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The Believer’s Fight

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

It can sometimes feel like there is a lot to DO to follow Jesus. If I want to be a “good Christian”, I need to…pray, read my Bible, go to church, volunteer, be generous with my money, be friendly all the time, have my life together and not need anything, serve all the time, and (fill in the blank with your own definitions).  …Exhausting! The aforementioned things aren’t bad in and of themselves, but when they are performed out of a sense of duty or obligation, it is religion, and religion brings death.

Religion is the outward form or appearance of righteous living, but doesn’t necessarily indicate that there has been true interior transformation.

Some read the Scriptures daily because they are proud of themselves for being so disciplined. If they miss a day of Bible reading, they feel bad about themselves (condemnation) and their relationship with God. This is religion and it values form over relationship.

Some read the Scriptures daily because they love encountering God and learning about who He is through the words of the Bible. If they miss a day of Bible reading, they know that the Father is faithful even if they are not always faithful (no condemnation) and they start up again the next day. This is living connection and it values relationship over form.

Here’s the thing about these examples…it is great to read the Scriptures daily! What matters here is the place on the inside where actions are flowing from.

Everything we do flows out of a belief we have on the inside.

A person may have a value of treating others kindly. He might say, “I believe that it is right to treat people kindly.” Then, when someone is unkind to him, he responds unkindly and feels justified in his behavior. His actual internal belief has just been revealed in his actions, which is, “I believe that it is right to treat people kindly, except when they don’t treat me kindly, then I have the right to treat them unkindly.”

This type of scenario happens all the time, and we know what it is…hypocrisy! Everyone hates hypocrisy, and to some degree, we are all hypocrites. What then can we DO? How do we fight hypocrisy in our own lives?

I feel like the Father has shown me a new way of waging war against this internal battle lately. A way to battle that is much more fun than introspection and much more effective than behavior management.

Before I get to the specific battle method, I’m going to break down the Scripture at the beginning of this post…

“We live in the world, but we don’t wage war as the world does”- We know how the world wages war, with physical weapons and physical violence- this is not the methodology that will be successful in the type of invisible battle that Christians have (because we know from the Scriptures that our enemy is not flesh and blood). This is why…

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”

“On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” The weapons of the Believer seem foolish and weak to the world, but they actually have divine power. Some of our weapons are 1. The Scriptures (called the sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 5:17) 2. Declarations of Praise (Psalm 8:2) 3. The word of our testimony and the blood of Jesus (Revelation 12:11 where believers overcome the devil with these 2 things). All of these things are…WORDS! (Except for the blood of Jesus, but it is “applied” through our words when we pray and speak it out.)

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Arguments, pretensions (a claim to something) and thoughts are made up of WORDS!  These are internal realities and beliefs that then express themselves externally.

The truth is, we can’t help but leak on the outside what we really believe on the inside. “From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

The primary battle of the Believer is that our internal world (beliefs, thoughts, emotions) would line up with the reality of who God is. This is why our battle is to demolish arguments that are “against” (or opposed to) the “knowledge of God” (the truth about who God is).  We use TRUE words (the weapons mentioned above) to demolish UNTRUE words.

So, here is my new strategy:

When a thought comes into my mind that causes me to feel arrogant or fearful or irritated, I stop and ask, “If this thought is true, then what does it say about my Father?” Or, “Who is the enemy trying to get me to believe that my Father is?”

For example, let’s go back to our friend earlier who has a belief that it is okay to treat people unkindly if he is treated unkindly. “If this belief is true, then what does it say about the Father?”

This belief says that the Father is not able to defend me, I have to defend myself with angry words.

This belief says that the Father is not able to justify me, I have to justify myself before people.

This belief says that the Father is not protecting me, I have to protect myself by being defensive.

All of these things are against the knowledge of God…they’re just NOT who He is! I get to tear down these false beliefs by proclaiming (even literally out loud), “My Father is a Defender, He is the One who justifies me, He is my Protector, my refuge is in HIM! I don’t find my security in other people’s opinions about me, I find my security in being His dearly loved daughter! (see Psalm 18)

When we spot hypocrisy in our own lives, the enemy likes to get us swirling around in the disappointment of our failure. We get caught up in ourselves and what WE did wrong and what WE need to do better. It becomes all about…me, me, me, me, me.

But under the surface, the enemy is trying to distort the way that we think about our Father.

If the enemy can tear down and distort the way that I think about the Father, then he takes me out at the same time.

Being made in the image of the Father, if I have a distorted view of who He is, then I automatically have a distorted view of who I am. 

Who we believe the Father to be is the most important thing about us, because only in knowing Him rightly can we know ourselves rightly. As we believe more and more that we are indeed His beloved sons and daughters, our external life reflects the peace, security, joy, freedom, and love of simply belonging to Him.

As the people of God, our song is simple and childlike, and it literally shakes the heavens when we proclaim “I am His and He is mine.”

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Refocus

Children look like their parents.

Children resemble their parents.

This is a natural principle. Natural principles reflect spiritual principles. God made both the natural and spiritual and they are connected.

Believers are reborn as children of God.

As we look at, behold, know, and love our Father more and more, we reflect Him more accurately.

As we behold Jesus (the exact representation of the Father), we are transformed from glory to glory.

It is very important for believers to have a clear understanding of where we come from.

Being spiritually reborn, we come from a Perfect Father.

Being reborn, we come from a Perfect Family (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

Being reborn, we no longer rely on imperfect systems or imperfect examples of relationships to be our teachers. We do not blame other people for our shortcomings or deficiencies because they are not where our security is found.

The origin of the believer is the Holy Family.

We have a perfect example of relationship. We have access at all times to Perfect Love and total security. Access at all times to The Counselor, Helper, Teacher, Shepherd, Loving Daddy…

It’s always me plus Three.

Believers are children of God.

We look like our Father.

We naturally look like our Father. This has very little to do with “trying” to look like Him and very much to do with knowing Him and being secure in our coming from Him. (What child has to try to physically resemble his or her parents?)

Let us press on to know Him rightly, that we would be His true and loving children.

Reader Questions: Grace

“I would like to hear more about grace.”

“Grace” is a common word in worship songs, the Bible, and used in prayer. But what does it really mean? Sometimes the words “grace” and “mercy” are thought of as the same, but they really aren’t.

Here is the breakdown:

GRACE: undeserved favor and acceptance, receiving an undeserved gift.

MERCY: being spared from punishment that we deserve.

Here is an example of mercy and grace working together. Jesus willingly going to the cross to suffer in our place is GRACE (an undeserved gift). Because of the work of the cross, those who accept it are spared from eternal punishment- this is MERCY. BUT, it doesn’t stop there… our Father is generous and He loves to give good gifts! Not only were we spared from hell, but we have the Holy Spirit and all the gifts that He brings, we have victory over sin, and we have access to the Father’s House- this is GRACE, GRACE, GRACE!

Sometimes it is difficult for us to receive compliments, lavish gifts, and extravagant love. We have tendencies to feel unworthy and undeserving. Even when it comes to our relationship with God, we can feel this way. It seems like humility to say, “Oh, no, I can’t receive that gift.” But when it comes to the gifts God wants to give us, it is not humility to not receive His gifts, His forgiveness, and His freedom. 

Think about the cross and the suffering that happened on it. Jesus went through that in order to effectively remove our sin from us. I think of Jesus on the cross, looking at my sin, and saying, “That belongs to ME.” His offer of forgiveness is not about our worthiness, it is about His obedience.

When the feeling of unworthiness prevents us from coming to Him or receiving from Him, it shows that we have our eyes on ourselves and not on HIM! Receiving from Jesus is about what He has accomplished for us, not about what we deserve.

While we have done nothing to deserve what Jesus has done for us, HE DECIDED that we are very valuable to Him and HE DECIDED that it was worth it to go to the cross for us! You can’t change His mind about how He feels towards you. 

If you have a tendency to think that God’s grace isn’t available for you, I encourage you to break agreement with that lie!

“I nail to the cross the lie: ‘I can’t receive from my Father.’ I break all agreements, known and unknown, that I have made with this type of thinking. I repent of joining with this distorted understanding of humility. Father, send this way of thinking far from me! I declare and embrace the truth that my Father is GOOD and He LOVES to give GOOD GIFTS to His children!”

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11