12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. — Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV
Since God knows our every thought we need to be very careful of the thought patterns that we allow to develop. Of course, thoughts drift into our mind and that is beyond our control to a point. But we do have control over whether or not we dwell on those thoughts. In Corinthians, we are instructed to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”. We can also take some control of our thought patterns by making better decisions about the things we read, the things we see, the conversations that we have and the people we associate with daily. We must be careful that our pride doesn’t lead us into believing that we are influencing others more than they are influencing us. The things and the people that we spend the most time with are the ones that influence us the most. Pride says “I would never” but we all have at some time or other done or said those things that we are not proud of later. Those things that we did and the words that we spoke are results of thought patterns that we have developed over the years. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us purify our hearts and minds. We can help by studying God’s Word and making it a bigger part of our daily thought patterns.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.— Psalm 119:11
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,and renew a steadfast spirit within me. — Psalm 51:10 NIV
23 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Phil. 4:7 NIV
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. — Proverbs 4:23 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Paul was in an actual prison in Rome requesting prayer for opportunity, strength, and boldness to continue witnessing for Jesus. He wanted to carry on the work that God had called him to do. He was chosen as the apostle to the Gentiles and wanted to set the example for unbelievers. Even in that situation Paul wanted to be kind and pleasant. Even though his cell was cold and uncomfortable, He refused to complain so that his lifestyle would attract others to Christ.
Even though we live in the land of abundance, we are in prisons of our own making. We are held captive by our own fleshly desires, pride and public opinion. Our fear of what others think of us has sealed our lips. We are more concerned with pleasing our families and our friends than we are with pleasing Jesus. We need to pray that we will be like Paul, he didn’t witness because of an obligation, he witnessed because of his love for his Lord and Savior. Pray that God will release us from our fleshly prisons and that our love for Him will override our doubts and fears and our lips will be loosed to praise Him.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
12 And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” 13 When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear. — Hebrews 8:12, 13 NLT
In yesterday’s passage, we read about erecting landmarks and altars to remind us of the goodness of God. We were reminded of how He provides for us and watches over us so that we might proceed safely on our journey. He has established a new covenant with us beginning with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Instead of an earthly high priest, Jesus is our high Priest. He has made each us members of the royal priesthood. We can now speak directly to God Himself. He is the complete, final sacrifice so that it is no longer necessary for us to carry out the rituals required in the Old Testament. Along with that new covenant, He has written His laws in our hearts and in our minds. He has chosen to forget our sins against Him The Holy Spirit testifies that this is true. (Hebrews 10:14-18). Just as God forgives and forgets our sins, we are to forgive others. To do that, we are going to have to go back through the memories of our lives and tear down some mental landmarks. All those memories that birng back the times we have felt or actually been mistreated are going to have to be dealt with and released into God’s captivity. As humans, we may not be able to forget entriely, but if we follow the instructions given us in 2 Cor. 10:3-5 to bring every thought captive and teach them to obey Christ, then we will find that it is completely possible to make those bad times in our lives insignificant. If not insignificant, then, at least, no longer worthy of mentioning. Otherwise, they become the roots that produce fruits of bitterness. Give those thoughts to God and allow Him to tear down the landmarks before they become strongholds that keep our relationship with God from growing into maturity.
1 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;-Isaiah 61:1,2 (NRSV)
This prophecy about Jesus was repeated by Jesus Himself in Luke 4, As He taught in the synagogue, He read from the scroll and explained to those listening that He was the fulfillment of this prophecy. Not only was he sent to bring the Good News to us, He was the Good News in the flesh. As we are told in John 1, ” the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. This is the time of year that we celebrate the coming of that Good News. While this is a season of great joy for most of us, it is also a season of great sadness for those that have not accepted the Good News. Proclaim the Good News to them and help them to understand that Jesus has come to bind up the brokenhearted, to free the captives and to comfort those that mourn. We are to follow His example and do the same things. Let others know that with Jesus, there is “joy unspeakable and full of grace”. Let them know that although we/they may be physically separated from our/their earthly family, we/they are never alone.
Isaiah 61:1-2 (NLT) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies
Yes, these verses apply directly to Jesus, but they also apply to us as well. Jesus did this work while He walked on this earth. Now, since we are His living temple and He abides in us, it is our duty to carry on this work. This is the good news that He commissioned us to carry to a lost and dying world. His Spirit indwells us and gives us power, boldness, and the words to speak to those He puts in our paths each day. It is not necessary to go on a mission to a foreign country to do this. We live in a foreign country (we are aliens here) and our neighborhood is our mission field. The secular workplace that God has put you in is your mission field. We are all ministers of God’s saving grace and as such, we should minister to people as we go. Our pastors and teachers are responsible for equipping us to minister to the world around us, but it is our responsibility to do the hands-on ministering.
Isaiah 50: 10, 11 (NLT) 10 Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant?
If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light,
trust in the Lord and rely on your God.
11 But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires.
This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon fall down in great torment.
If you have ever tried self-help programs, you know how frustrating that can be. You know when we say things like “I am going to do better”, “I am going to lose weight”, “I am going to quit smoking”, “I am going to quit watching pornography”, “I am going to become a better person”, “I am, I am……” And we try, we try really hard. And we try again, but those desires are still there.
As we are told in James 3:2 (NLT) 2. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. BUT WE CAN’T
Our fleshly desires always win out until we admit that we can’t and only God can do it for us. The problem is the heart and only God can change that. Jesus came to set the captive free, ask Him and He will do that for you right now.