Perfect Peace of Mind

WORD Art_Isa 26_3

perfect peace – shalom meaning,

well, safe, happy, completeness, soundness, peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment

 A mind of perfect peace is…

…dependent on Jesus

…looking to Jesus

…leaning on Jesus

…seeking Jesus

…believing Jesus

…trusting Jesus

…loving Jesus

…living for Jesus

Free. Content. Joyful. Peaceful. Complete. Secure.

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. —Matthew 11:28-30

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3 Habits for Cultivating a Sound Mind

Change your mindset

A Sound Mind?!?  Yes, please!  Many days I feel just the opposite; “going out of my mind” or “losing my mind” might be a more accurate description. Menopausal middle-age is beginning to take its toll on my mind.  This morning I squirted shampoo into my body puff…but it worked; my skin had this great Moroccan Oil glow.  Yesterday I was heading back to work after lunch and a new billboard for the Whole Foods Market (coming to our area soon) caught my eye.  Next thing I know, I’ve passed the church and I’m heading down the road towards the Whole Foods.  I’m constantly searching for my glasses only to find them on top of my head.  I walk into a room and can’t remember what I’m doing. You get the idea. My mind is overtaxed, swirling and often I feel like I’m in a foggy haze.  And I know you don’t have to be menopausal or middle-aged to know what I’m talking about.  I know those of you with babies and young children at home can relate…and those with pre-teen and teens at home can relate.  The point…it’s not confined to a particular season of life.  So who’s with me?  Who’s ready for a sound mind?!

Last week in the Take Heart post, we looked at finding freedom when we are fearful of the future, the uncertain or the unknown.  Today, I want to continue that discussion as we look at three habits we can cultivate in our lives to help us change our mindset and attitude, to develop a sound mind, and to walk confidently and courageously in Christ.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and a sound mind. —2 Timothy 1:7

sound mind – sophronizo - to make sound, to restore to ones senses, curb the mind, curbing ones desires and impulses; from sozo - to save, restore, deliver and phren - to rein in (the mind), diaphragm, heart, fig. feelings.  

#1 A Steadfast Mind 

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. —Isaiah 26:3

stayed on - samakto lean or lay upon, to sustain, refresh, revive; to support, sustain; to place or lay something upon anything, so that it may rest upon and be supported by it.

When my mind is stayed on God, I am continually seeking to focus on Him — look back at the definition for the word in the original language — to lean up, to rest and be supported by something.  When I “stay” my mind upon Him, I’m focusing on who He is and what He has done.  I’m leaning heavily into His presence as I pour my heart out to Him and surrender my situation to Him.  Instead of leaning upon my own strengths and abilities, I’m acknowledging that I can’t do it all and be all.  That I need Him!  That I’m dependent upon Him, not only for my very life and breath, but for His wisdom, guidance, power and presence in this situation.  But we also see in this verse that we must trust Him.

trust – batah – to be confident or sure, to trust in; to be secure. 

The opposite of a steadfast mind is described perfectly in James 1:8, “…he is a double- minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

double-mindeddipsychos - vacillating, wavering, divided in interest.

unstable – akatastatos - unstable, inconstant, restless

James is talking about someone who seeks God, asks for wisdom and guidance and yet does not trust God.  He does not ask in faith, believing and trusting God.  He is not leaning upon God.  He’s taking it back into his own hands and finds himself wavering, divided in interest, unstable, restless.  If we are going to cultivate a steadfast mind, we must couple our leaning upon and resting in God with trust, believing in God’s power to act.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. —John 14:1

It’s so easy to get caught up and whisked away in the flurry of activities and demands that my day holds.  A steadfast mind is something I must intentionally choose to focus on and cultivate.  And I love how God sends us the messy, hard and overwhelming things in our lives to focus us back on His presence.  When my mind is stayed on Him, I experience His perfect peace.  He restores, revives and sustains me.

His heart is steady; he will not be afraid… —Psalm 112:8

#2 A Renewed Mind

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.—Romans 12:2

renewal – anakainosis – a renewing or renovation which makes a person different than in the past; a renewal, renovation, complete change for the better.

Romans 12:1-2 offer us two options when it comes to what influences our mindset and attitude.  We are either conforming to the ways of the world or we are transformed by renewing our minds.  Conformity in the verse is a word that means to conform one’s mind and character to a same pattern, to masquerade.  We are bombarded with thousands of messages from the world every day regarding how we should live, think and act.  It’s hard not to be influenced, especially when those doing the promoting are experts in their fields.  They know how to get our attention and motivate us to respond.  How many times have you been watching that commercial on TV and suddenly realize you need what they have to offer and you didn’t know why it didn’t occur to you before now?

But the world and its ways go beyond commercial advertising, the enemy of our souls knows what buttons to push in our lives.  His one goal: to get us to doubt God’s character.  We must renew our minds in truth constantly, daily, even hourly.  We need to remind ourselves of the truth of who God is, what He had done and His desires and His purpose for our lives.  God uses His Word and His Spirit living in us to renew our minds and transform us more and more each day into one who reflects Christ Jesus in our actions, attitudes and thoughts.

#3 A Fixed & Captivated Mind

captivate – to attract and hold the attraction or interest; to influence or dominate

  • Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. —Hebrews 12:2

fixed – aphorao - to consider attentively, to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something.

I love this word in the original language.  It’s so intentional.  When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we have to take our eye off other things.  We take our  attention off that situation that is creating the fear, worry and anxiousness and look to Jesus.  We fix our attention on Him.  We rest in His presence.

  • So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.—2 Corinthians 4:16-18

look to - blepoto turn the eyes to anything:to look at, look upon, gaze at.

What are these “unseen” things that we are to turn to, look at and gaze upon?  They are the things that are eternal —the character and nature of God.  When we find ourselves overwhelmed by fear of the unknown or uncertain, we can renew our minds by focusing on and rehearsing the character of God —who He is and what He has done.

  • We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ. —2 Corinthians 10:5

taking captive – aichmalotizo - to make captive, bring into captivity, metaphorically, to capture one’s mind.

When we find our minds divided, distracted and doubting due to fear, we counter this by taking captive our thoughts and centering them on the nature and character of a faithful God.  When those thoughts come that tend to make you fearful and doubt God’s character, fix them on Jesus.  Take your eyes them off the situation that is causing you to be fearful, worried or anxious and turn them Jesus.  Focus on who He is and who you are in Him!  A mind fixed and captivated with Jesus changes our perspective and gives us a confident and courageous mind that is characterized by peace, joy, confidence, security, contentment and freedom.

A sound mind is steadfast, renewed day by day and captivated by Jesus. Okay, so this post is actually making my head hurt.  There is a lot of information here to process!  So don’t try to take it all in at once.  Cultivating a sound mind is a lifelong process.  So here’s the main takeaway I want you to remember today: Get in the Word and keep thinking about Jesus!

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Facing An Unknown or Uncertain Future? Take Heart!

WORD Art_John 16_33

In this world you will have trouble…ain’t that the truth!  But it’s a reality we like to try to avoid, deny or mask.  How do we find peace for our troubled and fearful hearts in a world of trouble? Take heart!

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. —John 16:33

take heart - tharseo (G2293) - to have courage; to be of good courage; boldness. From the root word, tarsus (G2294) meaning cheerful mind; courage, confidence.  See also tharrheo (G2292) (another form of word) meaning to exercise courage, be confident, be full of hope and confidence.

We’ve been talking in this series about our “gap moments” .  How there is a moment of time, a gap, when we are faced with a difficult or fearful situation where we have a moment to choose our response or to simply react, letting our emotions have full vent.  This week in class, we looked at three women who all faced unknown, uncertain and fearful situations and futures.  What can learn from their stories about “taking heart” —being courageous, confident and full of hope in the midst of fear, uncertainty and the unknown?

TAKE 3! Three women facing uncertain or unknown futures and how a moment with Jesus changes it all!

Woman Caught in Adultery — Read: John 7:53-8:11 

Woman with Bleeding Issue — Read: Matthew 9:18-26 and Mark 5:21-43

Woman at the Well — Read: John 4:1-42

I find it interesting that each of these women remain nameless to us.  However their thoughts, feelings and hurting hearts and souls in the midst of their unknown and uncertain speak to the heart of every one of us.  The specifics of the situations may differ from ours, but we can all relate to the heart of their experience.

Spend some time this week reading through each of their stories.  Journal what you learn as you answer the following questions: (Download the handout for this lesson)

  • What were they facing? What was their unknown or uncertain situation?
  • How did their moment with Jesus change their lives?
  • What happened?  Who was affected? What was the outcome?
  • What was their response to Jesus?  What key word or phrase do you see repeated in each of their stories?
  • What do you learn about who God is from these passages?  How does this encourage you in your current circumstance?

I’d love to hear what you learn!  Take time to comment on the post and share with others —it’s one way we can encourage one another.  

Check back in a few days and I’ll share with you Three Habits we can employ to help us when facing fear of the unknown and uncertain, to change our mindset and attitude so we can have a confident mind and begin to experience peace and joy in our troubled world.  Until then, Take Heart!

 Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. —John 14:1

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. —John 14:27

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Whatever I Face…He Goes with Me!

WORD Art_Deut 31_6

When I feel alone, He goes with me!

When I am discouraged, He goes with me!

When I am overwhelmed, He goes with me!

When I feel inadequate for the task at hand, He goes with me!

When I am uncertain of the future, He goes with me!

When I weary and worn, He goes with me!

When I am facing the unknown, He goes with me!

When He goes with me, I can be strong and courageous knowing He will never leave or forsake me.  I can rest secure in His powerful presence.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, the plague that stalks in darkness, or the pestilence that ravages at noon. Though a thousand fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, the pestilence will not reach you. You will only see it with your eyes and witness the punishment of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord — my refuge, the Most High — your dwelling place, no harm will come to you; no plague will come near your tent.

—Psalm 91:1-9

He goes with me!

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An Overwhelmed Heart

WORD Art_Ps 94_19

When my heart and soul are…

overwhelmed

doubting

anxious

full of  multiplying cares.

God’s presence is…

my comfort

my renewed hope

my cheer

my joy

my consolation

my delight

When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. (NLT)

When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy. (HCSB)

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. (NIV)

When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. (NASB)

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Fighting Fear in the Battles

A Lesson from Jehoshaphat

This week in Bible study we looked at the story of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20.  What can we learn from his “Gap Moment”?

Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-34. (Download the handout from class.)

What can we learn from Jehoshaphat about fighting fear in the midst of a battle?  Jehoshaphat received word that a “vast army” was coming against them.  And his first response was not to gather the troops or map out a battle plan.  We all face what feel like “vast armies”.  Sometimes it is an enemy from without, a difficult situation or circumstance that has come upon us.  Sometimes the battle is in a relationship.  Sometimes the battle is internal as we fight against those “what if” and “if only” thoughts that can assail our minds.  And sometimes we are battling the sin in our heart and lives.  Take a look at what happened in 2 Chronicles and note how Jehoshaphat chose to respond instead of react in the midst of this fearful situation. Be encouraged by what you learn!

1.  Set to Seek (v. 3)

He set his face to seek the Lord.

setnathanto give, devote, dedicate, give over, stretch out

seekdarash to tread or frequent; to resort to; to follow, pursue, specifically to worship

Jehoshaphat’s action of “set to seek” is an attitude of resolve.  His first response is not to formulate a battle plan or round-up the troops, his first action is one of resolve to seek the Lord.  He dedicates himself to seek the Lord’s presence.  It’s the first place he resorts to and the place he frequents. He makes a determined choice.  In our own lives, this resolve does not just happen.  It’s a resolve we make before the battle even begins. It’s our resolve to make it a priority to get into God’s presence and His Word on a daily basis, to build our faith and trust in who He is and what He has done as revealed in His powerful Word.

2. Seek (v. 4)

He proclaims a fast throughout all of Judah and they assemble to seek God.  This word is different from the first “seek” we find in this verse.  Here we are seeking and searching out the Lord in an attitude of worship and prayer. We are asking for help and guidance.

seek – baqashto search out specifically in worship or prayer; to seek to find, secure; to seek the face; to ask.

3. Stand Still (vv.5-11, 13)

standamadto remain, endure, to take one’s stand, to be in a standing attitudeto stand still, stop moving, cease doing; to remain, abide, delay, be steadfast, endure.

  • to rehearse who God is and what He has done
  • to declare His praises
  • to be steadfast and abide in His presence

What he rehearses about God’s character:

  • “You rule” — He acknowledges the Sovereignty of God
  • “Power & might in Your hand” —God is Omnipotent/All Powerful/Strength
  • “None like You” — God is Holy
  • “You hear” – God is Intimate
  • “You save” – God is our Savior and Deliverer
  • “You execute judgment” – God is the Righteous Judge

4. Surrender (vv. 12-20)

Next we see they respond by surrendering to God, not to the enemy but to the Lord.  What can we learn about their attitude and response of surrender?

  • They declare their reliance upon God —“We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.” (20:12) 
  • They listen to God’s Word — the Spirit of the Lord comesuponJahaziel and he brings word from the Lord. What does he tell them?
    • Do not be afraid/dismayed
    • The battle is not yours but God’s
    • You will not need to fight
    • Stand firm & hold your position
    • See the salvation of the Lord
  • They humble themselves. They bowed down and worshipped the Lord – fell prostrate before Him.
  • They praise!  —the Levites lead out in praise.
  • They go —they rose early and went out to meet the enemy.
  • They believe and trust God —Jehoshaphat encourages the people to trust and believe in the Lord God. (v. 20)

trust aman to confirm, be faithful, established, to believe in, trust, stand firm.

5. Sing Praise (v.21)

The people sing and praise and wait on God.  There is power when we praise God in the midst of our battle and fear.

6. Set Free (vv. 22-34)

  • Delivered —the Lord set and ambush and routes the enemy!
  • Blessed — they collect spoil for three days and assemble at Valley of Beracah.
  • Rejoice — they return home rejoicing.
  • Rest — God gives them rest all around.

So here are a few things we can remember as we prepare to fight fear in the midst of the messiness and battles of life — the importance of our Battle Plan and our Battle Flag…

The Battle Plan:

  • Remember who God is and who you are in Him!
  • Redirect your focus.
  • Recognize God is in control.
  • Recite praise!

The Battle Flag: 

Jehovah Nissi – The Lord is My Banner 

We first find God revealing Himself to his people by this name in Exodus 17:15:

Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 

Jehovah — The Existing One or Lord. The chief meaning of Jehovah is derived from the Hebrew word “havah” meaning “to be” or “to exist.” It also suggests “to become” or specifically “to become known” — this denotes a God who reveals Himself unceasingly.

Nes (from which Nissi is derived) — a banner; a pole with an insignia attached; something lifted up to be seen far off; a standard, a signal.

(Further verses for Jehovah Nissi – Psalm 60:4, Numbers 33:12-14, Genesis 22:14, 33:20)

Moses, recognizing that the Lord was Israel’s banner under which they defeated the Amalekites, builds an altar named Jehovah-Nissi (the Lord our Banner). In battle, opposing nations would fly their own flag on a pole at each of their respective front lines. This was to give their soldiers a feeling of hope and a focal point.  When we look to Jesus, He is a banner of encouragement and hope to us. He is to be our focal point. Hebrews 12:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 speak to this:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. —Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. —2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (HCSB)

The words in the original language for “looking to” and “focus on” mean to turn our gaze from one thing and focus on something else.  So in other words, we are to stop fixating on the problem, the fear, the battle and instead fix our eyes on Jesus!

God has given us His Word as our standard to renew our minds and realign our thinking when we are battling fear.  Look to Jesus and He will give you the hope, encouragement, peace and comfort you need— in the midst of the battle!

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WORD Art_Deut 31_6

Fearful…Anxious…Worried?

Fearful…?

Anxious…?

Worried…?

Stressed…?

Overwhelmed…?

Distracted…?

Lay it all down at the feet of Jesus!

…pray

…ask

…give thanks

…praise

And experience the presence of Jesus that will protect, strengthen, guard and keep watch over your heart and thoughts and flood your soul with a peace incomprehensible and beyond understanding.

WORD Art_Phil 4_6_7

Antidote for the “What If” and “If Only”

WORD Art_Rom 8_31_39

When our thoughts begin to wander the path of the “what ifs” and “if onlys” in a situation, it brings about discouragement, discontent, despair and causes us to doubt God’s love and power in our lives. When the “what ifs” and “if onlys” assail your thoughts and threaten to strike fear and steal your joy and peace, remind yourself of the truths of God’s Word — who He is and what He has done for you! Rest secure in His presence.

What then are we to say about these things?
If God is for us, who is against us?
He did not even spare His own Son
but offered Him up for us all;
how will He not also with Him grant us everything?
Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect?
God is the One who justifies.
Who is the one who condemns?
Christ Jesus is the One who died,
but even more, has been raised;
He also is at the right hand of God
and intercedes for us.
Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
Can affliction or anguish or persecution
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…

No, in all these things we are more than victorious
through Him who loved us.
For I am persuaded that not even death or life,
angels or rulers,
things present or things to come, hostile powers,
height or depth, or any other created thing
will have the power to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

—Romans 8:31-39

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A Steady Heart in Bad News

WORD Art_Ps 112_7Our hearts can be steady and firm in times of trouble and bad news. Psalm 112:1 tells us we can have firm and steadfast hearts because we fear the Lord and take delight in His Word.  His Word and His Spirit encourage our hearts, renew our minds, realign our thinking and enable us to rest secure in the One who is in control of all things.  Instead of fixating on the problem we can fix our eyes on Jesus. He is near.  We do not need to fear, only trust Him because He is the same yesterday, today and forever, the One who was, who is and who is to come! Steadfast! Trustworthy! He will never leave or forsake us.

Fear Not…I AM

WORD Art_Isa 41_10Jehovah — I AM

God reveals himself as Yahweh/Jehovah —LORD.  It is the name by which He has been know from the creation of the world and it is His forever name. It is the proper name of God.  Yahweh/Jehovah translates “He who is”. When He says, I AM who I AM in Scripture, it means “He who is” and He subsists in a manner superior to all other beings!  He is the self-existent, all-sufficient One. He is the One who was, who IS and who will be. His name Yahweh/Jehovah, LORD, is often compounded with another word to describe the character of the Lord in greater detail.  For example, Jehovah-Jireh, the LORD who provides, in Genesis 22:14 or in Exodus 17:15, Jehovah-Nissi, the LORD is my banner.

One of my favorites is the contracted form of His name, Jehovah/Yahweh, which is JAH and means He IS!  (Note: In the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation, they print JAH whenever this contracted form of the Lord God appears.  It is found particularly in the Psalms).  So often I need that.  I need to know that He IS in this moment.  That He IS sovereign.  That He IS all-powerful.  That He IS unfailing love and so much more. There is great comfort for me in knowing God IS present in my every moment. I have nothing to fear! He will strengthen me.  He will uphold me.

Therefore, HE is to be the object and focus of my worship, because He alone is worthy.  And when I focus on the greatness of the great I AM, my preoccupation with self diminishes.  And the amazing thing is, instead of feeling alone, empty, discouraged and fearful, I end up being filled with the power of His presence.  I experience His joy, peace, love, acceptance and comfort in my life, and my heart and soul just SOAR!  I experience this because HE is!  He is present in this moment.

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