Autumn has landed in the Northern Hemisphere, and with this seasonal change comes early darkness, chilly mornings, and the subtle warning that winter is on its way. Of course there’s the compensatory aroma of apple pie and the eye-popping beauty of bright foliage, and the truth is, I have a choice to make every day (and in every season) as to whether I will see the positive or the negative aspects of that particular day. Will I choose to dwell on negative campaign ads, wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, and the parts of my schedule I can’t control– or will I hand my anxieties over to the God of the universe?
Paul calls this “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” and there’s more at stake here than just my mood. Eugene Peterson clarifies what’s happening at the cellular level. The goal for a believer’s manner of thinking is to fit “every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.”
If this sounds impossible to you, then you’re on the right track. Paul was not a self-help guru, and, while he knew where his bootstraps were and could employ them as needed (and so should we!), nowhere in scripture do we get the message that Christianity is a self-improvement project.
The discipline of our mind, emotions, and will is just one battle in the believer’s ongoing warfare, and God has equipped us with weapons that are effective for that spiritual battle. For a comprehensive list of the armor of God, read Ephesians 6. Since Paul makes it clear that we are to actively engage in the battle for our minds, we’ll focus on the offensive weapons here today:
“The Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17)
Paul warns us in the 2 Corinthians 10 passage that our weapons are radically different from the world’s. Regular doses of gospel truth are far more effective than pumpkin spice in getting us through the fall doldrums. The Son of God, in his time on earth, used scripture as a potent weapon against evil. I’ve written about spiritual disciplines and Bible reading routines elsewhere, but the point is to give the truth more room in your life than you are giving to the screaming banshees inside your head.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18)
When the believer is at prayer, it looks as if there’s not a thing going on. I can pray quietly in a chair or while I’m washing dishes or driving a car, but in the unseen world, when I pray, I am getting more accomplished than at any other point in my day. (I have to preach this to myself on the regular!)
Our moments of prayer are life-altering. Elisabeth Elliot wrote at length about the paradox of prayer:
Things happen which would not happen without prayer. Let us not forget that.”
But we do forget.
What choices and decisions will you make today to employ the tools at your disposal so that God can bring your “every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ?”
You are NOT at the mercy of your feelings!
The weapons are powerful, but we must choose to take them up and put them to use!
Praying for you today,
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