BY HIS SPIRIT …
Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty – Zechariah 4:6, NIV
In this day and age, we are equipped with so many wonderful resources in the natural: technology, education, abilities. It’s easy to rely on our own natural strength for so many things. We have to remember that this natural world is only temporary, but the spiritual realm is eternal. We aren’t limited to the earth’s resources; we have unlimited spiritual resources by the Spirit of God.
There are some things in life that can’t happen by human thinking and reasoning. There are things that won’t be solved by natural power and might. But God is not limited by the resources of this world. When you open the door of faith in your heart, God will move through you in powerful ways by His Spirit.
By His Spirit, you can overcome temptation. By His Spirit, you can receive healing. By His Spirit, you can fulfill every dream and desire in your heart. No matter what challenges or obstacles you may be facing today, know that you can live in complete victory by His Spirit!
Out of the heart come evil thoughts . . . . These are what defile a person. —Matthew 15:19-20
“Could they not carry their own garbage this far?” I grumbled to Jay as I picked up empty bottles from the beach and tossed them into the trash bin less than 20 feet away. “Did leaving the beach a mess for others make them feel better about themselves? I sure hope these people are tourists. I don’t want to think that any locals would treat our beach with such disrespect.”
The very next day I came across a prayer I had written years earlier about judging others. My own words reminded me of how wrong I was to take pride in cleaning up other people’s messes. The truth is, I have plenty of my own that I simply ignore—especially in the spiritual sense.
I am quick to claim that the reason I can’t get my life in order is because others keep messing it up. And I am quick to conclude that the “garbage” stinking up my surroundings belongs to someone other than me. But neither is true. Nothing outside of me can condemn or contaminate me—only what’s inside (Matt. 15:19-20). The real garbage is the attitude that causes me to turn up my nose at a tiny whiff of someone else’s sin while ignoring the stench of my own.
Forgive me, Lord, for refusing to throw away my own “trash.” Open my eyes to the damage that pride does to Your natural and spiritual creation. May I have no part of it.
Most of us are farsighted about sin—we see the sins of others but not our own.
ALL THE WRONG REASONS ….
And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him – Luke 15:25-28
If this elder son had considered his brother, he would have rejoiced at his return even as his father did. Rather, he was totally self-centered (that’s pride) and became angry. This illustrates Proverbs 13:10; “only by pride cometh contention.”
How can we esteem others better than ourselves when in truth we really think we are better than others? Some people are better athletes than others. Some are better businessmen than others. Some are better speakers than others, and so forth. First, we need to recognize that our accomplishments don’t make us better than others. There is a difference between what we do and who we are.
Better performance does not make a better person. A person’s character can be severely wanting even though his performance is good. A classic example of this is found in the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They did the right things for all the wrong reasons. Inside they were corrupt. So our evaluation of others needs to change. God judges by looking on the inside, not the outside (1 Sam. 16:7). We need to esteem others on a different basis than what most of us do.
Secondly, to esteem someone better than ourselves simply means to value them more than we value ourselves. To some that may seem impossible, but it isn’t.
It is exactly what Jesus did. If Jesus, who was God in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16), could humble Himself and value our good above His own welfare, then we should certainly be able to do the same. It can happen when we die to self and live to God.
HOW TO TEST YOUR THOUGHTS
…We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV
You will never be any better, wiser or happier than the thoughts that influence you. You say, ‘I can’t help it; these thoughts just come into my mind.’ Yes, you can! ‘The weapons we fight with…have divine power to demolish strongholds…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 10:4–5 NIV) A ‘stronghold’ is a thought–pattern that controls you. It could be fear, greed, inferiority, lust, etc. It’s a ‘stronghold’ because it holds you strongly in its grip. How do you break that grip? With God’s Word. For example, when fear and inadequacy tell you you’re not good enough to succeed, become proactive and say, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:13 NKJV) If your immediate goal is to ‘feel good’, you’ll never develop self–control. ‘For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it…’ (Hebrews 12:11 AMP) Discipline doesn’t bring immediate joy, but it brings lasting joy later on. Note the words ‘trained by it’. You must train your mind to go the right way; otherwise it’ll take you the wrong way. God says, ‘…I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life…’ (Deuteronomy 30:19 NKJV) God gives you choices. But He won’t make your choices for you; you must do that. In order to walk in God’s blessing each day, you must choose the right thoughts each day, and the longer you keep doing it the easier it will become. You’ve just got to get through the ‘training’ period.
CAST YOUR CARES AND LIVE WORRY-FREE
Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.1 PETER 5:7
When Jesus died on the cross, He unleashed all the blessings of God into our lives. And God’s blessings have been flowing from His throne to us ever since. These blessings cannot be stopped. The only way they can be stopped is when we worry. That’s why God specifically tells us to cast our cares on Him.
You see, when you worry about a particular area of your life, you constrict God’s supply into that area. Now, God is still supplying the blessing, but it is not coming through because your worrying is constricting the “supply pipe”! You may pray, “Oh God, why aren’t You supplying me in this area of my life?” God says, “I am supplying. If you will let go, you’ll let My supply flow into that area.”
What are you worried about today? Not having enough for your daily provision? A painful symptom in your body? A mistake you made? Beloved, see the Father’s heart and love for you as He invites you to simply cast all your cares on Him. His Word tells you that He cares for you “affectionately” and “watchfully”. This means that nothing escapes His notice when it comes to your needs. So rest knowing that He will give you His best, and let His abundant supply provide for every breakthrough you need!
GET GOD’S WORD FOR IT
Matthew 4:4 – …He [Jesus] answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
When the devil tempted Jesus, Jesus turned the Word of God on him, saying, “It is written…It is written…It is written…” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10)
Likewise, should the devil remind you of the pain in your body, say what God’s Word says: “It is written, ‘By His stripes I am healed!’” (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24) And tell Daddy God, “I have Your Word for it and I am standing on Your Word. I am not trying to be healed. My healing has already happened. I don’t care what this body says. It has to line up with Your Word because by Jesus’ stripes I am healed!”
And if the devil says to you, “Look at the meager balance in your bank account. How are you going to pay your bills?” just say, “I’m not going to worry because I know that my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19) It doesn’t matter how much I have in the bank. God’s Word tells me that as the need arises, the supply will be there!”
When fear grips you, don’t say to yourself, “This fear is stupid. Come on, what are the chances of it happening to me?” Don’t try to rationalize or reason your fear away. Instead, speak God’s Word into the situation. Say, “It is written, ‘For God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’” (2 Timothy 1:7) What if the fear returns? Speak God’s Word again. Say, “It is written, ‘For God has not given me a spirit of fear…’”
When the devil tries to deceive you, give him the Word of God. There is something about the Word of God that causes him not to want to hang around those who use it. It reminds him of Jesus, the Word made flesh (John 1:14),
THE FATHER’S LOVE
And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. – Luke 15:20
For this boy’s father to have seen him “a great way off” would imply that the Father had been eagerly awaiting his son’s return. Certainly, in the spiritual application of this parable, our Heavenly Father is longing to cleanse and receive the sinner, if he will just repent and come to Him for forgiveness.
Jesus was using this parable to rebuke the Pharisees for their harsh, self-righteous, unforgiving attitude towards sinners. The older brother in this parable was symbolic of the Pharisees. Like this brother, the Pharisees had not lived an outward life of rebellion and they thought that others who didn’t measure up to their standards were surely hated by God. But, “God so loved the world” and “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
Just as this older brother was self-centered and jealous, the Pharisees were not operating in the love of God towards sinners because they were so in love with themselves. They resented Jesus giving the sinners what the Pharisees thought they deserved.
If relationship with his father had been the real desire of the older brother, he would have rejoiced to see his father’s joy at the return of his son. The repentant prodigal son had learned the vanity of things and he had come home to a relationship with his father that neither he nor his older brother had known before.
The scribes and Pharisees, like the older brother, had gotten caught up in serving self through their religious actions. The publicans and sinners who repented were supplying their Father with what He really wanted – relationship.
Relationship with the Father was always available to the scribes and Pharisees, but they chose the temporal praise of men rather than relationship with God.
Using Words to Overcome (LARRY OLLISON)
The Word of God has countless scriptures to show us that we will have what we speak. Our words are vitally important. Remember, life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). The reason Jesus warned us about using idle or useless words in Matthew 12:36 was because our words have the power to accept or reject the promises found in our covenant with God. What we confess is a very important thing. Sometimes we forget how important our words actually are. In Ecclesiastes 5:2,3 it says, “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words.”
Have you ever met somebody that had a lot of words? If your words are few, you will probably have more time to think. We must understand that words are important.
Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.”
Your blood cannot save you. Your blood cannot heal you. Your blood cannot protect you. But the blood of Jesus can do it all. Jesus shed His blood so you could have overcoming power. Do you need to overcome something in your life? Well, you have overcoming power by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of your testimony.
Proverbs 10:11 says, “The mouth of the righteous is a well of life.”
The Bible tells us that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, but it’s your mind that determines what you put into your heart. In other words, you can dip down into that well and draw out life. God gave you a brain to think with. Your brain, which determines what you put into your heart, controls your mouth.
If we are serious about our Christian walk, sometimes we need to be wise enough to say, “I don’t choose to hear that.” I respect my wife, Loretta, because she’s not afraid to take a stand in this area. We have decided we will not allow unwholesome TV shows or movies in our home. Why? If we watch them, we’re allowing our eyes and ears to bring unhealthy thoughts into our minds. Whatever comes into our minds will be what we meditate on and those things will eventually enter our hearts. And, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth will speak.
A little girl about three years old was in my office with her grandmother. Somebody walked in the office and asked her what she was doing. The little girl said “Coloring. I love to color.” The two talked for a minute and the adult asked, “Can I have your book?” The person was teasing the little girl. The little girl replied, “Get your [blank] hands off my book.”
This little girl was young enough that she didn’t understand how to govern what had come into her mind and lodged in her heart. This is why we need to protect our children. They don’t know what they should have or shouldn’t have in their hearts.
This incident proved to be a true illustration of Matthew 12:34, because out of the abundance of her heart, her mouth spoke. Your kids pick up what you’re speaking, and what you say will come out of their mouths. The fact is it doesn’t change when we get to be adults. The same principle works regardless of who we are or how much we don’t think it applies to us. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. It is a spiritual principle.