As we begin this journey as a believer in Christ, there are evaluations and decisions we will have to look squarely at, and make up our minds about as the Word of God illuminates places in our lives that need correction, where we need to repent, change our minds about, and change our pattern of living.
Over the years these decisions have been put before me in my mind, and I've had to wrestle with them in my soul, and ask the Lord to help me to put them into practice, in order to align myself with His will, and come into a meaningful relationship with Him. This is not a one time thing-it is a lifetime journey of taking time to evaluate our lives, looking at what the word of God says about our place in life, and making the decisions to agree with God and His word, and be willing to repent, and change. Satan never stops trying to find an open door again, and returning with vengeance to reclaim a place in us that we may have been free of for many years. Jesus tells us of this truth and warns us of the devils relentless pursuit of us:
Return of an Unclean Spirit
Mat 12:43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
Mat 12:44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
Mat 12:45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
One of the biggest problems with Christians today is they do not know what the scriptures teach on these areas, and are living in ignorance. Other's may know the scriptures, but don't believe them, the results are the same, defeat.
Satan loves this, he wins in destroying many lives today, because of apathy and unbelief. The longer you walk with God and engage in warfare in his realm, the more you see the depths of how merciless, cunning and patient Satan is. He knows your every weakness, and waits to see even the smallest crack in your walk with the Lord. But, to counter this-never forget the endless mercy, longsuffering and compassion of Jesus. His love is equal to any task, and any of our weaknesses; and he promises to never leave us nor forsake us. Jesus knows what it's like to live down here, and he's suffered the price for us to gain the victory-we need to keep our eyes focused on this truth. It is our faith and trust in His finished work on the cross that gained our victory.
Some of the most important points I've learned over the years, I will share tonight, and hope the Holy Spirit will be able to show you area's in your life that need adjustments. I call them guiding points on our journey to transformation:
To make up my mind to take control of my own body, and take authority over it. (Advise them to study Proverbs).
Pr 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
Pr 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
My mind-what I chose to think about, and allow to come into my mind.
My body-what I allow myself to eat, my actions, my responses, my appetites
My spirit-what I chose to believe, what I allow to affect my spirit (cults, secret societies, video games, violent movies, pornography, drugs, alcohol, etc.)
My emotions-Realize I DO have control over them, and can subdue them if I really want to.
To honor the past - we don't live in it.
Php 3:12 Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus.
Php 3:13 Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing [I do], forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, Php 3:14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Php 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Lu 9:62 But Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
As we meditate and appropriate the scriptures in these areas, the Holy Spirit works within our souls and our minds are renewed by the truth of the word of God as it enters our hearts and we begin to live out the scriptures in our lives. As this becomes a daily pattern-our spirits are strengthened, and the battles we face are met with faith, and assurance that God is with us-even in our trials, and sufferings. Our faith grows as we walk out the scriptures and they become not just words on a page-but we see the results of our lives coming into line with God's plan for us, and it becomes clearer each day we walk in obedience to his word. As the psalmist puts it well:
Psa 19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
Psa 119:105 NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
How Do We View Our Past
1. We can do nothing to change it.
2. The solution is to open our hearts and receive God's forgiveness.
3. Forgive ourselves, and other's who may have hurt or abused us in the past.
When God forgives us, He forgets the sins of our past, but we may find our friends, family and people we interact with don't. The devil uses people many times to keep a milestone around our necks if he can, of our past sins and failures. We need to search what the word of God says about our past, and appropriate His word into our lives to counter the attacks of the devil that come at us from other's. A few I go to often are:
Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Psa 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Mic 7:18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.
Mic 7:19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
1Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1Jn 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
There are many more, I encourage you to cross reference, and spend time reading what God says about an honest repentant heart-and study Psalm 51. You will come away assured and blessed with God's love, mercy, and ability to not only forgive, but forget. Let's take God at His word, and allow Him to heal us-and let the world think what it wants.
To live in the present with our eyes on the future.
Php 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.
Php 4:12 I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want.
1ti 6:8 but having food and covering we shall be therewith content.
Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
As Paul came to the place of being content in all things, this is our goal
1. However, remain in faith to the possibilities of change
2. Realize God will even use the bad experiences in our lives to work for our good, if we will let Him.
3. Each experience good and bad of our lives can be used for our advantage.
To see past events - successes and failures - as stepping-stones not stop signs.
Ro 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
Ro 5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
Rom 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Rom 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Ro 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Every successful person has had their share of failures, and setbacks, do not allow yourself to think your the only one, or that failure is impossible to overcome. (Ex. Abraham Lincoln failed over 30 times in the Senate before finally becoming President. Edison failed year after year for many years before finally creating a light bulb that actually worked)
To not allow people to define who I am, but only the Lord himself, and His Word.
Evaluate yourself by what the bible says about you and your life, not by people's personal opinion of you.
Let the Holy Spirit be the one to show you where you may need to make changes in your life, or any sin you may need to repent of. He will lead you, and bring light to your spirit by the scriptures to show you any area that He may be dealing with you about.
To pursue learning in order to be transformed, not learning in order to know. The verses below define for us what our work and pursuit must be-and Peter explains the core center of Who that work and pursuit is-Jesus Christ, the only way to salvation, and the One who's image we aspire to be transformed into.
Joh 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Joh 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
Jas 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Ac 4:8-12 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Our motives for learning should be to know for the sake of illumination of our minds and spirits to come into line with the will of God.
There is nothing wrong with striving for excellence in a field of employment, or education. However, knowledge can become another idol, and people can become arrogant, and puffed up in pride and superiority. It is a good idea to check our hearts as we are learning and gaining knowledge, and humble ourselves if we allow this in our lives; before the Lord humbles us.
To be a person of engagement not observation.
Joy and fulfillment will come as we actively engage in the good wholesome activities and employments God has blessed us with, and using our talents as the Lord opens the doors for us to do so.
As we walk with the Lord and pray for opportunities; we will become aware when the doors do open, and as we line ourselves with His will, we will begin to see His favor in our lives. Even when obstacles come, or trials, we will still know the abiding presence of the Lord, His peace, and see His hand of protection on us. When we become aware of His guidance and direction in our lives; it becomes fuel to our spirits to keep seeking Him, and His will for our lives. Becoming aware of His active presence in our lives also builds our faith, and encourages us along the way.
To focus on what could be, not on what is or has been.
2co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
Looking back too much to our failures, and mistakes can cause us to despair, to lose faith.
We can become hopeless, and eventually totally paralyzed to the point that we will refuse to try anymore. This is the work of the devil. His whole mission is to "kill, steal, and destroy". We must believe Jesus words to us "I have come that they may have life, and life more abundantly".
To not be limited to the four walls of a building or organization. Our influence is not restricted by location, or structured by a denomination - not even the nations are out of bounds. The commission given to us in Matt. by the Lord was to go "to all the world and preach the gospel."
Mt 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Lu 18:34-43 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.
When Jesus was here, he walked the highways, and byways, and ministered to the people wherever He went with his disciples. He showed us by example how to live out our christian walk, among the people, wherever we find ourselves at the moment.
As soon as Jesus spoke in Matt. 20:28, in Luke 18:35-43 the story continues, and he heals the blind man to make the point that "He came to minister, not to be ministered to."
This He did to also emphasize that this is to be our example.
To raise up world changers - not tour guides. To train disciples and servants, not committees.
As you study the book of Acts, you see the disciples preaching and ministering everywhere they went. They were not concerned with buildings or creating new rules and laws to try to keep. Their entire focus was on the great news that Jesus died for their sins, and rose again to life; to give them that same life. They could not keep silent, thier joy was too great.
To be a people of destiny, not of our history.
Ps 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
Ps 37:24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
Ps 145:14 The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.
Pr 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
Job 5:17-26 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword. Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh. At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth. For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin. Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth. Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.
No matter what we have done, or how old we may be; it is never to late to decide to change.
Our true destiny begins to be lived out the day of our salvation, and our obedience to the Lord from that point on. As pilgrims and strangers here, we are looking for an "eternal city, whose builder and maker is God". Our destiny is heaven, and our eternal home.
To decide that it is better to fail while reaching for the impossible that God has planned for me than succeed settling for less.
1co 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Col 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Advise: take time to seek God for His direction for your life.
Ask Him to reveal His goals to you.
Ask the Lord to open doors of opportunity for you, and watch things begin to happen.
To have decided that nothing short of His Kingdom come, His will be done in my world as it is in Heaven will satisfy.
Mt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Mt 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Php 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
We can allow God to rule in OUR LIVES AND HEARTS, AND ALLOW HIS KINGDOM TO REIGN IN US, RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW, REGARDLESS OF WHAT ANYONE ELSE DOES. When we do, we will experience a level of peace, self control, and steadfastness of faith that we never thought possible before. His abiding presence in our lives will become stronger and stronger as we yield ourselves to Him and His Word. This is what is called "being transformed by the renewing of our minds." If we have any questions about any situation, as to whether it is the right thing to do or not, simply ask yourself "what does Jesus say about this," and obey.
To have decided that I will not be satisfied until our world cries out "Those who have turned the world upside down have come here too."
Ac 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Ac 10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
Mr 16:15-20 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
It takes time to even begin to think about this decision-we begin to think on these terms and make these kinds of decisions after we've reached a level of maturity. Some believer's who are called out for ministry begin to make these decisions early, other's takes time. A desire begins to develop in us to see other's saved, to come to know Christ. We are no longer content to just be assured of our own salvation; we look around us and see a world in darkness, and realize without Christ these poor souls are headed for hell, as we were before we were redeemed. We aren't content to just live for our own pleasure; this is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, growing us up in God. We begin to see that our labor in this life can't be just for this life alone, and for our own selfishness. A desire to bear "eternal fruit", begins to develop in us, to see other's come to Christ and receive His free gift of salvation. Many Christians struggle with this desire a long time, and some bury it because it causes them discomfort, and they allow this desire to die, because of laziness. The decisions to obey the prompting of the Lord in service begin to create multiple struggles in our spirit, it always boils down to just one thing really, "do I really love the Lord, and will I chose to obey, or not."
The decisions to "make a difference" for Christ in our lives continues to grow and develop more as we continue to walk with Jesus and truly come to know Him. The love and forgiveness He has poured out on us becomes too heavy to keep to ourselves, and we must share it with other's.
When we come to this place of decision we also begin to realize that we are "called and chosen", just as the first disciples were. We become aware of the great privileges God has given us, to work alongside with Him in the harvest fields. To have our eyes opened to this degree is an honor, a privilege, and greatly humbling. I pray that each of you will come to this place in your walk with Christ.
These are some of the decisions that should define who we are as believer's in Christ.
These decisions are not destinations - but rather journeys - journeys along an ancient path - we have not found some new way - but rather rediscovered the path as old as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The same path followed by Moses, Joshua and Caleb - Paul, John, Peter. The path followed by the first century church - a church that revolutionized the culture of the first century and beyond.
It is a path that will impact the world we live in today. It is a path of Bold Faith - believing that what God says is really true and acting on it; Outrageous Generosity - giving our life away in order to demonstrate His Kingdom; Radical Love - loving God with everything in us and our neighbor as ourselves.
It is a path of liberty, freedom, and healing. On this path you find significance, purpose, and destiny.
This is a path less traveled – however - it is not a path only available to a select few - but to whosoever will - may come. It is for people of every nation, tribe and tongue -for those in any occupation or vocation. Jesus is the door, this path begins by opening the door and making the decision to follow Him:
Joh 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
No matter where you are in your life journey - there is room on this path for you.
(2009 teaching for Teen Challenge)
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No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me,
saith the LORD.
is born of God overcometh the world: and this is
the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Who is he that overcometh the world,
but he that believeth
that Jesus is the
Son of God?
But 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.
For 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;
The Whole Armor
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all,
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
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