Peace of Mind

Dove of peace

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    In today's society, more than any other time in history, there is a battle over the mind. We are bombarded with sights to see, sounds to hear, odors to smell, textures to feel, and foods to taste from all over the world. We are confronted with ideas, beliefs, concepts that are designed to sway our minds.

    Religion, music, art, education, politics, the news media, business, and the sciences, all, are designed to grab our minds and covey a message that they want us to receive, accept, and believe. There are books, magazines, news papers, television, telephones, and now the internet that are used to sell us their products. Can one escape? Should we even try to escape?

    First, we can't fully escape. Jesus said to the Father, "As thou sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world" (John 17:18). As long as we live on earth, we will have exposure to the world. God planned it that way. Second, we shouldn't try to escape and become a hermit. We were sent to be a light into the darkened world (Matthew 5:14). Third, we do have some choice to what extent we are exposed. We can, to a large degree, determine what we see on T.V., hear on the radio, or search on the internet. Fourth, we are responsible before God as to what we receive, accept, and believe. "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:5). We can filter out the garbage from settling in our minds. Fifth, we need to find a place of peace, a refuge, a restoration from the world. At the moment, I am writing this article from a mountain lodge in northern New Mexico. It is good to get away; for a few days of vacation. However, taking a vacation is not the topic of this article. Instead, I want to look at what one can do on a daily basis to find peace of mind.

    Isaiah declared unto God, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon thee: because he trusteth in thee" (Isaiah 26:3). The answer is simple. We need to keep our minds focused upon God, trusting in Him. How can we do this? One effective way to do this is to plan to spend time in daily fellowship with God. The best time is early in the morning. David said, "But unto thee have I cried, O Lord: and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee" (Psalm 88:13). Jesus also practiced spending time with the Father early in the morning. "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed to a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mark 1:35). I know by personal experience that what we do early in the morning sets the stage for the day.

    Next, we need to find an isolated place. The place should be away from other people. It should be a quiet place away from things that might distract us. We may have to get up and find a quiet corner before other family members get busy in the house.

    Finally, I suggest that you use a journal to maintain a discipline of daily fellowship. I recommend that you purchase as 5 1/2 in. by 8 1/2 in. loose leaf, three hole, note book. You may use the larger 8 1/2 in. by 11 in. if you prefer.  The smaller size is just easier to carry around.  Then you may get dividers with tabs "1-31" on them. Then you may add a few pages of lined paper behind each of the tabs. The tabs are for the days of the month.

    Keeping a journal is good because it slows our thoughts down, it gives us a record of our experiences, and it incorporates a discipline into our lives. Sometimes, we get going so fast that it becomes difficult to slow down and spend quality time with God. Furthermore, we often become forgetful of the prayers that we have prayed and that God has answered, but our journal is a reminder. When we fail to journal, the blank pages in the journal serve to convict us to get back on track.

    It is good to begin by dating the first blank, lined page after the day of the month with the month and year. Again, we need to do this to help us remember, because we will have twelve months of pages following each number by the end of the year.

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Notebook OutlineI suggest five basic steps in keeping a journal.

    The first step is thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is expressing appreciation to God for what he has done for us or others that we know. David said, "Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him and bless his name" (Psalm 100:4). I simply write the word "Thanksgiving" near the top of the page and begin prayerfully to think of things that God has done (generally the day before). God may have provided for your safety, income, rest, healing, or an encouraging word from a friend. Of course, you may want to thank Him for your family, your friends, your church, or your community. You may just want to thank Him for sending Jesus to provide for your salvation. Finally, you may thank God for your current situation.

    Even though you may not see any reason to thank Him, the Bible says to do so. "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20). We can give thanks because He is working everything together for our good (Romans 8:28). It is also His will that we give thanks. "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:18). We are to begin with thanksgiving. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). In brief, list some things that you can thank God for.

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    The second step is praise. Praise is expressing admiration for God's divine nature and character. Praising God is moving a step closer to Him. You may write the word "Praise" under the section on thanksgiving. You can praise God for who He is. You may praise God because He is the creator. He has created the heavens, the earth and all that was created. You may praise Him because He is eternal and exits out side of the realm of time. You may praise Him because He is the Almighty God and nothing is to hard for Him. You may praise Him because He is a gentle, kind, tender, loving Heavenly Father. You may praise Him because He is all-knowing. You may praise because He is righteous and does everything right. You may praise Him because He is your Saviour and healer.

    The book of Psalms is filled with expression of praise. You may want to read it to understand the meaning of praise. David said, "Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation" (Psalm 111:1). "Praise yet the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praise unto my God while I have any being" (Psalm 146:1-2). Again, David declares, "Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely" (Psalm 147:1).

    Praise is the apex of our giving worth to God (worship). Praise takes our minds off our failures and weaknesses and allows us to focus on His ability and strength. Praise is a mighty weapon against fear, discouragement, and depression. Praising God is what we will do in Heaven (Revelation 4:10-11, 5:11-13).

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    The third step is prayer.  Prayer is asking God to fulfill His work in your life according to His Word.  David prayed, "I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word" (Psalm 119:107).  He also said, "Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word" (Psalm 119:170). In one sense, prayer is holding God to His Word.

    God awaits our prayers. "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" (Jeremiah 33:3). We can open our hearts before Him in prayer. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be make known unto God" (Philippians 2:6). "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). However, we need to believe to receive. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrew 11:6).

    By application, you may list "Prayer" under this section. Make each prayer brief and base it on God's Word, whenever possible. You may include prayers for yourself, your family, your church, those in authority, and your friends.  For an in-depth outline of daily prayer see: Daily Prayer

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    The fourth step is meditation. Meditation begins with a spiritual listening to God as you read the Word. I suggest that you have a plan for reading through the Bible in one year. You may pick one up from most any Christian bookstore. If you can't find one, I will send one to you. As you read, ask God to revel His Word to you. Then when God gives you a specific scripture with meaning, record it. A jeweler will take a diamond and put it under a magnifying glass, looking at each of the facets. Like the jeweler, we should take a close look at the scripture, looking at each of its facets. Be still and allow God to reveal His truth unto you. Then record the revelation.

    God told Joshua, "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shall make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success" (Joshua 1:8). We should remember that success is simply hearing and obeying the voice of God. David wrote, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalm 1:1-3).

    Paul in the New Testament exhorted Timothy to meditate. "Meditate upon these things; give thyself whole to them; that thy profiting may appear to all" (I Timothy 4:15). Meditation should result in revelation, and when the revelation is brought to application, the result should be success.

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    The fifth step is application. While I was in seminary, I taught a middle-aged men's Sunday School class. It took me about one year to get the class of understanding the Word to the application of the word. Application requires not only the understanding of the Word, but also the commitment to put the Word into practice.  James wrote, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works" (James 2:18).

    We understand from Scripture that Elijah ran a school for prophets. In the book of II Kings chapter two, we find the young prophets had an understanding of what was to happen to Elijah. God was to take Elijah away that day. The young prophets prided themselves on what they knew (II Kings 2:3, 5), but they stood at a distance to watch what was to happen. On the other hand, Elisha, not only knew what was to happen, he had committed himself to follow Elijah (II Kings 2:2, 4, 6). Moreover, Elisha had the boldness to ask for a double portion of the Spirit of God and receive it (II Kings 2:9-15).

    Talk is cheap. Action calls for faithfulness. Faithfulness produces the work of God. As God reveals the application of the Word to you. It is good to make a commitment to do what the Spirit is directing you to do. It is good to write the word "Application", followed an explanation of your commitment to accomplish it.

    I would also suggest that you make a "to-do" list. This list will be comprised of things which you desire to do that day and the things which you believe that God may have you to accomplish that day.  Pray over the list and let God set the priorities for the day. God may not give you the grace to accomplish everything on the list; therefore, it is not necessarily essential that you do everything on the list. At the end of the day or the next day check off those things on the list that God gave you the grace to accomplish. This will help keep you on tract with doing God's will and also give you a sense of accomplishment as you recall what you have accomplished.

May the Lord give you peace of mind as you daily fellowship with Him. Amen.

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