What Are You Thinking About?

Our thoughts matter.  While I cannot control every thought that comes into my mind, I do not have to entertain it.  I can choose to entertain it, or, I can choose to refuse it entry to the gate of my mind.  You have the same choice.

I am not promoting a mystical, new age experience.  What I am presenting to you is a Biblical practice.  Controlling my thought life is part of allowing my old nature to die and my new nature in Christ to come alive (Romans 6 and Romans 12:2).

Guard Your Thoughts

rust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Image via Canva.

1 Peter 1:13 instructs me to gird up the loins of my mind.  In other words, guard my thinking.  The verse continues instructing me to be sober.  In this case, sobriety is not just an absence of alcohol, but it is being alert.  You and I must be alert to the type of thinking we entertain.

For example, I can be convinced that a friend is upset with me because she has not called or texted in a few days.  My mind can roll back through conversations that I had with her when we last spoke.  I can convince myself that she has misunderstood something I have said or done.  At this point, I have a choice.  Either I can continue the irrational thinking that leads to illogical conclusions, or, I can call or text her to see if she is okay.

What if she is upset with me?  Even if she is angry at me, entertaining the worst possible scenario only leads to torment which is the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit.  The fruit the Holy Spirit brings is peace (Galatians 5:22-23).  Continuing on a path of this type of thinking leads to confusion, and God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).  Checking on my friend through a visit, call, or text message is the best approach.

Thoughts Determine Actions

A cold-blooded murderer does not simply wake up one morning and decide to take a life with no thought beforehand of the deed.  He or she has devised and calculated a plan.  Time has been taken for careful preparation.

A person having an extra-marital affair does not suddenly cheat on his or her spouse with no sign of trouble.  Thinking about how much better life would be with someone else, magnifying one’s faults, and other thought patterns lead to acts such as these.

rust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understandin
Image via Canva.

Taking ungodly thoughts captive at the onset will prevent much heartache later.  Unbelievers do not know to practice this biblical concept, but believers should know what to do.  Do not allow such thoughts to take hold.  Take them captive and replace them with biblical thinking as soon as possible.  If needed, seek help from a trusted Christian friend or pastor.

You Have a Choice

If you notice that you are out of sorts or that your attitude is horrible, it is always a good idea to assess your thinking.  What has been on your mind?  What occupies your thinking?  How do you feel when you entertain this type of thinking?  Asking these questions can give you a quick answer as to the reason for most negative attitudes.

Certainly, I am not suggesting that changing your thinking will bring everything you want in life, I am suggesting that allowing God control of your thought life can change your attitude and outlook on life.  Changing the way you think, if that change is needed, can change relationships.  You can develop more peace of mind and joy in the Holy Spirit by refusing to give just any thought access beyond the gate of your mind.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee_ because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26_3

Free Online Bible Study: Colossians

Several of my blog posts have been portions of the Bible study I have written on the book of Colossians.  The first week of the study has been distributed throughout several of my posts.  Beginning Monday, August 3, I will be leading a study on the book of Colossians.  The study will last for seven weeks and will take place in a Facebook group.

The study is free.  A PDF copy of the entire study will be posted in the group as well as weekly videos.  There will be occasional, optional video chats.

If you are interested in joining me for this study, click here.

 

The Fullness of God in Jesus Christ_ A Study on the Book of Colossians Written By_ Allison Amber Mitchell

The Fullness of God in Jesus Christ, Week 1, Day 5

Day 5:  Love in the Spirit

“Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit,” Colossians 1:8, KJV.

(If you are working on writing out the book of Colossians, today might be a good day to write out verse 8.  If you are behind on your writing, do not fret.  Simply catch up when time allows.  This is not a legalistic exercise but rather a fun challenge.)

On Day 4, we discussed Epaphras and his faithfulness as a servant of Jesus Christ.  Verse 8 above continues on to say that Epaphras had told Paul and others about the love those of the Colossian church demonstrated.  How did this love come about?  The Spirit of God!

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Image via Pexels by Luis Quintero.

Romans 5 states that the Holy Spirit pours out the love of God in us.  Incidentally, Galatians 5:22 states that the fruit of the Spirit is love.  We know we belong to Christ if we have love for one another.  That is not to say that we will not waver in our love walk.  I have many times, but if we truly love God, we will make the sacrificial choice to walk in love with others despite any ill feelings we might have.  This is not hypocrisy!  Choosing to do what is right despite what you feel is walking in the Spirit rather than the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

What does Romans 15:30 state that the love of the Holy Spirit will cause one to do?  What did Paul ask the Romans to do?

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If you are having trouble demonstrating love to someone, begin to pray for them.  I am not suggesting a God bless so and so prayer, or a “bring down fire from heaven” prayer.  I am talking about a true prayer of love and concern for the well-being of the individual in question.  Of course, I realize it will be a challenge in the beginning, but after a period of time, you will begin to see your irritating person in a different light, the light of God’s love.

What does Proverbs 10:12 state that love does with offenses?

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Friends, when we seek to expose the sins of others with malicious intent, our hearts are far from the place they should be in the Lord.  Proverbs is not suggesting that we ignore sin when it keeps occurring, but we can put those offenses under the blood of Jesus.  In doing so, we are trusting the sovereignty of God to deal with negative behavior while we refuse to let that same behavior control us. Rather, we are choosing to be led by the Spirit of God because we are reminded in Romans 8:14 that those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.

We talked about love on Day 3, but we did not delve into the subject too deeply.  Today, I am attempting to become more in-depth although I will never give it the attention it deserves.

No love lesson is complete without 1 Corinthians 13.  Turn there now and read verses 1-8.  Write some of love’s attributes below.

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Image via Pexels by Roven Images

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How are these attributes similar to the parts of the Spirit’s fruit in Galatians 5:22-23?

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When we walk in the love of God, we will seek the interests of others rather than our own.  Why?  We have a love for others because God has planted it in our spirits.  We also are secure in God.  We know that He will take care of us.  Since we can trust God with our welfare, we are freed up to look out for others.  What freedom!  We can rejoice in that!  Do you realize what a weight is lifted when you stop worrying about yourself?

There is not even a hint of self-righteousness as I write this. Not that I have not experienced my share of that ugly sin, but I know what it is to struggle with demonstrating love to someone who has exhausted your patience.  The Holy Spirit will give you the grace to extend even more grace to the one annoying you.  He knows when to extend mercy, and He knows when it is time to speak the truth in love.

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Image via Pixabay by Rauschenberger

Yes, love and truth go hand-in-hand.  Often, love is speaking unpleasant truth to someone.  We might have to be straight-forward and tell someone that his or her actions are causing others pain.  We might have to put some distance between ourselves and someone else.  

You might be asking how that could be love.  I can say that it is when distancing is done by the leading of the Holy Spirit.  When I distance in the flesh, it only brings harm to others or myself.  When the Holy Spirit tells you to put some distance between yourself and someone else, it is for the protection of both parties. 

Sometimes, love requires correction to be given.  If it is done in love, you will get no enjoyment from it.  We live in a culture that is adamant in avoiding offense.  While I am not suggesting that we purposely offend others, I am stating that we have to stop the facade of being politically correct, in a manner of speaking.

People are often tempted to sweep the truth under the rug to keep the peace.  When we avoid the truth to keep from being offensive, we are not walking in love.  It is the act of selfishness to allow someone with whom we are close to persist in a destructive behavior simply because we do not want to deal with it.  We are doing no favors for anyone.

In order to bring a proper balance to my words, I will say that much prayer and time in Bible study should be done before speaking the truth.  Timing is important, and our heavenly Father knows when the time is right.  We only need to follow His leading.

Look up the following scriptures and write them in your own words.

John 13:34-35 ______________________________________

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1 Corinthians 16:14 __________________________________

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Ephesians 4:2 ______________________________________

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Colossians 3:14 ____________________________________

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1 Peter 4:8 ________________________________________

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1 John 4:7-8 _______________________________________

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In closing of today’s lesson and the first week of our study, choose at least two of the above scripture references to write a prayer below asking the Lord to help you to show love in the Spirit to those who need it.

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(If you are memorizing Colossians, add verse 8 when you are comfortable with 1-7).

The Fullness of God in Jesus Christ_ A Study on the Book of Colossians Written By_ Allison Amber Mitchell

 

Week 1, Day 4 of The Fullness of God in Jesus Christ: A Study of Colossians

Day 4:  Epaphras and Other Beloved Servants

“As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ,”  Colossians 1:7, KJV.
If you are writing out the Book of Colossians, you should take a moment to write verse 7.  

Before we begin, read Colossians 1:6-7. Although we ended with verse 6 in Day 3, there is a point in the last portion of verse 6 that I want to address.  The last half of verse six states the following:  “understood the grace of God in truth.”

In context, Paul had just been speaking of the gospel and how it had spread all over Asia Minor.  The grace of God is a part of the gospel.  Grace is God’s unmerited favor.  Unmerited meaning that we did nothing to earn or deserve that.  

Another aspect of this grace that we might want to think about is the fact that we would not be saved had the Holy Spirit not drawn us.  There are many portions of the Bible in which I do not have complete understanding, but scripture is clear that we did not seek God out ourselves.  The truth is He sought us for salvation.

Look up the following verses and write them in your own words.

John 6:44 ____________________________________________

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Romans 3:11 ________________________________________

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Ephesians 2: 8-9 _____________________________________

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From time to time, we must remind ourselves that we did nothing to merit God’s favor.  He loved us before we loved Him.  I do not know about you, but thinking about God’s grace in this manner makes me even more thankful for my salvation.  I was running toward hell at break-neck speed, but He saved me. Hallelujah!

Please take what I say into proper perspective. I still had to accept Jesus as my Savior, but He drew me.  We have to be drawn by the Holy Spirit before we can truly accept Him.  Let me assure you that if someone is inquiring about salvation, it is pretty obvious that God is drawing this person. 

I also want to touch on the point of the grace of God in truth.  John 17:17 states that we are sanctified by the Word because the Word is truth.  John 14:6 reminds us that Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life.  Jesus is also called the Word in John 1:1.  It is important to know that  God’s grace was given to us through Jesus Christ.  The truth about grace is that our sins are covered when we repent and ask God to forgive us.  This counts even after salvation.  However, the grace of God is not a license to live purposely sinful lives.  Romans 6 is very clear about grace and license. 

Now, we are moving on to discuss Epaphras.  Just who was this man whom Paul referred to as a faithful servant?  According to scripture and Bible history, we can glean that Epaphras was the founder of the Colossian church.  He was a close friend of Paul, and he is mentioned in Philemon 23.  Epaphras is a shortened version of Epaphroditus.  His name literally means “charming” and handsome”.  Of course, I have no idea if he truly matched up to the meaning of his name, however, I do know Paul had confidence in him.

Paul refers to Epaphras as “faithful”.  The Greek word for “faithful”  which is pistus means trustworthy and one that can be relied upon. These are the type of people we must be in order to be effective in the callings God has placed on us.

Take a moment and think about someone you know who is faithful to the work of the Lord.  He or she does not have to be someone to whom you are close, but you can still notice faithfulness.  Write this person’s name below as well as what you see in this person’s life that lets you know he or she is faithful to the Lord.

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The following scriptures mention the word “faithful”.  What do each of these say?

Matthew 25:21 ________________________________________

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1 Timothy 1:12 ________________________________________

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Ephesians 1:1 _________________________________________

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If we are remembered for anything in this life, let it be that we were faithful to the Lord  Jesus Christ.  That is a true legacy to leave to our descendants and others who know us.

Before closing, let me ask you one final question.  Who is referred to as “faithful” that is more worthy of the adjective than anyone?  If you are not sure, here are a few places you might find the answer:  Revelation 19:11, Psalm 92:2, and Psalm 36:5.  No one is more faithful than our Lord!

Paul appreciated the faithfulness of the godly people in his life.  We should appreciate the faithfulness of others, and, most of all, the faithfulness of Jesus.  Write a prayer of thankfulness below for our faithful God and other faithful people in your life.

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(If you are memorizing Colossians, you might want to add verse 7 if you are comfortable with 1-6).

 

Free Online Bible Study

Biblical Spiritual Warfare

Beginning July 6 and ending on July 17, I will be leading an online Bible study entitled Biblical Spiritual Warfare. The study is 10 days with 2 days off on July 11-12.  The study will take place in a Facebook group.  At least one Zoom meeting will be held.

If you are interested in participating, please click here.

Free Online Bible Study: Biblical Spiritual Warfare

Beginning July 6 and ending on July 17, I will be leading an online Bible study entitled Biblical Spiritual Warfare.  The study is 10 days.  Lessons will not be given on July 13-14.  The lessons will resume on July 13.  Two Zoom meetings will be conducted throughout the study for discussion and questions.

If you are interested in participating in the study, please click on the Facebook link and request to join the group.

The Fullness of God in Jesus Christ: A Study of Colossians

Here is Week 1, Day 3 of the study.  The PDF of the study will be available in August.

Day 3:  Love, Hope, and the Gospel

“Because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of the truth of the gospel which has come to you just as it has in the all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth,” Colossians 1:5-6, NASB.

(If you are completing the writing challenge, today would be a good day to write verses 5 and 6.)

Although I placed verses 5 and 6 above, we are going to begin in the last portion of verse 4 which reads as follows (ESV):  “the love that you have for all the saints.”  In Day 2, we discussed Paul’s commendation of the faith of these people.  Today, we will talk about their love for each other.

Look up the following verses and write them in your own words.

1 Corinthians 13:13 _______________________________________

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Romans 5:5 ______________________________________________

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John 13:35 ______________________________________________

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Although I did not ask you to look up the following verses, I am referring to them here because they complement our lessons.  Matthew 7:20 states that one can know if a person belongs to God by the fruit he or she displays.  Galatians 5:22 states that the fruit of the Spirit (Holy Spirit) is love.  

In light of Paul’s commendation to the Colossian church, it should serve as an exhortation to us as well.  How believers treat each other speaks volumes to unbelievers.  If we slander and gossip about each other and mistreat each other, the world will take notice.

Of course, that is not to say that times will not come in which we must call out false teaching or error, but even that will be done in love according to Ephesians 4:15.  If the matter is private, it needs to be addressed privately, but statements that biblical teachers make in public sometimes have to be addressed in a more open setting depending upon the capacity of the audience that particular person reaches.  

Please note that I avoid calling out names when possible, and I will not call out names during the course of this study.  I want to uplift my readers, but I do need to tell you that many saved people can teach erroneously.  Depending upon the teaching, it might need to be corrected.  More importantly, seeking the leadership and guidance of the Lord and His word will keep everything in order.

In verse 5, Paul begins to address the hope these people have.  Their hope is laid up in heaven due to having heard and received the gospel.  What is the gospel?  It is the good news of Jesus Christ.  

We are all born with a sin nature due to the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When we reach a certain age which some refer to as the age of accountability, we become aware of right and wrong.  The sad part of this truth is that we can do nothing to overcome the sin nature on our own.  Jesus came to this earth to live as a man and die for us becoming the atoning sacrifice for our sins so we can have peace and reconciliation with God, the Father.  We must accept His atoning work on the cross and believe in His resurrection.  If you are reading this and you are not saved, please take this portion to heart.  Once you accept Jesus and confess Him with your mouth, you are saved according to the Word of God (Romans 10:9-10).

Even if you are saved, we still need the gospel.  The cross of Christ is needed everyday of our lives for the sanctification process.  We cannot overcome our sin nature without it.  Not only do you need to hear the gospel, Christian reader, you need to share the gospel with others.  Our hope is in the cross of Christ.

Look up the following scriptures and write what they say about hope.

Romans 5:5 ____________________________________________

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Romans 8:24-25 ________________________________________

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1 Corinthians 15:19 ______________________________________

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Psalm 130:5 ___________________________________________

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Our hope is in God alone.  He is the one who has saved us. He is the one who brings deliverance and help in our daily situations.  What a loving and awesome God we serve who gives all we need for this life, then, when this life ends, we have a better one coming.

When I think of the gospel, I cannot help of thinking about when I first received Christ.  I was fourteen, and I will never forget how light I felt.  Before, I felt heavy-hearted.  The weight of my sin and my need for Christ was weighing down on me.  The weight lifted when I surrendered my heart and life to Him.

My dad began facing some major health issues during my late teens and early twenties. Not too long after I was married, dad had been hospitalized, which was frequent at that time.  On this particular day, I was going to pick him up because he had been released.  I remember that I kept getting delayed as I was traveling.  I would either get every red light possible, or I would get behind what seemed like every slow driver in southern West Virginia.  

It pays us to remember that our God is sovereign. He has a plan.  Dad’s roommate at the hospital was not a Christian.  Dad shared his faith with the man and led him to saving faith in Christ.  What if I had been earlier?  Sometimes, the most irritating of circumstances could actually be working something wonderful.

How about you?  Can you think of a similar experience?  Share a time when you witnessed the salvation of someone, or a delay ended up being the hand of God at work.

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As I said before, we need the gospel.  Sometimes we need to prompt ourselves so that we are reminded of what God has done.  The Colossian church had experienced the saving power of the gospel.  How do we know?  Paul spoke of their faith and love.  Fruit always comes as a result of salvation.  It might not come as quickly as we would like, but it will come.

What do the following verses say about the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Isaiah 52:7 __________________________________________

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Romans 10:15 _______________________________________

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John 3:16-17________________________________________

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The gospel began spreading quickly after Jesus ascended into heaven.  The Apostles got busy immediately.  Paul was soon called to be an Apostle.  He started many churches throughout Asia minor. Although Paul had never met the Colossians, he was friends with Epaprus who founded the church in Colossae.  Epaprus kept Paul informed.  

So, what are we waiting for?  Let’s follow the example of Paul and others and share the good news of Jesus Christ.

(If you are memorizing the book of Colossians, today might be a good day to work on verses 4 and 5, then adding verse 6 if you become comfortable with 4 and 5.)