Read Philippians 4:8
Negative thinking can eat away at you like cancer. Scripture tells us that what comes out of man’s mouth is what is in his heart. Sometimes it’s negative, critical, angry, etc.. Perhaps my heart is not always black, but those times when it is, I feel sickened.
But how can we change it? God tells us to repent, be holy just as He is holy; well that’s a tall order to fill. At times it seems downright impossible right?
It is our obligation to study His word and learn all that He has given us about how we are to live. So just how are we to do that?
By focusing on godly things; “focus on what is pure, lovely, honorable, just, commendable, anything of excellence or anything that is worthy of praise.”
I know that it is hard to do this sometimes, but v. 9 of this same passage goes on to say, “and what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.”
This sums it up; if we will not only learn what the Bible has to say, but APPLY it then the God of peace WILL be with us. And what is it that Paul says? “Focus on pure, lovely…what you learned…do these things…God will be with you…”
This is not a promise that things will be perfect, this means that we will change. We will be able to overcome the urge to be a negative thinker.
As always, God Bless you till we meet again…
Negative Image Of A Cotton Flower (Photo credit: Big Grey Mare)
The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
How The Human Mind Is Conditioned…
We touched a little on how the human mind is conditioned over time yesterday; today I want to go a little deeper into the subject.
We talked yesterday about how our minds can be conditioned to see prayer as a negative thing, or how our minds can be conditioned into thinking that prayer is like a genie in a bottle. (Please see How Do You Triumph…posted 5/20/13) Today I would like to talk about how we allow our minds to be conditioned in our marriages, our relationships and with our children.
I try to tell people that it is never a good idea to have heavy conversations with your spouse in your bedroom; and most importantly NEVER in your bed! You see, when we have heavy conversations our minds will link places with feelings. Your mind will condition itself to thinking that the room or the bed is the source of the negative feelings. Now I understand (living in a house with 7 other people) that you may not have a place that you can go to have a private conversation, if that is the case for you than maybe you could set up a couple chairs in the corner of your room. Or maybe you could go for a walk (exercise will allow your brain to release endorphins, serotonins and norepinephrine which will hopefully lessen the negative effects on the brain.); in any case, please try to avoid this as much as possible.
Why do you think that it is bad for us to tell our children, “do as I say not as I do?” The obvious answer to this is, “because we are to lead by example.” Well I say this; we are conditioning our children to be hypocrites and to distrust people in authority. So if my relationship with my earthly Father (or Mother) is one that is built on hypocrisy and distrust than what will my relationship with my Heavenly Father be as an adult? Probably the same; have you ever wondered why some people struggle with obedience to God? I would venture to guess if you sat down with them probably more than half would not have a very functional relationship with their parents.
Why as a single person do we put our best foot forward when meeting the opposite sex, but after marriage our spouses are supposed to accept us for who we are, not what we appeared to be? Because we want the other person to see the best parts of us; this conditions our minds into thinking that giving our best is a tool for us to receive things, rather than a blessing to give others.
Let us “be still and know that He is God”. Quiet your mind, even as I write this my mind wanders and I have to keep refocusing. The Bible tells us repeatedly to meditate on the word, the way, the will of God. Quiet your mind, focus on God, see if the areas that you are struggling with are not areas that you have conditioned your mind. If they are then recondition them in the correct way! This is simply done by focusing on the Will of God, anything contrary to it should be cut out and thrown away.
As always, God Bless you till we meet again…
How Does Jesus Fit Into Your Problems?
When problems arise there are things, as Christians, that we must do to overcome them.
1. Ask yourself where does Jesus fit into the problem?
Am I relying on His strength and teachings in my life to get through this; or am I relying on my own wisdom?
A. Am I being persecuted because of my faith?
If the answer is yes, than rejoice! You are a threat to the devil and he is trying to stop you!
B. Did I walk outside of God’s will?
If the answer is yes, then repent! Be honest with yourself and God and tell Him that you are a sinner that needs saving, mercy, grace and forgiveness every single second of every day.
C. Is God allowing this situation to grow me?
This is a tough one for all people. We do not want to be uncomfortable. We do not like to be called out of our comfort zones. But if we are not growing then we are not active in our faith. Growing pains are a normal part of being a Christian if you are doing it right. Remember, no one wants to get water from a stagnant spring.
2. Where does scripture fit into your problem?
Are you seeking guidance from the Bible or are you looking to the world for the answer to your problem?
A. If you are being persecuted for your faith then get into the word. The Bible has the answer for every single problem you will ever face. Test this and see if it is not true!
B. If you are suffering because of sin, find out what the Bible has to say and apply it to your life. Be obedient and honest in this situation, so you can receive God’s blessings.
C. Paul talks about having a thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7) so that he would be kept humble. Seek God’s wisdom and see if He is not using this situation to grow you into a more mature Christian. He uses trials of all kinds to help us become better warriors for His Kingdom.
Open your Bible and read Job, read the crucifixion account again. We are called to be warriors, we are called to be strong and to suffer for the Lord’s sake. The Bible tells us to rejoice in these times (Romans 5:3 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.” (NLT)). To me the key advice that I can give to anyone that comes to me when they are suffering trials is to encourage them with words that God spoke to me years ago…
The devil must think that you are a threat to his kingdom if he is attacking you. So rejoice and stand firm because you are doing my will and I will bless you.
We do not serve a selfish and hurtful God. Rather, He is merciful and gracious to our sufferings. If we face trouble, He comforts us. He has given us a guide book for every single thing that we will ever encounter. AND He tells us how to overcome every single obstacle!
3. How do people fit into your problems?
Are we fighting people? Because the Bible tells us that our battle is not with them, but rather the evil that is in this world that uses people.
A. There are people that will target you because of your faith. You will be held to a different standard in this world. As Christians we say that we want to be set apart from the world. But the truth is, when we are called out for doing what the world around us does we get upset. Unless of course it’s for praise. We all struggle with this. We try to walk the fence, one side in the word and one side in the world. This is not how we should be. We are to live blameless lives before God and this world. If I act like the world than I am part of it. How can I be a witness for the holiness of God if I am carrying on like everyone else? I can’t!
So how do you overcome this? How do you handle these people that come at you because of your faith? Don’t just throw around the rubber stamp answer like “Pray”, “Read the word”, or “Stand fast”. Apply them! If you say that you are going to seek God and His will then stop right then and do it! I understand that sometimes you may be in a place where it does not seem possible. But prayer is ALWAYS possible no matter where you are or what you are going through. Prayer does not have to be pomp and circumstance.
It has to be from your heart, a broken and humble heart. Matt. 6:5-8 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (NIV). James 4:3 “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong–you want only what will give you pleasure.” (NLT).
It is when we have deep awe and respect for God that He listens to us. Is. 29:13 “And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.” (NLT)
Let Jesus be the solution to all your problems. You may not get immediate answers or comfort, but He promises us that if we will ask according to His will that He will comfort us in His time. Until then we must stand firm and believe that God knows what He is doing.
As always, God Bless you till we meet again…
The Armor of God
Good morning. This is going to be an in-depth look into the meaning of the armor of God. This will be an 8 part (hopefully) study. I hope you enjoy it and that it blesses you. (I wrote one years ago but I cannot find the book that it was written in so I am doing an updated version.)
Ephesians 6:10-17 (but for today we will only be examining v.10).
“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.”
What does it mean to be strong in the Lord? Well here the word strong (1743 in the lexicon) (Endunamoo) means to strengthen, to make strong, vigorous. To become strong, to become strengthened.)
So this is a process. But it is not ours alone! This strength refers to the recipient of such strength receiving it from outside of one’s own self. This strength comes from the Lord.
What does it mean, “in the strength of His might.”? The word strength (2904) (Kratos) here means power and dominion.
This means that we will be given power and dominion over something. But what? We will get into that in another lesson. (One step at a time so you can fully appreciate this passage of the Bible, and be able to properly apply it and use it.)
Might (2479) (Ischus) means strength, especially physical power as an endowment.
So now it becomes clearer! This being strong is not only a process but a gift from God!
“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.”
To be strong in the Lord means to rely on His strength, not your own. Believe that He has dominion over whatever circumstances come your way. Remind yourself, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (NLT )” This is so very important to understand, He is able to do MORE than what we can even imagine. We put God in a box and think of Him finitely, when He is infinite. We take away His power in our lives by trying to reason our way through situations that we find ourselves in. God is able to do all things. We must learn to be strong IN HIM, NOT OURSELVES. When we can do that we can better grasp His power and strength in our lives.
Why do you think that Paul would start out this passage about spiritual armor? I think that he is trying to tell us that without this first step the armor would not be effective. We must understand that if we “put on” the armor of God but do not understand that it is God who gives us the strength to carry it then we are doomed to fail.
And in this failure will come a division between you and God. When we try to do what we think the bible tells us and things don’t go the way we think they should we start to doubt the validity of the bible. But in fact the problem is us. We read what we want to, we apply it the way we want to then when we fail instead of blaming ourselves we blame God, or others. But we don’t take the time to really inspect the word and read deeper into what He is trying to tell us. We want to go from the bottle to the meat in one step. But this is not the way of the Lord. He has steps for us to follow. You cannot build a house on a foundation that is not set or the whole house will fall down. We cannot expect to pick and choose what fits our situation at the moment and then apply what seems right. We have to look at the whole picture and then go step by step. This is the only way to be successful at knowing what the Lord is telling us.
Tomorrow we will be looking at V.11.
“Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
As always, I hope that you have been blessed by this study and come back tomorrow for part two of this study on the Armor of God. God bless you till we meet again!
English: The Last Supper of Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
True Contentment Part 2
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss, for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; In order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained it. Or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.”
Another key to finding “true contentment” in our lives is not focusing on the “what-ifs” in life. But rather, on the things that are “right now”. Ultimately if we focus on the “what-ifs” in life we either live in the past or we live in a fantasy of the future. Yes Paul tells us that he was reaching forward to what lies ahead, but this means that he can see past his present circumstances. This does not mean that he is focused on the what-ifs of his future. Because in V16 he states; “however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” I think this is confirmation that we are called to live in the present.
In V8 Paul tells us that he suffered the loss of all things. In this case the word suffer means, to suffer great mental or physical pain. Losing the things we have for Jesus is not without gain however. There is much to be learned through this experience, if we allow God to show us. According to V11 that blessing is “In order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Salvation, this is our reward for standing strong in the face of trials of all sorts. For it is in the deepest parts of these trials that we find God. Therein we find true contentment when we realize that He is all we need.
True contentment comes when we know that we are going to be ok if we can’t figure out our next step. We don’t have to be in control as long as we allow that control to be God’s. I want to be content. Truly content and I know that the only way that I can truly ever be content is to follow the examples that Jesus Himself left for us; either through Jesus Himself, or through His disciples. He gave us all that we need to understand how to be successful in our walk, the BIBLE. Not success as the world sees success, but success as God sees it. To be able to stand before Him one day and hear the words “Well done my good and faithful servant.” To me that is the ultimate goal. Let’s not lose heart in this crazy rat race we call life; remember that this is not our home. We are just visitors waiting for the Lord to call us home. What a glorious day that will be! So till then, keep fighting the good fight and don’t lose heart!