This past weekend I had the privilege of leading two break-out sessions at Arkansas Baptist Women’s Inspire Conference. What a blessing it was to see about 900 women from all over Arkansas gather together to receive encouragement, correction, refreshment, and learn to fall more in love with Jesus.
The session I led was called Changing Your Mind: How to Radiate Joy. By God’s grace and a few women willing to sit on the floor, I spoke to about 275 women total. We discussed what joy really is and how our thought life can either cloud the joy we have in God our help us keep our eyes focused on God.
Today I want to share a bit more about the battle we enter with God when we choose to wrestle our thoughts into obedience with God.
The following verse was written by Paul to the Corinthian church. He knows about some poor behavior in the church and he doesn’t want to have to confront it in person. He begins by reminding the church that though we walk in the flesh we wage war with weapons of divine power. Then he says:
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV
These are fighting words. It takes work to destroy arguments and opinions. And to take something captive so it will obey Christ? That is some serious wrestling. The problem is that we rarely pay attention to what we are thinking. There is a tape running in our heads. One that is fed by what we look at, what we read, what we listen to, what we watch. And this tape of thought is often filled with lies and half-truths. Good-sounding wisdom from the world like “follow your heart” or “believe in yourself.” When God wants us to follow His voice and believe in Him! Our thoughts tell us that if only we had the right job, relationship, car, purse, house, whatever that we would have joy. But David wrote in the Psalms:
You [LORD] make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 ESV
So we must do battle to bring our thoughts captive to Christ’s obedience; to remember that our fullest joy comes in God’s presence. Since His Spirit dwells in us, we should have no problem being in God’s presence!
So how do we do this battle?
We pray God helps us pay attention to our wandering mind.
We tell our thoughts the truth.
We remind ourselves that even when we cannot feel it God’s presence brings joy. We tell ourselves joy from anything else will not last.
We ask God to help us experience the joy of His presence.
By His power we can break away from the strongholds in our minds that keep us far from God and the joy of His presence.
So today take some time to evaluate you thoughts. Sift them through the truth of God’s Word, keep what is pure and holy, throw out what is rubbish, and begin to battle for the joy of the LORD!