A SOUND MIND

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THE APPLE OF HIS EYE

Keep me as the apple of your eye… – Psalm 17:8, NIV

In this day and age, people are considered to be important for so many different reasons—titles, position, possessions, where you go, what you drive. But God’s value system is very different from the world’s value system.

If you’ve ever thought that God has too many other important things on His plate to be concerned with you and your life, know this today—you are God’s number one priority. And there’s nothing you can do to be more important or less important. God values you simply because He made you, and your value will never change. You are significant. Your life is significant. The things that concern you, concern God. He carefully watches over every detail of your life. There is nothing too big or too small for His attention.

Take your concerns and cares to the Father today. He loves to hear you call on Him, and He is waiting to show Himself strong on your behalf. Because you are important to Him, He is ready to bless and empower you to live in victory all the days of your life. You are the apple of His eye!

“The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, NKJV).

God is always with us, and as Believers, we are His beloved children. He will stop at nothing to protect us and keep us safe from harm. Our focus on the love He has for us drives out all fear and anxiety. Just as a mother rejoices over her children, so He rejoices over us.

YOU HAVE A SOUND MIND! (1)

…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’ – 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
No matter what others say about you, God says you have ‘a sound mind’! Many people live their lives believing that they’re intellectually inferior—born that way, and will always be that way. The problem with believing this is that you begin to live accordingly. Not because it’s true—but because you be-lieve it’s true! God created us so that whatever we really believe, we act on. So our self–concept becomes a self–fulfilling prophecy. For example, we may act stupidly because we believe we’re stupid, or we may act wisely because we believe we’re wise. So we must choose to believe God’s opinion of what we are, and by faith adapt our actions accordingly, until His opinion becomes our opinion! The Bible calls this ‘…the renewing of your mind…’ (Romans 12:2 NKJV) This calls for an attitude transformation, and it can begin with a few small steps. Step 1: Choose to believe what God says about you. Every outcome begins with a choice—an act of your will. No matter what your emotions say, choose to ‘…let God be true, but every man [and every contrary emotion] a liar…’ (Romans 3:4 NKJV) Whatever you’ve said about yourself previously, or whatever others have said, God says He has not given you an attitude of fear, ‘…but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’ He has ‘given’ it to you, but you must choose to believe and receive His gift of ‘…power, love and a sound mind.’ Memorise it, and meditate on it until it takes root in you.

SEEING BEYOND LOSS

I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord. —Psalm 77:10-11

Author William Zinsser described his last visit to see the house where he grew up, a place he greatly loved as a boy. When he and his wife arrived at the hill overlooking Manhasset Bay and Long Island Sound, they found that the house had been demolished. All that remained was a huge hole.

Disheartened, they walked to the nearby seawall. Zinsser looked across the bay, absorbing the sights and sounds. Later, he wrote of this experience, “I was at ease and only slightly sad. The view was intact: the unique configuration of land and sea I remember so well that I still dream about it.”

The psalmist wrote of a difficult time when his soul refused to be comforted and his spirit was overwhelmed (Ps. 77:2-3). But in the midst of his trouble, he shifted his focus from his sadness to his Savior, saying, “I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord . . . Your wonders of old” (vv. 10-11).

In dealing with disappointment, we can either focus on our loss or on God Himself. The Lord invites us to look to Him and see the scope of His goodness, His presence with us, and His eternal love.

Heavenly Father, this life can be both wonderful and disappointing. We know that things are not the way they ought to be. Our disappointments cause us to turn to You, the only true hope for the world.

Faith in God’s goodness keeps hope alive.

 GROW IN GRACE

And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. – Luke 11:37-41

A sure sign of the error of legalism is misplaced priorities, as we see here with these Pharisees. It is not recorded in Scripture that the Pharisees marveled at the wonderful works of Jesus. They were too busy looking for something to criticize (Mark 3:2). But they marveled at Jesus not washing His hands. This is a classic example of straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel (Mt. 23:24).

Those who seek to earn righteousness through keeping the Law are consumed with “doing,” while those who receive righteousness by faith are simply confessing what has already been done. This is a simple and yet profound difference. If we are still “doing” acts of holiness to get God to move in our lives, then we are still operating under a “Law” mentality that is not faith (Gal. 3:12). When we simply believe and confess what has already been provided through Christ, that’s grace.

A person who is living under the Law and a person who lives under grace should have very similar actions of holiness, but their motivations are completely opposite. The legalist has their attention on what they must do, while the person living by faith has his attention on what Christ has already done for him. For instance, the Scriptures teach us to confess with our mouths and believe with our hearts, and we will receive from God. The legalist thinks, That means I can get God to heal me by confessing, ‘By his stripes I am healed.’ However, the person who understands God’s grace will not confess the Word to get healed. They will confess, “By His stripes I am healed” because they really believe it has already been done.

Analyzing our “mind set” is the simplest way of discerning whether we are operating in true Bible faith or a legalistic counterfeit. If the motive for our actions is to be accepted with God, that’s legalism. If we live wholly out of faith and gratefulness for what God has already done, that’s grace. Grow in grace!

ROUND-THE-CLOCK PROTECTION

Psalm 91:5–6
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

During World War II, German planes bombed London. Houses were leveled. But there was one that remained standing amidst the rubble. Its owner said that when she read Psalm 121:4, which says, “Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep,” she told the Lord, “Lord, since You don’t sleep, then there is no point in both of us keeping awake. I will sleep while You keep watch.” And she did, while the Lord protected her and her house.

In 2005, terrorists attacked London’s public transport system. That day, a Singaporean girl found herself unexpectedly late for work and could not get to the train station in time to board her usual train. When she finally neared the station, she realized that it had been bombed just a few minutes earlier. Her mother, who worships in our church, believes that God protected her daughter that day.

God wants you to know that you have round-the-clock protection—“You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.”

He protects you from “the terror by night”, which could refer to evils such as rape, kidnap or murder. He promises you protection from “the arrow that flies by day”. This could refer to bullets from a crazy sniper, drive-by shootings or home-made rockets fired into your territory.

God also shields you from “the pestilence that walks in darkness”, referring to viruses which you cannot see. You don’t have to be afraid of deadly viruses lurking somewhere or wonder if some deadly disease is developing in your body.

God also doesn’t want you to be afraid of “the destruction that lays waste at noonday”, such as a tsunami hitting the beach resort you are at, or a bomb going off in the shopping mall you are in.

You need not be afraid because God, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, is watching over you 24 hours a day!
 YOU HAVE A SOUND MIND! (2)

‘…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’ 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

Step 2: Start saying what God says about you in His Word. Words matter, especially when they’re God’s words! Look around you; everything in creation was first a word that was thought and spoken by God. ‘Then God said, “Let there be…And it was so.”’ (Genesis 1:14–15 NIV) His words contain the power of who He is. So when you believe and speak God’s Word, you’re connecting with His mighty creative ‘Logos’. Why is it necessary to speak God’s Word and not just think it? First, because hearing yourself speaking God’s Word is a powerful reinforcer. Second, because you remember what you recite. Third, because the enemy hears you. When Jesus spoke God’s Word to Satan in the wilderness temptation, he fled (Matthew 4:11). Step 3: Act on what God says about you. God has given you ‘a sound mind’—that means you’re a good thinker. Now, if you really believed that, what would you do that you’re not doing now? How big a step of faith would you be willing to take? God has given you the ability to ‘love’. If you really be-lieved that, how would you demonstrate your love for God and others? Would you begin or resume giving to your church? Would you forgive someone who has hurt you? Would you serve others instead of being self–absorbed? Nothing builds your faith like acting on God’s Word. Take these steps and it will change the way you believe about yourself and God’s Word.
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— DESERT PLACES

They did not thirst when He led them through the deserts. —Isaiah 48:21

Dry. Dusty. Dangerous. A desert. A place where there is little water, a place hostile to life. It’s not surprising, then, that the word deserted describes a place that is uninhabited. Life there is hard. Few people choose it. But sometimes we can’t avoid it.

In Scripture, God’s people were familiar with desert life. Much of the Middle East, including Israel, is desert. But there are lush exceptions, like the Jordan Valley and areas surrounding the Sea of Galilee. God chose to “raise His family” in a place surrounded by wilderness, a place where He could make His goodness known to His children as they trusted Him for protection and daily provision (Isa. 48:17-19).

Today, most of us don’t live in literal deserts, but we often go through desert-like places. Sometimes we go as an act of obedience. Other times we find ourselves there through no conscious choice or action. When someone abandons us, or disease invades our bodies, we end up in desert-like circumstances where resources are scarce and life is hard to sustain.

But the point of going through a desert, whether literally or figuratively, is to remind us that we are dependent on God to sustain us—a lesson we need to remember even when we’re living in a place of plenty.

Are you living in a place of plenty or of need? In what ways is God sustaining you?

In every desert, God has an oasis of grace.

BE FILLED

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? – Luke 11:13

The Holy Spirit is a gift (Acts 2:38). You cannot be good enough to earn the gift of the Holy Spirit, but you do have to ask. This is speaking of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which is subsequent to the born-again experience.

The Holy Spirit resides in our spirits, and once He comes, He doesn’t leave (John 14:16). There is an initial filling when the Holy Ghost first comes. However, His control and influence over our souls and body does fluctuate proportionally to how well we have our minds renewed to His will (Rom. 12:2).

In that sense, we can be more full of the Holy Ghost than at other times, although in our spirits the presence and power of the Holy Spirit does not come and go. Therefore, even after we receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, there will be times when our souls and bodies stray from the leadership of the Holy Spirit and we need, once again, to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

In Ephesians 5:18 believers are commanded to “be not drunk with wine…but be filled with the Spirit.” Being filled with the Holy Spirit is in the present tense, making it a continual command for the believer. In the book of Acts, the same people who were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost were filled again. Most people don’t get drunk on just one drink.

Likewise, being filled with the Holy Spirit is not just a one-time experience. There is an initial filling of the Holy Spirit, but many subsequent fillings. Just as drunkenness can change a person’s personality and make him or her act totally different, so being filled with the Holy Spirit can make us act just like Jesus. Be filled with the Spirit today.

ASK

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. – Matthew 7:7, NIV

A lot of times, it’s easy to think that we’re not supposed to ask for too much, but the Scripture encourages us to go to God with all of our needs. He tells us to ask, and He longs to give you the desires of your heart. In fact, Jesus said, “You have not because you ask not.” When you step out and ask, it pleases Him and shows that your faith and trust are in Him.

Remember, when you pray, make sure there isn’t anything in your heart that would block your faith. Begin your prayers by surrendering every thought and attitude to the Lord. Ask Him to purify your motives and show you if there is any unforgiveness in your life. When you release those things to the Lord, it opens the door for Him to move mightily on your behalf!

SACRIFICE IS THE TRUE MEASURE OF LOVE …

The degree of one’s love for someone is measured by the degree of his or her sacrifice for that person. When you deeply love someone, you’ll do a lot of difficult, challenging, or painful things for him or her that you would never do for anyone else.
Jesus, even before his death, demonstrated his love for others by sacrificing for them. John 13:1 tells us: It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. In the next 15 verses, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet — a task usually performed by the lowliest servants. Yet Jesus, out of love, gave of himself in order to serve. Love means going out of your way to be a servant.
Sacrifice is exactly how we can measure God’s love for us. As Romans 5:8 explains, God let his son, Jesus Christ, die so that every one of us could have the opportunity to be alive: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God demonstrates his love for us by his sacrifice for us.
In 1 John 3:16-17, we are presented with this same challenge: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. How can you love others if you’re not sacrificing for them?
In your life, examine what you can do to serve others in order to show them true love — God’s love. Such love requires sacrifice.

FAITH IS THE ABILITY TO SEE GOD IN THE DARK ...

Have you ever felt that God isn’t with you? That when life became tough and darkened God abandoned you? Such a feeling is common to many Christians. However, you must not rely on feelings; instead, you must rely on faith, knowing that God is always there—you just may not always be able to see him in your circumstances.That’s why faith is so important.
Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. For example, if a family member dies, you may understandably question whether or not God could possibly be with you during such difficult times. However, by faith, you can be certain of what [you] do not see—certain that God was there watching over the whole situation.
Romans 4:19-21 describes how Abraham had faith even though it looked like God could never do what he said he would: Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
In his dark circumstances, Abraham could still see God—he had faith. That’s the same type of faith to which God is calling you.

THERE IS JUST SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT YOU

Isaiah 60:1 – Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.

People might have said to you, “Why are you so lucky?” or “You seem to be looking younger and younger,” or “There is so much bad news these days, yet you seem untroubled by them.”

Now, the people of the world don’t have spiritual discernment. They can only go by your physical appearance, behavior and what happens to you. In other words, if they notice something different about you, it is because they see the evidence of God’s glory on your life—in your family and work life, health and finances.

Your friends and colleagues may have told you that you stand out from the rest as though a spotlight were on you. Indeed, this is so because of Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27) When God’s glory rises upon you, your words carry weight, even if you are not eloquent. I should know. I stuttered and stammered right up into my teens. So when your words change people’s lives, you know that it is not you. It is the Lord!

You don’t have to be a straight-A student or someone able to speak the Queen’s English. You may be foul-mouthed like the disciple Peter, but when God changes you and His glory rises upon you, and you stand up and preach, 3,000 people get saved! (Acts 2:14–41) What is important is that God gives weight to what you say.

You might be a nobody like Joseph, a slave cast aside and forgotten in a dungeon. Yet, the greatest king on earth at that time sought Joseph out to have him interpret his dreams. In other words, God will give to you answers that the people of the world do not have.

Maybe it is your hands. When you lay hands on the sick, they recover. Maybe it is your ability to give counsel that is spot on, or your ability to speak into their future with a word of knowledge or word of wisdom from God.

“The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:3) My friend, when you see this happening, it is because the people of the world are drawn to the glory of the Lord which has risen upon you!

OUR LOVING FATHER

If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? – Luke 11:11

The most loving Father in the world cannot compare to our heavenly Father and the love He has for us. And yet, many times, we find it easier to believe in the willingness of a father or mother or mate to help us than in the willingness of God to use His power on our behalf. Relatively few people really doubt God’s ability, but rather, it is our doubt of His willingness to use His ability on our behalf that causes most people to do without. Jesus is assuring us that God’s love, and His willingness to demonstrate that love, is far greater than we can ever experience in any human relationship.

The Lord didn’t just save us out of pity or a sense of obligation as our Creator. He saved us because He loved us (John3:16). It was the “good pleasure of his will” for us to become adopted sons (Eph.1:5). We are wanted and accepted by our Father! What a wonderful thing this is! It would have been more than any of us deserve to be forgiven by God. Then to be given certain rights and privileges would have been more than we could have expected. But the Lord went further than that. He has actually accepted us.

The dictionary defines “accept” as “1. to receive gladly; 2. to receive into a place or a group” (New American Heritage Dictionary). The Lord does not just tolerate us; He actually loves us. He even likes us. He rejoices over us with joy (Zeph. 3:17).

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