Here are the notes for my Life Group that got cancelled due to the weather on 2/25/16…
Battlefield of the Mind Chapters 12-15 notes for blog
An Anxious and Worried Mind
God wants us to constantly be casting our cares upon him. He will give us certain responsibilities in life, but the abilities to complete those and anything beyond them is in his hands. He gives us his peace and assurance that he is in control so that we can live stable, contented lives full of joy.
What kinds of anxieties or worries attack you the most often?
Worry and fear are a natural human condition. But we are not called to live the natural, human life. We are living supernatural lives through Jesus in us. It is not ‘normal’ for a Christian to be full of anxiety, worry or fear. There are two ways satan works at us with anxiety. One is in the form of irrational fear; panic attacks, taking on worry from someone else’s life, etc. The other is when we have legitimate things to worry about; health concerns, money, kids, etc.
We have a choice to make when faced with either of these attacks. We can choose to worry, trying to figure out what to do ourselves, (Joyce with her bills) or we can choose to cast our care and rest in God’s peace. This is easier said than done!!
READ: First 4 paragraphs on first page of the chapter
READ: Portions of Matthew 6 on page 113-114
Jesus is without question acknowledging that there will be daily occasions for us to be confronted with worry. The solution is learning to cast our care upon him trusting that he cares for us.
What are some obstacles (arguments, lofty opinions) in your thinking that try to stop you from casting your care by making you doubt that God does see you, knows your need and is acting?
We may have strong arguments in our own minds against trusting God. We may even be able to produce evidence from our lives of times we feel that he failed us.
Casting your care upon God, trusting him, inevitably involves submitting to his answer.
READ: I Peter 5:6,7 page 116
Have you ever had to accept an answer from God that wasn’t what you thought the plan should be?
Let’s talk about two more areas of this:
How do we enter God’s rest?
READ: Last 4 paragraphs on page 117
What responsibilities do we have in casting our care?
READ: Worry, Worry, Worry section from page 118 to bottom of page 119
Some things God’s Word says we are responsible for:
- Working to provide (Exodus 35:2, I Corinthians 15:58, I Timothy 5:8)
- Maintaining good relationships with others (family, church, work, community) (Romans 12:18)
- Tithing/Giving (Malachi 3:8-10, II Corinthians 8:7; 9:7)
God does want us to carry out our responsibilities. But He never expects us to do this in our own power or strength. We can do what God has put in our hand to do and then wait on him to do what we cannot.
A Judgmental, Critical and Suspicious Mind
Judgment is to be left to God alone. We can realize that someone is living sinfully and even confront that sin in them without judging them. We must be careful not to allow our thinking about someone to concentrate on their faults and so become hyper-critical of that person. Criticism will lead us to judge. Being suspicious is often born out of previous hurt and rejection. We must allow God to heal us so we can enjoy peaceful, loving relationships with others.
Our culture uses the phrase often and loudly, “Don’t Judge!” What the culture means by this and what God means by this are two totally different things. The culture means, “Don’t make a judgment call between what is right and what is wrong.” This is NOT what God means by don’t judge.
READ: Galatians 6:1-3 on page 126
God does not want us to judge by putting ourselves in a superior position to someone else. Like this, “I can’t believe they would do that! I would never do anything like that!” Completely ignoring the many other things we have done which have been just as sinful. God DOES want us to and expects us to make judgment calls between right and wrong using what he has declared in his Word as our source.
READ: Matthew 7:3-5 on page 129
This is how Jesus illustrated us thinking, “…I would never do that!” about someone else.
READ: Proverbs 4:23, page 132
How do you think you can guard your heart against judgmental, critical attitudes?
What kind-of life experiences do you think can lead to a stronghold of suspicion in your mind?
READ: I Corinthians 13:7, page 132
As we interact with people in life, I guarantee 100% that each of us will be taken advantage of and hurt at some point, probably at many different points. What can we do? Suspicion tells us to protect ourselves at all costs from the hurt ever happening again. Love tells us to trust God with our hearts. If they are broken & hurt He will mend them. This keeps us healthy and able to continue to enjoy relationships.
Are there ever times when we do need to distance ourselves in certain relationships? How can we do this in a Godly, healthy way?
READ: Last paragraph on page 133
READ: John 2:23-25, page 134
A Passive Mind
When we refuse to take responsibility for our thoughts or only do what we feel like doing, we are dealing with a passive mind. We may not actually be participating in any sinful behavior by having a passive mind, but we are allowing thought processes that are ungodly to grow in us. We must be renewed in our minds so that Godly thoughts can stir us to action.
READ: First page of chapter
Our natural selves are driven by our emotions. In fact, if you think about it, the 10 commandments deal with a lot of sinful behavior brought about by people giving into their emotions of the moment. Couple this natural tendency in all of us with a culture that encourages us to be ruled by our emotions and you can have quite a mess.
In what ways do you see our culture encourage our natural sinfulness in the area of emotions?
Have you ever heard yourself saying, “I just feel dead” talking about your spiritual life? Have you ever connected that to being passive?
Here is a phenomenon I have observed many times in my life. An exciting spiritual event takes place. Usually in the form of a revival or camp type experience. It’s exciting. There are a lot of people involved. It’s emotional. Great things happen. People are feeling very happy about their relationships with God. They are feeling like everything is going the way it should, spiritually speaking. These kinds-of events are good. Often times, people’s lives are brought to a moment of change during events like this. But it cannot go on forever. All events like this will end at some point.
Once the event has ended, some people involved begin to feel disappointed. It may be a vague feeling at first, but soon they find themselves thinking things like, “I just feel so dead! I wish I felt like I did during (insert event)!” After a while, they begin to look around and feel that their church is not as spiritual as it once seemed. That nothing is really ‘going on’. They may even drift along spiritually until another large event takes place. Or, they’ll feel a persistent feeling of ‘un-spiritualness’ because nothing else is really ever as spiritual as that one event was.
This is passivity. Ignoring or discounting the daily, steady growth God is doing and fantasizing about the one big event that might or might not come again. It is emotionally driven and can give the devil a place in our lives because we begin to measure God’s work by that one meaningful experience. God often uses mundane, seemingly small, daily events in our lives to bring about real growth and change. Events are like Birthday Cake; great & fun but you can’t make a nourishing diet out of cake.
READ: Read ‘Overcoming Passivity’ section on pages 140 -142
What did you think of the example Joyce uses from Dave’s life? Is it easy for you to ignore God’s steady, consistent work in you and be on constant look out for a big, emotional experience?
READ: Last 3 paragraphs on page 145
READ: Colossians 3:1,2 on page 146
The Mind of Christ
READ: I Corinthians 2:16 on the first page of the chapter
READ: First 2 paragraphs on page 152
Our thoughts and emotions can be good indicators of what may be ministering death or life to us. Satan is sneaky! He will use odd, aberrant, random thoughts even activities, friendships, entertainment that seem like they’re no big deal initially.
Have you ever discerned something that was ministering death to you?
Look at pages 154-156. What are your thoughts on Joyce’s teaching on depression? What did you find helpful?
There are times in life where depression is a normal response like in a grief situation. But when depression is ongoing or defining or is present without any real reason, this is not a normal condition.
II..Be God Minded:
READ: Isaiah 26:3 on page 157
We must spend time with God and his word. Not around him, or learning about Him but actually with Him. Jesus talked to His Father, knew His Word, used His Word. Filling our minds with His Word will keep us focused on Him. It is literally His voice in our head.
III..Be “God Loves Me” Minded:
READ: I John 4:16 on page 159
READ: Page 160
I often find that I believe God loves me or not based on my own circumstances, feelings or performance. Joyce is teaching something very powerful here. That we should fill our minds with God’s Word about His love for us. Then let that inform us.
Is it ever hard for you to believe that God loves you? Or do you find yourself more often feeling like God puts up with you?
I love my children. They delight me. I enjoy being around them. I want to hear from them. I want to equip them for life. I want to see their dreams succeed. Does God feel this way about me? Sometimes it’s difficult to really believe, but according to his Word, YES he does.
IV..Have An Exhortive Mind:
Have you ever purposely chosen your words toward someone to be encouraging? Do you feel like you are as conscience of being encouraging as you could be?
READ: 3rd paragraph on page 164
V..Develop a Thankful Mind:
READ: Psalm 110:4 on page 164 then Hebrews 13:15 on page 165
Being thankful is a powerful weapon. We can train our minds to concentrate on and choose thankful thoughts to drive out negative ones. If we struggle with passivity, we can train our minds to be filled with thankfulness as well.
Can you remember a time when you offered a ‘sacrifice of praise’? A time when your praise & thanksgiving cost you emotionally?
Meditate on God’s Word. Compare your thoughts with God’s thoughts. Do they match? Are you spending a lot of time concentrating on something that God considers a waste of time?
Joyce does not teach on this specifically, but I think it is vital to understand that above all else, Jesus’ mind was submitted to His Father’s will.
READ: Matthew 26:36-46
Jesus struggled 3 distinct times with God’s plan. And every time He submitted His will in obedience to God’s. We must do this as well. Having the Mind of Christ begins and end with submission.