Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Missing the Music {Keeping a Record of Wrong Thoughts}

"Love is patient.  Love is kind.It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."  1 Cor 13:4-5 (emphasis added)

Every other Monday, I help lead a women's Bible study group at my church home.  The past few months, we have been dissecting 1 Corinthians 13 ("the love passage").  The study is "Freedom is God's Love".

A couple weeks ago, my friend, Kerri Sagraves, wrote and taught a lesson on how love keeps no record of wrongs.

When reading this passage in the past, I always thought of love keeping no record of wrongs as not holding onto grievances against others and forgiving those who have wronged you.  This is truth and should be applied from this scripture.  However, the Lord showed me something new a couple weeks ago while studying this passage.

The past month has been stressful.  Nothing beyond typical everyday stresses with work and life, but it seemed to overwhelm me.  Anxiety pushed at my door and began to seep in.  Anxious thoughts consumed me as fear gripped tight on the recesses of my mind.  There were moments I felt paralyzed by this fear.  I am not one to usually feel anxious or fearful.  Therefore,  this new overwhelming sense of feeling stuck intensified the fear.   All what was wrong kept playing over and over again in my mind.  Then the Lord intervened, pressing pause.

The pause began at a concert.  During the concert, instead of enjoying the music, my mind raced with thoughts of how I should have done this or should have said that.  Tormenting and torturing me with regret and fear.  Then the Lord spoke in his gentle and quiet way,

"Sue, you are missing the music...Your thoughts are drowning out the music causing you to miss what is beautiful."

His words woke me from my stupor and sobered my mind.  Yes, I was missing it.  I could choose my thoughts.  Of course, I know the importance of thoughts and choosing right thoughts and casting down wrong thoughts.  However, there are times when in the middle of a situation I am bombarded with wrong thoughts one after another like repeat fire.  Sometimes it can be days or weeks before I realize what has happened.  I'm sure I'm not alone.

At the concert, I quickly took my thoughts captive and made them obedience to Christ and enjoyed the rest of the show.

A few days later, I was at the Bible study on 1 Cor 13.  That night's talk was on "Love Keeps No Records of Wrongs."  While listening intently to the teaching, the Lord again spoke directly to my heart,

"Love keeps no record of wrongs.  You have been keeping a record of wrongs.  You need to keep a record of rights.  Keep a record of what is right in your life.  Keep a record of rights."

The "record" we play over and over again in our minds, can be a "record of wrongs" or a "record of rights."

We can choose positive thoughts.  We can cast down every imagination and pretense that sets itself against the knowledge of God and take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.  We can.

When we choose to keep a record of wrongs, we aren't loving ourselves.  Love keeps no record of wrongs.

What are some record of wrongs in your thought life?  Are wrong thoughts causing you to miss the music in your life?

If you are keeping a record of wrongs, how can you replace the wrong thought with a right thought based on God's truth?

Take captive your thoughts.  There may be some things wrong in your life, but there are right things. Choose to keep a record of rights.  Choose love.  He loves you.

Truth for Today:

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  2 Cor 10:5

[Love] keeps no record of wrongs."  1 Cor 13:5b

Monday, January 16, 2017

When Life Becomes Overcast and Windy

The past week or so, my heart has been downcast.  An unspoken sorrow.  Something was wrong, but the source was hidden.  Negative thoughts filled my mind and emotions ruled in an unkindly way. Friends prayed for me and the sadness lifted briefly but then like an unwanted visitor, returned and lingered.

Last night the Lord led me to Romans 12: 10-13...

"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another, not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality." (emphasis added)

Christianity 101 in short.  My eyes focused on "rejoicing in hope."  My faith is usually strong filled with optimism.  However, the past couple of weeks hope had been masked, hidden from my sight. Hope was replaced with heaviness, and my sunny view of life turned to overcast.

This morning, I read Jesus Calling (as I do most every day), and the verse on the page jumped off the paper into my heart causing it to start beating, bringing life. It was a verse I have read many times and know well.  However, today the verse seemed new and fresh.

"Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But, when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord save me!' " Matthew 14:29-30

Some background:  Last year (2016), the Lord gave me the words, "Step Out" as a word for the year.  It was indeed a year of stepping out and He did wonders over and over.  Like Peter, I experienced the miraculous of stepping out of the boat onto the water.

The word the Lord gave me for this year is "Move forward".  I think after Peter stepped out of the boat and began to move forward, he must have realized, "Oh my word! I'm getting farther from the boat!"  He began to think about what he was really doing. It does take great faith to step out of the boat, but to keep moving on the water takes even more faith.

As I read Matthew 14:29-30 this morning, the words, "when he saw the wind"  grasped my attention.

"When he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord save me!'"

What drew me to this was that he "saw" the wind.  We can't see wind.  We can feel wind and see the effects of the wind, but wind cannot actually be seen.  What Peter saw were the waves being caused by the wind.  The waves frightened him.

There are things I feel, but cannot actually see.  For example: When I feel stress, fear or discouragement, temptation comes to look around at my circumstances instead of fixing my eyes on the Source of faith.

Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked around him.  If Peter would have felt the wind, but kept his eyes on Jesus instead of the waves, he wouldn't have begun to sink.

Jesus knew it was windy.  He knew about the waves.  At any moment, He could have rebuked the wind and waves and made the water calm, still. Why didn't He?   Did Jesus leave the wind and waves to show Peter that He is always there and will hold him up even in the storm?  The wind and waves remained with purpose--to prove to Peter that Jesus will keep him and us up even in the storm.  When we move forward toward Him and His purpose, there will not always be calm waters, but as we focus our gaze on our God, we will not sink.  

What is your wind? It is easy to allow what we feel to affect our faith.   Focus on the one who can guide you through the waves.  If He has not rebuked the wind on your behalf, perhaps there is purpose in the wind.   He calls us out but He never said there wouldn't be any wind.  He only said to keep our eyes on Him and He will perfect our faith.  Moving forward takes faith.  Move forward with confidence toward our God and look to Him, the author and finisher of our faith.

Truth for Today:  Hebrews 12: 1b-2a  "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."  (emphasis added)