What are you thinking about?

Written by: Tim Wood

A number of years ago the National Science Foundations did a study and estimated that our brains process between 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day. I suppose a deep thinker would have more thoughts. NSF research showed that many of the thoughts people have are repetitive. Think about that. If we repeatedly have negative thoughts we can expect a negative outcome. The opposite would be true as well. If I can repeatedly think positive thoughts I can expect a positive outcome.  

The bible says the following about our thinking, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8 ESV).

Another translation puts it this way: "Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse" (THE MESSAGE).

The mind cannot be entirely at rest. It is not a blank. The corollary is that you cannot think two thoughts at the same time. What happens if you try to do this? We become anxious. Anxiety is the experience of being pulled in two directions – toward bad thinking and good thinking. And what is the result of this divided thinking? You become paralyzed (so to speak) by your anxiety. So, Paul gives us an exhortation to think about positive things. Think about Jesus Christ. Think about his Word.

Jesus is truth, he is honorable, he is just, he is pure, he is lovely, he is excellent and worthy of praise! As soon as negative thoughts enter your mind, focus your thoughts on Christ.

Mark Twain wrote, “What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those other things, are his history.”  What will you think about today?

Four Principles to Spiritual Warfare

Written by: Tim Wood

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11)

 I believe there are four important principles to remember as we engage in spiritual warfare.

 Principle #1 – Know the enemy.

Our enemy is not each other. It’s not “flesh and blood”. Our enemy is the devil. His motive is to deceive us. To steal from us. To kill us. (John 10:10). When you’re being attacked, it’s proof that you’re a believer. The more you make an impact for God, the more the Devil is going to fight you. You never outgrow it; it just gets more intense.

Principle #2 – Acknowledge the battle is won.

We stand against the schemes of the devil. We battle from the platform of victory. We don’t battle for victory.  Jesus Christ has already won the victory. He has already taken all the ground. We stand on his victory. We stand on his accomplishments.

 Principle #3 – Exercise your faith.

We are to put on the whole armor of God.  To put on is an act of faith. It’s obedience. As we put on this armor, we are actually rehearsing the Gospel in our minds. As the hymn says, “put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer” (Stand up, Stand up for Jesus).  Often times I will pray, “Lord, I put on your helmet of salvation. Protect my mind from thoughts that the Devil would want me to dwell on. Sift my thoughts by the blood of Jesus.”  That kind of faith works.

 Principle #4 – Claim your victory.

If God’s word says we are able to stand, then we are able to stand. Your victory in spiritual warfare must rest on the reality that God has given you everything that you need to live in light of the truth of His victory in order to experience and become all that God has created you to be. But God will not dress you in the weapons of warfare. You are going to have to put on the Armor of God yourself – everyday – in order to experience the victory that is yours.

 

10 Signs of spiritual attack

Written by: Tim Wood

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Spiritual warfare is more common than you think. We tend to think of demonic oppression as wild and crazy things happening in our life (movies do not always take a Biblical approach to spiritual attacks). But actually, the reality of spiritual warfare in our lives is a daily experience. This list is not exhaustive, but it will show you how the enemy attacks.

1.     Feeling discouraged, defeated, and depressed. Things seem hopeless, overwhelming, and burdensome. You feel an overall sense of disappointment. Struggle with a lack of peace and feeling stress. Feel like giving up.

2.     Loss of spiritual desire. Difficulty with prayer life, staying connected to other Christians, and maintaining your ministry or work with God.

3.     Physical fatigue and/or malaise. Feeling drained and lacking energy. No motivation.

4.     Doubting God’s goodness. Struggling with trusting God to come through for you. You may even feel anger towards God for “letting you down.” Believing that God is mad at you and punishing you.

5.     Negative, disturbing thought life. The enemy attacks your mind, and the mind is the battlefield. You may be wrestling with anxious, fearful, or worrisome thoughts. Many times people will erroneously think that nobody cares about them.

6.     Thinking about going back to your old lifestyle. The enemy places thoughts in your mind about going back toward your old life rather that moving forward with faith in God. He will lie to you and tempt you with the very things you have been delivered from.

7.     Old emotional wounds from the past are resurfaced. You believed you had dealt with that area of pain in your life, only to find out it is cropping up again in your life.

8.     Battling with feelings of guilt, condemnation, and shame. The difficult feeling like you are not good enough, that you do not do enough, and feel shameful for these things.

9.     Feelings of rejection, belonging and loneliness seem to be heightened. You feel no one truly understands you, and do not feel like you belong anywhere.

10.  Confusion over what you believe.  Is Jesus really for me? Is Jesus the only way? These and other confusing thoughts are spiritual attacks.

If you feel you are under spiritual attack, do not give up! Attacks will come, but know God is fighting for you, and it shall pass. Do not give into what the enemy shows or tells you, he is a master of magnification and illusion. Even if your life seems out of control or that darkness is sitting upon it-Hold on, help is on the way! Through Jesus Christ we have the power and authority to bind the enemy from operating in our lives. Put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). I will be preaching on this text for the next 8 weeks and I am praying that you will experience victory in Jesus Christ.

How much does Jesus love me?

Written by: Tim Wood

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.   (John 15:9-17 ESV).

Jesus loves us as much as the Father loves him. This blows my mind. The same measureless, bottomless, fathomless ocean of love that Jesus experienced from the Heavenly Father is what we should experience from Him. And he tells us to abide in that love. Live in it. Remain in it. Think about it often.  Take joy in it. Walk in victory because of it. This unbelievable and unconditional love has a pass along effect.  In verse 12, we should love one another as Jesus loves us.  His love is the basis for us loving one another.

How much does Jesus love me? Let me count the ways:

  1. Jesus loves us with the same intensity that the Father loves him.
  2. Jesus’ love for me is the foundation of full joy in my life.
  3. Jesus loves me so much he calls me his friend.
  4. Jesus loves me so much that he gives to me inside information from the Heavenly Father.
  5. Jesus loves me so much that he chooses me and appoints me to bear fruit.
  6. Jesus loves me so much he listens to my prayers and answers.
  7. Jesus loves me so I can love you.

Persistence pays off

Written by: Tim Wood

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up (2 Cor. 4:1) We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. (2 Cor. 4:8-9) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day (2Cor. 4:16).

Thomas Edison persisted. The father of invention failed more than he succeeded but he never gave up. As a result, Edison gave the world electric light, microphones, storage batteries, sound films, phonographs, and a thousand other inventions. Here are the principles he lived by: (1) Work to obtain all the knowledge you can about what you want to achieve. (2) Fix your mind on your purpose. Persist! Seek! The trouble with most people is they quit before they start. (3) Keep searching, no matter how many times you meet with disappointment. (4) Refuse to be influenced by the fact that someone else tried the same thing and failed. (5) Stay “sold” on the idea that somewhere a solution to the problem exists, and you’ll find it. 

Nehemiah is an example of persistence. Faced with the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and tons of opposition, he accomplished the task in fifty-two days. The Bible tells us how he persisted. First, he sought God’s help. “We prayed to our God” (Neh. 4:9 NIV). Second, he protected his vision. “We…posted a guard day and night to meet this threat” (v. 9 NIV). Third, he refused to quit. “Should a man like me run away? I will not” (Ne 6:11 NIV).  Great principles to live by: pray, protect your vision and refuse to quit. In spite of the obstacles, the enemy, and the pressure—Nehemiah refused to give up. And God honors people with such a spirit.  We will face opposition but don’t ever give up. Persist. Because God has extended his mercy to us and given us a new way to live based on his complete forgiveness. Because God will never abandon us. Even in the midst of pressing times he is with us. Finally, because God is renewing us day by day.  God honors people who faithfully persist!