God’s Counsel for Monday morning

As I thought and prayed at the start of this new week,  the Spirit impressed me with the importance of choosing the direction of my thoughts.

Do you know that you can direct your thoughts?  We cannot let our minds meander down the pathways where the World, the Flesh, or the Devil invite us to go. If we let the troubles of the world that we live in set the tone of our thoughts, we will most likely become anxious or angry given the chaotic situations of life. If we listen to the whining of the sinful nature that begs for indulgence, we will become slaves to the appetites of our bodies. If we listen to the whispers of demons, we will be doubtful, insecure, and without hope!  

What’s the option?  Tune into the Spirit of the Living God! 
The Psalm advises us to “Exult in his holy name; O worshipers of the Lord, rejoice! Search for the Lord and for his strength, and keep on searching.” (Psalm 105:3-4, NLT)  Right now, pray a sentence prayer with me:  “Lord, I thank You for the gifts You have prepared for me today. Amen.”

I closed the sermon at church yesterday with a familiar passage. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9, NIV)

First,  determine where you will go to find joy.  “Rejoice IN THE LORD always.”
Will you look for it in success, in a meal of fine food, or in fantasies of another place?  The Word tells us to celebrate our relationship with the Lord!  Remind yourself, “I am God’s kid! He’s a good God.”  Look up, past the problems, beyond the disappointment, higher – and sing a song that extols the wonder of our God.

Second, tame that urge to take control.  “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” 

Another version tells us to be “moderate.”  God’s tells us we should seek to be equitable, fair-minded, not quick to judge others. Conventional wisdom is that we need to ‘kick butts, power up, and make things happen’ when faced with challenges.  My natural response to life’s challenges is too often one that only increases stress when I attempt to force solutions on others or press them to act as I think best.  When I am not gentle, Jerry replaces Jesus and results are never for His glory. 

This is not an appeal to indifference. But, what a difference it makes for us and others if we are gentle like Jesus, if we start a hard conversation with “Tell me about …” rather than “You better do this now!”

Third, let prayer shape your thoughts.  “By prayer present your requests to God.”  

Make your concerns His concern, He cares for YOU. He will give wisdom, He will guide. Best of all, He promises that if we will pray He will  steady our minds and hearts with a gift of peace that guards us from the fear that will rob us of rest.

Fourth, choose to think the best, not the worst“Whatever pure, lovely, admirable, excellent praiseworthy  – think about such things.”

So of that difficult person at work, you can declare him a fool in your thoughts and create an adversary, or you can think of him as person in need of help and pray God’s grace in his life. Which creates the better outcome?  That hard reality that is part of your life right now can be something you whine about to anyone who will listen or you can go to God and ask Him for strength to carry the weight. Which choice will leave you in a better place by this evening?

God’s Spirit reminds us that we have a choice.  We can exercise faith and expect better things, see the best, and seek out the excellent.  Does this mean we cannot be honest in our evaluations? Not at all.  Are we forbidden from speaking truthfully about gaps and flaws? No.   Even then, we can destroy or build. We can help or hinder. We can encourage shared success.

Set the tone for a better life this Monday morning.  “Rejoice in the Lord.”  Sin and evil oppose the good of God, all the time.  Sickness comes. Heartbreak is inevitable. Friends fail us. Businesses take the hit of down economies. Temptation will roar from the shadows of your mind. Satan will prowl on the perimeter, looking for an opening to attack.  But, through Christ Jesus, we are ‘more than conquerors.’

Here is that passage again, this time from The Message, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible.

“Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (Philippians 4:4-9, The Message)

Come on, Christian, let’s do it, for Christ’s sake!

____________

Good God Almighty
(sing along, find joy in this happy praise)

I can’t count the times
I’ve called Your name some broken night
And You showed up and patched me up
Like You do every time
I get amnesia I forget that You keep coming around
Yeah ain’t no way You’ll ever let me down

Good God Almighty
I hope You’ll find me
Praising Your Name no matter what comes
‘Cause I know where I’d be
Without Your mercy
So I keep praising Your name at the top of my lungs

Tell me is He good (He’s good)
Tell me is He God (He’s God)
He is Good God Almighty

You say Your love goes on forever
That Your mercy never stops
So why would I assume
You’d be somebody that You’re not
Like sun in the morning
I know You’re gonna be there every day
So what on earth could make me be afraid

Praise Him in the morning
Praise Him in the noon time
Praise Him when the sun goes down
Love Him in the morning
Love Him in the noon time
Love Him when the sun goes down

Jesus in the morning
Jesus in the noon time
Jesus when the sun goes down
Jesus in the morning
Jesus in the noon time
Jesus when the sun goes down

Ben Glover | David Crowder | Jeff Sojka
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