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]
“Let the sun shine on your soul.”
I thought today’s fortune cookie was strange. “Let the sun shine on your soul,” is what I read, and I continued to contemplate it later in the day. What does it even mean to have the sun shine on your soul? I picture some weird fantasy super-hero movie with sun rays pouring into the chest of the main character, providing special powers or increased energy.
As I consider the sun, I am reminded of the life-giving qualities of the sun. We need the sun. Sunshine is beneficial and necessary for life. The quote is simply telling readers to let what is beneficial to your soul be permitted. In Isaiah 44, we read about parched fields and a bad thirst. Yet we also read of something beneficial being provided for salvation. Water will be provided to quench thirst. The parched fields will be irrigated. God promises to pour out His Spirit—His life-giving Spirit.
When I read these words, “Let the sun shine on your soul,” I am reminded also of the positive things that we should allow into our lives. The Bible tells us to watch our heart. The Bible tells us to watch our focus. Along with allowing the Spirit of God to have His way with you, will come the teaching and conviction and encouragement needed to be selective to what we allow in, what we let seep inside. We know what is inside will eventually come out. We also know that though the Spirit of God has the strength to resurrect Jesus from the grave, He will not force Himself upon us. We ultimately must surrender, respond, and move in step with Him. This is all a part of letting the sun shine on your soul. Today, get some of that sun shine and enjoy!
“For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children.” – Isaiah 44:3 [NLT]
10-22-17 Down the Road: A Living Sacrifice
God loves you! – NOTHING CAN SEPARATE YOU FROM HIS LOVE (Romans 8:31-39)
Believe in Jesus & be Saved (Romans 10:9-13)
Romans 12:1– And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. [NLT] WE ARE ALL MADE TO WORSHIP – ARE YOU A LIVING SACRIFICE?
Hebrews 12:1-2– Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. LOOK AT JESUS, NOT AT YOUR SITUATION OR PROBLEM
Put on your God glasses – look at people like God sees – made in His image
Romans 12:2– Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [ESV]
Romans 12:3– Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves.
Matthew 16:23– But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” [ESV]
Philippians 4:8– 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. [NLT]
Colossians 3:17– And whatever you do, whether in WORD or DEED, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. [NIV]
Romans 12:12- Rejoicein hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. [ESV]
1 Peter 4:11– If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.
Romans 12:9 – Don’t pretend to love people. Love with genuine affection. Honor each other(bestow value upon a person). Hate evil. Hold on to what is good.
Romans 13:14 – But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. [NASB]
Colossians 3:12-14– Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [ESV]
Romans 12:11– Don’t be lazy in showing your devotion. Use your energy to serve the Lord. [GW]
Romans 12:13– Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. [NIV]
Romans 12:16 –Live in harmony with each other.Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! [NLT]
Romans 12:17 –Never pay back evil with more evil.
STAY ON THE ROAD – ENDURE TO THE END – KEEP THE FAITH
Hebrews 11:39-40– These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something betterfor us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. [NIV]
Hebrews 10:36– You need enduranceso that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised. [GW]YOU WON’T ALWAYS SEE THE FRUIT RIGHT NOW!
2 Timothy 4:7– I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. [NLT]
One of the biggest spiders I have seen this warm season made a nice home at the arborvitaes. Every day I would see this huge web constructed and the large spider just sitting there. I tried to keep my distance. He hung around for days. Eventually, we didn’t see him anymore. I thought we were safe. Little did we know, the spider found a way into my sister’s car. While she was driving to work one morning, the spider decided to interrupt her drive. She shared with me this great excitement. I’ve been there; it’s not fun.
The evils of this world like to hang around, lurking around just as this spider. We often think we are safe because we keep our distance. But just like the avoidance of the spider lurking about, so there can be trouble if you don’t address the nearby evils. When there are temptations lurking, when our friends or family are knee deep in sin, or when we start to even allow sin to take residence in our homes—this keeps the door wide open for the devil to do his work. The devil doesn’t sneak through the front door with a bright neon sign announcing his coming. He sneaks through the cracks. He enters when you least expect it. Remember, he is clever.
We are not always going to be prepared for an attack. We are human—we have our good days and our not-so-good days. To be best prepared, consistency in our walk with Christ is very important. Put on the armor of God (see Ephesians 6), and remember that this is a daily need. Continue to surround yourself with that which will keep your eyes on Jesus (see Philippians 4:8). Immerse yourself in God’s Word. Spend time with godly friends. Remember, the Spirit of God will help see you through to victory.
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4 [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]
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!
Believers, children of God, are considered “God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted” (1 Peter 2:9 MSG). Today, the big questions we should ask ourselves: Are you speaking out for Him? Is your life telling others of a difference He has made by your example? Are you praising God with your words and deeds?
The word excellencies is translated from “ἀρετάς” which literally means “virtue.” The only other time it is used in the New Testament is in Philippians 4:8: “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 same word is used in Isaiah 43:21, where we read: “the people I formed for Myself that they may proclaim my praise” (NIV). The New Living Translation states, “I have made Israel for Myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.” Eugene Peterson’s translation describes them as “people custom-made to praise me” (MSG).
If we are to “tell about the excellent qualities of God,” it is not simply by the words we speak, but by the actions we take in life (GW). We show forth praises by our profession of Truth and by a good example. Let us examine the words we speak. Let us examine the actions we take. Are we telling people about the “excellent qualities of God” or telling them something very different? Are we professing the Truth or spewing something else?
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” – 1 Peter 2:9 [ESV]