Where Our Minds Are

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.

~ Philippians 4:8

The old adage goes something like this: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” The thoughts of our mind ultimately become the destiny of our life. The thoughts we entertain, like the charts on a ship, set our lives on a particular course. And this course charted for us by our thoughts can be for better or worse depending on what thoughts we allow ourselves to cultivate and take root in our mind.

In our text today, the Apostle Paul exhorts the Christians at Philippi to constrain their thoughts, to discipline their minds, to focus, to think or meditate on such things that please the Lord and conform their thinking to such lofty ideals that bring about His honor and glory. He tells these believers, whatever is true, whatever is lovely or of good report, whatsoever has virtue or is praiseworthy, that it is in these things; it is here where our heart and mind should lie.

The inward topics our mind should dwell on should tend towards outward holiness and righteousness in our life, not away from it. The characteristics of truth, love and virtue are of a godly sort. These are the attributes of thought and attitudes of heart those who follow Christ should seek to develop because they will move us ultimately closer to Him.

Two of the most beneficial ways to train our minds to dwell on such noble things are Scripture reading and prayer. Through these two means of grace, our minds, which are by nature opposed to such thoughts, will, by God’s grace, slowly yet surely bend towards His goodness and glory. But like in our passage, Christians must be reminded of our duty in this regard.

So, are you actively seeking to conform your thoughts to such characteristics as Paul describes here in Philippians? Do you find your mind wandering into areas of unrighteousness which may lead to sinful patterns of life? Do you make diligent use of Scripture and prayer to help keep you on course towards holy and pure living? May we seek God’s help to do so.

~ apl

In Simplicity & Honesty

Let us try in all simplicity and honesty to go out to our homes to translate the language of high faith and heavenly enthusiasm into the plain prose of daily conduct, so that all men can understand it.

~ Andrew Murray (1828-1917)

Jesus

Dwelling in unapproachable light,
the Daystar who scatters all of the night.
Our Alpha, Omega; No beginning, no end,
Oh Righteous King, the sinner's best Friend.
 
Ransom, Refiner, Refuge and Rock,
Great Shepherd You are, to Thee must we flock.
Promised before, as Abraham's Seed,
Fulfilled in Thy Word, You satisfy our need.
 
Fountain of Love and Chief Cornerstone,
Sacrificial Lamb cries out death's groan.
Prophet, Redeemer, Son Most High,
Let us flee to Thee Savior, lest we all die. 

~apl

The Prayers of St. Paul – Pt. 3

Continue earnestly in prayer…

~ Colossians 4:2a (NKJV)

Maybe the most important lesson we receive from the Apostle Paul regarding prayer is the importance of a persistent prayer life. Many of the difficulties and trials that surround cultivating a wholesome life of prayer are quickly dissolved if we will but come to the Lord in an earnest, faithful and consistent manner. If practice ever made perfect, continuing earnestly in prayer, seeking the face of God continually, may best fit that old adage.

One of the trademarks of early Christians was their tenacious prayer life. We read, for example, in Acts 1:41 about the first disciples, how they “all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer“. Likewise, in Acts 2:42, the Church is described “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers“. And then later Paul would exhort the Thessalonians, “pray without ceasing“. These are but a few inspired examples of the significance placed on an on-going life filled with regular prayers.

The words the Apostle uses in Colossians 4:2 that we translate “continue earnestly” literally mean “to be devoted or constant…to give unremitting care to a thing…to persevere and not to faint“. So we can see the importance, not only of occasional prayers, but of a resolute, determined and unrelenting life never ceasing with prayer. I feel it is safe to say most believers do not have this kind of vibrant prayer life. Most of us struggle to even know what to pray for, more or less how to strive continually in prayer. My sincere hope is this brief devotion on the Apostle’s attitude towards prayer will help us to grow closer to God and continue earnestly in prayer.

~ apl

Safe Beneath The Cross

Come with me, poor soul, and you and I will stand together while the tempest gathers, for we are not afraid. How sharp that lightning flash! But yet we tremble not. How terrible that peal of thunder! And yet we are not alarmed, and why? Is there anything in us why we should escape? No, but we are standing beneath the cross – that precious cross, which like some noble lightning-conductor in the storm, takes itself all the death from the lightning, and all the fury from the tempest. We are safe. Loud mayest thou roar, O thundering law, and terribly mayest thou flash, O avenging justice! We can look up with calm delight to all the tumult of the elements, for we are safe beneath the cross.

~ Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

The Prayers of St. Paul – Pt. 2

Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me

~ Romans 15:30 (NKJV)

In this verse, taken from Romans 15, there are really two precepts on prayer that might be culled away. But for the purpose of this brief essay, I would like to only consider one with any real depth. The first principle is believers ought to strive together in prayer. The collective voice of Christ’s church is a powerful weapon against His enemies and a wonderful sound in the ear of God. Here, the Apostle Paul touches on this seeking other Christians to join him in prayer.

This leads me into the main point I hope we can take from this passage: The Apostle Paul strives in prayer for himself. Notice how he asks others to unite “with me in prayer to God for me” (emphasis mine). St. Paul knew the necessity of a prayer life which included supplication for himself. If you look at the verses which follow, you will read some of the specific items of concern both Paul and the others are praying about on his behalf. Paul prays on his own behalf to God “that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe” and “that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints” (vs.31). Likewise, he asks, “that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you” (vs.32). Paul prayed for himself so he might faithfully labor in the service of God and be spiritually strengthened to serve others.

The mighty apostle knew lifting up his own spiritual needs before the Lord was essential to fruitful and meaningful service in the name of Jesus Christ. It is never self-centered to pray for ourselves. And to the first point, neither is it to ask others to strive together with us in prayer. Yet, confessing our own sins and admitting our own needs before the Lord ourselves, is a vital step in walking with God, growing in grace, and being a true blessing to our fellow man.

~ apl