Archive | June 2012

The Role of Your Thought Life

What you believe about yourself and others comes largely from where your thoughts dwell. Proverbs 23:7 (NASB) says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Yet, controlling thoughts often seems simply impossible. Thoughts seem to pop in and out with no effort on our parts. Not only that, but our culture overwhelms us with input that seemingly directs thoughts without our conscious awareness.

When we try to control our thought lives, we lose the battle. The flesh simple does not have the strength to combat its desires. But when we are controlled by the Spirit, when we choose Jesus as our master, the role of our thought lives then becomes one that encourages and motivates yourself and others (Romans 6:15-18).

In A Woman’s Secret for Confident Living: Becoming Who God Made You to Be, Karol Ladd says that “we must be continually aware and discerning of the voice we listen to.” This sentiment finds its roots in Romans 8 which says, “those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things; but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit” (v. 5).

Being controlled by the Spirit means that we “can produce good fruit, that is, good deeds for God” (Romans 7:4). We can choose to obey righteousness. Doing so does not mean resting on our laurels. It means letting the power of God’s Holy Spirit direct our lives from within. Because of this, we can choose to direct (or fix) our thoughts “on what is true and honorable and right… things that are pure and lovely and admirable… things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).

So how do we go about fixing our thoughts?

  1. Don’t think about the bad. We all wish this meant the thoughts didn’t pop into our heads. They still do. What this means is not giving them room in our thoughts once they do show up. Push them out, then proceed to #2.
  2. Think about good. Anyone trying to break a bad habit knows that just getting rid of the bad habit isn’t enough. It must be replaced with something else. In our thought lives, we can replace our negative, self-defeating thoughts with scripture. We can fill our minds with teaching from full-Gospel teacher and preachers. We can surround ourselves with other Christians. We can choose to read and watch only that which builds us up.
  3. Know truth. A study of 1, 2 & 3 John reveals a message of love, forgiveness, living in community, dealing with sin, and living a holy life. In those messages, John stresses the basic truths of the Christian faith. One repeating element in what John says is to know false by knowing truth. In other words, know the Word of God. Don’t study false doctrine, but know God’s truth to protect yourself against the false.
  4. Have a firm foundation. Matthew 7:24-27 provides a wonderful analogy telling us why having a firm foundation is so important in the Christian walk. And, of course, that foundation is the Gospel of Christ. Listen to it, and obey it and be “wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.”
  5. Guard against accusations. We know that Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion” waiting to devour his victims (1 Peter 5:8). Since we know this will happen, we must guard against it by the by standing confidently in Christ. How? By directing (fixing) our thoughts, by knowing truth, and by making sure our foundation is firm.

Not only do we have the power of God to obey righteousness in our thought lives, we can also put those thoughts into action. This means that our true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy thoughts can show themselves visibly in our attitudes actions and words (Philippians 4:9).

For discussion & further study:

  • Read Romans 6, 7 & 8. Reflect on the amazing life awaiting Christians who are no longer bound to the law.
  • Read 1, 2 & 3 John and highlight passages focusing on the importance of knowing the truth.

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Book Discussion: For those of you reading A Woman’s Secret for Confident Living: Becoming Who God Made You to Be by Karol Ladd, please go to our Summer Book Club page to participate in a discussion about the book.

This entry was posted on June 28, 2012. 1 Comment

The Pursuit of Perfection

Jesus has always existed. He is God, and He created everything in existence. Nothing exists outside of His creating it. (John 1:1-3) That means YOU are Jesus’ own creation. For that very reason alone, YOU ARE VERY SPECIAL. Nothing can change this fact. Not what you feel, not what you think, not what you do.

When we believe and accept Him, we not only are His creation but you also become His child. You are reborn… renewed. (John 1:12)

As if that is not enough, “the Word became flesh.” That Word is Jesus. Full of “unfailing love and faithfulness,” Jesus showed us His glory. (John 1) What does the glory of God look like in human form? One word: Perfection.

As Christians, we strive for perfection, not perfection of the flesh because that’s not possible. Instead, we strive for spiritual perfection as we pursue holiness. What is our example? Matthew 5:45 says to “be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

When Jesus came to dwell among us as God in the flesh, He provided a tangible vision of perfection. Christ became: (1) The perfect teacher (Philippians 2:5-11); (2) The perfect example (1 Peter 2:21); (3) The perfect sacrifice (Colossians 1:15-23).

We were created by perfection, and our lives now focus on pursuing that perfection. We do this by developing godly character as we focus on who we are more than what we do (2 Peter 1:5-8). What we do simply flows naturally out of who we are – out of our character.

For further study and discussion: What do Philippians 2:5-11, 1 Peter 2:21 and Colossians 1:15-23 tell us about the character of Christ? What does Proverbs 4 add to this idea of perfection?

Related Reading: A Father’s Wise Advice

Book Discussion: For those of you reading A Woman’s Secret for Confident Living: Becoming Who God Made You to Be by Karol Ladd, please go to our Summer Book Club page to participate in a discussion on Part Two: Grow in Christ.

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Everyday God

Ever felt overwhelmed by the way God loves you? When you realize that you can completely trust His sovereignty to know what’s best for your life, doesn’t that just astound you? He tenderly cares for our lives, every detail, and He does so not from afar but from within us and through us. As we pray and then watch God work, our faith in Him increases. And as we realize that every detail of our lives can reflect His presence, we begin to see our Everyday God working and speaking in unexpected and increasingly powerful ways.

With that in mind, understand that God can speak to you while you are picking berries, cleaning house and reading. He gives solutions and wisdom when you exercise, drive and even shower. Because of our God’s omnipresence, He exists everywhere to meet us wherever we are. We don’t have to go, to do, to be or to achieve to connect with Him. He is everywhere always, ready to meet us there.

Jeremiah 23:23-24 says, “’Am I a God who is near,’ declares the Lord. ‘And not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ declares the Lord.”

Our God does not exist only for our worship once a week or for a quick 10-minutes, if we’re lucky, in the mornings before work. He exists all the time everywhere. He is an Everyday God who wants to be a part of every detail of our lives.

For further study and discussion: What can you do this week to meet God in the details of your life? How does Psalm 139:7-12 add to the realization of the omnipresence of God?

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Book Discussion: For those of you reading A Woman’s Secret for Confident Living: Becoming Who God Made You to Be by Karol Ladd, please go to our Summer Book Club page to participate a discussion on the book.

This entry was posted on June 14, 2012. 1 Comment

Standing Fast

In 1 Thessalonians 3, Paul talks about endurance and how to “establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” In verse 8 of this chapter, he talks about “standing fast,” which is a military term used to describe an army that refuses to retreat even after relentless attacks from the enemy. What creates the ability to stand fast in this way, whether in the company of other individuals or alone?

Carrying the military analogy a bit further, think about how an army prepares for battle. The ability to stand fast begins in basic training where they become stronger not only as individuals but as a team as well. They learn respect for and obedience to authority. In doing so, they become able to endure relentless attacks of the enemy.

The Christian walk plays out much the same way. Basic training comes through fellowship with other believers, study of God’s word and prayer. Core strength is built through consistent pursuit of these habits. Satan knows that when individuals stop any of these pursuits, the fellowship as a whole becomes increasingly vulnerable. He also knows that getting us to be lukewarm in these pursuits can also benefit his goals. He knows The Danger of Routine and Habit in Our Prayer Lives, and so should we.

So what causes a Christian to avoid fellowship, stop praying and neglect Bible study? In a general sense, the reason lies with distractions. Though the specific reasons are many and varied, distraction lies at the heart of neglecting the habits of prayer, fellowship and Bible study. We too easily get distracted from the work God has given us, and our culture certainly promotes this by telling us (through mediums such as advertising and sitcoms) to look out for “Number One.” (That means self, in case that isn’t clear.) Adding to the distractions offered by the world come the distractions we create ourselves, whether through busyness, pursuing status or even just wanting a life of ease.

When we become distracted, we stop seeking after God and begin to satisfy ourselves with lesser things.

For further study & discussion: Read through and meditate on the following scripture. What do they say about the ideas of distraction & focus? Please comment below.

Book Discussion: For those of you reading A Woman’s Secret for Confident Living: Becoming Who God Made You to Be by Karol Ladd, please go to our Summer Book Club page to participate in a discussion on the book.

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This entry was posted on June 7, 2012. 2 Comments