Here is a place where I stumble: my thoughts can lead me to anxious, sad, angry, lonesome, bitter, discouraged places. Sometimes my feelings are like a runaway train. It feels like I can’t help it. But I can.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, (1) whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (2) What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil 4:4-9, number added by me).
What a simple recipe for peace of mind: (1) Turn your thoughts to Truth and (2) live your life like you believe it. This is Hearing and Doing the Word. This is not our choice for us to make, it is our responsibility.
We are responsible for the content of our thoughts
and for the actions that follow.
Wow, that is a powerful fact. So often we are told that we can’t help it. Our language reinforces this in the way we talk about our anger: He makes me so mad. I am so angry. We can find people to blame or situations that trip us up…but what has happened to us has not made us; God made us.
Distracted ways of thinking are more common now than ever. We are busy. Our minds are frantic. We have lost the sense of control over our thoughts and we are told so often that we are not responsible, that we can’t help it. There are medicines to help us to control our thoughts, there are doctors…but the problems will go unresolved if we do not also choose the better way, God’s way.
Each moment we are bombarded with thoughts. We can entertain them, or reject them and replace them with another thought. I find that when I begin exercising discipline over my thoughts it is very hard at first, but then it gets easier. It is a matter of seeing those thoughts and feelings as powerful, but within my control:
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor 10:13).
For me, choosing peace, choosing God’s way is dependent upon the Spirit (as we discussed yesterday) and the Word. God’s Word is powerful and we are ill-equipped to master our thoughts and our feelings without it:
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12-13).
I guess this last part is what catches my eye: we will give an account for the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. That is an awesome consideration.
But there is that simple truth: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).
Here is the way out that God has provided for us: prayer and thanksgiving. When I start to thank the Lord for all I see in His Word, what He has done, Who He is in my life…I do find peace.
Replacing bad thoughts and feelings with the Truth of God’s Word, is just a habit, but it means freedom:
“We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ” (2 Cor 10:3-5).
Taking control of my thoughts instead of being distracted, discouraged or destroyed by them…that is #ASimplerJoy that I need to pursue daily. How about you?
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