What lie is holding you hostage? What wrong thought robs you of living a life of joy? Pastor and author, Craig Groeschel, provides a list of reflective questions to think about in order to focus on how we can improve our thoughts to align them with the way God would want us to think about ourselves.
Are my thoughts tearing me down? Does my self-talk cause me to shrink back in fear? Do my thoughts cause me to keep people at a distance? Are my unhealthy thoughts keeping me from the life that God wants for me? Does my inner voice tell me I’m helpless or that life is hopeless?
The goal is to shift from these questions to affirmative answers to the following questions. Are my thoughts building me up? Do I think peaceful thoughts? Does my self-talk inspire me to take faith risks? Do my thoughts help me get closer to others? Do my thoughts reflect my faith? Do my thoughts reflect my hope and joy in Christ? Do they equip me to become more like Jesus? Do my thoughts connect to the vision God has for my life? You cannot defeat when you cannot define. It is important to identify any lie about yourself that is holding you back and replace it with truths and promises from God.
One way to do this is through prayer. Prayer can change you. As we pray to God, we can thank God for the blessings that He provides us. We can praise His great name. We can bring our requests and struggles to Him, confident that He hears us and is working to help us. When we spend time in prayer, God will have a way of working answers into our lives through thoughts or through others.
Prayer can even change your brain. Dr. Andrew Newberg, director of research at Thomas Jefferson Hospital and Medical College in Pennsylvania, studies the brain by using neuroimaging techniques. He has written a book called, How God changes your brain. He describes that prayer is like a physical workout for the brain and changes its chemistry. Another doctor in the same field, Dr. Caroline Leaf, further describes the impact of prayer on the brain. “It has been found that twelve minutes of daily focused prayer over an eight-week period can change the brain to such an extent that it can be measured on a brain scan. This type of prayer increases activity in brain areas associated with social interaction, compassion, and sensitivity to others.” Prayer also increases frontal lobe activity, which involves problem solving, memory, judgement, and impulse control.
Prayer is powerful because it is God’s power at work in our lives. Prayer can change your brain and move your life and thoughts in a positive direction. This is important as your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. We can seek to pray and saturate ourselves in God’s Word to keep from being influenced by the devil or the world. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2.
Prayer can renew our mind, leading us to God’s peace, joy, and understanding. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7. We can actively seek to know Bible verses that will correct any harmful thoughts that we might have. We can ground our thoughts in God’s Word and hold on to His promise and truths.
Every day we can seek to learn more about Jesus and the joy that can be found in His great love for us. This then can impact how we approach all aspects of our lives. Every day we can experience joy in greeting, encouraging, and learning more about others in our lives. Every day we can be joyful to learn more about ourselves. We can seek to learn new things in order to be better equipped to help others and share God’s love with them.
It is important to note that there is a difference between the joy of the Lord and happiness. Happiness is often temporary and the result of outward circumstances or interactions. The joy of the Lord is based on something exceptionally good. It is God’s great love and presence in our lives. This joy is unending and can lead to inward peace and contentment. The joy of the Lord transcends what happens to us as it is based on who God is. God does not change. The joy of the Lord is constant even in difficult times as God’s love and grace in our lives does not change. The joy of the Lord is a great blessing! It is the joy of grace! It is the joy of comfort! It is the joy of mercy! It is the joy of forgiveness! It is the joy of love! This joy is rooted deep within us and provides Christians great strength!
The joy of the LORD is your strength.
The joy of the Lord as our strength can be a great constant in the life of Christians. This joy is strength for all moments of life! When we focus on the joy of the Lord, we can have lasting inward peace and contentment that provides hope and encouragement for each day.
The wonderful thing about the joy of the Lord is that it is not based on our decisions or who we are. God is the source and giver of this joy! For God had given the people cause for great joy. Nehemiah 12:43a. When we saturate ourselves in God’s Word, it will have a transforming effect on us as the joy of the Lord will be with us as a source of hope, encouragement, comfort, gladness, and so much more!
Pastor and author, Charles Spurgeon, has an excellent description of the impact the joy of the Lord can have on our lives. “There is a marvelous medicinal power in joy…[joy] is sweet to the taste, and comforting to the heart. This blessed joy is very contagious…Holy joy will oil the wheels of your life’s machinery. Holy joy will strengthen you for your daily labor.” Proverbs 17:22 states it this way. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Joy from God’s Word and His promises can provide us with delight and purpose for each day.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Jesus’ teaching is always relevant because He knows everyone’s thoughts, what everyone
is going through, and what everyone will face in the future. He knew that there are things in this
world that can cause people to fall away from their faith. That is why the importance of reading
and retaining God’s Word is emphasized. God’s Word is powerful and transforming. Through
reading the Bible, discussing God’s Word with other Christians, and attending church we are able
to persevere in our faith until we are called home to our eternal dwelling place in heaven. Remember experiences, Bible verses, and conversations that made you better understand God’s goodness, power, and love. When difficulty comes, remember these important lessons.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner
being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and
established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge— that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God.
God’s love and grace is powerful. Coach Tony Dungy in his book, The Mentor Leader, shares how the most important knowledge of God’s love shaped his life. “From my perspective, a genuine sense of self-worth—the kind of confidence that can’t be shaken by circumstances—is best obtained through a relationship with God. The knowledge that He created me and cares for me does more for my mental health and overall well-being than any self-help book ever could. I am both humbled and empowered by the knowledge that Jesus Christ performed the ultimate act of sacrificial service for me. To know that God loves me that much is powerful.”
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Humans were created in God’s image and with God’s help and strength are capable of
great things. God does not make junk and every person has God-given talents and abilities that
can be used to glorify God. Know that you were created to be great, something special, something
only you can be. Being great is not based on your job, possessions, power, or appearance though.
It is based on what Jesus has done for us through His suffering and death on the cross for the sins
of the world and His victorious resurrection. Because of His love that gives us the free gift of
eternal life, we are able to show God’s love to others in whatever we are doing in life, wherever
we might be, and with whom we interact with in our daily lives. It is quite amazing to think that
the all-powerful creator God knows us, has a purpose for our lives, cares about us, and wants to
It can be frustrating when we have something to say and do not feel like a person is listening to us. With God there is no doubt, He always hears us and is listening intently. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14. That is quite amazing to think about. The all powerful God listens to us! When we dial the number we don’t have to worry about a busy signal or that the person is not available. No matter what God is doing, He is able to hear us as we pray. Prayer is so important that Jesus prayed often. He set the example of praying before He taught His disciples to pray. The disciples noticed that Jesus prayed often and requested Him to teach them. Prayer is the only tutorial the disciples requested.
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
The words, “Our Father” remind us we are welcome in God’s house because we have been adopted by the owner. We can talk to God because He is our loving Father who listens to us! All Christians are a part of the family of God and we know that our Father is always with us.
Some may wonder why is prayer so important? If God knows everything about us and all of our thoughts, then why do we need to pray? These people might think prayer is as useful as a lifeguard at an Olympic swimming event. This is not true though. It is true that God knows everything about us and our thoughts. Through prayer we can lay our burdens before the Lord. God can communicate truths to us that we need to hear and be reminded of. For example, Philippians 4:6 states, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
God wants to hear our prayers and has promised to answer them. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24. This of course does not mean if we pray for lots of money or possessions that we will automatically be given this. The more time we spend in God’s Word and in prayer, the more our requests will align with God’s will for our lives. We can believe in our requests because we know that they are God-pleasing and can be used to show God’s love to others.
A great prayer to remember is found in Hebrews 13:20-21. Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” This can be better accomplished by praying continually. This helps us to remember that God is with us at all times. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12.
Pastor, author and former seminary president, Milt Rudnick, states how prayer changes us. “We will know Him better, feel closer to Him, trust Him more, and long more intensely to be in contact with Him. God is very real to people who pray often.” Prayer is powerful communication, not because it involves us but because it involves God. God can use prayer to work through us to grow our relationship with Him and to better accomplish His will.
God is definitely a God of the details and cares about us down to the very number of hairs on our head. In creation, there is evidence that God takes care of the details as well. If the rotation or tilt of the earth was off slightly, plant life would not be sustained and the earth would be inhabitable. The earth is just the right size with the force of gravity enabling our atmosphere to hold in place. The moon is the right distance from the earth. If it were closer, tides would completely submerge the continents twice a day. Our atmosphere is about 78 parts nitrogen and 21 parts oxygen. Too much nitrogen would slow down all functions in the body and too much oxygen would also lead to shorter life.
Thomas Chisholm wrote the hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness, in 1923. The second stanza is a beautiful description of how God is a God of the details and shows His faithfulness for all times.
Summer and winter, and spring-time and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Faithfulness means long-continued and resolute loyalty, and unswerving steadfastness. God created the whole universe and is the only one around before and since the beginning of time! He will continue to be with us for all eternity. Christians know that God has a place for us in heaven. The verses from John 14 are a great comfort to know that God has taken care of the details. When we trust in Jesus, as our Savior, God freely gives us forgiveness and eternal life. Jesus said: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:2-3.
One of the greatest blessings of having the Holy Spirit dwell within Christians, is that the Spirit empowers Christians. “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6. The Holy Spirit works to empower Christians to live a life in response to the love that God has shown us. Any good things in our life are a result of the Holy Spirit and God's love at work in our lives.
The Holy Spirit works in the lives of Christians so that we focus our thoughts, words, and deeds on God’s Word. By spending time in God’s Word it will be clearer what the Spirit is leading us to do. God’s Word is powerful and leads to changed and improved lives. The Holy Spirit uses the time we spend in God’s Word to empower us. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6.
Galatians 5:22-23 further describes what the mind governed by the Spirit focuses on. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. It is a tall order to keep in step with the Spirt, but the great thing is that it is not all on us. God has given us the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us to keep in step with the Spirit. If we read God’s Word daily, talk to Christian friends, worship with a community of believers, pray daily, and watch what we see, hear, and experience there is no limit to what God can accomplish through us!
Christian, author, and professor of mathematics education.