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Focus Determines Attitude

What does your mind dwell on when it’s free to wander?  You need to realize that the things you focus your attention on go into your heart, and eventually, if not taken care of, will come out in your actions.

We’re now getting to the concluding thoughts in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.  There are some simple truths that we all need to follow.  No matter what our calling, these are all a part of God’s will for us.

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.  Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:15-18

The first is to treat others correctly.  Our human nature wants to retaliate when we’re wronged.  But that’s not the way of the Spirit.

The Greek language of this verse says to watch or stare at so that nobody pays back wrong for wrong.  It’s all about what you focus on.  If you stare at and rehearse what’s been done to you, then you’ll eventually try to “even the score”.

The problem with this is that it doesn’t solve anything.  The retaliation will simply get passed back and forth like a bad potato.  It’s God’s will for us to bring peace into these types of situations.  Only then will people notice that there’s a different Spirit in us than what’s normally in the world.

We’re also encouraged to always be joyful.  It’s a word that simply means to be glad.  Again, it’s all about what you focus your attention on.

There are those who say that they can’t be cheerful because they’ve had such a hard life.  We need to realize that very few people get through life with no pain.  Those who are miserable about their lives are focusing on the struggle.

Please understand, you may have had a hard life.  But the key word is LIFE.  You’re alive.  And in Christ, you have the hope of a great future.  Scripture is very clear that in Christ our past never determines our future – no matter how bad it looks.  You need to be dwelling upon God’s Word, His promises to you, and His ability fulfill His plan in you.

The next is to pray continually.  Paul is actually telling us to worship uninterrupted.  I think that this is one of the most important parts of being cheerful.

Paul doesn’t mean for us to continually be asking God for things.  That’s not the spirit of worshipful prayer.  He’s talking about being conscious of the fact that the Holy Spirit is constantly with us.

It’s like being with a close friend.  In a close relationship, nobody dominates the conversation.  And sometimes you don’t need to talk at all, you’re just glad that you’re experiencing something together.  That’s what true, uninterrupted worship is all about.

Finally, we’re to always be thankful.  Remember, we don’t have to thank God FOR everything, but IN everything there’s always something to be thankful for.  It might be as simple as thanking God for His presence with you.  If we focus on finding something to be thankful about, we’ll have a much better attitude about our situation.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9

It’s clear from Scripture that what we dwell on will determine our attitude, and what we receive from life.

Question: How has your thought life affected your attitude – both good and bad?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2017 in Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Directing Your Thoughts

 

cross 2I’ve been posting about how our minds are renewed by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. This was also evident in the life of Christ.

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
Luke 24:45

The word understand in this verse literally means to put together. The Lord opened up the minds of these disciples to put together all that was happening. This included the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ, as well as the Scripture that foretold it. They had to walk in a supernatural understanding in order to grasp what was happening.

We need this ability of the Holy Spirit in us to put together – understand and apply – all that’s in the Scripture. If I don’t cultivate my spiritual prayer life, then where will all of this understanding come from? We can receive these blessing nowhere else but from the spirit.

Paul understood this and tried to make it clear to his readers. In the following verse, the apostle is taking an Old Testament verse and revamping it for a spiritual people.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16

What this verse actually says in the Greek is, “Who has known the mind of the Lord well enough to be knit together with Him.” But we hold, possess the mind of Christ.

What an incredible truth! In the spirit we have access to the mind of the eternal God. The big question is; will we lay claim to this gift by the spirit?

It’s clear that the Holy Spirit is needed in order to renew our minds. But this renewal is more than just accessing God’s knowledge. It’s much deeper than that.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…
Philippians 2:5

This means that the direction of our minds should be the same as Christ. This is evident in our current church experience. So many of our prayers seem to go unanswered. We think we’re praying “in the will of God.” But we don’t see anything happening.

Many times we don’t receive when we pray because we’re headed in a different direction than Christ. We want the blessings of God. We just want them for a different reason than He does.

We need to direct our mind like Christ. When the Lord walked the earth, His mind was directed by the Spirit. That’s what renewal is all about. It’s not just changing what we think about, but how we think.

This is a difficult thing to do in the natural. Actually it’s pretty close to impossible. Trying to get the mind to renew itself is a losing proposition. Instead, the best way is to activate our spirit in order to keep our mind Christ-centered.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Colossians 3:2

This would be quite a challenge for us to do in our own power. I know I can accomplish this temporarily. I wanted to see how long during the day I could make myself think about the things of God. I found it to be a lost cause. The littlest things would distract me and refocus my attention on the things of earth.

Prayer in the spirit, however, allows you to zero in on things above for an increasingly longer time. Your mind will begin to follow the lead of your spirit. You will begin to understand the things of the spirit like never before.

In this way your mind will start to become reset and refreshed. When this is taking place it goes a long way to changing how the outward man reacts to life. If we’re going to win the battle of the mind, then we must pray in the spirit regularly.

Question: How have you noticed your prayer life affecting your thought life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Daily Renewal

ButterflyIn my last post I began talking about the renewing of our minds. We saw from the Ephesians 4:23 that it’s a work that’s accomplished in the spirit.

…to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
Ephesians 4:23

Even the phrase be made new is full of meaning. It’s the Greek word ana-neoo. Neoo means brand, spanking new, right out of the box. Ana is a prefix that adds an intensive repetition. This renewal is to be done over and over again.

This is the only place in the Bible that this word is used. Every other place the word renew means to freshen or renovate. In this verse we’re talking about resetting everything back to the original factory settings. This is the ultimate do-over. But it can only be done in the spirit.

That’s why I place such a high emphasis on prayer in the spirit. Without it we have no chance of overcoming the sin nature, or walking in the renewed life. I feel that renewal of the mind is the most important part of the process. Without setting our mind correctly, it will never fully cooperate with God’s plan.

This is reiterated throughout Paul’s ministry. At one point he felt the need to remind Titus, a young pastor, about these things. He reminded Titus what they were like when they first came to God. They were just like everyone else in the world. They thought and acted like everyone around them.

…he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…
Titus 3:5

The salvation process is described here in two parts. First, the washing of rebirth – the removal of the old man and the putting on of Christ. Then came the renewal by the Holy Spirit. We have to give up the idea that it’s just about reading the Bible.

As important as Scripture is to us, I know many people who aren’t even saved, who read the Bible every day. Their lives show no improvement because of this practice. The Bible will only bring change if it’s activated by the Holy Spirit.

That’s why this is not a one-shot deal. The word renewal contains the thought of repetition. We must continue in it day after day. Prayer in the spirit is not a holy “toy” that we take out of the box merely to play with on Sunday mornings. It’s a vital agent of change that needs to be cultivated day after day. We must continue to refresh and reset our minds.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16

In the context of this verse, Paul is not talking about the entire church. We read this and think that every Christian is being renewed daily. That is absolutely not the case. In all of 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, Paul is talking about himself and his ministry team. Paul, who prayed in the spirit more than most believers of his day, was allowing himself to be renewed daily in the spirit.

This is why our daily time with the Lord is so important. We must take the time to read the Bible and pray in the spirit. Reading gets the written word into you. Prayer in the spirit activates that word and brings it to life within your heart.

That’s how you live in daily renewal, just like Paul. Not doing this is one of the biggest hindrances to serving Christ in His ability.

Question: How do you spend your daily with the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Meditate on the Word of God

 

Journal 2Godly meditation upon the Word of God is one of the lost arts of the body of Christ. It’s one of the most powerful tools you could ever use in your study of God’s Word.

The Bible is a spiritual book. You can’t expect to use natural study methods to receive the supernatural revelation and knowledge God desires you to have.

There are always those Scriptures that, when read, seem to “jump out” at me. Through my meditation on the Word of God, I’ve gained insight into many of these portions of Scripture. I’ve found that I can use the tool of meditation to take me into the deep places of the Word of God. By meditating on the Word anyone can find the deeper truths of Scripture, and you’ll also come across some hidden gems that you never knew were there.

There are basically three levels to meditation. Each level revolves around an Old Testament Hebrew word. In this post I want to talk about the first.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

Meditation starts in our mind. The Hebrew word for this is Hagag. This word is used throughout the Old Testament and means to think about. That has got to be our starting point. We need to first think about the Word we’re studying. What does it mean? What did it mean to those to whom it was written? What does it mean to me?

Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing.
Psalm 5:1

The word sighing, above, is the word Hagag. In both of the above verses David asks the Lord to consider his meditation. He wants the Lord to be pleased with what he thinks about. What a challenge!

One of the biggest battles we face is in our thought life. One of the side benefits to the discipline of meditation is that it starts to take our thoughts under control as we focus on God’s Word.

Do not conform any longer 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

We’re told that we’re to renew our minds. It’s through godly meditation that this is done. By thinking God’s thoughts, we’re “reprogramming our internal computers.” I believe this is what Paul meant when he wrote that we’re made clean by the washing with water through the Word.

This, then, is the first step, the starting point in our trip to supernatural revelation from Scripture. Before we can go any deeper, we must train our thoughts to focus upon the Word of God. We must begin to think about the Word. Only then are we ready for the next, deeper stage of meditation.

My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue.     
Psalm 39:3

As I have just stated, this form of meditation just gets the ball rolling. It’s merely the starting place. It ignites the fire that will bring you further into the Word. Now you’re ready for the second level. I will talk about that in my next post.

Question: How often do you simply think about the Word of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Ministry, Spirit of Excellence, Word of God

 

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Your Thought Life

Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.

This is one of the most important areas of your life.  It will either make or break you.  It’s always interesting to see what people do with their “down time”.  I’m talking about the time during the day that you’re not having to concentrate on what you are doing.

This is the time that you’re getting dressed, driving to work, or doing other things that don’t require a lot of thought.  These are times where you have nothing but your own thoughts to keep you company.  Using the time wisely can be very challenging.

Of course, with many people, this time is filled by their I-pod, radio, or cell phone.  The last thing this society wants is to think too deeply.  Like it or not, we need to take the time to think about important issues.

It has become abundantly clear to me through the Word of God and my own experience that what you meditate on during these times will ultimately shape your character.  If you are to achieve the maximum benefit from this, then you need to focus on what is spiritual – the Word of God, God’s calling on your life, and songs of praise and worship.

As these thoughts start to fill your mind, a change starts to take place in your heart.  You start to be drawn upward to God.  This idle time will now become a time of spiritual growth, renewal, and refreshing.

Take the opportunity today to turn off the external “noise”.  Begin to steer your thoughts toward the things of the Lord.  Discover the power you need for living as you fill your heart with the only thoughts that can bring lasting change to your life.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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