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Daily Devotionals

Negative Thoughts
Jan 19, 2018

We all want to take away our negative thoughts. Whether it’s bitterness, deceit, jealousy, anger, hatred, anxiety or worry, it is easy to recognize that the thoughts running through our mind control our lives on daily, or even a minute-by-minute basis. When the enemy sets his attack on our minds, which only takes a single thought for his grip to take hold of our day, those who have placed their faith in Jesus as their one true Savior have tapped in to the ability to have outside help.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
— Colossians 3:2–3

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul’s instruction to “put on the new self” starts with these verses. His teaching of putting your mind in the right spot is no accident. He knew that our thoughts control everything else that we do and he made it a point to cover the mind as the first topic in this passage.

Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
— Ephesians 4:21–24

Jesus came to earth, lived out his ministry here, and died on the cross for all sins, even those thoughts that control us day in and day out. Being able to set your mind on the things above requires knowing that he was sent here to die for our sins and trusting that he is the perfect savior. Trust in the truth that placing your mind on the heavenly things will put those negative thoughts to rest, and know that Jesus gave it all, so that he could carry those burdens for you.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”
— Matthew 11:30

Daily Devotionals

The Pioneer Of SparkNotes
Jan 18, 2018

“Christian minds have been conformed to the modern spirit: the spirit, that is, that spawns great thoughts of man and leaves room for only small thoughts of God.”
― J.I. Packer, Knowing God

Growing up, I loved sparknotes.com. For those of you unaware of this little jewel, then your entire life has been a waste. (Just kidding.)

SparkNotes is a website that provides all sorts of tools that make reading easier. Some of the most useful tools it provides are abridged versions of books that contain the most crucial details of the story, without any of the fluff, allowing you to get the gist of the book in a fraction of the time. In the era where we have all the information we want at just the swipe of a smartphone, this is a tool that most of us should find useful. Who has time to read a book anyway? (Sort of kidding.)

Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a SparkNote for the Bible? Wait, before you think I’m being irreverent, hear me out. I’m not saying that the Bible as a whole isn’t important. But wouldn’t it be awesome if we could sum up the entire Bible in just a few sentences? What if we could glean instruction from the Scriptures that is so crystallized, that everything else stands on it? What if we could sum up all 10 of the commandments that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai in one sentence?

Leave it to Jesus to wow us with this very thing. That’s exactly what he did when he was asked what the greatest commandment was. His response was startling to some:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
— Matthew 22:36–40

So, there you have it. Jesus just gave us the SparkNotes for the Bible. Thanks, Jesus!

Okay, not really. There is certainly much more to learn from the Bible than just what God wants us to do.

Nevertheless, if love for God and others isn’t our primary motivation behind our actions, then there is something severely out of alignment in our faith. That’s powerful stuff.

So that’s it. Just love God and others. That’s all we need to do, right? Well, not so fast. Notice how specific Jesus gets with the command. He doesn’t just command us to love God in some sort of emotional, feel-good way. Loving God with just our hearts is not the greatest kind of love.

Think about marriage for a second. Anyone who has been married for some time knows that the emotional feeling of love cannot carry the weight and responsibility that marriage brings. Love is only successful in a marriage when both partners are loving each other with their entire beings.

This is a love that is all-encompassing, including every facet of our human experience, beyond just circumstance-based feelings. A love that includes not just our emotions, but also our passion, our will and our intellect. Love that misses one of these components falls short of biblical love.

Jesus is saying we are to love God in this all-encompassing way.

Notice how Jesus includes loving God with all of our minds in this list. We are supposed to be intentional about cultivating a relationship with God that utilizes the minds that he gave us. We are supposed to seek, understand, ask, learn, memorize and meditate on who God is, what he wants for us, and what he wants us to become.

Loving God with just our emotions will only take us so far. When life gets tough, or when something tragic happens, if we aren’t properly equipped with the knowledge of God — who he is, what he promises, what he has done for us and who we are to him — then we could very easily form our relationship with God on what we are currently feeling.

This is dangerous, which is why in Romans 12:2, Paul implores us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." Instead of basing what we believe and feel about God on our emotions alone, we need to continue growing in our knowledge of God.

So, in the spirit of SparkNotes, I will leave you with one of the central quotes of the great J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God:

“If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all…

Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.”
― J.I. Packer, Knowing God

Daily Devotionals

Know My Thoughts
Jan 16, 2018

Until we do something different, we’re destined to have the same outcomes, right?

You can’t start your diet until you start eating healthier food. You can’t become a better student until you start studying more. You can’t be more awake during the day until you get more sleep at night.

Things don’t change on their own. They need a catalyst to enact that change.

This is what spoke to me most following Sunday’s continuation of the Mindset series. We want to fill our minds with holy and God-centered thoughts, yet how can we expect these thoughts to take root until we actually change how we think?

Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
— Psalm 139:23–24

But it’s not as easy as changing our thoughts — we’ve got to start by sifting through unproductive thoughts and then changing the things we think about.

The request for God to look into our thoughts and examine the flaws in our thinking was incredibly impactful for me. Too often I try to scan my own thoughts and pull out the ones that lead to decay, but how can an imperfect mind perfectly sort its own thoughts?

It can’t. We’ve got to leave that task to God.

While under good intentions, I try to steady myself before God hoping to appear more holy on Tuesday than I was on Monday. But for one, I’ll never be as holy as our Creator, and two, he doesn’t want me taking that task on alone anyways, because I’m destined to fail at it.

As the Psalmist prayed in the passage above, we must give our thoughts to the Lord and allow him to call out the ways in which our thinking has become negative, hurtful, harmful and sinful. Then we can better follow him, now having a God-centered, faith-driven mind.

Are you spending too much time trying to filter your own mind? Or are you allowing God to work for you and through you, enabling yourself to be transformed through that renewal? If we simply ask God to show us those harmful thoughts, we can then start to attack those thoughts as 2 Corinthians 10:5 instructs:

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
— 2 Corinthians 10:5

Daily Devotionals

Satan Is A Liar
Jan 15, 2018

Satan is a liar. There is no truth that comes from him. The words he speaks over us contain no life. Everywhere he goes, he leaves behind the stench of death and decay. He whispers weakness into our ears and slander into our souls. We shouldn’t be surprised, though. Jesus told us in no uncertain terms that at the core of Satan’s character, deception is the only thing that can be found.

…He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
— John 8:44

Knowing what we know to be true of Satan begs the question: Why do we listen so intently to his lies about us, our families, our careers, our futures, our faith and our Savior?

Over the past couple of years I have submitted myself to wise and godly counsel in an effort to get to the root of my own personal insecurities. I still have a long way to go, but I have also learned a lot along the way. The number one thing I have learned is that I spent more time listening to what the enemy says about me than the time I spent listening to what God says about me. The result was a mind wrecked with fear and self hate.

When I realized just how unhealthy I had become, all I knew to do was get into the Word of God and plead with him to speak truth into my heart and mind. He was faithful to do so, but I still wrestled with what to do with Satan’s lies. The Lord took me to 2 Corinthians, where it says:

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ
— 2 Corinthians 10:5

The Holy Spirit of God, through the Word of God, has given me the power to take those terrible, false, ugly lies from Satan captive and force them to submit to the truth. Want to know the trick? Every time you start to hear whispers of shame, guilt, condemnation, insecurity, fear, jealousy or slander, simply ask yourself the question: “Who told you that?” When we are able to properly identify the source, we are then able to quickly shut it down.

Satan is a liar. Don’t listen to him. He isn’t entitled to any part of your mind, so don’t let him live there any longer.

Daily Devotionals

Renew Your Mind
Jan 11, 2018

Most people understand that when one enters into a relationship with Jesus, there are some behaviors and actions that need to change. But that may be putting the cart before the horse a little bit.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.
— Romans 12:2

Yes, when you enter into a relationship with Jesus, your actions and behaviors should be changed. We are commanded to “be transformed.” But I think Romans 12:2 is giving us an important insight. Before transformation of actions and behaviors can happen, there must be renewal of the mind. Said a different way, if you want to change how you act, change how you think. You can’t go on thinking all of your same old, dysfunctional, toxic thoughts and expect your life to be magically transformed. That’s not how it works! When renewal of the mind happens, that’s when life transformation will happen.

Are you impulsive? Addicted? Angry? (Insert your dysfunction here)?

God can change how you think, and as your mind is renewed, you will notice the transformation of your life.

No matter where you find yourself, don’t lose hope! God can transform any life. And he’s going to start in your mind.

Coming Events

Financial Peace University - Sunnyvale
Every Tuesday, from 01/09/2018 to 03/06/2018, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Managing personal finances can be very stressful. In fact, it’s one of the leading causes of divorce. Starting in January, we will be offering Dave Ramsey's...

Financial Peace University - Forney
Every Thursday, from 01/11/2018 to 03/08/2018, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Managing personal finances can be very stressful. In fact, it’s one of the leading causes of divorce. Starting in January, we will be offering Dave Ramsey's...

Financial Peace University - Kaufman
Every Thursday, from 01/11/2018 to 03/08/2018, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Managing personal finances can be very stressful. In fact, it’s one of the leading causes of divorce. Starting in January, we will be offering Dave Ramsey's...

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