The Battle of the Mind

Photo by chairulfajar

Photo by chairulfajar

I once heard a preacher teach on where the Christian life "battles" are fought - our minds. 

Let me assure you that external, physical "battles" do exist!  I am NOT talking about persecution for our faith.

What I am talking about is the ongoing "chatter" in our heads playing the same deceptions since the dawn of time.  I'm currently reading Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick who has reminded me of some of the devil's ploys.

In the garden, the serpent asked Eve, "Did God really say..."  Is that how he plants doubt today?  Scripture says "If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God has raised Him (Jesus) from the dead, you will be saved." Yet, we often are tempted to doubt that God really meant us individually.

We listen to the chatter of "Did God really me you?  After all, you've done..."

Pastor Furtick pointed out that the devil's objective is to mess with our heads until we forget who we are in Christ.  Think about when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days. The devil came at Him with "If you are the Son of God, prove it by..." I'm paraphrasing here.

Jesus never answered with (again, my paraphrase) "Well, listen here, I am the Son of God!" He answered "It is written..." each time.  He knew Who He is and would not debate that.

So when you are battling with "did God really mean that for me", remember who you are in Christ.  You are loved by God and if you've been born again, you are forgiven.  So when the chatter starts up in your mind, quieten it by "It is written..." and trust God that He meant what he said!

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,
— 1 Thessalonians 1:4

Growing in Grace

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Photo by Francesco Mazzoli

As believers, we are often asked to share our testimony.  And many times when we do that we think back to our conversion.  That is a very important place to start, but out testimony covers so much more than that, at least it should.

In thinking about sharing my testimony on the blog, I paused to think of the new things Christ is doing in my life.  I know you can probably recount several things that God is doing in my life such as:

  • preparing us to move to a new geographic location
  • writing a book (hopefully, with more to follow)
  • changing ministries from inside the church walls to outside

But one thing I may not have shared at this point is how Jesus is growing me in grace.  I am a Southern Baptist by denomination and there are many great things about our denomination like establishing the cooperative program and the International Mission Board and home missions and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, there is something that I have been guilty of as a believer most of my life.  (Maybe that stems from being a Southern Baptist or maybe it was just me and those close to me.) That something is being judgemental.  This has been one sin that I was guilty of for a long time and felt totally right in so doing.  Over the years, I've come to understand that I want God's GRACE and MERCY, but I wasn't good at extending it.

Talk about an eye-opening revelation!  God is LOVE and He proved it by sending Jesus to the cross to pay our debt when we didn't ask for it to be paid.  He stands at the ready to forgive us the very second we repent and receive Jesus as our Lord.  NO. QUESTIONS. ASKED.

Just BAM - Forgiveness - BAM - GRACE.  There is no way to describe the peace that follows.  You have to experience it for yourself.  Oh, I hope you do!

So God is changing me every day.  He is growing me in His grace.  Reminding me all the time that I didn't earn His grace and/or forgiveness; therefore, I must freely give His grace and/or my forgiveness to others. (I can't presume to offer His forgiveness. BUT He will!)

If you have ever, I mean ever, felt judged by me, please forgive me!  I totally want the love and grace of Jesus Christ to flow through me onto all those around me.  

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
— Ehesians 2:8

I am so thankful for the grace of God.  And I want you to know that same grace.  It is the most precious gift!

Blessing in Obedience

photo by Samuel Zeller

photo by Samuel Zeller

Haggai 2:18-19

18 Consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Since the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid, consider: 19 Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you.”

 

In Haggai, God rebuked His people who had been released from captivity for 15 years.  They had built for themselves fine houses but left the temple in ruins.  Through the prophet Haggai, God asks them why they worked hard but did not have enough?  Then He told them He was why.  Even in the good of being released from captivity, they were not obedient to Him.

God told them to rebuild His temple.  The governor, priest, and people repented and turned back to God.  They placed the cornerstone which is the first step in rebuilding the temple and God said: “from this day on I will bless you.”

I noticed a couple of things right here in the Old Testament that jumped out at me.  Probably, because these things apply to me.  

1)   Even in good times, I am not always obedient.  The Israelites had been released 15 years and were not doing what God had released them to do.  They were living it up in their own way, not giving to God what was His.  In return, things weren’t going all that smooth even in their living it up.

2)   The moment they repented, turned back to God and demonstrated their obedience God said: “from this day on I will bless you.”  God didn’t wait for the project of obedience to be completed.  He blessed the moment they acted in obedience.

What a great and merciful God we serve!  He calls us until He gets our attention.  Then, just like that, as soon as we repent, turn back to Him and in the first act of obedience, He blesses!

Blessing comes in obedience!

What is God calling you to do? 

What are you waiting for?

Comment below if you have seen this to be true in your life.

 

Excellent Love

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I Corinthians 13
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails;
but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 
13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

 

God our Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit; ONE God showed us perfect love.  He created mankind knowing we would fail him.  He knew that in that failure, most of His creation would not choose to surrender to Him, yet He gave us the freedom to choose anyway.

God knew that those of us who would choose to surrender to Him would fall often.  Many times knowing the right thing but choosing sin instead.  But in His perfect love, He offers forgiveness as soon as we repent. 

He is patient, not wanting any to perish, and offers hope to all who believe.

How I want to demonstrate my Father’s love to others.  May I be patient, kind, not jealous, not a braggart or arrogant, not acting unbecomingly, not easily provoked, not taking into account wrong suffered and not rejoicing in unrighteousness but rather rejoicing in truth, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things and enduring all things. Why?  Because my Father’s love NEVER fails.

Does my love fail?  Yes! But does my Father’s love fail? Never!

May I choose to deny myself daily and take up my cross and follow Him so He receives all the glory and I might just be one of the vessels He chooses to use.