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Captive Thoughts - A Devotion

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2 Corinthians 5:16-20 (NKJV)
Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

I am an Ambassador of Jesus Christ. I did not knowingly sign up for such a position but when I came to Jesus it was part of the package called righteousness. There are days that I don’t feel like being His Messenger. I do not always feel the power and authority of His Spirit inside of me or the mantle of His Kingdom that rests on my shoulders. How about you? Am I the only one that have days that I want to rip someone else’s head off or flip a table over in frustration? Admittedly I have given into such feelings many times forgetting who I am in Jesus. I am a new creation. I have a new position on the earth that does not allow for emotional overload and personal or proverbial assaults of other people. In fact, there are days when I must take one for the team turning the other cheek or allowing harsh words to roll off me rather than hardening my heart in offense. I have been called to the ministry of reconciliation. Before you bustle and think well not me, the truth is it the ministry of all who have come to Christ and accepted a position of righteousness in the Kingdom of God. All things are of God that includes the people who irritate us, those who abuse us, and those who spitefully use us. Every situation is a unique opportunity for God to show His Goodness, Kindness and Favor in the life of His Children because He controls it all. We are to live as though God is pleading for the souls of man through us. We implore others to come to Christ. This is what it means to be a new creation. There are days that I am comfortable in this position but so many more when I struggle with such a lifestyle.

Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV) A fool vents all his feelings (spirit), but a wise man holds them back.

As the Lord lovingly yet persistently is stepping on my toes today, I will allow you to accompany me as I go. His Discipline leads me to the life that I could only dream of outside of Jesus Christ. But coming to Jesus is not enough to prosper in life, you must become that new creation. Life is hard, people make it harder, but God promises to make good on every promise and turn every detail of our situation in our favor. (Romans 8:28) His Faithfulness and Unfailing Love are not driven by our personal ability to remain righteous but to be made righteous through God’s Grace found in His Only Son, Jesus. To be an ambassador means that we are His Messengers who go in His Name. We represent the Power and Authority of His Kingdom. This is the mandate of our life in every other role that we are given. It matters how we live because we no longer represent the old person we were but the new person who we are becoming as we reconcile more and more of our life to the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 5:16, it tells us that we no longer regard anyone according to the flesh which means we must now look for good in other people. New creations live in forgiveness every day all day. Grace for grace that is not logical but supernatural governs our life and interactions with the world around us. A fool is unable to control their feelings or emotions thus revealing an immature and underdeveloped Spirit man or new creation. A wise man learns to subject every feeling and emotion to the Word of God and allow the Lord to change our thoughts until we change our mind which effects our heart producing goodness, mercy and love rather than anger, jealousy and judgment.

Ephesians 4:17-24 (NKJV)
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

To say that the details of our life are hectic right now might be an understatement. We are preparing for my departure to be with our son as he receives a bone marrow transplant. I am in and out of home and work back and forth to be with him during the preliminary steps. My thoughts are constantly with him wondering how he is and what he is doing. He is a grown man but mamas don’t ever really see their babies as grownups so let’s just be real. My office is in a frenzy with my impending departure as well. I supervise a large area comprised of three departments not to mention that I will be out for our busiest time of the year. Not to mention that we are planning our daughter’s wedding that is three months away. Oh and did I mention that it is summer so the kids are out of school. My husband’s mother is still somewhat recovering from surgery following a broken wrist and ankle that is healing rather slowly. There are some days that the pressure cooker of refinement make it seem hotter than the furnace holding the three Hebrew boys. So let’s just say that there are some days that it is very difficult to live as an Ambassador of Christ and be that new creation who I want to be.

In the midst of all this, the company I work for is trying to implement a new software system. This is a tedious process. When it became clear that the project managers had fallen behind effecting my departments, I became frustrated. Why can’t people just do their job? The stress of everything else coupled with overwhelming pressure to get this project off the ground had me boiling. These people make a lot of money to do what they do and they are months behind in production. Leaving a meeting, I vented to a co-worker and kept saying, “They made this mess, let’s see them get out of it” yet inside I knew that I could help them with this project. My emotional overload was battling with my spirit to do the right thing. When I finally cooled off a few minutes ago, I began to work on the project which is exactly what I swore I would not do. My co-worker came in with a knowing smile. “I knew you would do it!” she chuckled. “You always do.” That’s when I realized I was doing completely opposite of what I said that I would do, I couldn’t help myself.

The Spirit of God inside of me was controlling what I did, even when I didn’t want to do it. We must do our work as to the Lord. This is how we do it. Swallowing our pride or need to be right to do the right thing. It is not easy. I was so mad at those two for wasting my time and putting an undue burden on my people. When we swallow our pride, we exhale His Spirit alive in us. The old “me” would have let them fall on their face, but the new “me” needs all of God’s Love, Grace and Mercy to get through the day so sometimes it gives it to others from the Spirit until my heart gets it right. I must be renewed in the Spirit of my mind. I must “put on” the new man which tells me that I must do something. What can I do? When Jesus told the man that his sin were forgiven just before the man was healed, the religious leaders fell all over their religion. Standing in the midst of the Word of God wrapped in flesh, they were wrapped up in what they thought God should look like and how they thought that He should act. They cut off their nose to spite their face so to speak. Jesus knew their thoughts and He could see their hearts. (Matthew 9:4-7) Unforgiving, hard hearts missing the Love of God completely. It doesn’t matter how we live if our heart is not right and our thoughts are still wandering. You and I are called to be His Ambassadors in His Ministry of Reconciliation. Reconciliation means setting differences, to be no longer opposed, to reconsecrate and to become friendly once more. This is what it means to be a new man.

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

It’s not my job to change other people. It is my responsibility to allow Jesus to transform my into a new creation by the renewing of my mind so that I can prove what is good, acceptable and perfect Will of God. We must push the Lord into every single thought that we think so that He can change our mind, will and emotions. (Psalm 10:4) The Lord knows our thoughts already so we really have nothing to lose. (Psalm 94:11) The thoughts of the righteous are right. (Proverbs 12:5) If you expose your heart and mind to the Word of God, it will change you. You cannot make a change until you are convinced that it is best for your mind, body and spirit. Otherwise you will continue to go with what you know accepting less than God’s Best for your life. The Word of God will expose those thoughts and ideas that are contrary to God. (Hebrews 4:12) What God is looking for is your true intentions? Do you really want to be a new man and new creation? It’s your call. It’s the call of righteousness. Preparation of the heart belong to the man. You must give your mind, soul and body to the Lord completely. He can tame your thoughts and change your responses. As Ambassadors, we speak on behalf of the power and authority that has backed us. The Lord is weighing our spirit man according to our thought and attitudes. But if we commit everything we do and say to the Lord, we will get it right because our intentions are good. If we commit everything we do including every role we have in this life as work to the Lord, our thoughts will be established in Him and we will no longer be drug around by our feelings and emotions. (Proverbs 16:1-3) We take back control of our life and hand it over to the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NKJV)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

Our thoughts have the ability to hold us captive. When our son was first diagnosed with cancer, the plan was for different people to alternate in caring for him as we all had full-time jobs and responsibilities. At that time, I was a workaholic. When I wasn’t at work, I was at home thinking about it, checking emails and making lists. When I was at work, I wouldn’t take breaks, eat lunch and was usually the last one to leave. I would fly off the handle quite a bit in my frustration that not everyone was dedicated to their job as I was. Well, the Lord set me up. When I joined my son to begin his treatment, the Lord took the scales off my eyes. He allowed me to see my son in real life. His body frail and exhausted before a single treatment had begun. My heart broke in that moment. I could feel a literal weight falling off me. It was if God took my priorities and reorganized them releasing a burden that I did not even know that I had. I was freed from the wrong kind of thinking no longer held captive by a job that really didn’t matter anymore. I needed to be right there with him every step of the way. I was his mother. God chose me to be that person. It is my privilege to do so. I called work and told them that I would not be back until my son was well. They agreed. They have allowed me for the last three years to work remotely from another city. I didn’t even know that my wrong thinking had snared me until I was released. How about you? What is weighing you down? What is compromising your thoughts by keeping them from focusing on love and forgiveness? Don’t be like that. You were created and called to be a new creation. It’s up to you to decide to change your mind and be that person. Surrender your heart and mind to His Spirit and God will do the rest.

In Jeremiah 29, the Lord promises us a future that is good with hope. They are thoughts of peace never evil. Call on me, talk with me and listen to me is all that He asks. If we seek the Lord wholeheartedly including our mind, will and emotions, He will be found. Then what does He promise? To bring us out of captivity, so I ask you what if it is our rebellious thoughts that keep us held captive? Do you want to be free? Who the Son sets free is free indeed. You will be a new creation. He will change your mind. You are an Ambassador of Christ. Ambassadors come with all power and authority promoting diplomatic relations who are skilled in dealing with sensitive matters. Ambassadors seek peace and reconciliation on behalf the one who sent them.

2 Corinthians 10:3-7 (NKJV)
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s.

We will continue to walk in flesh until our spirit leaves this world. We are no longer at war with our flesh, the Spirit of God won! We must pull down the strongholds of ignorance, cast down arguments in pursuit of reconciliation, and promote the Love of God which leads to repentance. We must evaluate our thoughts and get to the heart of our intentions turning them all over to Jesus Christ for renewal. The outward appearance of our life means nothing outside of our constant consciousness of righteousness demonstrating our love in obedience to God beginning with how we think. Every person who you come in contact with today is created by God. That person is loved and desired by Jesus Christ by means of the Cross. The Holy Spirit is ready to come inside their heart and heal their broken life. We are to live out the ministry of reconciliation offering grace for grace that is not logical but supernatural. This will only happen when we surrender every thought to Jesus Christ so He can unlock the barrier between us and His Kingdom!

Luke 6:44-46 (NKJV)
“For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

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