Can you easily stop thinking negative thoughts?
If you're like most people, the answer is no.
It's not easy - it's also not impossible.
Scripture instructs us to "take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5)
But how do I do that, and how can it help my marriage?
Here are some steps to take:
1. Recognize the negative thought.
Our feelings are a result of our thoughts. If you are feeling irritable, angry, hurt, or sad, notice what thoughts you've been thinking.
2. Once you've identified the thought, ask yourself, "Is this true? Is it factual? Is it possible that this is only my opinion or perception?"
Truth is something that would hold up in a court of law. If it's open to interpretation (e.g. obviously he doesn't care, he's lazy, he's self-absorbed), then it isn't truth. Sometimes we need to ask God for wisdom and discernment to recognize the lies, because the enemy can disguise these as truth.
3. Pray over the thought and release it to God.
Thank Him for His willingness to take it from you, and for His mercy and forgiveness. Pray over your husband, or whomever else you had the negative thought. Praying for the person who hurt us can change our thoughts dramatically.
4. Replace the thought with something that is "pure, lovely, and praiseworthy" according to Philippians 4:8.
It's not enough to try and just stop thinking a negative thought. We have to replace it with a positive one. Pray over your husband, or whomever else you had the negative thought. Praying for the person who hurt us can change our thoughts dramatically. Consider their situation and view it from their point of view. Offer the same measure of grace you would offer yourself. Seek to assign positive motives for their behavior, such as they were truly trying to help, they really didn't mean to cause harm and just didn't recognize it, or they were so busy and could probably use some understanding and support.
When you change your thoughts, you change your feelings. When you feel more positive, you will treat your husband more positively. It sounds simple, but this can have such a profound effect on your marriage!
We hear all the time that we should take our thoughts captive, but the practical application and how-to are often missing.
My prayer is that these four steps will be helpful in arming you to battle against negative, false, and harmful thoughts that do not serve you, or your marriage.
Sweet friend, how can I pray over you and your marriage today? Share in the comments or email me directly!
In the midst of the thickness, it can be very difficult to grab a hold of truth. We have to train our brains to take every thought captive and choose instead to focus on things that are "true, pure, lovely, and praise-worthy".
Here are three truths for you to focus on in those times.
1. God is GOOD.
It's important to remember this first, because everything else flows out of it. Everything God does is out of His goodness and love. He IS love. He created love, He created goodness, and He embodies them entirely. Every decision He makes, every situation He allows, is because He is GOOD. Just because you don't agree with what's happening, just because it might be painful, does not mean He isn't good. You can't possibly know what the alternatives were that the enemy was attempting to throw at you. Trust in God's goodness, that what He gives you and allows is so much better than any alternative.
2. God is WISE.
We'd like to think we have all the answers and know what's best, but God knows better. He knows HOW to fix everything. Although sometimes it seems like He's not fixing things, or at least not at the speed we'd like, we have to look back at the first point - He is GOOD. Yes, He knows the WISE choice for every situation, and He knows the GOOD choice for every situation.
3. God is STRONG.
Sometimes we can know that God is good, and we know He is wise, but we lack belief that He is strong enough to pull it off. Friend, God created strength. He IS pure strength! Not only is He wise enough and good enough to know what the best decisions are for us, but He is STRONG enough to carry out any task that is necessary. HE CAN DO IT.
If we can focus our hearts on these three things when we're struggling, our faith will grow and we will be able to watch miracle after miracle take place in our lives.
Friend, which of these three truths are you struggling with today?
Which one is the easiest for you to believe?
Let me know how I can pray for you today!
How many times have you thought to yourself, "If I could just be more like so-and-so?"
If I'm being honest, I've thought it a multitude of times.
In my personal life, I've thought it about my friends.
In my marriage, I've thought it about women who I felt were more attractive or fun or smarter than I am.
In business, I've thought it about others who seem to have more or quicker success.
On a recent Sunday morning, I was getting ready to step onto the platform to lead our final worship song. I've struggled with nerves in the past, but instead of reminding myself that those nerves are just pride, I felt God leading me in a different direction.
He reminded me that each one of us is created "fearfully and wonderfully".
Scripture tells us in Genesis 1:27
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
We are created in His image. When we're afraid to do something exactly the way WE do it, when we want to do something the way someone else does it, or when we're scared to mess it up, we're effectively negating that facet of God's image in us.
He created us as a part of His whole. All of us together are part of Him. When we neglect to be ourselves, we're hiding that part of Who He is. When we focus on not failing, we're not trusting Him to use that failure for our good and His glory. It's through failure that He can use us to display humility and grace.
Do we want to be more like Him? Then we need to focus on being fully ourselves, and no one else.
Who do you want to be like?
If you’ve been around the church long enough, you’re likely familiar with the passage about Jesus healing the paralyzed man whose friends lowered him in from the ceiling.
At first glance, this is simply another story about one of Jesus’ miracles.
Digging deeper, as I studied this passage with our women’s Bible study at church, God revealed to me several lessons from this story that could be applied to marriage.
If you’re not familiar with it, or even if you are, let’s read through it quickly to refresh our memories.
Mark 2: 1-12
1A few days later Jesus went back to Capernaum. And when the people heard that He was home, 2 they gathered in such large numbers that there was no more room, not even outside the door, as Jesus spoke the word to them.3 Then a paralytic was brought to Him, carried by four men. 4 Since they were unable to get to Jesus through the crowd, they uncovered the roof above Him, made an opening, and lowered the paralytic on his mat.5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and thinking in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like this? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”8 At once Jesus knew in His spirit that they were thinking this way within themselves. “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?” He asked. 9 “Which is easier: to say to a paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...” He said to the paralytic, 11 “I tell you, get up, pick up your mat, and go home.”12 And immediately the man got up, picked up his mat, and walked out in front of them all. As a result, they were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
How on earth can this be related to marriage?
Here is what God revealed to me during my study.
1. We must eagerly seek Jesus’ wisdom and teaching.
The first thing we see in this story is that there was a crowd gathered to hear Jesus talk. Do you eagerly go to Jesus each day to listen to Him speak? Do you look forward to spending time with Him, learning from Him, getting to know more of His truth and His wisdom?
We can’t leave our Bibles closed and then claim we have no idea what God is telling us to do to heal our marriages, or to help our husbands, or to grow as wives. We must sit at His feet and listen to His words, and then we need to do what He says.
2. Be careful who your friends are.
First of all, these four men carried this paralyzed man to the roof of a house. How difficult must that have been? Not only that, but then they took the time to make an opening and lower him down to Jesus. This sounds like it must have taken a lot of time, patience, and strength. These were really good friends!
Secondly, verse 5 tells us that “When Jesus saw their faith”, He forgave the man’s sins. When He saw the faith of the FRIENDS, the man’s sins were forgiven. WOW!
Do your friends have that kind of faith? Are they willing to stand by you when you are in need? Will they sacrifice their time and comfort to be there for you?
Will your friends bring you TO Jesus through sound, biblical advice, rather than lead you AWAY from Him by encouraging you to disrespect your husband by “venting”, to focus only on your needs, or to divorce your husband?
The people we choose for our inner circle matter more than we can imagine.
3. Jesus knows our thoughts.
In verses 6-8, we see that the scribes were thinking things “in their hearts”. Jesus knew what they were thinking, and called them out on it.
If Jesus were to read your thoughts about your husband, would you be embarrassed? If He called you out on the way you think about your husband, would you feel ashamed?
Now, Jesus is not the author of shame; shame comes from the enemy and it’s meant to keep you stagnant. However, the Holy Spirit does use our conscience to guide us, and we may feel guilty or convicted about certain thoughts or behaviors in that we will take action to change and grow.
Consider whether you would be okay with Jesus holding you accountable for the thoughts you think about your husband. If not, reach out to me so we can talk through that some more. Scripture tells us that we are to “take every thought captive” and think about things that are pure, praiseworthy, and lovely. If your thoughts towards your husband don’t fall within that criteria from Philippians 4:8, then you must take them captive and intentionally turn them towards the things that do.
4. Do we notice the miracles God performs?
At the end of the passage in verse 12, we see that the man obeyed Jesus by picking up his mat and walking, while the crowd stood amazed, glorifying God and exclaiming that they’d never seen anything like that before.
Do you take the time to notice the miracles God performs in your life, in your marriage, in your husband? Miracles don’t always have to be something you’ve never seen before; the birth of a child is a miracle but that’s happened countless times.
Your husband may attend church with you every single week. Do you consider that a miracle? You should - it’s only through the miracle of the Holy Spirit that your husband has the conviction to attend church.
Does your husband go to the office and work hard each day to provide for your family. This is also a miracle.
Miracles aren’t necessarily something we can’t imagine happening; they can be everyday things that when we consider them, truly do take an act of God in order to happen.
Sometimes taking out the trash can be a miracle. 😊 We should always be intentional about keeping our eyes open to recognize and acknowledge even the tiniest of miracles that happen in our homes and in our marriages.
One thing I will work on is my friendships. In all transparency, I don’t have many (or any) in-real-life local girlfriends. I define that as someone I can meet for coffee every now and then, have playdates with our babies, go shopping, or hang out at each other’s houses. I would love to have some girlfriends that I can rely on when I need some extra support or just want to get out of the house.
Tell me, what is one thing you are going to work on?
What is God speaking to your heart about growing in order to heal your paralyzed marriage? Share with me in the comments, or send me a message. I’d love to join you in prayer!
Philippians 4:4-7 tells us:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness[a] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Let's walk through this for a moment.
The first thing Paul tells us to do is REJOICE. Why do you think that is? Not only rejoice, but rejoice in the Lord, and to do so always.
As much as we'd like to think we're great multitaskers, the truth is that we can really only focus on one thing at a time. If we're busy focusing on rejoicing in the Lord, we don't have the mental capacity to pay attention to our fears, worries, phobias, and problems.
Paul goes on to say that we are to make our requests known, through prayer and with thanksgiving.
Not only are we supposed to rejoice, always, in the Lord, but when we request things of God as we're instructed, we're supposed to also do this with thanksgiving.
So first we make sure that we're rejoicing in the Lord. What does that mean? We rejoice simply in Who God is. He is the Almighty who loves us unconditionally. Who sees every terrible thing we've done, and instead of shunning us for eternity, sent His son to take our place because despite those awful things, He still wanted to keep us forever! Sometimes that's hard to comprehend - especially when we think about the people around us who have done terrible things. Sometimes we'd much rather shun them - but not God.
We can rejoice that God is:
- All powerful
Plus a host of other wonderful and amazing things!
As we rejoice in all that God is, we are also supposed to come to Him with our requests. This doesn't mean only the prayer requests of those around us; God truly wants you to speak about what's on your own heart. Sure, He already knows - but He wants you to ask Him. It's the simple act of asking Him that creates the relationship He wants with us. There's no relationship there if we simply expect Him to just do everything He knows we want, without ever expressing ourselves to Him. Relationships involve communication.
God not only invites us to request things of Him, but He is instructing us to do so!
We are to make these requests through prayer, and supplication with thanksgiving.
What in the world does that mean?
He doesn't want us to simply lay out a Christmas list of desires. He wants us to be grateful for the things that we have. What's the point in giving us more if we don't appreciate what He's already given us?
Sometimes this can be difficult - but look at what Paul says will happen if we do this: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
WOW! This is the type of peace that we can't even wrap our minds around. Have you ever experienced that? Where you just felt so peaceful and you simply couldn't explain it?
Friend, do you want that kind of peace to wash over your heart and flood your mind? The peace that drowns out all of your worries, makes all of your fears obsolete, and cures every phobia?
The instructions are simple: rejoice in the Lord always, make your requests known to Him through prayer and with thanksgiving. Perhaps not the easiest of instructions, but they are simple.
Here is my challenge to you today: spend a few moments writing down the attributes of God that you can rejoice over. Write down as many as you can think of - feel free to Google some if you need reminders. Put this list up where you can see it and refer to it everyday.
Then write out your requests for God - next to each request, include a reason to be thankful. Ask Him for more of His peace to reign in your heart and mind. He's promised it to you; it's okay to thank Him in advance for it as well as part of your thanksgiving.
I'd love to hear from you. What are some of your favorite attributes of God?
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