THE BATTLE FOR THE MIND

Extended reading: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Devotional reading: verse 16

“All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; . .”

When I was a teenager, I wanted to play the guitar so badly. I remember the fun times at my cousin’s house acting like we were rock stars as we listened to songs on the “8 Track.” My younger readers are probably confused right now! LOL. We had old, abused, and semi-stringless guitars that we used to play our parts.

As I got older, this desire was still present in me. Oh, not to be a rock star anymore, but to be able to play just one instrument, any instrument, so that I could praise the Lord with it. Over the years, I had tried the guitar on several occasions but couldn’t play it. I tried the harmonica, but my lips and my lungs revolted!

Then, one day, my wife asked me about purchasing a cheap ukulele for my nephew, who had expressed some interest in learning how to play it. 

So, we purchased one. As he fumbled around with it trying to hold it in place (they are small) and struggled with forming chords, I took it from him (nicely) and proceeded to give him a few pointers on how to finger the chords.

As I held the ukulele, thoughts flooded my mind of how much I desired to play an instrument to praise my Lord. In my attempt to help him learn some basics, I was astonished to find that I could play it! I could hold it in place, finger some chords, and even strum all at the same time!

I love this instrument. Every time I pick it up and play it, I find much joy and happiness. So, what is the point, Larry? What does all this have to do with our devotion? EVERYTHING!

Every day as Christian’s we face a horrendous spiritual battle in our minds. Thoughts enter our minds that we are appalled at. Our train of thoughts are often vile, perverse, and outright wicked. Somehow, and in some way, we need to gain control over those thoughts and “take them captive to the obedience of Christ.”

This is where the ukulele comes into play, at least for me in my attempt to honor God with my thoughts.

As I got better with the ukulele, I learned how to put chords to the poems that I was writing. These poems then became songs that I was able to memorize quickly. The enemy was now on the run! 

The Lord has not only answered my prayers, enabling me to play an instrument; He also gave me a tool with which I could “transform” my mind to think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and worthy of praise. Rather than those horrendous thoughts plaguing my mind, I now have heavenly, godly thoughts in there. The enemy lost the ground he was holding!

That’s what this bible verse teaches us, at least in part. His word is profitable! These songs that I now write and sing, remove any space in my mind for the enemies thoughts. My mind now obsesses over biblical thoughts that are pure and worthy of His praise. They “train me” over and over again in righteousness, enabling me to overcome the enemy and the battle in my mind so that I can be more fruitful in my walk of faith!

Maybe playing the ukulele is not in your future (perhaps it is), but what can you utilize that will help you get the word of God more ingrained in your mind? 

THY KINGDOM COME

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O Christ my Lord and king,

This is the prayer I bring;

This is the song I sing,

Thy kingdom come.

Help me to work and pray,

Help me to live each day,

That all I do may say,

Thy kingdom come.

Upon my hearts high throne,

Rule thou, and thou alone;

Let me be all thine own;

Thy kingdom come.

Through all the earth abroad,

Wherever man has trod,

Send forth thy word, O God;

Thy kingdom come.

Soon may our king appear,

Haste, bright millennial year;

We live to bring it near;

Thy kingdom come.

By: A.B. Simpson

ON TO THE GOAL

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On to the goal! Press on!

Alone, yet unafraid;

He cut the path who beckons theee’

On then, and undismayed.

On to the goal! Press on!

The eyes that are a flame

Are watching thee, what then are men

What matter praise or blame?

On to the goal! Press on!

Look not behind thee. Now,

When just ahead lies His “well done,”

And crowns await thy brow.

On to the goal! Press on!

Blind, deaf, and sometimes dumb,

Along the uphill, blood marked road,

Hard after Christ, press on!

Author unknown

I’M ON MY WAY

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I’m on my way to glory,
Thank God I’m glory bound;
I hope you’ll be there with me,
Why remain on enemy ground.

I’m on my way to glory,
The best is yet to come;
To be with my loving savior
Who redeemed this sinning one.

I’m on my way to glory,
Christ’s radiance to behold;
And with the angels singing
Not an ounce of praise I’ll withhold.

I’m on my way to glory,
Where the creator of life will be;
And with Him forever enjoy
His grace throughout eternity.

Written by: Larry Stump

GOD’S FAITHFULNESS

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Psalm 71

Devotional verse: “But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise thee yet more and more” (v.14 NASB).

The topic of aging and all that comes with it is a topic that many people seek to avoid. According to a Pew Research Center survey, there is a “sizable gap between the expectations that young and middle-aged adults have about old age and the actual experiences reported by older Americans themselves.” Illness, memory loss, loneliness, and depression are things many aging adults deal with and acknowledge that they are just par for the course! But what about the “unexpected” things life throws at you? What about the trials and tribulations yet to face? Shouldn’t they be diminished or even done away with when we are “old and gray” (v.18)?

In Psalm 71, we find a man engaging the Lord in prayer. He has enemies that speak against him at every opportunity and who are seeking to do him harm. His desire is for the Lord to be his security, his safety, and protection. All else may fail, but not the Lord! As he looked to the future, concerns about getting older and possibly being forsaken by the Lord when physically and mentally weaker discouraged him (vv. 9,18). He reflected on the past and remembered that the Lord had been there for him and delivered him through all his trials. He grows confident that He will again (vv. 5, 20)! 

With his confidence strengthened and his refuge found in the Lord, he resolves to move forward with unwavering hope and praise on his lips! He desires to proclaim the goodness of God to the next generation for as long as he is able (vv. 15,16,18). Perhaps as we reflect on how good the Lord has been to us in our own lives, we too can move forward into old age with confidence and resolve to be a witness for Him while trusting Him with whatever trials come our way. And along the way praising Him yet more and more!

Prayer: Father, as we walk through each day you provide us, grant us a mind to remember your past faithfulness, a heart whose refuge is in you alone, a voice to sing you praises, and lips to witness of thy salvation to others. Amen.

THEOLOGY OF THANKSGIVING

Thanksgiving day is just around the corner, and the thought of being with family and friends over the holiday elicits many fond memories of amazing food, laughter, game playing, football, and yes, a stomach in turmoil from overeating. I can remember all the meals that I enjoyed at my grandparents: uncles and aunts, cousins and the like, all gathered in one place to share a smorgasbord of tastebud tantalizing family specialities. As I think back on those days my mind flashes with picture after picture of the scenes, the people, and the happiness I felt at being together with loved ones in a warm home, while the chill in the air, and the trees all along the mountains, with their leaves wrestled away from their spot on the branches, forewarned us that winter was on the way.

I also can remember how my understanding of “thanksgiving” was more related to a day, that particular day on our calendar, rather than thankfulness for gifts received or any number of blessings I was enjoying in my life. “Thank you” was  an expected statement after receiving something and an ignorant sentiment at the kitchen table before we were able to indulge ourselves, at least for me it was.

Now that I am much older, hopefully far wiser, I have come to understand the importance of a thankful heart and the theology behind it. Biblical thanksgiving or thankfulness is not just a mere response to things that we have been given; God’s kindnesses towards us, but it is also our response to what we have learned about Him by receiving those kindnesses in our day to day living. We should be thankful for the gifts and the acts of kindness God chooses to bless us with, but we should also look beyond the gifts to the gift giver and think on what we can learn about Him, because it is there that we will find true thankfulness in our hearts.

Whether God blesses us directly or through others, we can, if we take the time, learn more about His Heart towards us. We can learn more about Him by seeing His attributes on display, His character and nature presented before us in ways we might have missed, if it were not for His benevolent spirit towards us.

This is what we find in the Bible. In any of the prayers that Paul offers in his epistles, specifically those of thankfulness, we find his joy and thankfulness are due to the grace, wisdom, and power of God working in the lives of people for their salvation and spiritual growth (Philippians 1:1-6; Ephesians 1:15-16; Colossians 1:3-5, for example). Another telling illustration of this is found in Luke 17:11-19, in the story about the ten lepers. One of the lepers, a Samaritan, when he realizes that he had been healed from this dreadful disease: “turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him” (v.16). This man fell down at the Lords feet in gratitude. His thankfulness became an act of worship! Yes, he is very happy at becoming clean again, but his greater joy seems to be in what he learned about Jesus through the healing.

Jumping back into the Old Testament, we see thanksgiving as a part of God centered worship, especially in the Psalms. I will share only two examples for the sake of time. Psalm 9 appears to be the first Psalm of thanksgiving. In it David praises God for His attribute of justice, and through this hymn of praise worships Him. In Psalm 30, David, through cycles of lament and praise, expresses his thankfulness toward God for healing him, protecting him, comforting him, hearing and answering him. Meditate on that a bit and you should quickly recognize some of the attributes of God that led David to worship Him though this Psalm.  

God is pleased when we recognize and acknowledge His kindness towards us in the things He provides. But I think He is even more pleased when we worship Him because of what we discovered about Him through His provision. Another writer, Pastor Trevor Bates, writing on the theology of thanksgiving, made this statement: “As we give thanks to God, we not only confess we should have nothing good apart from him (James 1:17; 1 Corinthians 4:7), but we also consider who he is.” Jesus should always be the “centerpiece” of our thanksgiving.

I have benefited from this book in my study on the topic of thanksgiving. For a small book, 82 pages, Pastor Bates has done an amazing job of bringing out the theology behind thanksgiving. By focusing on the Psalms he shows that in them are countless times in which thankfulness is mentioned and explained. You can check it out by clicking the picture above. As an Amazon Associate I earn commission from qualifying purchases, this helps to support this ministry, thank you.

You can also check out my review of this book by going here: https://7waysfromsunday.com/book-reviews/