Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nuggets of Wisdom

Here are a few gems that I've run across recently. All of these come from a book I just finished reading and highly recommend: A Jewel in His Crown: Rediscovering Your Value as a Woman of Excellence by Priscilla Shirer.

  • "Often we worship and praise the creation and forget about the Creator. In fact, that’s exactly what we do when we consider others’ opinions more important than God’s. We know we are idolizing others when we concentrate on them more than we concentrate on God."
  • "Satan’s goal is to get us to forget that God made us the way we are for a reason. He knows that if we get focused enough on our weaknesses, we’ll never get around to using our strengths for the kingdom of God. He knows that if we are smothered in self-pity, we’ll never get up and proclaim the praises of God. He knows that if we are always envying others, we will never learn to love them with Christ’s love."
  • "Sometimes the Lord has to shake us up a bit to move us off a collision course with disaster. He is the control tower, and He is the only One who has a full view of our lives. There may be something that you were desperate to do, be, or have that He did not allow for you. The sudden bump that He used to shake up your life may have been very uncomfortable for you, but I’m sure you would prefer a minor disruption to a major crash."
  • "If we are afraid to wait on God to give us the best, then we don’t really believe that He’ll do what He says He will do."
  • "Never settle for less than your Father’s best for you. And here’s another important reminder: Don’t be surprised if He gives you His best gift wrapped in a package you weren’t expecting."

I don't know about you, but the world (and the Enemy) has a way of beating me down. I compare myself to others. I don't have the same gifts, talents, abilities, looks, relationships, ______ (fill in the blank)...

I really appreciate how God used Priscilla to write this book and show me and other women that we are extremely valuable in the sight of God, exactly as He made us. And, in light of that, we should never settle for second best when God has The Best in mind for us. Settling for second best means we don't believe we deserve The Best. God has a different opinion about us and the only way to know that is to be in the Word, chowing down on The Truth.

For the record, this is not a book review. 
I purchased this book for my personal reading 
and have not been compensated to write this piece.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Not the Ghostbusters, I hope! 

Actually, today's post is about Self-Reliance vs. God-Reliance.

Who do you call on...
     When times are tough?
     When you need help?
     When you're lonely?
     When you're afraid?
     When you simply do not understand what's going on?

Or do you...
     Suck it up?
     Pull up your bootstraps and do it yourself?
     Veg out in front of the television with a pint of ice cream?
     Act out and tell people off?
     Over analyze the situation and come up with a plan?

Imagine yourself stranded in the desert. There's nothing for miles around and your car is broken down. There's no traffic on the road. You've been sitting there waiting for a few hours as the heat bears down on you. That bottle of water you brought along is empty. Suddenly a car appears just over the horizon and gets closer and closer. The driver stops and asks if you need help. You wave them away and say, "I got myself into this mess. I'll figure a way out. Thanks, anyway." What???? Why in the world would you wave away someone who is willing and available to provide help? Oh, that's right: Self-Reliance.

Our society expects us to be self-reliant. Don't get me wrong, self-reliance isn't all bad. Really. I mean, if you know how to fix a toilet yourself and don't have to pay a plumber, self-reliance is very good! But, there are times when self-reliance instead of God-reliance is not good.

In 1 Samuel 27:1 we see David on the run from Saul. David is giving up hope that Saul will ever stop chasing him. In fact, he's pretty sure he won't live through this experience.

But David thought to himself, “One of these days 
I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. 
The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. 
Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere
in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.”

Notice that David "thought to himself." That was his first mistake. He was tired of running and he didn't bother consulting God. He listened to his own counsel then David made an alliance with Achish, a Philistine King. This was not part of God's plan. Yes, David was feeling the pressure of his circumstances, he felt disappointment because he had been anointed King and was not given the throne, and I'm certain he was frustrated. (He had two wives, his men, and their families traveling with him. Don't you just know somebody must have asked Are we there yet?) On top of all that, David had no home and was constantly on the run. That would be difficult for anyone. But, David decided to take matters into his own hands. Sounds reasonable to us. But it wasn't what God had planned. You'll have to read the rest of the story on your own.

Self-reliance provides no rest and no peace. God-reliance provides rest and peace, even in the midst of trying circumstances.

Does God allow us to be self-reliant? Yes. He allows us to make choices in our free will. God would much rather we always rely on Him. But, He is always close by to assure that His plans for our lives move forward. God is able to untangle the nets we step in and smooth over some of the rough patches we make for ourselves. Wouldn't it just be easier to rely on God first, though? Who you gonna call?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
~  Proverbs 3:5-6

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Suffering and Surrendering

Would it surprise you to know that I don't write on this blog for pure pleasure or to make myself look good? (If you think I've got it "all together," think again.) And would it surprise you to know that I have to go back and reread my own posts in order to remind myself of what God already taught me a few weeks ago, but I've since forgotten?

I believe this is one of the many reasons the Lord led me to start this blog. He is teaching me so much through this time of suffering (yes, suffering) and testing that I need this permanent record for myself and to share with others who may need comfort. I've hesitated to put this label of suffering on my situation until now because I tend to identify that word with really horrible diseases, death, torture, and the like. But God has shown me that suffering comes in many forms.

I've had one of those weeks in which God has revealed some things to me that have really stretched my faith. He's asked me to back off--step out of the way--so He can handle things His way. It's time to surrender control and stop picking it up again. See, I have this fatal flaw: a sin nature. In my flesh, I think I know better what I need or how things should be done or when they should be done. [Thankfully this flaw doesn't have to be fatal since Christ took my sin on Himself. How incredible that He was willing to die for my impatience and pride (and all the other stuff) and that God is willing to forgive me too. If that kind of love doesn't melt your heart, you'd better check your temperature.]

God reminded me several times today of principles He's taught me already but I needed a refresher course. One of these reminders came through a godly man who is living in extreme circumstances as a pastor in the country of Nigeria. His life, and that of his family and fellow Christians, is in danger daily. If anyone knows about suffering, it's him. My suffering cannot even begin to compare with his, yet I was still able to identify with him. Suicide bombers and political strife are major concerns for him, but I really picked up on another area of suffering that he mentioned. He and his wife adopted a child 22 years ago. Without going into details (because I don't know them all), this now-adult child has no real life, is bed-ridden, and cannot communicate. She has special medical needs and is taken care of at home. It's the kind of situation that makes a person ask, "Why? What purpose does God have for someone like this and the suffering it causes the care-givers?" Only God knows that purpose. "Why 22 years? Doctors did not expect her to live this long? What more can God teach them through this?" Only God knows that purpose. They have to trust that God knows what He is doing.

His message today was taken from 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. The title of his sermon: Figuring Out the Mystery of Suffering. The problem is there are no answers to why we suffer, just more questions. The word comfort is used many, many times in this passage. One of the reasons for suffering is so that we can comfort others and identify with their trouble. Suffering also reminds us of our helplessness and complete dependence on God--and not trusting ourselves. Suffering is good for my welfare because it teaches me things that can only be learned in this place. God's timing is different than ours and we cannot influence His timing with tears, begging, or pleading.

This was a one-two punch day for me. If the first lesson on suffering wasn't enough for one day, God made sure I heard another lesson which came from Dr. Charles Stanley. He said that God has several purposes for our suffering and some of these reasons mirror the ones listed above: Total reliance on God and being a comfort to others. He also pointed out that how we live out this suffering is a demonstration to others how faithful God is to one of His children. Our suffering also gives us a deeper understanding of who God is and His ways. Suffering also keeps us from becoming prideful. Sometimes God takes things or people out of our life which may cause us to stumble but All Things work for His good (Romans 8:28).

In the end I realized...
  • That I need to keep a Divine Perspective on everything. What doesn't make sense to me, is quite logical from God's perspective.
  • Suffering may be painful, but God has a purpose for it and my obedience in the midst of suffering will reap blessings. Blessings through obedience bring eternal rewards (growing faith, contentment, improved relationship with Christ, Peace, Joy).
  • Suffering comes in many forms and so do blessings. 
  • I need to be thankful in ALL circumstances and I need to always keep looking up, with my eyes fixed on Christ, and not the circumstances. 
 What have you learned about suffering? 
Click on the POST A COMMENT link below and share the comfort.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. 
When they are troubled, we will be able to give them 
the same comfort God has given us. 
For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us
 with his comfort through Christ.  
Even when we are weighed down with troubles, 
it is for your comfort and salvation! 
For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. 
Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 
We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, 
you will also share in the comfort God gives us. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Friday, June 22, 2012

Doubts to the Extreme

I recently wrote a post on this topic of doubt. I realized I had enough material to write much more as the Bible seems to be filled with passages about doubt. I am in good company when it comes to this particular emotion. Can you identify?

It's so easy to look at a situation which seems hopeless and project our human limitations onto them. But God does not have these limitations. We try to fix or handle things ourselves--usually without lasting success. We abandon a project or mission that God gave us because we doubt our effectiveness. Or we may even dismiss an opportunity simply because we doubt our own abilities. Remember Moses who was called by God to go speak to Pharaoh? Moses doubted his own ability to speak publicly.

Here are a few Scriptures about doubt:

When doubts filled my mind,  
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. 
~Psalm 94:19

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him (Peter). 
“You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 
~Matthew 14:31

Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith
and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. 
You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up 
and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. ~Matthew 21:21

“Why are you frightened?” he asked.  
“Why are your hearts filled with doubt? ~Luke 24:38  

I've been reading in Psalm 78 which was written by Asaph who teaches his people by using examples from their own history. One of the examples he used is the Israelites wandering in the desert after fleeing Egypt. Over and over again the Lord provided for their needs and rescued them with mighty miracles. Even so, the Israelites rebelled against God and doubted He would be there for them. Actually, this was doubt taken to the extreme. (The following passage of Scripture is long, but I just couldn't leave anything out, so hang in there.)

Yet they kept on sinning against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
They stubbornly tested God in their hearts, demanding the foods they craved.   
They even spoke against God himself, saying, “God can’t give us food in the wilderness.
Yes, he can strike a rock so water gushes out, 

but he can’t give his people bread and meat.”
When the Lord heard them, he was furious.  

The fire of his wrath burned against Jacob.
    Yes, his anger rose against Israel, 
 for they did not believe God or trust him to care for them. 
 But he commanded the skies to open; he opened the doors of heaven.
He rained down manna for them to eat; he gave them bread from heaven.
They ate the food of angels! God gave them all they could hold.
He released the east wind in the heavens and 

guided the south wind by his mighty power.
He rained down meat as thick as dust—birds as plentiful as the sand on the seashore!
He caused the birds to fall within their camp and all around their tents.
The people ate their fill. He gave them what they craved.
But before they satisfied their craving, while the meat was yet in their mouths,
the anger of God rose against them, and he killed their strongest men.
    He struck down the finest of Israel’s young men.
But in spite of this, the people kept sinning.
    Despite his wonders, they refused to trust him.
So he ended their lives in failure, their years in terror.
~Psalm 78:17-33

This is not a feel-good passage to read. This was a reminder of the path down which doubt can take me. What starts out as a little nugget of doubt in my mind or my heart could easily turn into rebellion. I might doubt that God is doing anything because I can't see any evidence. It would be so much easier to just do it my way and manipulate the situation.

Doubt is actually a stronghold along with worry, fear, unforgiveness, low self-esteem, pride, cynicism, and the list could go on. I like what Priscilla Shirer says about strongholds in her book, Discerning the Voice of God. "These run counter to God's Truth and manifest themselves in our actions. This is an area where the Enemy loves to work! These strongholds are like cancers in our soul." They can lead to physical addictions, unhealthy relationships, and other problems. But God's Truth (the Word) can demolish strongholds.

Not all doubts are bad. But, if doubts are keeping us from fulfilling God's purpose for our lives or we're not trusting God because of it, then we need to counter them with a healthy dose of Scripture. There's a quote from Jesus Calling that I've adopted in recent months...

Listen more to Me, and less to your doubts.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Call Me Thomas

You remember the disciple Thomas, right? He's the one who will be forever known as "Doubting Thomas." I'm guessing that he probably regretted those doubts and would cringe at the thought that his name is forever associated with doubt.

After Jesus' resurrection, the other disciples came running back to where they were all staying and excitedly proclaimed that they had seen the risen Lord. Thomas (he must be the pragmatic one) said he would not believe such a thing unless he could actually see the imprint of the nails in His hands or actually put his hand into Jesus' side. That was more than doubt he was expressing. He simply did not believe. In today's vernacular he might have said, You all are nuts. You're just overcome with grief and now you're seeing things. That might have been a fair assessment in a normal situation. But this was not a normal situation.

Eight days later Jesus actually appeared to His disciples to give them some final words. Thomas was there. Jesus knew about Thomas' doubts. In an act of kindness, Jesus offers Thomas the opportunity to put his hands into His side or to touch the nail-scarred hands.

Eight days later the disciples were together again, 
and this time Thomas was with them. 
The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, 
Jesus was standing among them.  
“Peace be with you,” he said.  Then he said to Thomas, 
“Put your finger here, and look at my hands. 
Put your hand into the wound in my side. 
Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
~John 20: 26-28

Jesus encourages Thomas to believe. Jesus knew Thomas very well and what it would take to convince him. Notice that the Scripture does not say that Thomas actually touched Jesus. Apparently just the sight of Jesus and perhaps the sound of His voice was enough to convince him of the truth. Thomas doubted no more.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. 
Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” 
~John 20: 29

Jesus doesn't berate Thomas for his doubts. He was very patient with Thomas and gave him some visual aid. John and Peter were the disciples who believed without seeing and Jesus said they were blessed because of that faith.

It's so easy to look at Thomas and dismiss him with a "tsk, tsk." Or, as they say in the south, "Bless His Heart."  But really, if you were in that situation, wouldn't you be skeptical?

Some events in my life during recent months have caused me to doubt--a lot. I doubted my thoughts. I doubted God. I doubted others. I doubted my feelings. If it could be doubted, I probably did it. I didn't really believe God had been directing my path and that's why everything was messed up. I must have gotten my signals crossed. Maybe I'd done something wrong? What happened, Lord?

Scripture helped but I still harbored doubts. I'm a visual learner. Show me how to do something, don't just tell me. The Lord knows this about me. In his kindness and mercy, He began to give me visual cues to show me He was listening, that He cared greatly, and that I had not "messed up." Everything was under His control and all part of His plan. Now each time the doubts begin to creep back into my thinking, God gives me a visual cue. In fact, it's the same cue every single time. It's a simple reminder of God's faithfulness and tender mercy. Although I cannot touch His nail-scarred hand, God gives me something very unique to see which reminds me of Him. Sometimes it brings a tear to my eye and other times it makes me giggle. (No, I'm not telling what it is.)

Yes, I would be more blessed if I could believe without seeing. But God created me this way and He takes that into account. Maybe one day I'll be a Peter or John and believe without seeing. But for now...

Call me Thomas. 

I'm still blessed.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

We Love Makeovers

Face it. Women love makeovers. Oh, I've watched my share of What Not to Wear episodes. We love to watch these shows and read the magazines which transports individuals with an outdated wardrobe into supermodel territory. Then there's the ever-popular brand new 'do for the woman who's been wearing the Farrah Fawcett look since she graduated high school. It may have been a good look at one time, but...

It's Time For a Change

Makeovers have a way of giving us ordinary gals hope that we can change.

It breathes new life into our confidence.

It also gets us noticed by others.

There's another kind of makeover that doesn't get as much attention or fanfare. It's not featured on the cover of fashion magazines or have entire television shows dedicated to it. It's the inner makeover.

Our Creator desires to do a makeover, transforming us from the inside-out into His image. Doesn't sound very glamorous, does it? Alright. Maybe it's not. But, if we aspire to be more like Christ, it's a very necessary makeover. We know all the dark secrets inside of ourselves, the ones that we like to keep hidden away from others. It's time to let Christ shine his Light in those dark corners. His Light will reveal tiny little dust bunnies that you didn't realize were hiding inside or the big ones that you thought He didn't notice. It's time to sweep those away. The process can be fun, amazing, energizing, and sometimes painful. Rearranging is never easy. But, the payoff is incredible.

This inner makeover has a way of...

giving us ordinary gals New Hope that we can change.

breathing New Life into us, giving us a new confidence.

getting us noticed by others when they see God's Light radiating through us.

Romans 12:2  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 

2 Corinthians 3:18  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 

2 Corinthians 5:17  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 

Galatians 6:15b  What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.

All the outer beauty in the world cannot compare to the beauty God can give us on the inside. 

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. 
~ Philippians 4:8

Have you asked God to give you a makeover?


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

We're Not Skaaaid...

"We're not skaaaid (scared), I'm gonna let my light shine."

That was the line from a song the children sang at church recently. The line was sung with a cute accent--the reason for the odd spelling. The premise behind the song is that we need not be scared or fearful when we have Jesus shining through us.

I was listening to Kay Arthur teach on this very topic a few days ago.

Jesus Calms the Storm (Mark 4: 35-41)

35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
The disciples had their focus on the storm instead of Jesus. They really had no need to fear because Jesus was in the boat with them; they would not perish as long as He was with them. However, Jesus did not get mad at the disciples for asking for help. He simply focused His power and attention to the storm, telling it to Silence and Be Still. This is also translated in some versions as Hush or Peace. Jesus was calming the storm.

When we're in the midst of a storm, Kay says we need to stop and hear the voice of Jesus over and above the storm. Storms in our lives may be actual storms, trials, or they may also be doubts, fears, discontent, temptations, etc.

Jesus asks the disciples two questions after he calms the storm. So, in the midst of our storms we should ask ourselves...
  1. Why am I afraid? (Jesus is here with me)
  2. Do I still have no faith? (I can trust in him at ALL TIMES. See Psalm 62) I should go back and remember the times Jesus has brought me through other storms. Storms have a way of stretching our faith.
I love the following quote from Kay:

In any given situation you can either 
fear the situation or 
you can fear God, 
who is over the situation. 

Remember, fear of God means reverence and trust. God is in control and he has the power to calm the storm.

One of my favorite songs lately is called The Same God by Newsong. A line from that song says,

The same God who led you in will lead you out.  
So take all the fear and doubt, go on and lay them down.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Waiting Game

Have you ever played the "waiting game?" Probably a silly question since we spend our entire lives waiting. When we're children, we wait for our birthdays, Christmas, summer vacation. We pestered our parents with that age-old question, "Are we there yet?"

Then as adults we wait for that first job offer, we wait in grocery lines, we wait at the traffic light. I could go on and on. It seems we spend our whole life waiting on something or someone. We get impatient waiting for that light to turn green or for the microwave to ding. I can't imagine a life without a microwave, yet I did live in a time without a microwave and I managed just fine. It seems our society has groomed us to expect everything to happen quickly.

God doesn't work the way the world does. He took seven days to create the world. That seems pretty quick to me since it takes the government two years to finish a short interstate construction project. Nevertheless, God could have created the entire world in an instant if He wanted to. Perhaps there is something to be learned from that? Time means nothing to God. He sees time in a completely different way than we do. We see it in our clocks and calendars. But He knows that we have that limitation to understand time. Maybe that's why God paced himself by creating the earth in the span of seven days. Perhaps He was giving us an example.

When I first started this blog, I wrote an article about God's Timing. Waiting on God can be difficult. I wrote another article about the Circumstances of Life in which I briefly touched on this topic of waiting. I've come to learn that waiting is a trust issue where God is concerned. My life is currently in a "holding pattern" as I wait on God to give direction in certain areas of my life. But, I continue with life in the present and the plans that are close to His heart.

Someone recently pointed out that you can have Head Trust or Heart Trust in God. Head Trust is impatient, will manipulate circumstances and run ahead of God. Heart Trust is more relaxed. It's like that trust-fall game where someone stands behind you, promising to catch you as you blindly fall backward into his arms. That is Heart Trust. I don't know about you, but that kind of trust does not come easy. But God promises to ALWAYS be there ready to catch me. I have to be willing to let Him catch me.

A Psalm that has been close to my heart for the past ten years is in Psalm 62:1-2.

My soul waits in silence for God only; 
From Him is my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.

I heard a sermon almost ten years ago by Charles Stanley on this passage. He described the first half of verse one as follows:

Waits = stillness; silently; quiet trust; But it's also active as we wait expectantly.

Silently = quietly, still, not murmuring or complaining or questioning God constantly

For God only = my eyes are on God, waiting for HIM to act, not waiting for someone else to do something.

Sometimes the reasons God is letting us wait may be because...

...we are not ready (God is still working on us).

...if our desire involves others, they aren't ready and God still has to change their mind.

...God is waiting for our focus to be on Him and not on that "thing" we desire.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

For laughs...

For a change of pace, I thought I'd share something that makes me laugh. Enjoy...

Having lost weight over the past few years, a lady was discarding things from her wardrobe that no longer fit. 

Her seven-year-old niece was watching as she held up a huge pair of slacks. 

"Wow," the lady said, "I must have worn these when I was 225." 

Her niece looked puzzled, then asked, "How old are you now?"

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Fellow Blogger Shares Her Story: Confronted for Immodesty

This story from another blogger is so important for women to remember. I applaud this woman for being open to sharing her story and receptive to the confrontation. (To read the story, click on the title above.)

Monday, June 4, 2012

You Are Beautiful

I recently shared a simple post on Facebook from Proverbs 31 Ministries. The message was very simple but really touched me. I was amazed by the response from other women by this post. Young, old, or in-between, it's obviously something we need to hear...often.

The message was simply a passage from the Bible...

You Are Altogether
My Darling 
in Every Way. 
Song of Songs 4:7

Accompanying this verse was a simple message...

You. Yes, you.

There were over 300 shares of this post in a matter of two hours! Imagine how many Facebook users didn't share but just "liked" the post. We're talking about thousands of people touched by this thought in just a few hours.

Women are obviously hungry for this message. How wonderful to know that even when we (I) don't hear these words, our Heavenly Father looks down at us (me) and thinks this very thought about us (me). Just let that thought soak in. Then blow a kiss to God. The feeling of love is overwhelming.

Here's a great song to go along with this topic.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

What? Don't Worry???

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. 
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. 
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 
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. ~ Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT)

I recently listened to Kay Arthur teaching on these verses. She had so many great points that I wrote down some of the highlights to share here. The mind is such a battlefield. That's where the Enemy is always trying to work on me with doubts, worry, second-guessing my actions, feelings of self-worth, etc. Can you identify? My mother has always said that, "Worry is a rocking chair that doesn't get you anywhere."

We are to be anxious for nothing (verse 6). The version above interprets this as worry but we're probably more familiar with this being translated as anxious. This is an imperative. That means I am commanded to not worry or not be anxious. Ack! So each time I worry, I must stop it! Easier said than done, right? Kay points out that Paul tells us how we can stop being anxious if we just continue reading this passage. There are three steps we should follow, in order:
  1. Prayer. When we feel that anxiety or worry coming on we should begin with a general prayer which focuses on God and who He is. Reflect on His sovereignty and His love.
  2. Supplication. This means that we pray a specific request--tell Him what we need.
  3. Thanksgiving. Stop and recognize that we have Jesus during this moment, this trial. No matter what's going on, we still have Jesus right by our side and we can be thankful for that.
Once we do these three things, then peace will guard our hearts and minds.

And, because our minds are such a battlefield, we should focus on things that are:
  • true
  • honorable
  • right
  • pure
  • lovely
  • admirable
  • excellent
  • worthy of praise
So, if things come into our minds that do not fit any of these categories, we need to throw it away. The Enemy is waging warfare in our minds. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh" (2 Cor. 10:3).

What we think on is what we will be. Ponder that statement a moment. If we fix our minds on anger, untruth, and bitterness, then we will take on those qualities. I believe I'll choose the true, honorable, and excellent list.