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Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on Earthly things.  The heart and mind of a man are both capable of generating thoughts.  That is an obvious fact; even most Christians know that a man’s mind generates thoughts.  And anyone who has read the Bible will know that it is written:  The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the Earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.  And it is said by Jesus that “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts…” and it is also said by Jesus, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  So is there any difference between the thoughts of your mind and your heart?  The way Paul wrote Colossians 3.1-2, he was trying to show us that there is a difference, and learning about the difference will help you master your thoughts and the power of your thoughts.

Firstly, Paul recommended that we set our thoughts of the heart and mind on the above, but with the heart Paul specifically told us where to set those thoughts… which exact place in the ‘above’… where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  You see, to set your mind on things above could mean a lot of things.  It could mean Heaven, but which part of Heaven?  It could mean angels, even God… but which aspect of God?  It could mean high lofty philosophies and morals, higher values and so on.  So in order to help us, Paul told us precisely on what things above the thoughts of our hearts should be set – Christ… seated at the right hand of God.  That is, our hearts should be thinking about the majesty of Jesus, the work of Jesus as He intercedes for us, the joy and happiness of Jesus, safe and sound at the right hand of the Father.  All wonderful, edifying, glorious thoughts, Christ at the right hand of the Father so filling our hearts, that we would desire to be there also, watching, worshipping and praising Them, Christ and His Father on Their throne.  When you think of the majesty of Christ at the right hand, His intercessory work that allows His grace to continue to flow so that we may boldly approach the throne, it is all very emotional, all very uplifting and that is wonderful.  And if that is what you treasure, that is where your heart is, as Jesus said.  Nothing wrong with that except for one thing – the lovely picture of Jesus seated at the right hand is not meant to be permanent.  Jesus interceding for us at the right hand is not the permanent picture either, so that if we treasure the Lord seated at the right hand of the Father… our hearts are not set in eternity yet.  For it is not the eternity that God has planned for Himself or Jesus.  The eternity that God has set for Himself is to be living in New Jerusalem on New Earth with Jesus… not in Heaven.

Thus, when you realise that, then the thoughts of your heart should move on to even higher things, truly eternal and not temporal things.  For even Jesus seated at the right hand of God now is temporary.  He is sitting there waiting to return for His millennium so that after that He can go to meet His bride, New Jerusalem, and we will go with Him as His body.

With the thoughts of our minds, Paul did not specify on what things above we should set them on, as long as they are not Earthly things, as long as they are not about making the things of Earth that pagans run after… the lower things.  Thus, the command to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength'” means that you have to first love with all the thoughts of your heart and then also with the thoughts of your mind.  The thoughts of your heart relate to what you treasure, that is, what you value.  These thoughts are emotive by and large.  It relates to thinking about what you want to achieve, acquire and accomplish.  It is what you would desire for yourself… the big picture that you would like to see yourself in…  And the ultimate of that destiny is to have it set on Christ seated at the right hand of God.  But as apprentices, you all see beyond the obvious, and it is to see that the present situation of Jesus at God’s right hand making intercession for us is not eternal, and never meant to be eternity, but a temporary situation that has been prolonged because of our disobedience to the words of Jesus, and because to listen to Him, to obey Him and to glorify Him have not always been the focus of our hearts.

When our hearts are not focussed on fulfilling the purpose of the words of Jesus, we are like the ground of shallow soil, which receives the word and quickly sprouts, but withers when the heat comes.  We rejoice at the arrival of the word, but because, as they say, our heart was not in it, the word withers and dies.  This happens because the focus of our hearts is still on other desires and other treasures, which has priority over the word of the Lord.

The thoughts of our minds help us to conceive, plan and work out the ways and methods by which we can satisfy the thoughts of our hearts.  Whilst the thoughts of our hearts paint this by picture, the thoughts of our minds provide the tiny brush strokes that make up the entire picture.  They dictate the way you would get to where you want to be.  Thus, the thoughts of the heart define the ‘where’ and the thoughts of the mind define the ‘way’.  And what is required for the thoughts of the mind is concentration – being concerned only on the work at hand to achieve the end result.  So when Paul recommended that you Set your minds on things above, not on Earthly things, he was not speaking so much of material possessions, but rather, about the way things are done.  That is, whether you do things the Earthly way or you do things as They do things… in Heaven. 

A person whose mind is not concentrated on the things above is like the seed on thorny ground.  The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”  He is distracted by the ways of the world, that is, the way people do things in the world.  The Earthly way is to worry; worry about tomorrow, worry about what is to come, worry about what you do not know, to keep thinking about the problem over and over again until hopefully you come up with the answer.  And usually the answer given for most of the world’s worry is wealth… if you only had enough money you could do this or that.  You see, the unfruitful plant is still growing, that is, the focus of the heart is still Jesus at the right hand of God, but the concentration is on the way the world does things rather than on the way things are done in the Kingdoms of Heaven and of God.  As such, they are above, but are unfruitful from the standard of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God.  That is, the words of Jesus do not produce the desired and intended effect for the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God.  That is, there is no harvest or return on the words of Jesus.

Thus, the ability to learn to focus the thoughts of your heart on Christ seated at the right hand of God will allow you to realize that this is meant to be a temporary situation that will be replaced by the absolute permanence of New Jerusalem and New Earth.  The drive then, the spirit then, will be one that beyond this Heaven and Earth is the New Heaven and the New Earth, which permits you to receive the word from the Lord and accept it, persevere with it, understand it and work to produce the harvest 30, 60, 100 fold as much for both the Kingdoms of Heaven and of God.  The more the thoughts of your heart are focussed (that is, able to see clearly and precisely) on the meaning of Christ seated at the right hand of the Father, the more the jealousy and zeal will come forth from the heart, which will allow you to receive, accept, persevere and understand what the true picture is really meant to be.

Having focussed your thoughts on the right ‘picture’, now Paul advised us to concentrate on the right things, that is, the right ways and utensils to achieve the picture.  And again, it is to set our minds on things above, that is, concentrate on doing things the way God does things.  Firstly, this is not to worry until you get an answer, but to provide the answer before the worry arises.  This is exactly what God did when Jesus was slain as the Lamb before the foundation of the world.  So that, in the ways of the above, the answer is provided before the problem appears.  Therefore, the way to think in our minds is to concentrate on the answer and not the problem.  Instead of finding an answer to solve a problem, we find problems to test an answer.

And we concentrate on doing things the way God does it… provide the answer before the problem arises.  An example is the problem of surviving the days of distress that are to come:  The Earthly way is to preach the theory of the rapture that catches up the church before things get too rough and desperate, and hope that you are gone before the problem arrives.  We see the problem but we have to find the answer.  However, a mind where thoughts are concentrated on the way of above have the answer to the problem before the problem arises.  Thus, in facing the days of distress to come, we are already preaching the answer to the problem before the problem comes.  Thus, our thoughts are concentrated on the answer even as we await the problem to come.

Your apprenticeship then teaches you to focus and concentrate the thoughts of your heart and your mind on what God focusses and concentrates on.  So that when God says, “For I know the plans I have for you…” you would realize that the focus of the thoughts of God’s heart are on where you would be with Him… waiting on Earth to reign with Christ or coming back to reign with Christ until you get to New Jerusalem and live there with Him forever.  And the concentration of the thoughts of His mind are on the ways by which He achieves the desires of His heart that He is focussed on, and that is, by His way, according to His words.

Learning then the difference between focus and concentration of your thoughts, learning then the difference between the thoughts of your heart and the thoughts of your mind allows you not only to achieve what you want for yourself, but what God wants for you.  And also, not only what God wants for Himself, but also what you want for God.

Thus, learning to focus the thoughts of your heart on Christ seated at the right hand of God and to concentrate on the Heavenly things and not Earthly things will improve your ability to abide in Him and His words to abide in you until what you wish and whatever you will is done for you.  What you wish is what your heart thinks of.  What you will is what your mind thinks of.  Thus, focussing on abiding in Him and concentrating on His word abiding in you will allow you to experience just what He has on His heart and mind for you.

What distract us from our focus and concentration are doubts and worries, which arise from our lack of faith and lack of knowledge.  A man who does not have enough faith will doubt, and a man who does not know will worry.  However, a man whose faith has been confirmed by repeated, unceasing, earnest practice of what he believes, so that he knows that which he believes is the truth, will have sufficient faith and knowledge to dispel the doubt and worries.  Thus, the fear that comes from doubts and worries is replaced by the love that comes from faith and knowledge.  For when one’s faith and knowledge is confirmed, truth develops, and when trust is unshakable, love remains, for love always trusts.

So then, the best way to dispel your doubts is to focus on Christ who is at the right hand of God as He said, and to prove that His words are true, practise them until they bear fruit… receive them, accept them, persevere with them and understand them until they manifest.  The best way to dispel your worries is to know that Christ’s words are true and you have the testimony to prove them because you have tested them by your own practice.

In the days of distress that are even at our doorstep, it is those who can stay focussed and concentrate in the midst of all the distress, who will not be overwhelmed by the fears that come from the doubts and worries, but will overcome them with the faith and knowledge of the One they trust and love.  There is no fear because you love what is happening is confirming what you believe.  There is no worry because you trust what you are doing is confirming what you know because you have practised that which you have heard with all your heart and mind, setting all your thoughts on things above…  You are a single minded being whose heart and mind have their thoughts set on the same destiny as that which God has destined for Himself and for you.

So then, your focus and your concentration are one as God is One.  Amen.

 

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