Thursday, January 15, 2015

Prescription for Peace Part 1

At the beginning of a new year, a clean canvas stretches out in front of us just waiting for us to pick up our paintbrush and add that first stroke of color. We are eager to start. We make New Year's resolutions.

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Yet, we hesitate to touch the brush to the paint. Which color do we use first? That vast white unknown seems daunting. Memories of all the failed attempts and past mistakes cause our hand to tremble. Fear of imagined future disasters (which, by the way, may never come) paralyze us.

We long for peace, but peace is elusive.

We can't read far into the Apostle Paul's writings (especially Romans 7) before we realize that he too struggled to find peace. "I am all too human," Paul lamented. "I want to do what is right, but I can't."

Then, in Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT), we find Paul's prescription for peace:

"Don't worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me--everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you."

It's all in our thought life!

But thoughts seem to just pop up out of nowhere, don't they? Not really. Remember that old computer adage, "Garbage in, garbage out"? Jesus said that "whatever is in your heart [your thoughts] determines what you say" (Matthew 12:34) and do. When we feed our minds on the unholy, the unclean, and the perverted, our thoughts, words, and deeds will be evil too. So the first step in controlling our thoughts is to stop feeding on garbage. Instead, feast on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

What do we do when those evil thoughts from our past sinful life come to mind?

I've heard it said that "the birds can fly over your head, but you don't have to let them make a nest in your hair." Likewise, when peace-shattering thoughts come into our minds, we don't have to latch onto them and entertain them.

When I was a girl, I heard an advertising jingle for a particular brand of beer on the radio. It was a catchy tune. It sang itself over and over in my head. I couldn't seem to get free of it--until I began to quote a Scripture verse or sing a hymn. I soon realized that I couldn't think two things at the same time. I could replace unwanted thoughts with the Word of God or a spiritual song.

How can we control our thoughts? Through prayer and thanksgiving, by refusing to worry, by fixing our minds on God's Word and putting into practice what He says.

In my next blog posts, I will discuss three areas of our thought life that can rob us of peace:
  • Guilt 
  • Worry
  • Fear 

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