As you reflect on the New Year, think of three things you most earnestly plan to work on in 2018. If you will be honest with yourself, you will probably find that your affections, as revealed by your thoughts, are more focused on the things of this world rather than on the things of God. This was one of the problems with the Church in Colossae as found Colossians 3:1-4:
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
How do we set our minds on things above and our focus on the right future? We must first start by understanding our position in Christ. When Christ died, we died with Him, and when He was resurrected, we were also. So, our focus should be to make certain that our daily quest is one that is set on Heaven. That means we must diligently, actively, single-mindedly pursue Heaven each day. We must resist obeying worldly commands! However, this is no easy task.
The command to think about Heaven is under attack in a hundred different ways every day. Every day influences have our minds so set on Earth that we are unaccustomed to heavenly thinking. So, we must work at it. But, why is it so difficult for us to set our minds on things above? Well, the world tells us to satisfy ourselves, be happy. It tells us what to do, where to go, and how to do it. But, God’s Word tells us to avoid sexual immorality, idolatry, greed, lying, stealing, jealousy, etc... We must understand that we are no longer part of this world. What have you been doing daily to set your mind on things above, to seek Heaven? What should you do differently? A mind that is “set” happens only by rigorous acts of discipline, and we must seek to develop this through the study of the Word of God.
Paul said we should not only seek things above but also turn away from earthly things. We must take captive every thought and bring it into submission to Christ. Make no mistake here. Our thoughts are not neutral, innocent, or harmless. Our minds are either earthly or eternal. Therefore, this may mean not watching certain TV shows, reading certain magazines or books, listening to certain music, or hanging around certain people, especially when we find they contribute to drawing us away from God and godly thoughts.
To focus on Heaven means to set your everyday desires, attitudes, and actions to love what Jesus loves, hate what Jesus hates, think like Jesus thinks, and view everything in your daily life from His heavenly perspective.
Do you set your mind on things above? Take stock of your thought life. On what objects do you allow your thoughts to dwell? What station do you tune your radio to? What songs fill your head? What are you watching on TV, what are you reading, what are the topics of your conversation, and what are you thinking about when you sit down and when you rise? Today, commit one area of your life to Heaven; then everyday ask God for the strength to think about it with the mindset of Christ.
By James Wahington
I heard Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas preach a sermon, one night, that really caught my attention. He reminded those in the audience that most of the Bible was written from a jail cell. I think his overall message had something to do with his prison outreach ministry, which I understand to be significant. I was so struck, however, by the reality of God’s Word and direction coming from the deep faith of those imprisoned, that the concept has never left me. What is it about being a believer, a walking, talking believer that somehow frightens those in power, so much so, that a jail cell or worse is a reasonable solution to the imagined problem?
History suggests that professing one’s belief in Jesus Christ as Lord can literally be a death sentence. The Bible teaches us that eventually our belief will be put to the ultimate test. Have you ever wondered why God’s teachings are so feared by those who believe in other religions? I used to say Jesus’ message made so much sense that, even if He didn’t exist, we should invent Him. Now that I’m saved, I guess you could say I know I’m a candidate for assassination. My point, as I was being enlightened by Bishop Jakes’ reference, is that I don’t view myself as a threat to anyone based upon my belief in one God, the Holy Trinity and the truth of Jesus Christ, but the world in which I live does view me in this manner. I suppose, the more important question is: Have I done anything or said anything that should land me in jail, if jail is defined as that spiritual place that present day Sadducees and Pharisees want to send people like me? If I haven’t said or done anything, then maybe I better get going and stir things up.
In their day, the apostles, Paul and others, were indeed looked upon as threats to the establishment; that meant governments and principalities, as well as the church hierarchy. If nothing else, I don’t think anyone would argue that on His worst day, Jesus was the quintessential revolutionary. It still amazes me how such principles of unconditional universal love for humankind got Him killed; then it always hits me that this kind of philosophy will ultimately attack and undermine entrenched institutionalized power of all kinds. That’s when I realize that if you are a believer in Christ, you are most certainly a threat to Man, because Man craves power and Christianity abdicates all power to Jehovah. We stand as representatives of that truth and stand trial everyday with the world as our judge and jury. That explains that target on the backs of believers throughout history and should remind us all of the target on our own backs. All I can encourage you to do in the face of all this is to stay the course and know our defense attorney is on the case 24/7. The prosecuting attorney has already lost this case. So, when you’re alone in your cell remember, you have already won. The battle is over. The verdict is in: We won.
May God bless and keep you always.
James Washington is a father, husband, Christian and writer. James is also the owner and publisher of the multimedia company The Dallas Weekly. You can follow James on Twitter at @JAWS_215. Father. Husband. Christian. Writer. Entrepreneur. Owner/Publisher of Multi-Media Company The Dallas Weekly.
The Dallas Weekly is a member publication of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Learn more about becoming a member at www.nnpa.org