What you believe about yourself will anchor you to your past, or it will allow you to be free to be whom the Lord intended. Everyone talks about letting go of the past, and to various degrees, some experience success. They have forgiven others and even themselves, which is monumental. And yet, for some, the anchor holds. What gives? They’re still attached to their old identity. They haven’t fully embraced who they are in Jesus Christ. There are two elements involved with that identity. Let’s take a look at them.
Romans 6:6-8Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.
Briefly, to be baptized means to identify with, which means when you were baptized into Jesus Christ, you began to identify with Him. As we just read, we were baptized into His death, which means the old man was crucified with Him. God never intended to preserve or save your old nature; He intended to kill it -dead! Too many are giving their old selves mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. With whatever you identify will be what you believe about yourself. For instance, “I’ve always had a short temper, I can’t help it.” That short temper belongs with the old nature; it’s not part of the new one. Nonetheless, if that is what someone believes, that’s exactly the way they will continue. Moreover, they are using old weapons: anger and wrath, which are carnal and manipulative. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
What in your old nature do you want to keep? Because, what you fight for is yours for the keeping. Whatever it may be will continue to control you. The old triggers are attached to the old identity. That’s why some sabotage any progress they make. For example, the one who believes he is impoverished or is only worthy of a certain income level, will find a way to set himself back if he goes over that level. Someone who believes he will always be at the $18,000 income level, will find ways to get rid of $17,000, if he should make $25,000. As long as he is hardwired into that belief, he’ll either find ways to stay there, or be very uncomfortable with having more. Why? He only knows lack, and understands the rules of that paradigm. The latter is unknown territory, and that is something with which humans are uncomfortable -even when it’s for the better. This is not about a person’s income, we know godliness with contentment is great gain (see 1 Timothy 6:6). This is about getting rid of the limitations which God removed from us. Here is another example: those who lived stressful lives, find it difficult to be peaceful. Hence, some will look for ways to stress themselves out. Even their physical bodies are addicted to stress. They need to detox by allowing His peace to rule in their hearts. We could make this list even longer, but you get the point. It would be beneficial to stop saying something about yourself that contradicts what God says about you.
Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
Since your old nature is considered dead in God’s eyes, you should too. In our opening passage, we also read we are freed from sin, which means we don’t have to serve it. Another lesson to consider. The second part of our identity is being Christ-like. Instead of the garbage found in the carnal nature, our new one is loaded with God’s best. With Holy Spirit living in you, the fruit of the Spirit is now part of you. All of it!
Galatians 5:22-25But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Grace gives you the freedom to fully follow Jesus. In Him, you are completely new. It’s not a “do-over,” neither is it some renovation of something old -it’s a prototype. This is something that never before existed, or should we say, someone who never before existed. Anchor to the new man (see Ephesians 4:24), and you’ll be free to be exactly who God intended. You are new, the Bible says so!
2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Your perspective can be a friend or a foe. The great thing about it, is you can change it if it’s been working against you. But if that’s going to happen, you have to be willing to get outside of your comfort zone. It requires work and deep thinking. Moreover, it’s important to address your imagination and how you use it. The imagination is the place of vision and creativity. One thing that’s been laced into the fabric of this blog series is the need to embrace truth. Not just any truth, God’s truth, the way He intended us to know it. Two components that will help in changing your viewpoint are questions, and the realization not everything is black and white. There are more explanations available than what we might assign to a given set of circumstances, or even human behavior, including our own. Jesus gave us some steps to help us along the way.
Matthew 16:14-25If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.
While you are important, it is necessary to put away self-importance. The kind in which everything evolves around you. This perspective can be very destructive. Being self-absorbed creates untold blind spots, since it’s a major component of self-deception. It makes numerous things more personal than they ever should. For instance, when someone cuts you off in traffic, he meant to do that to you; no one else. In fact, you were his target. He calculated every move he made during the day, just so he could time things just right. The perpetrator knew exactly when you would be at the location of the incident. That sounds ridiculous, but in the heat of the moment, it can feel that way. This is where questions come into play. One might ask, did this guy really intend to cut me off personally, or was it happenstance? “Maybe, he’s just a jerk and he does that to people all the time!” What makes you so sure, especially if you never met him before? Perhaps, there were other possibilities: he didn’t see you; he was stressed out and preoccupied, and totally unaware of your presence. Options!
Let’s take this to another level, something actually more personal as it relates to self-importance and the manner we use our imaginations. Part of it is connected with the way we see ourselves. If we properly love ourselves, we can envision things on the plus side, which lends itself to more healthy relationships. If we were to believe we hold no value, we would tend to visualize constant rejection. For example, you invite some friends over for dinner, but they are unable to make it due to a previous engagement. Someone with a healthy perspective would tend to take the explanation at face value. If you were the latter, you might believe it was an excuse, so they wouldn’t have to spend time with you. “They don’t really like me.” A reasonable explanation was turned into a false narrative based on insecurity. This is where questions are advantageous. Is that really true, or does it simply feel that way? Would they be available on a different day? Perhaps, they have a loaded schedule. What have they said or done to make you believe they don’t like you? Is the belief founded on truth or the way you filter it?
What you believe about God in relation to yourself will influence whether you receive a God-given vision, or one of hopelessness. If you believe He loves you, you will be better positioned to receive His blessings; if you don’t, you will be less able to receive. Here’s where questions come into play: what does the Bible say about God’s love? It would really behoove some of you to let the Bible contradict what you’ve heard all your life. You are worthy of love. Jesus made that clear at the Cross. Do you really believe God created you, just so He could despise you? How does that fit His nature? Dare to go against the grain! Be willing to change your perspective!
As mentioned in part four, our words we use can work for or against us. The source of your words are big deal. For instance, words from above are spirit, life and truth; those that come from the flesh or a carnal mind, not so much. Romans 8:5-6For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Moreover, as also already stated, the thing with which we fill our hearts will proceed from out mouths. A number of you are already aware that even our words can affect our own personal health. They may even create unwanted triggers. And of course, they can change your course in life in a positive direction. Your words have weight. Proverbs 18:21Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. So, let’s open this package and examine its contents.
Again, in the abbreviated form, we consist of spirit, soul and body. With that in mind, we’ll address how each area is affected by what we say. We’ll start in the physical realm. Thoughts and words are experienced in our bodies. As we know, our brain has a subconscious part which never sleeps. It’s the part of the brain that regulates the functioning of the body (heartbeat, digestive and limbic system, etc.). It’s neutral in that it doesn’t care what you say, or anyone else for that matter. It simply receives what’s spoken, and uses them in relation to those functions. Obviously, if you want a more concise understanding, do some research. One thing you would find, is neural science actually confirms what the Bible has been telling us for thousands of years.
One brief example of the mind/brain system affecting our body is how some feel after a confrontation. How many have lost their appetite after such an encounter? The body didn’t lose its appetite on it’s own. The chemicals released by the brain into the digestive system, told them they weren’t hungry. In some instances, it’s been known to make people feel nauseous. Question: are words usually involved in confrontations? Of course, the emotions were also be affected, and they also play into the signaling process of the brain, which correlates to the soul.
Likewise, what we speak over ourselves can affect our wellness. We’ve all heard people say something like, “I get sick every time the weather changes,” and sure enough, when it changes they get sicker than a dog. Was it the weather, or did they program their brain to make their body sick? The weather became the trigger, which was installed by their words. These words were from the heart, and were spoken often. Of course, experience simply helped reinforce the belief. Why do you suppose some drug companies use phrases like, “When you get sick during cold and flu season, you can count on us to make you feel better,” in their advertisement? The power of suggestion!
On the other side of the spectrum, there are others who typically never get sick during cold and flu season, not to mention when the weather changes. One part of this is due to the fact they feed on the Word of God, and speak it over themselves. God’s Word is spirit and life. Their words are attached to belief, and the abundance of their hearts. This is not to say they will never get sick, because there are other elements involved, such as mercy.
While this is a different subject, mercy is attached to health and healing. Bitterness and envy, for example, can be linked to arthritis. Proverbs 12:30A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.
The question is, whose report will you believe: a drug company, or God? Do you believe healing is part of the Gospel? 1 Peter 2:24 (Jesus) Who his own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (see also Isaiah 53:1-5). In relation to our example, if you happen to be one who finds certain events (such as weather) trigger sickness, try quoting Scripture instead of the old mantra, and see what happens. It would be easy to go down a rabbit hole in this area, so as a suggestion: with Holy Spirit’s assistance, study what the Bible has to say about it. 3 John 1:1Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
Certainly, words affect our emotions, which means we can trigger them on our own. Of course, it’s easier to blame others for negative ones, but let’s get real. For instance, we’ve all heard, “If (fill in the blank) happens, I’m going to be angry!” Maybe some of us have said it ourselves. What happen when the “if” happens? Boom! Anger strikes as predicted. There are a few things at play in this example. Thing one, anger is being used as a weapon, or means of manipulation in some cases. That is, someone is attempting to stop someone from performing a certain way by using anger to instill fear. Thing two, it gives the person a sense of empowerment. And thing three, it placed a trigger in the subconscious. Our focus here is thing three. Anger is only one emotion, but there are others which can be similarly triggered. Whether it’s euphoria or sadness, boldness or anxiety, peace or fearfulness, and so on. We can set our emotions up by what we say. Moreover, it can mean the difference between response or reaction. Somethings with which people struggle can be reinforced by their words. Likewise, words can also be used to realize their victory. Clearly, words are not the only triggers. Life experiences use other things, such as music, sounds, smells, and etc..
For brevity sake, we’ll stop here and continue next blog, Lord willing. To round this out, ask God for the wisdom you need in relation to those things of which you’re not sure.
Your confession, that is the things you say which are from the heart, can work against you; and of course, the opposite is true as well. This is one subject that has stirred the proverbial pot in the church, because of misuses. Much of which is the result of ignorance or lack of understanding. Confession is certainly real, without it, none of us could be saved (see Romans 10:8-11). The Bible also makes it clear that we should choose our words wisely. Proverbs 18:21Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Our words affect whether our minds are renewed, which in turn affects our lives as a whole. So, let’s break this down step by step. How does this all work?
1 Peter 4:11If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles (speak the utterances) of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to Whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
“Any” means any, and that includes you. This idea is new for some, so how is it possible to speak the words or utterances of God? Does this mean we are to run around reciting the Bible all the time? Reciting the Bible does play a part, but it’s not the whole. Jesus said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), which He quoted from Deuteronomy 8:4. So, we have the written and the spoken Word. We will not go into great detail on hearing at this stage, but hearing from God requires Holy Spirit. John 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (Read John 7:38; chapters 14-17; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 for starters). The children of God are led of Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:14-18). In short, we begin by submitting to Him.
Paul makes a very important statement, which begs our attention: For God is my Witness, Whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers (Romans 1:9). He understood that in order to properly serve God, he had to do it with his spirit. Why? Our connecting point with Holy Spirit is our spirit (see Romans 8:16; 1 Corinthians 2:9-16). We have a spirit, heart, soul, mind and body(see Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). The shortened version of this is spirit, soul and body (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23). When everything is in correct order, we function at our best. Holy Spirit connects to our spirt, which in turn connects to our heart, then our soul, to the mind and finally, our body. Another way to look at it, if you want the abbreviated form, is Holy Spirit connects to our spirit, which connects to our soul and manifests in or through our body.
Of course, there is great deal said about the heart. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). He goes onto to say, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35 [see also Mark 7:18-23; Luke 6:43-45]). It’s for this reason it is important to pay attention to what you put in your heart. What you put into it, is what comes out of your mouth. From it will come either words of life or death, along with all the nuances attached to them. If you want to speak words of life, then fill your heart with the Word of God. John 6:63It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Interestingly, while we serve with our spirits, we believe and obey from the heart (see Romans 6:17; 10:8-10; Ephesians 6:5-6; Colossians 3:22; 1 Timothy 1:5; Hebrew 10:22, etc.). What we say is one of the things that enters our minds, which in turn influences our actions and the functions of our bodies in a number of ways. What software is to hardware in a computer, is what our minds are to our brains. And of course, it’s our brains that run the body on the physical level. In short, proper confession brings our entire person into harmony with God. For the sake of brevity, we will go in greater detail about confession in the next blog (Lord willing). There’s still a lot to unpack.
It’s important to audit your beliefs, because they are your filters through which you view everything. This pertains to more than theology or doctrine, which we will touch on in more detail shortly. It concerns what you believe about yourself, others and of course, God. This is deep work, and requires prayer along with a lot of thought. This is the stuff people generally don’t verbalize very often, if at all. Along with what you believe, examine how you reinforce those beliefs. And there are a myriad of ways to do just that, especially when dealing with strongholds. Some of these methods of reinforcement make them appear impossible to tear down, but they’re not!
One of the most stalwart underpinnings is the misuse of Scripture. A person can pretty much make the Bible say what he wants, simply by using partial and out of context verses. Essentially, he is using truth to reinforce a lie. Even though the Bible is 100% true, verses used in this fashion turn truth into error or heresy. Error is just that, something taught or believed incorrectly because of insufficient knowledge, wisdom and understanding. There’s no intended deceit involved. Some of those who misuse the Word in order to strengthen their stronghold(s), are self-deceived; or perhaps, deceived by others. Heresy on the other hand, is intentional. This is a case where the person knows better, but opts to continue with a lie, instead of repenting. If you are going to renew your mind and allow the right changes to take place, you must desire the truth. There is only one Doctrine of Christ, and numerous doctrines of men and demons. Without getting off into a tangent, it would serve the Body of Christ well to seek only the Truth the way God intended us to know it. All the bickering over doctrine has actually reinforced strongholds, because pride got involved. The need to prove oneself “right,” only strengthens them. Incidentally, using Bible verses to get your way is manipulation, not disseminating truth. Instruction is one thing, but using it like a weapon has turned many children away from the love of His Word.
The best way to determine if you’re dealing with a stronghold is allowing Holy Spirit to show you. However, if you have a difficult time connecting to Him because of emotional turmoil or a stronghold itself, here are a couple indicators: anger and confusion. Anger is a stronghold’s enforcer. When truth starts to penetrate its walls, it springs into action to repel “the attack.” One quick to way to discern a stronghold, is when you or others to whom you’re talking, reverts to anger when logic or truth is punching holes in your or their argument. Often, this is when one tries talking over the other. It’s like the one who puts his hands over his ears, and starts singing, “La-la-la-la-I’m not listening.” In essence, he’s saying, “Don’t confuse me with the truth, I’ve already made up my mind.”
When you know the truth, you cannot be confused. If you or others are confused by something, it means you or they don’t know the truth concerning the issue. Don’t be disheartened by that statement. God has given us what we need to address confusion, and everything else in life. Jesus said, “If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). Freedom from confusion comes with truth, which means it is important to be in agreement with God, so you can be truly free. Agreement means humility on our part; otherwise, one will never receive to the truth; he’ll keep rejecting or twisting it.
Proverbs 3:5-8Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
We’ve all heard it said, “Sometimes, we’re our own worst enemy.” To some degree that’s true. It’s the enemies within we must contend with, they’re just as subtle as the serpent at the Garden of Eden. These would have you believe you’re a victim, because they know if you stay focused on everyone and everything else, you’ll never zero in on them. These are the strongholds found in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, mentioned in Part One. One of the things they do is trigger people into self-sabotage where they get stuck in destructive patterns. How many started to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and bam, the tunnel collapses? Maybe some of you felt like you just crawled out of one pit, only to fall into another one, or it seems like someone pushed you into it. “If it’s not one thing, it’s another!” How do we break these cycles? How do we pull down the strongholds? Before going any further, be encouraged, you don’t have to do this alone. Remember, the weapons of our warfare . . . are mighty through God (2 Corinthians 10:4)! He will help you walk through this, wield the weapons, and help you realize the victory that’s already yours. Look at it from the standpoint of already having won the fight. 1 Corinthians 15:57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
As we begin, it is vital to be extremely honest with God and ourselves. This requires getting rid of the victim mentality. As long anyone plays the victim card, he or she will remain stuck. Everyone has been wronged by others. There’s no question about that; however, your decision to remain a victim is up to you. It’s time to take responsibility for yourself, and do things God’s way, which includes forgiving those who wronged you. If you’re going to ask God for help, He may show you things about yourself you may not like. Honest assessments are fundamental to moving forward.
Secondly, as we move into renewing our minds, it is important to come into full agreement with God, which includes believing what He says. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (see Ephesians 6:17). It’s quick, powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates the very depth of our being, and brings to light the thoughts and intents of the heart (see Hebrews 4:12). Furthermore, it works like a mirror in that it reflects back to us what we need to see (see James 1:23). Another very important aspect of the Word is it actually heals our souls.
James 1:21Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
The word, save in the Greek text means to deliver or protect; to preserve, and to heal or make whole. It pertains to the whole person (spirit, soul, mind and body). This means the Word of God can heal the mind and emotions, which includes bringing our thoughts and imaginations under the control of Jesus. Of course, it also pertains to being delivered or saved from the wrath to come. Reading your Bible and sitting in the presence of the Lord are not mere religious, pious acts; they are lifesaving!
Let’s start addressing some strongholds, and from where they came. Keep in mind they affect the way we believe, think, and behave as a result. For example, a deep seated hurt can trigger fear or resentment. Have you ever found yourself resenting someone you’ve never seen before? It may be he or she in some way reminds you of someone who hurt you. It could be his or her physical appearance, speech or mannerisms. Something about that person triggers you. It’s not him or her personally; it’s who they remind you of. That indicates you haven’t fully addressed the issue. That’s just one way relationships are affected; in fact, it could end a wonderful friendship before it could even begin.
Here’s one more before we close. Not to worry, we’ll continue to address strongholds and how to deal with them in the next blog. Unfortunately, numerous people have had parents who didn’t know how to love their children. Many were critical or even outright abusive. Children learned performance-based affection. If they didn’t perform well, they didn’t receive love or affection. In time, they believed themselves to be of no value. Several grew to become perfectionists. If mom or dad didn’t love them, they couldn’t see how anyone else possibly could, and that includes God. Most know this already, but the way some view their parents, especially the dad, is the way they view God. It makes it very difficult for them to trust anyone. A number of them put people on trial. Because they already have passed sentence on them, they’re already guilty before it begins. Any legitimate acts of love are rejected, because they decided no one loves them. They don’t believe it’s possible. The reality does not match their narrative, and their narrative is their reality. These people are very good at sabotaging relationships. They also tend to enter unhealthy ones.
If that’s you, change the story you tell yourself. Review the evidence with an open heart. Start with God. He is an amazing Father unlike anyone on the planet. If He didn’t love you, He would have never sent Jesus to die for you. That is not cliché: that is true! Stop and think about all the good things you take for granted -even the oxygen in your lungs. You may feel like someone should pay for what you’ve experienced in life. Maybe even God. Well, He did pay for it. Jesus endured the Cross, so you wouldn’t have to face a torment far beyond your imagination. He made provision for your pain. It’s up to you receive it. If you reject it, that’s on you. If you refuse a helping hand, that’s on you! Once you reject true love, you’re no longer a victim; you’re the perpetrator. Jesus is worthy for you to receive His love, which includes the love through other people. If you get honest, you’ll find a number of people of reached out to you. You simply slapped their hands, instead of taking hold of them. Read the Bible and see what God really thinks of you!
It is so easy to blame the devil for everything; in fact, he gets far more credit than he deserves. Moreover, in some circles, he gets more glory than God. Part of the problem for some is they haven’t really taken the time to study their Bibles to find out what Jesus actually did for them at the Cross and Resurrection. Sure, they understand their sins were forgiven, but that is far as it goes. What they fail to understand is the devil was disempowered, and doesn’t have the authority he once had (see Colossians 2:8-15). Moreover, Holy Spirit lives in the disciples of Jesus Christ, which leads to a simple question: who is greater in power, Satan or Holy Spirit? It’s a rhetorical question, and yet some will say things like, “If you start doing something for God, the devils going to come after you.” So what? What’s he going to do? The reality is he is after everyone.
1 Peter 5:8-9Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
Many know this already, but it bears repeating: the devil is not a roaring lion, nor can he devour anyone at will. Notice, verse eight says, “who he may devour.” It’s a permissive statement. In other words, only those who come in agreement with him are whom he may devour. This passage of Scripture also reveals everyone faces affliction, but don’t take that too far. It means you’re not alone in your struggles. Afflictions serve a purpose, and it’s not to destroy you, which will be addressed later. How do we resist the devil in the faith?
James 4:6-8But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
We resist by humbling ourselves and submitting to God. In humility, we find God’s grace at work. Grace is His favor that enables us to do what we cannot do in ourselves. As we submit, His power goes to work, which is why verse seven says, “he will flee from you.” The devil isn’t the real problem; it’s being double-minded. It would be beneficial to read the entirety of chapter four to get a fuller context of these verses.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
By definition, a stronghold is a castle or fortress used to fortify, protect or hold safely. Metaphorically speaking, it’s a strong point, or an argument in which someone trusts. This verse is the only place in the Bible where this word is used. So, by biblical definition strongholds are imaginations and arguments. Where are these found? In the mind. That’s right, your battlefield is found between your two ears. Here’s a quick example of a stronghold: some believe a stronghold is some demonic bastion over a city, which afflicts people, and keeps our prayers from getting answered. Again, Jesus disempowered the enemy, they don’t have that kind of authority. Sure, there is demon-possession in non-believers; but again, that too requires permission. The enemy only has power in your life if you give it to him. See what happens if you stop mentioning him in your conversations. Yes, he is still real, but he’s limited. Enough about him. The issue is our thinking. It’s the reason we are implored to renew or renovate our minds (see Romans 12:2).
The way we think or view things influence our decisions and behavior (see Proverbs 23:6-7). The way we were raised and the things we consume in terms of what we put in our minds, greatly affect our thoughts. In part two, we’ll go into greater detail on how all this works in relation to the various areas of our lives. There is far too much information to cover in one blog.
Are you trying to be perfect? Are you seeking perfection? This is not about doing things with excellence, that’s something different. This is a case of receiving a performance-based narrative that says you’re worthless unless you’re perfect. It says your worth is found in how well you perform, how you look and live up to expectations. It’s a bold-faced lie. That’s not where your value is found. It’s found in a much higher place than performance; in fact, your ability to perform is the result of who you are. If you mix these up, you’ll ever feel insufficient and worthless. This is one reason so many find themselves in that state. Perfection is unattainable. Even those who place expectations on others, cannot live up to them. What are New Year’s resolutions about? Forgetting all the imperfections of the past, and starting with a clean slate in hopes of living a perfect life. Let’s not kid ourselves, we’re not seeking to merely improve our lives. Deep down, we’re seeking perfection. How many resolutions end the moment there’s some sort of failure? Then there’s that other resolution: becoming a “better Christian.” There’s no such thing. More on that in a moment.
You are better than you think -you’re tremendous! You can’t become tremendous; you already are, so there’s no pressure to perform. In simplest terms, you’re created in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26-27). Psalms 139:14I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. You are actually wonderful, and that’s because He is wonderful. Moreover, you’re a miracle. In mathematical terms, your odds of being born were one in 400 trillion! You are no accident. You are here by design. You’re here because God wants you here, and that means YOU ARE IMPORTANT! You’re not important because some human being says so. Conversely, you’re not irrelevant because a human says so, and that includes a parent or anyone else you hold in high esteem. That means your birthday is significant; it’s not just “another day.”
While it is true the image may have been marred as the result of sin; God remedied that through Jesus Christ. He not only forgave those who receive Jesus Christ; He made them entirely new (see 2 Corinthians 1:17). New as in prototype, not a remake. Not a “do-over,” a complete new beginning in which your past has no bearing on who are in Jesus Christ. We are complete in Him, and that is where we find perfection: in Him! Period! If you’re after a new beginning, it begins with Jesus Christ, not the New Year.
Without realizing it, those who have the aim to become a better Christian will gravitate toward works. It would be easy to slip away from grace in this mode of thinking, because being “better” is performance-based (see Galatians 3:1-29). It moves you away from what Jesus accomplished on the Cross, to trying to make some sort of addition, as if the Cross is not sufficient. Basic Christianity 101 says we’re saved by grace, and works are the result of our new nature (see Ephesians 2:8-10). Can you become more righteous by praying more, giving more, reading your Bible more, or even being more kind to people? If you could, why would you need Jesus? Your righteousness is strictly found in Him (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). It might help to stop comparing yourself to others. Their walk is their walk. The Bible tells us it is not wisdom to compare ourselves to each other (see 2 Corinthians 10:12). But, if you feel inclined to compare yourself with anyone, compare yourself with Jesus. He is The Standard. The praying more, and reading my Bible more thing is based on your efforts. The real issue may be a submission thing in terms of “doing more.” Let Holy Spirit lead you, and don’t worry about what anyone else says or does. Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick (see Proverbs 13:12). Biblical hope is a positive expectation based on truth, and goes beyond wishful thinking. It has an actual expected end. Without hope, people lose sight of purpose. Without purpose, life loses meaning -there’s no reason to exist. How many find themselves in this condition? How many struggle to merely exist? Some cope by creating reasons to be here. They invent their own purpose, and make plans for a better tomorrow. Many of whom are in constant motion, because if they sit still, they would experience the dread of hopelessness. In short, it robs them of peace and joy.
Individuals defer their own hope by rejecting God. Without Him, there is no purpose for their existence. At the same time, they believe they will not be held accountable for their actions. It gives them the “freedom” to do as they please without consequence, which makes it very convenient when it comes to doing their own thing. Furthermore, they go about trying to fill a God-sized void with things of the world, which in turn leaves them empty. Many will sing about peace, comfort and joy; but, many do not have them. Not only during this season, but all year long. And so it will always for them as long as they reject God.
A good many believe in God, but they still lack joy and peace, because they haven’t taken Him up on His offer found in the Gospel of Luke.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men (Luke 2:8-14).
Joy and peace are found in His good will toward them. Jesus came to the earth to save humanity, and reconcile us unto God. Joy, comfort and peace come by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and having fellowship with Him. At that point, God becomes Father to those who receive. As a suggestion to you who may fall in this category, ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins. Receive Him as your Lord and Savior. Ask Him to live in your heart. Joy, comfort and peace will come!
Some might say, “I have prayed the prayer, and I still don’t have them!” Well, there is a difference between repeating a prayer, and actually surrendering to God and communing with Him. This isn’t about fire insurance; even though, Jesus saved those who received Him from the wrath to come. It is far more than that. Perhaps, you distanced yourself from Him for whatever reason, and need to return to your First Love. In His presence is fulness of joy (see Psalm 16:11).
Romans 5:5-8And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
1 Peter 1:3-5Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Receive your King, and so receive peace, comfort and joy. Merry Christmas!
Procrastination is a leading cause of regret. So many individuals have lost untold opportunities because of it. And unfortunately, many more will be lost. Like it or not, we’re all running out of time. The day you were born the clock started ticking. With every second, one comes closer to his or her last breath. In whatever length of time one has to live, there will be deadlines throughout his or her lifespan. Decisions to delay actions can be costly on so many levels; and yet, people procrastinate and fail to live up to their fullest potential. Even worse, they neglect their calling. While it is feasible to produce hundred-fold fruit for the Lord, many will settle for 60 or 30. Some even less. Everyone has deep work to do; but, not everyone will finish their assignment. Some will never start.
The idea of having plenty of time is an illusion, because it’s a nonrenewable resource. With that known factor, many put money ahead of time. Conversely, because they don’t make good use of time, others don’t have money. Just as it is written: “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man” (Proverbs 6:10-11). And yet, those driven by money, who may even accumulate much of it, forget it can be generated, but not so with time. Creating wealth isn’t a bad thing; on the other hand, chasing riches can be an extravagant use of time. Relationships have been lost or never started because of the overemphasis on money. That’s another lesson to consider. But know this: you can miss your calling by having it too high on your list of priorities. Luke 12:15-21And He (Jesus) said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth . . . But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God (read entire passage for full context). We all will give an account to the Lord for our allotted time on earth.
Why do people procrastinate? Some might answer, “Because they’re lazy!” It would be easy to assume so, but let’s go deeper. In some cases, it is the lack of belief they can succeed in their calling or given task. People get overwhelmed by what’s ahead, and see no feasible way to finish the race. They drop out before the gun goes off to start it. They simply do not believe they can do it, so why even begin?
Another reason is their personal agenda. They are not interested in the calling of God upon their life, nor any new assignment. They want to do their own thing. For instance, many of those who live in the U.S.A., are caught up in “The American Dream.” They don’t even consider the things of the Kingdom of God, and we’re talking about “Christians.” It ties in with the previous passage in Luke 12. Some want an “ordinary life,” without being bothered with anything Kingdom related. Some are fully aware of their calling, but they put it off, push it away or even reject it. While being saved is not the result of our works, there still are works to be done (see Ephesians 2:8-10). Everyone has a labor of love. If you prefer the American Dream, do you really love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? No guilt intended, just a question for self-awareness.
Here’s a common reason for procrastination: fear. The fear of man, and the fear of failure play a big role. Some are imprisoned by other people’s expectations of them. They’re afraid of disappointing them. They’re afraid of rejection. Their deficit of affirmation ties in with the fear of looking foolish if they were to fail. How many prefer human affirmation over God’s? There’s also the fear of success and the fear of loss. Whatever the what may be, it’s still fear. For you who may struggle with it, remember, “Perfect love casts out fear!” Embrace the love of God, and fear will lose its grip on you.
Here’s one more: people are wore out. They’re tired, and it sounds too much like work. Here’s a little secret: you wear out when you do the wrong work. Some claim to be too busy. Being too busy is code for procrastination. When you do what you’re called to do, God’s grace enables you. He refreshes and strengthens those who obey Him. Isaiah 40:31But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
The question is, what will you do with time you have left on earth? Here’s a suggestion: start with asking God what He would have for you. Just a thought!