Renewed Spirit: 3 Steps to Taking Captive Our Thoughts

Capture this moment…
The day is beautiful. The sunlight swims in through the blinds at just the perfect brightness to wake you slowly and naturally. The birds are singing outside. You roll out of bed well rested and ready to conquer the world. You hop in the shower. The hot water is plentiful. While in there, your husband makes the bed. He even puts on the decorative throw pillows. As you head down the stairs, the coffee is already brewing. The house is organized and clean. Everything is in its place. The kids are still asleep so you have a few moments alone. You choose to sit in the newly renovated sunroom where the beautiful outdoor scenery is better than any picture you could have hung on the wall. It feels as if the stars have aligned. You curl up on the recliner with your steaming cup of coffee and your Bible in hand. You spend a moment worshiping the Lord and then you open the scriptures. God speaks to your heart and you feel this incredible connection with Him. Slowly the house wakes up and your sweet little people venture down the stairs and you have some snuggle time before the day begins.   

Isn’t that how everyone’s day starts? 

The alarm blares at 6 am on your day off because your husband forgot to turn it off for the holiday. You roll out of bed grumpy. The house is a total disaster. If only people would put things away in their proper place. You shower, but somebody beat you to it so you have luke warm water that quickly turns cold. You trip over the dog toys on your way downstairs. The kids are already arguing. You look outside the window and see that you really need to get some yard work done today, even though that wasn’t on your already jam packed schedule of things to accomplish. You see your Bible on the coffee table, but as you go to grab it, your phone beeps and you get distracted. The day has begun and you have more pressing issues. God will need to wait. My to-do list must come first.  

As a new year commences, we can’t let “life” get in the way of life. Yes, I meant that exactly as I said it. I often let “life” get in the way of life. I allow all of the little things (and big things) to consume me and shape my mind and thoughts. I wake up grumpy, overwhelmed, and spewing negativity into my day before it has even begun. 

Sometimes I think that in order for me to fulfill my New Year’s goals or resolutions, I need to have my “house” in order. That actually could not be further from the truth. Most days we wake up to the reality version of life. We can’t let “life” get in the way of our walk with God. 

Looking ahead to 2021, I am looking forward to growing in many areas. However, there are many areas that are out of my control. I would like to focus on those that are within my own reaches of attainment. I would like to work on digging deeper into this verse found in Philippians. 

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.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

2020 held many moments that I did not care for. But if I were to take on the opinion or disposition of the author that penned these words, I believe that I will have an amazing 2021.  The Word tells us to take captive our thoughts…

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Sometimes I think we forget there is a real threat out there fighting against us.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

Every day is a battle of our minds. Here are 3 steps to taking captive our thoughts. Full disclosure: These are not easy. These will be life changing steps, but in no way will they be effortless or simple. 

Step 1: Give God the first fruits of your time.
I believe this to be much more challenging than you might think. I tend to either hit the ground running each day or simply give my time to things of my own desires. I am going to make a forced effort to give God His time first. Even if the house is a mess or my phone is chirping. I know God will bless my efforts. 
New attitude: Nothing comes before God. Nothing.

Step 2: Work at owning your own thoughts. 
This is actually quite difficult to do. I have a major fault in that I allow myself to create a situation or scenario in my mind that I fabricated which isn’t even real in its entirety. Parts of it are true but I fill in the holes with my own thoughts. I need to redirect my thoughts to those things that are good and true and noble as the verse above states. That verse is in the Bible for a reason. God knows that I need to reflect on that verse to be successful each day in taking captive my thoughts. And when I realize my thoughts have slipped back to those in direct opposition to the verse, I then train my brain to think otherwise. 
New attitude: I have control to change my thinking. It will take work and effort.

Step 3: Take your eyes off of yourself. 
Become less selfish. Think about others. Do for others and think less about your own needs, wants, and desires. It is so rewarding and refreshing to focus on fulfilling the needs of others, rather than yourself. A bit of self sacrifice does so much for the soul. 
New attitude: How can I serve others today and think less of my own needs?

One more thought before I leave you…Be prepared for failure. Let me say that again. Be prepared for failure.  Dust off your soured ego when you make a mistake or fall short and get back on the horse. Don’t dwell on your mistake. Grow from it.  Don’t let it impede you from moving forward. Mistakes help us appreciate our accomplishments that much more. 

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