Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Nothing But a Blade of Grass

Nothing But a Blade of Grass                        

What do a weaver’s shuttle, a shadow, the wind, a vapor, a runner, a flower, and grass all have in common? Respectively—(Job 7:6), (1 Chronicles 29:15; Job 8:9), (Psalm 78:39), (Job 4:14), (Job 9:25), (Job 14:2), (Psalm 102:11; Isaiah 40:6).

The Bible mentions each of these things in metaphors to describe the brevity of life on earth. Truly, we are here today and gone tomorrow. Even if we live to be 100 years old, compared to eternity, that’s just a drop in a bucket.

We really are like a flower or blade of grass that’s vibrant today but withers tomorrow.

James encourages us to use our time wisely because it’s going to run out before we know it. “You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life like? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14 NKJV). In the New Living Translation: “like the morning fog—it is here a little while, then it’s gone.” 

In Sunday’s sermon our pastor elaborated on this topic describing how we must get ourselves in alignment with God if we want to make the best of the brief time we have on the earth. 

If you’ve ever had the skeletal system of your body or the tires on your car out of alignment, you have a firsthand idea of the importance of being in proper alignment. 

Pastor’s springboard for his message was Matthew 6:33. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

In order to have our lives in proper alignment we must follow the instructions of this passage. When we seek God’s ways above all else in all areas of our lives then all things we need will be provided. This is a promise from Jesus Himself. He spoke these words to His followers while teaching how to live according to God’s ways in order to have the abundant life our Creator desires for each of us.
Pastor Hal went on to say that when our hearts are not spiritually aligned with God it causes unnecessary wear on us. Just like when our tires are out of line, it’s costly. 

Living in righteousness is alignment in living and this alignment begins with seeking God over all else. This is single-mindedness. 

Pastor quoted George Barna, of the Barna Group: “When individuals are single-minded in their devotion to God, their commitment to His ways and His principles become much deeper, much more intense. Once they have made a serious commitment, then the peripherals don’t matter much.”

God sees us from two perspectives—where we currently are and where we could be. He also sees our lives on this earth as temporary and is more concerned about our eternity than our present. We should be more concerned with our eternity as well. After all, in this life we are but a passing shadow. It is our preparation for life after the grave.

Looking at life through God’s lenses:

1.    God sees our lives on earth as temporary (2 Corinthians 4:18; James 4:14; Colossians 3:1-2; Ephesians 2:6).
2.   God sees our lives on earth as vessels to reflect His glory (Isaiah 43:7; Isaiah 42: 8).
3.    God sees our lives as having purpose (Ephesians 1:18).

So do this:

1.    Pray first (Proverbs 8:17; Psalm 5:8). Give God the best part of your day—seek Him early.
2.   Make each day count (Ephesians 5:15-18).
3.    Remember who you are and who you represent (Colossians 3:17).

“A spiritual man is not a man born again, but a man born again and walking in alignment.”  -Watchman Nee 


Let’s get our lives in alignment with God’s standards we see in His Word and let’s each be the spiritual man Watchman Nee talked about.

Much of this post came from the sermon of my pastor, Hal Adams, last Sunday, September 10, 2017.  If you wish to experience his sermon titled “Alignment and God,” in its entirety just click on this link:   I believe you’ll be blessed by it.

Thanks for stopping by. Your comments are welcome.

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford

Friday, September 1, 2017

Take Every Thought Captive

Take Every Thought Captive        

In my last post we looked at girding up the loins of our minds. One of the main things we must do in order to accomplish this is to take our thoughts captive and bring them in line with God’s Word.

Today I’m sharing an article on this topic which I believe does a great job of giving us practical, biblical ways to accomplish this challenging assignment.

6 Ways to Take Your Thoughts Captive by Richard L. Ganz, Ph.D.

What you put in your mind has an effect on what you think. Remember those scary movies you watched as a kid, then had nightmares? It didn't take long to realize that the way to avoid the nightmares was to stop watching that kind of movie. God has provided a way to overcome unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, and gain the self-control you seek. It's a matter of taking charge of your life - His way.  

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we are to "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."

Here are 6 ways to take your thoughts captive:
  1. Accept responsibility for your thoughts. You have the ability to exercise control over your thoughts. God warned Cain to focus his mind on the right things, but Cain chose to think about the wrong things - anger and jealousy - which led to his murderous actions. Are you willing to admit that you can, with God's help, regain control of your thoughts - and think enabling thoughts instead of disabling ones?
  2. Your mind - not just your behavior - must change. God calls us to change sinful behavior that does not honor and please Him. Instead of focusing on your outward behavior, work on disciplining your mind - from which the behaviors stem. Allow God to transform you by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2).
  3. Think through your problems rather than just react to them. When you experience difficult challenges, you can react to them and think yourself into despair every time. Or you can look forward to the next opportunity and ask yourself what you learned from this failure. Is your first thought I'll never do anything right? You don't have to get trapped by disabling thoughts. You are capable of getting out of your shame, despair, hopelessness, and anger - by taking control of your thoughts.
  4. Take your disabling thoughts captive through confession. Paul urges us to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (Rom. 12:21). Confront your disabling thoughts. Turn them over to God and become who He sees you can be. It will take work to take your thoughts captive each time they pop into your mind. But it is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit.
  5. Choose to focus your thoughts on the right things. We are to think about those things that are "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable" (Phil. 4:8). When we think on those things, God promises to give us His peace. What a contrast that is to the thoughts of millions of people today. Don't look to a movie, TV show, or how-to formula to accomplish this for you. It takes personal discipline and commitment.
  6. It is possible. It is not easy to retrain your thoughts or to respond in new Christ-like ways. Take heart: as God empowers you to focus your mind on the right things, it will become easier. You can develop a new frame of reference, based on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
It is possible to live a life aware of our thoughts and take them captive! God gave us the Holy Spirit to empower us. Start following these steps today to gain power over your mind and thoughts.

 Richard L. Ganz, Ph.D., clinical psychology, previously served on the clinical psychiatry faculty at Upstate Medial Center in Syracuse, N.Y., and is an adjunct faculty member at Syracuse University. He also spent five years working with Dr. Jay Adams at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in Philadelphia. He is now a pastor in the Ottawa Reformed Presbyterian Church and president of Ottawa Theological Hall in Canada.

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

So my mind has loins—Who knew?!

So my mind has loins—Who knew?!            

The loins of my mind—say what?

“Gird up the loins of your mind,” was the instruction of Peter to first century followers of Jesus. Those two words, gird and loins—we just don’t use in everyday conversation in the Twenty-first Century. But to the early church members this was a powerful statement. It was a word picture that made perfect sense.

Peter instructed: “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Christ Jesus” (1 Peter 1:13 NKJV).

In preceding verses of this chapter, Peter had celebrated our living hope, incorruptible inheritance, genuine faith and refinement through trials. (These verses were addressed in couple of my previous posts.) Using the transition word, therefore, Peter brings us into a progression of thought and instruction.

Loins refer to the area of the body, on both sides of the spine between the hipbones. In this area is the center of procreative power and, in Bible times, was considered the seat of strength and vigor. A person’s loin area would be covered and protected.

“And God said to him (Jacob), ‘I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins” (Genesis 35:11 KJV).

A person would gird up his loins when preparing to run a race, commence hard work, or enter into battle. Given that his apparel consisted of a dress-like garment hanging down knee to ankle length, the fabric would be a hindrance to free movement.

So to prepare for action a person would reach down, gather up the cloth and tuck it up under his belt, also called a girdle. During the course of the action, if loose ends happened to drop down, the loose hanging clothing would interfere with winning the race/battle or completing the task at hand. 

But Peter is not talking about an actual garment. He said, “the loins of your mind.” The mind is the origin of our words and actions. We must take control of this place where our thoughts reside in order to maintain lives that please and reflect Christ. 

Joyce Meyer addresses this topic very well in her book, Battlefield of the Mind. She points out that the mind is a battlefield where our thoughts war against one another. I experience conflicting thoughts relatively often. At times many different issues are going in various directions. Sometimes good versus evil is warring on the inside of my head. When was the last time you experienced that?

So Peter is saying that we must gather our thoughts together and bring every thought captive into the way God sees things and in a way which honors Him.

When we do this, we’re achieving the admonition of Paul when he said, “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”  (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NKJV).

We do have control of our thoughts. I know it’s hard to gain control when negative or impure thoughts take hold. We must reach down and gather up those loose dangling thoughts—rein in those racing anxieties—and gird up the loins of our minds.

If we don’t:

- we’re too distracted to focus on and complete, with excellence, the work we’re called to do.
- our emotions may draw us into negativity and depression.
- wrong thinking goes uncorrected.
- we’re inclined to believe lies of Satan instead of the truth of God’s Word.
- we will miss out on our God ordained destiny.
- the above situations will have a negative impact on our family life, social life, physical health, and—most importantly—our spiritual health. 

Like the runner who did not gird up, we’ll lose the race.

In addition to girding up the loins of our minds, Peter said, “be sober and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Christ Jesus.”

Peter says, therefore do these three things:

1. Gird up the loins of our minds—bracing up to take action with focus and determination. 

2. Be sober. This doesn’t just refers to not overindulging in alcohol. It means we’re to be mindful, self-controlled, using wisdom, and being watchful along the way.

Other than the shed blood of Jesus, there is nothing on the outside that can make us righteous or holy. This soberness comes through self-control, mindfulness, wise decision-making, and the power and help of the Holy Ghost who resides within us. Recklessness in our thoughts and attitudes is like drunkenness on the inside and leads to reckless decisions and actions. 

3. Rest in the hope and grace abundantly provided by the revelation of Christ Jesus in our spirits and lives. Three big words here—rest, hope, and grace. In other words, trust God. That’s what faith is.

To rest is to relax and let God do His part. After we have obeyed God in the areas he instructed, our Lord steps in and goes beyond what we could ask, think, or imagine. Amidst all this is hope—living hope. [Living hope is addressed in a previous post.]

This hope lifts us from despair and fear. Peter tells why it is real and alive. It’s because we rest our hope upon God’s grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” Ephesians 1:8-9a).

Amazing grace has been provided to us through the revelation of Jesus Christ and His provision of salvation, including abundant life this side of Heaven. Hallelujah—thank you, Lord.

As in every aspect of our spiritual growth and stability, knowledge of God’s Word comes into play here. We cannot expect to be strong in faith and continue in spiritual growth without a steady diet of Holy Scripture. 
Let’s end this post looking at 1 Peter 1:13 from the New American Standard Version and The Message (paraphrase).

“Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed” (NEAV). 

“So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy” (The Message).


SO, let’s just do it—gird up the loins of our minds, be sober, and rest in the hope...! AMEN!  

In my next post we’ll look at ways we successfully take our thoughts captive. 

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford