Are your thoughts holding you captive? Jennie Allen knows what it’s like to swirl in a spiral of destructive thoughts, such as I’ll never be good enough. Other people have better lives than I do. God couldn’t really love me. In this study on the book of Philippians, we learn we don’t have to stay stuck in toxic thinking patterns. Freedom comes when we refuse to be victims to our thoughts and realize we have already been equipped with power from God to fight and win the war for our minds. When we submit our minds to Christ, the promises and goodness of God flood our lives in remarkable ways. It starts in your head. And from there, the possibilities are endless.
We often don't think about the way we think. We think about the way we feel almost every minute. But changing the way we think seems nearly impossible. Thinking indicates your assumptions; assumptions surface your emotions; from emotions, beliefs form; out of your beliefs, actions are taken; and actions, over time, form habits. It is possible to waste away our entire lives if we never learn how to take our thoughts captive: "We learn to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Ever wonder why it seems some people are happier than you, even if they are going through more difficult circumstances than you? When Paul wrote about joy to the Philippians, he was actually bound in chains. If all he saw were his circumstances, he would surely have been despondent. But, his love of Jesus and trust in an in-control God consumed his mind. So, what are you looking toward to make you happy? As Romans 8:5-11 tells us, our minds can be set on the flesh, or set on the Spirit.
Paul gives us weapons to fight a war with each toxic thought. To battle our inflated view of ourselves, we have the weapon of Humility. Our weapon to fight the noise in our heads brought by stress and anxiety is Silence. And, when our thoughts spiral into grumbling and complaining, we fight it with the weapon of Delight. Learn to enjoy God and just be with him, focusing your mind on the One who is worthy of our full attention.
The next three weapons we fight with are all about busting out of our comfort zones. Do you notice discontentment, disillusionment, discouragement, or disengagement in yourself? Fight it with the weapon of Connection. How about complacency...finding comfort in mediocrity, accepting things as they are, clinging to the status quo? Stop numbing and use the weapon of Intentionality. Maybe having a victim mentality is your struggle; that can best be fought with the weapon of Gratitude.
Now that we know how to fight, we need to know how to go the distance. How to persevere and keep growing in strength and maturity. Surprisingly, one of Paul's indicators of maturity is the discipline of Forgetting...forgetting what's behind so we can move ahead. Sometimes, remembering makes us bitter and unforgiving, and holds us in bondage. Learn when, what, and how to forget, and find real freedom.
How many of us are weighed down by anxiety? Many of us find our thoughts circling around problematic circumstances or people. Anxiety has become the soundtrack of our days, so familiar we hardly notice it. Anxiety asks, "What if?" Our tool for defeating "what if" is Because God. The enemy wants to tell us we cannot trust God to take care of our tomorrows. But the truth is, God is in control of each and every day. Through surrender and contentment, we learn to do everything in His strength.