Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where I Get STUCK

PHILIPPIANS 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is loves, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.

Those of you who know me well are aware that Philippians 4:8 is a special verse for me. After a life-changing experience with that message in 1997, I have been learning more and more about the benefits of keeping my thoughts focused on positive things and especially things I am grateful for.

A grateful heart is God's Divine weapon against a consuming negative thought life.

I confess that I have a tendency to have a critical spirit. The up side of my wiring is that it is easy for me to see how things could be better in some way. Thinking creatively and finding ways to make improvements upon something come quickly and easily for me. I tend to strive for excellence and progress in life. The down side is that my busy mind and high expectations can leave me dissatisfied, discouraged, lacking hope, and putting inappropriate pressure on people around me (or at least giving them the perception of pressure which can be just as unhelpful).

There was some incredibly valuable insight for me when I looked at the Greek translation for the word THINK in this verse. I am to very intentionally KNIT my thoughts together in the direction of true, trustworthy, honorable, lovely things. What goes on in my mind must, ultimately, be woven in the direction of Christ's perspective.

Psalm 38:9 models for me that I can lay my every thought and emotion out completely bare before the Lord. How wonderful that Almighty God deeply cares about everything that concerns me! He wants me to share from the depths of my heart with Him. God absolutely cares about even the darkest, harshest realities of what goes on in my mind. He just doesn't want me to stay STUCK in the places of pain, anger, frustration, fear, hopelessness or dissatisfaction. He wants to hear my heart but then refresh my thoughts in what is TRUE and HOLY and RIGHT.

What do these verses say to you about your thought life today? Let's share what we are sensing God teaching us together!

PSALM 38:9
All my longings lie open before you, O Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

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.

PSALM 111:2
Great are the works of the Lord; they are PONDERED by all who delight in them.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Those Nasty DRY Spells

All of us have had those times — a day or two here and there, or even a season, when getting into reading the Bible is especially tough because it doesn't seem to be "feeding" us the way we are hoping.

I was having one of those days a couple of years ago. I was reading but it felt rather pointless. I wasn't drawn anywhere in particular and whatever I read was uninteresting, and especially didn't engage me emotionally. I was a little frustrated and tempted to set my Bible down and get on to the day's TO DO list. But then I had a thought (thank you, Holy Spirit, how you guide our ideas!) which led to a discovery that was confirmed later that day.

I prayerfully read a Psalm and just asked God if what I was reading maybe wasn't for ME at all, at least that particular day. I asked, "Lord, is what I'm reading going to be an encouragement to someone else today?" Sure enough, several hours later I got an email from someone going through something tough. That Psalm came to my mind and I was able to type out an email response with some of those verses and it was a blessing to my friend!

That experience helped me keep more dedication to reading God's Word even when it wasn't seeming to have a lot to offer me personally. I have been on the receiving end of someone's Word-sharing emails many times and it has abundantly blessed me and helped me through some very hard days. I am so thankful God showed me how He can use my dry days to soften someone else's hard day.

Another thing that helps me is to read a different Bible. We've got several Bibles around our house and several different translations. We also have several different children's Bibles. Alex met Jesus because of one of those Bibles. A newer one I've been reading with Carly has spoken profound new insights into me lately.

We can be sure of one thing. God's Word always does a work when it goes out. Remember the promise of that in Isaiah 55?

How about you?
Let's share some ideas folks! What has been helpful for you? How do you keep momentum with your daily time reading God's Word?

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