Thursday, March 1, 2018

Receiving the Mind of Christ.

Last week I reached the point of the year where I felt ready to give up on all my goals. Two months have gone by fairly quickly, but lately I am looking at everything I've done, everything yet to do, and everything still not getting done on a regular basis and I feel like I am beginning to crumble. Maybe it's a phase, maybe it's a response to overcommitting and my desire to achieve, but maybe it's because my mind is not where it should be.

I'll be the first to admit; I have a hard time letting God have His way.

Yes, we just finished the month about obedience, but my thought-life is still trying to get on board. I have a lot of "ifs" that need worked through and a lot of insecurities that need tossed. It feels easy to trust God with something big and important, but I am struggling to surrender my life over to the sacrifices that are required of me right now, day after day. I know my perspective is skewed. And while I can still choose to obey, the heartache and frustration from still wishing things were different, easier, more glamorous and less blah, are wearing me down.

This is where I'm going to take a public leap of faith, say a million prayers, and go to bed each night hoping God does His work.

I am hopeful that if I truly have the same priorities as God, if I can fully gain His insight, and understand what He wants for my life, my heart will eventually come around.

Let's all pray that "eventually" is more like tomorrow, or even next week; the sooner the better!

My head insists on thinking about what my days and my life should look like. I know it's not how God says I should spend my time and thoughts, but it is a challenge getting my mind to stop. I'm overwhelmed but feel like I'm not doing enough. I'm exhausted with my to-do list but it's never close to being done. I go back and forth between wanting to rest and wanting to get the work done, hoping one of those options will enable me to truly be at peace for a bit. But even when I am obeying the best I know how, my mind is still not tracking the way I believe God wants it to.

This month's Call is all about our thought-life. Not just all this "positivity" and "good-vibes" but spending our time focused on what it means to Receive the Mind of Christ. We are called to use our minds for His glory. We are commanded to filter what comes in (Romans 10:4-6). Not only is our mind one of the ways God uses the Holy Spirit to speak to us, but our minds inform our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). And I desperately need my mind to start informing my heart of what is true, honorable, lovely, and more.

The verse I want us to focus on this month really stands out to me. It was actually really challenging to pick just this one because the whole section in 1 Corinthians 2 is truly amazing. Go read it all! For now, think about what is said in verse 12:

"Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God."

Earlier in the chapter, Paul is talking about how we cannot fathom what God has in store for us, and that no one can know the thoughts of God. BUT, and it is a really big BUT, the Holy Spirit searches even the depths of God and then speaks to us. Isn't that amazing? What a gift!

Not only are there riches to fathom in receiving the mind of Christ, but there is wisdom to be had as well. And Proverbs is chock-full of advice about seeking wisdom. We need it, and we need it to come from God. Not just from friends on Instagram, not only from that non-fiction author who mostly talks about biblical stuff, but from God Himself.

I know getting your mind right with God might feel like strange business. I mean, He has to do the work, so what exactly are we supposed to do?

We need to start by making ourselves available. If we are constantly filled with the world, we have left no room for the things of God. If during every free second of our days we turn to social media, email, or communicating with others, we have left no open window for God to come in and communicate with us. We will need to learn to sit, be still, quiet our thoughts and simply listen. We will need to search the scriptures without an agenda. We will need to meditate on what we read and become willing to sit without immediate answers. We will need to stop thinking our thoughts and instead, ask God about His thoughts.

I was kind of dreading this post because I feel like I am doing such a lousy job of this lately, but after writing about all of that slowing down and sitting in silence, it sounds incredibly ideal and brings me refreshing hope. Are you up for it? Will you put your phone down, wait for God to move His Spirit and tell you what He has freely given you?

My book list is quite a bit shorter for this month's Call. I may add some others in a week or so, but since my goal is to sit and let God do the speaking, I want to clear my schedule a bit and stop filling my mind with everything I think is best.

Per the recommendation of my pastor, I am listening to Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper.  I am only about 45 minutes in and am thoroughly encouraged.

I have already read David Mathis' book, Habits of Grace, and listened to it via the app Hoopla twice. I HIGHLY recommend it. It is practical, spiritually deep though, and a great encouragement no matter where you find yourself in your walk with God.

I will also be reading a few chapters in Proverbs each day. I might skirt around and check out other books as I feel lead (especially Ecclesiastes) but I want to really understand the gravity of how important wisdom from God really is and should be to us. I want to want it as bad as Solomon said we need it.

Like I said before, I hope that focusing on what needs to be in my mind and spending time allowing God to work in my thoughts will bring a peace to my heart that I am currently lacking. I need God's perspective on my life and I desire my heart to just play along nice and quit making it so hard. On one hand, I am comforted that even Paul felt like this (Romans 7:15-24), wanting one thing that you know you don't actually want, and doing the things you don't want to do, but I cannot force myself out of this place. I need to set my mind on the Spirit and allow Him to move in my mind, changing the desires of my flesh and bringing me genuine peace.

I'm guessing you need that too, right? Let's work on it together!

I am also hosting a Five Minute Challenge this month, every Monday through Friday on my Instagram (@joellen.armstrong). We'll spend five minutes in silence, allowing God to speak to us. No phone, no journaling, no praying even except for asking God to fill our minds with His mind. I'm excited to see so many women becoming more connected to God and more aware of His working in our lives. Follow me there and let me know you'll join in.

Make sure you also sign up to receive my monthly newsletter here (and get some cool bookmarks while you do) and then join our Facebook group to receive some other freebies and be encouraged.

I'm praying this is a month that makes an impact for all of us. I am asking God to fill my mind with what He desires, with what He wants me to know about Him, about life, about salvation and more. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help get your thinking going. Feel free to answer in the comments or write them down to ponder alone. May God bless your efforts in understanding Him better.

What thoughts against myself am I constantly battling?

What do I know about God that can change how I am looking at this difficult, annoying, frustrating, or even tragic situation?

What truths has God given me that I can cling to?

How can I "set my mind on the Spirit" as Paul says in Romans 8?

What personal desires are keeping me from wanting the life God wants me to enjoy living?

If you are wrestling through life, trying to get a handle on everything, please don't hesitate to reach out for prayer. It is a powerful tool and it builds community and encourages authentic relationships. Whether it is me or someone else you know, ask someone to pray for you! You won't regret it.

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