perfect prayer walk partners

I think I have found them – the perfect prayer walk partners, that is. Today is one of those beautiful spring days, with flowers blooming (including plenty of dandelions) birds singing and sun shining. We met in front of the church for our weekly prayer walk, divided up and set out in different directions to walk the streets of this neighborhood, a neighborhood which has just recently experienced the trauma of brutal murders.

This morning however, all was quiet, even peaceful as we pursued a path down the streets that would take us to the location where a body had been found, so that we could pray over that place. We were an unlikely trio, perhaps, by the world’s standards – a young blind man, an older autistic gentleman and myself. The blind man led us, as he lives in this neighborhood and knows his way around. (I am forever directionally challenged, whether driving or walking) I have walked with him on several occasions and I always follow his lead.

What an interesting sight we must be to the casual observer – a handsome young man with a white cane tapping the ground in front of him, followed by a lady and a gray bearded gentlemen with a slightly unusual gait – walking and talking, not so much to each other, but to God as we make our way slowly down the street. This is a sacred time I look forward to each week.

Today the topic of who God can use seemed to be front and center. But the answer to this question was already apparent to me – I was walking with the answers! (and I was one of the answers, too!) God can and will use anyone who presents themselves to Him in obedience. He will use anyone who answers His call as Samuel and Isaiah did saying –

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10) and

“Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

The three of us had listened, like Samuel, and as a result, we were “sent” like Isaiah, into these streets to pray and intercede for all the people living in this neighborhood. What a sacred assignment! One none of us take lightly. We were not necessarily equipped beforehand for this task, but God Himself equips those of us who answer His call with everything we need. Today, once again, my prayer walk partners and I found this to be true.

God provided us many opportunities to pray with people we met as we walked today. What a privilege to pray for other people! What joy to be used by God to bless and encourage other people. The world considers blindness and autism handicaps. God does not see these things as disqualifiers or detriments to service to Him in any way. I think that’s because God sees things from a different perspective than our limited human perspective allows us to see these same things. This is made clear in 1 Samuel 16:7 –

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ ”

And indeed, our Creator is the only One who can see into our hearts clearly and accurately. That’s what matters most to God, the attitudes and motivations of our hearts, not our supposed handicaps. What our culture considers a disqualifying defect, our Creator views as an empowering asset, which can be used to bring much glory to our Heavenly Father. Case in point, the apostle Paul,

” . . . there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

God’s glory and goodness show up in our weaknesses, in our deficiencies and in our handicaps, as the culture calls them. It is often these very handicaps and our own weaknesses that force us to feel our need of God and allow us the opportunity to experience relying on Him, rather than on ourselves and on our own strength, which doesn’t really get us all that far. Seems counterintuitive to give God thanks for our handicaps, but that’s exactly what Paul ended up doing, saying – ” . . . I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

As we prayed our way through the neighborhood streets this morning, I thanked God for giving me two such wonderful prayer walk partners. As a blind man led us, determining the direction we took (you have to love the symbolic irony of that, I do) I was humbled by the powerful prayers of my autistic prayer partner, just as I was by the prayers of the young man who led us.

Today, I am reminded once again – God is not limited by my or by your human, physical limitations. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t even see our various “thorns” or conditions as limitations, but only as avenues for His love, grace, strength and power to be poured into our lives, enabling us to serve Him well. What others see as weaknesses, are the very things God uses to make you and me strong in Him. It is like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 –

“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.” –

then I read in Jeremiah 9:23-24 this –

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”

God can use each and every one of us for His good purposes, weaknesses, handicaps and all. Our very frailties are what draws us to Him – therefore His strength and goodness are made manifest to others through the very things our culture would tell us disqualify us from His service or from doing anything of value. Not so! We all have value and purpose in God’s kingdom. In our weaknesses, we receive His strength, so that we may say and truly believe –

“Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31)

sincerely, Grace Day

letting go

I sat with head bowed, palms open and turned upward in my lap, as the pastor had directed us to do while he prayed over us. The symbolism of my hands, open and empty, was not lost on me. Opening my clenched fists requires that I let go of anything and everything that I am holding onto so tightly. (I wonder how many of us had to put down our phones in order to have our hands empty, open and available during the prayer?) Only when my hands are open and empty, am I ready for God to fill them with the good gifts He has been waiting to put within my grasp all along.

I just have to loosen my strangle hold on all that I cling to so desperately, finally letting go, leaving my hands wide open to receive all that God wants to give me. Makes me wonder why I hang on so hard and so long to these things – when God promises to give me something better.

If I let go of my fear – God stands ready to replace it with His courage.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

When I let go of my grief, God will take it upon Himself and bring me His comfort.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

“Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,” (Isaiah 53:4)

I don’t have to hold so tightly to my guilt and shame, I can release them and receive God’s forgiveness.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

I can let go of all my anxieties and let His perfect peace fill me instead.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

I can let go of despair and allow God’s hope to enter in and fill me instead.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

I can let go of these heavy burdens I insist on carrying with me every day, afraid to put them down and leave them behind. When I lay them down, I will find they have been replaced with what God wants to give me. Jesus said,

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

I can let go of all anger and judgement towards others. In their place, God will give me His compassion and mercy for each and every person.

“The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” (Psalm 145:9)

I can let go of all my doubts and receive from God the assurance of His love for me in its place.

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)

“if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)

I can let go of hate (which is really heavy) and receive God’s love in its place.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)

I can let go of my selfish ambitions and dreams of worldly success, leaving myself open to God’s direction, receiving God’s plans for me, His purposes for my life, which are far better plans and purposes for me than my own plans for myself.

” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I would prefer to go through life with hands open and upturned to God, rather than to live life with fists clenched. But I catch myself often during the day, with my hands closed around something, hanging on for dear life, unwilling to part with whatever it is, perhaps fearing the emptiness and doubting that God will fill it.

“He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagles.” (Psalm 103:5/NLT)

letting go – a thousand times a day if that’s what it takes – what it takes to open my hands, my heart and my life to my Creator, God – my Heavenly Father so that He can reign down His manna and His mercy on me and my hands will be open to receive it – to receive all of His good gifts –

Still, there is one thing I want to grasp and not let go of and it is this – it’s something that Paul said –

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

sincerely, Grace Day

wheat, weeds and works in progress

Ever feel like in a particular period of time, you receive multiple messages and they are all about the same thing, like there’s a lesson you need to learn? During these times do you feel like the universe is trying to tell you something? Well, that’s how the “new agers” would look at it anyway. But when this happens to me, I realize that the Creator of the universe, (not the universe) who coincidently is also my Heavenly Father, is trying to teach me something. So maybe I should sit up and take notice. Maybe I should pay close attention. Maybe I should listen and learn.

Now in my role as the “blackboard bandit” I have been continuing to write positive messages on whiteboards throughout the high school. Today’s message involved telling the students (or whoever would chance to read the words) that they are God’s masterpieces (Eph. 2:10) and consequently they are of infinite value. The world does not necessarily tell them that they have value just as they are. Actually the world doesn’t tell any of us that we have intrinsic value given to us by our Creator God. But we do. That’s the truth. Still, we more often believe the lie that we are worthless. Probably because the world doesn’t see most of us as very valuable unless we temporarily have riches or fame or power or influence.

So today’s whiteboard message about the students being masterpieces included the encouragement that they are all works in progress. We all are. Then the devotion I read today was written by someone struggling with their self worth because they weren’t where they wanted to be. None of us are though, because we are all works in progress. We are unfinished masterpieces or masterpieces in the making, if you will. God doesn’t give up on us. So we don’t have to give up on ourselves or on each other. The apostle Paul reminded the Philippians of this truth when he wrote these words to them –

“being confident of this, that He (God) who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

That’s encouraging, don’t you think? God’s still at work in my life and in your life, too, dear readers. During this same time I am studying the parable Jesus told about the wheat and the weeds. In this story the farmer sows wheat but weeds are also growing up in his field right alongside the wheat. The workers ask permission to pull up the weeds because after all, the weeds are taking up the wheat’s space, soil and sun, making it harder for the wheat to grow. But surprisingly, the farmer says to them this, in Matthew 13:29,

” ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.’ “

Ok, but aren’t the workers smart enough to recognize which are the weeds and which are the wheat, and pull up only the weeds? I would assume it would be obvious to any farmer worth his salt, which was the edible wheat and which was the poisonous weed. Apparently, not so. Author Tom Hughes, explains it this way –

“The word Jesus uses, often translated “weed,” is a specific type of rye grass called darnel, which has poisonous seeds. At the harvest, if you processed it with the good wheat, the resulting flour would be ruined. If you fed it to your family, they would get sick. So the poisonous weeds must be removed. Here’s the problem: Until they are full grown, darnel and wheat are virtually impossible to distinguish from each other. You might think you are removing a weed, when you are really uprooting wheat.”

“Until they are full grown.” These words are a reminder to me that I can’t judge other people prematurely. (or at all) Besides the fact that it’s not my job, I can’t tell the wheat from the weeds while we are all growing up together in God’s field. Author Hughes puts it this way –

“The reason Jesus does not ask us to get rid of evil people is that we would not do a very good job of it. We keep thinking someone is a weed. We write the person off. We look down on the individual and wish he or she were simply gone. God is saying, ‘Be patient. Give that person some time and you might be surprised. That person might turn around.’ ”

God is patient with me as He slowly turns me from a weed into wheat. Should I be any less patient with those around me who are also growing up toward the sun (actually Son) as I am? God is in the business of turning weeds into wheat. He alone determines the time of the harvest and God doesn’t wish that anyone should pull up any weeds or wheat before His appointed time.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

So God is letting the wheat and the weeds grow up together and only God can tell the difference between wheat and weeds. I can’t. Neither can you. It is only God “who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:23) And as if to reinforce this idea, I found myself reading similar sentiments in Brant Hansen’s book, “Unoffendable.” Hansen wrote –

“I don’t know, ultimately, where people stand. I know what they need and what I need. I know we need Jesus. . . . It’s simple, honestly. You can quit trying to assess everyone; quit pretending you know where people stand; quit fooling yourself into thinking you know what others are thinking, what’s in their hearts. Let’s be humble and admit what we don’t know. . . . I’m so glad the judging business is God’s business. I can’t handle it. Neither can you, really, even if you think you can. . . . It takes a tremendous amount of humility . . . to hand over this job to God. But He made us, and He knows how we operate best. . . . He’s promising a better way of life. . . . He’s offering peace.”

I identify with the struggling person who wrote the devotion I read. She felt more like a weed than wheat. But it’s not harvest time yet! God is still transforming us day by day into the likeness of His beloved Son, Jesus. Our stories are still being written (post – “eight billion books) – we are still on the Potter’s wheel and He is still adding colors daily to the masterpieces He is making of our lives. God is doing all the work – ours is to trust Him enough to allow Him to have His way in our lives and finish the work He began in me and in you.

My Heavenly Father knows the end from the beginning. I will trust Him with the outcome.

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

Right now, it is not time for me to judge myself or to judge others. Judgement is God’s job, which He will do in His perfect timing. This leaves me free to love and to accept everyone, without the burden of having to decide if they are a weed or wheat. We are all works in progress. I can’t possibly know what anyone will one day become. Only our Creator knows what any of us will one day be. His vision for each one of us is perfect. He does not abandon us before it is time for the harvest but rather I read this in Philippians –

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)

God’s purposes are good. He turns water into wine, weeds into wheat and works in progress into masterpieces. Thank You, Lord.

“For we are God’s masterpieces, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

sincerely, Grace Day

the tomb is empty

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!’ ” (Luke 24:1-6)

the tomb is empty – the heavens are full – full of the souls saved by the resurrection that rendered the tomb empty and heaven full!

Because the tomb is empty, life is full.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Because the tomb is empty, death no longer has dominion over our lives.

“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?” (Hosea 13:14)

“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

The tomb is empty, the earth is full.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)

The tomb is empty, the earth is full of God’s love.

“The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.” (Psalm 33:5)

“The earth is filled with Your love, O Lord; teach me Your decrees.” (Psalm 119:64)

The tomb is empty, the earth is full – full of living things created by the One who left the tomb and ascended into heaven.

“How many are Your works, O Lord! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures.” (Psalm 104:24)

The tomb is empty, the seat at the right hand of the Most High is filled with the One who died in our place, paid our sin price, then rose to life, leaving behind an empty tomb, filling instead the seat at God’s right hand.

“Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)

“It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers in submission to Him.” (1 Peter 3:21-22)

The tomb is empty, our hearts are full. Our risen Savior fills us with His compassion, comfort, peace, forgiveness, hope, joy and love. Jesus left the tomb empty so that He might fill all the empty spaces of the earth, including the empty spaces in my heart that need to be filled.

“And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)

Jesus left the tomb empty, dear readers, so that you and I don’t have to live an empty life while being empty ourselves. We can be filled and life can be full.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

yes, today, the tomb is empty – and because it is – the heavens are full, the earth is full, our hearts are full, life is full –

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)

the tomb is empty – Jesus is risen!

sincerely, Grace Day

a blackboard bandit

That’s me! That’s my new secret identity. (maybe I shouldn’t be sharing this info with you, but I am just so excited about the idea of a new super, secret identity) Although I really should have put more thought into my undercover action hero name, because my mission doesn’t involve a blackboard (they don’t really use blackboards anymore – so no more chalk dust) and I am not taking or stealing anything, so I am not a bandit. (the alliteration was just too good to pass up) In reality, it involves a whiteboard and a dry erase marker. And rather than taking something away, I leave something behind when I leave.

So, my mission has just began, and already I need a new name. I’m considering “whiteboard whisperer” or “secret scribbler” but maybe first I should explain what my super secret mission is all about. I am a substitute teacher in a large inner city high school. Consequently, I am in a different classroom every day and sometimes multiple classrooms on the same day. I am not “the real teacher”, just a poor substitute for the real thing. (see posts – “the substitute” and “the real thing”) There are a lot of vacancies currently in this school, positions that desperately need to be filled. So the students’ work is posted online and they use their computers to do their classwork. The whiteboards in these classrooms are usually empty, because no instructions or information are written on them since it is all posted online.

Enter, me, or rather my super secret hero alter ego – the illogically named, Blackboard Bandit. I write an uplifting, inspirational quote or message on the otherwise empty whiteboard in the hope that whoever might notice it and read it will be encouraged or comforted or inspired or experience something positive in the moment. Maybe the words I secretly scribble on the classroom whiteboard will be just what a particular student needs to help them deal with whatever the day will bring their way. That is my hope. That is my new purpose.

Words have the power to build up or to tear down, to provide wise counsel or foolish advice. Well placed words can be food for thought to help young minds stretch and grow. The best words are those from God’s living, eternal word. In Isaiah I read this about God’s word –

“so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

Proverbs tells me this about the power of words in our lives –

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

As I listen to the students’ conversations in the classrooms, it is apparent to me that they are dealing with many things at this time in their lives. They are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in this world. They are searching for their purpose and their place. I see them discouraged and depressed and what they listen to and what they watch leads to more fear and anxiety in their lives, not less. They are not wise consumers of social media. (they could benefit from my previous post -“a penny for your thoughts” – about the power of our thoughts over our lives)

And that’s where words come into the picture. Our words are what we use to communicate our thoughts both to others and to ourselves. So maybe some well placed words on a whiteboard in a random classroom can make a small difference for the better in some student’s life. It is worth taking a chance and a moment to write some positive, encouraging, uplifting and true words on the board in hopes that someone will be impacted for the better by the power of the words.

I, as the “blackboard bandit” of my school building, working anonymously so as not to reveal my super secret identity or alternate aliases as the “secret scribbler” or the “whiteboard whisperer”, may never know how many, if any, students read and receive my messages of encouragement and truth left behind for them to discover on the whiteboards in their classrooms. But this is something positive that is within my power to do, costing me no more than a dry erase marker. So I will seize the opportunity to leave behind a positive message wherever I go, hoping it will brighten someone’s day and give them something worthwhile to think about as an alternative to the negative messages from social media which surround us twenty-four/seven.

“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” (Henry Drummond)

sincerely, Grace Day – aka “the blackboard bandit”

a penny for your thoughts

That used to be a popular saying – “a penny for your thoughts.” Turns out though, our thoughts are worth much more than mere pennies. Our thoughts determine our character, our actions, the way we live and the way we see the world –

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” (Proverbs 23:7 – KJV)

Our thoughts can have power over us, or we can have power over our thoughts. It is a constant battle, but a battle we can win with God’s help and good advice from His word. We win when we control our thoughts rather than our thoughts controlling us. At least that’s the premise of an author I was reading recently, Tom Hughes. In his book, “Down to Earth” Hughes states,

“Self-talk is something we all do. But it’s important to think about what you talk to yourself about. To live differently, you have to think differently. To think differently, you have to monitor your thoughts – your self-talk. . . . man’s upcoming actions result directly from his thinking.”

So, if I want my life to be different, I have to change my thoughts. This is because my thoughts precede and even determine my actions. If I think differently, I will act differently. If I act differently, my life will be different. Therefore, if I wish to change my life, I must first change my thoughts. Paul said as much in his letter to the church in Rome when he wrote –

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

My thoughts can renew and transform me, or my thoughts can destroy me or they can hold me captive, especially if they are thoughts that lead to fear, anxiety, depression, shame, self-doubt, unforgiveness – if they are thoughts based on the lies of the enemy of my soul. This must be why Paul gave these instructions in his letter to the Philippians –

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. . . . And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

Paul also tells the Colossians this –

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:2-4)

These instructions remind me that I can choose my thoughts and I can choose to change them. I can be intentional about my thoughts and where they lead me. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 I am told to –

“take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

We used to be told – “you are what you eat!” It would seem to me that – “I am what I think!” or “I become what I think!” In Proverbs 4:23 I read,

“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” (NCV)

So true. I must examine my thoughts in order to determine which ones are beneficial and which ones are detrimental to me. Paul’s list in Philippians is a good guide for me when I am trying to determine which thoughts to dwell on and which thoughts to discard. Paul’s standard on thoughts worth keeping? Is it true? Is it noble? Is it right? Is it pure? Is it lovely, or admirable? Is it excellent or praiseworthy? These are thoughts worth thinking and continuing to think about.

As I think about the high school students I see every day, I often see that they are surrounded by lots of negative thinking. They put each other down and they put themselves down. Then our culture comes in via constant media messages making them feel even worse about themselves. Constant comparison to false images of supposed perfection causes them anxiety, depression, loss of self-confidence, thinking that they will never measure up or be accepted – these thoughts lead to destructive actions on their parts which lead to negative life consequences. Changing what they think about, what they fill their minds with, would change their actions which would in turn change their lives.

This is why learning overcomers’ stories and focusing on those inspiring individuals who are examples of succeeding in spite of adversity, fill students’ minds with thoughts of hope and possibility, rather than thoughts of despair and victimhood. Who their heroes are impacts their thoughts and consequently, their lives. Are their heroes overcomers who inspire and help others or are their heroes victims who feel everyone owes them and that they are entitled to what they have not earned? What thoughts we fill our minds with really does make a difference in our lives. That’s why God’s word tells me to “take captive my every thought.” I also find this promise in Isaiah –

“You (God) will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3 – NKJV)

I like the NLT translation of this verse –

“You (God) will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”

If I fix my thoughts on my Heavenly Father, His promise to me is that I will experience His perfect peace. In Philippians, this peace is called “the peace that passes understanding” because it doesn’t make sense humanly speaking. It is one of God’s good gifts to us, this peace that doesn’t depend on our current earthly circumstances. God gives us His peace when our minds, our thoughts, are fixed on Him. God’s peace replaces the anxiety and fear that I experience when my thoughts are fixed on what is going on in the world around me rather than on Him and on the wisdom, truth and promises in His Living Word. In Joshua I read what he said to the Israelites –

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)

They were told what to “meditate”, what to “think” on, not just randomly, not just now and then, but “day and night.” If they follow Joshua’s instruction about what they should be thinking about, (God’s law) they are promised prosperity and success. This result is possible because their thoughts will translate into their actions, and their actions will result in them being prosperous and successful.

This battle for our minds is very real, dear readers. Satan knows if he can gain control of our thoughts, then he has access to our actions, to the choices that we make, which in the end, determine our eternal endpoint. What starts as a mere thought, can end up as a life choice. (ie. the thought, “I have been forgiven!” – result when I constantly remember this true thought? – I live without that burden of guilt and I am able to forgive others because I, myself have experienced forgiveness) That’s why what I choose to think about matters so much. Which thoughts I choose to discard and which thoughts I choose to dwell on, will determine my destiny. Hopefully, I will discard the lies and dwell on the truth.

To that end, Lord, make me like the person described in Psalm 1:1-3 –

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”

and let me say with the psalmist –

“Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on Your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey Your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey Your word. I have not departed from Your laws, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:97-103)

sincerely, Grace Day