In week 4 of the series, Winning the War in Your Mind, we focus on the power of prayer and praise in the Rejoice Principle. Your mind is a battlefield and Satan is attacking. Prayer and praise are not alternatives to the battle you’re fighting, they’re your weapon. Whatever is on your mind, we are reassured that it’s on God’s heart. Let this truth sink in: if it’s big enough to worry about, it’s big enough to pray about. Don’t allow the presence of problems in your life to cause you to lose focus on the presence of God. Prayer and praise go hand in hand and reminds us of God’s presence. Join us as we turn to God in prayer when our problems cause us to panic.
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Hey, I have my two friends up here with me. I’ve got Pastor Isaiah, our high school pastor and Pastor Shaun, our care pastor, and today we are tag team preaching the last part of this series called Winning the War in Your Mind. Each of us are going to do 10 minutes-ish. We’ll see. You can pray for that. And we’re closing this series, Winning the War in Your Mind with this principle, the rejoice principle. How do you rejoice always as Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4? When you’re facing problems and pain and chaos, how do you rejoice always? How do you make that switch in your mind? That’s what we’re going to talk about today. Would you welcome with me Pastor Isaiah to this stage.
Hey quickly before I get started, I want to do two things. Number one, this is still my morning voice because as the youth pastor, I like to sleep in, and if we’re being honest, I woke up at 8:15 today so I’m sorry. And the second thing is, I want to just give a quick shout out to all the high school students and high school leaders out there. I love you guys. If you’re watching at home, maybe you’re not even awake yet, I love you. If you are a high school student or you are a parent of a high school student, I would love to meet you and get you connected with our youth group because yes, we have a youth group here at Life Center.
Also, I see you started my timer back there. I haven’t started the message yet. This is not part of that. All right. Hey, if you have a Bible, will you grab it and go to 1 Kings 19. If you need a Bible, there are Bibles on the sides of your rows. You can also use your phone Bible. That’s all right, I guess. 1 Kings 19. As Pastor Michael said, we are finishing this series, Winning the War in Your Mind. And how today is going to work is each one of us is going to take a chapter from this book in this section of the rejoice principle. And the chapter that I have, what we’re going to do is we will be looking at what is your mind fixate on? Does your mind fixate on the presence of your problems or does your mind fixate on the presence of God?
So 1 Kings 19, what we’re going to do is we’re going to read the first five verses together, and then we’re going to talk about some stuff. But a quick backstory, the spark notes version that leads us up to this is there is an evil king and an evil queen that are ruling. And they are really, really bad. The wife Jezebel, the queen, she is killing all of the Lord’s prophets. And the king has turned from worshiping God to worshiping something else. And he’s brought everybody with him. They have 850 false prophets with them, and Elijah, the guy we’re about to read about, he is a prophet of God. And there is this confrontation that happens between King Ahab and Elijah and 850 of King Ahab’s false prophets. And it happens on this mountain, and it is crazy.
850 people, they all say, “Hey, we’re going to worship Baal.” And they’re like, “How we’re going to show you that Baal is real is we’re going to put this sacrifice on the alter and we’re going to pray to Baal that he’s going to send down fire and consume the sacrifice,” and it doesn’t happen. And then Elijah, one guy shows up and he does the same exact thing. And how many of you know God shows up when he needs to show up? And God shows up, and he consumes the sacrifice. And then the craziest thing happens; Elijah kills 850 people with a sword. It’s pretty awesome.
That leads us to this point. In chapter 19, it says this, “Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, ‘May the gods deal with me be it ever so severely if by this time tomorrow, I do not make your life like one of them.'” She’s telling him, I’m going to kill you. “Elijah was afraid. And he ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ He said, ‘Take my life. I am no better than my ancestors.'”
Now, have you ever had a problem that overwhelms your thoughts and it becomes all that you think about? Have you ever tried to go to sleep at night, but you can’t get to sleep because you are just thinking about that problem? Or have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and your mind is already racing about something that you are facing, a problem that you have, and you can’t get back to sleep? Maybe for you it’s a bad grade, maybe it’s traffic. We’re in 2021, maybe it’s anything related to COVID. Maybe it’s feeling like you are not in control of your future. Maybe it’s your finances. Maybe it’s that situation at work. Maybe it’s that relationship with that friend or your spouse or your child. We’ve been saying this in this series, that your life is moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. And it’s important to know where we are with our thoughts, because our runaway thoughts can spiral out of control and lead our lives in the wrong direction.
So my question for you is, what problem overwhelms your thoughts? Now, for me, most of the time, it is not just a single problem, it’s problems. Plural. I can handle a problem, but it’s when another problem gets thrown at me, and another problem gets thrown at me, and another problem gets thrown at me, and I ended up trying to juggle all of these problems, and I end up fixating on these problems. And I have no idea where I’m actually headed, and I ended up moving in the wrong direction. This is where Elijah was. Even though God has just done this incredible thing through him, he finds himself in a place where his problems are overwhelming his thoughts and causing him to panic. His negative thoughts spiral out of control, and he not only runs away, but he prays that he would die.
He’s afraid for his life. He feels completely alone. He has nothing left and he feels hopeless. Have you ever been there before? Have you ever reached a place in your life where maybe your teenager or your preteen or your three-year-old is just giving you a little bit too much attitude. Maybe you have a series of unplanned expenses. Maybe your spouse does that thing that annoys you just one too many times. Maybe your family member is dealing with that health problem and you have had enough. I spend way too much of my life allowing my problems to overwhelm my thoughts and they end up overwhelming my life. That phrase that our lives are headed in the direction of our strongest thoughts, for me too many of the times in my life, my strongest thoughts are overwhelmed by problems. What I want is peace, but what I focus on is problems.
In his book, Craig Groeschel says this, he says, “We get so fixated on the presence of problems that we lose focus on the presence of God.” So how do we move from being fixated and losing ourselves to our problems, to finding the pathway of peace? I’m going to give you the answer, but you probably already know it because we’re in church. It’s Jesus and it’s prayer.
This is what Philippians 4:4-7 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Now, these verses tell me two things about prayer. The first is this; prayer reminds us that our problems are not a reason to walk away from God, they are actually a reason to go towards him. Pastor Michael says this, I stole this from you, Pastor Michael. He says, “Your obstacle is your avenue.” Your problems are not an obstacle that keep you from God, your problems actually, instead, in every situation, in every problem, in every panic moment, the problem becomes your avenue straight to God. The problems that you are facing right now are completely real, but they are not too small for God. But also the problems that you are facing right now are not too big for God either. 1 Peter 5:7 says this, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” What if your problems were not an obstacle, but an avenue to God? The pathway of peace is walked one prayer at a time.
The second thing that this verse reminds me of is this, prayer reminds us that God is near. Will you just turn to the person next to you and say, “God is near.” This is why I love this verse in Philippians. I’m going to read that first part again. It says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Now, I like to hang out with my friends sometimes. Maybe you do too. And some of my friends have little kids and there are some times where I will try to go and pick up one of my friends little kids, and they think it’s awesome until they look back and see that I’m not their mom or dad, and they have that moment where they realize that and you can see it in their face and they go, “You’re not my mom.” They lose their minds. And in those moments of panic for them, what do they want? Their mom or dad.
Sometimes in my problems and in my panic, I just need the reminder that my Heavenly Father is close. This is what Elijah needed in this moment; the reminder that God is near. And we’re going to finish this story in 1 Kings 19, and we’re going to jump ahead to verse 11. After Elijah has run away, he ends up at a mountain and the Lord finds him there. And the Lord says this, says, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake came a fire.” Earth cake, that’d be awesome. “But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face, went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”
God is not in the wind. He’s not in the earthquake. He’s not in the fire. Where is God? In the whisper. But why a whisper? When you are overwhelmed and anxious, if you listen for God, many times he is found in the whisper, but why? Why would God, the creator of the universe whisper? I can think of two reasons. Whispering is a technique used to draw people in. If you go to a coffee shop with me and I do this, I lean over the coffee table and I begin to whisper to you. What are you going to do? Probably lean in. When God whispers, lean in. The second reason I can think why God would whisper is this, whispering is done in close proximity. If I want to whisper to Pastor Michael right here, I’m not going to whisper if he’s really far away, I’m going to whisper when he’s close. When God whispers, he is reminding us that he is close.
This is what prayer reminds us of; that we can bring our problems to God and that God is near. And now I get it. You may be here thinking, man, I’ve got real problems. How am I just supposed to pray? That’s just it. There’s no grand elaborate detailed answer for when I’m fixated on my problems? Listen, it is usually the simple truths of God that are the most powerful, and prayer is powerful. And prayer keeps your mind mindful of the presence of God.
This is what Craig Groeschel says in his book. He says, “Remember, in order for the truth to set us free, we need to internalize it. It needs to live in us so it becomes an automatic response. How do you replace an old rut with a new trench? Repetition.” Now this is something that I’m still working on personally in my own life, looking for times and ways to turn to God in prayer when my problems cause me to panic and overwhelm my thoughts. But I am learning to rejoice in prayer because I’m reminded that God is near.
And I want to close with this; this is a prayer that has been incredibly helpful for me and I hope that it’s helpful for you as well. And what I want to do is I just want to pray it over you and pray it over me. Each part of this prayer that I pray is rooted in scripture. So will you pray with me?
God I know you are close (Phil. 4:5)
You will never leave me, nor forsake me (Deut. 31:6 & Heb. 13:5)
Nothing can separate me from your love (Rom. 8:39)
You are my refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1)
You sustain and renew my strength (Isa. 40:31)
You watch over me and guide me (Psalm121:8 & Psalm 23:2)
I can give you my problems because I know you care and you provide (1 Peter 5:7 & Phil.4:19)
You are good and you are faithful (Psalm 34:8 & Psalm 119:89-90)
Well, good morning, everybody. Isaiah set me up really well, don’t you think so? Good job, my friend. So building off on what Isaiah just said, the presence of problems in our life can cause us to panic. And we start to worry, we get anxious, we go it alone. And we don’t want to go it alone because instead we can focus on God’s presence and we can pray. We can remember Paul’s prescription in Philippians 4:6 says,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Let that settle in a little bit. If it’s big enough to worry about, it’s big enough to pray about. If it’s on our mind, it’s on God’s heart. So we start to worry.
When we get anxious, and we start to panic, we come to God, we talk to God about it and we pray.
1. We talk to God about it — We Pray!
Now, when we pray, we got to be real with God. Think about it this way. You’re out at a conversation with a good friend and you’re talking about what’s on your heart. If you’re talking with someone that you enjoy being with, you’re going to share everything that’s on your mind. And talking to God is kind of like that, isn’t it? We want to do it in a natural way. You might talk to God quietly. You might talk to God silently. You might write it down in a journal. You might pray out loud. It doesn’t matter. It could be long prayers, it could be short prayers. Just change it up from time to time. God wants to hear from us in the most stretching moments. And also in those everyday concerns like where are my AirPods? They’re not in my pocket, they’re not in my backpack, they’re not my workout bag. This has happened to me, you can tell.
I like to combine things that I love to do with prayer. And one particular thing that I love to do is going on long walks. How about you? Any of you like to go on long walks? I love to go to Riverside State Park and go on these walks. I love to walk the trails. Shout out to the parks department. Get a Discover pass. It’s the best $30 you’ll ever spend. Just want to say that. So this one day I get to my destination and the intensity of praying and going on this walk, and immediately these thoughts come to my mind and I started stewing over something. And I haven’t thought about this thing for a while, but of course, when I’m going to pray, these thoughts come. And so for two and a half miles, the thoughts are flowing and I’m getting amped up, and I can feel my blood pressure just start to rise like this. And I get to the end where I turn around and I hear God say to me, “Shaun, do you feel any better?”
And I thought to myself, “No, I don’t feel any better, God.” And then he said, “Shaun, why don’t you just stop, slow down and pray to me and stop talking out loud.” What a concept. I lead the prayer team here at Life Center and I have a lot to learn in this area, don’t I? I mean, I had tunnel vision, I didn’t know what was going on, and I missed everything that was around me. I didn’t notice the trees. I didn’t notice the birds that were singing. I didn’t notice that porcupine that I nicknamed Porky, that I walked by that I look at every time I walk. When I stop at the bridge, I just stood there. The sun was hitting my face. It was a beautiful day. And I saw the reflection of the landscape in the river and I just felt God’s presence. And that walk back was so much better than the way to my destination.
See, when we pray, it changes everything. It even changes the way that we think, and scientists affirm this. Dr. Andrew Newberg, the Director of Research at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in his book, How God Changes Your Brain. He writes that prayer is like a physical workout for the brain. It changes the chemistry of the brain. And he says that when we pray, it impacts the amygdala, that part of the brain that regulates our fight or flight mechanism. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist in her book, Switch on Your Brain, she said it’s been found that 12 minutes of daily focused prayer a day over an eight week time span can change our brain to such an extent that can be measured on a brain scan. Isn’t that amazing?
So worrying and toxic thinking can take us in a direction we don’t want to go. But when we pray, it changes our brain and it takes us in a better direction, in the right direction, on that pathway to peace that Isaiah just talked about a few minutes ago. And in this four parts series, we’ve learned that our minds and our life goes in the direction of our strongest thoughts. And I just want to mention that in the pandemic, when it started, we initiated a care call team and we invited many of you to call people. So thank you to all of you who called individuals during that time. It was a blessing to us as a staff. I know it was a blessing to all of you who received a call and were prayed for. One particular person on that team, her name was Shirley. And Shirley is a prayer partner of mine and is on the prayer team. And I would give Shirley 10 people to call, she would blaze through them just like that. I give her 10 more names and she said, “I’m done.” I said, “Shirley, you’re a rockstar. How about if I give you 20 more names?” And she said, “I’ll do it.”
Shirley was calling people left and right. And she would tell me, “Shaun, I think I’m having more fun than these people are. I mean, I’m calling them and I’m praying for them. It’s great.” But what people didn’t know is the whole time Shirley was calling people, she was battling terminal cancer and she would call me on the phone and say, “Shaun, can you pray for me? I’m feeling lonely. I’m discouraged.” And I’d pray with her. And then she’d say, “Could I have some more names to call?”
We lost Shirley three months ago, and I lost a dear friend and a great prayer partner. And what I learned from Shirley is that when we are struggling, we look to God, we look up and he’s there to help us in our time of need. And he’s always there and we practice his presence. We stay more consistent in prayer. If you’re here this morning and you are struggling and you need prayer, let us know. If you’re watching online, put it in the chat. You can call our church office. You can email us. And if you’d like to join the prayer team, we can always use more prayer warriors.
One way that Craig Groeschel talks about how we can put prayer and the power of God together is to get a little shoe box. He calls it the God box. Anytime you have a runaway thought or a concern or a temptation, you just write on a slip of paper and you drop it in the box and you say a quick prayer to God. You said, “God, you’re bigger than this circumstance and I trust you with it.” And you just leave it with God and you walk away. That’s what prayer is all about, isn’t it?
I want to add one more point. I want to go back to Philippians 4:4.
It says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: Rejoice!”
Paul uses this term rejoice twice. So it must be important.
2. We are to Rejoice
We’re to practice his presence, we’re to pray, we are to praise. They both go together. In fact, praise is the perfect compliment to prayer. In Acts 16 we read starting in verse 25 that Paul and Silas were in prison. They were praying and all of a sudden an earthquake came. It rocked the prison sale, gates flew open, the chains fell off, the shackles fell on the ground and they were set free. Why? Because they prayed. They prayed in their circumstances.
It reminds me of a time when… and I’ll end with this. When I drove from Spokane to Vancouver, BC to see my grandma. She was in the hospital and she was really struggling. And I do a lot of hospital visitations. I volunteered as a chaplain at the Sacred Heart Hospital for a number of years and so I know what it’s like to be in a hospital room. And some of you are sitting here and you’re visiting people who were struggling. And I remember my grandma was, as I said, in excruciating pain. And at one point she closed her eyes and she looked up and in this grandma’s sweet voice, she said, “Oh dear Jesus.” And just almost like on cue, she started singing at a loud voice this hymn. I didn’t expect it. I just stood there stunned.
And when I heard the words, he walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am his own, I lost it. I felt the tears just coming down my face. I mean, I didn’t expect my grandma to have a full blown worship service in her hospital bed singing the first stanza In The Garden. It rocked my world. Whether we are sick, whether we are in jail, whether we are distracted on a long walk, it’s a one-two punch folks, prayer and praise. It changes our outlook, it changes our perspective. At this point, I’d like to invite Pastor Michael to come up and take us through. Thank you.
Hey Shaun, Isaiah, way to go you guys. Can we thank them one more time? Really appreciate you guys and the word. Thursday morning, I woke up and it felt like I found myself on train tracks and all of a sudden the devil was driving a freight train and he hit me. I mean, it just felt like all of the things that we’ve been talking about in this series, the lies, the ruts, the negative lenses, all of those bombarded my mind at one time. And it felt like I was just plastered to the devil’s windshield, and he was taking me in the wrong direction. I mean, I was struggling on Thursday, so much so that when I thought about coming into work, I was like, “Maybe I feel sick.” Have you ever been there?
You’re trying to convince yourself, I don’t think I should go to work because I did not want to come in. I did not want to be here around other people because my mental state was so bad. I was dealing with all of these things, which reminded me of how necessary this series is, that we have a war in our minds, that we have an enemy who wants to take us down, but there are going to be lies that come against us. There are going to be ruts that we get stuck in. There are going to be lenses that distort our vision of reality and we need God’s help.
And as we look at this last principle, the rejoice principle, I want to share with you this little tip for how to deal with your problems. This is what it is. It’s looking through your problems, not at your problems. To look through them and not just at your problems. So here’s what I’m going to do, as this whole series really has been this. We’re not telling you how to fix your problems, we’re sharing with you how to fix your approach to your problems, how to fix the way you respond to problems. So there’s a story that is really helpful in the New Testament. It’s a story of Paul and it comes from Philippians that Shaun actually mentioned this, that Paul and Silas found themselves in jail. And guess what? In Philippians, Paul finds himself in jail again.
I don’t know how he gets there so often, but he manages it. He finds himself in jail again. And here’s what he says, even though he’s in jail, this is how he talks.
Philippians 1:12-14, “Paul says, ‘Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.'”
So here’s Paul in jail. And if you’re in jail, clearly, that’s a big problem, isn’t it?
And he could just stare at that problem. I’m in jail, but that’s not what he does. He says, “Look, friends, I’m not just going to look at my problem, I’m going to look through it and see God’s goodness all around me.” So here’s what he says. He says, “Because of what’s happened to me, because I’m in jail, it’s actually served to advance the gospel.” He’s able to see it because he’s not just fixated on his problem. He’s looking through it to what God is doing. He says, “Because I’m in jail, the whole palace guard know that I am deeply committed to Jesus, that I’m in chains for Christ.” He says, “The brothers and sisters have become more confident in the Lord because of my chains. And they’ve begun to proclaim the gospel without fear.” Paul was able to see God’s goodness, all around him. Even in the midst of one of the worst things he could face, being locked up, he was able to see that God was using it to bring about good. He was looking through his problem, not at.
Here’s what we learn, what Paul does is, he does this. Don’t just look at what’s wrong, look at what’s right in your life. We need to hear that. Don’t just look at what’s wrong in your life. Look at what’s right. What happens in your brain when you just focus on your problem? Here’s what happens. You have this little part in the very center of your brain called the amygdala, which Shaun mentioned. The amygdala is this little almond shape part of your brain that triggers your fight or flight mechanism. It’s like this built-in risk assessment tool. It’s one of the most primitive parts of our brains. Now your amygdala will be triggered if you see a bear in the woods, or if you get a mean text from a friend. Doesn’t matter, your amygdala will be triggered the same way, this fight or flight. What do I do?
And what happens when your amygdala is triggered? The way that your brain works, the way that it’s wired is your focus and energy goes to that part of your brain, your risk assessment, and the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that thinks logically and rationally about problems, that activity there starts diminishing. So literally when you face a problem, when you see it, you start this risk assessment thing and your logical part of your brain starts shutting down.
So if you are constantly looking at your problems, what’s happening? You’re constantly in this state of fight or flight and you logically and rationally diminish in your brain. Yikes. Because the very thing that we need most with most of our problems, because most of our problems aren’t a bear in the woods. Most of our problems are the relational things. Most of our problems are the things at work. Most of our problems, they’re not the things that we actually need to fight or flee from, they’re the things that we need to think logically about. And yet, if we just stare at our problems, we end up not thinking logically about them. We end up thinking in that fight or flight mentality. So we need help to get out of that, don’t we? And by just focusing on our problems, we do the very thing that hurts us.
So I wonder what we look like to God when we’re just focused on our problems. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have God’s view of us? If we have this small problem, I wonder if we look like this to God. We’re going through life and we’re just focused on this problem. I just can’t believe it. It’s just so hard. And God’s like, “Really?” I’m just fight or flight. No, it’s just so hard. And God’s like, “Really?” Our problems aren’t always this size, are they? A lot of times our problems are more this size. And we look at our problems and we’re like, “Wow, that is a big problem.” I wonder when we have big problems, if we look like this to God, we’re just focused on our problem. We’re walking around. My marriage it’s on the rocks. That’s a big problem, isn’t it? I’m struggling financially. That’s a big problem. These are serious things. These are not little things. We’ve issues like our health that we can just focus on we’re like, “I just can’t believe that this is what’s happening to my spouse. I can’t believe that this is where I find myself in this hospital bed.” And we just focus on these problems. And because of that, we don’t see anything else around us. We miss God’s goodness around us. We miss the people around us because we’re fixated on our problems. I wonder if this is what we look like to God.
How do we get a perspective shift? Because that’s really what we need, isn’t it?
If this is what we’re doing, it’s not that there’s not other stuff out there. It’s not that our problem is all consuming. It’s that we’ve got the wrong perspective, that we’ve put this thing right in front of us and we’re missing everything else. And it doesn’t mean that it’s not big. It is big, but how do we get a different perspective? I wonder if we were able to just flip this and view our problem in the scale of eternity. Now I know this is a poor representation of eternity because eternity goes on forever and this board doesn’t. But let’s just imagine that this is the scale of eternity. Where would your problem be? How big would your problem be on the scale of eternity?
Even if it’s a huge problem to you, in the scale of eternity, you might, with a microscope find it right here. You might be able to find your problem there in the scale of eternity. What this means is that your problem can be big to you and small to God at the same time. Putting your problem in the scale of eternity does not diminish how big it is to you, how serious it is or how difficult it is. It just puts it in perspective that in God’s hands it’s small, that God can take care of it. The God who created this universe, the God who holds everything together, the God who sent Jesus because he loves you and raised him from the dead after he died on the cross, that God is holding your problem in his hands and in his hands, it’s small. He can handle it.
We need that sort of perspective shift to go, “You know what? This is a big problem, but in God’s hands, it’s small, he can take care of it.” And then friends, we can start looking through our problems and not just at them. It allows us to start seeing God all around us at work in our lives. So I’ve got a question, what’s your problem? Turn to your neighbor and just say, “What’s your problem?”
Each one of us, each and every one of us is facing a problem, friends. You can look at somebody’s life and they may seem like they have it all together. They don’t. Each one of us is dealing with something. It might be big. It might be small. It might be multiple things, but what’s your problem? And how can you look through it? And not just at it. How can you have a perspective shift? So let me ask you a few questions to help you shift your perspective. In your problem, how is God growing you? If you start thinking through that, how is God growing me through all of this? It’s going to help you shift your perspective
In your problem, you can just look at it or you can look through it and go, “You know what? In life right now, what is going right around me? What are the good things around me? What can I praise God for and rejoice in right now?” Start looking for the good, instead of just the bad. Don’t miss the most obvious things in your life. Sometimes I think we have this thing where we get tunnel vision on our problems, and we end up missing these incredible blessings in our life. We miss the people that God has placed in our life. We miss the blessings that he’s given to us because we’re so focused on this problem. And God wants us to shift that perspective and see all the good that he’s given us.
When we shift our perspective and we see God’s goodness in the midst of our struggle, we get to praise God. And like Shaun said, prayer and praise go together to actually change the chemistry in your brain. It changes the way that you think, it creates a new neural pathway that develops more prefrontal cortex thinking in your brain, more logical, rational thinking so that you can address your problems in a more healthy and sustainable way. So when you praise God in the midst of your problems, it actually helps you address it better. Here’s what we discover. Praise is born in perspective, not just perfect circumstances. If you are waiting for your circumstances to clear up and for everything to be perfect to praise God, you’re going to be waiting for a long time.
Praise is born out of perspective. When you get that perspective shift, you say, “Wow, even though I’m going through this, God is so good.” “Wow. Even though I’m facing this, God has blessed me with so many other things.” “Even though I’m in jail,” says, Paul, “I see that God is using this to advance the gospel, to give the other believers courage so that they would proclaim it without fear.” God is using this for great things. And when you and I get that perspective shift, we’ll see the very same thing. God works all things for the good of those who love him. Your thoughts really matter to God. It’s not just your own brain that you get to hide from other people and God. Your thoughts really mattered to God, he made your brain, he wired it. And the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If you want to love God with all of your mind, you’ve got to start engaging in this battle to win the war in your mind. And friends, we need God’s help, don’t we?
Because sometimes it’s going to feel like you wake up and the devil hits you with his train. Sometimes it’s just going to feel like all the lies, all of the ruts that you’ve ever had in your life, all the lenses that you’ve used, it feels like they all come on you at one time. We need God’s help. And so to end this series to end the day, we are going to pray for God to help us in a mighty way. Would you pray with me?
Heavenly Father, we desperately need you to guard our minds. So God, we bring you every anxious thought, every problem, and every pain and bring it before you asking that you would help us, that you would take care of us. And God, because we’re asking, we ask that you would also give us your peace, which would guard our hearts and our minds, this peace that transcends understanding, we pray that over every single person here, every single person listening online, God, that whatever problem they are facing, they would trust it into your hands, and your peace would invade our minds. Help us God when we’re facing the lies and we’re stuck in ruts and we’re dealing with the lenses, would you help us to change our perspective and rejoice in you in the middle of everything we go through? You’re a good God. And today we choose to focus on all that you are doing, all that’s right in our lives. Help us to do that. We pray this in Jesus name and everyone said.