A Glad heart

Proverb 12: 25 

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.

We looked at Philippians 4: 6 yesterday which instructs us to be anxiety free. Now see this adage from Proverbs regarding anxiety. There is a reason our Heavenly Father wants us to be free from anxiety. It is not healthy. Our hearts are not equipped to carry anxiety. It weighs down the heart and will eventually make the body sick. We must, therefore, learn how to counter it. Today’s verse joins yesterday’s to show us the way out of anxiety.

A good word makes the heart glad. How does that knowledge help us? Consider this verse, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things,” (Philippians 4: 8). We can choose what we meditate on. You can ruminate on the bad news or you can get into the Good News! You can listen to news media, your negative uncle and the water cooler gossip or you can listen to the gospel. You can listen to what your relatives say about you or you can listen to what your Heavenly Father says about you. Now, which do you think is going to make you feel better? Which is going to make your heart glad?

You see, to some extent, we weigh down our own hearts by our choices of what we listen to and to what we give our attention. I am going to say this plainly, if you are listening to the evening news more than you are reading your Bible, YOU ARE MISSING IT. Your spirit is not a garbage disposal. It is the resting place of God. You cannot let the world fill it with contaminants and still feel light and glad. Of course, you are going to feel anxious, angry and frustrated. How can you not?

You’ve got to get the Good News into you. You need it! The Word is health to the soul, spirit and body. No joking! Whatever you meditate on is going to grow within you. That is why Solomon encourages us to find the good word. Hang out with those who are positive and affirming and definitely those who have God’s Word in their mouths. Let your heart be glad.

Thinking Time

Philippians 4: 8         TPT

Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.

I should have sent this verse long ago in light of the challenging year we have had. This verse is a key not only to enduring challenging times but to rising above them. I chose the The Passion translation because it tells us to keep our thoughts continually fixed on that which is honorable, pure, respectable, kind, etc. That is an important element. It is so easy to let our thoughts, and our words for that matter, slip into the negative, detrimental, unkind, critical, facetious, etc. We really must set a guard over our lips and focus our attention on speaking and thinking those things which edify and encourage.

The NASB uses the word lovely, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable . . ..” These words create a high standard. God doesn’t want our thoughts wallowing around in the gutter of negativity, conflict, and destruction. It isn’t healthy for us and those thoughts, and subsequent words, are harmful to society. We are supposed to keep our thoughts to those things “that are excellent and worthy of praise.” If a thing is not worthy of praise, it should not be taking up time and space in our minds and spirits. It is like introducing a cancer into your spirit. You don’t want that.

You know, when we were kids, we were told that if we couldn’t say something nice, we shouldn’t say anything at all. I think the adults got that from this verse. If it isn’t praiseworthy, don’t say it and definitely don’t fix your thoughts on it.

We have been through a crazy year, a year unlike anything we have experienced before. It has been such a challenge at every level of existence. It is time, now, for us to pick up the pieces and restore nations and communities. We descended down into pits and wallowed far too much into muck but now we have fought our way out of the pit and back onto level ground. Do not allow ongoing challenge throw you back to the ground. Lift your eyes to heaven and let your thoughts, words and actions glorify God.

If it wouldn’t annoy you, I would write this Word of the Day in all caps to emphasize how important this is. I know how challenged your heart and spirit have been. I know how you’ve wanted to lash out at someone for all the indignation you feel you have suffered. We have all been frustrated and angry. That’s on us. However, we have a God who is love and kindness. Therefore, to fuel our recovery we must meditate on thoughts which are congruent with His character. We must stop tearing each other down, pointing fingers and complaining. We really must devote ourselves to prayers for others, kindness and charity. Let us heal and coalesce. Do not let your heart continue in dark thoughts or anger. Let your thoughts be of light and love. Consider the needs and concerns of others and make those a priority, even over your needs and wants. I know that sounds crazy but that is what the Bible tells us to do (Philippians 2: 3). And may the light and life of Jesus keep you.


Psalm 13

How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken. But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Throughout the Covid crisis, I have tried to write to the needs created by the virus outbreak. Of course, each person is at a different place in situation, emotions and their walk with God. Still, there have been outstanding sentiments which, have washed through the world, affecting many. At first it was fear and panic yielding the resultant shortages. Then there was resignation and accompanied by increasing faith, followed by prayer and courage. Interspersed in there was a second wave of fear as people lost their jobs or were temporarily furloughed. Through each of these stages we have reached out to our God for comfort and strength. Many people will be able to testify about how God embraced them during the tough times. However, we have now reached the hardest stage of all, uncertainty. Should we begin to return our lives to something that resembles normal or not? What are the costs and benefits?

That is a challenging question for which I do not presume to have an answer. What I have noticed, though, is rising emotions flooding the country. Fear has given way to anger. I believe this anger is born of frustration and loss. There are many different kinds of loss; jobs, activities, freedom of movement, and so on. Of course, in the midst of the challenge each person is experiencing, I cannot forget those who grieve for loved ones who have died from Covid-19. In the beginning, we all were in the same boat, none of us knowing what tomorrow would hold. Now we have diverged in our experience and our loss. Those divergent experiences are becoming increasingly divisive. We are becoming politicized in our separation, even amongst Christians.

Our need is, therefore, great. Whereas we stood as one people locked in battle against a common enemy, we have now become splintered. People’s hearts are more aggrieved now than in the beginning because of the isolation. Physical separation has given way to emotional and ideological separation. People are hurting and the anger you hear in the marketplace of ideas is the rejoinder to that intense stress response. By now, even people’s physiology will be reacting to the increased tension.

Fortunately, we have a remedy. Here is the way to take care of yourself. Please pass this on to anyone and everyone, but especially those who you notice expressing intense emotions. First, there is no pill, prescription, method or remedy better than our Lord. Entering into a quiet state of mind and putting ourselves fully in His hands and even His embrace is the best tonic of all. Bathe yourself in His presence. You may find the Psalms very helpful for finding that place of refuge.

Second, let us return to prayer. Today’s psalm is titled, “Prayer for help in Trouble,” which sounds appropriate. The more we focus on others, the nation, and the world through prayer, the more our minds are able to shift the attention off ourselves thereby reducing our stress. That is not to say your problems aren’t real and valid. It is just means that you need a break from them. So, this is an opportune time for prayer. The more we pray for others and for the broader situations we all face, the more cathartic it will be for us. Therefore, pray so that your soul may receive nourishment from above. In the balance you will be doing God’s work and helping your fellow humans.

Third, tap, tap, tap! Do you remember the article on Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) which was highlighted in the Word of the Day on April 21st? Click here. Our God has created a biomechanical mechanism which we can use anytime to reduce stress in our bodies. See this insightful message from two Christian EFT practitioners. There is also a link on our website: IveyMinistries.org.

Fourth, turn off television news. It is really tough on you. If you can, try to get your news from print media. There are sources which provide curated articles and show a very low bias. Personally, I think you will be blessed to avoid both the liberal and conservative bias so that you can be persuaded by your own heart. Look for news feeds which give you data so that you can sort through it for yourself. Still, even limit that. Your spirit was not intended for 24-hour news channels or even the inundation you can get through print or internet news. Catch up on the headlines then let it go. It’s just not good for us to dwell on those things. What did God tells us, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things,” (Philippians 4: 8). Dwell on the good news.

Our spirits need God now more than even in the beginning of this crisis. We are tired and it feels we are pursued from every angle like David was. But also, like him, we have our refuge in the Lord. Take full advantage of this time with God. You may never have an opportunity to spend such large amounts of time with him again. Feed on His presence so that you may be renewed.

Acceptable Meditations

Psalm 19: 14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

This scripture may be familiar to you. Check out this one too, “Let my meditation be pleasing to Him, (Psalm 104: 34). I have read Psalm 19: 14 for years. When I do, I think about the words of my mouth. How much thought have you given to what you meditate on?

Two thoughts occurred to me as I compared these scriptures. First, God’s interest is not in what we think but rather that which issues from our hearts. Do we even consider that we can mediate in our hearts as well as in our minds? We do take things to heart though, don’t we? Those are the issues that are of central importance to us whether they be instances of offence or gifts of kindness to us. We hold those things in our hearts and roll them around and around in the very spot where they can do the most harm or the most good. That is why forgiveness is so important. We can take someone’s bad deed and instead of forgiving them and sending that offense away, we deposit it into our hearts where it can fester and grow. And we wonder why we have health issues.

Another revelation from these scriptures that may startle you when spoken out loud is that our heavenly Father can see the meditations of our hearts. Whoa! Is that a bit scary? That bad thought about someone that we have held onto is now buried in the tender tissue of our hearts AND Father can see it. Jesus revealed this to us in Luke 16: 15, “And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts.” Still, somehow it just doesn’t register that God is looking on those thoughts and meditations of the heart. Does that make you hold your breath for a moment? It does me. Those thoughts are not good for us nor are they good for anyone. The Spirit living inside us certainly does not enjoy them. Paul said it best, “Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable,” (Philippians 4: 8 GW).

Guard Your Heart

Philippians 4: 8

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

I have written to you previously about ingesting the output from the news media. I want to share with you a personal story today and put a finer point on this conversation.

I have been working very hard on making my heart more tender and more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. In order for me to hear God’s voice more easily and thus more consistently I have to allow my heart to be open to Him. God works through my spirit to give me revelation and inspiration. So, I need to keep my spirit open and ready to receive from Him.

Yesterday I watched one of the morning news programs, which I do very infrequently, and I was shocked at what I saw. First there was the report of the shootings in France. There was a video clip of a police car approaching the two shooters and then the reporter announced that an officer had been shot and killed. The clip cut to the scene of the officer’s funeral.  It gave the impression that the shots we heard and saw as the police car approached killed one of the officers.

Then there was a story about a policeman in the US who shot a young man. The altercation was filmed by the video camera in the police officer’s car. Shockingly, the footage of the police officer shooting and killing the man was shown on this morning television show. I was appalled. I saw his pistol firing. I saw a person being killed, for real. That is more reality TV than I bargained for.  There was no warning that the clip they were about to show was graphic.

You will not be surprised to know that I turned off the TV and left the room. I noticed immediately that my insides were affected. I need to be open and sensitive to the Spirit of God but you cannot watch that kind of broadcasting and keep your spirit open. You will automatically begin to close down your sensitivity. You have to. Your own survival techniques respond to that over stimulation and begin to shut down your heart.

So here is my point. That kind of news reporting is not good for your spirit. However, I know that you wish to stay abreast of what is going on in the world. Here is my advice. First of all, print media, while sensational, is not as sensational as television video broadcast. It is still wise to guard your heart from an over indulgence in the negative news media regardless of the medium but at least print media and internet reporting do not have as great a negative impact on one’s spirit. Secondly, perhaps there are news sources that are not as sensational as the morning program I saw. I doubt there are many outlets sharing good news but perhaps you can find some that are not quite as extreme. 

We are living in different times. Never before have people’s spirits been so inundated with news media coverage. I believe strongly that this is not good for us. Just look at people who watch a lot of television news. Are they happy, successful, upbeat? There spirits are under the constant barrage of negativity. It is impossible for them to live in light, life and victory. God help them!

I will probably never turn on that morning program again but besides that I have made a decision to strictly limit the amount of that gunk I allow in my house. And I certainly do not want to poison my spirit with worldly pollution since my spirit is where God lives. I, like you, am the temple of God and I wish to guard and preserve that temple. I want to hear and be led by the voice of God and I cannot do that if I have closed the ears of my spirit because of the junk the world spews.

Look again at today’s verse. We are supposed to let our minds dwell on those things which are lovely, that which is excellent and worthy of praise. And truth? Jesus is the truth. It is he that our minds are supposed to dwell upon.

This is a life message. It is so important. Guard your heart for out of it flows all of the issues of life (Proverb 4: 23).

Dwell on These Things

Philippians 4: 8

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Last Friday I went for a bike ride. I had plans to meet some people for lunch at a trailside restaurant 29 miles down the trail later in the day. I thought I allowed enough time for me to cover the distance without keeping them waiting but I have not done many long rides lately so I was a bit concerned about my mph average and arriving at our meeting spot on time.

I started out at a good pace and was really pleased to feel good at that pace. Before too long though, at around 14 miles, I think, I noticed that my average was beginning to drop. I wanted to go faster but I had also noticed that my legs were beginning to enter the conversation with input of their own. I really focused on going faster and that is when I learned this important life lesson. The more I thought about my legs the more tired I felt. But our dear Father switched my thoughts from the fatigue in my legs to thinking about my cadence and to watching the average speed display on my bike computer. I stopped thinking about my legs and began thinking about the mph. A few minutes later when I looked at the current mph indicator I saw that I was going 15 mph which was the fastest I had gone all day. I had an epiphany right there on my bike. I realized that the more I focused on the bad news, i.e. my legs being tired, the more I reaped tired legs. When, however, I put my mind on my goal, my body just achieved the goal despite the obstacles. In fact, I didn’t even feel my legs. I just achieved a new level of success simply by shifting my thinking.

As I rode I thought to myself that this must be what God is trying to teach us in this verse. Whatever is good or worthy, let your mind linger on those things. If you meditate on your tired legs you are going to reap weariness. If you let your mind camp out on the goal, you are going to reap success. I remember thinking as I rode along, “If we think about being tired, we will be tired. If we think about being sick, we are going to be sick all the days of our lives. But, if we will meditate on the healing, the success, the blessing, etc. then we will be healthy, successful and blessed.” Yahoo! Now that was a bit of practical education that I could apply immediately.

I have a few other strategies that I have developed over the years of riding that I think might work in many aspects of life. First of all, I pray at the very beginning of my ride. I say to Dad that this is our time and that I will be glad to listen and He can talk. I love to acknowledge (even out loud many times) that this is something that He and I are doing together and that not only do I invite Him to share this time with me but that He is just automatically a part of it. Then I often tell Him that we will ride together but that the last 3 miles are all His because I have noticed that no matter how far I ride it always seems that the last 2 – 3 miles become difficult. So we start out with an expectation that He is with me and is doing the bulk of the work. Those are two of my secrets but there is a third which is my emergency ration when I am out of gas and I needed it on this ride.

As I continued Friday, I began to weaken again so I put my earbud in my ear and turned on Praise music. Now I did not say Christian music because I need something more specific in these moments and it is Praise music. Say it loud! Play it loud! I start praising the Lord and listening to anointed singers glorifying the Lord and I get revived. The joy of the Lord can pump your legs even when you feel like there is nothing left in them. One caveat – trying to sing along can really be hard on your wind but then again who cares? Well, maybe some of the other people on the trail would prefer I didn’t start singing out loud but it just may make them ride faster too if only to get away from me.

The end of the story is that I did arrive on time. Actually, I was 40 minutes early. I had a great ride. I asked Dad to use the time to fellowship with me and to speak with me and He taught me this brilliant lesson about what we allow ourselves to meditate on impacting our immediate life. He used my leisure time to develop a Word of the Day teaching me that we can work and play. We had time of praise and I got some exercise. I’ve gotta say, that is a good day.

Bottom line, we can affect our lives by what we think about and those impacts are immediate and lasting. There is something we can do right now to change the outcome of today. There is a lot of power in that.

I hope you enjoyed going on this little 29 mile journey with me. To find out what my “out of gas” refueling music was check out the blog post for Sunday, June 29, 2014 at www.iveyministries.blogspot.com.