Today we continue our series, “Progress On Purpose.” At the beginning of the year, I told you that God wants us to walk in “NEW LEVELS IN 2021!” I also told you that if we are going to do so, we must be intentional about our progress. So, to lay a strong foundation for the year, for the past four months, I taught you about “Leveling Up” in five areas:
As I am bringing the series to an end, I am providing a brief recap of each topic. Today we will go back and glean some nuggets about Leveling Up internally.
So what does this mean for you today? A few things.
1. Faith-based prayer is a major stress reliever.
(Phil 4:6,7 NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
One of our greatest stress-relieving tools is PRAYER! In Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, he teaches them about receiving and walking in the mind of Christ (2:5), about understanding the power we have in Christ (4:13), and the overwhelming joy that we can tap into by the power of the Holy Spirit (3:1 and 4:4). Sandwiched in all of this is Paul’s admonition against worry (or anxiety) and for prayer. If we don’t control our impulses to worry, stress (and getting ‘stressed-out’) is inevitable. Paul’s answer to worry is prayer. You can’t worry and trust God at the same time. Simply put, if you worry (you are stressed out), you don’t trust God.
Paul’s counsel was that we should take advantage of the direct access we have to the Father, in the name of Jesus, and take our issues to the Father in prayer. After we pray, if we truly believe the Father has heard us and that He will manifest His best in His timing, then we have no other option but to trust Him and walk in His peace. If we worry after we have prayed, it is an indictment against our faith. It means we did not believe or receive.
a) Take advantage of the direct access you have to the Father, in the name of His Son Jesus, through the vehicle of prayer. Once you pray, you must then decide between trust and worry (or stress).
b) If you believe the Father heard you in prayer and you have received (by faith) what God has already provided (by grace), then trust is your only answer. You must resist every temptation to cross over into doubt, worry, fear, or unbelief.
c) If you allow worry to creep into your heart, you must reject it quickly. Because if you don’t, it will overtake your heart and mind. Once that happens, you will find yourself stressed! And this is NOT God’s fault. It has everything to do with you ALLOWING yourself to be stressed.
d) Remember, God will allow whatever you allow. God will permit whatever you permit! So be careful what you allow/permit. In John 14, Jesus taught that we have to “allow” our hearts to be troubled. If we don’t allow it, we won’t have this issue.
*** You can have victory over stress!
2. Your thoughts control your life.
(Proverbs 4:23 ERV)
Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.
(2 Cor 10:3-5 KJV).
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) 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.”
Our minds are constantly flooded with thoughts from either (1) ourselves, (2) the adversary, or (3) God. We must learn to discern which thoughts are which so we can know which ones to receive and which ones to reject. This is critical because thoughts lead to actions. Every action, good or bad, starts with a thought. One quick way of knowing a thought did NOT come from God is when the thought is contrary to God’s Word. The Spirit of God will never lead you contrary to the Word of God.
There are three parts of you, just like there are three parts of God. God is Father, Son and Spirit. You are spirit, soul, and body. The day you gave your life to Jesus, your spirit was made new, but your soul and body were not. One day you will receive a glorified body. This means that your spirit WAS changed instantly, the moment of your conversion/salvation, your soul IS BEING changed progressively, as you read and apply the Word of God, and your body WILL BE changed eventually one day. That being the case, you don’t have to work on your spirit because it is already new. You can work on your body, but in the end, you are going to get a new one. So the singular focus of the Born-Again believer, from the moment of conversion to his/her eventual death, should be the transformation of his/her soul. Your soul is comprised of your mind, emotions, and will. Your soul contains the way you think, the way you feel, and the way you make decisions. The more you study, meditate/medicate and apply the Word of God, the more your soul is transformed (see Romans 12:2) to think and act like God in this world.
The more you learn the Word, the better you get to know God and His ways. Further, the more you learn the Word and you are transformed by it, the more your mind (the way you think), emotions (the way you feel), and will (the way you make decisions) align with God. Simply put, the more you become like the Word of God, the more you become like the God of the Word.
In John 15:7, Jesus explained that if you ever get to the point where God’s Word abides IN you, and you abide IN God, you can ask for whatever you want. Because at that point, what you want IS what God wants. Think about that for a minute. Jesus was saying that it is possible to renew your mind to the point where all your thoughts are in alignment with God’s thoughts. If you ever get to this point, you will be so in-synch with God that He will say, “Son/daughter, ask for whatever you want.” Why? Because God knows that you only want what He wants. This is what happens when we renew our minds (Rom 12:2).
*** If you want to LEVEL UP in 2021, you are going to have to LEVEL UP your thinking to think like God!
3. You don’t have a feelings problem, you have a thinking problem!
In this series, I dealt with the topic of depression. We discussed how uncontrolled thoughts can lead to uncontrolled feelings, and the results can be devastating. I hope this helps you understand the progressive picture Paul painted for us, one that goes from thoughts to images to strongholds. Along those lines, Let’s talk more about feelings. Feelings (or emotions) are great when they enhance your life, but if uncontrolled they can make life miserable.
The job of your feelings is to amplify your thoughts. I will use the praise-and-worship portion of a church service as an example. If you sit in an atmosphere where people are leading you to sing songs of praise, causing you to think about the goodness of God for 10-15 minutes, no matter how you felt when you came into the church, if you participate, you will begin to feel good. Then the praise-and-worship team might shift into singing songs about God Himself and how great He is. This may go on for another 10-15 minutes. By then you may find yourself lifting up your hands in the presence of the Lord. Finally, if the praise-and-worship team closes out the session with a few minutes of singing directly to God, with an outpour of love from your heart, even if you are not an overly emotional person, you may find yourself weeping or crying out in the presence of your God. You came in the church FEELING one way, but after 30-45 minutes of THINKING about God and His goodness, you FEEL completely different. Why? Because your feelings simply amplify your thoughts.
Now let’s take the opposite approach. Let’s say you had a great day and you are feeling pretty good. But you get home only to receive terrible news. The news is so bad that you FEEL like someone hit you in the gut. You take a seat and begin to nurse and rehearse the bad news over and over and over again in your mind. This goes on for 30 minutes. How do you think you are going to FEEL? Since you are meditating on BAD news, you are going to feel BAD. There is no mystery to it. But what if satan can get you to nurse and rehearse bad news for hours, or days, or weeks? That’s how believers delve into depression. Their mind is fixed on bad news. Therefore, they FEEL terrible. A doctor can give you pills to numb your feelings, but you don’t have a “feelings” problem. Your feelings are working. Your feelings are amplifying your thoughts. You actually have a THINKING problem and pills to numb your feelings will never deal with the root issue.
a) A person with uncontrolled feelings is actually a person with uncontrolled thoughts.
b) Your mind is the control center of your life. If can control the way you think, you will be in control of the way you live.
c) The wisest man in the Bible said, “Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.” (Prov 4:23).
d) God has given you the grace to take control of every thought, because He wants you to take control of the life He has given you.
e) It’s your mind, and it will focus on whatever you make it focus on.
f) Feelings will amplify your thoughts. So if you don’t control bad thoughts will not be able to stop feeling bad.
g) Successful people have a disciplined thought life. They tap into the grace to focus their mind on divine purpose.
h) Your spirit is the real you. You are a spirit, you possess a soul — which is where your mind, emotions and will reside — and your spirit and soul live in a physical body (for now). Your spirit (the real you) can tell your mind what to think, your feelings how to feel, and your will what to choose!
4. You can have JOY and PEACE in believing!
(Rom 15:13 NASB)
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
a) While God can manifest a promise immediately, most of the time He does not. This causes a space between the promise and the performance. This space, the space between God saying it and you receiving it, between your confession and the completion, between “amen” and “there it is” it is very critical space. What you do while you wait can determine how long you wait and more importantly, whether or not your prayer will ever come to pass.
b) I encounter believers all the time who are concerned with whether or not God heard their prayer. Their concern often turns to worry, their worry gives birth to doubt, their worry and doubt manifest into fear, and eventually, their fear suffocates their faith. They allowed satan to cause a faith-failure in their lives. Please do not allow your faith to fail. Maintaining joy and peace while you wait on God will help you wait for the long haul!
c) Don’t allow yourself to get frustrated while you wait on God. The definition of frustration is: “A feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.” This definition says it all. In the Body of Christ, I frequently run across people, good people, well-intentioned people, that fit this description to a tee. They are dissatisfied with the church, with God, with themselves, and with their walk. This dissatisfaction leads to worry and sometimes even depression. What has happened to them? Some way, somehow, they lost their hope. Frustration is the enemy of hope.
d) The definition for hope is: “The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to believe, desire, or trust; to feel that something desired may happen.” Hope is powerful. Hope is necessary. Hope is required for the believer. Now, you may be thinking, “But Rick, I thought faith is what is required or the believer, not hope.” Yes, but the reality is that if you lose your hope you will never get to faith. Faith adds substance to what you hope for (Heb 11:1). Faith puts the meat on the bones of hope. If you lose your hope you have forfeited your opportunity to exercise faith. I love the fact that Paul called God “the God of hope.” God wants you to believe! He wants you to dream big dreams and watch Him help you to bring them to pass!
e) God’s hope can cause you to hope against hope! Paul talked about Abraham and his ability to abound in hope, even when his circumstances were screaming for him to give up. “In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your seed be.” Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” (Romans 4:18-21). Not only was Abraham’s body seemingly dead, but so was Sarah’s womb. His equipment and what he was working with were both seemingly dead, his situation seemed hopeless, but he still believed. Guess what? He received!
I will close with a few thoughts about the importance of maintaining the sanctuary of your mind. This was not in the series, but I feel led to add it here.
— You can escape into the sanctuary of your mind.
— Your mind should be your refuge.
— When your mind (thought life) is healthy, you can escape the pressures of this world and spend time with God within the sanctum of your mind.
— When you are alone with God, in your thoughts, and you remove every limit this world ever placed on you (because of your background, skin color, socio-economic status, gender, etc.), God is free to paint the picture of His story for your life upon the canvas of your mind’s eye. Never lose this gift.
— Your mind is the one place left in this world that is completely private. It is a place between you and God. No one else knows what is going on in there until you open your mouth. So before you do, give God the time to allow His thoughts to incubate in your mind before you give birth to them through your mouth.
— Your legs will never take you where your mind has never been!
LEVEL UP Your mind!
Declaration of Faith:
Father, I thank You for ministering to me the way You do. I am at the point in my life where I believe in my God. I live by faith. So much so that fear, anxiety, and unbelief have no power over me. I am never hopeless because I am never helpless! I am able to hope against hope. It does not matter how dead my situation may seem to others; I believe in a God who gives life to dead stuff! I have great expectations. I have joy and peace in believing. I abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. And my mind is my sanctuary. I spent time alone with You Father, in my mind, and in my heart. In those moments, You paint the picture of YOUR BEST FOR ME upon the canvas of my mind’s eye. I see it. I believe it. I meditate and medicate on it. I allow that picture to incubate before I ever speak one word about it. By LEVELING UP my mind, I LEVEL UP my life! GREATER IS COMING FOR ME! I declare this by faith, in Jesus’s name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word. Apply it and prosper!