January 28, 2005
Encouragement for Today
Avoiding the Pits of Life (part one)
Mary Southerland, Director of Networking, Author, Speaker and Columnist
"Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. Don't use your mouth to tell lies; don't ever say things that are not true. Keep your eyes focused on what is right, and look straight ahead to what is good. Be careful what you do, and always do what is right. Don't turn off the road of goodness; keep away from evil paths." Proverbs 4:23-27 (NCV)
Life is filled with pits that come in all shapes and sizes, formed in many different ways by a variety of life circumstances. While a crisis or trial may very well be the covering of a pit in waiting, pits can also be shelter from a raging storm. In the past, my first reaction to a threatening pit was usually fear, anger, whining or questioning the very presence of that pit. But I must confess that it was at the bottom of the deepest, darkest pit of my life where I met Holy God on His terms and was forever changed, my being totally redefined. Honestly, I would climb back down into that slimy, dark pit today because of what God accomplished through it. Some pits should not be avoided but embraced as evidence of God at work.
However, pits can also be the result of sin - a sin we refuse to relinquish, a wrong habit we cherish and love more than we love God. We should and can avoid these pits by making right choices.
First choice: Guard your thoughts.
"Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life." Proverbs 23:7 (NCV)
Our thoughts dictate the direction of our lives. The greatest battlefield of life is the mind and we are constantly at war for its control! If we want to live right, we must think right because how we think affects how we live. Since everything we do or say originates with a single thought, minds filled with truth will produce lives filled with truth.
If our mind is not filled with truth, the enemy will pollute it with lies. John warns us that Satan is the King of Lies and the Prince of Pollution! "He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44 NIV) But what a great promise we find in Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!" (NLT) "Fixed" literally means "loyal or faithful" and portrays the idea of faithfulness, the same kind of faithfulness found in marriage. In order to guard our thoughts, we must make the commitment of being married to the truth of God. The result and reward of faithfulness to the truth of God is the peace every mind craves and for which our desperate heart longs.
Polluted minds produce polluted lives. What we allow to dwell in our minds will work its way out in our lives. However, pollution of the mind can only happen with our permission. The best way to prevent mind pollution is to run each thought through God's purification system. The word of God, our main weapon in mental warfare, reprograms the brain, trains the mind and filters input. We must set our minds and then guard that setting. It is the idea of placing a century at the entrance of the mind, empowering him to determine what comes in and what doesn't. It is giving up the control of our thinking processes to God.
We are quick to give the custody of our minds away to lesser things, to unworthy goals or desires and thoughts. If it is going on in the mind, it is real and often the first step toward the edge of a very dangerous cliff.
The story is told of an eagle perched on a block of ice just above Niagara Falls. The swift current carried the ice and the great eagle closer to the edge of the falls. Ignoring the warning cries of other birds and animals, the eagle boasted, "I have great and powerful wings. I can fly from my perch at any time. I can handle it." Suddenly the edge of the falls was only a few feet away. The torrent of water carried the block of ice over the great falls. The eagle spread his powerful wings to mount up over the impending doom only to discover that it was too late. His claws had become frozen to the cake of ice.
Life is filled with casualties of undisciplined thinking. Satan stands in the shadows, laughing at the fallen children of God whose ravaged lives stand as monuments to the powerful kingdom of darkness. In our arrogance, we foolishly believe we can handle a dangerous, mental flirtation with the base and immoral poison of foul movies, filthy books, depraved web sites or vain imaginings. Satan applauds the absence of accountability in our lives. He celebrates the flow of our thoughts toward the very sin nature that nailed Jesus Christ to the cross.
We need to wake up! We rationalize the sin that once broke our hearts. Our words are laced with bitterness, our spirits critical. While we are busy questioning God about the lack of power in our lives, precious relationships entrusted to us are lost and eternal souls unredeemed. The stakes are high and time is short. Surrender your mind to God, my friend, asking Him to cleanse and purify every part. Then guard each thought as if your life depended on it. It does.
My prayer for today:
Father, right now, I surrender my mind to you. Please purify and cleanse my thought life. Give me a thirst for your truth and a broken heart when I sin against you in the way I think. I choose today to saturate my mind with the truth of your Word. Amen.
Today's devotion is taken from Mary's book, Coming Out of the Dark
For one week, keep track of how many hours you watch television, go to movies, read or surf the web. Rate the quality of what you put before your eyes by the standard of Philippians 4:8-9. Choose one of these areas and begin submitting it to the holiness of God. When you have victory in that area, move on to the next one. After one month, evaluate your progress.
Would I be embarrassed or pleased to have my thought life on display for everyone in my life to see? What changes should I make? Up until now, what has been the standard for outside sources affecting my thought life? Will that standard please God? Am I really willing to surrender my mind to God?
"For as he thinks within himself, so he is." Proverbs 23:7 (NASB)
"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." Philippians 4:8 (NIVB)
"He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. James 1: 8 (NIV)
Coming Out of the Dark by Mary Southerland
Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
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