Our Thoughts Influence Our Faith

I have often hear Joyce Meyer say, “Think about  what you are thinking about.” That statement is more profound than most people realize because whether we know it or not, it is our thoughts that influence our faith and drive our actions. David said in Psalms 8, “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers- the moon and the stars you set in place- what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them..” David was the same individual who took down a giant, who had been trained in battle from his youth. While his fellow Israelite brothers, even King Saul himself ran in fear from Goliath, David trusted God. Until that time, David’s past as a shepherd consisted of years of alone time in worship before God. So when life circumstances presented an opportunity where others were thrown of kilter, David was able to stand his ground in complete trust and confidence regarding the God whom he had spent many years thinking about, loving, worshiping and learning to trust in.  When he came face to face with Goliath, it was the thoughts he had learned to think about God himself, and his situation that ultimately influenced his faith.

     So it was with  Abraham who against all hope believed in hope. He did not consider the decrepitness of his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about 100 years old, or the absolute deadness of Sarah’s womb. It goes on to say, that Abraham did not stagger drunkenly at the promise of God. Instead he grew strong in faith because he was convinced that what God had spoken he was truly able to perform. (Romans 4)

     In Hebrews 11, we get a glimpse of Sarah’s thought  process. It says,”Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.(King James Version)

     I love the way the KJV puts it. It says Sarah judged God faithful, fully believing that what he had spoken he was able to bring to pass. Her thoughts influenced her faith. Not her thoughts about herself, her situation, or even Abraham. It was her thoughts about God and his ability to work in her life that became a driving force for the faith she placed in God to accomplish what he had promised even though, humanly speaking, it was absolutely impossible.

      It is so easy to get caught up in our day to day circumstances. And it is even easier to allow the happenings in our everyday life to influence our thoughts, about ourselves, our situation, about others, even about God. But Paul exhorts us in the book of Philippians, ” “And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about the things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you have learned from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Phil. 4:8,9

    Far too often we struggle more than we should. Not because of our situation but as a result of what we are thinking about our situation. Our thoughts influence our faith. I realized something a few years back: I don’t have anything to lose by thinking positive thoughts, good thoughts, excellent thoughts. End the end, whether my situation changes or not, I am better and more healthy emotionally, physically, spiritually and psychologically. You may have a whirlwind going on around you but if you are genuinely at peace, where your thoughts are focused on who God is and his ability to see you through, there is nothing that can shake you.

     May the God of all peace strengthen you, bless you, and fill you with the assurance of his ever-abiding presence.

Recommended Readings for this week:

Romans chapter 4

Hebrews 11

Psalm 8

Philippians 4:8,9

It’s Still Life, But in a Different Context

       Today I was thinking about the book of Ruth and the lives of the courageous women for whom it is written. To give a little background in the story, Naomi, the older woman, had moved with her husband and two sons from Bethlehem in Judah to the country of Moab due an outbreak of a famine. While the family resided there, the couple’s two grown sons married women from Moab. The names of these two women were Ruth and Or-pah. At some point during their residency in that place, Elimelech, Naomi’s husband died. Then somewhere around a decade later, both her sons Mahlon and Kilion died also. As a result of this tragic circumstance, Naomi was left alone.

         Some time after that, Naomi heard that the famine had lifted in Judah, so she prepared to leave Moab with her two daughters-in-law, but they could hardly get going before Naomi changed her mind. Now instead of taking these two young ladies with her; she attempted to persuade them to return home to their families, their customs, their traditions and their gods. It took some time, but after a great deal of persuasion, her daughter-in-law Or-pah decided to heed the advice of her mother in-law and reluctantly return home to her family. But not Ruth. Not only would Ruth not budge, the Bible says, “she clung to Naomi.”

         Until that point in her life, Naomi had developed her life-outlook and sense of personal identity based on the immediate context of her life. By that I mean, in the context of marriage and motherhood. And it was life in that context that necessitated the development of the person she had become. After the death of her family however, things were not the same. For Naomi, this new way of life was difficult, uncomfortable and sad. The life in which she had found a sense of belonging,  her feeling of self- worth and usefulness, her value, in fact the very definition of who she was, no longer existed.

          In Ruth 1:11-13, we can see one of the impacts of this major life event in the life of Naomi as she is trying to get her daughters-in-law to see things her way.  She tells them, “Why should you go on with me?” Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters!”

          Something that stood out to me about this passage is the fact that when the context of Naomi’s life changed, when she no longer had all that gave meaning to  who she was, she felt as though she had nothing to offer. In her mind, she had given Ruth and Or-pah all she had to offer when she gave them her sons as husbands. But she had not. While I do not have time for sake of space to go into all the details leading up to both Naomi’s and Ruth’s redemption as a result of their relationship with one another, I will say this: what you and I have been through is not who we are. It is what we have been through. And what we have been through does not determine our self-worth, our value or even what we have to offer this world. God does. Who you are and who I am, our gifting, our talent, our make-up and our respective purpose was established by God. And no external happening in our lives can change that.

        If you were to read the book of Ruth, what you would find is that in the end, Naomi and Ruth did make it back to Bethlehem in Judah. Through Naomi’s wisdom, Ruth found love, peace and joy in the home of another husband, and Naomi became a grandmother. Contrary to her own belief, Naomi did have something to offer. She had wisdom. She found purpose late in her life because of the beautiful relationship she shared with her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Given that day and time, in most circumstances, the lives of these women would have all but ended with the death of their husbands, but that did not happen. Instead of allowing the circumstance they were facing destroy them, they grasped the opportunity it presented, they rose to the occasion and met it head on. As individuals, the changed, they grew and they developed.

          Adverse circumstances do not define who we are. What we have been through is simply that, what we have been through. It is not an indicator of who we are. God was able to work wonders in the lives of both Naomi and Ruth because these two women ultimately realized regardless of their circumstances, they were who they were as individuals, only in a different context. After nearly twenty-five years of marriage, I am facing divorce, and I am okay. What I have gained from this ordeal, what God has taught me about who he is, about his love for me and about who I am is not something I would trade anything in the world. Has separation and divorce been a life-changing experience? Without a doubt! But I am healing, I am growing, and I am free. It’s still me. It’s still my life, only in a different context.

Suggested Bible Readings: The book of Ruth, Romans 4:18-20 and Hebrews 11:11

Blessings and Peace,


Just Do It!

          In church yesterday, the message was entitled, Finding the Will of God.  The Scripture text was out of the book of Acts 16:6-38. The Pastor who spoke yesterday made some points that I want to share with you. First, don’t get frozen into doing nothing. There are times in each of our lives, sometimes seasons that are far too long, where we are ‘waiting on direction from God.’  We don’t move because we have not ‘heard’ God’s voice.  We wait and wait, often becoming bewildered, even frustrated. Yet the reality may be that we are not hearing God’s voice because we have failed to move. In the book of Acts chapter 16 when Paul went on second missionary journey, he knew God was leading him to preach the gospel to the gentiles. That being said, in his knowing, he did not sit around and wait for a map laid out from point A to point B. Instead, he began to move. The Scripture tells us that he and Silas “traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word of in the province of Asia.” (NLT) After they were prevented from carrying out their plan to preach in Asia, the Holy Spirit again stopped them from preaching in Bithynia. The emphasis here was that God’s specific will to Paul and Silas became clear only when they started to move. Paul knew God had a plan, and he knew God would speak. He did not get frozen into doing nothing because he did not have all the details of where he was supposed to go. Thus, the first point is just because you don’t have the big picture does not mean you should not move forward. Don’t get frozen into doing nothing just because you are not aware of all the answers.

         The second point was progress begins with faith. Simply put, because Paul believed, he went. We will never move forward in an area of life where we have no faith to do so. There are individuals who will spend their whole lives in one place, never accomplishing anything that is in their hearts. They will never live up to their full potential because they constantly allow fear and unbelief to dictate the possibilities of what could be. We can only make progress when we chose to believe more in God’s power than the circumstances of our lives.

         Third, Guidance comes when we move. As Paul and Silas stepped out, there were some closed doors. That is natural. Closed doors are a normal part of the journey. Paul and Silas tried to go into two different geographical regions based on what they thought. When they were not allowed to go into those regions, they did not sit around and beat themselves up. Instead, they moved on. The clarity came one night when Paul had a vision. In the vision, a man from Macedonia was crying out for him to come and help them. While neither the journey nor the destination was easy, in the end a young slave girl, a jailer and his family, and many others in that region came to know the Lord. Their lives were never the same. Guidance came as they moved.

        Finally, God will reveal all we need to know as we go, which may be the same thing as the above point, but it sounds nice. It was as Paul and Silas went that God revealed exactly what they needed to know and what they needed to do.  The Bible tells us that God will never leave us or forsake us. It also says, if we put our trust in God and not in our own understanding that he will direct our paths. Some of us have had dreams in our hearts for years, dreams that have be placed inside of us by God. Sadly, as time goes on, we sit and wonder why nothing has happened. We are waiting for that miraculous day when God will finally move. The problem comes when we fail to realize that God is waiting on us to take action in response to our faith.

      Remember, God will reveal all we need to know as we go. Guidance comes as we move. And true progress begins with faith. For some of us it is time to stop talking about it. Stop praying about it, stop sitting around, and thinking about it. Place your faith, your hope, your trust in God, and just do it.

 Have a blessed week,


This week’s Bible readings:

Proverbs 3:5-6

Acts 16

Hebrews 13:5


An Encounter with God’s Love

The Gospel of John 3:16 says, “ For God so loved loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ESV

      I cannot tell you how many years during my Christian journey I spent having only a knowledge of God’s love.  As a Bible Teacher, I had many opportunities to share the truth about God’s love. Even so, if I had been honest, I had the knowledge that God loved me, but not the experience. I knew I had eternal life and would one day be with him forever, but that was the extent of salvation as I had both known and experienced it to be. Constant struggle marked the majority of the years of my life as a Christian because in my life God’s love for me was based more on knowledge and information. Looking back, I can only describe these years as one beholding something from a distance. I knew of the reality of the love of God, but I had no deep encounter with it.

      So different was my life then, my knowledge about God and his love, it wasn’t my understanding about God’s love but my ultimate acquaintance with it that has changed my life forever. John 3:16 can be looked at with a two-fold purpose. The first part reveals the remedy for the devastation and brokenness that has plagued mankind since the fall of the first human beings, the second speaks of the eternal benefit of God’s provision, made possible only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To put it another way, in the first half of this verse we can clearly see that when our Heavenly Father considered what totality of solution could be provided for our injurious and estranged state (estranged not in essence or awareness but in relationship to him) he both knew and decided from eternity past to demonstrate extent of his love in the power and person of Jesus Christ. Simply put, the love of the Father demonstrated in Jesus Christ is the complete remedy for the ailments of mankind due to sin.

“For God loved the world (you and me) so much, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

    God gave his only son because his love alone has the power to change our condition. Even though there are countless examples from Scripture, one particular account comes to mind, the Gadarene Demoniac. The Bible states in Mark chapter 5, “They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes.[a] 2 And when Jesus[b] had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.

    Pain and torment had become the trademark of this man’s life. Driven by forces over which he had little control, self- destructive behavior threatened to end his life completely. No one understood him. And no one could help him.  When I think about this man in today’s society, surely he would find his sole existence in a padded room, heavily medicated. Yet Jesus, on the other side of the river, in a totally different place, was aware of this man’s condition, of his desire, and of his need. Which is why in the previous chapter, speaking in regard to the river, after teaching the Parable of the Sower, Jesus said, “Let us go to the other side.”

       The Bible tells us that when this man saw Jesus he ran and worshiped him. In that moment of worship, of embracing who Jesus is,  and the power and ultimate authority Jesus had to work in his life, this man was set free from that which bound him. When he could not come to Jesus, Jesus went to him. Here was a man whose life was  steeped in darkness,  yet Jesus invaded his world. And with the power of his love, he set him free.  This man was a contemporary of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The Bible does not tell us whether this man knew about Jesus during this time, the point is however, that Jesus in bodily form did exist in this man’s time but it was not until he had an encounter with Jesus that his life, his family and his region were forever changed. Whether he was aware of the existence of the Messiah or not, simply having knowledge of his existence would have done this man little good. He did not need information. He needed an encounter.

       Know today beloved, that no matter where you are, where you find yourself, what you are facing or going through, there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God. God is always loving you, always aware, always there, longing and waiting to permeate your life with the  healing and transforming power of his love. The Apostle Paul puts it this way in the book of Romans chapter 8, “38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The love God has for you and me is everlasting, enduring forever. It will never cease. We can resist it, or we can reject it, but we cannot change it.

      In an age of media and ever-advancing technology, in a generation where we have more information about  God’s love (through TV, books, CDs, DVDs and yes, blogs) than at any other point in history, we are more broken, more hurting, more desperate, more depressed and more in need of real answers to real problems. Yes. We know more about God and about his word. We are more informed about the sacrifice of Jesus and about his ability to change our lives. But the potential for God to transform our lives by the power of his love does not come from information alone. If we are ever to be truly made whole, we must have an encounter.