Fixed on You

            Written by 40 authors over a period of about 1,500 years the scriptures are remarkably consistent in their message, as they are inspired by the Spirit. One area of consistency is what the scriptures have to say about where and how our mind and heart are to be fixed, where they are to come to rest. That is what we will examine.

First, allow me to illustrate my point. I coached basketball for a decade and I grew up with the expression, ‘practice makes perfect.’ Partway through my coaching tenure it was wisely changed to ‘practice makes permanent.’ I used to tell the players, “You can get really good at doing the wrong thing.” It is similar to the old idea, ‘experience is the best teacher.’ That one is also well intentioned but insufficient. The best teacher is guided experience. That is why we have teachers and coaches.

            Now we will look at the scriptures.

 7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you. Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV)

3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 (NKJV)

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 (NKJV)

The message in each of the passages is essentially the same. We are called to set our minds on things that are good and right and the result will be experiencing His peace and rest. This takes us back to the ideas of ‘practice making permanent’ and ‘guided experience.’ To get there we need to dig into the first verse I posted, Proverbs 23:7.

            Proverbs 23:7 is a fascinating verse when viewed in context. This means going a bit broader followed by digging into the meaning of some Hebrew words.

6 Do not eat the bread of a miser, Nor desire his delicacies; 7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you. 8 The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up, And waste your pleasant words. Proverbs 23:6–8 (NKJV)

The context is a warning to not eat with a miser or selfish person. The key phrase is, “as he thinks in his heart’ with the key words ‘thinks’ and ‘heart.’ Thinks is the Hebrew shaar, which means to calculate or think. Heart is literally nephesh or soul. The New American Standard translates the phrase ‘as he thinks within himself.’ While the focus is on a miser or stingy person the message of this passage is that our behaviour flows from how we think about or measure things in our thought life.

            Now back to our other verses. What determines our peace and rest is how we think. Isaiah noted that we will experience peace, shalom, by setting our minds on the Lord and trusting Him. We see the same message in Matthew. When we take Jesus’ yoke, culturally, when we become His disciple, we find rest for our souls. Inwardly we have peace. Paul provided the same message. When our thoughts are deeply set on what He defines as good, true and right and those things govern our behaviour, we have peace.

            Now to the practical issue, guided experience and practice making permanent. My experience is that when I take these verses at face value and intentionally focus my heart on Jesus, the Father or the Spirit, I experience His presence and His peace resting upon and in me. That may include praying out loud, thanking Him for His presence or simply sitting listening for His voice. We live in a noisy busy culture and distractions abound. Yet whenever I choose to set my mind and focus my heart on Jesus His presence and peace come. This can be in a worship service or sitting on my own, the latter being the more frequent experience. I can then carry His presence into whatever activities I am engaged in. Whenever I become aware of His peace not being there, I need only turn my heart back to Him and He is present. The more I do this the more it becomes simply a habit of the heart.  

            I share this as an encouragement. If you need His peace, look to His presence and let your heart and mind rest there.

3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

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I have been walking with Jesus since 1985. I am currently retired from my career in the helping professions but still focused on ministering to others. I completed a Doctorate of Philosophy in Apologetics in September 2020.

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