Featured

Our Thoughts

“Think good thoughts,” she exclaimed, when I asked what her secret was to living a long and happy life. This was coming from a woman wise in her years. She knew from her 89 years of life experience that it was key to a peaceful and victorious life. She had come to the point in life where she understood the harm that can result when we dwell upon worrisome, fearful, or disturbing thoughts. Our mind is the control center for our body. When our mind is upset so is our body. 

If we can commit our situations to the Lord, trusting Him for His very best purpose in our life, even when things are hard or scary, it will free us to think good and hopeful thoughts in the midst of the storm. If we can walk in peace we will live longer, happier lives. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

According to researchers at Penn State University, only about 8% of the things people worry about come true. This statement by Winston Churchill rings true. “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” It is easy to fall into the worry of the what ifs in life. But, when we turn to God’s Word we are told to do the opposite. In faith, we are to think, trust, and expect God’s very best. “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

We are actually not in control of our life circumstances, even though we struggle with wanting to be in complete control. We all want a certain outcome in life and we may even have a plan we formulated in our mind to reach that hope or dream. Perhaps we have even played out just what that dream looks like and how it should go! But when things don’t go as planned and life gets uncomfortable, scary, or stormy, we need to remember that the Lord has us.

If we are walking in surrender, embracing all that He is doing, it comes down to a matter of trust. He has His reasons for allowing hard or challenging times, which we just cannot fully grasp or understand while we are in the midst of them or looking at them in someone else’s life. But, Psalm 62:1-2 tells us, “I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken.” He is always working things out for good.

In Matthew 11:28-30 we are told, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” We are to keep our focus on God, being confident of who we are as we walk in truth.

If our minds are bent on thinking negative, unhealthy, worrisome thoughts, there is still hope in the transforming of our minds. This can be done through the redeeming power of our Lord as we believe and receive our true identity in Christ. When the mind goes down a rabbit trail of negativity, one thing we can do is STOP and do what I call a TRUTH check. Ask yourself, are these thoughts based on truth or are they based on fear and the what ifs of life? Anything not factual needs to be thrown out and our mind needs to refocus on the truth of God’s promises. I have found the following quote by Andrew Murray to be both powerful and life changing: 

In time of trouble, say, First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest. Next, He will keep me here in his love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as his child. Then say, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons he intends me to learn, and working in me the grace he means to bestow. And last, say, In his good time he can bring me out again, how and when, he knows. Therefore, say, I am here by: 

1. God’s appointment 

2. In His keeping 

3. Under His training

4. For His time

It is our hope in Christ that sustains us through the storms of life; Those things that don’t set right with us, cause us stress and unwanted drama, things we can’t change, things causing us pain or confusion, or whatever our worse fears may be. We belong to Christ and He is our peace. In Joshua 1:9 it says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

When we belong to the Lord, we can rest assured that He is keeping us for His purposes. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 tells us, “The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” Through Christ we can overcome. Those lies from the enemy that are meant to break and destroy us, are just that, for 1 John 4:4 speaks of the victory we have in Christ!  “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” The Lord is with us and He will fight the real enemy through us. We are victorious in Christ, always.

Ephesians 4:1 tells us we are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called. If you are a child of God, saved by the blood of Christ and walking in surrender to Him then you are not your own, and, neither are you alone. You belong to the Holy Spirit who dwells in you. And, regardless of difficult situations, God is always there, taking care of you. You will never face a mountain on your own. The Creator of all things is helping you and He is faithful, forever, to the end. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

We are empowered by God’s Spirit. We are to walk in faith and freedom, not being bound by fear of the unknown. We are to live life fully unto the Lord, following the leading of the Holy Spirit and being confident in His care and chosen purposes for each of us. And, we are to be thinking good thoughts of hope in Christ. We can transform our minds when we focus on the promises of God and stand on the truth, not the what ifs or lies of the enemy. 

Jesus Christ told us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave you; my peace I give you, not as the world gives do I give to you; do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Rest and trust in the Lord and He will give you the peace you need right here and now. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, please use the share buttons at the bottom of the page instead of doing a copy and paste. All rights reserved by copyright. Thank you. Blessings to you!

Featured

God’s Armor

The backyard patio table had been inviting on such a fabulous spring day. As I bit into my sandwich, my eye lock shifted away from that of my lunch guest to the movement behind her. Slithering beneath the rocked wall in our near distance was a four foot long snake with shiny black scales and bright white bands. Its markings clearly defined it as a California Kingsnake. 

Fascinated by wild life, I quickly approached our visitor for a closer look and, of course, a photo opportunity. But, as I narrowed in on it, I received an unexpected hostile reaction from it. To my shock and dismay, it pulled back into a sort of coil and shook its tail like that of a Rattlesnake! 

This behavior is referred to as Batesian mimicry, which is when a harmless species evolves to imitate the warning signals of a harmful species, directed towards a predator. When Kingsnakes are threatened, they emit an unpleasant musk and shake their tails. Had there been leaf litter beneath its tail, it would have produced a buzzing sound that resembles that of a shaking Rattlesnakes tail.

The Kingsnake is immune to Rattlesnake venom and has the ability to overpower and eat snakes that are larger than themselves. This is highly unusual, as 90% of the time, predators are bigger than what they eat. Kingsnakes defy this with their unique way of hunting Rattlesnakes by first biting them behind their head and then rapidly coiling around their bodies one to three times. Because Kingsnakes kill Rattlesnakes, they are good snakes to have around. Kingsnakes know how to fight against predators that are big and deadly and win because they know how to defeat their enemy. What about us? How do we defeat the enemy of our soul?

In Ephesians 1:3, the apostle Paul gives an exhortation on the spiritual blessings and truths we have in Christ. He says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” It is important that we remember these truths, stand on them in faith, and apply them to our lives. They are:

Chosen Before the Foundation of the World (v.4)

Holy and blameless (v.4)  

In His Love (v4)

Predestined to Adoption (v.5)

Accepted in the Beloved (v.6)

Redeemed through His blood (v.7)

Forgiven of Sin. (v.7)

The Riches of His Grace Abound (v.7-8) 

Made Known the Mystery of His will. (v.9)

Obtained an Eternal Inheritance (v.11)

Heard the Word of Truth (v.13)

Sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise (v.13)

The Hope of His Calling (v.18)

The Riches of His Inheritance (v.18)

The Exceeding Greatness of His Power (v.19-20)

In addition to believing and standing in faith on the truth of these promises and blessings, in Ephesians 6:10-17 we are introduced to the armor of God. This is how a Christ follower is to protect themselves in spiritual battle.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” 

The following is a list of God’s Armor and what it means. In my research I found different variations and interpretations. I decided to use the following commentary taken directly from Pastor Chuck Smith’s writings. These are his words and examples, not mine. 

Belt of Truth– Because the enemy is always coming with his lies. Jesus said that the devil is the father of all lies. And he tries to lie to you about God, about the nature of God, about the character of God, about the attitude of God towards you. He tries to lie to you about God’s attitude towards sin. “Oh, it really doesn’t matter. You can get by with it. God will judge you. God will forgive,” and so forth, and he presses the point of causing you to use the grace of God as a cloak for lasciviousness, deceiving yourself. The truth-it’s important that I be armed with the truth.

Breastplate of Righteousness– That commitment in my heart to do that which is right before God. I have got to have that as a commitment of my life. I want to do the right thing. Not to observe the situation and then determine which way I will balance. But just have that determination that I am going to live a right kind of life. Righteousness actually constitutes the right actions towards those around me. And unrighteousness is not doing the right thing toward my neighbor. Godliness is doing the right thing towards God, the right relationship with God. Ungodliness is the wrong relationship with God. There is ungodliness, my relationship with God, and unrighteousness, my relationship with man. Now he is talking here about righteousness. I have got to have that as a basic foundation, the breastplate of righteousness. I am going to do as best as God enables me the right thing. I want to live right.

Gospel of Peace– It is God’s desire that we live in peace with each other, and with Him. We live in a world that is filled with strife. We talk about marriage relationships, but how many homes are so filled with strife. The atmosphere is continually tense as we are failing to obey the scriptures in submitting one to another in love. But we are trying to dominate over each other; we are trying to rule over each other, and there is no love involved. We get to arguing over the most ridiculous things and we won’t give in. We won’t yield the point, we will press our point, get the last word in, leave a sour taste. And yet, as the scripture says, “That yielding will pacify great offenses.” How many times in a tense situation where there is just the drawn sword and the clash taking place can the whole issue be diffused by just one person saying, “I think you are right. It is stupid to go on arguing like that. You are probably right.” It just diffuses the whole thing. Suddenly the strife is gone. Why do we find that so hard to do? To admit to being wrong, or to admit to the other person possibly being right. Even when we know they are wrong. Help us, Lord

Shield of Faith– That faith and confidence in God is what is being talked about here. ”Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Ephesians 6:16) Satan is constantly attacking us. My faith in God, God’s ability, God’s power, God’s working in me. I can stand against these attacks of the enemy.

Helmet of Salvation-Thank God I have been saved through Jesus Christ from that tyranny of a life mastered by the flesh. I have been saved in order that I might walk in fellowship with God through the Spirit.

Sword of the Spirit– The Word of God. God’s Word is a tremendous defense against sin. John said, “I write unto you young men, because you are strong, because you have overcome the wicked one, because His Word abides in you.” The power of God’s Word within my heart against sin, it is the greatest defense that I can have in this spiritual battle that I am in, having God’s Word hidden in my heart.

Thank you, Pastor Chuck, for that commentary. I am grateful we have the truth found in God’s Word, knowing we have promises to stand upon and a way to fight the enemy of our soul. We are abundantly blessed to have the knowledge of the armor of God.

The day that King snake found its way into my yard, I felt a bit vulnerable and threatened. My daughter often plays in that yard, and here was this huge snake right in her play area. But, as I prayed about the situation I was actually comforted and relieved, realizing the snake is a protector to us. It is a good one to have around! The fact that it hunts and kills deadly Rattlesnakes gave me a whole new peace and perspective on its presence.

We, too, can have a new perspective in our own lives. Knowing and understanding who we are in Christ makes all the difference. Realizing that our battles are spiritual in nature, standing on the promises of the Lord in faith, and using the full armor of God will protect the enemy of our soul from devouring us. All power is found in the King of Kings, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one who saves us from our enemies. Through Christ we have the victory!

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, please use the share buttons at the bottom of the page instead of doing a copy and paste. All rights reserved by copyright. Thank you. Blessings to you!