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On Second Thought - A Devotion

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2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (MSG)
The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

Oh those second thoughts! You think you have made up your mind and then all of a sudden you start thinking again, overthinking, overanalyzing, trying to rationalize things like faith and hope that are contrary to the way that this world thinks. You think you have it all together until worry and stress overtake you. You take that first step of faith and opposition pushes you back. You are forced to decide in that moment does this become two steps forward or will I allow the enemy to push me three steps back? You know what I am talking about. You are believing and trusting God when your feet hit the ground but the enemy will not have any of it. So he throws some opposition your way. The weapons of his warfare are not physical but thoughtful, emotional and impulsive – it’s all in our head. The moment that we entertain the possibility that God is not capable of or willing to do all that He has promised – we become subject to our rebellious thoughts. We must learn to use our God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the Truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of our new life shaped by Christ. What are our God-tools? The Word of God and His Spirit bound to our heart and mind for righteousness sake by Jesus Christ. Faith is the source of our power. Hope holds us in place. You cannot see faith and hope nor can we touch it. It is what is inside of us that must find its way out. If we want the Promises of God for our life, we must be ready to clear the ground of every obstruction and build a life of obedience as we mature as believers.

Ephesians 1:7-10 (MSG)
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, and everything on planet earth.

Salvation was not a knee-jerk reaction by God. It is a long-range plan. He did not have to scramble together resources to meet our need based on present demand. No, God thought of and prepared for everything long before mankind took in their first breath. He provided for everything we could possibly need. He delighted in doing so as a parent preparing for Christmas morning cannot wait for their children to open each gift. Jesus Christ provided everything that we need to be free not just barely free but abundantly free! Do you feel free today? Free from worry, free from stress and overwhelming burdens? This is God’s Plan for your life. This is absolutely possible by faith. God thought of everything so you don’t have to. God didn’t need a second thought – He was ready from the beginning.

God knew our condition from the start. This did not change His Thoughts concerning us. In the days of Noah, he saw evil throughout the world. People thought evil thoughts, imagined evil and it was evil from day to night. (Genesis 6:5-8) I will not even comment on the current condition of the world today and the evil that is in it. I would dare to say that we may boast in the fact that evil is more prevalent and perverse than during those times. It is in our music, media, and mentality with a society infiltrated with it that the human mind is becoming numb to it. But God saw something different in Noah, He is looking for the same in you. The one who dares to think about that which is pleasing to the Lord rather than allowing the world to influence their thoughts. This is not a light duty but solemn commitment to love the Lord with our heart, soul and mind. We can only accomplish this if we regain control of our thoughts, emotions and impulses turning them back to the Lord.

Philippians 2:5-8 (MSG)
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

It begins with the Mind of Jesus Christ. We must think as He did. We have every right to be free yet we choose to surrender our new life to Jesus Christ as His Servant. We live to serve the Lord mind, soul and body in every interaction and action of our life. This includes when we are in crowd, with a friend or all alone. This is a commitment of self that far exceeds the temporary, loose affiliations that society offers today. Jesus Christ had every right to withhold His Life from us. But He gave it to us freely, unconditionally and wholeheartedly. Is this our commitment to Christ? Have we given our life freely, unconditionally and wholeheartedly to Christ?

Psalm 40:4-5 (MSG)
Blessed are you who give yourselves over to GOD, turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,” ignore what the world worships; the world’s a huge stockpile of GOD-wonders and God-thoughts. Nothing and no one comes close to you! I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words. Neither numbers nor words account for you.

We must change the way we think about God. Our thoughts must be fixed on the “God-wonders and God-thoughts”. We find this in the Word of God. It is reinforced by the Spirit of God. It rises from our worship of God. It is whispered in our communication with Him. Jesus will not impact our life until He has some level of influence over our mind. Believers must do our “best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (Philippians 4:8-9) It is a personal challenge to only allow things worthy of God to infiltrate my mind. This is a work in progress over many years. There are many things that I no longer entertain not because God will not forgive me for it but because I want to follow Christ. I am influenced by such things. I become desensitized to sin. I do not have to stop listening to certain music, watching certain programs or going to particular movies. But if I want my heart and mind to be filled with the right thoughts I must consider carefully the things that I do. Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it is spiritually appropriate. (I Corinthians 6:12 – MSG) I must be careful to only entertain those things that promote god-like thoughts and facilitate the Mind of Christ in my life.

Matthew 13:20-21 (MSG)
“The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.”

Where there is no soil of character, when emotions wear off and difficult comes there is nothing to show for it. God has provided the seeds of righteousness and faith that we need to become prosperous. Jesus Christ shed His Blood to allow us the opportunity to prosper once more. We have been given abundant life. Why are so few believers cultivating such a life? The seed fell on gravel. Our commitment to Christ is not emotional. Our love for Him cannot be based on our emotions because when hard times come there will be nothing to hold on to. Those who endure to the end will be saved. What marriage will last if it is based on emotion? Proverbs tells us that “runaway emotions corrode your bones” and that “riled emotions turn to fist fights.” (Proverbs 14:29-30; 30:32-33) Emotion is a feeling which makes it a natural sense. It is not objective but subjective so it is based not on what we know but how we feel at any given time. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen. (Hebrews 11:1) Therefore, our faith should remain unaffected by our emotions. We must hold them in check. They must be crucified with the flesh. Our emotions are not “bad”. It matters how they influence our life. They should never be held in higher regard than God’s Word or His Spirit but always remain subject to the two! I must surrender my feelings and emotions to the Lord trusting His Word and His Way over how I feel on any given day!

Hebrews 12:14-17 (MSG)
Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.

Human impulse is probably our greatest detriment fed by the society in which we live. Everything in this life is fast and convenient. We are conditioned to believe that is possible in all situations. Well, not in God’s Kingdom. He operates on a different schedule than human beings. Most of the time, His Outcomes are not immediate. Many times there is a wait-time required to elongate our faith and enhance our endurance building strong god-like character in His People. We are not of this world but choose too many times to maintain the expectations of the society. Compromise is offered on every street corner. Commitment is not a fashionable term. Esau syndrome prevails like a cancer among God’s People. What is Esau syndrome? All the times that we trade God’s Gifts in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. I could stop right here and wallow in repentance for the rest of the day. I shudder to think how many times I have allowed human impulsivity to steal my blessing and rob me of joy. Discontentment are sown readily in this world. Envy is a disease. We want what others have so much that we never once think that maybe God has a better plan for me. We must bind impulsivity and change its course. Rather than being impulsive, we must learn to be responsive to God’s Word and His Spirit so we no longer make unintentional vows to settle for less than later regret not waiting on the Lord. (Proverbs 20:25) Three things will foster second thoughts in our life – our thoughts, emotions and impulses. Today as we lay them all before the Lord to assume the Mind of Christ – we are now truly free to live an abundant life filled with His Promises and Wonders.

Philippians 4:8-9 (MSG)
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

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