Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Meditating on Scripture to Defeat Anxiety



One of the benefits of daily meditating on Scriptures and praying them back to God is that the truth of the Scriptures gets inside you and fortifies your spirit so that when a panic attack or an anxiety attack comes, you are not deceived. You know deep within you that the thoughts and feelings the attack brings are not in line with God’s Word. And so you can take up your Scriptures, your “sword of the Spirit”, with confidence and the expectation that God will do what He says He can do in His Word as you pray them to Him. “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isa. 26:3) “Lord, I believe your Word and that you will keep me in perfect peace as I stay my mind on You and trust You even now during this attack. Help me stay my mind on You, Lord. I want your perfect peace.”

If you’ve never meditated on Scripture before, let me say there is big difference between mindlessly reciting Scriptures and deliberately meditating on them and praying them to God. Really focusing in on each word of the verses, taking your time and trying to understand their full meaning, can’t be rushed. It will seem strange at first because this world tries to convince us that we don’t have enough time to be thoughtful and reflect on things. But God says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isa. 30:15

The Enemy knows if we slow down and reflect on God’s Word, we will know the truth. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) Beth Moore has stated in Breaking Free, "Freedom comes through taking thoughts captive to Christ." We take our thoughts captive by meditating on and praying God's Word.  The Enemy wants to keep us enslaved to fear and anxiety, but that is not what God wants for us. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim. 1:7 (KJV) In Philippians 4:6-7, we are told not to be anxious about anything but to pray about everything and the peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds. When we are equipped with God’s Word, we can take back what the Enemy wants to destroy—our peace of mind and our faith in Jesus Christ. 

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Cor. 10:3-5, NIV

Memory Verses through August 30

I'm memorizing these verses for the next two weeks.

"And you, who once were alienated

 and hostile in mind,

doing evil deeds,

he has now reconciled

in his body of flesh

by his death,

in order to present you

holy and blameless

and above reproach

before him."

Colossians 1:21-22, ESV

Believers in Christ have been reconciled to God through the sufferings and sacrificial death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the reason for this reconciliation is so that we may be presented to God as holy and blameless and above reproach. In other words, because God wanted us to be saved and to be able to stand in His presence as His children, He arranged for His Only Begotten Son to take our sins upon Him and to suffer God's wrath and then die in our place. And Jesus agreed to the plan. Out of His love for us and His desire to have us with Him in Heaven. What kind of love is that? Certainly not the kind of love we see on this planet. Just think what we would face if Jesus had not consented to being our sacrifice. God's wrath. Eternal punishment. A dark existence too horrible to imagine. And we would deserve such a judgment. There is nothing good about sin. No redeeming quality. No justification. But because of Jesus, our sins are forgiven, and we do not get what we deserve.

"And he (Jesus) is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." Col. 1:17-20, ESV

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 15:57, ESV

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jesus Is the Image of the Invisible God

I've been memorizing Colossians 1 since January as part of Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team. I've reached my favorite part of Colossians, the part where we are told about Jesus.

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (v. 15-20, ESV)

I've memorized up to verse 20 so far. I love knowing that when we look at Jesus in the Scriptures, we are looking at our heavenly Father. I rejoice in the fact that we have a God and Savior who created the universe and the earth and the heavens and that this same God and Savior loves us so much, they sent the Holy Spirit to live in us and to empower us to stand firm in our faith.

"...whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him." As long as I fix my eyes on Jesus, the Enemy cannot get a foothold. Jesus has authority over him. Jesus protects me, and when I cry out to Him, He saves me. He destroys the devil's works.

"...and in him all things hold together." Every time I repeat that as I'm working on memorizing these verses, I thank God that Jesus holds me together. It's His power and His strength that keeps me from falling apart--mentally, spiritually, physically. In Him we have One who is willing to fight for us, get us back on our feet (and gives us a firm place to stand, Ps. 40), who encourages us, promises to be with us always, and who restores our soul. One who loves us and desires for us to love Him and find our life in Him. Jesus Christ. King of Kings. Lord of Lords. Savior of the World. He is worthy of our love and devotion.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Still Praying to God to Stop Anxiety



I don’t get panic attacks like I used to but I do occasionally experience anxiety when feeling pressured or under intense stress for any length of time. Then I get out my Scripture cards and pray through them to God. When I focus in on what God tells me in those Scriptures, it forces my thoughts to think the right things about the situation. It’s as if I need to be convinced that what my negative thoughts are telling me is not the truth—which it really isn’t—but it seems like it is, until I read God’s Word. Then my heart, mind, and soul, and spirit respond to His Truth. Meditating on Scripture helps me settle down into His Truth, the only Truth. Scripture reminds me that God is in control and that He is the one who enables me to do what I need to do and that He will help me like He says He will in His Word. And then I feel so much better. I feel not alone. I feel supported. But always I have this knee-jerk reaction to stress, and I guess the good thing about it is that it keeps me running to God. I have learned what a shelter and hiding place He is for me. For my mind.  A few months ago, I started reading the Bible for 30 minutes most nights, and it has really helped me relax and rest in His love, especially after a trying day. The Psalms especially. And all the New Testament. I switched a few years ago to the ESV version and I’m really liking it. I still lead a ladies’ Bible study class—it’s been 12 years now and I still love it. And I teach a ladies class in Sunday School at my church, and I know that helps me a lot, too! God is so good and He wants us to know Him. Psalm 142 is great advice for us. It tells us to cry out to God, to voice our complaints and troubles to him. To speak out loud and talk to God. I do that almost every morning. I get up early before my husband and go into another part of the house and shut the door and it’s just me and God and His Word. I can tell Him everything that’s on my heart. He encourages us to do that in His Word. He wants us to seek Him. And He promises if we seek Him with our whole heart, He will be found by us.  (Jeremiah 29)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Great Passage in a Different Version

I have memorized and prayed Philippians 4:6-7 many, many times over the years, but I just read these verses in the Message, and I really liked them. So here they are in case someone else enjoys this paraphrase:

"Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praise shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. " Philippians 4:6-7 MSG

Shaping our worries into prayers of petition and praise--that's something we can do when we don't know what to do. It's a positive thing and we'll feel better. But it doesn't stop there. Now that we've let God know our concerns, asked Him to help us, we know help is on the way.

The passage goes on to say that we'll gain a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good will come and settle us. When God settles you down with His assurances, worry and anxiety fade away. Peace and faith and the other fruits of the Spirit start being produced in you.

We are so blessed to be children of God!
"God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear." Ps. 46:1-2, KJV