Although we are practicing social distancing, the Gospel message remains unchained! This devotional is best with some time (20-30min), coffee/tea, and a notebook. Enjoy!
Quarantine Your Thoughts to Be Set Free by Christ
By: Stephen Defilippo
This has been a scary, anxiety provoking, and ultimately confusing time. Depending on what news network and even what time of the day you tune in, you may be getting conflicting information. There are a million thoughts and questions running through our minds as we pace this global pandemic. What to stock up on? How much toilet paper and water bottles does a normal person need? To the more serious questions; will I have a job? When or will I even get another paycheck? How will I pay rent and groceries? What about school for the kids?
This has been very stressful week for me. I had my JetBlue training class indefinitely canceled after giving my two weeks notice at my current job. By God’s grace I was able to rescind my resignation and keep my job. Unfortunately, a few days later other people in similar situations were declined their old jobs back and will be between jobs until this blows over. This is an opportune time for spiritual attacks and we must be on our guard against them.
Quarantining your thoughts is about not allowing them to run wild, do damage, and potentially contaminate you spiritually. How can we do this?
1) Guard Your Heart!
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Q: Why guard our heart?
Q:How do we guard our heart?
Q:What do we need to avoid exposing ourselves to in order to protect our heart?
This scripture reminds me to be active about limiting or avoiding things that will cause even more anxiety and worry. That might be staying away from too much news or limiting your time on social media and giving more of that time to praying about you worries and anxieties and letting the Bible comfort you and direct your thoughts.
Q: What is something you need to avoid a bit more during this time in order to guard your heart?
2) Check Your Thoughts
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” (Emphasis added)
2 Corinthian 10:5
Q: Are you taking inventory of your thoughts or are your thoughts just running around unbridled?
Q: Are you fighting your negative thoughts and the fears and worries of this world with the knowledge of God, the Word of God?
Challenge: Take 5 minutes to meditate over the scripture “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10.
This has been a game changer for me. I used to and sometimes still let my thoughts go wild with no checking on them. I feel stressed, worried, angry, fearful etc. when I let this happen. I usually just need a reminder from the scriptures on what the truth is and what God says about the topic and sometimes just need to be reminded that God is way bigger than anything I will ever face. Why trust my own thinking, which changes, over God who never changes? This time in the Word and sometimes with other believers working through my thoughts is crucial for my spiritual well being. We all have negative or unholy thoughts pop into our heads and we must not give them free reign. Identifying them and then using scripture to combat them and make them obedient to Christ has changed my life.
Q: Is there an unhealthy place your mind has been going lately? If so, where?
3) Be Vulnerable with God.
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Does David seem to feel close to God?
Though he feels forgotten by God, that God has hidden His face from him, that he constantly wrestles with his thoughts and feels like his enemies triumph over him, does he avoid God or does he bring all that to God to wrestle it out with Him?
Even though he feels all those things he chooses to trust God, rejoice in His salvation, sing God’s praises and reminds himself that God has been good to him!!!
This is what has helped me in dealing with my current situation. When I got the call from my new job to indefinitely cancel my training I was well equipped. Of course my heart sank and I had to stop pushing the shopping cart while I was food shopping, but I was not devastated. The only reason for this was because I was able to be vulnerable with God and surrender to Him. I knew the writing was on the wall, all the other companies in my field had gone into a hiring freeze and were canceling their training. It was just a matter of time and I had time to go to God and wrestle with Him about it before it even happened. How did I know to do this? I got the example from pouring over the Psalms and seeing David do the same. It didn’t matter what he was going through or what he was feeling, he wrestled it out with God. He sometimes starts out expressing concern and even frustration with God but by the end he is surrendered to God and worshipping Him.
Let us all use these techniques to fight to stay close to God and each other both now and forever no matter the circumstance!
Practical: Take some time to Pray vulnerably. Being vulnerable with God is a big part of giving him the keys to unlock and free us. Go either on a prayer walk or in a private room in your home and pour out your heart to God. Be vulnerable, be real, be honest. Acknowledge your thoughts and feeling and bring them to Him who can help.