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Monday, November 24, 2014
Daily Devotional - “I Can't Help It!"
I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live. —Deuteronomy 30:19
When God begins to deal with us about wrong behavior, it's easy enough to say, "I can't help it," but it takes real courage and faith to say, "I’m ready to take responsibility and get my life straightened out."
Avoidance, which is not facing issues, is a major problem. Wrong things don't go away just because we refuse to acknowledge them. We often stuff things. We hide from them, and as long as we do, they have power over us. Issues buried alive never die.
For many years, I refused to deal with the sexual abuse in my childhood. My father had abused me, so I left home the week I turned eighteen years old. I thought I was getting away from the problem by leaving, but I didn't realize I had the problem in my soul. It was in my thoughts, attitudes, and words. It affected my actions and all of my relationships. I had buried my past and stuffed my stuff. We don't have to live in the past. In fact, we are encouraged by God's Word to forget it and let it go. However, that doesn't mean that we are free to ignore the results of it and pretend that we are not hurting when we are.
I was merely feeling sorry for myself and saying, "I can't help it. It's not my fault I was abused." And it wasn't my fault. But it was my responsibility to let God help me overcome all the bandages I was experiencing as a result of that abuse.
God began setting me free by dealing with me about all the wrong thoughts I had accepted and allowed. My mind had to change before my life could change. At first, I didn't even want to take responsibility for my thoughts. I thought, I can't help what I think. Things just come into my head! I eventually learned that I could choose my own thoughts, and I could think things on purpose. I learned that we don't have to accept every thought that falls into our minds. We can cast down wrong ones and replace them with right ones.
I learned that instead of feeling helpless over the thoughts that fill my mind, I can and must do something positive.
Much of our thinking is habitual. If we regularly think about God and good things, godly thoughts become natural. Thousands of thoughts flow through our minds every day. We may feel that we have no control, but we do. We don't have to use any effort to think wrong thoughts; we have to use much effort to think good thoughts. As we begin to make changes, we will have to fight a battle.
Our mind is the battlefield, and Satan's primary way of initiating his evil plan for us is through our thoughts. If we feel we have no power over our thoughts, Satan will entrap and defeat us. Instead, we can determine to think in godly ways. We constantly make choices. Where do those choices come from? They originate in our thought life. Our thoughts become our words and our actions.
God has given us the power to decide to choose right thinking over wrong. But once we make that choice, we must continue to choose right thoughts. It's not a once-and-for-all decision, but it does get easier. The more we fill our lives with reading the Bible, prayer, praise, and fellowship with other believers, the easier it is for us to continue choosing right thoughts.
It may sound as if I'm saying that trying to live the Christian life is nothing but one continuous struggle. That's partly true, but that's only a piece of the story. Too many people want to live victorious Christian lives, but they don't want to fight the battles. Victory however, means winning and overcoming obstacles. We must also remember that living a life of disobedience to God is harder than choosing to live in victory. Yes, there are struggles but they are worth it in the end.
To think in the right way takes practice, and it is not always easy, nor does it feel natural for us to focus only on the good. But if we know this is the pathway to life both now and in eternity, it's worth the effort and the struggle to think positive thoughts.
When we're bombarded with doubts and fears, that's when we need to take our stand. We don't ever want to say again, "I can't help it." We want to believe and say, "God is with me, and He strengthens me. God enables me to win." The apostle Paul said it this way, "But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose]" (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).
We can choose. Not only can we choose, but we do choose. By not pushing the bad thoughts from our minds, we're allowing them to invade us and take us captive. It takes time to learn to choose good and push away evil. It won't be easy, but we're moving in the right direction every time we take responsibility and make right choices.
Powerful God, remind me that I can and do make choices every day. Please help me to monitor my thoughts, choosing only those that will help me overcome the devil and win the battle for my mind. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.