Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Sure Win Over Our Troubles

By Donna L. Watkins

It seems the more I fall in love with the Father, the more lies the devil throws at me. I think of the words of Jesus in John 16:33: "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world."

© Donna L. Watkins - View Enlarged Photo
Penguins, Albert Laessle (1877-1954), Bronze, 1917
Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, SC
How refreshing and hope-giving is the knowledge that Jesus has cleared the way for us. God's Word will overcome all things because it is alive and active. Ponder that for a moment. WOW!  I know the Scripture is a common one in Hebrews 4:12, but I get transfixed on the words, "alive and active." The Bible is our life's manual.

Jesus said in John 6:63, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you, they are full of the Spirit and life." We can take God's Word and be filled with the Spirit and life. Notice Jesus said that the flesh counts for nothing.

We are in a daily battle to make way for the Spirit to rule our lives and not our flesh. My husband and I have begun to say out loud, "Shut Up!" when a fleshly thought comes up. Like walking through the produce market and seeing the baked goods not far away. My mind says, "Yummy! Let's go over there and find something to take home." 

That's when one of my quiet "Shut Up" comments arises. It's been more of a fun game with the verbal expression rather than just fighting thoughts, but it's not fun for the devil because it works better speaking it out loud knowing you're making the devil flee.  It also tells the flesh that it is not in control of who you are.  I don't like to eat sugar, so when my flesh gets what it wants, my soul and spirit are not very happy.  Why not stop the process at the initial thought!

I grew up with sweets being a pacifier. Any time life wasn't exactly what was wanted, my mom turned to sweets. After her parents both died on the same day a few hours apart, sweets became an all-day scenario and I was happy to join in. What I remember most about those years is eating and watching TV.  Maybe that's why I command good self-control over eating and don't have TV reception in our home.  

In the late 70's I got into nutrition and got rid of white sugar and flour in the house and we became vegetarians gradually into the early 80's. I know plenty of health reasons for avoiding sugar so I don't want to give into the desires of my flesh.  After all, when you know something is bad for you, why would you do that to the temple of the Holy Spirit?  

I'm not saying I never have sugar.  I never have chocolate, but I do allow myself a sugar-laden item now and then, but I make sure it's not because I think it's going to console me, and I've never brought white sugar or flour back into the pantry.

I was a chocolate addict and broke that when I gave up trying and asked God to do it for me in November 1998. The deal was that He would stop the cravings if I said "no" to chocolate for the rest of my life. [Read "My No-Chocolate Anniversary."]

We have to realize "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" (Eph. 6:12). Self-control is not a character quality that has been emphasized in many years. We try to handle things with our self-will. We think we're strong enough to lose those 40 extra pounds. In ourselves we have little success at most things unless there is a driving force within us with great motivation.

View Enlarged Photo
© Donna L. Watkins - Like a Bee Drawn to Honey
Meems Covered Bridge, Mount Jackson, VA
If you want a sure win, consider Phil. 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." God's Word is true and remember, active and alive. It works for us when we apply it. First we have to believe it! You wouldn't think you'd have to tell a Christian to believe God's Word but I've met many Christians and even pastors who don't believe it's the inerrant Word of God. If you don't validate our life manual, where do we turn for instruction? Sadly most are turning to the world's media to shape and form their character, but that's a whole new can of worms.

As for me, I couldn't believe in salvation if I didn't believe in the Word. If I believe something that has no physical evidence to be seen and base it on a book's words that may or may not be true, I would say I'm not a very smart person. But we have an unseen world battling all around us for our very life and soul. If we don't find something to stand on, we'll not live joyful and peaceful lives on this earth.

Jesus spoke the parable of the seed in Mark 4 and He gave illustrations of various ways the Word goes out and brings a harvest ... or not! God made seeds to produce life. He's not making plants, trees, birds, animals, frogs, or humans any longer to replace those who have died. He made everything with a seed that would reproduce itself after its own kind. How amazing!

So, Jesus speaks of planting the seed (Word of God) into our hearts so it can produce a fruitful life. The Bible does us no good if we don't plant it in our hearts so that our minds can be renewed according to God's desires for our lives. It doesn't happen immediately. You can't put a seed of corn in the ground and get corn on the cob the next day. There are stages to growth. It takes time. Mark 4:28 says, "first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear."

The Word is alive and as it saturates your heart and mind it will change who you are. It will remove bad attitudes and perceptions. It will fill you with love and peace and joy. It's not a lasting instant fix ... it takes time to produce good fruit. It's not about scanning through a chapter in the Bible or doing one of the many "read the Bible in a year programs." It's about meditating day and night on a verse that the Holy Spirit points out to you and chewing on it until it brings life changes to you.

Certainly many of you have taken a Scripture from James 3 about your tongue and tried very hard on your own strength to keep your mouth from speaking things that are not edifying. We absorb the Word on this topic and agree it's a problem, and then launch out in our own strength to stop it. 

Jesus provided another way. Write the verse down, read it day and night, memorize it, ask the Holy Spirit to bring it to mind at every given moment it is needed, and then when He does, choose to speak life, rather than death about someone or something.  Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue."

This is what I've been doing to battle the devil's attempts to rule over me. I have hundreds of Scriptures written down on cards over the years and for a long period of time I would just read through them all. It felt good while I was doing it and I felt very victorious also, but if they are not planted in my heart, they will not bubble up at the very instant the devil speaks something into my ear. I now choose one or two for whatever is going on at the time and stick with them day and night until they become a part of me.

View Enlarged Photo
© Donna L. Watkins - Bennett House
Bennett Place Historic Site - Durham, NC
If you get overwhelmed opening the Bible as many do, choose a verse or two from the ones I've posted on the website awhile back. I had been writing about Scripture cards and some subscribers asked if I could put some of them online for them to choose from, so I gradually did four posts of them. You can find the first one here: My Scripture Cards - Part One. There are links to take you through all four posts.

There's also a book that I enjoy that breaks all of Jesus' words down into 200+ topics. You can look up love, fear, peace, healing, etc. and see all that Jesus said on those topics. "The Greatest Words Ever Spoken, Everything Jesus Ever Said About You, Your Life, and Everything Else."

In case the devil is whispering that this sounds like a long time project, consider how many years you've been doing nothing about those voices that drag you down all day long. The voices that tell you you're worthless. The temptations that cause you to overeat when you so desire to lose weight. How long has your mouth been saying things that you wish it would not?  If you change one major thing about yourself each year it would be worth it, but it won't take a year, I promise you!

Much of this is our own thoughts of condemnation from the devil telling us how worthless we are for so many years. We believe it and he doesn't have to give us those thoughts ... they have become our own, but regardless whether the evil is coming from within or without, the Word is alive and active. We renew our mind to believe the Truth. We pull down strongholds with the Word to believe what Christ says about us and to believe that God is a good God who loves us so much. [Read "Does God Punish Us?"]

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17).

Memorize that verse if you struggle with knowing God loves you. Say it to yourself in the mirror. It's truly more effective doing it that way. Look at yourself in the eyes and continue to tell yourself that God loves you. If you feel uncomfortable with this, you really need it! If we don't believe God loves us, we can't trust Him or believe that His promises are for us, and that puts the whole world on our shoulders. It's too heavy for us.

The Word and God's love for you will give you a sure win over your troubles. The promise is in God's Word. Won't you believe it!?

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