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Today I want to think a bit more on that 8th verse:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
So what's true?Why should I fill my mind with it and meditate on it?
One reason is because truth sets me free.
John 8:31-32 (MSG) says:
31-32 Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.”
This leads me to the question, how does truth set me free?
The first thing that comes to my mind is 2 Bible passages. The first is found in 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NASB):
8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
The second is when Jesus is talking and He says (found in John 10:10 (NET):
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
One of the things that I've found in my life is that the enemy whispers, or nudges me toward, lies in my mind. Things like oh I'm too overwhelmed and can't do this. Or I'll never be free from this addiction to food. Or it won't hurt if I just go with the flow today, I'm tired, I don't have to give my all every day - that's too much. Another one is I can't get up in front of this group and talk, I just feel too ashamed. Similarly, I don't want to be friendly and talk to them, it's just too much effort. Or I know I should be less selfish toward John, but it's just so easy to act naturally. Why bother? Or Oh I don't want to get out of bed, I have to go to work and there's this problem and that, etc. I just don't want to deal with it all. Another way this can work is when some of the people at work start gossiping or talking about others; instead of getting into all that negativity I can walk away or just simply say I don't want to be talking about that person.
Choosing to let my mind fill with this kind of garbage will end up with me being right down in the pit. For me that looks like me going through the motions in life but not really living. It looks like me using food, day dreams, or any other passing distraction to numb out.
Instead of living like that, I can choose to actively put God's truth into my mind. I'm reminded of Romans 12:1-2, especially that second verse (NET):
Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.
Deliberately choosing to think on the truth is one way to renew my mind. There are three practical ways I've found helpful in this quest recently:
Hearing positive, true encouraging words on the way to work.
Recently a brother in Christ at work and I have been trading books on CD. We're both into listening to books on our way to work. He'd loaned me one that is by a pastor who I find so encouraging that I went out and bought it for myself and keep listening to it over and over. I want it down in my spirit. It's super positive and my job puts me around sick, unhappy patients and their unhappy families every day. Staff, patients, and family all come to me with their complaints and problems. I have such an opportunity to minister God's truth and love. I can really make a difference. But it can also be draining. Sometimes the negativity feels like it's going to engulf me. Letting super positive, encouraging, hope-filled words be read over me as I drive to work is one way to counteract all that negativity.
Memorizing Bible verses and passages.
Memorizing has never been easy for me. Back when I was in college the first time I went through the Navigators scripture memory program. I still remember those same verses today. I still find that they minister to me and help form the way I think and look at the world. So I've taken the plunge and am working to memorize verses and passages again. I pray that God enable my brain to remember and use His words to change the way I think, to align me with His thoughts.
I'm praying that God would help me recognize and catch the lies. That He would bring His truth to my mind. That He would empower me to replace lies with truth in my thought life. That He would build truth upon truth in my innermost being.
One of the reasons I adore this 8th verse in Philippians 4 is that it's so practical. It just comes out and explains that I'll do best if I fill my mind with, and meditate on, truth.