As a Man Thinks…

Daily Reading: (Proverbs 23:7): “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”   

What you think has a great bearing on what you do. However, Proverbs 23:7 is not saying that you are what you think.

Think positive thoughts, make positive confessions and you’ll become a positive person. Whatever your focus on the inside is, will become the reality on the outside. Thoughts shape destinies. Of course, there’s truth to all of those sayings, however, this is not what Solomon had in mind when he wrote Proverbs 23:7. Solomon is referring to a specific kind of person in verse seven. But who? The answer is right there in the passage.

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; for as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments (Proverbs 23:6-8).

Clearly, this passage has nothing to do with positive thinking. This text gives a straightforward warning to keep your guard up around selfish people.

Now that we cleared that up, now I want to talk about the power of our thoughts. Our spirits are made new the moment we are born again, but from then on our minds have to play catch-up. They have to be renewed. We need to take on new attitudes, new ways of thinking. We need to cultivate the habit of saying yes and amen to the promises of God. We need to call things that are not as though they are. Because what we believe can be contrary to who we are or who Christ made us to be.

Your erroneous thinking does not change your identity of who you have become. For some reason, there is the tendency to think of saints as people who became saints, sainthood based upon what they have done in their lives. It’s not true. You don’t become a saint by what you do but by what has been done for you and what you received (2 Corinthians 5:21). Saints (holy people) are not a special group of people but are all believers. The qualification to be God’s holy people (saints) is that a person be in Christ (Ephesians 1:1).

The devil works hard to win the battle in our minds. He doesn’t want the church to walk in Christ’s victory. He wants you to believe the lie that you are defeated so that you don’t tap into the divine power you have to demolish strongholds he has set up (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Be encouraged to know that you don’t have to be afraid of the battles in your mind. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Right believing is based on God’s Word and it is the key that unlocks the treasures of God in your life. Right believing gives you access to the fullness of His love, grace, and many blessings. The hindrance to your victory is found in your wrong beliefs. The battle has to do with your beliefs (John 8:32).

The enemy knows that if he can control your thought life, he can manipulate your emotions and feelings. If you entertain thoughts of guilt, failure, and defeat, you will begin to feel lousy about yourself, physically weak, and even depressed. Our emotions are the flags that indicate to us if our thoughts are negative or positive. Your emotions follow quickly after your thoughts. If your thoughts are negative, you will naturally produce negative emotions. If your thoughts are positive in Christ, you will produce positive emotions. That is why there is a battle for your mind. The devil wants to keep your thoughts negative so that he can keep you defeated. Through the power of right believing, you will win the battle for your mind.

More Than Conquerors

More than Conquerors

Daily Reading: (Romans 8:37): “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Cyrus the Great, and even Hitler what did all these men all have in common. They were all conquerors. When we hear the word conqueror we might think of ones of these individuals, but the chances are we might not think of ourselves in that way. You are not just a conqueror, but more than a conqueror. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Since we know our battle is a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12) it is significant to know that we are more than conquerors in the spiritual realm.

More than a conqueror- (hypernikaō)- to gain a surpassing victory.

What are the things that we are more than conquerors against? Paul list what we are more than conquerors against (in verse 35) and verses (38 and 39) and if you read the chapter in its entirety you would see a header that identifies the fact that Paul is talking about us living our life in the Spirit. Victory in the spiritual, (the battle in our mind), will manifest itself into the physical realm.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.” Do you believe the battle you are going through is for your good? If you see yourself as more than a conqueror in Christ you will. 

“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” God > Everything Else  (Against Us) [Romans 8:31]. I recently taught my daughter Ava how to play the card game of War. I was dominating her early on and she was getting frustrated, but I hadn’t seen an Ace come up yet. I told her don’t lose heart because I have all your two’s, three’s, and four’s. I said it’s not the number of cards you have, it’s really about who holds the ace’s. And then she began to dominate me even though I had more cards because she held all four aces. If God is for us (the Ace), it doesn’t matter how the cards fall in the moment- who could be against us? The victory is ours in Jesus. As a child of God, you have an inheritance. Knowing the victory we have in Christ is crucial as we move forward, led by the Spirit as more than conquerors.

Do You Know Who You Are?

#Do You Know Who You Are?

Daily Reading: (Judges 6:11-16):

“The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

There will be fearful times where we might be afraid of something in our future but the words of God will fill you will faith and initiate a boldness inside of you to be courageous in the present. In the process of immersing ourselves in the story of Gideon we will see what God has already done in the life of a believer – and the question becomes who do you identify with? Do you identify as your new self a courageous champion warrior in Christ or as your old defeated wimpy self before Christ transformed your life?

The Israelites were in a bad situation because sin robbed God’s people from the abundant harvest that should have been rightfully theirs (Judges 6:1). Finally, the people of God reached the point that this was a bigger issue than anything they could resolve for themselves that they cried to God for help (Judges 6:6).

The text reads that Midian or the Midianites “so impoverished” and that Hebrew word means to be brought low. They were brought so low to the point they cried out. This is a demonstration of God’s great love and His grace- they were doing evil which opened the door for the enemy to come in and steal from them, and God uses the situation where they were brought low to help them recognize their need for God. 

The angel of the Lord is as a theophany – an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ, in human, bodily form, but before His incarnation in Bethlehem.

It shows that God himself, appearing in human form through Jesus, spoke to Gideon:

This is important for you to see because Christ gives us a new identity just as He did for Gideon. Jesus calls Him as He will make Him not as He was (Judges 6:11-12).

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Good question. If God is with us- why does evil things happen?

The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

I am on a rescue mission and I choose you to go. Instead of focusing on the problem (sin) and the consequences to the problem Jesus provides us His salvation- the solution to our sin problem. Gideon was perfectly positioned to be used by God because Christ was with Him. The last possible choice was chosen because this demonstrates that salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone (Judges 6:15).

If you keep believing the lies of the enemy you are allowing the enemy to continue to rob the blessings of Christ from you. See yourself as God sees you, who Christ in you has already made you to be, a mighty warrior. For us, to have faith to see God work remarkable things through our lives we need to remind ourselves that God’s favor is on our lives (Judges 6:17).

 

Triumph in Jesus

Daily Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:14:

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

Question: How can we be victorious and triumph in life?

Answer: It is clear in the Greek… Grace. When we read verse fourteen we might think the answer is “thanks”. I don’t think that is what Paul meant because in all of Scripture there is only three other places (charis) is translated as thanks. 130 times it is translated as grace.  In this particular text it reads (de charis) or but grace. If you had a setback in your life “but grace” will lead you to triumph. But the grace of God always leads to my triumph in Christ.

How is that possible? Good question and that is found in the second half of the same verse, part B-

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession.” This doesn’t mean what you probably think it means. The word translated “lead in triumphal procession” (thriambeuō) refers to what a great Roman general does when he leads in captivity those enemies he has conquered and takes them to their death or to slavery.

Paul alludes to one of the most spectacular celebrations in times of antiquity, the Roman Triumph. Awarded by the senate to honor a victorious general, the Triumph was essentially an enormous parade through the heart of Rome. It was designed to display the glory of the Roman general and offer thanks to Jupiter for granting the victory. The imagery of 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 actually represents Paul’s theology of the cross in its most vivid and arresting form. As the analogy of the Roman triumph and the incense-filled parade route continues in verses 15 and 16, we find Paul illustrating his struggle in ministry to the Corinthians as the means through which the aroma of the crucified Christ is mediated to those around him. Paul understood the paradox that God’s strength is most potently displayed through his own weakness and suffering.

Paul’s words may be difficult to comprehend but what Paul is saying is that God ministers more powerfully through our tragedies than our triumphs. It is the broken vessel that reveals the treasure within (2 Cor. 4:7-12).

 

So in Colossians, Paul says God leads the devil in triumph, and in 2 Corinthians, he says that God leads Paul in triumph. Both have been defeated in their rebellion against God. In other words, Paul was defeated and taken captive; but he was brought to faith and forgiven and justified and made a glad and willing servant of the greatest General who ever was.

So Paul pictures his missionary life and ministry as spreading a fragrance of the knowledge of Christ. In other words, when we suffer as missionaries in the service of Christ, it’s like Christ suffering for the lost, and God smells this fragrance of sacrificial love and it pleases him.

Smelling Christ as the aroma of life gives life. So, life has battles everyday. There may be the smell of death and defeat all around you, but may I remind you that Christ is the sweet aroma of life and victory. How do you triumph in your life today? You triumph through God’s grace which is Jesus Christ our Lord. His victory is for your battles today. His victory led us to a triumphal procession into new life in Him and an everlasting victory to come.