A few weeks ago, I was at church and the preacher was talking about various things we hear when reading the Bible and how we should, or would if we could, react to those messages.
This is what I hear and should do or would do if I could:
- I hear forgiveness. If I could, I would be more forgiving of others and show mercy to others.
- I hear love. If I could, I would be an example of that love and teach others about the love of God.
- I hear hope. If I could, I would rely on that hope and not suffer from anxiety attacks.
- I hear commitment. If I could, I would finish what I start and be dedicated to the task at hand.
- I hear freedom. If I could, I would live as a person free from sin and condemnation.
This message was part of a series and the basic points of the series are:
- Put your faith into action
- Don’t show partiality, love others, love equally, and love freely
- Freedom from legalism is freedom to love
- Don’t be a slave to sin, instead be a slave to righteousness
- Don’t be a salve to the law, instead be a slave to the word of God
Jesus is many things to me. He is a teacher and a leader. Jesus is Lord and the Messiah. Most importantly, Jesus is my savior.
Jesus suffered and died for sin. It is through Jesus I find forgiveness for my sins. Jesus also understands suffering. I find great comfort in knowing that.
Joyce Meyer wrote, “Battlefield of the Mind” to teach how changing our thinking habits can change our life. Thoughts lead to actions.
If we have negative thoughts we will have a negative life. However, if we have positive thoughts we will have a positive life.
We should pay attention to our thoughts and think about what we are thinking. We should also spend time discovering the root cause of our negative thoughts.
Sings of a negative or out of control mind:
- Your mind is always busy
- Your mind is always wandering
- You mind is frequently confused
- Your mind is full of doubts
- Your mind is anxious or worried
- Your mind is full of judgmental or critical thoughts
Strategies to improve thinking patterns and control the mind:
- Think positive thoughts
- Spend time praising God
- Ask for help
- Meditate on God’s word
- Encourage those around you
- Be thankful
- Do things for others to show your appreciation
There are a few theological points in the book that I don’t agree with; however, the book is excellent. I would recommend this book, even if you don’t like some of the things Joyce Meyer teaches.
The other day, I was reading Matthew 15:21-28.
21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyreand Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 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. (ESV)
I started thinking about the Jewish society of that time. It was extremely prejudicial, and a person’s worth or cleanliness was largely based on race and ethnic origin. As a Canaanite and a woman, she would have been viewed with disdain. Also, the statement made by Jesus echoes that sentiment.
However, the woman trusted Jesus. She believed him to be fair and loving. She trusted him to not judge her based on superficial things. Her trust in the love of Jesus was not misplaced. Jesus healed her daughter and commented on her great faith.
Screwtape is a demon and he is writing letters to his nephew, Wormwood. The letters are meant to help Wormwood, who is fresh out of Tempter’s College, in his endeavors to prevent people from becoming Christians. In the end Wormwood fails and is eaten by the more successful demons.
The advice given by Screwtape was potentially effective, but it was also subtle.
- Church members can be used to keep people away from the Gospel, especially if they behave rudely or practice immorality.
- Family discord, lack of self-examination, and critical thoughts toward others will promote a self-righteous attitude.
- Keep people away from prayer or have them use memorized superficial prayers that can be repeated without meaning.
- Keep people focused on themselves and their own problems to promote selfishness and prevent charitable behavior.
- Keep people focused on personal feelings.
- Teach people to reverence religious objects, so the object replaces God.
- Teach people to view the past as happy and peaceful. Teach them to view the future with dread and hopelessness, so they will believe not even God can save them from certain destruction.
- Create anxiety to prevent people from focusing on God.
- Promote hatred for those who are different from them and hatred for enemies.
- Promote malice towards the people around them and keep benevolence out of their minds.
- Increase temptation during times of struggle, so sin appears to be the best way to elevate depression and inner turmoil.
- If people desire to attend church, help them find one that focuses solely on friendship and self-help topics.
- Teach people to live two parallel lives. Sunday is for church, but during the rest of the week there is no thought of God. This will allow them to live in sin, but still feel self-righteous.
- Lull people into the path of wickedness, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
- Don’t allow people to be rooted in a church, “if a man can’t be cured of church going, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.”
- Promote discord in the church, so the members are arguing over petty things, then they will be unable to teach the gospel with any effectiveness.
- Encourage false spirituality among the people.
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (ESV)
God understands human frailty. God uses our faith and efforts to change the world, even if our faith is small. With God, great things can come from a little faith.