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Archive for February, 2011

Guarding Your Heart

February 28th, 2011

Above all else, guard your heart,
   for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 23:7

 

Perhaps the most common mistake the average Christian makes is overestimating his ability to throw off worldly influences that he places before his senses, and that eventually seep into his thinking. Really, if we are honest, these impure thoughts are already in our hearts – “We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us” (James 1:14) – and we will either feed the thoughts of God or the thoughts of the flesh, of the world, and of the evil one. Feeding the thoughts of God means daily coming to Him in prayer and devotion, daily reading and meditating on His Word, contemplating the writings of Christian authors, confessing sins, receiving the filling of the Spirit.

 

I have lately come to know a few Christians who disagree with this, who decry the thoughts of having daily devotionals as mere legalism, insisting that they are free from those types of rules. But consider the daily influences of the world that we let into our minds – some of which we have little choice, such as the foul language of co-workers or the advertisements of the world that often cross the barrier of a Christian’s conscience. We need to counteract this daily, and not encourage it, by shutting out of our minds those impure thoughts we can control, and letting in, locking in, the thoughts of God. The problem is more often the simple combination of lust and pride: our lusts that want to see and think about what we should not, and our blinding pride that says we can get away with it without an effect on our souls.

 

This principle is impossible to ignore and remain growing in our devotion, pure in our thoughts, and fruitful in our service. James Allen wrote in his essay, “As a Man Thinketh.”[1]

 

Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,

And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes

The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,

Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: —

He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:

Environment is but his looking-glass.

 

We think “in secret,” imagining that these are private affairs, and to the degree that prying into someone’s private life is inappropriate, that is true, but thoughts that take root in our minds do not remain only in our minds – they “come to pass,” that is, we act them out. Someway our thoughts, especially our secret thoughts, will determine our actions. Then, if we would have productive lives, if we would walk in joy, in peace, and in love, we should focus our thoughts, especially our secret thoughts, on God.

 

Jesus said,

 

Your eyes are the lamp for your body. When your eyes are good, you have all the light you need. But when your eyes are bad, everything is dark. So be sure that your light isn’t darkness. If you have light, and nothing is dark, then light will be everywhere, as when a lamp shines brightly on you.

Luke 11:34-36

 

We cannot walk down a path without fixing our eyes on the path. If our eyes dart back and forth, if we look up in the sky, or around behind us, or far off the path, we will in variably stumble. We need the light of the truth of God to illuminate our path, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet…” (Psalm 119:105).

 

Guard your thoughts. Treasure your mind as the great asset it is. Lock out impurities. Lock in the truth.

 

We live in this world, but we don’t act like its people or fight our battles with the weapons of this world. Instead, we use God’s power that can destroy fortresses. We destroy arguments and every bit of pride that keeps anyone from knowing God. We capture people’s thoughts and make them obey Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

 

Prayer:

 

Lord, destroy our pride and take our thoughts captive. Create in our hearts a hunger and a thirst for Your truth. Guard our thoughts this day and this night. Amen.



[1] James Allen, As a Man Thinketh, http://jamesallen.wwwhubs.com/think.htm

Evening Devotionals , ,

Nourishment First

February 26th, 2011

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:1-3

 

The Lord knows how weak we are, that we are prone to doubts and stumbling. We need to be strengthened within before we are ready to tread the heights.

 

This truth is beautifully taught in the Shepherd’s Psalm. We lie down and feed, we are renewed inwardly with the “washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26), we are encouraged during times of refreshment (Acts 3:19) by His Spirit. Only then does He lead us along the paths of service.

 

It is a fundamental mistake to forget this truth: we are only able to stand for Him rightly when we have first been nourished by Him inwardly. In order to speak the truth in love, as Ephesians 4:15 says we are to do, we need to be filled with His Spirit. Otherwise we may speak the truth, but do it harshly, or we will use kind words but avoid the truth of God that our listener needs to hear.

 

To see that in Christ we lack nothing, is both a blessing and a challenge. It is a blessing to understand our own spiritual powerlessness and to accept that His supply is available to us. But it also challenges us to open ourselves up to His Spirit, to seek to be dependent on Him, to accept the truth of what He said that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Or, as Peter wrote,

 

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

2 Peter 1:3-4

 

Do you feel weak today? That is the first thing we must realize, how weak we are! For only when that fact is grasped are we ready to seek His strength. Paul wrote, “For I know that good does not dwell within me, that is in my sinful nature” (Rom. 7:18), before he wrote, “For the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).

 

The Good Shepherd strengthens His sheep for the journey ahead, and just like a sheep we need His nourishment daily, and even many times throughout the day.

 

Prayer:

 

Lord, we are weak but You are strong. Strengthen us with your power. Refresh us inwardly with Your word and Your Spirit. Give us good Christian friends along the way. And lead us to do Your will. Amen.

 

 

Evening Devotionals , ,