There is a cooperation between the Christian and God. He is sovereign, so God has total power and authority over all of His creation, yet God invites His people to cooperate with Him in order for their lives to arrive at the place He appoints for them. There is no legitimate way to presume that any Christian can find themselves living the life which God desires for them apart from their active pursuit of His heart and His will. There are no accidental Christians, nor are there accidental arrivals into God’s best for each Christian. The Christian experience is highly proactive. God may sovereignly lead us to the place of appointment and blessing, but He calls us to cooperate with Him in order to remain there. I am fully convinced that how the Christian thinks is key to what the Christian experiences from God. Indifference, casualness, rebellion or presumption can and will undermine the plans of God for our lives. Yes, He is sovereign, but He has never obligated Himself to honor our potential dismissiveness of His desires for our lives. Since how we think of God, ourselves and others is so important, I will pose a question for you to consider today:
What owns your mind lately?
Let’s not just give the knee-jerk, instinctive Christianized answer. We might be tempted to assume that the Kingdom of God is the predominant factor which regulates our thoughts. Yet, how can we be sure? We should check a couple of things out in order to be certain that our minds are being conditioned by spiritually healthy forces. Upon what are we most often and intently thinking? What did you feel as the magnet for your mind when you awoke today? Can you diagnose the thing which characterized your last lingering thoughts before you fell asleep? If you want to know what the predominant force fueling your mind is, then you must also diagnose the nature of what is coming out of your mouth. Consider what you are communicating to yourself and others with the normal cycles of your daily life. What is your present life saying to those around you? If you really want to know the truth, ask those who are close to you what aroma your life is currently releasing. My wife let me know a little while ago that there was some stink coming off of me at a level that was relationally unpleasant for her and our children. That kind of helpful, rare honesty will get your attention about what you have allowed to fashion you in any given season.
Our world is full of spiritually toxic fumes. If we are not intentionally seeking the fresh air of God’s truth, God’s Spirit and God’s Kingdom, then we are most certainly suffering from soul-pollution. We will find ourselves consistently discouraged. We might even find ourselves being incrementally eaten up by depression and fear. Are anger, irritability and frustration coming off of us? Mark it down then: we have been drinking in contamination from somewhere and our minds are not as God would have them be. Sure, we are forgiven, redeemed and new creatures in Jesus Christ. Yet, none of that exempts us from the urgent and continual tending to our own hearts and minds. There are simply some things that are harmful for us to allow to enter into our thinking. If it is tarnishing your soul, robbing you of joy, dragging down your emotions or smogging your mind. . . then it isn’t the will of God for you. You are not to manage it, whatever it is; you are to intentionally put distance between it and yourself. There really do exist some things that we are just not equipped to handle. There are some influences that will rob us, and our job is to discern those things and forbid their ongoing influence in our lives. As Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry Callahan famously said in 1973, “A man’s gotta know his limitations.”
God is calling us to cooperate with Him. He is not going to do everything for you. He has a beautiful place to which He desires to bring you, but we should never presume that He will take us there regardless of how we participate. Our minds are to be intentionally consecrated unto Him. Whatever enters the mind, whether healthy or contaminated, creates an instant layer in the mind. If the same thing continues to layer our mind, then it becomes a block as those layers stack on top of each other. This layering eventually creates one of two things: a building block for Kingdom good or a stumbling block for Kingdom distraction. We are the gatekeepers of what comes into our thinking. This is where our cooperative power rests. Where we seemingly have less power is in controlling what flows forth from our lives. There is a spiritual reality that is backed by Scripture which teaches us that whatever flows into us will inevitably flow out of us. We have less control of the content of the outflow than we have over that which flows in. God calls us to partner with Him in wisely discerning what we are daily allowing to flow in. That is where our partnership with Him begins.
For those who may be aware that what is coming forth from their lives lately is less than fitting for a follower of Jesus, there is much grace available to you right now. God will respond with a beautiful reversal when you acknowledge your need to more intentionally guard your mind-gate. If you will commit to keeping the gate of your mind with all diligence, you will find that He immediately begins to change the atmosphere of your thinking. He will drain that swamp quickly and replenish your mind with the healthy waters of Kingdom focus and understanding.
God is an expert at the art of the exchange. If you will release it, He will remove it. Then He will renew it.
“To all who mourn in Israel,
He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for His own glory.”
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