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Posts Tagged ‘2 Corinthians 10:5’

 

 

Each spring, as the outdoor temperatures finally climb to comfortable levels, we can hardly resist opening wide the windows to allow fresh breezes and full sunshine into our homes.

We breathe deep the pure air and revel in the bright light–until we notice the smudges, dirt, and grime, undetected during the dim days of winter.  Suddenly we’re overtaken by the urge to polish the windows, Swiffer baseboards, reorganize closets, and capture dust bunnies under the beds. We embark on spring cleaning, full sweep ahead!

 

 

Any concerns of how to clean in the fastest, easiest ways can be researched online.   And even the APP Store can help. BrightNest offers organizing and cleaning tips, a personalized cleaning schedule, and reminders. Chore Monster will get the kids to help (so they say).

I can’t speak for you, but there’s another area in my life that needs cleaning. In addition to the dusting, scrubbing, and polishing throughout our home, a little spring-cleaning of my mind will be beneficial, to remove any melancholy, anxiety, fear, and other muck from my thoughts. There’s an A.P.P. for that, too:

A is for APPRECIATION. Nothing wipes away the grime of doldrums like gratitude, because gratitude leads to joy.

 

 

“What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks,

to sing an anthem to you, the High God!

You make me so happy, God.

I saw your work and I shouted for joy.

How magnificent your work, God!”

–Psalm 92:1, 4 MSG

 

P is for PRAYER. Sweep up the swirling dust bunnies of worry with statements of trust, based on God’s reliable promises:

  • He will never leave us to struggle through trouble on our own (Deuteronomy 31:6).
  • He will always provide what we need (Matthew 6:25-27).
  • He is a God of infinite power and might, ruling over all people and all circumstances (Psalm 103:19)
  • He is a God of goodness and righteousness, love and compassion, grace and mercy (Psalm 145:7-9).

 

 

P is also for PRAISE.  Polish every day with worship, commending God for who he is and what he has done.

 

“To worship is to…purge the imagination by the beauty of God.”

–William Temple (1881-1944), Bishop of the Church of England

 

 

Notice this A.P.P. of Appreciation, Prayer, and Praise, is all about words that don’t even have to be spoken out loud. Is it really possible that mere words can cleanse away hurtful or disturbing thoughts?

Yes! Words are powerful (Proverbs 18:21). Even self-talk wields great influence, because thoughts produce emotions, emotions produce attitudes, and attitudes produce behavior.

For example:

  • Thoughts of Appreciation, Prayer, and Praise create a clean, positive atmosphere in our spirits.
  • That atmosphere allows the emotions of peace, joy, and contentment to shine.
  • From a contented heart come the positive behaviors of cheerfulness, perseverance, faith, and strength—to name a few.

But just as some spring-cleaning tasks require extra effort, ridding our minds of negative self-talk often requires extra effort as well. Our thoughts too easily get mired in complaining, anxiety, and fear.

 

 

How do we redirect our thinking? We take our negative thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), trapping them like dust flecks in a Swiffer! Then we use our A.P.P (as described above) to add the luster of positivity.

There’s nothing like a good spring-cleaning to increase the pleasure we experience in our homes. And there’s nothing like a good cleansing of the mind to bring supreme pleasure to life.

 

 

“The Lord is a sun and shield;

The Lord bestows favor and honor;

No good thing does he withhold

From those whose walk is blameless.

O Lord Almighty,

Blessed is the man who trusts in you.”

–Psalm 84:11-12 NIV

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.publicdomainpictures.net; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.ourdailyblossom.com; http://www.pinterest (2).

 

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Scripture is full of promises that speak of precious gifts God is willing to give us:

  • Unstoppable love (Romans 8:38-39)
  • Overflowing hope (Romans 15:13)
  • Wise guidance (Psalm 32:8)
  • Courageous confidence (Psalm 56:3-4)
  • Compassionate comfort (Psalm 34:18)
  • Peaceful rest (Matthew 11:28-29)

And that’s not a complete list by any means. The question is: Are we willing to receive all these blessings?

Or, are our minds full of:

  • Doubt?

“God may love me in a general sense, but personally? I doubt it. After disappointing him so many times, I don’t deserve his gifts.”

  • Negativity?

“Look at all these challenges in my life. I’m not seeing very many blessings.” 

  • Timidity? 

“That promise can’t be for me, can it?” 

These kinds of thoughts originate with Satan, the father of lies, who’s delighted when we don’t embrace God’s blessings.

For most of us, accepting gifts—even from God–can be more difficult than giving them. Gracious receiving is an art.

So how do we develop the art of receiving? 

  1. Reject those lies of the devil.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can take such thoughts captive and cast them out of our minds (2 Corinthians 10:5). The next step is to…

  1. Fill our minds with uplifting thinking.

“Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

Such glorious categories on which to focus! And undoubtedly our hearts will fill with gratitude as we contemplate God’s magnificent gifts.

  1. Practice. 

Any art form—music, writing, painting, etc.—requires practice. So does the art of receiving. God has not chosen to instantaneously transform our attitudes for us. He almost always takes a gradual approach, providing numerous opportunities for practice.

The art of receiving is no different, developing over time through faith and self-discipline. We affirm that God loves and blesses his children—despite our feelings–and discipline our minds to counter doubt, negativity, and fear with trust-statements from his Word.

  1. Spend time in God’s Word. 

The more time we spend reading the Bible, the more scripture-gems we discover that speak of God’s gracious character, his promises, and blessings. And the more we learn, the more we respond, “Thank you, Father, for all the blessings of the abundant, God-enhanced life with you!”

  1. Receive graciously, even enthusiastically, from others. 

Too often, we’re uncomfortable at the receiving end.  We feel embarrassed or unworthy and worry about repaying the favor.

We need to remind ourselves: gracious, enthusiastic receiving is in itself a gift of: 

Affirmation.  Every gift bestowed with good intention is meaningful—whether it’s a compliment, a favor, or an object. Granted, we may feel awkward when complimented, we may not need the favor or desire the object, but the thoughtfulness can be affirmed just the same.

Pleasure.  God has engineered us so that when the receiver expresses pleasure, the giver also experiences pleasure—usually more so.

Gratitude.  Thoughtful gratitude shows honor and esteem for the giver.

So let’s grit our teeth and be gracious receivers!

No, gritting won’t be necessary if we remember: All gifts originate in the heart of our Heavenly Father (James 1:17). He is the One bestowing the blessings, frequently using people as his agents.

Our highest privilege is to bestow pleasure and honor upon God, by passing the praise and gratitude on to him

In doing so, the art of receiving comes full circle.

(Photo credit:  www.familyconnect.org.)

 

 

 

 

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For ten years of my husband’s ministry, we lived in a parsonage with a pond out back.  The delightful view from the kitchen window made dishwashing a much more pleasant task.  Light and shadow played on grass, trees, and water, creating an ever-changing scene.  Wading birds grazed the edges–herons, egrets, and wood storks.  Anhingas and ducks enjoyed an occasional swim.

During several spring seasons,  a brown duck and his mate chose our pond to raise their family.  It was especially fun to watch the pond-crossings of Mother Duck and her brood.  As she ventured out onto the water, the little ones fell into line behind her.  When I say line, I do mean line–straight enough to rival the Radio City Rockettes.  But at some point, Mother would turn.  And with split-second precision, those ducklings would also turn, as if she had given them a cue ahead of time.  (Had she?  Perhaps God has given them the ability to communicate with body language that zoologists haven’t noticed yet!)

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To appreciate their performance even more, consider that the eyes of ducks are on the sides of their heads.  Can they even see well straight ahead?

Oh, that I could be like those little ducks, responding to God’s leading with split-second precision.

Why don’t I relax and stop fretting about outcomes?  Isaiah reminds me:

“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden like a spring whose waters never fail (Isaiah 58:11).

Why do I concern myself with what-ifs, when Jesus said:

“Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it…Seek his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 11:29-31).

Why don’t I respond with quiet trust, when Paul assures me:

“If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32).

I’m beginning to understand what happens.  When worry, self-doubt, and fear occupy my mind, I’m allowing my emotions to take the lead, not the truths of scriptures.  Lousy leaders, those emotions.

I need to become more aware of my thought life–not let my mind just roam around helter-skelter.  Paul used military terminology to describe our course of action.  That makes sense, since spiritual warfare does occur in the mind.  Paul said, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

I like the way Eugene Peterson interprets that verse:  “We…fit every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ”(The Message).

The scriptures mentioned above would be good places to start.  I can write key phrases on 3×5 cards or slips of paper and stash them here and there–on a mirror, in a dresser drawer, on the car visor, in the refrigerator!  (Yes, in!  That ought to grab my attention!) Over time I would expect these memory-joggers to train my brain toward positivity and faith.

The day may come when I won’t even need the reminders anymore.  When my thoughts line up and follow Christ’s leading, so will my emotions.

Imagine the peace, joy, and contentment!

(Photo credit:  www.science20.com, http://www.fineartamerica.com.)

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