Thoughts have the power to bring us joy or sadness, fear or strength, hope or despair.
Where we let our thoughts wander, oftentimes directs how we feel and what we do.
When I spend my time daydreaming about a newer car, a better wardrobe or a bigger house, I find myself feeling disappointed with what I have and jealous of others.
When I let my mind drift to memories of past hurts, I begin to feel angry or unworthy of love.
When I think about an upcoming vacation or a much anticipated time with friends, I got through my days with a little extra energy and a slightly wider smile.
We can allow our thoughts to passively float from moment to moment, but this will lead to a heart dictated by our circumstances.
Joyce Meyer said it well when she said we need to “think about what we are thinking about” (Battlefield of the Mind). When our minds control so much, we must be active in directing our thoughts.
Paul spoke of this same concept when he addressed the Corinthian church.
He spoke about the need for Christians to bring every thought obedient to Christ.
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” -2 Corinthians 10:4-5
Our thoughts have the power to lead us astray, to tempt us and to cause us to fall away from God’s will for us.
But when we take every thought captive and bring it before Christ, He will purify our hearts and renew our minds. We will be able to discern God’s will for us, we will find peace, and we will receive blessings.
Discerning God’s Will
When we take every thought and present it before Christ, we hold ourselves accountable to God.
When we made the commitment to follow Him and when we received salvation and the Holy Spirit, we decided to embark on a journey of sanctification and renewal. We committed to laying our lives down before God and following His will.
As we learn to live for Him, we must remember that He asks us to bring our thoughts to Him.
Paul touches on this in Romans:
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.” -Romans 12:2
As we grow in our faith and as we allow God to transform and renew us, He will open our eyes to His will for us.
Many of us, myself being first in line, ask God to show us where we are to go when faced with a decision. Don’t get me wrong, I am earnestly seeking to follow Him and to do what He wants for me, but when I ask His will for my life, I think of the tangible and direct paths that stand before me.
Do I take this job or wait? Do I commit to serving in this ministry or that? Do I move or do I stay? We are faced with so many choices and so often we beg God to show us His will.
I like to put it in perspective by weighing my options against the possibility of God’s glory.
Where can I bring Him most glory?
This has helped me to make several decision in my life and given me the peace and comfort in the choices I’ve made.
But these choices are only a small part of God’s will for us.
“For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” -Philippians 1:21
We are to live to bring God glory. That is His will for us.
To be loved and to love in return.
To be forgiven and to forgive.
To receive grace and to give grace.
As you take your thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, you will discover real and tangible ways to live God’s good, pleasing and perfect will out in your life.
Peace that Transcends
One of my absolute favorite verses is in Philippians.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” -Philippians 4:8-9
When we bring all of our thoughts obedient to Christ, we will find peace. And this is how.
Paul tells us to think about these things. I’m going to go back to my Joyce Meyer quote, when you think about what you are thinking about, ask yourself this: Do your thoughts line up with these criteria?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve grown anxious, angry or stressed and realized that I was thinking about something that wasn’t true, noble or pure.
This has been one of the most practical ways that I have developed peace and learned to live in that peace in the midst of very trying circumstances.
No matter what is going on in my life, when I focus on bringing all my thoughts to Christ and reflecting on the good, pure and praiseworthy things, I find peace.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that peace includes sorrow and pain, but that peace transcends all understanding. That peace fills me and strengthens me.
But we must consider something else.
As I’ve heard before, when I say “don’t think about a pink elephant” what are you thinking about?
A pink elephant, right?
You can’t just tell yourself don’t think bad thoughts. You must replace them with good.
The next time you realize your thoughts are drifting to something that doesn’t align with these things in Philippians 4, instead find a Scripture to replace them with.
I have begun to memorize several Scriptures that I can meditate on instead of allowing my thoughts to pull me to stress and anxiety.
In filling your mind with Christ’s love and His word, you will find peace.
James speaks a lot of wisdom into this concept. He speaks of a faith that is authentic and a life that reflects our salvation.
As we seek to grow in an authentic faith and to live out our salvation, we will see blessings beyond anything we can imagine.
James 5 speaks of blessings as a result of patience regardless of circumstances. This chapter also speaks of prayer that is powerful and effective.
When we have temptations or desires that do not align with God’s will, there is strength and healing in sharing these with another.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
When we confess our sins, we give up the right to hold onto their power. Sometimes it’s the power that comes from secrecy, sometimes it’s the fear that results from the unknown. In either circumstance, there is healing in confessing and praying with each other about our sins.
As you do this, your faith will be strengthened and your mind will be renewed. And as you grow in this way, you will receive blessings beyond what you can imagine.
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” -James 1:12
There is blessing in standing strong in our faith. There is a crown of life that awaits you when you stand against sin and temptation and commit every thought to Christ.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” -Ephesians 3:20
There is so much more than we can see that awaits us. As you give your heart and mind fully to the Lord, you will be blessed.
Weapons of Divine Power
I want to encourage you today to stand strong. Take control of your mind. Set your guard against anything that does not align with the heart of Christ. In doing so, we’ve learned that you will receive discernment, peace and blessing.
And yet, what are these weapons of divine power that Paul talks about? Weapons that have the power to demolish strongholds.
Strongholds can be anything from a still-strong hurt from the past, a temptation that seeks to pull you to sin, or the lies that Satan webs into the minds of many believers.
How do we fight these strongholds?
I’ve spoken briefly of the power of Scripture. Ephesians 6:17 says that the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. In this list of the armor of God, the only offensive weapon that is listed is the word of God. This speaks to the importance of memorizing Scripture and having it at the ready to combat the strongholds in your life. You can use this to offensively and proactively fight Satan’s lies and the strongholds that burden you.
We’ve already learned how powerful and effective prayer can be. God wants us to speak to Him and he wants us to do this all the time. When we pray, we open the door to Christ’s working in our lives and this has the power to demolish the lies of Satan. For more on this, see Cultivating a Heart of Prayer.
Christ defeated Satan with love. He loved us and gave Himself up for us. And He calls us to do the same. We are to love one another deeply, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we are to consider others as greater than ourselves.
This call is placed on believers all throughout Scripture. When someone is buried under the weight of a stronghold, we are not called to condemn them, but to love them.
Love is powerful and as we prayerfully consider how to best love those around us, God will empower us to bring Him glory and to bring others to Him.
Will you commit with me to taking every thought captive and bringing it obedient to Christ?
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