When I was in high school, I was blessed to be able to attend camp with my church youth group each summer! It was always a blast and so life-changing for me. So much of who I am today is directly tied to those days in the sweltering heat of a central Florida summer at camp with my closest friends, worshipping the Lord and learning together about Christ and His amazing desires and plans for our lives.
During the summer of my junior year of high school, we had a guest speaker named Jim Stady come from Baptist Bible College. I remember Pastor Stady saying over and over to us that week, "As a man thinks in his heart - so is he." In fact, it became an incantation we would repeat throughout that week. He would shout, "As a man thinks in his heart..." and we would loudly respond back, "SO IS HE!" If he passed us on the soccer field, he would call out his part, and the whole field would respond. We would do the same thing all week long where ever we saw him - cafeteria, in line for the swimming pool, basically anywhere! I don't think I completely grasped the fullness of this passage from Proverbs when I was 16 years old, but I have never forgotten it or Pastor Stady's constant challenge to us that week - our heart determines our character.
"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he..." Psalm 23:7
Prayer Tip #6 - Pray for our hearts and minds to be pure and constantly striving towards Christ.
If what we think and believe in our hearts determines our thoughts and actions, then it will be our daily challenge to keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
"and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
Our thoughts don't dictate our circumstances, but they certainly affect our emotions and even our actions. If we think anxious thoughts, it's not long before we're stressed and overwhelmed. If we think angry thoughts, pretty soon we find ourselves frustrated and snapping at everyone we come in contact with. Our emotions and actions follow our thoughts - our thoughts gauge the motives of our hearts.
"Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against
the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity
to the obedience of Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8
So, it's pretty easy to realize that if we meditate on and think thoughts like the ones we have access to in Philippians 4:8, we'll ultimately have pure hearts, emotions, and actions - which produces godly character. Sounds simple enough, right? Let me assure you, it's hard work! Thoughts come and go by the hundreds. To keep our emotions and actions in check, we need to closely monitor every idea that passes through our brain and run them through the sifter of Philippians 4:8. If it's encouraging and uplifting, then let it remain. If not, give it over to God immediately. When you first begin, this is like trying to heard cats! But after a while, you'll find that fewer negative thoughts are coming to mind, and this is a sure sign of progress.
In Craig Groeschel's book, Winning the War in Your Mind, he writes that "Our lives are always moving in the direction of our strongest thoughts. What we think shapes who we are."
Our hearts and minds go together like peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, or Lucy and Ethel - one directly affects the other. One has the capability to make the other better, or worse - depending on its content. Today, let's strive together to have our hearts and our minds focused on the eternal. Let's try to focus on the cashier at the grocery store today and invite them to church. Let's make it a point to sit down to coffee with a friend that has been on our heart and encourage them in the Lord. Let's put away thoughts of anxiousness or anger and replace them with Scripture. Let's do it together today!
So, what's on your mind and heart today?
Prayer Points - (Pray over these requests)
Pray for what is in our hearts to be God honoring and bring Him glory today.
Pray for our hearts and minds to be full of Philippians 4:8's suggestions.
Ask God to help you commit your ways to Him.
Suggested Prayer - (Pray these words in your heart or out loud):
Dear Gracious Father,
I come before you in the Name of Jesus and ask that You would guide my heart and mind today. Help me to think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, things that are lovely, things of good report, things that are virtuous, and things that are praiseworthy. I trust You and Your Word and believe that Your Word gives me just what I need to fill my heart and mind with today. Please allow me to give You glory through my mind, heart, and thoughts today. In the Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.