Changing thinking


Prayer is one of the things people struggle with the most.

We don’t know how to come to the Lord and share openly. We ask with wrong motives. We seek the wrong things. We ask the wrong questions. We fail to offer a prayer in faith. We ask, but we also doubt.

Prayer is one of the most powerful things we can do.

It changes circumstances, impacts situations, alters hearts, inspires change, brings resolution, and breaks down barriers.

Prayer is our communication with the Lord.

It is the means by which we can share with the Lord. The Holy Spirit was left with us when he returned to be with the Father, and the Spirit helps us to pray.

Prayer is not about being perfect.

The words, the mannerisms, and the methods are not what is important. It is our heart. The Lord wants to know that we desire to share with him, and as we ask with hearts that do not doubt and have the right motives the prayers will be answered in ways that we can recognize as answers. Whether a plea, a groan, a praise, or a grateful spirit is what we have to offer, we have the freedom to come to the Lord in prayer and to share.

“You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:2-3

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 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 5:13-16

“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

Prayer bring hope and faith

As we share with the Lord, even if that prayer is nothing more than the word HELP, there is an impact in the spirit. Through prayer we begin to find hope, we open the door for faith, and our hearts and spirits will be changed.

When was the last time you shared a moment with the Lord in prayer? Could you spare a moment now?

There is no magical formula. Say hello and tell him what is on your mind and heart. He wants to hear what you have to say.

We all have bad days. Things don’t go as we planned. We don’t feel well physically, emotionally, or something.

Life can be hard.

And when life gets hard we reach for comfort.

What do you reach for?

 

Do you head for sugar? caffeine? alcohol?
Maybe you like to hide in sleep, turn on the TV, go shopping, eat junk food, excercise until you drop, or escape in a book. Maybe you turn to something you might not like others to know about such as drugs, sex, pornography, gambling, online activities, or even something criminal.

We all have something we turn to for comfort. Sometimes what we choose to turn to stems from hurts, traumas, fears, or areas of confusion that have not yet been healed. We have a need that is unmet and we are trying to fill that need. I have friends who turn to many things on this list. Some how it make them feel better. I have been lucky that most of these things have never been a temptation or issue in my life. I may eat too much sugar at times, or I might grab caffeine when I have pushed too hard or not slept well, but that has been about it.

So where do I turn for comfort? The answer surprised me. When I hit those difficult times what I turn to is negative thinking. I know what you are thinking. I thought it too. How can negative thinking be comforting? The truth is, it isn’t. It is comfort turned wrong. So are all our other addictions.

Food is needed for life, but when someone indulges in it in great quantity it is turned wrong.
Excercise is healthy, but when it is overdone it is turned wrong.
Buying a pair of shoes is okay, but owning 200 or more is way beyond what is needed.
An extra hour or two in bed is sometimes needed and can be a blessing, but all weekend is unhealthy.

How can negative thinking be comforting? It allows me to stay in my funk. I give myself permission to not work hard to change my perspective or outlook. I allow myself to think thoughts that put others down, criticize situations, and spiral a small situation into something much larger.

This past year I have been working hard to change how I think of comfort and where I look for comfort. It has been a process, but every week I know I am growing, learning, and walking more in the way God wants me to. The verses below have helped me rethink comfort.

Are there other things you have learned about comfort that have helped you find comfort in God instead of circumstances, people, or things?

Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 71:21
You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.

Psalm 119:50
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.

Psalm 119:52
I remember your ancient laws, O LORD, and I find comfort in them.

Psalm 119:76
May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. 

When we are saved through believing in the sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross and receiving him as our Lord, we receive salvation. It is a gift that God gives us, and it is something that changes us from the inside, making us into a new creation. Salvation by faith is how we are justified.

“know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16).

Salvation is the first step in our relationship with God. Then we need to grow. This is sometimes referred to as maturing, or is also referred to as sanctified. Sanctified is actually translated to mean “made holy” or “consecrated”, but what it is referring to is growing in our relationship with God.

One of the big questions that many people wrestle through and which can leave many in a place of disillusionment is how to grow, mature, and be sanctified. It is easy to read the Bible and see a list of do’s and don’ts. It is easy to talk with Christians and hear that we need to read our Bible, pray, and be in fellowship. All of these can be tasks or actions we must live and if we try to do that we can become trapped in a system of works righteousness (being made right or righteous through our actions). That is not the heart of God. If that is how we are living we are missing the point.

God wants relationship with us. He wants to walk with us every day in the same way a parent or teacher shares with those under their guidance. He wants to see us learn, grow, and change. He understands that we are going to stumble and fall at times, and he knows there are many things that are going to try to distract us or keep us from learning. He wants to stop that, but he can’t so he warns us to be cautious.

The change we need to make in our thinking is about how we mature, grow, learn, and become sanctified.

Romans 15:15-16 “I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

Galatians makes it clear that we are saved not by works (following the law), but by faith.

Romans makes it clear that our sanctification does not happen through our works, but by the Holy Spirit.

Our faith and walk with the Lord is not about our performance. It is not about what we accomplish. It is not something we earn. The Kingdom of God is actually upside down and we are told that we receive by letting go, surrendering, and no longer working. After we are filled with God’s presence and our hearts are changed we will then desire to pour out, serve, give, and demonstrate our love by living right and holy lives, but we can not find those lives with the Holy Spirit.

Our maturing and growing up is important. It starts through the one step of saving faith, and then through the surrender of letting go and letting God.

Are you ready to let the Lord change your thinking? Are you ready for him to mature and grow you?

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven’”.
Matthew 18:21-22

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we have to walk through and carry out in life. It is easy to feel justified about our offense and not want to forgive others, or we may face the even more difficult situation of having to forgive ourselves.

On our own, forgiveness is really out of our grasp, but it is something that deep down we all seem to know is right and needed. Peter was the one that came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive”. I believe he knew that forgiveness was hard and costly but because he knew it was right he offered to not forgive just once or twice, but seven times. In our humanness that sounds like a large number or times to let someone hurt us or wrong us over and over again. Jesus however did not agree with Peter. I don’t believe he spoke with malice, disregard, or condemnation toward Peter, but still his words were corrective. He answered, “not seven times, but seventy times seven”. That must have sounded like an impossible number. Jesus was trying to show Peter that the need for forgiveness was far greater than he understood.

Peter also needed to understand the source of forgiveness. It wasn’t going to come from him. His capacity to forgive on his own wasn’t big enough to forgive seventy times seven times. This lesson wasn’t over for Peter. When Christ’s crucifixion came the eleven disciples scattered. Peter was the only one we know was questioned about his connection with Christ. Three times Peter denied knowing him. Christ was on trial for his life and was more alone than he had ever been and Peter turned away from him, even after promising he would stand by him. Peter wronged Christ, and he knew it. He knew he needed forgiveness, and he knew he didn’t deserve it. He was left in such crisis that his response was completely out of character for him, he turned and wept bitterly over his sin. He needed to forgive those who killed his friend, he needed to be forgiven by his friend who was now dead, and mostly he needed to forgive himself.

Peter could have fallen into despair and settled into his grief. He could have denied his pain and grief and become proud or self-righteous. He could have become defiant and not accepted responsibility for what he did, making excuses that his life was at risk and times were difficult. He did not downplay his sin. He did not wallow in his grief. He did not claim to be a victim. He did not refuse his responsibility.

Instead, Peter never lost sight that he knew the grace of God. That he held no righteousness, but Christ had just given him a gift that saved him. He took responsibility for his sin, but also accepted that he didn’t deserve to be seen as righteous. He accepted that he was forgiven.

Not only did Peter accept that he was forgiven, but by living like he was forgiven he made a statement. His presence and witness spoke to others and they also recognized he was forgiven. In Acts it says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Peter didn’t go to the sidelines because he needed to forgive and needed to be forgiven. He accepted that he already was forgiven, and that because of that he had the ability to forgive. He became one of the greatest leaders of history.

We too have the ability to be forgiven by accepting Christ’s gift. We have the ability to forgive by being changed through accepting that gift.

Are you living like you are forgiven?
Are you willing to let God lead you to be a leader of change, healing, hope, grow, and life for those around you?

A couple of years ago one of my closest friends was going through a deep struggle in her life. It affect her schedule, her relationships, her outlook on life, her ability to cope, her health….just about everything. It deeply affected her relationship with God and the health of her spiritual life. She was left with questions, doubts, fears, and unknowns. It was then that she made a conscious choose to praise God. Every morning very early she would rise and spend time with God, but the one condition was everything had to be about expressing gratitude. She wouldn’t allow herself to complain, voice requests, or express needs or desires. She turned it all back on God and made him the center of their time together. It changed everything for her!!

Do you cultivate gratitude in your life?

Every morning as I awake I find my mind battling. It wants to think about things and go places that I do not want it to go. My thoughts drift to hurts, unsettled issues, concerns, frustrations, etc. Is that really how I want to start my day? No!

I am learning that I need to create space for gratitude in my life. I need to focus on what I am blessed with and who I am blessed by.

Now as I awake I am trying to immediately think of things that I am grateful for. Some days it is harder than others, at least it is harder to think of new things. It is important to not just focus on the things that we think of easily, but to develop a list that is ever-growing.

Make a list of what you are thankful for.

Make it a point to add 3-5 things to that list each day.

If you have problems thinking of things that you are grateful for turn to the Psalms or Proverbs and ask God to open your heart and your mind to see him more clearly. He gives us so much, but sometimes we need help for our eyes to see and our ears to hear.

“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.” Philippians 4:8

The Bible says that we have an enemy. Not just any enemy, but one who is specifically against us. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” He is not powerless. He is not weak. He is hungry and on the prowl ready to attack, kill, and consume.

We face this enemy every day. He has had many years to watch mankind and he knows how we think, how we act, and where we are weak. He knows how to tempt us, distract us, diable us, and seduce us away from God and being faithful.

When I served with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) we were taught about spiritual warfare. That organization believes and teaches that the enemy is very real, is actively seeking to destroy, and that we have power over it. They teach ways to stand up to the enemy, but the first key step is that we have to accept the enemy is real and can do us harm.

Michael, one of the other members of my team, took this a little over the top and daily he went around speaking to the enemy and telling him that we as Christians had power to overcome because of the sacrifice Christ had made for us. Now, while that is true, we have to be careful not to give the enemy more power and recognition in our life than we give to the Lord. By speaking to the enemy and challenging him I believe Michael was only making him madder. So, while Michael did have power and authority over the enemy (the Bible tells us Christ gave us this power and authority), our purpose is to praise and glorify God while standing ready to fight, but we do not need to engage in battle every day. As 1 Peter says, we are to be self-controlled and alert.

The enemy has one purpose. That purpose is made clear in John 10:10. He is out to harm us, and we need to accept that. The joy and hope comes in the second part of the verse where Christ tells us that he also has one purpose, to bring us life!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

It is time to change our thinking and acknowledge that we have an enemy who is daily trying to trip us up and take us down. It is time to change our thinking and acknowledge that we have a Lord who is daily here to bring us life, life to the full!

**Life has been busy with some changes lately so I am behind on posting this. My goal is to post these around the end of every week, and this was due almost a week ago.

Today’s thoughts come from Kenneth Copeland in Load Up: Devotional

Hard times are not as hard as they look – unless you are looking in the wrong place, through the wrong eyes, thinking the wrong thoughts or imitating the wrong people.  Wrong thoughts pain the wrong pictures in your mind. They tell you things are worse than they are. they tell you that you don’t have what it takes to succeed in life, or that the right opportunity won’t come to you.

So, how do we change our thinking? Isaiah 55:6-11 tells us. We’re to take up God’s thoughts and God’s ways. f we want to live the kind of life God has in mind for us, we must exchange our thoughts for His thoughts. We must lay down the way we look at things and instead pick up the wisdom of God – the Bible. Through God’s written Word, we’ll learn what reality is. We’ll learn what’s really going on in the world and His plan for getting through it. The answer to every problem is in the Bible. Let it change your thinking Remember, times are not as hard as they look when you look from God’s eyes!

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