Taking control of the wrong thing

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is filled.”  2 Cor. 10:3-6

My tattoo caught my attention the other morning and got me thinking about the reason why I got it.  I recalled coming to the place where I had decided that I had no control over anything in my life and so, I resolved to take control of something…enter the tattoo.

Whether you’re for or against tattoos, I can tell you that, at this point, I’m generally pretty indifferent towards mine.   But today it’s going to teach us all a lesson.

I’ve written before about when I got sick in 2012.  I never had a moments doubt that the Lord would heal me.  I remember reading my Bible in the hospital, completely trusting the promises within.

As the inconclusive medical tests continued to come in, and my pain persisted, I began to grow a bit weary.  At a church service a few months later, I heard a lesson about prayer lives that I didn’t like, and it hurt my feelings.  It made me feel inferior and inadequate.  I thought about it over and over.  I talked to myself about it.  I fumed over it.  I resented it.

Looking back, I know that when Satan realized that the physical issues weren’t going to cause me to turn against God, he knew would need a new tactic.  I gave him exactly what he needed.  He whispered, taunted, and argued against my knowledge of God with that comment I heard at church.  I could have just brushed it off and moved on with my life, but I allowed him to get in that crack.  I didn’t take control of my thoughts.  I didn’t take them captive.  I allowed him to control my thoughts for me.

As the months went by I let it impair my prayer life a little at a time.  Anger set itself deeper and deeper within my soul.  And then, someone I trusted even more spoke about the same thing, and I remember that being the day I just quit.  I remember thinking, “I’m done.”

What happened?  Satan won.  And I ended up with a tattoo.  I fought in the flesh instead of using the mighty weapons I have in God.  I became weaker because I took ‘control’ with my weakest weapon…my flesh.

Instead of taking my thoughts captive and reminding myself of the faithfulness of God, I listened to the twisted “truths” of the enemy.  Instead of ‘taking control’ by getting a tattoo, I should have taken control of my thoughts, reading the Word for myself and asking the Holy Spirit to teach me and bring to my remembrance all the Lord has said to me.

Let my tattoo be a permanent reminder for us all…take control of your thoughts!  Take control of the “truths” you are listening to.  Stay in God’s word and let the Holy Spirit minister to and teach you.  Fight in the Spirit and not in the flesh!  God is on your side and He is fighting for you.

Marked,

jamie

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It’s not too late!

Pr. 30:32:  “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, or if you have devised evil, put your hand on your mouth.”

As we go into this new year, it’s a good time to reevaluate our plans and our thoughts.  This verse seems a good one to consider.

Perhaps we have begun to do what this verse says, exalting ourselves above those around us.  The more our eyes are on us and our own desires, the easier it can become easy to begin to think we are better, more esteemed, more dignified, or more valuable than others.  I’m sorry to be the bubble-burster, but not one of us is perfect.

Perhaps we have begun to devise evil.  Maybe plans are being made to advance ourselves at the expense of another.  Maybe arguments of justification for sin have laid themselves out clearly in our minds.  Rationalizations for giving into the flesh have been formulated and accepted.

Wait!  If you are reading this, it means that there is still time to stop!  Just because the thoughts have been carefully contemplated and considered does not mean it’s too late.

We still have time to put our hands on our mouths.  We still have time to stop the justifications, rationalizations, and self-exalting.  We still have time to get our eyes off of ourselves and back on our Savior.

Perhaps a few changes are necessary.  Maybe its simply time to get back into the Word.  It could be that some people or activities should be avoided.  Could it be time to lock ourselves away with God for a breakthrough?  I will remind you:  You are of God, and will overcome, because Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

When we are able to focus once again on the Lord, we become eternity-minded.  We no longer strive and plan to satisfy and glorify our flesh, but strive to bring glory and honor to God.  Now that’s a plan!

Re-evaluating,

jamie

Confession time

Pr. 14:30:  “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.”

My confession:  Last week I was envious and it almost turned ugly.

I have a good friend who just had a knee replacement in June.  She’d been feeling as though her progress was moving slowly; however, last Sunday, she was rocking some hot red cowgirl boots at church.

I knew that the fact that she could wear those boots was a huge moral booster for her!  I also knew that if she could comfortably wear those boots, she was WAY better than she knew.  I was immediately happy for her!  What a victory!

My next thought; however, was envious.  Here I am, 6 months out from having broken my shin, and I still can’t wear any “cute” shoes without immediate pain.

The speed at which my thoughts shifted was impressive, but scary.  One second I was overwhelmed with joy for my friend, and the next, I was almost eaten up by overwhelming discouragement about my own state of being.  I felt depression loom over me and try to block out happiness.  I felt the tears threatening to come, the struggle of wanting to feel ‘normal’.

This is all true.  During a 15-20 second conversation, all these things really happened.

Then, I remembered that my hope is in the Lord.  No matter the situation of my life, God’s plans for my life are for good.  When I trust in Him, I will be safe.

I gave my friend a celebratory hug, and walked away rejoicing for her.  Those thoughts tried to sneak back up on me a couple of times during the week, but I refused to indulge them.  God has different plans for my friend than He does for me.

No matter if I can never wear what I consider “cute” shoes again, I am here to do the work that He has planned for me.  Perhaps that work requires a slower pace and a more comfortable shoe.

Our hearts can be sound by trusting in Him.  We don’t need to trust in situations, things we ‘see’ with our natural eyes, or in comparing ourselves with others.  God is the foundation on which we build something that’s sound, and won’t rot our bones.

Rocking my cutest comfy shoes,

jamie

 

The beauty of church

I went to church yesterday feeling tired, heavy, and regretful.

I taught my 5th graders in Sunday school about 3 superheros named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.  Even in the face of great pain and death, they stood up for what was right, and because of their conviction, others could literally see God, and came to believe that He was the Most High God.

What is the worst thing we can do about this story?  Forget.  Without reminding ourselves of what God can do and has done, we forget that we can be delivered from the fiery furnaces in our own lives.  We forget that if we stand up for and believe in God, even in our painful situation, others may be able to see God and come to believe that He is the Most High God, as well.

During the church service I was reminded that anything I can’t stop thinking about is an idol.  I could list several things that my mind couldn’t shake at that moment.  Do I want to be a servant of regrets, money, sickness, fashion, or cultural acceptance; or do I want to be a servant of the Most High God?  If it’s the later, then I need to be thinking about Him.  Trusting in Him means thinking about His goodness, His faithfulness, and His constant provision and abilities.

I then heard a testimony that reminded me that I am still alive because I still have work to do for Christ.  I don’t need to become so distracted that I forget why I’m here.

Last night I was heard that the Lord made dry bones live (Ez. 37), and that if He can bring dry bones back together into a perfect person, breathe life back into them, and join their ranks into an exceedingly great army; then He can breathe life back into the places that feel dry in my life, and that rivers of Living Water can still pour forth from me to reach those in need.

I was still tired when I left church last night; however, I was tired from being taught and ministered to all day long.  This morning, I feel the rivers stirring around in me.  My hope is not cut off.  I am not dry and desolate.  I am full of the Lord and His goodness, and because I am choosing to stand on His promises, I believe that others will be able to see Him in my life.

What’s the big deal about going to church?  Had I sat home with my heaviness and regrets yesterday, this morning would have looked a lot more dismal.  When you go to church and focus on God, allowing yourself to be open to His wisdom and encouragement brought in unexpected ways, He will minister to you, dust you off, and breathe life into you for the rest of the journey ahead.

I’m so thankful for a place to refuel, and for those who encourage and pray for me.

Gushing,

jamie

 

How ya sleeping?

Pr. 3:24:  “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.”

Solomon wrote that when we keep wisdom and discretion this will be one of the results.

I have nights where I awake in the middle of the night and am bombarded by terribly self-defeating thoughts.  I suppose that during the day I am more alert and ready to defend myself, but at night I am groggy and vulnerable.

This happened to me again last night.  As I was lying there being  attacked by thoughts of defeat, doubt, hopelessness, and despair, I heard these words come to the surface of my mind:

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus’ name.

Christ alone is my Cornerstone.  On Him, the Solid Rock, I stand, and certainly all other ground is sinking sand.

Verse 2 says,  “When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace.”  How fitting for the middle of the night when my thoughts loomed so largely in the forefront of my mind.

Through wisdom, I was able to rest on His unchanging grace last night.  Through discretion, I was able to apply good judgment to which thoughts I would allow to take me captive and which I would no longer entertain.

Remembering on whom my hope is built brought me peace and I was able to rest sweetly the remainder of the night.

This is a good example of a reason we must have the Lord’s wisdom in our lives.  Satan loves to attack our thoughts with fear, deception, and lies.  Often he uses half truths to attack us, which is why we sometimes believe or give in.

If we know the Word, and His truth, we will be able to take up our shield of faith and withstand the fiery darts of the wicked one.  We will be able to remind ourselves that do not need to place our trust in “the sweetest frames,” but wholly trust in Jesus’ name.

If we know the Word, we can rest on the fact that our hope isn’t built on anything that will sink or corrode, but is on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and His righteousness.

We have all we need in Christ.  I pray that when thoughts to the contrary attempt to take you captive, you will remember this story, and be able to rest sweetly in the truth of the Word.  I pray I will, too.

Trusting in Him,

jamie

In times of doubt

Pr. 16:3:  “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.”

King David knew betrayal and fear in his lifetime.  What had David done to Saul?  Nothing.  It was Saul’s own sin and distress that caused him to make poor decisions.  David had nothing to do with those things.  Yet, Saul tried to kill David on more than one occasion.

In Psalm 11, we get a glimpse of David wondering about his trust in the Lord.  He says, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  With God as his foundation, David wondered what he could do if that trust was destroyed?

This is a temptation that comes upon us all.  There are times of pain, sadness, doubt, sickness, sorrow, or confusion when we wonder at God’s plans.  We know that His thoughts are not the same as ours.  We know His ways are not our own.  We understand that He holds the world in His hands and that He is sovereign.  Yet, there are times when we are tempted to lose our trust in Him.

David, continues; however, stating what He knows to be true about the Lord.  (vs. 4-7)  He reminds Himself why His trust has been placed in the Lord, and why that trust is not misplaced.

We can see this Proverb proven in this time of David’s temptation and reassurance.  He had committed his ways to the Lord since childhood.  He had trusted in the Lord’s might enough to face and kill Goliath.  He knew what God could do and was willing to do.  He knew the things that displease God.

Even though David was tempted with doubt and despair, his thoughts were established.  His commitment to the Lord, his knowledge of the Lord, and his trust in the Lord created a firm foundation on which he could placed his trust.

It is our commitment to the Lord and our knowledge of Him that allows us to have that same foundation.  When times of doubt sneak upon us, we need to know the One in whom we are trusting.  If we know Him, our thoughts will be established, and on our solid foundation, He will pull us up straight and strengthen us by our trust in Him.

Continue getting to really know Him.  He is our foundation!

Steadying myself in Him,

jamie

 

 

Turn to God

Pr. 9:4:  Wisdom cries, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”

Wisdom has been prepared for us.  Pr. 9 tells of the preparations that have gone into the instructions that are available to us from wisdom.

I read Psalm 143 this morning, which is entitled:  An earnest appeal for guidance and deliverance.  In this Psalm, David is crying out to the Lord for wisdom, understanding, and guidance.  Here is a snippet of that Psalm:

My heart within me is distressed.  I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.  I spread out my hands to You; my soul longs for You like a thirsty land.  Answer me speedily, O Lord; my spirit fails!  …cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.  …teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good.  Lead me in the land of uprightness.

If our hearts become distressed, when darkness looms around us, or as sin seeks to lure us, we must not allow ourselves to feel ‘simple.’  A simple person is defined as ignorant, foolish, or gullible.  We who trust in the Lord are not simple.  Yet, Satan would have us believe that we are.  He puts thoughts into our minds that confuse us and bring us low.

Satan wants us to believe gullible things such as, “It’s harmless,”  “It’s not That big a deal,” “It only affects me,”  “I will never get past this.”  He wants us to believe foolish things like, “I have to take care of this myself,”  “I just need to man up,”  “God has more to do than worry about this.”  Ignorant thoughts he feeds us sound something like, “There is no way out of this,”  “God could never forgive something like this,”  “If I’ve sinned, there is no hope of stopping,”  “It’s too late to turn back now,”  “My life will never get any better.”

We must not give in to satan and his lies.  He is the father of lies.  He wants nothing more than to destroy our souls.  We are Not simple.  We have the truth available to us through the Word of God.  His Word reminds us of the days of old, the works God has done, and the works of His hands.

If His Word is not getting through, we also have something else even more wonderful:  access to the Holy of Holies.  We have been personally invited by the Lord to boldly approach His throne of grace to obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need, just as David did.

When ‘simple’ thoughts begin to creep into our minds, we must turn toward the throne.  We have a Lord whose wisdom is perpetually available to us.  He has not left us.  He will never forsake us.  He is with us always.  We simply need to turn to Him.  He is waiting with everything we need.

Seeking His guidance,

jamie