Sometimes I struggle with the practice of taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. I think this is a common struggle. So I pondered what things would help in the practice of taking my thoughts captive, and I thought I'd post the list that I came up with...partially to formulate it and further "captivate" it in my mind, and partially to share in case it might help someone. So here is what I came up with:
1. Read the Scriptures. You can't go wrong with that--well, I guess you can, but not as readily as with non-Scripture! 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." So in reading it, you may very well find that happening.
2. Pray for God's help in resisting the tendency to dwell on unpleasant thoughts. Without His help you can do nothing (Jn 15:5). He wants your mind to think on the best of things, not the worst (Phil 4:8), so you know you are praying in His will. He has promised that you can resist temptation: 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."
3. Meditate on the Scriptures; work to memorize verses that apply to subjects that you feel the need to ponder. Besides, those that are memorized can be brought to mind all your life by the Holy Spirit when they are needed. Psalm 119:23-24 says, "Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors."
4. Play Christian songs and sing worship wherever you can get away with it! It will reduce the likelihood that you will be pondering grudges and offenses as much as dwelling on the goodness of God. Psalm 18:48-50 says, "He delivers me from my enemies; Surely You lift me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from the violent man. Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O LORD, And I will sing praises to Your name. He gives great deliverance to His king, And shows lovingkindness to His anointed, To David and his descendants forever."
5. Remember the great things that God has done in the past, whether in the Scriptures or in your own life--even how He has brought you out of your former darkness. Eph 2:11-13 says, "Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called 'Uncircumcision' by the so-called 'Circumcision,' which is performed in the flesh by human hands--remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." In addition, we must remember God's continual benefits that are so plentiful we could so take them for granted. This will remind you of His character, His faithfulness, His provision, His sacrifice on your behalf...and help you to trust Him in your present storms. Psalm 103:1-5 says, "Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle."
6. Share with others the story of what great things He has done for you! If they are believers, they will rejoice and be encouraged with you; if they are unbelievers, they will not be able to deny the things you yourself have experienced at His hand and may consider His truth and goodness for themselves; besides, this blesses God and gives Him glory that is due His name. Psalm 96:3-4 says, "Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods."
7. Go and help someone who may have greater struggles than yours--such as the elderly, a new mom, a young child. It will give you joy and perspective about your own situation. 1 John 3:16-18 says, "But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth."
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