December 16, Friday

Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from December 11-17 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology.  He is married to Esther.   

Devotional Thought for Today

Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV): 2Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

16What do you fill your mind with? When I was in high school, there was a season where my friends and I would play Tetris all the time. Any free time I had would be occupied with this game. Even when I closed my eyes, I could see Tetris blocks descending into place—I just could not get my mind off of it. When I had surgery a few years ago and was bedridden, I binge-watched a television show called Friday Night Lights. Even when I wasn’t watching it, my mind would drift into reimagining scenes and wondering what else would happen in the show—this show was all I could think about. The power of the mind is both exciting and frightening. On the one hand, when we set our minds on things that are honoring to the Lord, it can lead to much good; but on the other hand, when we set our minds on things that are not honoring to the Lord, it can be led to catastrophic sin.

In a world that is increasing in content that is not pure, not lovely nor honorable, not true, are we taking this passage seriously regarding what we allow into our mind? Paul writes this in an imperative mood—meaning, it is a command, not merely a suggestion. When Paul reminds us how important it is to fill our minds with things that are honorable and things that are worthy of praise, I see how it is an equal argument for guarding our minds against things that are dishonorable and impure. In order for this to happen, it requires aggressive action! When we choose to think about things that are good, we are also actively choosing to weed out things that are not good.

Paul continues with another imperative: He says, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things….” The translation for “practice these things” is from the Greek verb prasso, which has a connotation of doing repeatedly, as a habitual act. There is value in repetition and discipline. Even the act of filtering what we allow into our minds is a discipline that we need to establish through practice and repetition. Although some translations would have this next statement, “and the God of peace will be with you,” as a separate unit of thought, I tend to think that it follows this same stream. When we set our minds on things characterized by Paul’s list, then the God who is the source of true peace will be with us; in other words, we will be filled with peace if we set our minds on these things. May the God of peace be with us as we learn to filter the things we allow into our minds.

Prayer

Father God, I commit my thoughts and my mind to You. Help me discern what I should and should not allow in my mind. May my thoughts be honoring and pleasing to You. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 6

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Lunch Break Study

Read Colossians 3:1-10 (ESV): If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your[a] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[b] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.[c] In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[d] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 

Question to Consider

  1. What is the reason that we are to set our minds on things that are above and not on things that are on the earth?
  2. What is the outcome of setting our minds on things that are above?
  3. What are some things that are on this list that you need to put to death?

Notes

  1. Since we are a new creation in Christ, our primary identity has shifted from belonging to the god of this age and the things of this age, to the eternal God and eternal things.
  2. Paul seems to indicate that setting your mind on things that are above is congruent with putting to death what is earthly in you. The more we set our minds on things that are above, the more capable we are of putting to death what is earthly in us.
  3. Reflection question.

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Evening Reflection

These days it seems harder and harder to filter the content that we allow into our minds. Whether they are TV shows that have crude jokes, games that promote violence, or even horror movies that may have deeply spiritual implications, there are so many things that flood our mind and our thoughts. Let’s be careful and commit our minds to the Lord in this new year. Perhaps you need to fast from the media and unplug to detox. Whatever you decide to do, commit it unto the Lord by setting your mind on things that are worthy of our attention.

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