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How & Why the Joy of the Lord Strengthens Us

Is living the Christian life a joy-stealer for you? If so, something is wrong! As Christians we should experience enjoyment in our relationship with God as we walk through both the valleys and mountain top experiences of life. We can also have joy whether we are suffering as a  result from our own failures and sins or as a result of sins done against us.

Joy means delight. In Nehemiah 8:20 we read that the joy of the Lord is our strength. The narrative surrounding this verse tells us that the people were convicted of their sin while hearing the law read. They began to mourn and weep. Nehemiah tells them to stop weeping and to celebrate what the Lord has done for them, for within the law was the provision for their sin. He encouraged them to celebrate the provision God made for their sins, through sacrifices, and to be joyful about their redemption.

How many times do Christians today focus on their sin and their sorrow for it and its consequences instead of Christ and His provision? I am not suggesting that we don’t call our sin, sin. But once we have done that, we must turn our focus immediately to the provision God has made for it. Continued focus on one’s sin and keeping one’s mind in a state of sorrow for it only leads to feelings of guilt, depression, and hopelessness. And, it prevents that person from changing.

Just as Nehemiah told the Israelites to change their focus from the words of God concerning their sin to God’s provision for their sin, even more we as Christians are to do the same. It is by focusing on the Lord’s Glory that we are changed, not by thinking about our sin (2 Corinthians 3:18). Focusing on sin and sorrow, only keeps one in it. Scripture tells us to refocus and celebrate what Jesus has done for us! So, be joyful about your redemption! Not only has Jesus paid the legal debt required by God in order for you to receive forgiveness, but He made provision for your sin on a continual basis (1 John 1:9). As we stay our focus on Christ, He works in us breaking us free from the strangleholds that bind us. As we celebrate the Lord’s sacrifice for our sins, rejoicing and delighting in it, we are strengthened to live in the holy liberty Christ makes available to us. We have peace because we are forgiven and have a sure redemption in Christ and we are able to stop striving to be good, instead rest in Christ and allow Him to change us.worship_cross-e1279852598141

In addition to the joy we possess due to our clear conscience and celebration of Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are able to maintain joy in the midst of suffering. You see, the joy of the Lord that was set before Christ and gave Him strength to endure the suffering of the cross, was you and me, and our joy. Now we receive strength for our trials as we find our joy in Christ who is set before us and who Himself is our reward for any suffering we may endure, suffering that many times comes to us on our journey as Christians simply because we belong to Christ. Philippians 3:10-11 tells us that we can rejoice in our sufferings knowing that we are sharing in His sufferings, and as we share in His sufferings on earth, we will also share in His glory in eternity. We must remind ourselves that this life is temporary – like smoke, it vanishes away. But those who belong to Christ live with the eternal hope they have in Him – the promise of a glorious future without pain or suffering or end.  Luke 10:20: …rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

We have reason to celebrate God no matter what we experience in this life. And, as we rejoice in Him, recognizing Him as our forgiveness for sins – our salvation and our hope for all eternity, we are strengthened to overcome sin, and we are strengthened to persevere through suffering! It is our rejoicing, our delight, our joy and focus being on Christ as our provision for sin and hope for the future that strengthens us to walk through this life. So get your mind off of your sin and your circumstances and onto Christ and His provision and eternal hope. This focus is what brings to pass the reality of Nehemiah 8:20, the joy of the Lord is our strength.

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As a Butterfly Struggles to Emerge

This week while thinking about “change” in the mind and life of believers, and praying about what to write to you, I remembered a teaching I gave at a ladies tea in Ridgecrest, CA. As I shared there, I compared the new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) with the story of the butterfly.

You see, a caterpillar before its transformation into a butterfly, has no capacity for the light, fluttering, new-born movements made by a butterfly. It has no capacity for the delights experienced by a butterfly such as flying above the ground instead of crawling across it. It cannot even imagine it, let alone conceive it. The caterpillar must first be changed into a new creature – a butterfly.

As new creatures in Christ, there are a number of ways we could be likened to the caterpillar that was transformed into a butterfly. God changed us from creatures with sinful hearts to creatures with hearts that desire to please Him. Our old nature has passed away and all things are new (2 Cor 5:17). So, just as the caterpillar, now a butterfly, has a new life awaiting it, a new life awaits all who are new creations in Christ.

However, here is the deal. The butterfly must make the effort to embrace its new life by going through the struggle of eating its way out of the cocoon while pushing its wings A composit of various views of a monarch emerging from its chrysalis.against the sides of the cocoon. If it fails to do this, it will die inside the cocoon – yes, a caterpillar changed into a butterfly – but, without tasting the benefits and joys of its new life, and without fulfilling its destiny as a beautiful new creature. Does this ever happen? Yes, sometimes it happens. And, sometimes, as Christians, although we are new creations in Christ Jesus, we continue in our old life, failing to emerge just as the butterfly who fails to push its way out of that which is holding it back from experiencing what it was recreated for. We still see ourselves as sinners instead of seeing ourselves as over comers. We still think of ourselves as incapable instead of proclaiming, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). Although we are no longer in bondage to the old nature, we still choose to focus on our old life and live our lives as that old creature. Most times, I think we do this simply because it has become comfortable and easy to us even though it is not what is best for us. We continue to live as the old man because of habit, and, perhaps some continue in the old life because they have a lack of knowledge of who they really are in Christ.

Either way, to experience the purpose and the joy of the new life that awaits us, we must make some effort. We must open the Scriptures and replace the old way of thinking with a new way of thinking. We must find out who we are and renew our minds accordingly (Romans 12:2), if we are to push our way out of the old life that we have been freed from. For example, God says you are a world over comer (1 John 5:4) and a conqueror (Romans 8:37). He says you are seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6). He says you are established, anointed, and sealed by God (2 Cor 1:21,22). And, He says you are filled with the spirit of power, love, and a sound, disciplined mind. But, you may say you don’t feel like it; or you don’t see yourself this way. But listen, we cannot trust our own thoughts, emotions, or feelings as truth. Our only standard of truth is the Word of God! What does it say about you? Who does God call you? What does God say you have and what does He say you can do? Who does God say you are? Why listen to someone butterflyPicture1.1else including yourself when God is the one who has created you? Wouldn’t He know more about you since He made you?  Find out what God has to say and begin to act like you are who He says you are in the midst of your doubt.

It is sad that many Christians do not make the effort to discover and experience who they are in Christ. They continue acting like they are someone they are NOT and they miss out on the experience of living as the child of the King of the Universe. They continue to act like the old man/woman instead of who God has made them to be. To experience new life, we must learn to separate our actions from our identity. Put on the new identity and when we fail to act like who God says we are, we need to be careful not to mistake that unwanted action as who we really are. Robert McGee, author of In Search of Significance gives us a great example to help us understand this principle: A person loses their mind, gets down on their knees, and begins barking like a dog. Does that make this person a dog? No – of course not. Their actions are that of a dog; however, they are still a human being, despite what they are doing.

How about you? Do you know who you really are in Christ? Or, are you asking, “Where is this new life the Bible talks about?” I want to encourage you not to be one of those Christians who fail to put any effort forth to renew their mind according to God’s Word, thereby, failing to emerge and embrace the new life Christ has waiting for them.  Come on. You can do it. Spread your wings and push through your obstacles with all your might. As the butterfly uses all of its might to push its way out of the cocoon to emerge, you must push your way out of the old way of thinking in order to embrace the new life that awaits you. Open your Bible. Meditate on it. Believe it. Be who God has created you to be!

I am here to help you on your journey of change that will result by the renewing of your mind to truth. Remember, it is not what you believe that sets you free. It is not what you believe that transforms you. It is believing truth. You must discover it and experience it. Then, you, too, can share it! If you would like a copy of Scriptures that pertain to who God calls you to be, just send me an email and I would be delighted to send it to you.

For fun, I uploaded this video. You can watch a butterfly emerge from the chrysalis here: 

May God bless you… Until Next Time,

Sarah

Discover Truth!  Experience Truth!  Share Truth!
“Helping people to identify lies in their belief system,
replace them with truth, and thereby
increase in their faith and enjoyment of life & God!
                 www.sarahgoebel.com
                

Thought Patrol Part 2: Reframing Your Life Story

Did you know that if you are tired of the story you have been living, you have it within your power to create a new one?  I discussed in the last post of the “Though Patrol” series the first step in the process of change and that is you must recognize authorship of your story and take ownership of it. Without a recognition that you yourself have responsibility for life, you will not be able to successfully assess your thoughts, behavior and the results of your behavior to determine what you can and should change. Today, we will look at the role our assumptions and motivations play in creating our life stories.

In the Bible, God tells us that we can call things that be not as though they are. What is He talking about here? He is saying if you have things in your life that are not in alignment with God’s will for you and you want to change, then begin to use your imagination and envision that change and speak it into being. Do not get me wrong here. This is not a magical formula, but a process involving godly meditation and speaking a godly desire aloud, that must be persevered until the desired result is being experienced in your life. The thing is, as you envision the change and speak it, you will begin to believe it. You are simply going through the process of changing your thoughts to line up with the life God has said He desires for you. As the thoughts you are now meditating on change, so does your behavior begin to change which results in bringing the new belief to pass. Scripture says that what you believe opens or closes possibilities for your life. Your beliefs and assumptions about yourself, others, life and God have a tremendous impact on your behavior, performance and how you achieve your life or business goals. Ultimately, they construct your storylines, opening or closing the possibilities which influence your performance.

Another Scripture that comes to mind is Mark 11:24: Therefore I say unto you, What things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. God is saying whatever you believe you can be, have, or do when you ask Him for it is a possibility for you to experience in your life. Your beliefs and assumptions will manifest themselves in the decisions you make, the things you say and the things you do. On the other hand, whatever you do not believe limits the possibility for that to be a storyline of your life.  In other words, there are empowering beliefs and there are limiting beliefs. Let’s take a look at what an empowering belief might look like.

  1.  I will carry through the decisions that I make.
  2. I have the ability and the perseverance to achieve my goals.
  3. I am a positive person and those around me learn to respond positively to me.

A limiting belief would look like this.

  1. No one ever supports me in what I want to do.
  2. I am not good enough to earn that amount of money.
  3. I am unworthy of good things.

Let’s look at the first example above of a limiting belief. Immediately, we recognize these statements are in contradiction with what scripture says about us or commands us to think. Philippians 4:8 is a good example: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. When you believe no one ever supports you, your behavior will become such that it will cause people to be unsupportive towards you. On the otherhand, looking at the third example above of an empowering belief, your behavior will line up with the belief and you will have people responding to you in a positive way.

Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to be transformed by renewing our minds. Whatever beliefs you renew your mind to will become the storylines of your new life story.  Your thoughts will transform your behavior and your behavior will transform your life. We are able to know someone’s beliefs and values by looking at their behavior because behavior is a result of what we believe.

So it is important to acknowledge that you have been constructing and are able to construct what you experience. You are the one responsible for your own choices and those choices have created your storyline. If you continue making the same choices you will continue creating the same storylines. If you begin making different choices, you will begin to write a new life story.

God says in Deuteronomy “I set before you life and death.”  Then He goes on and commands us to “Choose life”. We make the choice as to what we are going to believe, feel and do. When we choose empowering beliefs we are choosing beliefs that lead to successful behavior which will result in a successful life and career.

As a Christian Life Coach, I help my clients to assess their story lines and determine the underlying assumptions and self concepts they were created from. I also help them learn to take their thoughts captive and analyze them as to whether they are thoughts that are empowering or limiting and then discard those that are not going to further the new story they desire to create. It is also important to examine one’s emotions to determine the assumption or thought it is attached to and whether that assumption is relevant to one’s present life.  If not, the assumption can be changed and the feeling can be converted to an intention.

You can take control of your thoughts and feelings and create a new life experience. Join me next week for Part 3 of the series on “Thought Patrol.”

Examples of Scriptures which speak of our belief system – our faith:

Matthew 9:22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Matthew 21:21-22 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

2 Corinthians 4:13-14 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

Thought Patrol – Change Your Life by Changing Your Mind

Thought Patrol

There’s Power in Policing Your Thoughts: Take Ownership of Your Life’s Story – Pt. 1

When an individual decides that they want to change something in their life, they must first recognize they are the author of their story. This is true for any area of life they desire to change – their money story, as well as relationships, and career or wellness stories. Taking ownership of your story is the first step and it is a crucial one.

Don’t misunderstand me. It is true that there are things that have happened to us that have been out of our control. You can’t do anything about the family you were born into, where you were born or when you were born. We also may not have control over experienced losses in income or physical disadvantages. If you were treated well as a child or abused as a child was not something you were able to regulate. We have all had sins done against us and some have been no less than horrific!

Yet how many MORE things have happened to us AFTER those events as a result of our beliefs concerning them. You see, it is not the events or situations themselves that have brought us to the place we find ourselves today. It is the beliefs we hold about them. It is how we have responded to them and what thoughts we have hidden concerning them into the depths of our minds. In other words, it is how we chose to think about God, our own value and identity, and even life itself as our take-away about the event we experienced or the circumstance we are challenged to overcome. Some people have allowed the situations of life to catapult them into their God-ordained destinies, while others have allowed their circumstances to hold them back.

Thoughts can enter our minds in three ways: from God; from our own brain functions that release the thoughts we have pondered in the past, and, therefore, stored in our physical brains; and from demonic spirits. Wrong thoughts do us no harm, nor are they accounted as sin to us as long as we judge them for what they are, and send refuse to keep them.  However, those thoughts that are more than fleeting – thoughts we allow to stay and make their home in our brains, are another thing. They begin to write our life story and direct the path it will take in the future. What I am saying is our thoughts have actually shaped our adult lives and created our life stories. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that as a man thinks, so he is. Therefore, in order to decide what needs to be changed in our lives so that we may live a more joyous, free, and successful life, we must first take ownership of our story.  We must accept that we are responsible for the thoughts we have pondered and allowed to become a part of who we are. Many times, these thoughts became attitudes and then directed our actions and speech, leading us to our present situations.

However, if you are breathing today, your story can still be changed – with God there is always HOPE. Our God renews and restores as we cooperate with Him. God wants us to become one with Him, to connect with Him not only in our spirits but with our minds. We do this by policing our thoughts. I call it Thought Patrol. We can review and evaluate our life events and gain insight as to what we took away from each. As we do this, we discover hidden themes and recurring patterns that have occurred due to what thoughts we pondered, thus creating a default way of thinking and responding to anything that reminds us of similar types of situations.  This pattern is embedded in our physical mind. We are able to then reflect on aspects of our identity, including the ROLES by which we define ourselves, that are associated with our thoughts about ourselves. We begin to undo all the false thought patterns we have developed and make new patterns of thought that are in alignment with God’s thoughts (Phil 4:8).  In order to do this, we must determine to pay close attention to what we are thinking (police our thoughts) and begin to make (requires effort) intentional changes in those patterns (2 Cor 10:5 and Romans 12:2).

Think about these verses. They give us direction for living free, purpose-filled, and successful lives before our God:

How we are to think: Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Think good pure thoughts).
How we can think this way:
1.     2 Corinthians 10:5 – “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedientto Christ.”
(Determine to police our thoughts, take captive those thoughts that are out of order because they deny God’s presence in our lives, they deny who He is and who He has made us to be; refuse to think upon them.

2.     Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasingand perfect will.” (Replace those harmful thoughts with the good thoughts of God. Don’t think about your situations the way those without God would do. Instead meditate on God’s revelation of Himself (His sovereignty and love) and of who you are in Christ. New patterns of thinking will begin to develop and life begins to change and reflect God’s presence).

Every thought that enters your mind this week, I hope you will apply Phil 4:8 to it. If the thought is not good and encouraging, then take it captive and put it down according to 2 Corinthians. Replace it with thoughts from God you find in Scripture.

Let’s interact. Would you share a thought concerning who God is and/or who He says you are in Christ? Please feel free to comment on the post, ask for prayer, or ask questions throughout the week. I will do my best to answer you. You might want to subscribe to the feed for this series to ensure you don’t miss a thing. Also, it would be wonderful if you would invite others to join us. Meanwhile, I am praying for you.

Next week, we will talk more about how our roles in life have defined us.

With Sister Love,

Sarah Goebel