Read: Philippians 4:8-14
What occupies your thoughts? What do you think about when you go to sleep or when you wake up? Apparently, what we think about has the power to not only affect the way we think, but also to change who we are! The power of positive thinking is being sold by everyone from Oprah to Zig Ziggler, and (as is often true) it seems that they have stumbled upon the great gift of grace God has given us without acknowledging the giver or understanding the purpose of the gift.
God has much to say about what you do with your mind and what things you fill your mind with. Take this small sampling covering the Old and New Testaments as an example:
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Is. 26:3)
I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. (Ps. 119:15)
I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. (Psalm 143:5)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom. 12:2)
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. (Phil. 4:8)
Several years ago I read a book by Sam Storms entitled One Thing. His thesis is that we have been designed to desire. It is built into every human to want more out of life and to find ultimate satisfaction and peace. Many people believe that the religious answer to the appetites of our desire is restraint and moderation; however, Sam does not believe that the Bible teaches temperance and moderation absolutely. There is “one thing” with no boundaries to our indulgence and excess, and the more we meditate and set our mind on this thing, the more truly human we become. We should do everything in our power to increase our appetites for this thing. Here is an excerpt from his book:
First, we should endeavor to increase spiritual appetites by mediating on spiritual objects. Each time we surrender our minds to meditate on base and sordid objects, their grip on our lives is intensified. To think we can decrease our affinity for sinful pleasure apart from a concentrated fixation on the spiritually sublime is simply delusional.
Paul said as much in his letter to the Philippians: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is lovely, 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” (Phil. 4:8). Merely acknowledging that such ‘things’ exist is woefully deficient. More than defining them and defending them as worthy of our affection is needed. We must actually ‘think’ about them, ponder them, pour over them, and become vulnerable to the power God has invested in them to transform our values and feelings and to energize our volitions.
Perhaps no one was more diligent in meditating on spiritual objects than David, King of Israel. I’m reminded of two statements in particular, both of which express the intensity and exclusivity of his devotion. Both are found in my favorite Psalm:
- “I say to the Lord ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you'” (Psalm 16:2)
- “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8)
[C.S. Lewis once said] “He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.” This is why David was so diligent to avert his eyes from lesser beauty. His resolve was to set the Lord before him, to concentrate his attention and the energies of his soul on the majesty and power of the One who alone would sustain him when all else is shaking. This was not an infrequent or occasional choice or one to which he reverted only in times of crisis, but an orientation of life to which he was ‘always’ committed. We would do well to follow his example.
I pray that mediating on the beauty and majesty of God is a regular habit for you, but if not, I would challenge you to make it a priority and see if the orientation of your life isn’t altered. The entire exercise of writing these devotionals is for the purpose of helping you ready your heart and mind for what we are learning as a people. Come worship this Sunday with your mind saturated in the wonder of our God. May our love and worship be excessive and lavish!