Spiritual Battlefields: Our Attention

cannon facing old battlefield

As we continue our lessons about the Battlefields of the soul, it’s important to realize they all take place in our mind. The brain is the most complex organ we have. It makes everything we do possible. It interprets our senses. It monitors parts of our bodies without conscious thought. It can reason. It is home to our awareness, our ability to think, and our ability to decide. It stores and processes data every minute of the day.

The battle for our mind is a struggle for our focus and our attention. We have so much asking for our attention at all times, and our minds can be easily distracted. Just think about the number of car accidents related to distracted driving. Some of us might have even caused an accident because we were distracted, and it all starts with the same rationale: “I can handle it.”

Fighting for Our Attention

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, television, sports, work, current events, politics, financial concerns — these things and more battle for our attention. And none of these things are inherently bad, so where is the line? These things become bad when they distract us to the point where we lose our focus on God and Heaven, and the world becomes more important to our daily routines and decisions than God.

In Mark 4:1 – 9, Jesus tells a parable of a man sowing seeds, and some of those seeds fell on thorny ground where the seeds are choked out and never reach maturity. Jesus breaks the parable down in the following verses. Those seeds among the thorns are those who got distracted by the world, for whom the cares and distractions of this world erased the influence of God’s word.

If being Christ-like is the victory, then what does defeat look like? In Mark 7:14, Jesus points out that it’s not the influences of the world that defeat our spirituality. Instead, it’s what we do with those things. The things we say and do testify to how the battle for our minds is going. Of course, this means we should be mindful about what we allow into our minds so as to not give our adversary the upper hand through what gets our attention.

Tending to a Garden

Christ likens our souls to a garden in Mark 4. If you’ve ever gardened, you know that it takes effort and work to make your plants grow and thrive. The same is true within ourselves. Are we tending to our souls by putting good things into that garden? Are we watering that garden with the refreshing waters of Christ’s word? Do we weed the garden through discernment and obedience? If not, we may be allowing the weeds of worldly distraction grow in our minds.

It requires endurance to then maintain the garden. It’s an unending task. You can’t weed your garden once and be done for all time. You can’t feed the garden once and be done. With what are you and I feeding our minds? We are surrounded by negative influences every day. We can’t always control what goes in, but we have total control over what comes out. I have to make a conscious effort to not allow the distractions and negativity of this world to define me in my heart, my mind, and my speech.

What are you feeding your families’ souls with? How do we overcome the battle of our own minds as well as choose how we influence those we care about? It might mean we step back from allowing background noise in our homes. It might mean we make a conscious decision to avoid certain activities and friends. Just like feeding our bodies, we have to make healthy choices about how we feed our minds.

The battle for our minds will control how we fare when facing those other battlefields we’re studying about. It starts there. We cannot live without our minds, and we must guard it so it can defend us when the time comes. Our minds are precious. They are God’s gift that give us life and consciousness. They are what are formed in His image. Let’s keep that mind focused on being like Him, so we can overcome in the face of the distractions from a loud and attention-needy world.

lesson by Aaron Kadel

The Philippian Letter: Chapter 4


Through our studies of Philippians we’ve looked at our lives in perspective of the hope of salvation. We’ve talked about what it’s like to try to be like Jesus. We’ve looked at our goals and measured them against Paul had for his spiritual growth. Finally, we’re going to look at the joy we should have in Christ and the way prayer and thanksgiving can help us attain that deep spiritual joy.

Unity in Love

As he closes this letter, Paul once again makes an exhortation for unity. He reminds them and us of God’s providence and and he encourages to rejoice. Paul instructs us to seek unity and agreement with one another for the sake of the gospel on multiple occasions. For example, in 1 Corinthians 1:10 Paul writes:

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

We see this again in Philippians 4:2 when he encourages us to again find agreement in the Lord. He dissuades us from quarrels and divisions that can drive unrest and lead us away from our focus on being Christ-like. He specifically calls out a couple of Christians named Euodia and Syntyche, who are involved in a disagreement, and he asks a dear friend to intervene and assist them in settling it. The same focus on unity is asked of you and me today. Let’s not let the things of this world get in the way of our focus on doing God’s will.

Contentment in God

The latter part of the chapter sees Paul direct us to focus on the contentment only God can supply. This can be tough, and it’s easy to get focused on self in such a way that we become discontent. There have been times in my own life when I’ve felt like God is ignoring me or has left me to fend for myself. Paul confronts times of weakness like that beginning in verse 12.

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Skipping down to verse 19:

My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever.

Paul reminds us of God’s care for us and His desire for us to find contentment with what He has supplied us. Paul certainly didn’t go about preaching what some call a prosperity gospel. He faced more struggles and trials than any of us are likely to face in our Christian journeys.

A Higher Perspective

Has anything happened that ruined your day or week, or even month? I once thought I was on a sure road to promotion in the company where I was working. I finished my first large project and was looking forward to the rewards from that venture when I was unexpectedly laid off — one week before Christmas. That sure ruined my month.

But it’s hard to compare experiences I’ve had like that to the struggles that Paul had. Starting in II Corinthians 11:16, we see Paul talk about imprisonments, beatings, near-death experiences, torture, going hungry and sleepless, being shipwrecked, and more. And at the end of that passage, he talks about the concern he has for the well-being of all churches. He rejoiced with confidence in God. He didn’t shy away from the challenges or threats he faced.

What’s your focus? What are you thinking about as you go about your day — when things are great or when you are facing struggles? Do you dwell on the problems or find contentment and hope in Christ? I’d encourage you to reread through Paul’s experiences in life and take note of how he views things. Having a perspective like his can change our lives and lead us down a path of greater contentment and joy.

lesson by Aaron Kadel

Yielding to the Spirit

girl sitting in the sunset

Spirit living means we let the Spirit guide our attitudes and conduct in every part of our lives. Self-control, love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, meekness,and gentleness — these qualities comprise that fruit we bear when we live by Him. This puts our God, our Savior, and His Spirit deep in my heart, guiding everything. I yield myself completely over to Him.

Changing Focus

This Spirit living does not take all challenges from our lives, but it does guide to set better goals, make better choices, and have better motivations in this life. This type of living also lets us give control over to our God, to stop worrying over the things of this life and lay them at the feet of our Lord. John 3:1-8 speaks of being born again in the Spirit. When we’re born again, that means we are a new person in Him.

When we live by the Spirit, our focus is above. That is how we obtain that peace that passes understanding. Psalm 118:8-9 reminds us it’s better to trust on the Lord than anyone else, and II Corinthians 5:6-7 speaks of our living by faith rather than sight. When we are focused on things above, He becomes our true guide. Then we give all over to Him, and He gives us peace and hope in return.

A Better Perspective

When we are looking beyond this world and its troubles, then we can keep our challenges in better perspective. Whatever our challenges, God is bigger. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust God with all of our heart and to stop leaning on our own reasoning. We need to be willing to allow God to direct us, in joy and sorrow, in peace and trials, in everything. We know He works for the good of those who love Him, and this comes by yielding to Him.

Galatians 5:16-18 records Paul’s desire to walk in the Spirit, and he describes a struggle between our flesh and the Spirit. We have to make a conscientious choice to live by the Spirit and to live by faith and love. It’s a civil war within our own minds, but we can overcome with God’s help. He can lift us above the chains of this life and deliver us to spiritual freedom.

Living for God makes it easier to make better choices in this life. Living for God helps us distance ourselves from sin. It’s not about making lists. Rather, this is a way of life. It is a transformation from one way of living to something completely new. Through Him, we have a power within us that can help us reach new levels of peace and hope, but we have to put that power to use through Spirit living. When we yield to His Spirit, we’re restored. We overcome. We’re made free in Christ. We’re made new.

lesson by Mark Ritter