Captive Thoughts

2 Corinthians 10:1-6 (NASB)

 Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!  I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh.  For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,  and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

I was sitting at the table, lunch in front of me, Bible opened off to the side, and continued reading on in 2 Corinthians, which I had started this morning. In my Bible is says Paul was defending himself. In a couple of the other Bible versions I checked, the header said he was describing himself.  In a way, the opening seemed familiar. I am much bolder when I write than when I am face to face.

In continuing on, I was reminded how important it is to not take things out of context. That is why I like to take the verse notations out and read the paragraphs as the letters they originally were written.

I, like many, have quoted the section reading “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh. . .” Solid truth.  But still, when looking at why the man was saying those things, it took on a whole new depth. Here was Paul, being accused of walking according to the flesh, and having to defend himself with the explanation I just took an excerpt from. Having the courage and confidence to admit that maybe he was walking in the flesh (not according to the flesh), but he did not war in the flesh. How exciting that as we face our accusers,  we can demonstrate to them how we are not perfect by any means but are doing our spiritual warfare under the guidance of Paul’s teaching.

So many times it is easy to state we will “take captive our thoughts unto Jesus” when we are troubled, or bad thoughts flash through our minds,  and not grasp all that went into this proclamation by Paul.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,  and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

So much we need to be doing. The destruction of speculations, pride, intellectual pursuits that go directly against the knowledge of God. To totally surrender every thought in obedience to Christ. To live in self-discipline. To do so continually, as he says “we are taking every thought captive. . .” It is a continual process of total surrender to Christ.

I had to raise a brow at the last portion of that statement. “and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” Besides not remembering it, even though I have read this passage many times, it seemed out of place somehow, Rather than butcher it, I’m including something from Wesley’s Explanatory Notes.

Being in readiness to avenge all disobedience – Not only by spiritual censure, but miraculous punishments. When your obedience is fulfilled – When the sound part of you have given proof of your obedience so that I am in no danger of punishing the innocent with the guilty.

Makes a gal think, you know? I’m sure there are a lot more notes that I will be checking into.

Anyway, just some things rolling around in the mind this afternoon. When I’m “taking thoughts captive”, I’ll be more aware that it is not an occasional thing I do, but a life of submission.

By the way, lunch was a salad.

Blessings – Vicki

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1 Corinthians 9:19-23

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NASB): For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.  To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;  to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
   I love this passage. Sacrificing, putting other people first is a demonstration of love, commitment, loyalty, and faithfulness to God. But the last thing I want to do is diminish the wonderful truth in this by watering  down the Word of God, minimizing the law, by taking on the ways of the world in order to “prove” something. I don’t save people. Jesus does. But my life is a witness to what Christ has done in and for me, and that means I follow the whole Bible and do not take scripture out of context or reword it to fit something I want to do that does not line up with what God teaches me in His scripture. Either it’s all true as written, or none of it is true.
   Neither do I recite it like a mantra or chant to bring about what I’m seeking. It is the Word of God, not to be treated irreverently. It is my guide in prayer, in action, in thought. It is truth that guides me. But I need to know it. Understand it from every angle possible. From history to linguistics to definitions. It is a life long study that must never stop because what is to be gained is endless. It is priceless.
   I trust God to bring learned scripture to mind when temptation tries to lure me.  He has promised to provide a way to stay out of sin. However, in order to avoid sin, I need to understand what sin is, and that is what the law is all about. Not knowing doesn’t make it right.
   Notice Paul says he is free from all men. And then chooses to be a slave to all. My choice? To keep digging, growing daily in the Word in order to be fully convinced. To rejoice in the power of repentance and God’s forgiveness.  Then, with the resulting understanding, to exercise the freedom Paul talks about. Freedom to be who God created me to be, in service to others in service to Him, by the fruit of His Spirit, not my own. (Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.)
   The more I study, and the more I learn, the more in awe of God I am. We live in a world that needs to see all the fruit of the Spirit demonstrated. God’s people, his called out ones, His church, we have a big job in front of us. People are blinded by the half truths out there, they don’t really know what the true church is about. I wonder if it is because many in the church don’t know what church is really about.
   I’m learning everyday how short I have fallen, and I believe in my heart I’m one of the people that “get it” as far as I’m been able to “get it” to this point in my life.
  So I keep looking out for sin in my life. I keep repenting. I keep rejoicing in forgiveness, in God’s mercy and grace. And I pray to be shown those to whom I can demonstrate the truth of Christ, introducing them to a joy beyond compare, to accept Jesus by faith and join us in this incredible journey.
 

Those Red Words

You know, the words of Jesus. Those powerful, cutting, healing, enduring words that some Bibles print in red ink. Doesn’t make the words any more powerful, being red. But it does make it easier to find when your spirit is crying for the comfort of words straight from the Lord’s own mouth. Crying out sometimes for the words that you know you have to hear before you fall into temptation. Before you become complacent. Before you become lukewarm. That little extra oomph in your discipline of study.   red-words-of-jesus

Paraphrased, Luke 6:44, “for each tree is know by its own fruit. Men don’t gather figs from thorns or pick grapes from thorny vines.”

So, am I easily identified by the fruit I bear? Maybe I should ask instead, is the fruit I bear identifying me the way I want to be identified?

The next verse tells me that the good man, because of his good heart, produces that which is good. The Bible calls it “the good treasure of his heart.” Have I ever considered the good in me as a treasure, to be shared and not hoarded? That same verse tells us that the evil man, because of his evil heart, produces evil. And his evil is called the “evil treasure.” The use of that word treasure fascinates me.

Simple Definition of treasure from the Merriam-Webter Dictionary:

: something valuable (such as money, jewels, gold, or silver) that is hidden or kept in a safe place

: something that is very special, important, or valuable

: a person who is greatly loved or valued especially because of being very helpful.

I can go along with the first two definitions for evil treasure but the last…not so much. But, if we are talking about the condition of the heart, whether it is good or evil, it is valuable, and can be hidden. Sometimes the evil heart is well hidden, sometimes it is not. Can that be true of a good heart as well. If all that is good comes from God, then surely it is not hidden. Or is it? Maybe the answer is in the next verse. “Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? The difference in accepting Jesus as Savior and totally submitting to Him as Lord? I am no Biblical scholar by any means, and sometimes my mind just goes from question to question and finally it settles down into the truth I’ve learned from His Word. Sometimes I work out the questions just like this, the Bible opened in front of me as I’m writing these words.

 My assurance for the day as I leave this pondering is verse 47. “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like:”

First love.

Revelation 2:1-7 — “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.  Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God’

I know I’m not the only one this set of verses is challenging.  It’s good to know God sees our good works, recognizes our perseverance, and the fact that sin in this world burns us like scalding water on skin. Good to know that He sees that we have put to test those who would teach and lead us, because that’s what He has instructed us to do. We have endured. Yes, we have gotten weary, but not to the point of giving up. Yet, there is still that thing. That thing that breaks our heart.

“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

God. Oh, God. How did we come to this? And what happens next?

“Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.”

Remember from where we have fallen? That young woman who fought salvation at first, because of fear, and finally gave in, gave up, and discovered Love beyond measure? Or the woman who felt the call on her life and stood before a congregation and declared how certain verses had spoken to her to minister to the hurting? Or the woman who was just…worn slick. . .and backed away in self-preservation?

Remember it all, because it all is wrapped together so tightly one thing melds into the other. Then repent and do the deeds you did at first. Not by rote. But with that passion and joy that carried you for so many years.  With the strength that comes from a relationship and not a religion.

And if not, then what?  “I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of it’s place.”

So many different interpretations. The lampstand being the church. The lampstand being the presence of God. The lampstand being the illumination from God, given to His people.

Yet, put them all together and doesn’t it represent exactly what the church was created for?

And so, the only thing to do is to take the time to look back. To remember that first love and where it took you and how it changed you and how very much your life without it is pale in comparison. To take those steps in faith that others might not understand and be exactly who God has created you to be. In service to Him. In service to others.

First Love.  Yeah, that’s it.