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“Captive” Thoughts

‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; ‘ II Corinthians 10:3-5

Think of a water filtration system at your house. What is its function? As the water passes through the filtering system all the impurities are stripped away. Anything that could be potentially harmful to you is taken out. You are left with water that is safe to consume and be beneficial to your body. Water is a wonderful for our bodies.

In the Christian life, our thought lives are where the most aggressive battles take place. We think then we act. Often it has to be said we act without thinking at times. But, more often than not, how we think affects what we do. Several years ago I came across the phrase “stinkin’ thinkin’ “. This phrase is what I call it when negative thoughts about myself invade my mind and heart. To often in my life I have fallen into the trap of valuing what the world negatively says about me or thoughts I have about myself rather than looking to God and His word for my value. Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation. Maybe someone put ideas in your head as a child. People who are hurting often lash out at those closest to them. In an effort to stop feeling bad about themselves they fling hurtful words at others putting them down. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Not sure who came up with this one, but I believe they were misinformed. Words can hurt deeply.

So how do we ditch the “stinkin’ thinkin’ “. We filter every word we play in our head through the filter of God’s Word. Read and find out what God has to say about you. Ephesians 5:25-26 says about the church, ‘Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” God is speaking of the church here, but I believe the same principle can be applied to the mind. We cleanse our minds of negative thoughts by filtering every thought through the filter of the Word of God. In our Key verse, II Corinthians 10:3-5, all our negative thoughts should be brought into captivity. Practice going to the Word of God when “stinkin thinkin” invades your mind. Clean up your thoughts by washing them in the Word. Find out what God has to say about you. (Psalm 43:5; Proverbs 3:3-5). Pursue Christ and Learn to think thoughts that will honor and glorify Him.

  • Example Prayer to Pray—”Father God, I grab hold to this truth that you are for me! You value me! (Matthew 10:31) You said in your Word I am more valuable than the birds you created. When I get down on myself, I am going against what your Word says about me. So, I claim (Deuteronomy 31:8) that you are with me, and (Romans 8:32) that you are going to give me what I need in this very moment. Also, (v.33) that no one can lay a charge against me except You. This includes me! Help me take these negative thoughts I am thinking about myself and drown them in the truth of your Word. AMEN!
  • Pray with your Bible open praying the Scripture back to God

May the truths of God’s Word penetrate your heart and mind and think “Good Thoughts”.

 

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A Kind Word

Someone once said, “You don’t know what’s missing until it’s gone!”, and in a sense I guess that is true. However, some things in life you don’t realize how much you have missed until you begin to experience them again. A kind word from someone is one of those things. Often we may find ourselves in a rut of going to church, putting on our “happy face”, putting in our God time, and leaving without really interacting and having fellowship with those around us. When was the last time you really took the time to give a kind word to someone, and encourage them in their walk with Christ? There is a point when so much is going on in our lives that we hit survival mode and are only able to go to church, and meet with God and that is all we can handle at that moment. The cares of this world may have driven you to a place that you barely can put one foot in front of the other. When we find ourselves in this place, God may use someone to speak a kind word or offer a prayer on our behalf that will help us to see that God has not left us and we still have christian friends that are there for us as well. One of the best things about being a part of the body of Christ and in a God filled church is that you can be there for each other.

In the last month when my husband was so sick, I was so encouraged by all of the kind words, prayers, texts of encouragement, cards, support of our church friends & family, and even people I had not met but who heard about our situation and responded with encouragement and blessings. Some will never know this side of Heaven the extent of the joy that brought to me. Though I tried to express my thankfulness, It has meant so much more that a mere, “Thank you” can cover. Those of you who have ministered to us, you have shared fellowship with us that caused our joy to abound. (I John 1:3-4)

For the last two weeks, my husband has been interim pastor at a new church. One of the things I have really enjoyed has been getting to know the new people and sharing our lives with them.  As I look how far God has brought us in the last couple of months and all He has taught us, I can’t help but try to pass on the encouragement I have experienced. I have again realize the importance of sharing a kind word with someone. Many in this world are carrying burdens and are hurting. You never know that your word, prayer, text, card, etc. will be the difference that will turn them once again to the Heavenly Father. You have a wonderful opportunity to share a kind word that will produce ripples of encouragement throughout someone’s life. Don’t hold back! Give a Kind Word!!!

The Lord Is In The Details

Ok, I’m tired. Maybe you didn’t know. However a lady in the parking lot of Walmart did. I had gotten off of work, and had to pick up a few things, and as I was walking back to my car. A lady stopped me and said, “you are tired aren’t you?” I didn’t realize it showed on my face. A chance encounter came about in a place not expected. I talked about 5 minutes with a lady who was feeling the same. We shared, and agreed to pray for each other in the coming week. I walked away with the realization that God set up that encounter to show me by a stranger’s words that I was loved and cared for by my Heavenly Father.

So often we get in the habit of only talking to God about the big things in our lives. With the world gone crazy and so many hurting in the world, our prayer lives has our focus shifted to things on the grander scale. Wars overseas, cancer scares, government taking our rights away, Missionaries tormented, and countless other things are going on right now. God does care about those things and we should pray for them. I think though that God also cares a great deal about the every day details that only we know about and try to accomplish every day.

In Exodus 25, God begins to reveal to Moses all the details on how the Tabernacle of the Lord was to be constructed. I had forgotten how detailed the Lord was in showing the people how to make each piece that would be going into His place of worship. He took 6 verses to describe the candlestick that would be placed on the table.  God is concerned with all the little details in your life too. He wants you to talk to Him about them. I Corinthians 6:19-20, tells us our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Just as God was concerned with the details of the tabernacle, He is also concerned with every detail of our lives. Take time today to share all the little things with God, and let Him show you He holds all of it in His capable hands.

The Heart of the Matter

“How is your heart?” I have often heard the expression in sermons, Sunday school classes, and from friends. My first reaction to this is to say, “just fine, or it’s all good”, yet there are times when I know in the depths of my heart, it is not “just fine”. Often over the past few days in my quiet time, I have been burdened for those I have come in contact with daily. On at least 3 different occasions, I have listened as they have shared how busy everyone seems to be lately, and I quite agree. We are a busy people. Often, others have said, “If I could just get though this week or month, things will slow down and I will have more time. Circumstances have overwhelmed us, and we seem to be busier than ever before. So in this life that is constantly moving, and we never seem to catch up, how do we cope? How do we keep our heart guarded against the opposition of the devil, crazy circumstances, and others who are constantly grabbing our time and attention? As I was praying this morning, the Lord reminded me of of Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  It seems like a contradiction doesn’t it. Many would say I just don’t have time in the mornings to spend time with God. When the alarm goes off, I hit the ground running. I have a million things to do today. I will get with God later. Unfortunately, later never comes. Nighttime falls and the head hits the pillow and our thought is I am just to tired, or I will just try again tomorrow. Days pass and our quiet time has suffered. Our time with God is pushed to the side in favor of other things. In Matthew 6:33, we see we need to seek the kingdom of God first. Why? Because God knows everything. He knows before you get up in the morning what you will face that day. He has gone before you in the way and prepared for you to walk it with Him. When we seek Him first, the things we face that day may not change, but how we deal with it will. We need God’s presence to light our path and walk beside us into the unknown. Our heart will be strengthened and encouraged as we walk the day’s path with God at our side. Don’t leave Him behind in your pursuit of things and accomplishments of this life. Because the heart of the matter is this, It does matter how your heart is right at this moment. Is it really good between you and God? Are you walking with Him daily, talking to Him through prayer and letting Him speak to you through His Word? Seeking after God and His kingdom is our part. Look at the 2nd half of our verse today. If we do our part, God will keep His promise and do His part. “…all these things will be added unto you.”  Does this mean we will get everything we want? No.  It means God will provide for all our needs and give us blessings that we cannot imagine. He will work when we see no straight path. He will answer us when we need encouragement. He will strengthen us to do everything we have in front of us for the day. He will clean up our heart and help us to walk in righteousness. So, my friend, How is your Heart?

God’s Promise of Answered Prayer*

When was the last time you really went after something? You went all in, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Our Sunday School lesson this last week deals with our persistence in prayer. In Luke 11:5-13, we find the parable of a man who had unexpected company, and didn’t have anything to feed his guest. He went expectantly to his neighbor knocking at his door asking for bread. When the neighbor continually gave the man excuses why he could not help, the man continued to knock at the neighbor’s door. Because of the man continuing to knock without giving up, the neighbor finally gave in, and gave to him the bread he needed. You may say that God wants us to go to Him in prayer with the same urgency and boldness that the man in the parable showed. It is a picture of how we should approach our Heavenly Father.

I saw the movie, “War Room” the week it came to the theaters in our area. I was compelled by the faith that the main character showed in committing to a consistent prayer life. The circumstances in her life brought her to her knees in prayers. I was challenged to begin to pray all in and with my whole heart. This is the kind of praying God wants us to do. Praying that doesn’t let go, and that goes to God time after time after time until God answers.

The question is asked, “What is the connection between being patient with God and persistence in our relationship with Him?” Patience is something that I think we all struggle with from time to time. In our society, we have been conditioned to ask and receive instantly. Want answers? Log on and hit the search bar. Hungry? Fast food is around almost every corner. Need products? 24 hours stores are waiting for you. In our walk with God there are times when we pray and feel God has not heard because we did not receive an immediate answer. Perhaps, God is challenging us to keep praying to see if we are really serious in gaining an answer to our prayers. God wants us to keep on praying with confidence expecting an answer. If you saw me purchase an ice cream sundae, sit down with a spoon, take one bite, and push it away and say, “ok, I’m done!” You would think that to be weird I am sure. When I sit down with ice cream, I am all in attacking until the spoon hits the bottom on the bowl. Then I scrape the sides getting every last drop. I want my prayer life to be like that. All in, and going for it until I receive all it has for me.

We know the promises of God, For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (v.10) We can and should have the confidence in God that He will answer our prayers. “Why do we not pray persistently?” Many things may keep us from praying like we should. When this question was posed to our class the answer they gave was “life”. Our busy lives are constantly grabbing our attention from focusing on a consistent prayer and bible study time. I mentioned last week that we fight for time to do the things that are important to us. We must decide for ourselves if our time with God is worth fighting for. 

In the last three verses of our Scripture, God used the father’s love for his child to shadow how God responds to us as believers. He uses the comparison if A is true then B must be true. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (v. 13) God love for us far outweighs the love an earthly father has for his child. So God invites us to pray, and brings all our needs and requests to Him. This passage teaches us that God always wants to hear and answer our prayers. Do you want to have a powerful prayer life with an abundant of answered prayers? The solution is simpler than you may think, “Just start praying!” Be consistent and persistent. It is a winning combination!

*This is a summary of a Sunday School lesson is based on “Bible Studies for Life” printed by Lifeway Christian Resources. While The main points and focus questions are printed in our Sunday School curriculum. The Commentary on them is based on personal experience and lessons learned from my own life. This is offered to my SS Class members who are unable to be with us due to work or health issues. Thank you.

Only Pray…

As I have ventured over to Facebook over the last few days, I have been overwhelmed at the amount of friends who have been through so much in the last few weeks. Illness, grief, and struggles have been at the forefront of every post. My heart is deeply touched by each post, because each post represents a dear friend or family member. I feel compelled to do something. I want to do something big for them so they will feel loved, and not so alone in the trial they are facing. I thought to myself, “Right now, I can only pray for them.” Then I was hit with conviction, praying is the first and best thing that I can do for them.

How many times do we underestimated the power of prayer. We can bring the name of someone right into the throne room of Heaven, and petition the One who formed the whole world into existence by merely speaking the words. When I speak a friend’s name before Our Heavenly Father, I am giving them access to the greatest source of power and strength they could ever hope to experience. Jesus can be there with them through the season of health issues they are facing each moment. Jesus knows the depths of grief they face in the loss of a loved one. Jesus knows the ultimate sorrow of being hurt and rejected by those He loved so desperately. The power of a single prayer can do so much more and go so much further than we could ever dream. In Jeremiah 33:3, we read, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Our prayers for others go far past the mere request. It ministers to the individual, and meets their needs in a way that only God can minister to them.

I do want to say, however, that we must not use prayer to give us an excuse not meet a need of others. If God tells us to do something to help someone, we should always be willing to go and to do. We should also make sure that before we go; we surround the situation with prayer so we will do exactly what God has for us to do. With the Holy Spirit to guide us, we can met another’s needs in a way that will bring honor and glory to God.

Sweet Friends, remember that we have no effectiveness or power apart from God. We do have access to the greatest power source the world has ever known, the power of prayer. May we faithfully pray for others remembering that prayer is always the best and first response.

 

Savior, Save Me!

My radio, tuned to my favorite Gospel station, was blaring as I was fast tracking down the road headed for home.  I contemplated the conversation I had with my dear friend just moments ago. We were sharing what was taking place in our daily lives when the conversation turned to our spiritual walk, and the struggles we were facing.  When the song on the radio came bursting through my thoughts, “Savior, save me!” I didn’t catch the whole song, but I heard enough. The writer of the song lamented his predicament of not being what God wanted him to be, and how he needed the help of His Heavenly Father once again.  The words were just what I needed in that moment. I needed someone to “Save Me.”

I do want to clarify something for those who are just finding me here, or have not followed this blog for very long. As a child, I called on the Lord to save my soul. I asked him to forgive me of my sins and make me over brand new. I knew that I could not enter into heaven without first admitting that I needed Jesus to forgive me of my sin, and to believe that his sacrifice was the only way my sin could be covered. I accepted Jesus and His sacrifice for me.  This is how I could be made right with God.  God saved my soul that day, and I give Him all the praise!

Even after becoming a Christian, there are still times when I am weak, and I need the strength of someone greater than myself. I need God. I need Him in such a desperate way that my only cry is ” Savior, Save Me”.  Daily I struggle with circumstances I can’t control. Whether it be health issues, personal issues, etc. It sometimes is so hard just to put one foot in front of another to deal with the day-to-day grind. In the past few years, I felt very keenly that I had been going through a season of testing. I felt so weak some days.  It was in this place that I needed my Savior to come to me and minister to me in my need.  He showed me once again that  He has the power to save me in the trials before me. Does Jesus always take the trial away? The answer is “No”, but He has promised to go through the trials with us.  He has been and continues to be my Savior. He lifted me up, and revealed to me his “ever-present help in time of trouble.”

There are also time  when I am overwhelmed with circumstances of my own making.  I have taken on to many things, or let my “to do” list grow to the point where it is unreasonable to assume that even half  of it will get done in one day.  I often get weighed down with the things of this world to the point where I can barely function. It is in these times that I need God to save me again. I run to Him to save me from myself. I am so thankful that God is always there to welcome me with open arms and to save me once again.  I pray with all that is in me that I never forget that my Savior is as close as the mention of His name.

A verse in the Bible that has helped me in my dark days is “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. ”  Perhaps, you find yourself in a place where you need God to step in, and save you today. I want to offer to you that God is there. We have a Savior who is ready to save us from circumstances, situations, or even ourselves. He is as close as “Savior, Save Me.” Reach out to Him today.