Today's Devotional Thought
March 01, 2011 by Rachel Piferi
When Wendy & I decided that we were going to start a ministry together, we talked a lot about what we would offer to the field of women’s ministry. We also looked at our individual backgrounds and what we could uniquely offer to our ministry as we reached out to women. As we talked about Scripture and her experiences in ministry as a Pastor’s wife, I thought about what I have learned (and taught) in the field of Psychology. And I began seeing an important intersection between the field of Psychology and Biblical teachings.
Let me explain what I mean…
Have you ever read verses that tell you not to worry or to forgive your brother or to trust in the Lord and you say quietly to yourself, “I would love to not worry or to forgive this person who has wronged me or trust in the Lord more, but I just don’t know how.” You may read Matthew 6:34 that tells us “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” and then say, “But how do you do that?” Luke 12:22 tells us something similar, “Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.’” Again you may ask, “But how do I stop worrying?”
Similarly, throughout the Bible we see numerous commands. Luke 17:3 tells us to forgive, “So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” And Proverbs 3:5 tells us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
We know that it is better if we don’t worry, if we forgive those who have wronged us, and if we trust fully in the Lord. But so many times I hear women say, “I know I should do these things, I just don’t know how to do them.”
As I have thought about the how, I have thought about what we know about the mind from the field of Psychology. The field of Psychology has offered some very important insight into the workings of the mind and brain. And girlfriends, I believe very strongly that our minds are our biggest battlefield. So much of what we are instructed by Jesus to do involves our minds. Worry. Forgiveness. Trust. These are all mental phenomena. And as we know from psychological research, what we think about greatly influences our behaviors.
As I think about God’s many instructions that include to not worry, to forgive, and to trust him, I am convinced that we must realize that our ability to do these things starts with our mindset. And we must focus our attention on the Lord whenever the negative thoughts and emotions start creeping in. I have mentioned before how it is physiologically impossible to have two competing thoughts in your mind at the same time. You simply cannot focus mentally on two things simultaneously. For example, I want you to think about what you were doing on Saturday. Walk through the day mentally. And as you are thinking about Saturday, I want you to think about what you were doing Sunday. Take 2 minutes and focus on what you were doing all day Saturday while at the same time focus on what you were doing all day Sunday. Now ladies, don’t get frustrated if you can’t do it. Because sweet friends, you weren’t designed to be able to focus on two things at once. And I believe that such a design was no accident.
Do you want to stop worrying about tomorrow? Then do not allow your mind to focus on worry. Focus on the Lord and his character and his promise to always be with you and take care of you.
Do you want to forgive someone? Then do not allow your mind to focus on the injustice or the wrong. Focus on how the Lord commands us to forgive and to let go of grievances. Focus on his forgiveness of us and how we can forgive this person with Jesus’ power. Simply put the grievance out of your mind by focusing instead on your desire to be obedient to God and loving as Jesus loved.
Do you want to trust more in the Lord? Then sing his praises and focus on how good and faithful he is to his children. Spend time reading the story of the Israelites and reflect on his faithfulness to them. Think about his faithfulness to you in your life. Dwell on those things and not on the uncertainty of the world around you.
Sweet sisters, your ability to cease worry, to forgive others, and trust more in the Lord (among a host of other commands) begins with your ability to focus your mind. Paul gave us the best advice when he wrote, Finally, 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. (Philippians 4:8). Do not allow Satan to rule your mind with negative thoughts and lies. Instead, replace them by focusing on God and his character and what is true.
Do you say to yourself, “I would love to do all of these things, I just don’t know how!” Well sweet sisters, it starts with filling your mind all day long with the things that are true, noble, right, lovely, and admirable from God. Do not allow negative thoughts to take up residence in your mind. And when they begin to creep in, place your mental focus on the Lord. Get in his Word, flood yourself with praise music, and recite Scripture. It will take a deliberate action from you to switch that mindset, but trust me friends, you will find that the negative will not be able to even exist in your mind as you focus on the Truth. Try it today!