Last week we presented thoughts on making the most of our opportunities, redeeming the time because it is our purpose to be imitators of God through these uncertain times.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle in redeeming our time for God is found in the realm of mind control. Who controls your mind?
• Automatically, we want to claim ownership. I control my mind. I’m not here to disprove that thought, but I am going to remind us that what we feed that mind will control that mind.
• How does advertising work – how is media dictating morality? I’ve heard it said that the television industry is not entertainment, but rather it is indoctrination.
• Without getting into the dark recesses of society, there is evidence that many companies and entities that are using images, social media, and technologies to gain control of minds. With all of this advancement in communication and technology it is that much more vital that we guard our minds.
Solomon exhorts his son Pr 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”
Computer programming term: Gi-Go. Garbage in – garbage out. What we put into our minds, who we allow to control our minds dictates everything about our life.
• So during this time of conflicting news reports, the vast assortment of opinions on social media, and just the general upheaval during this time, I feel a need for us to re-visit some foundational teaching from the apostle Paul for some steps we need to take as believers to guard our hearts and minds.
Let’s start with verse 9.
1) Does Paul have experience in mind control?
• Let’s think together. Where is he at when he pens this letter? In chapter 1 he uses the word imprisonment over and over. He is in prison in Rome.
• Interestingly, the first time in Philippi in Acts 16, we find Paul and Silas ending up in jail because of their work for Jesus. Now a decade later, Paul is writing the church there a letter from another prison.
• What does prison do to your mind if you let it? Complaining – bad food, uncomfortable bed, bugs, rats, cold – in 2Timothy Paul asks Timothy to bring him his cloak, along with some parchments – reading material.
• There are a lot of influences in prison to take your mind from rejoicing in Jesus to wallowing in the mire of complaining. But not only in prison did Paul have problems, notice:
• 2Cor 11: 24-28 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.
• External pressure far beyond just being asked to stay at home as much as possible, there was also the mental anxiety of the spiritual lives and welfare of the churches – Paul’s life work.
• I believe the Paul is experienced in this idea of mind control and is expert enough to help us through this time. Let’s look back at verses 6-8 and take note of some simple warnings to heed and steps to take to allow the Goodness and Truth of God to control our minds.
2) Combat Anxiety With Prayer. Verse 6
• When you feel anxious – pray. Don’t let worry and the unknown steal the source of your power! Tap it – pray!
• Romans 8:26-27 – Paul gives us great encouragement in our prayer lives. Helping us with the picture of what happens when a true believer prays! You pray, not sure how to pray – what words to use, and the Spirit who dwells in you helps you by praying for you to God. And Jesus knows what the Spirit is thinking and praying and He intercedes for you as well according to God’s will. And God causes all things to work together for good for His people!
When we pray we are invoking the complete Godhead into action! This is tapping into the power source that we have as Christians.
• So why wouldn’t we pray? I think many times it is because of this mind control issue. Media has painted a picture of complete desolation, both of deaths and economic failure. They are making a killing off of bad news, and the more you focus on bad, think on bad, the harder it is to believe that good exists!
• I’m here to remind us today that Good does exist – He lives inside of you as a believer! Possess the hope you have, and pray!
• Make supplications – intense, urgent entreaties to God. Cry out to Him, cry with Him! This is where you unload those fears to Him, lay it all at His feet. But remember – be thankful He is there. In all our trials the key to keeping our joy is by being thankful that He is good! His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. Be thankful that God is in control. Bow at His feet rejoicing.
• We don’t have to resign ourselves to the idea that it could be worse. We serve a God who delivers and even if He doesn’t in our lifetime we trust He will in the hereafter. Rejoice in Him. This is our HOPE – it transcends our fears.
3) Thankful Prayer Allows The Prince of Peace To Rule. Verse 7
• Many years ago, the king of Aram was at war with Israel. He was having trouble ambushing the king of Israel, he had set up ideal traps but King Joram avoided every one. It became obvious that there was some inside information being given out, so the king of Aram did some investigation of his men and found out that this prophet named Elisha was warning the king of Israel. “Go find this prophet Elisha,” he ordered. The Arameans found him at Dothan. So the king of Aram sent horses and chariots and a strong military force to Dothan and surrounded the city at night.
o The next morning Elisha’s servant went outside at daybreak and behold, the city was surrounded with the Aramean army. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked Elisha. 16 "Don’t be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." 17 And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so that he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all round Elisha. (2Kings 6)
• That’s what this word “guard” means in verse 7 of our text.
• When we pray, plead with God, and are thankful in heart though our spirit is groaning within, the peace of God camps around us. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, it’s who He is. During all times of life, times of fear, of want or plenty, of good or bad, Jesus is still the Prince of Peace.
• This protection of peace is a promise from the Father, He will provide if we pray.
4) Don’t let the enemy intimidate you. Verse 8
• Think back to the story of Elisha and the army of Aram. If Elisha would have become alarmed at the enemy presence, how would the story read for us today? Because he mentally stayed in the shelter of the Most High, God fought the battle for him. He refused to be impressed by bad news.
• Christians, Jesus wants to protect us. Stop being impressed by the bad news of the world. It’s a downer, it’s not the eternal truth of the hope in Jesus. Yeah it’s bad right now, but that’s not the end of the story. Paul says Pray, and let God encourage you.
• That’s why verse 8 is so important.
• Truth, honorable things, right, pure, lovely, of good repute – admirable, anything worthy of praise – notice Paul’s words: THINK ABOUT SUCH THINGS.
• There’s not a lot of admirable things, or even truth in our news today. So maybe I need to distance myself from the media sources that are dragging me down mentally, and weakening my faith. And instead feed my mind a good diet of the word of God, and pray to the God of heaven as often as the news reports come out – hourly.
I want to simply encourage us as a church to not allow the enemy to have a victory in our midst. If the devil can get the people of God to doubt the power of God, then that is a victory for him.
If instead we will remember that our strength comes from above, and the healing for our land comes from the Lord, we will know the Deliverance in the Day of our Lord.
Ps 62:6-7 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.