“This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best” Philippians 1:9-10
When I was young, my mother tried to prepare me for life by urging me to make up two things: my bed and my mind. When I got up each day she would remind me, “Joe, make up your bed.” And when I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do, she would prod me, “Joe, make up your mind.”
By far, making up our minds is the more important of the two skills. The real issue is not whether we can make up our mind; it’s whether we can make up our minds correctly. Correct thinking leads to correct decisions—the kind of decisions that guarantee productive and satisfying outcomes. But in our culture correct thinking is a challenge. Every day we are bombarded with secular input that is not only incorrect from God’s point of view, but also counterproductive in our relationships, aspirations, and spiritual growth.
This tug of war in our minds is really about values. Our values define us. They are the guiding principles that form our thoughts, our conclusions, and ultimately our behavior. They are instilled in us by our families, teachers, experiences, entertainment choices, our heroes, our community, and sometimes even by our fallen instincts. When we listen to all the voices around us and ignore the input of God’s Word, making up our mind always get us into trouble.
But when we accept the truth of God’s Word as the guiding principle for decision-making, we will be equipped with the discernment to make up our minds in good ways. And, there is no shortage of good advice in Scripture! God has given us the correct information on how to handle money, relationships, children, spouses, offenses, employers, employees, and politicians. You name it—God has the correct information to guide your mind to correct conclusions.
But beware—good discernment can be easily derailed by rationalization. It’s easy to make mental excuses that neutralize our ability to make good choices. We’ve all heard the excuses—and sometimes from our own lips: “I know it’s wrong, but . . .” or “If it weren’t for the way he treats me” or “I know a lot of people who do worse things.”
In Philippians 1:9-11, Paul encourages us to make excellent decisions that are the by-product of an uncompromised, excuse-free commitment to unselfish acts of love grounded in a discerning application of the knowledge of God’s Word. The result? A life that basks in the pleasures of purity, the fruit of the Spirit, and the fulfillment of our redemptive purpose to live to the praise and glory of God (Philippians 1:10-11).
So take my mother’s advice: Every day, make up your bed and make up your mind. Just be careful how you make up your mind!
Obeying God Brings Relief
From: Streams in the Desert
—Mark Guy Pearse
From: Through the Bible
Numbers 21:8-9 (NIV) 8The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
After more wandering in the wilderness because of their refusal to trust God, the Children of Israel became impatient. They began to complain again about their conditions. It was their own actions and their own requests that had placed them there, but they began to blame it on Moses. It is always easier to point the finger at someone else than to consider our role in our difficulties.
God sent poisonous snakes amongst them as a judgment. (There are still poisonous snakes with a fiery bite in that region of the desert) The people began to cry out to Moses for help. Our song changes from a whine to a plea when we are in a life and death situation.
The LORD’s instruction was to take a pole and place upon it a bronze snake. If the people would just turn and look at it they would be healed from the deadly venom. Here is another wonderful picture of what God did for us. Bronze is representative of judgment. The snake is the cursed being that was used by Satan to trick Eve and thereby bring the venom of sin and death into the world. One day that sin would be judged upon a pole. All we need to do to be cured of sin’s deadly venom is to look and live. If we will have faith that sin has been judged in the One who hung there, we will live. Thank the LORD for His wonderful plan of salvation. Look and live!
Prayer: Thank You Lord, for making it so easy for me to come to You. Help me look to You daily and live.
Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV) 12“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
We often disconnect this parable from children. Jesus was speaking on the subject of how precious children are to God. He was using an illustration that the hearers all understood. Sheep need a shepherd. They cannot survive on their own. They need someone to guide them to pasture, water, and to protect them from predators.
In this parable, one sheep wonders off. This is quite common. Though the sheep tend to congregate for protection, there are those independent ones that tend to wander. The danger is that they will fall into an inescapable crag or be eaten by predators. The shepherd will leave the flock, which endangers the flock, to find that one lost sheep. When he finds it, it is often weak from insufficient pasture and water. He usually has to carry it back. Still, he is joyful that the sheep has been recovered. Sometimes we look at children, both physical and spiritual, that are independent thinkers and wonder if they are worth the effort. Jesus is saying that they are indeed. The one who is able to help them return to the fold is happier about that restoration than about the others who did not stray.
Sometimes that sheep will repeatedly wander away. Then the shepherd of Jesus’ day had one option, to break the sheep’s leg. That would mean he would have to carry it for the next six weeks, hand feeding it. When the sheep recovers, it will never leave the shepherd’s side. Severe discipline costs the shepherd a great deal of effort, but it is worth saving the sheep.
Consider: The Father is not willing that any be lost, even the most rebellious.