Faith: It's a Game Changer!

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In pastor Chuck Smith’s book, Faith, he shares that his dad’s faith “was always bigger than his circumstances. On his dad’s desk was a framed two-word motto, “All things” Whenever disappointments came along, his dad would look at those two words and he’d remember the rest of the verse, and the promise God gave within it:
  
All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. “ (Roman’s 8:28) 

 
Pastor Chuck declares, “Faith means believing in God ‘s sovereignty. It means trusting He is on the throne, in command of all things, and working through every circumstance that comes our way. When we have that kind of faith, we have peace in the midst of trials. But when we forget God’s sovereignty, troubling circumstances cause us to despair. We survey the landscape with our eyes instead of with our faith.

In Genesis 42, when Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain so they didn’t starve to death during the famine, Jacob was hopeful that his son’s would return with grain and they would not starve. Though Jacob did keep his youngest son, Benjamin home with him, so nothing happened to him, because Jacob only had two sons from his beloved wife Rachel. Jacob had already lost Joseph, his favorite son, and since Rachel die, while having their son Benjamin, Jacob wasn’t about to let any harm come to him.

You can imagine, when Jacob’s sons returned from Egypt to report that his son Simeon was being held in Egypt by Pharaoh’s second in command, and that Pharaoh’s official insisted that Jacob’s sons return with his youngest son, Benjamin, Jacob’s hopes quickly turned to despair. So he cried out “Everything is against me!”

As far as Jacob could see, things couldn’t have been possibly worse. His worst nightmare was unfolding before his very eyes. He lost Joseph, and now he was going to lose Benjamin, too. Jacob had no idea Pharaoh’s official holding Simeon and insisting that Benjamin be brought to him was his long lost son, Joseph, whom Jacob had mourned the loss of for years now. Jacob had no idea that he would soon be hugging Joseph and crying tears of joy with him.  Never in Jacob’s wildest dreams, did he imagine the awesome plans God had in store for him.

When we find ourselves in upsetting circumstances, we can look at our discouraging situation, and proclaim like Jacob,  “All things are against me!” Or we can respond with eyes of faith, like Pastor Chuck Smith’s dad, and believe, “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

If we respond to our discouraging circumstances like Jacob, just going off of what we can see, we are going to be filled with anxiety  and hopelessness. But if we look at our discouraging situation with eyes of faith, looking instead at God’s encouraging promises, we will be filled with hope and peace.

So what can we do to rest in God's promises and avoid feeling like everything is against us? 

Two Bible verses come to mind: 

·     2 Corinthians 10:5, which instructs us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

·     Romans 12:2 which urges us, “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.”

First lets talk about what it means to take every thought captive.



 Taking Every Thought Captive: So Simple and So Beneficial!

When my daughter was a toddler, anytime she was struggling to do something we’d cheer her on with Philippians 4:13, encouraging her, “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!”

One time when she was three, and learning to tie her shoes it just wasn’t happening for her. She sat there trying and trying. Finally after many frustrating attempts she fumed, “Ugh! I’ll never be able to tie my shoes!” Then a second later she beamed, like a brilliant idea had come to her, “I know! I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!” And with that awesome truth still fresh in her mind, she successfully tied her shoe and finally got the hang of it.

Whenever we are frustrated, afraid, discouraged, etc. we can take those thoughts captive and turn our mind back to what God’s Word says about our situation, or promises regardless of our situation.

Do you have a go to list of encouraging Bible verses that always snap you out of feeling fearful, feeling bitter, feeling hopeless, or feeling jealous? Do you have verses at the ready whenever feelings of frustration, fear, discouragement, etc. are distracting you from the truth of Scripture and trusting in Jesus as your All in all? Having your go to verses on hand that redirect your focus back to the Lord, despite how you’re feeling, is always a blessing.

Write those verses down, or print them out, and put them where you are sure to see them and be encouraged. Maybe posted in the bathroom, near your kitchen stove or sink, on your phone’s lock screen, on your desk or on the dashboard in your car (to read at red lights) or while stuck in traffic. I encourage you to think on those extra special verses so many times that over time, you end up memorizing them without even trying.

Here are just three verses that always can snap me out of  thoughts that aren’t pleasing to the Lord, and turn my focus back to Jesus.

* For my marriage, my go to verse to redirect my focus back to Jesus is Romans 12:10, “Outdo one another in showing honor.” (ESV)  When my husband and I are getting on each other’s nerves, in our flesh, we can easily outdo one another during an argument.  So I really love how the ESV words Romans 12:10, “Outdo one another in showing honor.”  To honor our husband, simply means to treat him in a way that makes him feel special.  It could be as small as giving our undivided attention while listening or something bigger like making a favorite meal of his that is usually only made on special occasions because it’s not quick to prepare.

* When I feel overwhelmed and like some trial is never going to end, my go to verse for joy is Psalm 34:19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” That verse reminds me every trial we face, comes with a God-ordained expiration date and knowing that makes me very happy!

*When I feel like if only my husband were healed, we could do so many good things that his health currently prevents, like going to church together, going to a restaurant or the movies together, taking a family vacation, getting a pet, etc. the verse that snaps me out of the “if only’s” is Psalm 84:11, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” 


This verse so encourages me that God is not withholding any good thing from us. As we continue to remain in His Word, remain in prayer, remain walking with Him, and remain in fellowship with Him and other believers, I can rest assured that God is not withholding any good thing from us, and if those things that I want were truly God’s best for us, He would not hesitate to give them to us. So I can have complete peace that the way life is right now is God’s best for us in that we are right where God wants us to be for Him to bring about the most good in us as individuals and us as a family.

It’s so important we take every thought captive that doesn’t honor God, stop it in its tracks and get our mind back on track by turning to God’s Word for encouragement, wisdom, and direction. Consider these people in the Bible who would have spared themselves a lot of suffering had they simply took their fleshly thoughts captive and renewed their mind with what they new to be true of God.

·     What if Joseph’s brothers had taken their thoughts captive when they had the idea to sell Joseph into slavery? They wouldn’t have broken their father’s heart by telling him Joseph was dead. Nor would they have experienced the ongoing guilt and regret from selling Joseph into slavery. And they wouldn’t have felt dread wondering if Joseph was going to take revenge after he revealed he was their brother—and again, after their dad died.

·     What if King Saul stopped his jealous thoughts about David instead of being consumed by his insane jealousy?

·     What if the 10 spies that returned, with Joshua and Caleb, from spying out the Promised Land, took their fearful thoughts captive instead of striking fear in the dread throughout the whole congregation because of their bad report? They would have been able to enter the Promised Land and not had to wander in the wilderness for forty years and die in the desert.

What we think about truly affects what we feel, say, and do.
David Guzik teaches, “When we start to think in a carnal way, we must stop our thoughts, take dominion over them in Jesus, and not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2

Now that we’ve looked at what it means to take every thought captive in 2 Corinthians 10:5, lets finish by looking at the other verse, Romans 12:2, and see what it means to be transformed by the renewing of your mind Romans 12:2 declares,  “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.”



So what does it mean to renew our mind?

 The Greek word for renew in Romans 12:2 means a complete change for the better. Another word for renew would be renovation. A TV show or magazine may feature a home renovation showing you the impressive before and after pictures. 

By taking any thoughts captive that don’t honor the Lord and renewing our mind with the truth of Scripture, we are able to stop any negative thoughts in their tracks and to completely change our thoughts for the better, by setting our mind on the truth of God’s Word and how we can apply it.

 The Glorious Transformation By Renewing Your Mind

This transformation by the renewing of one’s mind is illustrated in Psalm 1,

The first verse shows the foolishness that the blessed man does not spend his time doing. “Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;”

The second verse show what the blessed man spends his time doing instead. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.”

Spurgeon describes the character of this blessed man who meditates on God’s Word day and night:

"And now mark his positive character. "His delight is in the law of the Lord." He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and he delights to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read it by day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids, he museth upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of his affliction he comforts himself with promises out of the same book. "The law of the Lord" is the daily bread of the true believer." He loves God’s Word so much that diligently searches the Scriptures like the Bereans. To him, God’s Word is “the man of his right hand, his best companion, and hourly guide."
Finally Psalm 1:3 shows the transformation that happens in the life of the believer who sets his mind on God’s Word,

“He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.”


This is exactly how our life can look when we stop any thoughts that don’t honor God and redirect our mind to God’s Word. As we get into the habits of taking every thought captive and renewing our mind with God’s Word, our life will be a beautiful picture of trusting in the Lord and we will indeed be blessed. 
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