Combat Training with God – 2 Corinthians 10:5

 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

We have been given a great gift – the gift of free will.  To have that gift, God has given us a mind that is able to think with reason AND emotion.  Part of spiritual warfare is recognizing the attacks of the enemy.  Paul indicates to us here that we are to take every thought that we have captive to obey Christ.

The word “thought” in the Greek is noEma.  The Strong’s note for this word indicates that it is:

a perception, i.e. purpose, or (by implication) the intellect, disposition, itself.

We are to take every thought, and path where our thoughts will go, captive (in submission) to Christ.  This is a challenge, but one that the Holy Spirit of God can overcome.

We are to implement a filter based on the Word of God so that every thought we have can be evaluated to see if it is good or malicious.  In the world of computers, there is a device (or application) that does this; it is called a firewall.  Firewalls protect you from malicious programs written by people who want to take control of your computer, steal your money, your intellectual property, and in some cases, render your computer so messed up that it is inoperable. This sounds an awful lot like someone we know:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Once this happens, it takes a qualified computer professional to get rid of everything bad.  Sometimes, this requires reinstalling all of your programs and restoring your files from a good backup (if you have even backed up your critical data!).

The Word of God transforms our mind and protects it against the social engineering attempts of the devil, the world, and the flesh to try to usurp our thought processes.  Some people have said, “Sure, I read the Bible once.  That’s all I need.”  But we see in Ephesians 5:26 that we are continually being washed clean by the Word of God.  The word “washed” in the Greek is katharisas.  It is the word from which we get the English word catharsis.

The Word of God is like anti-virus software: it checks every file (thought) in our file system (brain, patterns of thought) for known malicious software and configurations (patterns of sin  – arguments and lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God) and removes them before they can do any more harm.  But just like viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware, and other types of malware, they often cause damage before the antivirus program can clean them off or stop them.  It is the same with sin in our lives.

It is said that some people, as they read the Word of God and apply it to their lives, have had their hearts and minds so infused with the Word of God that when they think, they think in scripture.  Wow!  To know the Word of God so well, and have it experientially in your heart so deeply that it is the first way your mind forms thoughts!

So, let’s ask the question:  How deeply has the Word of God penetrated my heart?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You amaze us with Your forethought for our every need.  Even Your Word has greater purpose than to just instruct and provide direction; it cleanses us, protects us, renews us, and restores our minds.  Grant me success this day, Father, as I read Your Word, that it would so penetrate my heart that it would never come out.  Help me to remember Your word in such a way that all darkness and unrighteousness is exposed for what it is – sin.  Help me to reprogram my mind, that it would be transformed into what You would want, rather than what the world, the devil, and the flesh want it to be.  Guard my every thought, and help me to bring it captive to Christ.  This I ask in the precious and powerful name of your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Identity in Christ – John 15:5 (ESV)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Just as a branch needs the sap of nourishment from the tree, so do we need the same from Jesus Christ.  The branch is attached, and attached tightly; it’s not on the ground, or off doing its own thing.  It is bonded (even if grafted in) to the plant itself.  We should be so firmly bonded to Christ and in Christ, that there is no break between Christ and ourselves.

And Jesus shows us the benefit of this: when we are In Christ, we will bear much fruit.  When we go off and do things ourselves, there may be a result, but it is not bearing spiritual fruit in accordance with the Will of God, for the Purposes of God, in the Timing of God, and to the Glory of God.  Jesus also says,

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ 

This is a sobering thought.  When we are not in/attached to the vine, receiving nourishment and direction, we may be doing things, but not bearing the correct fruit.  It is as if we were a foreign, invasive species of plant trying to imitate the original plant.  Others may think that we are part of that plant, because we have mimicked the original; however, we have no part in the original plant.  Jesus gives us this direction as well:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 

When we have our identity in Christ – when we solely and ONLY identify with Him – we will bear much fruit, receive nourishment from the vine, and find the small gate with the narrow path.  Once we do that, we, like Christ, will be able to say,

“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Our citizenship will be solely in the Kingdom of Heaven, rather than in earthly things, like race, ethnicity, nationality, religious denomination, Northerner or Southerner, political affiliation, sports team, male or female, Jew or Gentile, slave or free, or any other thing on earth.  For when we identify with Christ, all are ONE in Christ.

So, let’s ask the question:  With whom or what do I identify most?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, we thank You for the wonderful opportunity to be reconciled to You through the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  You love us so much that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us on the cross.  Lord God, we have been set free from sin; but we were made to worship and serve.  I greatly desire to serve You and You alone.  Remove from me any and all identity with earthly things that would hinder my walk with you.  You have shown me the small gate and the narrow path.  Guide my feet, my heart, and my mouth, that as they see to glorify your name in and offer themselves as a living sacrifice to You, that my feet would not slip, and that they would not wander off the path.  Bring revival to Your body, that it would turn away from the draw of temporal blessings and set our hearts on Heaven, so that our treasure may be found there.  This I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Identity in Christ – Ephesians 1:13-14

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

It has been claimed by culture that Identity is the strongest persuasion technique available (Scott Adams, the writer of “Dilbert” cartoon, talks about this more than once in his blog).  Commercials found in all media types – TV, radio, print, and Internet – often use spokespersons or models to provide someone for us to identify with.  We have beautiful women modeling clothing, making the implied message “if you wear this clothing, you will be perceived as beautiful as this model.” And women often buy them.  Why?  Sports legends wear athletic clothing, and as an endorsement of their wearing it, people often buy the items.  Why?

When we wear the items, we identify with with the spokesperson or model.  We may already identify with them as our “hero”, and want to further identify with them by wearing the clothes they wear, or eat what they eat, or drive what they drive, etc.  Sometimes when wearing the clothing, we feel we look more attractive, like the models who wear them.

And while this observation appears to be true, Satan corrupts what God intended for good.  We were meant to identify with God’s most beloved Son, Jesus Christ.  It is IN HIM that we are reconciled to God; have been given every spiritual blessinghave been adopted; that we would be the praise of His Glory; have been raised up and seated with Christ in the heavenly realms;  and so much more…

So, let’s ask ourselves a question – who do we identify with most?

A short prayer of preparation:

Glorious Father in Heaven, we thank You for Your love and preparing a place for us with You in Heaven.  We thank You for who You are, and for sending Your Son, that through Him, we are reconciled to You.  You have given us this wonderful opportunity to identify with Jesus.  Work on our hearts that Jesus would be who we would most identify with, for this is what You intended from before time began.  Guard our hearts against the false calls of culture and the pleasures of this world, that we might have greater joy in the pleasure of Your company and communion.  This we ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?