This is long but so, so important

When we choose to accept Jesus into our hearts and join God on the adventure of life, the Holy Spirit comes to reside inside of our bodies. Therefore, a form of God is within us. I bet if you thought about the fact that the God of the universe inhabits your body you’d take care of yourself a lot differently. I know that I would. The act of taking care of yourself physically and mentally is actually an act of worship.

“Therefore brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.” Romans 12:1

I believe that the three major ways that we take care of ourself is through filtering our thoughts and memorizing scripture, exercising and eating well, and resting.

“So then, dear friends, since we have these promises let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the power of the mind and the brain. I’m troubled by the lack of information that many of us know about what lies within our own bodies. Personally, I never knew the power that I had to control my thoughts and responses to things around me. I never knew that I had the power within me that raised Jesus from the dead to take all of my thoughts captive to the Lord. What many of us don’t know is that your mind holds the key to life and death.

In order for us to tap into this life we must read the Word of God. Growing up in the church I never, ever knew the power of scripture. Honestly the Bible was just boring stories about history to me until I saw the power of speaking scripture over darkness.

“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

 I think that so often we don’t realize the shear power of scripture. We read it and it sounds nice, but we think that it won’t save us from suffering. We read about God’s strength and immeasurable love for us, and it all sounds wonderful, but when we’re weak we turn to social media and red wine (this is me) instead of scripture. We have no idea of the power that we posses as children of God with access to his living, breathing Word.

In order to experience the abundant life that God wants for us we must realize the power of Scripture and we must hide that scripture within our hearts.

The armor of God consists of the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of readiness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. The only tool in this list that is used for defense is the sword of the Spirit which is Scripture. Scripture is the only thing that will protect you against the schemes of the devil who came to kill, steal, and destroy you. This is so serious. It’s the difference in living the abundant life God promised you or sleep walking through life. Each one of us, because we were designed in the image of God, are being attacked by God’s number one enemy. We have targets on our backs and satan will not relent until he sees us defeated. Our only defense against these attacks is Scripture. Jesus holds the keys to sin and death so let’s use his power that raised Him from the grave to take back our minds and our lives.

I think that so many people in the church don’t know about the weight of spiritual warfare and the power of our thoughts because of spiritual warfare. Satan is so good at putting blinders on us. He is so good at twisting the truth and lurking around, but lets call this what it is, a battle field. Your mind is a battle field and it’s time for us to stand up and claim the victory that God already won for us. Although satan can’t read our minds he can see our actions and hear what we say. This is how he tempts us with thoughts that are never for our benefit. They may seem like they’re for our good when in reality they are just stealing the joy that God intended for you.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8

I’ve always studied the first part of this verse. It has always given me hope. However, it wasn’t until I continued reading this passage of Scripture that I realized trusting God, which means trusting His Word, His Spirit inside of us, and His son Jesus, is actually good for our health!! It is healing to our flesh. It is refreshment to our bones.

When I’m stressed, worrying about things that were never meant for me to worry about instead of trusting God, I feel my shoulders tense up and rise towards my ears. A lot of times because of that tension I also get a headache. It’s like a defense mechanism to protect me from all of the demands that I’m facing. This is our brains natural, innate response to too much stress. You actually begin to defend your body in certain ways such as tensing up. What is also remarkable about our natural responses is that the brain is similar to a muscle in the sense that the more often we use a certain area of the brain, for example the stress response portion of the brain, the stronger it becomes. You can actually live in a constant stress response state if you don’t choose to take control over your thought life. In contrast when I read Scripture, spend time with God, pray, and show Him and myself that I trust Him, I can feel my body breathe a sigh of relief. Whatever we choose to think about most often will become our initial response, and whatever our initial response mentally is will manifest itself physically within our bodies. This is the power of your mind and of Scripture. I’m telling you, God wants to give you healing mentally and physically. He wants to refresh us. What father wants their children to constantly be hurting themselves by worrying all the time??

So from this scientific information that I’m not going to cite because this is a blog, we can see that our minds are powerful and what we think about is powerful as well. I’m not sure why, “Take every thought captive,” isn’t tattooed on my arm yet, but I’m thinking about it because our thought life is so important. Fill your mind with God. Fill your mind with Jesus. Talk about God. Listen to things about God. Spend time with people who want to talk about God.

The act of meditating on Scripture and taking every thought captive is obviously difficult. It’s much easier to be a sleepwalker so that satan won’t target you, but I know that I don’t want to get to the end of my life and tell God that I spent all of my time watching Netflix and scrolling through Instagram. I don’t even want to tell my grandkids that. I want to tell them that I fought hard for Jesus, to make Him known in my life and in the lives of others.

Honestly I struggle with this every day. I get busy at work. I get busy after work. I get busy before bed, and I forget. I forget and I sleepwalk. I let my thoughts flow in and out freely, and I don’t think about the ones that are threatening to my mental health. Even something so simple as, “I didn’t read my Bible today. I’m a really bad person,” is a negative thought. God wouldn’t say this to us because he says that we are lovely and altogether beautiful, but satan would so that he could make us feel bad and tear us down in order for us not to be able to reach our full potentials. The act of taking every thought captive requires us to be present. It asks us to be reflective and to slow down. In the age that we’re in I know that this is difficult. Demands to move more quickly are constantly shouted at us, but like all truths, this is the opposite of what God calls us to. God calls us to a slower pace of life that is so much more refreshing. I dare you the next time you’re stressed, sad, or mad to say Philippians 4:13 over and over again until your heart stops beating so fast and you feel at peace. When we recite scripture we are pulling our mind from negative thoughts to the truth and to positive thoughts. I promise you that we really can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

 

Our mental health manifests itself physically. This is a fact that cannot be ignored.

“For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it just as Christ does for the church since we are members of his body.” Ephesians 5:29

To provide and care for our bodies means to offer our bodies nutritious food, exercise, and rest. All of these aspects are imperative to your health. As Romans 12:1 states, taking care of your body is actually an act of worship! When you eat the gross cauliflower and run the extra lap you are worshipping God because you’re taking care of His temple (your body) where he dwells. Knowing that taking care of myself is a way that I honor and worship God encourages me to do these things when I really don’t want to.

One of the words that I mentioned was, “rest.” What does that even mean??? Is it still in the dictionary??? Who rests these days???

“In returning and rest you will be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15 

I love this verse! Who would have thought that by resting we would gain strength? I never did until I practiced the art of quieting my soul and was strengthened by the Lord. Resting in this verse does not mean binge watching Netflix. It doesn’t mean mindlessly looking through social media. Rest is spending time with loved ones, reading scripture, praying, taking a nap, going for a walk, laying in a hammock, or reading a good book. I think rest depends on the person, but I truly believe that rest doesn’t come from technology in the format that we most often use it these days.

Our health is so important. When we feel good we can do so much more, however we must realize that our physical health flows from our mental health and positive mental health comes from depending whole heartedly on God. Recently I became very sick. I had a mosquito borne virus called Dengue Fever. It’s very common in tropical areas like Haiti. Despite all that I knew about the virus none of that knowledge decreased the severe blow that it took to my health. I was so weak and hopeless without anyone to help take care of me in Haiti (there’s nothing like your mom when you’re sick). I had no energy at all, so I just laid in bed all day and slept. I saw that my lack of reading Scripture really took a toll on my mental and emotional health. It took me three weeks to recover and all the while I was trying to survive on my own strength instead of gaining strength from the Father and his Word. As soon as I did read my Bible after all of this, I instantly felt better. God’s word washed over me like a cleansing flood and I felt renewed. When I chose to trust Him He gave refreshment to my soul.

God says that you are altogether beautiful, there is no flaw in you. He says that he will give nations in exchange for you. He says that your name is, “His.” I think that when we see ourselves the way that God sees us things change. When we realize that our bodies are a gift given to us by God we take care of them differently. I think that when we really acknowledge the fact that our body is a temple for the one true God we reverently take care of ourselves. My prayer is that first and foremost we realize the power of our minds and take back what is ours. Everything else that we are and will be flows from our minds. Let’s let God into our every thought and rely on His Word like we never have before.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the way that you love us even when we don’t love ourselves by taking care of ourselves. Thank you that you come to live with and within us Lord. I pray that you would fill us up and make us whole, but only by You and Your Word. I pray that we would worship you with our bodies as a living sacrifice daily. I pray that you would clothe us in Your Armor to stand against the schemes of the enemy. Lord I pray that you would renew our minds daily and that scripture would come to life where before we were oblivious to It’s power. God thank you that you won the battle for us already. Please help us to walk in Your truth so that we may be victorious each day by depending on You. I pray that when we do fall victim to lies and deceit that you would light the way and that the truth would be visible. We love you SO much God! You make all things new, daily, and you are such a good, good Father. In Jesus’ beautiful name, Amen. 

 

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I don’t know about you, but sunset watching is so restful for my soul. Not to mention that the sunsets in Haiti are the best around. 

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