Pouring Hot Coffee on the Devil
When I order coffee I always ask if it is a fresh pot or has it been sitting awhile. After all, who likes stale coffee? When I have a choice to order the temperature, I always ask for it to be extra hot. You can't get extra hot coffee at fast food restaurants because too many people have spilled it and now it has to have a warning on the cup letting you know you just got a cup of hot coffee. Well, yeah, that's what I ordered!!
I like my coffee extra hot because I love the feeling I get when it slides down my throat and is hot and creamy. I actually let out a audible, "AHHHH!" each time, just ask my husband. I suppose this is also a good thing in case I was faced with a stranger who frightened me, I could just pour the cup on him and run. Another great reason for extra hot coffee.
Let's imagine, for a minute, using this "weapon" that is also a great comfort on our good friend the devil. It has been on my mind a lot, just how ever present he is whether I am praying, worshiping, shopping, writing, hiking, exercising. He's there in church, at dinner, during soccer games, when I am getting ready in the morning. He has the dastardly ability to enter my thoughts no matter the time of day or activity I am engaged in. I always get so angry when he seems to enter my thoughts when I am studying God's word or journaling. But, isn't that just like him. Why would he want me doing any of these things?
This dud really likes to enter our thoughts and get us to believe what he is saying about us. He loves to bring up the past and the horrible things we may have done in the past. He loves to show you how awful your thighs look even though you have had four babies, yet work out 2 times a day. He loves to make you hear your own voice tell yourself that you are not a good enough mom, teacher, partner, professional. He loves to cause you to use words like ugly, disappointing, not good enough, lonely, tired, dumb, fat, and I am sure you can add others that he uses in your head. The enemy is smiling down on you each time he hears you speak these words to yourself or out loud to friends or co-workers. He's doing a fist pump! He knows that he is now in control of your thoughts and unless you choose, that's the important word, CHOOSE, to take control of your thoughts, the devil will continue these thoughts and eventually it will spiral out of control.
When I went back to school to receive my masters in Education Administration, the first thing I told my husband was, " I don't think I am a critical thinker any more. I don't think I can think logically enough and without emotion in order to run a school with hundreds of children and many, many different types of employees." These words were coming from a person who had been so controlled by the devil and his words in my head for so many years, to the point that I couldn't even order a pizza on the phone, yet now I wanted to run a school. The devil had beaten me down by a father who showed love by criticizing and joking, an abusive marriage, and the belief that I was invisible to my family. Why would I, now, be able to be something different? I used the words ugly and fat to describe myself for 40 years. I used the word incompetent and not smart enough in my classroom for 15 years. I filled my head with garbage about being a mom, wife, friend, peer.
I thought today, what if I had a friend who constantly told me that I was fat, ugly, unworthy. Would I continue to hang out with that person. Of course not!! I would seek a friend who told me otherwise. Who loved my frizzy hair, who asked me for suggestions on how to work with a struggling reader, who texted me and said they were thinking about me, just out of the blue. So, then, why would I want to have this continual voice in my head that told me the ridiculous things I was telling myself?
Taking captive of our thoughts is an ongoing practice and a routine we need to get into. No, we MUST get into. Jesus cannot use a person who is telling themselves rubbish on the inside, yet trying to portray something else on the outside. The fact is, we may think we are fooling others when acting differently on the outside, but it all shows through and it shows through in a big way. How can we spread the great news of Hope, if we are not portraying our belief in that hope by our own thoughts? The great thing is that even though it may be difficult to take these thoughts captive, God's great grace knows us, the real us. He is able to examine our heart's intentions and our thoughts. Psalm 139: 23 says, "search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!" What this is saying is, examine me and see if I have not represented my feelings as they really are. (Commentary by Pulpit Commentary). In these cases, no, no indeed, you have not represented yourself as you really are. You have allowed the enemy to enter your thoughts and represent what he thinks about you, not what God thinks about you. God's amazing grace knows us deep down. He knows us as we really are, his daughter, his bride, his homemade woman. He placed you in your mother's womb and called you by name. (Isaiah 49:10) When God looks at you he sees our Savior Jesus. He does not see fat, ugly, dumb. He sees his son portrayed in us. Who are we, then, to tell ourselves something different?
When we spend time thinking and speaking negative things about ourselves, we lose sight of God's grace, yet even in these times he continues to give us more and more grace. God's grace doesn't depend on our thoughts about God, but rather, his thoughts about us. Isaiah 43:1 says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” You are perfectly his, different from anyone else. He is not comparing you to his other handiwork, he is delighting in the perfectly imperfect person he has created you to be. I have mentioned a sign in my workout room before, it reads, "Because God is graceful, I am beautiful". Really, that is the only reason I am beautiful and it is the only reason I think I am beautiful to this day. God's great grace makes me beautiful.
We should always be thinking about ourselves, having insight on our thoughts and actions. This helps us keep ourselves in check by understanding who we are portraying ourselves to be. This is thinking about our thinking (metacognition, for my teacher friends), but it certainly should not be all that we think about. I was one who would look in every widow I walked passed, even looked at the shape of my shadow and thought about how awful I looked. Ridiculous!!! I did, though, do something about some of these thoughts as I began to take them captive. I did feel fat, so, now I work out and walk or run on a daily basis. I did feel insecure about my leadership abilities so, I read a great many leadership books. I did listen to the devil, but I began reading and studying my Bible daily and repeating to myself what God says in his Word about me. I let His word fill my thoughts and soon, they had crowded out the thoughts of the enemy. Oh, I could tell how furious the enemy was. In fact, daily, I see him trying to sneak back in, black smoke rising from his nostrils because he is so angry. When this happens is when I pray to God with a simple, "Help!", and I seek prayer from my prayer warriors who were put into my life. We need to be preaching the Gospel to ourselves. We need to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and all that he has given us. We need to yell at ourselves and stop ourselves mid sentence when these thoughts overtake us because we know they are not from the God who loves us more than we ever can love ourselves.
What we need to do is pour our extra hot coffee on that rascal and let him know who is in charge. Let him know who is the boss of our thoughts. Our Lord Jesus will then stand up tall and place the right types of thoughts into our minds and each time we will be filled with His grace and know that we are beautiful.
Make yourself some hot coffee now, well, make two, one to drink and one to throw, and begin to talk to God about taking captive your thoughts unto Him. He will support you each time you reach out. He will direct you to his word and the scripture that tells you what he thinks about you. He will make you beautiful.