Today’s fortune cookie declared, “In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true.” Isn’t this what we are witnessing in the world around us? We all decide what is true for us, and if something is not yet reality, our belief that it is true results in it becoming true. Our thoughts are powerful which is why God is clear on where we should focus (see Philippians 4:8).
In Proverbs 23, we read, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” This is why it is so important for us to be right with our thinking. It is easy to listen to other people and miss the truth. We have an overabundance of self-proclaimed experts in our midst. We also live in a time period with an oversaturation of data, some of it true and some not true at all. Plus, in this age of social media, we have all found ourselves playing the game of comparing lives which has only reinforced and grown our personal insecurities.
John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” This verse reminds us that when we are seeking truth, we should look to God for truth. When you want to know who you truly are, see what God says about you. When you want to know what is true, ask Him. He will open your eyes to what is true. Today, may you fix your eyes on what is true.
“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” – Proverbs 23:7a [NASB]
A few months ago, I started to take more interest in the foods my family was eating. I began considering what convenience took away from my family. Instant potatoes rather than fresh potatoes. Processed foods rather than fresh foods. I decided I needed to make a better effort. I tried better to stay on the outside of the grocery store. I have noticed improvements since the changes were made with the grocery shopping and diet adjustments. I have also enjoyed the natural, fresh foods more so than the processed foods.
Why am I sharing all of this? Well, after a nice discussion with my children, on the importance of putting good things in our bodies—foods that are healthy for us, good for us—that it is the same when it comes to other things we allow to enter our bodies. Good things should be seen through our eyes. Good things should be heard through our ears. We should surround ourselves by good things. Because what good goes in, then allows good to come out. When we eat this purer food, we get in return better health, better energy, etc. When we allow better words, better images, better things to enter our spiritual lives, it allows better to pour out to others.
The Bible tells us where to place our focus. God’s Word shows us the good things to give our attention. When we focus on these things, when we drown ourselves in the godly things, when we keep ourselves away from the darkness that will drown out the light, we will see fruit in our lives. We will be rewarded by these good things. We will be blessed by these good things. We will bless others by these good things. These good things will allow us to continue to grow more like Christ Jesus. Today, ask yourself—where is your focus? Is it on the good things?
“Finally, brothers, 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.” – Philippians 4:8 [ESV]
Oh everyone makes mistakes. Oh, yes they do; Your sister and your brother and your dad and mother too; Big people, small people, matter of fact, all people! Everyone makes mistakes, so why can’t you?
I used to sing that Sesame Street “Everyone Makes Mistakes” song as a child. It was the first song I learned. When I sing that song (and I still do today), I cannot help but consider Romans 3:23, as this song is definitely a song about us all falling short of the glory of God. No matter where we live, who we are, how young or old, etc., we all fall short. We all are sinners. And we often make mistakes.
Some mistakes can easily be forgiven. Some mistakes cut a little deeper. But no matter what the case, a mistake is a disruption of the glory of God for He cannot look at sin for He is holy. Thankfully God made a way to bridge the gap caused by sin. Jesus Christ died on the Cross and rose again so that we could have new life through Him.
We will continue to make mistakes, but it is important to not focus on those mistakes. Instead, focus on your God. He is an awesome God. Where sin abounds, His grace abounds more. Though hate and judgment can cause discomfort, His love wins. Where there is only weakness, we see His strength on display. Our mistakes show our brokenness, but the blood of Christ washes us white as snow. Today, let us not focus on the sins and transgressions that have broken us—instead, fix your eyes upon your God. Follow His will. Focus on His purpose.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” – Proverbs 4:25 [NIV]
He is your life
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. [MSG]
- Christ Raised (v. 1) – Raised along with Christ, raised to life with Christ
- Christ Ruled (v. 1) – Christ rules at God’s right side
- Christ Focused (v. 1-2) – Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth]
- Set your heart on what is in heaven – Seek the things above
- Think – phroneó – Direct your mind to, seek for, observe, care for
- Christ Hidden (v. 3) – You died, your life is hidden with Christ
- You died – apothnéskó – dying off (separation / away from)
- Life – both physical & spiritual (present & future)
- Hidden – kruptó – concealed, secret, hidden
- Christ Glory (v. 4) – Christ gives meaning to your life, and when he appears, you will also appear with him in glory. Glory (doxa– “dox’-ah”) – praise, honor, glory, high renown, splendor
Bible Study Questions:
Seek the things that are above (v. 1) and set your minds on things that are above (v. 2)
These things make the subject of CAREFUL REFLECTION
Think on these things – Give them weight in your decision. Allow them to shape you.
1) In Philippians 4:8, Paul wrote, “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” (NLT).
This is to be our FOCUS. This is part of seeking and setting your mind. What do these words mean? How does the world derail us from focusing on these things?
HONORABLE / HONEST / NOBLE / WORTHY OF REVERENCE
RIGHT / JUST
PURE / AUTHENTIC
LOVELY / ACCEPTABLE / LOVABLE
ADMIRABLE / GOOD REPORT / KIND AND GRACIOUS
EXCELLENCE / VIRTUE / VIRTUOUS
WORTHY OF PRAISE / PRAISEWORTHY
2) What can we do to follow Proverbs 4:23 command to “watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life”?
This is one part of a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on Colossians. The 12 weeks include:
My dog Max has some issues with other dogs due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is fine when dogs enter our home. He is fine when he goes to someone’s house and they have a dog. The issue is when we are walking. As a result, I am mindful of when we walk and where we walk because I do not want Max to get fearful and agitated.
It does not matter how prepared I am, nor how many alternative routes I can travel. At times, it does not matter and something will happen that is out of my control. This morning was one of those moments. A lady was driving down the road above the speed limit. She quickly veered over to the wrong side of the road, parking illegally right in front of us. She was holding a small dog and had the window wide open with the dog hanging out and actively barking. Right before Max was his biggest fear. He started to react. He was all frazzled.
There is no guarantee that you will have smooth travels throughout your day. There could be an interruption. Something could happen that would pull you off course. You may have spent time in preparation but you are knocked off of your feet. What then? Stop. Breathe. Remind yourself of the promises of God. Remember you are not alone (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). He is with you (Psalm 46:1). It may feel like everything is caving in, but in fact, God is preparing the way using all of the good and bad in your life to position you for something great. You were made for great things (John 14:12). You were made to give God glory (Isaiah 43:7). Change your focus and move forward (Philippians 4:8-9). You were made for so much more!
The woman at the well appeared surprised to be approached by Jesus as she was a Samaritan and Jews did not have relations with Samaritans. As the longest documented conversation Jesus had with anyone continued, Jesus tore down barriers as she focused on division.
For Jesus to approach her was unseen of at this time, not only because she was a Samaritan. He was a rabbi and a rabbi would not speak to a woman in public. He was sinless and she was a sinner. Barriers and more barriers. As the conversation continued, the barriers can be seen again and again. She was focused on physical human limitations. She was focused on her physical needs, on what would make her life easier. When Jesus mentioned her living arrangements, rather than address the sin she switched the subject. She again put up a barrier. She addressed religion when Jesus addresses relationship.
Each of us have a choice to have a relationship with Jesus Christ or to focus on something or someone else. We can put up barriers again and again. Jesus still reaches across the barriers and invites us to do life with Him. Today evaluate your life and look for any barriers you might have that keep you from your walk with Jesus. Are you drowning in sin? Are you following God’s will? These items are barriers to your relationship with Jesus. Are you spending time each day in the Word? Do you pray daily? Do you listen to the Holy Spirit? Are you serving? Are you actively involved with a church? These items are bridges that bring you closer to Him. You can build up barriers or build up bridges. Choose life.
“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach–if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” – Colossians 1:19-23 [NASB]
In life we spend a lot of time in the here and now. We see things from a temporal scope rather than an eternal scope. God has a different time scheme than us. We consider our lives here on earth as our lives. Even when we say we have accepted Jesus and will have eternal life, we again and again take ourselves back to considering time as the time we spend on earth.
As we make plans for our lives, as we look at our lives, we see what time we have here on earth. It’s great to plan. It’s great to consider our steps. But we always must have an eternal focus as well. Our life here on earth is such a short blimp of our eternal life. It’s nothing compared to eternity.
Now Jesus said we aren’t to “waste… energy striving for perishable food… [but] work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides.” So how do you do that? You read His Word. You pray for direction from the Spirit. He will provide you with nourishment, spiritual nourishment that will help you to grow in Him and the nourishment will last forever. You might think its okay to snack here and there, but the truth is the food that matters is the food that sticks with you. May you seek His food and may you see things from His eternal perspective. Life is so different when you see things through Him.
“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”
-John 6:27 [MSG]
I was walking Max the other morning. He is quite the rabbit chaser. The second he notices a rabbit, he wants to go hunt it down. However this morning was different. The rabbit stood still. The rabbit never had to run for cover. There was a big dog in the yard ahead that caught Max’s attention. He became fearful and that fear caused him to focus on the fear and miss out on his “fun.”
Fear can cause us to not take chances. Fear can cause us to act differently. Fear can cause us to cower down. Fear can cause us to second guess ourselves. Fear can cause us to not reach our full potential. Fear can cause us to miss opportunities.
For many years of my life, I was very fearful. I let fear rule different areas of my life and it caused me to be enslaved by fear. It also caused me to miss out on a lot of opportunities. God has a lot for you. Yes, YOU! There’s work to be done. There’s doors to be taken. There’s a need to stand firm. There’s a reason to speak up. Do not let fear rule you. Remember what God promises. Remember Who your God is and remember He is a big God, a faithful God, and that you have no reason to fear.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10 [ESV]
It is so easy to get caught up in a routine. Even with our relationship with God, we can get into a routine. In time we might even start to consider the fulfillment of this weekly routine as what matters. Well I attended the elder meeting and I made it to the prayer meeting. Well I tithe every Sunday. Well I made it to choir practice and I even have the solo. Well I have perfect attendance for this quarter. Well I have done my daily devotion each day this week.
Your relationship with Christ is not about meetings and checking off a list. Your relationship with Christ is not about works. Your relationship with Christ is not about offerings and sacrifices alone. We should want “a love that lasts.” Hosea 6 says, “I want you to KNOW GOD.” To know God.
God wants you to know Him and to show love. Yes we should aim to read our Bible daily, to attend church, to tithe, and to serve the Lord however He leads. There are works; however, there is something else that is more important. Relationship. Knowing God. Loving God. Never take your focus off of those things. When this is your focus, everything else comes with it. When you are focused on the meetings, on the offerings, then it becomes less about God and more about something else.
“I’m after a love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know GOD, not go to more prayer meetings.” – Hosea 6:6 [MSG]
“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6 [NLT]