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FORMATTING YOUR HARD DRIVE Philippians 4:8-9 March 7, 2010 Given by: Pastor Rich Bersett [Index of Past Messages] Introduction I don’t know why anyone commissions such surverys, but according to USA Today a few months ago, the Ketchum Global Research Network asked 1,000 U.S. adults what they think about the most during their shower. The top four responses were: to-do lists, problems/worries, daydreams, work. What an interesting glimpse into what we obsess over as we wake up in the morning or wind down in the evening—the two times most of us take a shower. While we clean ourselves to start the day, we sully ourselves with stress and disappointment. We try our best to clear the clutter from our minds with a nice long shower or bath in the evening, but we fill our minds to over- flowing with thoughts about places to go, people to see, dreams to fulfill. We are people who can barely go a minute without anxiety over things we feel we should be doing but are not. The Bible is not a book on Psychology, but there is some great psychological advice included, straight from humanity’s Maker, that can be extremely healthy for mind and spirit. For example, Philippians 4. Coming right off his apostolic counsel to rejoice, to not be anxious but to pray, to allow the peace of God to guard our hearts and minds, we have verse 8—a single principle that is wholesome, healthy, and deeply enriching to human life. In a nutshell, it is this: Format the hard drive of your mind and heart with the right software and information, and it will run well and do exactly what it was designed to do. Or, as Paul puts it, Finally, brothers, 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. This is the apostle’s exhortation to the church, the people of God in Christ: you need your minds and hearts filled with good stuff! You need a reformatted hard drive. You need wholesome thinking patterns, because these will color your entire lives. Getting such minds and hearts must be an intentional effort on your part. It will not happen accidentally. In this world there are not many true-noble-pure-pure-lovely-admirable-excellent-praiseworthy things being espoused. If we are passive, we are done for. The average American (and, sadly, most Christians fall into the average range here) watches 4 1/2 hours of television daily. Three years ago Nielsen Media Research said the average American household had officially arrived at the point where there were more TV’s in the home than people (2.55 people with 2.73 TV’s), and those TV’s connect us to over 120 channels typically. Let me ask you. How much stuff have you seen on your one-eyed monster in the past month that would qualify as true-noble-pure-pure-lovely-admirable-excellent-praiseworthy? Probably a good deal, if not most, of it would be diametrically different from these virtues. You cannot passively absorb that much trash and not be negatively affected as a Christian. See if you can complete this proverbial statement for me: Garbage in . . . Garbage -- remains. There’s way too much garbage that streams effortlessly into our hearts and minds. And, no, I’m not going to tell you to get rid of your TV. I am going to suggest you get rid of your addiction to your TV, though. In fact, I’m going to suggest exactly HOW to get rid of your addiction to the worst programming on your TV. I started to bring a couple of representative illustrations about the devastating effects of the violence, sex and mayhem in media. I stopped. There’s just too much. I was getting sick from the data. And you already know how all-pervasive and horrible it all is. It is bad. It is real bad. It is stultifyingly bad. A little lighter approach: Refusing to clean up his backyard landed George Hartsuff in jail for 60 days. He can't say he wasn't warned. City officials asked him to do a little cleaning for years. Court action was taken eventually to ensure compliance. Finally, authorities gave Hartsuff 30 days to clean out the boats, crab pots, vending machines, and other assorted debris that littered his Maryland yard. When he failed to do so entirely, he was sentenced to 60 days in prison. Hartsuff and his lawyer insisted they were doing their best to tidy things up. That was after four 30-yard dumpsters had already been hauled away, filled to capacity. Still, city officials and authorities are fed-up. The question I believe the Holy Spirit would like to address through the Word this morning is how does the Christian avoid letting his mind and heart get messy with the world’s attitudes and influences? And secondarily, how does a Christian who is already poisoned by so much worldly influence get free from the putrification in his mind and heart? That brings us back to verse 8. There is one verb in this verse. It is an imperative. It comes at the end of the sentence in the NIV. It simply says, “Think about such things.” What things? true-noble-pure-lovely-admirable-excellent-praiseworthy things. That’s it? That’s it! Think about such things. If you do, you will overwrite the bad stuff, the worldly stuff. It will take time, it will take effort and patience. We’ve had a couple of very pretty, and mercifully light, snows this winter. One morning when I was out early—before plows had made it to the side streets—I was driving along admiring how beautiful the snow had made everything. But right in the middle of the scenery, on the side of someone’s house there was an ugly dark brown spot. A closer look revealed that it was a compost pile. Apparently the heat still being generated by the decomposition that had gone on in that garbage and yard debris mixture was enough to melt any snow that landed on top of it.   Every time you linger on thoughts and activities that are NOT true-noble-pure-lovely-admirable-excellent-praiseworthy, but are worldly, ungodly, dirty, harmful, sinful, you are adding to a sickening sludge in your mind and heart. These wonderful minds our Creator God has given us are powerful retainers of data input. We don’t easily forget (except when we’re trying to remember!). That stuff that got in there pretty much is going to stay in there. Not just our minds, but our hearts/souls. Paul’s strong implication is you don’t want any more of that garbage than what will infect you as a matter of course living in this world. Erasing the putrid things in the mind is a sluggish, slow-going operation, because the date is so stubborn. And that is reason enough to avoid adding more garbage to it. But there is a way to counteract and minimize the caustic effect of that sludge: think about true-noble-pure-lovely-admirable-excellent-praiseworthy things. You cannot simply tear out the old tapes that keep playing things in your mind and heart that are not edifying. But you can make new tapes that will be true-noble-pure-lovely-admirable-excellent-praiseworthy enough to neutralize old evil tapes; new tapes that will play stronger/louder than the old tapes, because they are new, and fresh and imbued with Holy Spirit power. Where can you get such tapes? I would like to some practical suggestions. First: exposure to the Word of God. Read-study-meditate-memorize-obey-share-sing-and keep on rehearsing it. Fill yourself with God’s Word and arm yourself against temptation and build and deepen your relationship with God (Psalm 63). Lay hold of the many promises and blessings in Psalm 119. Be the blessed man of Psalm 1 – Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Secondly, the company of the committed. Hang out with believers who are serious about their faith. Get yourself a couple of counselors who are more well-versed in the Word and obedience than yourself and hang out with them—a lot. Take advantage of one of the greatest gifts God has given you—the body of Christ, the community of the saints, the church family. We are here to make one another strong in Him. It is to be for us a place to belong and a place to become. Third, the best you can redeem from the world. Not all in this sin-crusted world is completely without redeeming quality. I would encourage you to see the best plays, read the best literature, listen to the best music and see the best movies. I do not believe it is the will of God that we Christians hole ourselves up in a corner somewhere and use all our energies trying to steer clear of contamination, so much that we cut ourselves off from the world God has called us to influence for the gospel. We should positively affirm the best around us, tell folks why it is good, enjoy and profit from it. Find a couple of the very helpful Christian media sources that bring wholesome recommendations and reviews. Get hold of that kind of entertainment. Enrich your mind, your soul. Fill your heart with proper emotions that God intended you to exercise. Reward those who produce such things by purchasing their tickets, buying their music and watching their performances. Use the free enterprise system we have (while we still do have it!) and help the programs and publishing houses, the networks and the performers who bring you true-noble-pure-lovely-admirable-excellent-praiseworthy arts and products to thrive. You will simultaneously discourage the less profitable trash. You will redeem the almost hopeless cesspool of television. You will witness for God and His goodness! We, the redeemed community of Christ, should not only enjoy the best the world has to offer; and we should not only promote and endorse it; we should be producing the stuff! I mentioned earlier that I was going to share with you how to get rid of your addiction to bad TV. Well, I just did. Cling to His Word, and His people and discern what is good and godly around you, and you will be delivered from all evil. You’ll stop craving it. Paul closes this section with another request that the believing community would take the best of Paul’s own personal example, and follow it. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. This is the same attitude we studied in earlier messages. Paul is not afraid to say to fellow Christians, Follow me, in so far as I follow Christ. 3:17 – Join with others in following my example. You know, we ought to see this whole idea as an inviting challenge for our Christian maturity: first to follow good examples and second, be good examples. Ask God for the strength, the grace and the spiritual resolve to grow to the place where you can say to your children and to younger believers you disciple in the faith, follow me, in so far as I follow Christ. Would you join me in taking notice of the final sentence at the last part of verse 9: And the God of peace will be with you. I love how this promise marries the promise at verse 7. There, Paul says, Don’t be anxious about things; rather, pray. …by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. What will be the result of this kind of anxiety-killing prayer? Verse 7: The peace of God will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The peace of God. And here he says, Think about the right things, and put into practice what you find in me, and what will happen? The God of peace will be with you. THE PEACE OF GOD WILL KEEP YOU, AND THE GOD OF PEACE WILL BE WITH YOU. In the autumn of 1873, Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago businessman, placed his wife, Anna, and their four children on the Ville du Havre sailing from New York to France. He was forced to stay in the United States for several more weeks to settle some business details before he could travel to join the family in Europe. The evening of November 21 found the Ville du Havre prow-east toward France on a calm Atlantic. The journey was progressing beautifully. A few hours later, at 2:00 in the morning on Nov. 22, the Ville du Havre was carrying its sleeping passengers over a quiet sea when two terrific claps like thunder were followed by frightening screams. The engine stopped, the ship stood still. Passageways were filled with terrified, half-dressed people shouting questions that no one could answer. The Ville du Havre had been rammed by the English ship, the Lochearn. Mrs. Spafford saw three of her children swept away by the sea while she stood clutching the youngest child. Suddenly, she felt her baby torn violently from her arms. She reached out through the water and caught little Tanetta's gown. For a minute she held her again. Then the cloth wrenched from her hand. She reached out again and touched a man's leg in corduroy trousers. She fell unconscious. She awoke later, finding that she had been rescued by sailors from the Lochearn. But her four children were gone. In the meantime, Horatio Spafford was back in the United States, desperate to receive news of his family. Finally, the blow fell. A cable arrived from Wales stating that the four daughters were lost at sea, but his wife was still alive. He was crushed with what had happened. All night he walked the floor in anguish. Toward the morning he turned to his friend, Major Whittle, and said, "I am glad to trust the Lord when it will cost me something." On the way across the Atlantic to join his wife, the captain announced that they were now passing the place where the Ville du Havre was wrecked. For Horatio Spafford, this was passing through the valley of the shadow of death. He sat down in his cabin on the high seas, near where his children perished, and wrote the hymn that would give comfort to so many, titled "It Is Well with My Soul." IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL When peace like a river attendeth my soul, when sorrows like sea billows roll— Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well, with my soul.” It is well (it is well) With my soul (with my soul) It is well, it is well with my soul. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part, but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more: Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! It is well (it is well) With my soul (with my soul) It is well, it is well with my soul. And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, “Even so, it is well with my soul. It is well (it is well) With my soul (with my soul) It is well, it is well with my soul.       [ Back to Top]          
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