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Posts tagged ‘Mind’

3 Ways to Kill a Relationship.


Joyce Meyer
Joyce Meyer

Being unduly critical of others is a behavior pattern that not only destroys our relationships but also blinds us to our own weaknesses.

Much torment comes to people’s lives because of judgmental attitudes, criticism and suspicion. Multitudes of relationships are destroyed by these enemies.

In the area of judgment, the mind is the battlefield. Thoughts—just “I think”—can be the tool the devil uses to keep a person lonely. People do not enjoy being around someone who needs to voice an opinion about everything.

Being judgmental, opinionated and critical are three sure ways to see relationships dissolve. Satan, of course, wants you and me to be lonely and rejected, so he attacks our minds in these areas.

“Judging” Defined

According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, one of the Greek words translatedjudge is partially defined as “to form an opinion” and is cross-referenced to the word sentence. God is the only one who has the right to condemn or sentence; therefore, when we pass judgment on another, we are, in a certain sense, setting ourselves up as God in his life. That puts a little “godly fear” in me. I have a lot of nerve, but I am not interested in trying to be God!

These areas were once a major problem in my personality. I was critical because I always seemed to see what was wrong instead of what was right.

Some personalities are more given to this fault than others. Some of the more jovial personality types do not want to see anything but the “happy” or “fun” things in life, so they really don’t pay much attention to the things that could spoil their enjoyment.

The more melancholy personality or the controlling personality often sees what is wrong first; generally, people with this type of personality are generous in sharing their negative opinions and outlook with others.

Thousands of things we encounter every day are neither right nor wrong but are simply personal choices—choices people have a right to make on their own without outside interference.

My husband and I are extremely different in our approach to many things. How to decorate a house would be one of those things. If we go out to shop for household things together, it seems Dave always likes one thing, and I like something else. His opinion is just as good as mine, and mine is just as good as his; they are simply different.

It took me years to understand that there wasn’t something wrong with Dave just because he did not agree with me. Of course, I usually let him know that I thought there was something wrong with him. Obviously, my attitude caused much friction between us and hurt our relationship.

The Problem Is Pride 

Judgment and criticism are actually the fruit of a deeper problem—pride. The Bible repeatedly warns us about being high-minded (see, for exampe, Romans 12:3).

Whenever we excel in an area, it is only because God has given us a gift of grace for it. If we have an exaggerated opinion of ourselves, it causes us to look down on others and value them as “less than” we are.

This type of attitude or thinking is detestable to the Lord, and it opens many doors for the enemy in our lives. We must have a holy fear of pride and be very careful of judging others or of being critical of them (Gal. 6:1-3).

Each of us belongs to God, and even if we have weaknesses, He is able to make us stand and to justify us. We answer to God, not to each other; therefore, we are not to judge one another in a critical way (Rom. 14:4).

The devil stays very busy assigning demons to place judgmental, critical thoughts in people’s minds. I can remember when it was entertaining for me to sit in the park or the shopping mall and simply watch all the people go by as I formed a mental opinion of each of them—their clothing, hairstyles, companions and so on.

We cannot always prevent ourselves from having opinions, but we do not have to express them. I believe we can even grow to the point where we do not have so many opinions, and those we do have are not of a critical nature.

I frequently tell myself, “Joyce, it’s none of your business.” A major problem is brewing in your mind when you ponder your opinion until it becomes a judgment.

The problem grows bigger the more you think about it until you begin to express it to others or even to the one you’re judging. It has then become explosive and has the ability to do a great deal of harm in the realm of relationship as well as in the spiritual realm. You may be able to save yourself future problems by simply learning to say, “This is none of my business.”

Judgment and criticism were rampant in my family, so I “grew up with them,” so to speak. I wanted to do things God’s way, but I couldn’t. It took many years of misery before I learned about the strongholds in my mind that had to be dealt with before my behavior could change.

Matthew 7:1-5 are some of the classic Scriptures on the subject of judgment and criticism. When you are having trouble with your mind in this area, use these Scriptures and others as weapons against the devil who is attempting to build a stronghold in your mind. He may be operating out of a stronghold that has already been there for many years.

Sowing and Reaping

The Scriptures plainly tell us that we will reap what we sow (Matt. 7:1-2; Gal. 6:7). This also applies to the mental realm.

We can sow and reap an attitude as well as a crop or an investment. Many times we are reaping in our lives what we have previously sown into the life of another.

The devil loves to keep us busy, mentally judging the faults of others. That way, we never see or deal with what is wrong with us!

We cannot change others; only God can. We cannot change ourselves either, but we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to do the work.

When we have our thoughts and conversation on what is wrong with everyone else, we are usually being deceived about our own conduct. Therefore, Jesus commanded that we not concern ourselves with what is wrong with others when we have so much wrong with ourselves (Matt. 7:3-5). Allow God to deal with you first, and then you will learn the scriptural way of helping your brother grow in his Christian walk.

Besides reaping judgment ourselves when we criticize others, the Scriptures tell us that we ourselves do the same things for which we criticize others (Rom. 2:1). The Lord gave me a good example once to help me understand this principle.

I was pondering why we would do something ourselves and think it was perfectly all right but judge someone else who does it. The Lord said, “Joyce, you look at yourself through rose-colored glasses, but you look at everyone else through a magnifying glass.”

We make excuses for our own behavior, but when someone else does the same thing we do, we are often merciless. Doing unto others as we want them to do to us (Matt. 7:12) is a good life principle that will prevent a lot of judgment and criticism, if followed.

A judgmental mind is an offshoot of a negative mind—thinking about what is wrong with an individual instead of what is right. Being positive and not negative will benefit others, but you will benefit more than anyone.

Be Suspicious of Suspicion

First Corinthians 13:7 reads, “Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person” (AMP).

I can honestly say that obedience to this Scripture has always been a challenge for me. I was brought up to be suspicious and to distrust everyone. In addition, I had several very disappointing experiences with people, not only before I became an active Christian but afterward as well. Meditating on the components of love and realizing that love always believes the best has helped me greatly to develop a new mind-set.

When your mind has been poisoned or when Satan has gained strongholds in your mind, it has to be renewed according to God’s Word. You renew it by learning the Word and meditating on it—pondering, muttering to yourself and thinking on it.

We have the wonderful Holy Spirit in us to remind us when our thoughts are going in the wrong direction. God does this for me when I am having suspicious thoughts instead of loving thoughts.

The natural man thinks, “If I trust people, I’ll be taken advantage of.” Perhaps, but the benefits will far outweigh any negative experiences.

Trust and faith bring joy to life and help relationships grow to their maximum potential. Suspicion cripples a relationship and usually destroys it.

God condemns judgment, criticism and suspicion, and so should we. Love what God loves, and hate what He hates. Allow what He allows, and disallow what He disallows.

A balanced attitude is always the best policy. That doesn’t mean we are not to use wisdom and discernment in our dealings with others. We don’t have to throw open our lives to everyone we meet, giving every person we encounter a chance to crush us. On the other hand, we don’t have to look at everyone with a negative, suspicious eye, always expecting to be taken advantage of by others.

One time after I had been involved in a disappointing church situation, God brought John 2:23-25 to my attention. It speaks of Jesus’ relationship with His disciples.

JOYCE MEYER

Loving with all your mind…


“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength.”
-Luke 10:27

To love the Lord to the best of your ability “with all your mind,” here are some tips in developing these three important areas of your mind:

1) The first mind is what we call the EMOTIONAL MIND. Stop and ask yourself, “What am I feeling, good or bad? How will that affect the decision I need to make?” If you do this for just one week, you will find that you’ll make better decisions.

2) The second mind is the RELATIONAL MIND. God made us to want to be with each other. God made us fundamentally relational people. God made us to relate to each other. People are one of the most important things that God ever made, so stay connected with others.

3) The third mind is what I call the GROWING MIND. The growing mind deals with the reality that God meant everybody to expand, to be better, to grow, to be the person he wants to develop in each one of us. We were built to grow, to expand. Challenge your brain with new learning experiences, games, hobbies, and passions.

God designed these three minds as tools to help you design yourself to be the person and the leader and the influencer you need to be. You were designed by God to get better, and to have a positive influence on others. Use your mind – don’t lose your mind. Use it in all its capacities to help you be the person that God wants you to be.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I know you designed me to keep growing as long as I am alive on this earth. Help me to challenge myself always, keeping my brain agile and open to your leading. Amen.

Devotion: Which part of your mind – the emotional, the relational, or the growing – is the most challenging to you?

By John Townsend, Crystal Cathedral Guest Pastor

Finding what is missing…


“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
Isaiah 26:3

God can help you with not only your life, but your success, as well, if you’re willing to grow and challenge your brain, your mind. There’s a lot more your mind can do.

I formed this skill that will help your mind grow, actually, as a prayer.

A prayer to God. This week, ask God this question: “God, show me a passion that I am missing. I don’t currently have a passion for music, or art, or sports, or worship, or helping kids in the streets, or moms in domestic violence shelters, or helping to mentor someone.

God, show me a passion where I currently have a blind spot.

God, show me a problem that I’m avoiding, a relationship that needs repairing, a financial challenge that I don’t want tackle, a challenge in my work or my relationships that I need to face.

Help my mind to grow by developing passions and confronting problems. God, show me a passion that I’ve been missing or a dilemma I’ve been avoiding.”

God has told us that He will be with us – by our sides as we struggle, seek, and grow – until the end of the age.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for being by my side as I seek to grow into the person you designed me to be. Place in me the passion you would have me pursue. Amen.

Devotion: Do you have a passion in your life? If not, which of those mentioned above interest you?.

By John Townsend, Crystal Cathedral Guest Pastor.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work.


Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

Willpower Is Weak

If you’re considering making some New Year’s resolutions this year, consider this: like other exercises of raw willpower, most New Year’s resolutions fail miserably.

According to research, 80 percent of those who make resolutions on January 1 have given up by Valentine’s Day. Nutrition experts say that two-thirds of dieters regain any weight lost within a year, and more than 70 percent of people who undergo coronary bypass surgery fall back into unhealthy habits within two years of their surgery.

“Most of us think that we can change our lives if we just summon the willpower and try even harder this time around,” says Alan Deutschman, the former executive director of Unboundary, a firm that counsels corporations on how to navigate change. “It’s exceptionally hard to make life changes, and our efforts are usually doomed to failure when we try to do it on our own.”

As we think about New Year’s resolutions, it’s important to realize something about human nature: people do what they want to do. The Reformation theologian Thomas Cranmer held this view of human nature (as summarized by Anglican historian Ashley Null):

What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies. The mind doesn’t direct the will. The mind is actually captive to what the will wants, and the will itself, in turn, is captive to what the heart wants.

So making a resolution and summoning up all your willpower does little good if, ultimately, your heart isn’t in it. Does this mean you should abandon any hope of change? Not at all. If you’re going to make a New Year’s resolution, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Is It A Good Resolution?

Try to determine if the resolution is actually good. Are you planning on working out more? If so, is it because you want to be a good steward of the body God gave you or is it vanity? In reality, it is probably some of both. But what is the driving desire? Is it a good one?

2. Just Do It

If your resolution is actually a good one, just do it. Go ahead and work out more, smoke or drink less, read your Bible more, pay down your debt and save more for retirement, focus on your marriage, spend more time with your children. Every once in a while, people start a New Year’s resolution and it sticks. But most don’t. That’s because (1) you are sinner and (2) your heart is anidol factory.

3. Grace Actually Works

The reality is that your resolution is likely needed because, like everyone else except for Jesus, you are not loving God with your entire being and not loving your neighbor as yourself. These two failures lead to havoc, discord, pain, and destruction. Jesus gave us the basic requirement: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:40).

That basic failure is why we need the gospel: Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection deal with the guilt and the stain of sin. It’s also why we so often fail at our attempts to improve ourselves.

But Jesus also gave us the Holy Spirit, who can change our desires and empower us to love God and neighbor. As Paul tells us, “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). With us and our willpower, Jesus says, change is impossible, “but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).

God Gives Grace to Change

As Cranmer realized, our wills are captive to what our hearts love, and we are powerless to change ourselves without the work of God’s Spirit changing our desires. When you think through New Year’s resolutions, here’s a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer as you ask God to work on your heart:

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Justin Holcomb

Justin Holcomb is Theologian in Residence at Mars Hill Church, where he also serves as Executive Director of Resurgenceand the Leadership Development department. He is also Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary.

Justin wrote On the Grace of God. He and his wife, Lindsey, are the authors of Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault. He is also the editor of Christian Theologies of Scripture. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and JustinHolcomb.com.  

Living growing lives…


 

“For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, fix your minds on them.”
– Philippians 4:8

The growing mind deals with the reality that God meant for everybody to expand, to be better, to grow, to be the persons he wants to develop. You were built to grow. You were built to expand. Yet, some people never expand. They never grow.

The average lifespan of people in the world today is close to 70 and many live past 100. However, the number of years lived doesn’t necessarily indicate a growing life. It can actually indicate years of repetition of the same conflicts, the same stuck-ness, the same struggles, the same patterns.

That was never God’s intent for our lives. He wants us to live growing lives. And the growing life is just like regularly working out. Just like working out, if you don’t use your brain, you lose it. Just as you challenge your muscles in the gym, you have to challenge your brain. You have to push your brain to do things it now can’t do. Learning a new language is a way to do that. Or, taking a course, gaining some ability, or completing some training you’ve never had before. Or, you can play competitive mental game like chess.

We must get out of the patterns of the “same old, same old,” and challenge ourselves in a hobby, a course, something that pushes our brains, and our brains will respond to it. You can be doing this at 20, you can be doing this at 80, and it makes a difference in your growing brain.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me not to take my mind for granted. Like my entire body, help me to keep it healthy and strong. Amen.

Devotion: Of the brain-strengthening suggestions mentioned above, which one would best apply to you?.

By John Townsend, Crystal Cathedral Guest Pastor

Brain power…


“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever been at one of those dinners where the questions of “who’s the feeler” and “who’s the thinker” comes up? You’re with a bunch of people and somebody answers, “Well, she’s the feeler, and I’m the thinker.” Someone else says, “I’m the emotional one, and he’s the more logical one.” The whole thinking and feeling question is a very, very important one for how we operate in life.

God gave us this brain, this mind, as a gift. What we find is that we’re under-using this brain we have. Neuroscience has told us many things about all the potential and all the power our brains and our minds have.

I work a lot with leaders, successful people, and organizations. When I do, I study those with success to learn what I might do to help other people become more successful. One of the things I have discovered is that successful people use their entire brains – the feeling parts and the thinking parts. They’re not just limited to one aspect of their brain.

One of the keys to being a successful person is using your entire mind.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of a sound and growing mind. Help me not to be only a thinker or a feeler, but one who uses all the miraculous areas of my mind, heart, and soul. Amen.

Devotion: Would you consider yourself primarily a feeler or thinker?.

By John Townsend, Crystal Cathedral Guest Pastor.

Time to take stock of who you are.


Gloria OgunbadejoGloria Ogunbadejo
credits:

We are living in times when we need to be both introspective as well as reaching out to support others.  But before you can reach out to others, you need to have a good and realistic knowledge of who you are. When was the last time you actually gave some thought to what type of person you are? Are you aware of what your values are? Do you like who you are? If you met yourself out in the world, would you like to be friends with you? Sometimes, we have a perception or ideal of who we think we are or would like to be; but in reality, we might be very different from that.

Fundamentally, our self-monitoring styles influence our social interactions and how we view the world. Knowing your individual self-monitoring style helps you realise there are certain pathways and life choices that suit you better than others. It helps you find your niche and to appreciate and value the diversity of others.

Sometimes, I listen to clients talk about how aggrieved they are about what various people have done to them and when I probe a little deeper to explore some of their own behaviours to others, it turns out they have committed some appalling acts of their own on others. It’s that old saying that when you point a finger at someone, there are four more pointing at you. Or, if you prefer something more biblical, he without sin should cast the first stone; or those in glass houses should not throw stones. I think you get the picture. A lot of times, we really are not who we think we are; so it’s time to take stock if you haven’t already.

When we are very young, we learn how to feel about life and ourselves by the reactions of the grown-ups around us. So, if you lived with very unhappy, angry negative people, then you tended to learn and grow up with a lot of negative about your world. Most likely, we would go on to recreate similar relationships we had with our mothers or fathers or what we observed between our parents in our own personal relationships.

In my line of work, it sometimes feels almost everyone I have worked with or come in contact with outside work suffers from some form of self hatred and guilt to one degree or another. Sometimes, it might feel as if we are not in control of the thoughts we have, because they may be all pervading and we habitually think the same thoughts; but when you think about it, we made the original choice to introduce the thought into our minds. We actually have the power and will to refuse to think certain thoughts. If you just consider how many times you have resisted thinking positive thoughts about yourself, you then realise how much power you have over your thoughts.

It is helpful to remember that thoughts, no matter how degrading, resentful, painful, or damaging, are just thoughts and are not set in stone. Thoughts can be changed. What we think about ourselves tends to become the truth for us – something akin to self- fulfilling.

What we believe about ourselves and about life become true for us. So, if your mantra tends to be that people are out to get me, that is what you focus on, look out for and ultimately attract towards yourself. You have the choice of thinking people are kind and helpful and looking out for the good in people.

I know there will be those who might think this is very simplistic and that there are many evil, mean people out in the world. After all, we just have to take a peek at the state of the world. But alongside all the wickedness and hating that’s taking place, there is also a lot of humanity, love and kindness. It may not be shown on the TV, but it’s happening in your home, your neighbourhood, in your office. In other words, it’s all around you, but most importantly, you have the power to make it happen, starting from you.

We all know there are good and bad people in the world and that bad things happen to good people. That’s a given in life; but it doesn’t have to be and it isn’t the whole story. The beliefs we have about ourselves and about life create different experiences in our lives.

Our subconscious minds accept whatever we choose to believe. When you think about it, we have unlimited choices about what we can think, so why do we choose to focus on fixed negative thoughts? When we know this, it makes sense to open up our minds to allow fresh, wholesome, life affirming thoughts in.

There are some very interesting studies coming through from scientists at the Institute of Heart-Math (IHM) in Colorado, USA. They have dedicated over 25 years to the research of emotional physiology, or the science of measuring moods, and how they impact on the heart and the rest of the body. Recently, they announced a breakthrough culminating from a series of studies which appear to show that the heart is capable of directing the activity of almost every cell in our body, helping to determine perception, emotions and health.

Their work was backed by a study in the American Journal of Cardiology, which found that “positive emotions boost the nervous system, which, in turn, enhances immunity, digestion and mental clarity.” The findings suggest that ‘positive emotions such as love or gratitude lead to coherent heart rhythms.’

It goes on to suggest that “when people are angry, stressed or anxious, the graphs waver up and down quite dramatically – the heart tends to beat erratically and the frequencies bounce all over the place. When the heart’s electromagnetic field (EMF) is erratic, a person experiences tension and an increased disorder in their nervous system, a factor that can lead to hormonal imbalances, lowered immunity, sleeplessness and depression.”

We have all heard of that wonderful chemical called oxytocin that the heart secretes when we feel loving feelings; this in turn triggers positive reactions throughout the body. This whole process of heart-focused positive feelings are said to “boost levels of particular antibodies in the immune system that fight viruses and bacteria for up to six hours at a time.”

With all this medical information about the power of the mind, emotions and the powerful effects on our bodies, it is safe to say that we have a lot to answer for a lot of the malaise we suffer from on a daily basis. What we feed our minds is as important as what we feed our bodies. We have the responsibility and commitment to ourselves to desist from harming our minds and ultimately being a part of harming humanity.

Have a loving day!

Source: PUNCH NEWS.

BY GLORIA OGUNBADEJO (GOGUNBADEJO@YAHOO.CO.UK)

In His Presence.


Susana Wesley

Endeavor to keep a due guard over your words, that you may habitually speak nothing but what is true on all occasions. Consider what a high offence it is against the God of truth to speak falsely, either through design or inadvertence.

In telling any story or relating past actions be careful to speak deliberately and calmly, ever remembering you are in the presence of the great and holy God. Every sin is a contradiction and offence to some divine attribute. Lying is opposite and offensive to the truth of God.

Whenever you find any extraordinary assistance from the Spirit of God, either by illuminating the mind, strengthening the soul or raising the affections, be sure for some time after to keep a stronger guard upon yourself. I have often observed that after the greatest enlargements in prayer and the greatest professions of devotedness to God, we are permitted to fall into great temptations.

I humbly conceive this to be commonly for one of these reasons: (1) to try the sincerity of the mind, to show us whether or not we are in our outward conversation the same we profess to be in our retirements; (2) to humble the mind, which upon such occasions is too apt to be elated.

Walk in Humility
It is very natural upon reflection on any extraordinary performances to entertain too high a conceit of ourselves, especially if we live among people who observe no rule in their actions. So apt is vain, foolish man to turn the grace of God into wantonness and to forget that God who makes them to differ from the rest of the world. To Him be glory!

What an exceeding condescension it is for the Holy Spirit at any time to grant His assistance to such creatures as we are. And how careful we ought to be lest at any time we should grieve Him.

Be extremely careful to purify your mind from all that may offend Him. Keep it calm and composed and, as much as possible, separate from the world. That still small voice is not heard amidst the thunder and noise of tumultuous passions.

Keep the mind in a temper for recollection, and often in the day, call it in from outward objects, lest it wander into forbidden paths. Make an examination of your conscience at least three times a day, and omit no opportunity of retirement (retreat) from the world.

“My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Cor. 12:9, KJV) was the most that an apostle could obtain upon very earnest prayer. Do thy duty; make use of all the means for obtaining that grace which God affords thee. Throw yourself upon the divine goodness for success, and firmly rely on the merits of Christ Jesus to supply the deficiencies of your performances.

Think of Him Often
Beware of immoderate mirth, anger or any other passion, especially for some time before the family or private devotions. Take care to guard the mind against them. Take at least a quarter of an hour to recollect and compose the thoughts before your immediate approaches to the great God.

If but an earthly prince or some person of eminent quality were certainly to visit you, or you were to visit him, would you not be careful to have your apparel and all about you decent before you were to come into his presence? How much more should you take care to have your mind in order, when you take upon yourself the honor to speak to the sovereign Lord of the universe?

He is infinitely too great to be trifled with, too wise to be imposed on by mock devotion, and He abhors a sacrifice without a heart. A habitual sense of His perfections is an admirable help against cold and formal performances. Rash and precipitate prayers and abrupt breaking off from them to follow business or pleasure is such an affront to the holy God.

I am inclined to think that all people, even those who have not the light of the Gospel as well as Christians, do know more than they practice. The common principles of morality are so self-evident, though perhaps not innate, that it is hardly to be supposed any person in the world can be really ignorant of them. What creature under heaven that has the use of reason can be ignorant of the being of God, and that they ought to live in subjection to Him from whom they receive their own being and all things necessary for the support of that being?

Yet, in reality, how few practice an unfeigned subjection of themselves towards Him. And what can be the reason of this, but the want of consideration to these first principles of religion.

Be careful to maintain a constant habitual sense of God in your mind. Live and act as in His presence. Think often of His omnipresence and omniscience, of His power, wisdom, goodness, justice, truth and above all of His infinite purity. This will be a check upon the mind and the best preservative against all temptations.

Look to His Strength
Since it hath pleased the infinitely wise God to unite our minds to these bodies, we must acquiesce in His appointment and not pretend to separate them wholly from all the inconveniences that are incident to this union. We cannot receive the knowledge of things without us but by our senses, and we cannot altogether prevent the strong impressions that sensual objects are wont to make upon the mind.

We must in this case endeavor to maintain the superiority of mind over matter, lest it be corrupted by a too close adherence to sensible objects. We must preserve the government of reason and not suffer our passions to get the ascendant over us.

Therefore, be sure to be very hearty and earnest in praying to God for strength to govern and regulate your affections. “It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). Therefore, humbly implore the divine majesty to steer your soul by His Holy Spirit through all the intricate scenes of human life. Depend not on your own strength or reason, but rely only on His infinite wisdom, and He will guide you by His counsel and at last conduct you to His glory through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Daily problems are opportunities to exercise virtue and receive the benefit of divine strength. There is hardly one day that does not verify the truth of our Savior’s words, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6:34). What through the weakness and corruption of our natures, the unavoidable business of our station, many unforeseen accidents, unexpected company and cross occurrences, we have occasion given us daily to exercise our virtues of one kind or other.

Yesterday you had an extraordinary occasion to use your justice and patience, today, your prudence, temperance and charity in forgiving injuries. You did well in applying yourself to the supreme Fountain of virtue for grace in this perplexed affair. And you accordingly found that His “strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9), that He is Truth itself and “all His promises are yea and amen” (2 Cor. 1:20).

As you have this day had a fresh instance of His hearing your prayers, so be very careful never to venture upon any business without first begging the direction and assistance of God. This will be a check upon your mind when you would do any thing you know to be unlawful or dubious, and will encourage you with hopes of success in your lawful undertakings.

How unjustly does the profane part of the world charge religion with melancholy and moroseness. Our happiness even in this world does entirely depend on the favor of God, which we cannot hope to enjoy without the constant practice of piety and virtue.

It may sometimes happen that religious persons may now and then be peevish and morose, but I dare say ‘tis not religion, but their want of it that makes them so. The best men in the world are here in a state of imperfection, and corrupt nature will not be wholly conquered in this state of mortality. There will be deficiencies in their virtues and oftentimes great imperfections mixed with them.

Yet, notwithstanding all the inconveniences or faults that attend good men, they are the only persons who can in any tolerable sense be called happy and well tempered. Allowing for the inevitable imperfections of this life, the only truly happy people are good ones.

Trust in His Infinite Wisdom
Be not discouraged with your own failings, nor spend so much time in thinking on them. Consider that perfection is the Savior’s endowment; sincerity is yours. His merits (if relied on by a firm faith, joined with your sincere endeavor to obey the whole will of God) will supply thy deficiencies.

Praise God for illuminating your mind and for enabling you to prove that His wisdom is as infinite as His power. The use you are to make of these discoveries is to praise and love and obey. Therefore, be exceeding careful that your affections keep pace with your knowledge, for if you study the divine perfections as matter of mere speculation, your knowledge will but enhance your guilt and increase your future torment.

You must know, that you may adore and love! And if you are now more rationally persuaded that God is infinitely wise, then learn by this knowledge to more cheerfully submit to the order of His providence.

Submit your reason so far to your faith as not to doubt those points of faith that are mysterious to us through the weakness of our understanding. Adore the mystery you cannot comprehend. Be not too curious in prying into those secret things that are known only to God, nor too rash in censuring what you do not understand.

Those methods of providence that seem to you involved and intricate, perplex not yourself about, but resolve them into the infinite wisdom of God, who knows “the spirits of all flesh” and best understands how to govern those souls He hath created.

“We are of yesterday and know nothing” (Job 8:9). But His boundless mind comprehends at one view all things, past, present and future. As He sees all things, so He best understands what is good and proper for each individual with relation to both worlds.

By SUSANNA WESLEY AND CHARLES WALLACE JR. (ED.)

Adapted from Susanna Wesley: The Complete Writings by Susanna Wesley and Charles Wallace Jr. (Ed.), copyright 2001. Published by Oxford University Press. Used by permission.


Morning and evening, Susanna Wesley (1669-1741) diligently chronicled her experiences with God. This article is compiled from journal entries written over the course of several days. Her husband was Samuel Wesley, and the couple had 19 children. Their sons John and Charles started a revival movement that spread throughout the world. Almost everything John taught in this movement—known as Methodism—was based on principles his mother had instilled in him as a child.

Experiencing Victory in the Midst of Trials.


What trials are you facing in life right now?

Maybe it’s a financial challenge. Or maybe you have stuff going on in your marriage or at work.

Perhaps you’re grappling with emotional issues… or some familiar sin… or an issue of illness… or maybe something’s going on with your kids or grandkids.

Whatever stress or challenge you’re facing today, I want to share something with you that could be the single greatest factor in seeing the tide turn against that situation in your life. I really don’t think I can overestimate the importance of what I’m about to share.

It all starts with Romans 12:2, which says,

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The first step in dealing with the challenges you may be facing is not to be conformed to this world.

The word conformed literally means to be squeezed into a mold. And that’s the problem with many Christians today. They have allowed their thinking about marriage, their business, their ministry, and their personal lives to be conformed to the way this world thinks. They’ve been contained. They’ve been squeezed into a mold.

The result is they’ve never lived that large, expansive, broad, expressive life that God wants them to live.

You see, God has put something on the inside of you and me. But the things that are in us, many times, don’t end up matching our outside experience because we have failed to renew our minds!

What God is saying in Romans 12:2 is that if you are going to be blessed, if you are going to break out of the limitations that the world would put on you, you’re going to have to change the whole landscape of your thinking. You’re going to have to knock down some of those old thinking patterns that have been erected in your mind and replace them with new thoughts.

Second Corinthians 10:3-5 says this,

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 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.

More than anything else, the warfare we face has to do with our thinking. The battleground of the ages is the human mind. And what Paul gives us here is a progression from the end result to where everything begins.

It starts with “bringing every thought into captivity.” Literally, it means taking hold of the thoughts in your mind… the things that you’ve embraced, the things that have inspired you to believe the things that you believe, the things that have influenced your behavior, actions, and emotions… and capture them.

You need to capture a thought and say, “Wait a minute. Where did that come from?” Turn it over and take a look at it and examine it and ask, “What’s the origin of this thought?”

If you don’t do that, a wrong thought can grow to the next stage, which is an argument. And an argument is dangerous because it exalts itself against the knowledge of God. It’s not consistent with Scripture. The “arguments” spoken of in these verses are uncaptured thoughts that have gained momentum and force in your mind.

If an argument is not cast down, it grows to another stage, which is a stronghold. This is where the enemy can work in your life. And strongholds can be painful and difficult to deal with as they have to be pulled down.

As I mentioned before, the battleground of the ages is the human mind. It’s not necessarily your marriage… your business… your kids… or your relationships. So you need to ask yourself, “What thoughts do I need to capture and cast down? What thoughts from God’s Word can I replace those wrong thoughts with?”

That is the starting point. I pray you will take time today to carefully consider the areas where you are struggling and see if your thinking is aligned with God’s thoughts.

For more from Bayless Conley, check out the Answers for Each Day devotional, or click here for the Answers with Bayless Conley broadcast at OnePlace.com.

Original publication date: July 14, 2009

By Bayless Conley

Detoxify Your Soul.


Editor’s note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Craig Groeschel‘s new book, Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World (Zondervan, 2012).

You wouldn’t intentionally eat or drink poison that could harm or destroy your body. Yet you may be consuming poison that’s hazardous to your soul without even realizing it.

Toxic attitudes, behaviors, and cultural influences that you allow into your life put your soul in danger. You can’t avoid contact with such toxins in this fallen world, but you don’t have to be contaminated by them. You can detoxify your soul and start experiencing the pure life that God wants you to enjoy. Here’s how:

Realize that everything counts. Absolutely everything that you allow into your mind and life has on impact on how you grow or don’t grow spiritually. The little choices that you make every day add up to a significant effect on your soul. So take your everyday decisions seriously.

Identify the lies that have deceived you, and replace them with the truth. Examine your life for toxic: behaviors (what you do that harms your spiritual effectiveness or distracts you from God’s purposes for your life), emotions (feelings that lead you away from God’s truth), and consumptions (media you consume and people you spend time with). Ask God to give you the wisdom you need to discern which of all of those are toxic to you.

Clean up your thoughts. Since spiritual battles are ultimately either won or lost in the mind, it’s crucial to pay attention to what thoughts you focus on. Your thoughts shape what kind of person you become. If you think unhealthy thoughts, you’ll become an unhealthy person. But if you think healthy thoughts that reflect God’s truth, you’ll become more like Jesus, as God intends you to become. Regularly pray for the ability to view the situations you encounter as God sees them so you can have the right perspective on them. Every day, ask God to show you which thoughts that enter your mind are unholy and displeasing to Him. Whenever you identify wrong thoughts, take action to replace them with right ones. Choose to focus only on thoughts about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Spend time meditating on God’s wonderful qualities; the more you think about God, the more peace will enter your mind.

Choose positive words and avoid negative words. Recognize the incredible power of words to bring about either good or evil. Positive words create and heal, while negative words harm and destroy. So throughout each day when you’re speaking or writing, choose to communicate positive words to others as much as possible. When you hear the words that other people communicate to you, carefully analyze them to determine whether or not they actually reflect what’s true – and if so, embrace them, but if not, reject them. Pay attention to your self-talk as well, and ask God to help you say positive words to yourself in your mind.

Uncover your hidden sins. No sin is ever hidden from God, no matter how much you may deny it in your life or try to hide it from other people. God knows all of your sins and chooses to love you anyway, and He is always hoping that you will confess and repent of your sins so you can keep growing spiritually. So regularly confess your sins (to God and other Christians) and repent of them so you can receive forgiveness and healing.

Dig up bitter roots from your soul. When you allow bitterness to take root in your soul, it poisons you and blocks you from experiencing the grace God wants to give you. So get rid of bitterness by following God’s command to forgive people who have hurt you. You can rely on the strength that God will give you to forgive.

Get rid of envy. Envying people who have what you want but don’t have will only poison you. So stop comparing yourself and your life with other people and their lives. Instead, make a daily habit of noticing the many blessings that God brings into your life, and thanking God for them. Ask God to  help you be content in all circumstances and trust that, in His great love and wisdom, He will always give you what’s best for you.

Express anger productively rather than destructively. It’s fine to feel angry, as long as you don’t sin because of the way you express your anger. Pray for the wisdom you need to discern the difference between constructive and destructive anger, and for the self-control you need to let go of destructive anger (anger that causes you to sin by hurting yourself and others). You can control your anger by making choices such as carefully listening and thinking to messages others are communicating to you before responding, so you calm down and respond without sinning. You can also redirect your anger by using anger as Jesus did: to fight injustice and work for righteousness. Ask God to make you angry about what angers Him, and then to use that anger to help bring about justice in the world.

Break free of fear. Whenever you feel afraid, remind yourself that fear never comes from God; it comes from evil. God gives you a spirit of power, love, and peace – not fear. Rather than placing your faith in all the “what-ifs” of life and feeling afraid of what may or may not happen, place your faith in God who is in charge of your future and wants what’s best for you. Pay attention to specific, persistent fears in your life, because they reveal the areas in which you’re trusting God the least. Pray about each area you identify as a problem, surrendering each one specifically to God and asking Him to help you trust Him more with it. Then be diligent about seeking God so you can consistently grow closer to Him. The closer you become to God, the less you’ll struggle with fear.

Get rid of toxic influences on your life. Break free of materialism and look to God (instead of money and possessions) to meet your needs for happiness, significance, and security. Whenever you consume media of any kind (from television shows and songs to Internet articles and books), honestly ask yourself: “Am I being entertained by sin?”, Is this pleasing to God?”, and “Does this lure me away from Jesus?”. Then stop consuming media that you recognize is toxic to you. Since bad company corrupts good character, set boundaries to protect yourself from being influenced by unhealthy people, and cut off unhealthy relationships with people who are dangerous to your spiritual growth but won’t change. Ask God to show you when religion is corrupting the purity of the Gospel in your life, and to help you focus not on external behavior to try to earn God’s love, but on responding to the love that God has already given you by trusting Him in every part of your life.

Adapted from Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World, copyright 2012 by Craig Groeschel. Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.zondervan.com.

Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, a pace-setting multi-campus church and creators of the popular and free YouVersion Bible App. He is the author of several books including Weird, The Christian Atheist and It. Craig, his wife, Amy, and their six children live in Edmond, Oklahoma. Visit his church’s website at: http://www.lifechurch.tv/.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: angels.guide@about.com to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.

Publication date: April 5, 2012

By Whitney Hopler.

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