Tag Archives: direction

The Direction of the Mind

The Direction of the Mind

Remember the old cartoons on Saturday mornings and some character saying “Which way did he go? Which way did he go?”  Was that Bugs Bunny?  You may remember.

“Which way will you go?” is the question for today.  There are definite paths our minds can go.  The direction your mind is leading you is of incredible importance.

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?   25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:23-25

There are two paths at the intersection of life that each person faces every day.  One path is going the direction God maps out in the Bible.  The other path is heading in the direction the world/flesh draws up – away from the direction of God.

The Apostle Paul was not exempt from this decision making battle between his natural man (The Flesh) and the Spiritual Mind that was given him when he became a Christian and received the new nature (Spiritual Mind) from the Lord.  The spiritual side of Paul was constantly in a war with the carnal or fleshly side of Paul.  We have the same sin nature and the same spiritual nature he had.

Lewis Sperry Chafer was clearly right when he stated, “Nothing could be more misdirected than a self-directed life.”

There are two possible responses when confronted with the choice of “Which way to go?”  There is no middle ground in between these two paths.  Some believe they can strike out on their own and make their own path back to the Lord, but the terrain is tough and not navigable. It is better to get on God’s path, or when prompted by the Lord, jump back on his path.

Path One:  A Reacting Mind.  This “Reacting Mind” reacts to the desires of the flesh.  Its primary power comes from the engine of lust.  The body can lust for good things such as air, food, water, and even sex.  When moderation or the boundaries are broken for these blessings, it becomes sin.  For example, sex within the boundary of marriage is wholesome, fulfilling, and terrific!  Sex outside of the protection marriage becomes enslaving, and may even cause feelings of guilt and depression.

The Reacting Mind does what it feels like it wants to do.  It is captive to the flesh of the person and to the influences of the world around him.  Have you even been in a car when the driver “jerks the wheel” in attempt to not miss an off ramp off the highway?  That fast reaction is caused by not anticipating, or looking far enough ahead.  The reacting mind is many times impulsive too.

Path Two: The Ruled Mind.  The Ruled Mind responds to the leading of the Spirit of God.  It is not controlled by lust, but by love.  This mind is submissive to the Word of God.  While the Ruled Mind knows it is in a fast paced battle, it is active and fore-thinking to avoid sin, watch out for an arrogant spirit, and to steer clear of pride each day.

The Ruled Mind is determined to live out the Word of God each day in all its decisions and determinations.  This mind is thinking of “how to please Jesus” instead of “how to please self.”  Instead of reacting in tough situations, it is ruled by the patient Spirit of God and calmly makes the right decision.

Ask the Lord to help you have a mind ruled by the Spirit of God and the Word of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The “Letting” of the Mind

The “Letting” Mind

“When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the ship captain tried to turn him back, saying, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.” To that, Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”” (Ministry127)

Why would a man say that when facing a potential life and death situation?  He was thinking like Jesus.  He had the “mind of God.”

The word “let” is a verb defined as “not prevent or forbid; allow.”  The Scripture tells us to “let” the mind of Christ – Jesus Himself be in us.  What we think, how we think, and why we think is to be placed under the influence and direction of Jesus.  If we are not careful, we let a lot of worldly or wrong thinking impact our mind.  We must allow the mind of Christ to help us navigate life and not allow the world to do our thinking for us.

Have you “let” the mind of God to control your thoughts?  Will you let the mind of Jesus control your thinking today?

Our word “let” is found in Philippians 2:5-8 which teaches, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

The mind of Jesus will lead us to four ways of thinking:

  1. A real humility about self.
  2. A sincere priority of pleasing our God.
  3. A vibrant call to serve others.
  4. A willingness to give your life to the Lord.

Do any of these thinking perspectives ring true in your life?  Consider the “what, how, and why” that your mind is thinking.  Ask the Lord to help you think like Jesus.  From the moment you “let” all your decisions and thought processes will filter through the Word of God and the Will of God.  Like missionary Calvert, your mind can think like Jesus – all to the glory of God.

 

 

 

 

 

Respecting God’s Way

Respecting God’s Way

I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.  Psalm 119:15

The Bible is an incredible Book that God wrote for His creatures – man.  The Word of God is a pertinent message for humans as we live, work, play, and die in this thing called life.

The longest chapter in all the Bible is Psalm 119.  It contains 10 different words that are terms for the “Bible.”  “Word”, “statute”, “judgment”, and “precept” are some of those terms.

As the verse above declares, the Psalmist had “respect” unto the ways of God.  We all have our ideas and personal expectations about how life will turn out.  Sometimes there are detours, and sometimes dead-ends.  There are points of crisis and places of crying.  There will be happy times and times that are not so happy.

How do we cope with it all?  I suggest we make the most of the moments God gives to us and cope with the good and bad that happens by accepting the will of God.

When we see the Bible as God’s “will” for our life, it will help us to look to His plan, seize ahold of His teaching, and see meaningful changes in our lives.

In other words – respect God’s Word and the way of living it commands us – more than you respect your own plans. Meditating on the Word of God will cause you to accept your circumstances, and by God’s grace discover the greater purpose or meaning for life that God is trying to etch into your life.

Determine to respect the way of God and His Word more than your own way of thinking.

 

 

 

The Defeated

The Defeated

I could not believe it.  Our team lost.  Having gone undefeated through the entire softball season, the playoffs were not that much more challenging.  After all, our team had generally won most of the games by the “mercy rule.”

Now in the last inning of the conference championship game, our team is ahead by several runs.  I played the catcher position.  I had the best vantage point of what was about to take place.

The pitcher tossed the ball and the first hitter hit the pitch and ran safe to first base.  Then the next batter made contact.  Before long, the bases were loaded.  A run was scored.  A pop up was caught.  A ball was dropped by a fielder.  Another out was made on a ground ball.  A walk loaded the bases. Another hit.

In the last inning that season, our team had 2 outs with the bases loaded and by that time, the score was tied.   Eventually the other team caught up and tied the game which we were not used to.

The final pitch tossed was smacked over an infielder, and the “go ahead” run scored.  We lost the game.  The undefeated team was now defeated.

No one likes to lose.  “Second place is the first loser!”  What about the Christian life?  No one likes to come up short, and yet we come up short frequently in the Christian life.  That is OK.  That is why Jesus came.  However, some Christians avoid admitting when they have been defeated by Satan, the flesh, or the devil.  Admitting failure is OK.  In fact, it is a requirement for the Christian to grow.  Correction of what is wrong cannot be made until confession is expressed.

When we are defeated, our pride can cause us to not admit, confess, or seek to get things right with God.  When this happens, we feel guilty, restless, and comfortless.  That is what Jesus is speaking about in the famous Sermon on the Mount, when He says “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4).

There is no comfort until there is confession.  There is no confession until there is contrition.  Contrition is being sorry for your sin.  Expressing you were wrong is the best place to start in restoring your fellowship to God or to others.  Humility is the greatest quality to have, and yet it is found the least in mankind.  God does not grant peace of mind and heart, or comfort, until we are sorry for our sin.  Even to the point of mourning over our wrong.

Do you ever feel down right defeated?  Perhaps your mind is programed to the default mode of “guilt, trouble, anger, discouragement, and what is wrong with life.”  The Christian need not live a life of continual defeat.

A perpetually defeated mind is an indicator of wrong thinking.  Perhaps a bad experience has not been forgiven correctly or the event/circumstances continually “pop up” in your mind.

Time can remove the distance from your defeats, but it cannot remove the perpetual pitfalls and ruts your mind sinks into.

We need more help what will power or letting time go by can give.  We need the Bible to shape our thinking.

After reading the following Scriptures, pause a few moments and meditate on how these verses can change the defeats in your life and get your heart and mind back to winning thinking.

  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
  • Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
  • Psalm 43:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

With God’s help, you do not need to live in perpetual defeat.

 

 

 

The Friend Who Finally Opened the Door

Prayers of Importunity

I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.  Luke 11:8

I love it when church members describe with excitement that they are seeing God answer prayers in their lives.  We serve a living God who can hear and respond to the prayers of His people!  Perhaps you have a prayer request that the Lord has answered recently.  I rejoice with you!

Speaking about prayer, Jesus used one particular word only one time.  In fact, only one time in the whole Bible is this word used.  This word is illustrated many times in Scripture.  Even though it is seldom used, it is a BIG word when it comes to prayer.

“Importunity” is the word.  Encarta says it means “wearisome persistence and persistently demanding.”  Have you ever kept asking someone for something until you got what you were asking for?  That is what “importunity” is.

The disciples of Jesus have just asked Him to teach them “How to Pray.”  He gives the “Model Prayer” in Luke 11:1-3.  It is better known as the “Model Prayer” than the “Lord’s Prayer.”  This is because in the prayer, Jesus instructs the one praying to confess sin.  Jesus had no sin of His own.  He was sinless, unlike you and me.

After giving the “Model Prayer” Jesus relates several examples or illustrations about the consistency, priority, and value of prayer.  The first example is where we find this word “Importunity.”

Imagine with me for a moment…  Your next door neighbor has a friend travel to visit from a far-away place.  It is getting late in the evening – way past dinner time.  Your lights are out and everyone in the house is asleep.  The doorbell rings, someone is knocking on your door.

It is your neighbor.  You shout out the window in the second floor “leave us alone.”  The window is open already because you do not have air conditioning, so the breeze keeps everyone cool at night.  The neighbor says “I need your help – a friend has come to visit me and we ran out of food!”  He is persistent and asks for only 3 loaves of bread.  “Go away!” you shout.  He keeps knocking.  You have bread in the kitchen – but that is on the first floor.  You were awakened out of a “dead sleep” and do not want to get up out of bed.  The kids are asleep.  If he keeps ringing the bell and knocking on the door he will wake the kids up!

When you do rise up, go down to the first floor, get the bread, and give the bread to your neighbor – it is not because he is your friend (in a sleepless moment, you may not even like him!).  It is not because he is your friend that you open the door – it is because he kept knocking.  The wearisome persistence was in the listener in the house– not the one doing the knocking.  His persistence paid off and demonstrated to the one in the house– “You are my only hope. Only you can help me.”  When we pray with importunity – we express the same thing to God.

God is better than this sleepy neighbor.  In fact, as His children – we are already in the household of faith with Him!  He never sleeps.  He is quick to respond but we must ask and keep on asking!  He does not grow weary of our prayers.

This is the lesson that Jesus connects in relation to prayer – we need to keep asking God.  Keep knocking at Heavens door.  Do you pray with “importunity” seeking the will of God to take place in your life and in the life of others?  Why or why not?

In verses 9 and 10, Jesus instructs further:  “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

Learn to pray with persistence today.  Demonstrate God your complete dependence on Him.  Keep taking the same requests to the Lord each day and see how the Lord responds.

 

 

 

 

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The Calling of God on Your Life

The Calling of God on Your Life

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God… 1 Corinthians 1:1

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“What am I supposed to do with my life?” is a question everyone will ask at some point in their life.  The Lord can answer that question for you!  Every Christian has a calling on their life.  The Lord desires for each Christian to dedicate their life to serve Him.  Romans 12:1-2 speak about this dedication.  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”   

As we read the first verse of I Corinthians, we learn that Paul was called to be an Apostle.  Apostles were eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus Christ on the earth.  Paul met Jesus while he was on his way to persecute Christians in the town of Damascus.  His name was Saul at the time, but when he met Jesus, his life was changed, his name was changed, and he then begins to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with his life, answering the call to be an apostle.  Today, there are no eyewitnesses to the life of Christ, so there can be no apostles.  However, you can be a disciple of Christ.  You could become a pastor, missionary, evangelist, teacher, or a deacon.  At some point this year, the Lord may show you His calling for your life.  Have you found the will of God yet?  All of us as believers are Disciples of Christ: The Lord calls Christians to be school teachers, engineers, mechanics, and airplane pilots.  Kent  Hughes tells the following missionary story:

“A missionary to Africa told the story of an elderly woman who was reached with the gospel. Though she was blind and could neither read nor write, she wanted to share her new found faith with others. She went to the missionary and asked for a copy of the Bible in French. When she got it, she asked the missionary to underline John 3:16 in red and mark the page it was on so she could find it. The missionary wanted to see what she would do, so one day he followed her. In the afternoon, just before school let out, she made her way to the front door. As the boys came out when school was dismissed, she would stop one and ask if he knew how to read French. When he said “Yes” she would ask him to read the verse that was marked in red. Then she would ask, “Do you know what this means?” and tell him about Christ. The missionary said that twenty-four of the school boys that lady led to the Lord became pastors.”  All of us can serve God in some meaningful way!

In addition to everyday disciples, the Lord also calls preachers and missionaries.   It could be at summer Bible camp.  It could happen at mission conference, revival meeting, or church service – the Lord could show you His calling for your life.  What will you do?  Will you follow His will?  Jonah, the Old Testament preacher to Nineveh, ran the other way when God showed him His calling for his life.  Jonah did not want to preach at Nineveh.  You don’t have to be like Jonah, be like Paul and answer the call to serve the Lord, fulfilling His will in His life.  We may call this “Responding to the Call.”   Pray about what the Lord will have you do with your life.  Sports, entertainment, and other activities can be good, but they can also pull you away from the will of the Lord.  A girlfriend or boyfriend, or a relationship can be good, but make sure you respond to God’s call first.  Making money and holding down a job can be fine, but make sure that you respond to God’s call to serve Him in whatever service is His will for your life.

Another important part of God’s calling on our lives is Recognition of God’s Call to MinistryThe Bibles says in I Timothy 1:12, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry…”  After the Lord called Paul to Ministry, the calling was confirmed in Paul’s life by three things.  They were the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the People of God.  Whenever the Lord calls people into ministry today, all three affirmations are still needed.  I have met people that do now know how the Lord called them to serve in a particular way.  I have also met Christians who say, they do not care about what other Christians say about their calling.  Attitudes like this can be dangerous.  There have been many cults and heretical teachings that develop with people reacting this way.  If you feel called to “vocational ministry” check for these three:

The Word of God is the first way to know God’s call.  Paul had a burning desire to “preach the Word.”  He had a love for the Bible and an intense desire to see people saved and churches established.  This calling of the Word never contradicts the Bible in method or practice and Paul met all the qualifications to enter into full-time vocational ministry.  Be sure to read the Pastoral Epistles of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus to see the Bible’s qualifications for ministers.  Secondly, the Spirit of God is given to us to direct and guide us.  Acts 1:8 tell us that the Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses.  You may have a quiet spirit, but the Lord can embolden you and every Christian to tell others about Christ.  The Spirit of God will direct those called to say “yes” to the call.  Finally, there are the People of God.  I have known some believers that want to enter full-time ministry, but their church will not recognize them as a pastor or missionary.  Perhaps they have doctrinal error they hold to.  Perhaps their personality choices come across brash or unkind.  Maybe they are gossipers or rebellious to authority.  Perhaps they have not yet received proper ministry training.  A Bible based church would not recognize a call unless these matters are cleared up.  The people of God recognize and re-affirm God’s call on a Bible qualified candidate for ministry, who is Spirit led and Spirit filled.  This can be done in an Ordination service.  If you ever have the chance to attend an Ordination Council and service, I hope that you take advantage of that.  You will learn much Bible doctrine if you attend, and you will also see the recognition of God’s people on a man for the Lord.  It takes Paul about 8 years after his conversion to Christianity that we know him as the “Apostle Paul.”  Consider this:  In Acts 9 we find Paul meeting Christ and being saved.  Galatians 1:17-18, Paul tells us what he did after being saved:  “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”   Paul took time away from everyone to meet with the Lord and to study.  We look at this time as preparation for Gospel Ministry.  He was a man who knew the Hebrew Bible better than most, and now he was going to be used of the Lord to preach and even write parts of the New Testament.   (By the way, an important note to make for today is preparation for ministry.  Bible College takes about four years.  Teacher training takes at least four years.)  Even with three years passing, some people still doubted Paul was for real.  Some of the local church leaders still thought of Paul as “Saul the Persecutor.”   With the help of Barnabas, church leaders start to see Paul as a servant of the Lord.  In Acts 9:29-30, Barnabas introduces Paul to the church in Jerusalem.  They listen to Paul, but are not ready to work with him yet.  They send him to his hometown of Tarsus.  Paul stays there for five more years after which Barnabas, who is preaching in Antioch, sends for Paul to have Paul help him minister the Word (Acts 11:25-26).  It was while Paul started his ministry with Barnabas that the believers in Antioch were first called “Christians.”   It took eight years for Paul to be recognized by others in the ministry.  After this, we find Paul in active ministry: traveling, establishing churches, preaching messages, and sending letters to the churches.

Paul had the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the People of God confirm the calling of God on his life.   A life in ministry without these three affirmations will be difficult and will probably not last very long.  Be patient, serve the Lord and grow in the opportunities that open up to you.  Avoid forcing yourself into a position your pastor or other spiritual leaders know that you are not prepared for…yet.

If you are not called to ministry, that is OK too.  Be sure that you support your church leaders and support those who are in vocational ministry.  Your service in helping ministers is important!  I heard Evangelist Byron Foxx say: “Every Christian should either be a preacher or be helping a preacher.”  Those that are not preachers should be helping their preacher in advancing the Gospel.  

Are you called to ministry?  Do you have these three affirmations in your life?  At this point in my life, I have been preaching for around 15 years.  I remember the moments in my life when I saw these affirmations for ministry calling.  I am like Paul in saying, that I am thankful the Lord has called me to ministry.  Seek the will of the Lord, and God will show you His will.  When He does show you, follow it with all of your heart!