Thursday, June 21, 2018

Crucify Your Flesh & Renew Your Mind

(a "sermom I preached" to a dear friend; and to MYSELF, lol)

God wants us to "fear not" and He wants us to continually seek Him, sow His Word, and be DOERS of The Word (Matthew 6:33, Mark 4:14 and James 1:22).

God says we're supposed to love Him with ALL our heart, mind, soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27). I know for a fact that I've not been doing that on a daily basis :(. But we should be seeking God even MORE than a heroin or meth addict seeks a fix!  It's amazing that hardcore drug addicts literally "die to self" and are willing to risk their lives to pursue "the fix", but yet we don't have many Christians in the world that are willing to die to self and pursue the Almighty God :(.

His Word is so crucial. The battles we face every day always start in the mind. That's why God's Word says it's vitally important for us to "renew" our minds DAILY (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16 and Ephesians 4:23).  When our minds are continually renewed, we think like God; which causes us to hear Him on a much deeper level, which causes us to BE like Him.  He wants more than anything for us to be just like Jesus - that's one of the reasons He sent Jesus to die for us. He loves us more than we could ever fathom with our earthly minds, and He wants us to live in complete victory.  Jesus said we WILL have trials, but He overcame the world (John 16:33), and He wants us to overcome as well, through 100% trust and reliance on Him.

I think a perfect analogy would be this:
If you really wanted to go on a hike to some amazing place in another part of the world, but you had no experience or knowledge of that place, you would need a guide; someone who HAS experience and could help you on that journey. Our lives are that journey. Every day we need our "guide" (the Holy Spirit) to show us the way and to help us to navigate.  Otherwise we're basically just "winging it", and that ultimately will not lead to true victory.  We might get lucky sometimes (and even then, it's only God's Grace that protects and sustains us; it's not luck at all).

I truly mean no disrespect when I say this, but if someone says they are giving God 100% of their heart, mind, soul and strength, but then the moment something major happens in their life, they start to question Him, they're not FULLY surrendered. Using the "guide" analogy again, it would be like saying to the guide every 5 minutes "Are you SURE this is the right path?", when the guide has been on the journey so many times, he could walk it blindfolded.

I believe that one of the main reasons you struggle and question Him is because you don't have a great enough revelation yet of His love for you. Trust me man, when you do, it transforms you. And I'm not saying you don't know Him. I'm just saying that you might want to try something radical. For instance, take a 1 week vacation, but rather than doing what you would normally do, take that week and go somewhere secluded by yourself and spend every waking moment of that time seeking Him; spending time in His Word, praying, meditating. I guarantee if you do that, you will have radical revelations and grow in your faith in ways you never thought possible.  Again, this message is for me as well because I need the same thing in my own life.

Sometimes we have to completely fast from the world. That's one of the reasons the bible tells us that we have to die to ourselves and crucify our flesh (Mark 8:35, Galatians 5:24, Luke 9:23, Galatians 2:20, Romans 8:13, etc).  Our flesh is always talking to us. For one person it might be saying "Don't work so hard! This company doesn't appreciate you! You should just play some games or go take a nap - no one will know!". Or for another person it might be saying "Come on man, you know you want another hit off that pipe! Take it!!" Or for another it might be "Look at how hot that woman is! You want her, don't you!?".  But if our hearts aren't completely hardened, even if we're not walking on the path we SHOULD be walking on, we know in our spirits what is truly right or wrong. But if we're not strong in our spirit, our flesh will win that battle every time.  Romans 7:15 speaks about this: "I don’t understand my own behavior - I don’t do what I want to do; instead, I do the very thing I hate!"

2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

I believe one of the things that verse is telling us is that, if we diligently seek God, and we dive into His Word and continually renew our minds, we will BE who He called us to be (and one of the things God wishes for us is that we would triumph over evil every time we're attacked).

Remember when Jesus went into the wilderness to fast, but satan came along and tried to tempt Him 3 times? EVERY time satan tried to tempt Him, Jesus immediately responded with God's Word! That's how we should be. Every time we hear lies in our head or we feel ourselves being tempted, we're supposed to have God's Word SO stored up in our hearts that we don't even have to think about how we're going to respond. We will just immediately REACT by speaking God's Word to counteract those lies.  Which reminds me of the verse in the bible "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45).  If we're filled with His love and truth, it can't help but to overflow out of us into every facet of our lives.

I think it's natural for us to feel fear and all the other natural emotions that can rise up inside us. But I DO believe that God's goal is for us to be so filled with the revelation of His love for us that we will NEVER be a victim of fear.

Look at Jesus example when Him and the disciples were in the boat on their way to the other side of the lake. A great storm rose up and started thrashing the boat, to the point that the disciples literally feared for their lives. They went to Jesus and found Him sleeping, lol! That was their first clue! They should've had enough sense to see Jesus sleeping and be like "Dang, if HE'S not afraid, why should WE be!?". But instead they woke Him up and were basically like "Dude, don't you see we're about to die!?" And the first thing Jesus did was spoke to the storm and calmed it (He was demonstrating His authority, and ultimately SHOWING his disciples "Guys, you don't have to be afraid! I am WITH you!"). The very next thing He did was he asked his disciples "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?".  That's the exact same thing God says to you when things don't go right in your life and you start to question Him. It's the same thing He does with all of us - we all fall short in that area.

But when we continue to renew our minds to these revelations and mediate on them, we will start to be transformed by His love and truth. We WILL get to a point where we have absolutely no fear. When something tries to rise up against us, rather than being afraid or questioning how we're going to handle it, we'll be at peace, trusting in Him, and seeking Him to show us how to be victorious (and in many of those moments, we'll actually know what to do and how to respond because we'll have reached the level of understanding and confidence that it takes to properly respond to the lies that try to make us doubt and be fearful).

His Word says in Hosea 4:6 "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge".

That's why we gotta preach the gospel - people are lost and need His truth.

It's cliche, but it's true: John 8:32 says "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

* Free from fear
* Free from the bondage of addiction
* Free from being victims of temptation
* Free from doubt
* Free from anger
* Free from everything that isn't His will for our lives

You might not realize this, but I appreciate when you talk to me about stuff like tonight because God encourages me and refreshes my spirit while He's using me to encourage you.  He is SO good like that!  Proverbs 27:17 ;)

Can I preach some more? :D

Look at David! He was SO confident in God, he not only went up against Goliath, but he RAN out to meet him on the battlefield. And that was AFTER seeing an ENTIRE army scared out of their wits and too fearful to fight him!

As we both know, he eventually became king and won MANY battles through The Lord. But even with all that victory in his life, he still had struggles. In 1 Samuel 30, it says "And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God."

David is a good example to us in that verse (verse 6). He was GREATLY distressed. But despite the pain he was in, he STILL knew His God was good. So he encouraged HIMSELF. He didn't wait for someone else to do it. He didn't even ask God to help him out of his grief. He encouraged HIMSELF. Sometimes we gotta do that. We gotta remind ourselves that God IS good and wants the best for us, no matter what we're going through.

Joseph went through a pretty hellish journey too. His brothers hated him so much that they sold him into slavery, and then they lied to their dad about it. And then he eventually ended up in an Egyptian prison. But he never gave up his hope in God. And God turned the tables! He went from being a prisoner to being the second most powerful man in Egypt! I guarantee you he would NOT have had that kind of victory if he had sat in that prison feeling sorry for himself and doubting God.

God was able to take care of Joseph while he was in prison because Joseph was fully trusting in God's ability to take care of him (despite his circumstances).

We HAVE to know that, even when there's a major storm in our lives that's risen up and is threatening to destroy us, we have to know that Jesus won't let that storm destroy us - and we HAVE to FULLY trust in Him. If we don't, there's a chance that the storm WILL destroy us.

That's one of the reasons God has given us SO many examples in His Word. He is telling us "Hey! Trust me!"

Look at Matthew 9:18-26.  A ruler (a man of power and authority) came to Jesus and worshipped Him and said "My daughter is dead, but if you lay your hand on her, she will live!". And on the way to the dude's house, Jesus stopped to address a woman who needed to be restored.  Then Jesus finally arrived at the guy's house.

And Jesus said "the girl is not dead, but just sleeping". The people in the room laughed at him! They knew in the natural, she literally was dead.

The first thing Jesus did was put all the naysayers outside (He had to get rid of the spirit of unbelief that was polluting that environment).  Then Jesus raised her from the dead and the fame of that miracle spread throughout the land!