The Captivity of our Thoughts

Picture1

There are many things that battle for our attention. The culture has been built in such a way to try and capture our imagination. In America today the attention span of us is pretty short. Thoughts creep in without us even knowing from whence they came. Now with video chat, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, books, blogs, etc. is it any wonder that everything is built for soundbites and quotes. How can we ever bring it down where our thoughts are ours again? Have you ever had thoughts that you wish you hadn’t? Thoughts that you have had that would bring dishonor to God or your family. If you are like most of us you would have to say an emphatic “yes” to that last question. But what can we do with so much of our culture and technology driven to mould our thoughts almost daily. The Bible tells how to handle those thoughts that would derail our relationship with God and those around us we care about. Here is what it says:

2Co 10:3-5 KJV 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 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;

In this passage of God’s word we see the Apostle Paul writing to a church where in the affluent city of Corinth the senses of its population are on overload. In Corinth the glistening temple of Diana was a sight to behold and immense market, there were so many distractions to occupy the mind. Paul is reminding the believers at Corinth that they must take back the control over there thought and bring them under the control of Christ. In order to bring our thoughts under the “obedience of Christ” takes a considerable effort on our part, but it is possible.

In this world where every system seeks to bring us so much that is contrary to Christ, we need to bring it through the filter of scripture, bring every thought under the “obedience of Christ”.

Have a great day! Remember to stay positive and stay in the Word!

The Positive Pastor

Finding Peace in the Tumult

inner-peace

Eph 2:12-16 KJV 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

So many time life catches up with us and chaos ensues. Many struggle with the life we have been given. By no means will I ever say life will be perfect. Life because of the fall in Adam has been made hard, full of work, sweat and toil. The question comes, “what must I do to find peace in the tumult?” Well, we must find a starting point, that’s the easy part. We must start by fixing the only relationship that will matter in eternity. Our relationship with God must be the first to come to peace. The Bible declares that we are at war with God. Let me explain. Sin by definition is the “transgression of the law”(1John 3:4) But “who’s” law? God’s law of course. We have transgressed by our very nature, we are set at odds with Him. Now I know what you are thinking. How have I come to be at odds with with God? Why is God mad at me? That’s just it. Our sin against Him is innate, we are born with it. I know it doesn’t seem fair that we by our very birth nature are automatically set against God. But you are ahead of most. Most people have not recognized our sinful state. Here is what scripture says;

Rom 3:20-23 KJV 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Rom 5:12-14 KJV 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

So now what how do we fix this the most important relationship and find peace. Good question! because God knew that we would be born withthe nature of sin from our forefather Adam, He made a plan. A plan that would redeem us back from our sinful nature and replace it with a new nature, found in His righteousness. The way to this restoration is the same way you would approach someone you have offended. It starts with humility understanding that you have offended the God of th universe. And in that understanding become penitent, and ultimately repentant, confessing your sins before Him. (He already knows anyway) Then asking him to forgive them.(scripture) He promises that if you will ask, He will forgive. And when you have been justified by God it is forever because of His eternal nature. It is here that peace with God begins because the relationship has been restored. However this forgiveness came at a premium God’s own Son sacrificed himself to pay for your sin(s) and sin nature, so that you could be redeemed and restored. Thus peace with God is restored because His wrath with your sins has been satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus. Glory to God! He has set us free from the bondage of sin and made us justified towards Himself. Peace!

Rom 3:24-26 KJV 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

From here once this relationship has been re-established then we can begin to establish peace in our relationships around us. The best peace is not in the environment around us but in the relationships that we have. Circumstances and environments change, but relationships we have should be the place of peace for us. Be at peace with God first and let that be your guide for peace in the tumult around you.

Stay Positive and stay in the Word!

The Positive Pastor

Our Glorius Confidence

 

 

Confidence2Ti 1:12 KJV For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

There are so many things in this life I am confident in. I have confidence in the sunrise, in the beauty of all of creation. I have confidence in my family (even though they sometimes make me crazy). But, we understand that confidence comes through experience. We must experience the things of life to build the confidence. Although sometimes we may gain confidence through the experience of others. Experience by proxy is more difficult to accept. As we gain the experience, the muscle of confidence is exercised. It is the same with faith. I once read a commentary by William McDonald that explained faith this way. He said, “Faith is confidence in the trustworthiness of God.” What I found in that statement was profound. No longer was faith a mystery. No longer was it blind. Faith had become the easy step, the next step. I looked into the Word of God and saw it. The experience of the past Saints. I looked into the lives of those around me and it was there. God was and is working all around me to show me He is worthy of my confidence. But that took some doing. Like most people my past was difficult. Trust came at a premium. But it did come. The more I looked into the Word of God, the more abundant evidence of His trustworthiness was unveiled to me. Listen to the Word from 1Pe 3:12 KJV “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”

If you have trouble trusting in and having confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ, I implore to look again at the providence of the world around you. Whether that be the creation in the world or the lives of those around you. Don’t place your trust in man, but place your trust in the God who created and is moving in the world around you. Have confidence in Him alone.

Stay Positive and Stay in the Word!

The Positive Pastor

Love in the Abstract

Love

When hearing the word love, what comes to mind? A person? A feeling?  A place? Whatever it is you think of that word draws you to it. But our modern ideas of love are skewed. We have all heard the phrase, “I love that”. But do we really in the fullest sense of the word, “love that”. Philosophers, poets’ writers, and some scholars write about its beauty, its tenderness, its passion, but really what is love and where did it come from? Most people really don’t have a firm grasp on that, they “love” in the abstract.

If we are to understand “love” we should begin with a definition. However, love in the English language is difficult because it can mean so many different things. We should take a lesson from the Greek language they have several different words fort the different kinds of love they knew of. For instance, when someone has a physiological response to another person we call it “love” but the Greek language would call it “eros” in our modern vernacular we would call that “lust”. It is that kind of “love that draws us to someone with whom we are attracted to. Then there is the kind of “love” we have for those who are family. The Greek language calls it “phileo” (fil-a-o) This is the kind of “love reserved only for those with whom we share various parts of life close to us. There is a third word for “love” in the Greek language for “love”. It is a special word, “agape” (uh-gaup-a). Now my Greek critics are going to say that that word is not really in the Greek language in its classic or modern forms and you would be correct. It is only found in the Greek texts of the New Testament.

However, the Koine Greek of the New Testament uses it in reference to a love that has no limitations or hang-ups. It is a “love” that can only come from the infinite God. It is a “love” that abounds towards its object unconditionally. No human is capable apart from God to love in this manner. In fact, even the scripture tells us that only God has it and only God can give it away. We can only imitate. We attempt unconditional love, but we are limited by emotional constructs, by time and space, and even our own egos. It is this intense “love” that was passed from God to us that we attempt to emulate in our lives and those around us. That is why it is written about and longed after. The problem is we in our limitations do not seek it properly. We look for it in people and things so that we might satiate the longing of our hearts. We should look to the Author of “love”, the one who made us, God. The scripture describes that unconditional “love”.

Romans 5:1-8  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:  (2)  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  (3)  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;  (4)  And patience, experience; and experience, hope:  (5)  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.  (6)  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  (7)  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  (8)  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:7-11  Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  (8)  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.  (9)  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  (10)  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  (11)  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

1 Timothy 2:3-6  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;  (4)  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  (5)  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;  (6)  Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

Can you hear it and almost feel it from the scripture? It is there waiting on you. Waiting for you to accept it. To take hold of and let it wash over you. Will you let God “love” you with His love?

Stay positive! Stay in the Word! The Positive Pastor

Dealing with Disappointments

sad man on a mountain

There are days when hard things happen. When life shows up and says, “not today”. How do you deal with those first world problems that seem to show up when everything else seems normal and puts a damper on your day. I remember one day a few years ago when I was going through a particular rough patch while pastoring one of the Lord’s churches. I came home after a particularly bad day where everything that could go wrong, did. I walked in the door to talk with my wife about it, and she was playing the piano and singing the song, “count your blessings”. You know at that moment I didn’t want to “count my blessings” nor did I want to “name them one by one”. I wanted to vent my frustrations to my wife and whine about how hard of a day I had had. However I did stop and count my blessings and remembered how that the Lord had blessed me with a great family and ministry and breath and … (etc.) You get the idea. Sometimes stopping and recounting the blessings from the hand of God maybe the one thing that gets you back on track. Remember God and His care for you and you can deal with those daily disappointments. Here is some scripture to help.

Hebrews 4:14-16  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  (15)  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  (16)  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Remember to stay in the Word and stay positive!

God Bless, Th Positive Pastor

Life as we know it…

woman by ocean

There are times when life jumps up and bites you, and everything changes. I mean everything. What do you do when a layoff happens and there is no money put back? When a tragedy strikes? How do you cope? Is it possible to adapt?

The answer lies closer than you think. The Word of God tells us that nothing surprises God. You can never catch Him off guard. When life is dishing out surprise after surprise and life get chaotic and hard, God is already at work in the believers life. When it seems that He is not working, we find He has never stopped working on our behalf. He always has the believers best interest at heart. Lets look at some encouraging Word.

Romans 8:31-39  “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?  (32)  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?  (33)  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.  (34)  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.  (35)  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  (36)  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  (37)  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  (38)  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  (39)  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In this passage there are so many good things for believer. Lets dig out just a couple. First verse 31 should give us the most hope. God is on our side. Even when the struggles of this life come, He is there for us. Turn to Him now and trust Him like you have in the past. Second, The bible tells us as believers that we are “more than conquerors” through Christ. We live from victory unto victory.

Stay encouraged in the Word.

The Positive Pastor

Pushing back against unhappiness

stop-being-unhappy

Sometimes this fallen world we live in makes us “unhappy”. Notice the choice of words, “unhappy”, not “depressed”, or “joylessness”. There is a difference, we may need a refresher on our words. Let’s begin with “joy”. Joy is not found in the circumstances that we are mired in. Joy is found at the level of the soul. It is found, for those of us who believe, in the person of the Lord Jesus. Next, “depression” should be understood in the clinical sense and not in feelings. Depression is an ongoing psychosis in which needs specific treatment, with therapy.

However, “unhappiness” is all about circumstance. We are constantly having our circumstances change. This is where we as believers have an opportunity to shine and show forth the Lord in our lives. In the book of Acts we see believers under great persecution. It is here where the rest of the world looks in to the church to see what we are made of. They need to see us strong in the face of circumstances that they would be overwhelmed by. It used to be that the world looked to the church as a pillar of grace and truth. In the last few years the church has fallen for the idea that we should claim victim status when we have trouble. The world needs to see us, not as the victim, but as the victor. We have overcome the world by the blood of the Lamb. It is high time we remember the calling by which you have been called. We must push back against the urge to be “unhappy” with our circumstances.

Scripture tells us this in 1 John 5:4, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

God Bless and Stay Positive!

Having a pattern of patience

Patience is probably one of the hardest things to talk about. It is because when you are having to be patient and wait upon the Lord it is out of your control or influence. For most patience is the battle for self. My grandfather was not patient, he expected results now, but he was a doer. I have learned over the years that the Lord is faithful, that allows me to have patience but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Like a child who is fiercely independent and says, ” I can do it on my own” but realizes that they really can’t, we struggle against the helplessness. Thankfully the Lord is longsuffering with our independence and stubbornness.

The bible says, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Paul writing to young Timothy reminding him that as God shows his patience towards us so that we should let others see that pattern of patience in us. May all of us who struggle in waiting on the Lord learn the lesson of longsuffering as our Lord was patient with us let us be patient.

The High Cost of Negativity

In the world today negativity and skepticism seems to pervade our culture. Everything and everyone seems to have something negative to say. The old adage said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. That’s all well and good, but it seems that we have forgotten where that came from.

The scripture tells that “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”(Matthew 7:12)

Negativity when it reveals itself is actually a condition of the heart that is made manifest by the mouth. It is here we can learn from the scripture in Matthew that says,

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man:”
(Matthew 15:18-20)

We as a people have to come back to a civil tone with regard to the feelings of others. If we get our hearts right with God, then we can get our relationships right with man. Our negativity or lack of it can determine the outcome of those relationships. Remember to stay “positive” with the Word.

A Tough Week?

Sometimes life just “happens”. This last week my position was eliminated. I was discouraged and disheartened. However, I noticed in my area there were a lot of people who were going through the same emotions as  I was. So, I sat down at my desk and as I was waiting for my dreaded meeting, I began to reach out first to those who were being displaced to give encouragement. Then I realized there are those who are left in the aftermath of the turmoil who are just as discouraged and sad. I got up and began to go to those who would make it through the elimination, but would lose friends and coworkers. They needed to know that it would be alright, that things would become normal again. They needed to know God was still on His throne and still in control. The things happening all around them were no surprise to Him.There is a scripture that came to mind,

Daniel 2:21  And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:.

There will be times when life hands you set backs and you will have a choice: be bitter or be better. Which will you be?