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August 8, 2008

Guarding our hearts under the protective custody of God’s peace

by Dave Malnes

There is a peace that goes beyond understanding which can invade our hearts and minds with the Holy Spirit. We are encouraged to take the extra effort and time to guard our hearts and mind so we can be under the protective custody of God’s peace.

“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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

We need to go to great lengths to stand guard to what we allow to enter our thought-life. What we allow will be reflected in the words and actions we produce. I think of a soccer referee as an example. Their job is to monitor a game and blow a whistle if a person commits a foul or issue a yellow card to warn the player they are playing in an unacceptable fashion. Why do they do that? Why does a game even need a referee? They are protectors. They keep players on both teams in line. They protect the integrity of the game. Without them, a game could erupt into chaos.

Paul wants us to guard or “referee” our own lives and gives us a list of what we should strive to allow to enter our minds.

TRUE
Integrity, genuine, honesty, not vain or deceptive. Credible, reliable or valid.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) A soldier who witnessed Jesus’ death on the cross and a soldier piercing the side of Jesus’ body with the spear gave a reliable testimony and so it was widely believed to be true (John 19:35). So, we are to think of things that are reliable and true, for it will give us peace. And it is God’s Word that is our primary source of what is true (“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth –John 17:17), so we daily come to refresh our minds with truth.

NOBLE
The Greek word means respectable, dignity, or honorable. It can also mean good conduct and character.

We focus our attention on things worthy of honor or reverence, “as opposed to flippancy that lacks seriousness.”Honor is what makes a man or woman stand apart.

RIGHT
The word means just, upright, impartial, or fitting.

More often than not, the right way of doing things is the most difficult way. When all forces or opinions attempt to steer us to the easy way out, we are called upon to do things right, no matter how difficult or longer it may be. Besides, this is how we were made right with God. Jesus’ death on the cross was the most difficult and the only way for us to be made right. What is right according to God’s standards is spelled out clearly in the Bible for which we have no excuse for not knowing.

PURE
Modest, chaste, stainless, sincerity, things that encourage purity.

The hope we have in Christ purifies ourselves just as Christ is pure. (1 John 3:3)We are to remain undefiled from the affairs and philosophies of this world. The wisdom that comes from above is pure (James 3:17), thereby allowing us to express this wisdom in our thoughts and behavior.

LOVELY

Acceptable, pleasing, agreeable.

They are things that incite true love instead of erotic behavior. We guard our actions so they may be acceptable and agreeable in the eyes of God. When we consider things lovely to look at, they are warm and pleasing to the eye, thereby garnishing pleasant thoughts, not carnal or lustful ones. So should our mind’s eye strive to recall images that are lovely and pleasing to our spirit. It’s amazing how our mind works, especially for a young man. The image of a scantily clad woman can seer into our mind’s eye like a tattoo — never to go away no matter how hard we try to rub it out.

ADMIRABLE

Of good report, well spoken of, reputable, things attractive in moral character.

You have heard the phrase WWJD (What would Jesus do).In the same way, we can say WWJT (What would Jesus think).As we have respect for men or women who exhibit noble and admirable character, we can think of things that would project good character in our mind.

EXCELLENT

Virtue, perfection.

We have at our disposal a moral excellence that comes through exercising our faith in Christ through His Word. As God displays his excellence in his own glory and goodness, we can receive everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him. We can escape the corruption of this world that is caused by evil desires. As a result of this power at hand, we can make every effort to mature in the faith by exercising it in God’s Word (2 Peter 1:3-5).

PRAISEWORTHY

Commendation, public approval and recognition.

As we strive to gain praise and recognition from others, we yearn for that time on Judgment Day when we will receive praise from God (1 Corinthians 4:5).How will our thought life bring us praise on that day?

How can we guard our minds in the television shows, videos or movies that we choose to watch, the books or magazines we read, or the video games we play? If we analyze most of the televisions shows that are being broadcast today, we can tell they are designed to charge the flesh with the currents of lust, fame and fortune. We can admit and confess that we are attracted to them like moths to a light. This is the battleground. This is the competition. We must strive to defeat the onslaught of arrows that we see and hear targeting our sinful nature.

Furthermore, there is a whole other element to contend with. Peer pressure. We want to fit in. We want to be liked. How can you withstand the stares of disbelief when confronted by a peer that you haven’t watched a particular show, listened to a particular song, or played a particular video game. These arrows are the most difficult to fend off, especially on a college campus or living on your own as an adult.

How do we get better at playing the piano, building a chair or making free throws? We practice and practice. As a result of practicing, we get better and better. Paul tells us that as we practice or do the things that we have learned and received from Paul, than we will receive the peace of God that transcends all understanding. As we follow and put into practice the examples of Christian pastors, teachers, family or friends, we will enjoy the presence of the God of peace in our lives. We receive a peace knowing that you are a child of God, loved dearly by him no matter what. A peace that is not dependent on what others might think of you. A peace that allows you to stand firm, to run the race set before you, to finish and claim the prize and receive the crown of glory for those who remain faithful to the end.

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