Detox – Soul Detox
As we grow older, we have become increasingly aware that we live in toxic environments. Our food, water, and air are contaminated with poisons. Over time these poisons take a toll on our bodies. Many of our worst diseases are a direct result of the toxins in our life. But as important as toxins are at a physical level, they are even more important spiritually. Toxic mindsets, toxic influences, and toxic attitudes can impact every facet of our lives: thoughts, words, fear, influences, culture and relationships. We need to detox to remove those toxins. This week we talked about the soul.
Bottom-line: Starve it, feed it.
Something To Talk About:
There are some toxins we must starve out of our soul. They include busyness: We’re too busy, so busy, very busy, or just plain busy. We’ve got work to do, children to raise, meetings to get to, appointments to keep, friends to connect with, spouses to love. But this can be a toxin when we cannot stay connected to God because our lives swirl around us at a rapid pace. We need to starve this to keep Him central in our hearts and minds while we live our very busy lives. Gossip: Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” I think we all recognize gossip as a toxin that we need to remove. Unforgiveness: Who are you helping most when you forgive the person who hurt you? The answer is yourself. Yes, it is hard, but unforgiveness is a toxin that needs to be starved from the soul. Comparison: We tend to compare ourselves to others our entire life. We want to be rich like so and so, or better looking or more successful like those we are comparing ourselves to. But comparison is a game with no winners and is a toxin that we need to remove. Anger: The Bible has a lot to say about anger. It tells us that fools give “full vent” to their anger, but wise people keep themselves under control. Proverbs 14:29 teaches us that patient people have great understanding – “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” Anger is a toxin that prevents us from reflecting the love, patience, and gentleness of Jesus.
Worry: Worry is assuming a responsibility that God never intended you to have. What do you do when you worry? It becomes a toxin that can graduate into fear and stress. Matthew 6:27 reminds us that “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Bitterness: Bitterness starts out small. We fool ourselves into thinking no one will know, but anger and resentment have a way of seeping into everything. It is a toxin. Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;” Lying: Proverbs 12: 22 says it pretty plain: “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” Discontentment: One of the great mysteries of Christianity is contentment. At least one must presume it is a mystery, because so few people have it. Christians get trapped into a discontented life by adopting worldly goals: more, bigger, and best. It is a toxin to be sure. Jealously: I keep telling myself I wasn’t so much jealous as I was discouraged. It’s not envy, Lord, I’m simply feeling left out, or I am just competitive. It is jealously and jealously is a toxin that needs to be starved.
There are some areas of the soul we must feed. They include:
- Right relationships: Do you have someone who will give it to you straight even when it hurts? Somebody who will make a difference in your life? As Proverbs 27:5-6 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” God’s solution to toxins is having someone in your life that can help you: someone who will mentor you, will be prayer partner with you, and do life together in a small group.
- God-defined identity: This “identity issue” is an important part of living the Christian life. Jesus was able to face the incredible demands of his mission because He knew exactly who He was. He knew that He mattered to God, and that gave him confidence to move purposefully in faith. God made you. He alone can help us figure out who we are and what He has called us to do. Be the best person you can be. “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). He says what will separate us from the love of Christ. (Romans 8:35). Our identity is found in Him.
- Crucified life: What does it mean to be “crucified with Christ?” We have to remember that we are called to die to ourselves and live a crucified life. In our flesh, we want situations to change, but God wants to change us because He knows that the more we die to self, the more we will live in His Freedom. In order to live a crucified life, we must crucify self, the flesh and the world by embracing humility, making the daily choice to start every day and put the things that are not of God to death. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)
- Eternal perspective: We can “believe” in eternity, but to what extent have we actually bought into the society’s belief that eternity is not relevant until after this life? Eternity is not merely a time frame that is endless; it is something that Christians experience now. Believers don’t have to “wait” for eternal life, because it’s not something that starts when they die. Rather, eternal life begins the moment a person exercises faith in Christ. When we begin to see all our moments set in the context of eternity, we will bring to those moments a seriousness that we would not otherwise have had. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:1-2)
- Starving ourselves of unforgiveness, comparison, anger and worry allows us to live in the freedom in which God intended us to live. Which of these four areas have you starved most effectively? What steps did you take that helped you to be successful?
- Talk about the image you have of yourself. Do you think this lines up with the identity that God has defined for you?
- Seeking right relationships is one of the keys to detoxifying our lives. What are some practical steps you can take this week to evaluate your relationships and (if necessary) seek more positive ones?
- How can we commit to living a crucified life and let God know that you desire for Him to live through us?
- What does an eternal perspective mean to you?
- Ask God to identify any changes you need to make to your way of thinking and ask for wisdom to determine the most effective ways for you to personally detox your soul.
Take One Thing Home with You
The New Year is always a time for reflection and personal evaluation. So far in our Detox series we have spent time talking about removing the toxins from our spirit and soul. But we are also embarking on our 21 Days of Prayer. God’s Word tells us to pray about everything: to pray believing, to fast and pray, to pray without ceasing, to devote ourselves to prayer, to add thanksgiving to prayer, to pray with joy and much more.
During the next 21 days we are seeking the presence of God and His guidance as we face 2016 and the future. We have hopes and expectations collectively and individually for the year that is ahead of us—but God alone knows what it holds. Only He can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet it’s challenges. So we prayerfully and humbly put our hands into His hands, and to trust Him and to seek His will for our lives during this coming year.
So take some time to pause from the busyness of the day to listen and learn in an open dialogue with God, to experience the relationship God intended you to have. Please pray for the salvation of friends, family and neighbors. Pray for our Easter services that God will move in the lives of those who are far from the heart of God. Pray for our February services. Pray for our present campuses and the wisdom in planting future campuses.
Our prayer is that this 21 days will leave us changed and transformed by grace, renewed by the Holy Spirit’s touch and revived by God’s amazing love.