Encouragement in the Journey #3

03/20/2020 - By Pastor Todd Nathan

One of the biggest challenges at a time like this when people are practicing social distancing or are on self-imposed quarantines is the ability to preserve your mind. It's more than just thinking "happy thoughts" each day. According to Proverbs 4:23, your mind is what fuels your life. Mind and heart in the Old Testament are interchangeable. So if you are not safeguarding your mind, you may face increased depression, anxiety, apathy, hopelessness, anger, bitterness or despair. It's not easy when your routine has changed to stay anchored in your mind. It's even tougher when you have more downtime than you are used to. Or more family time with no ability to find a quiet place, rest and refresh yourself. Or you may even be missing work and are longing to feel productive again - like you are doing something worthwhile with your life - and earning money! Do you want to keep your mind (and heart) healthy? Consider Solomon's wise counsel in Proverbs 4:23-27 (New Living Translation) and the specific action steps you need to take each day to "guard your heart with ALL VIGILANCE! It's going to take work and effort on your part but it's worth it.

"23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. 24 Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. 25 Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. 26 Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. 27 Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil."

For those of you who prefer the ESV
"23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. 24 Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. 25 Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. 26 Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. 27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil."

The Apostle Paul says it a little differently in Philippians 4:8. He makes it clear that if you want to be free form anxiousness, fear and anything else that is invading and infecting your mind, you need to train yourself to think the right way. Consider closely what you should be thinking about:"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!"

Here are some simple definitions:

true - being in accordance with fact
honorable - worthy, venerable, holy, above reproach
just - being in accordance with high standards of morally correct behavior, upright, fair
pure - pure, holy, set apart, separate and distinct
lovely - causing pleasure or delight, pleasing, agreeable, amiable
commendable - praiseworthy, of good repute; admirable
excellent - uncommon character worthy of praise, excellence of character, exceptional civic virtue
worthy of praise - a thing worthy of praise

Another way to look at Philippians 4:8 is by thinking about it in the negative. What will your life look like if you are thinking on what is false, not worthy or venerable (disgusting and vile thoughts), unjust (allowing your mind to judge harshly or in a self gratifying way), impure, unlovely, not praiseworthy (if someone new your thoughts, they wouldn't commend you for them!), not excellent (thoughts that show your character is not right!), or thoughts that don't lead you to praising God. What do you think will flow out of your life by thinking this way?

We often talk at EFCB about small steps. What is one small step you must take today to more vigilantly guard your mind? What will you do to anchor your mind to what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise? Downtime is a reality for many of us and even social distancing. It may be an ongoing reality for a long time. Regardless of how long our current situation lasts, we still need to be vigilant in guarding our minds, BECAUSE from your minds (hearts) flows the well spring of your life!

One way to strengthen and anchor your mind is by worshipping the Lord and remembering who He is! Click here for songs to lift you up:

Be encouraged. Stand firm in your faith together. Embrace your circumstances as a unique opportunity to share the gospel of hope. Keep an eternal perspective. Live for Christ daily. God is good!

Click here to listen to songs of encouragement:

With great love and concern for you all, and with the hope of the gospel that sustains and encourages us,
Pastor Todd (Psalm 46:10)