to arrange for the pine straw delivery and recharge the Fitbit (imagine that), it happened. My daughter texted me a simple “I love you” all the way from New Hampshire and I began sobbing. Stupid. I know. The breaking point usually has nothing to do with the seemingly insurmountable pressure we are under or the most grave of situations, it comes in the moment that we stop to take a breath like a violent punch to the gut. Once the first tear fell, it was like a waterfall held back for years. I silently sat there trying to figure out where all of this was coming from and why now. I can’t even tie an emotion to what I was feeling in that moment other than complete exhaustion of my mind and body which probably led to sensory overload. Life is hard. It can be a struggle. There is more pressure in this lifetime than we can possibly contain. I will let you in on a little secret – we aren’t supposed to. The load called our life was shifted to Jesus Christ when we decided to ask Him to be our Savior and make Him the Lord of our life. Could it be because we accept Him as Savior but struggle with the Lord thing? We are good about giving God the “majors” in life but He is more than capable and absolutely willing to take care of all the “minors” too!
Am I losing my mind? The thought did cross my mind last night as I observed tears that kept falling and beyond my control. Have I finally jumped off the deep end? No I have just reached the end of myself. It happens. We try to carry the burden and weight of our life rather than allowing the Lord to help us. It begins in our heart and mind. We must learn to fill our mind with the things that God has designed to give us peace. Things that are true, noble reputable, authentic, compelling and gracious. We must assume the best and not the worst. We must look for the beautiful rather than concentrating on the ugly. We must be people of praise rather than constantly cursing our life by calling out what we see rather than what we know. We must learn to practice what we know about the Lord by faith until hope anchors our heart, mind and soul to the truth that God has it under control. I can relax. I can breathe. He is making everything work together for my good just as He promised. (Romans 8:28)
Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
The mind is a very powerful thing. Mind over matter is the motto of this life. The stronger the human the greater than challenge to surrender our mind and thoughts to Jesus Christ and His Way. The Truth is the Word. I need to think about the Word and what it says as I would learn any other subject in life. Over the last few years, I have attended many trainings regarding Title IV funding which administers educational grants such as the Pell Grant. I have gained knowledge. When I don’t know the answer, I go over training notes or hit the enormous FSA manual provided for guidance. I have to think about it. I cannot just read it once and apply it to every student but many times have to review the information to administer these grants properly. Why this same principle not apply to the Word of God in my life? We have to read it, study it, think about it to apply it. The truth is things are not as bad as they may seem for the believer. There is always hope. We not have an escape but a Waymaker who comes to our rescue Jesus asked, “Are you tired? Worn out?” Today I say, “Yes!” He says, “Come to me.” If I want to find peace and rest, I must do what He says. But if I choose to hear this invitation but decline and continue on my way, why would I ever expect anything to change in my life? We do it all the time. We hear the Word. Read it. Then we forget it when life comes calling again. Jesus must be our life. We must change our minds about Christ and His Power in our life in order to live in the freedom that He is offering us today.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I love this part. It is the part where I stop trying to do it all myself and step out of the way to let Jesus fix the things that I clearly am struggling with. I don’t have to get to the point of exhaustion to let go and let God. He invites me to do it right now in this moment. It all depends on what I believe. The presence of stress, worry and fear is the dominance of doubt and disbelief in my heart and mind. These must be eradicated in order for me to experience the peace and fulfillment of God. It is a mind takeover that must begin today.
Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Take your everyday, ordinary life. Yeah, that one. Place it before God as an offering. I know that sometimes we struggle in surrendering our life to the Lord because we are not sure that we want what He wants His Way. If we understood the unforced rhythms of His Grace and capacity of His Unfailing Love, it would not be an issue. The problem is that so many times our time with the Lord is a hobby or past-time rather than way of life. Church is something we do rather than who we are. We operate by multiple doctrines. I have been cussed out by a pastor and blessed in the very next sentence. Until I decide to commit every facet of my life beginning with my thoughts that form my words, attitudes and actions and surrender them to God sacrificially which means unconditionally – my all for His All – I will never experience the complete and total peace that He offers. I will continue to be driven to my limits and over the edge. But if I could just detach from this culture to enter full maturity in Jesus Christ then I would find that thing called satisfaction and the kind of peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) marked by inexpressible joy (I Peter 1:8). I could live fearlessly not driven by emotion, worry, stress or anxiety which are characteristic of fear rather than the faith I have in God alone.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (MSG)
The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
It is time for a takeover. This is not how God wants me to live my life. Just one step ahead of the pack with them nipping on my heels in fear of falling and being trampled to death or worse eaten alive. The world doesn’t fight fair. Life is not fair. As I have told my children so many times, if it were they would have been born with a roll of tickets in their hand. We have to move from placing our expectation in the world to Jesus Christ who is also unfair. His Partiality for His People is renowned. He loves to bless us beyond anything we could think to ask for. He wants to meet our every need and lavish His Unfailing Love on us. We have to take over our mind and regain control of our thoughts. This must be a hostile takeover as our flesh is fighting for control. We are our own worst enemies and the most vicious opponent because after all no one knows us better than ourselves (Proverbs 14:10). We are well aware of every single reason we do not deserve the Love, Mercy and Grace of Jesus Christ. We must inundate our mind with the Word of God that is the truth taking every thought and idea wrapping it tightly in the Truth. This is how we “demolish” the corruption that our culture has fed us since birth. Life is beautiful even with all the broken things. It is worth living for God because we are getting somewhere even when we are not moving at all. God loves you. Yes, you. You are His Favorite and so am I. The Lord is not going to bless the strong like He blesses the broken. Those who are willing to humble themselves and embrace their weakness will be made strong in Him. The battle for our mind is pivotal to our success as a believer. The enemy works day and night to take our mind. He wants to steal, kill and destroy everything that God is doing in it. Will you let Him? Take back your thoughts today and turn them over to the Lord. When the enemy comes in, find your promise and sling it right back in his face. You will not win this war for your life passively you must fight the good fight of faith beginning with taking back your mind. Picture inflated balloons with a promise God has given you written on each one. The balloons are red representing the Blood that guarantees them. When a rebellious, negative or contrary thought surfaces, imagine that you are tying one of those balloons to it and it is carried to the Throne of God. It may seem silly reading it, but when you are battling to keep your peace and joy today – I promise you will think about it!
Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.