She was almost four years old. Her desire and prayer to God was for a swing set. Each day she would go to the sliding glass door and gaze into the back yard and say, "See it? It's red, there are two swings, a teeter totter and a slide on 'that' side", as she pointed. She would insist that everyone come to look, although there was nothing there. But it was her prayer, her desire and she saw it. Every night as she was tucked into bed she would begin her prayer, "Thank you for my swing set". One particular night as her dad was putting her to bed, when she prayed, he said, "Honey, daddy can't get you a swing set just yet". But she was quick to respond, "Daddy, I'm not praying to you". Time went on and every day it was the same, she 'saw' by faith that swing set and she declared it! Time came for the family to take a short trip, and when they returned home, as usual, she ran into the house, to the back door and again proclaimed, "See, my swing set". She hastened to get her daddy to show him the swing set. All though he was busy unloading and unpacking, he took a minute to go look. But this time the view had changed, there it was! The swing set was in the back yard! Just as if it had been there all along! Her faith, her belief in God's provision had brought it to pass! (A true story)
Mark 11:22-24 "And Jesus, replying, said to them, Having faith in God [constantly]. Truly I tell you whoever says to this mountain, be lifted up and thrown into the sea and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]."
How simple does that seem? Pretty simple to a child. But as an adult we have come to over analyze things. Trying to figure out how we can make it happen, unlike this four year old, who truly believed God would manifest her request! She was taught at home and at her church that faith pleases God and He answers prayer. There was NO doubt, NO concern, or NO unbelief! She was unquestionably convinced she had a swing set. What she saw in the natural, didn't redefine what she knew in her heart or what she saw in the spirit. Then her confession daily, reconfirmed her faith, thus pleasing God and eventually bringing forth her desire.
Being one that has had multiple experiences of answered prayer and miracles, I can testify that my faith increased through attending a faith filled, spirit filled, Bible teaching church. Week after week of instruction helped to instill the foundation of belief in God's ability, provision, and promises. But it didn't just stop there, when I went home, I had to put into action the lessons I was receiving. The need for finances of an unexpected expense, required that I apply my faith, by praying, believing, and confessing, "God supplies all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." ( Phil. 4:19) Now, I know some of you would ask, did it come that day? And I would have to truthfully answer, No, not always. But I did get the need met, because I never laid down my faith in God. Regardless of what my bank balance looked like, or what my unbelieving family said, or any fears that came, the answer remained the same. GOD SUPPLIES! And just like for the little four year old, God did it!
The scriptures tell us to 'renew our mind to the Word'. (Rom. 12:2) You see, a renewed mind knows what God knows. It knows that satan is defeated! (Col. 2:15) It knows that the victory is already present and we overcome! (Rom. 8:27) And in spite of everything going on, it knows the answer is the same, God is able to make all grace abound toward 'me' that 'I', always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8) That's why when we believe we therefore speak. (2 Cor. 4:13), because our heart, head and mouth are in agreement.
It's time we had 'swing set faith'! Mark 11:22-24 "And Jesus, replying, said to them, Having faith in God [constantly]. Truly I tell you whoever says to this mountain, be lifted up and thrown into the sea and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]." Believe it, receive it, and say it!
Influence: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself. Someone or something is constantly influencing your decisions, your actions, and possibly your opinions which affects your character. These can come from family nurturing, peer motivations, our own choices based on environment or perhaps instructors, advisors, or counselors. So, who or what, do you believe has had the most influence on you? Evidence is in your reflection.
Have you ever heard the sayings, You become like those with whom you associate; Or, You become what you think about? Truth of the matter is we become what we behold! Proverbs 13:20 says, "He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed."
Generally parents discovers personality traits their children, whether good or bad, have selected to parrot from friends or school associates. If that quality is acceptable, it's welcomed. However, if it is inappropriate of course it's discouraged. We could presume it's because they socialize with them daily, discovering habits and mannerisms to use.
Because we are so easily swayed by others and things, it would behoove us to be discerning about what we are watching or with whom we are associating. Keeping company with the wrong crowd can lead to a destructive life and an undesirable outcome. Listening to unethical conversations, opinions, or advice can steer us in the wrong direction. Watching immoral media will obviously fill the heart and mind with foolish judgements and beliefs. The Bible clearly gives us instruction on what type of person we are to model ourself after.
Rom. 13:14, "But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and make no provision for [indulging] the flesh [put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of your physical nature] to [gratify its] desires (lusts)."
Eph. 5:1 "Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]."
3 John 1:11 "Beloved, do not imitate evil, but imitate good. He who does good is of God; he who does evil has not seen (discerned or experienced) God [has enjoyed no vision of Him and does not know Him at all].
Heb. 6:12 NKJ "that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
And Paul wrote in 1Cor. 11:1 "Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah)."
In each of the referenced scriptures the theme implied is 'imitating'. Since emulating is natural, God is instructing us to choose the right one to follow. Inasmuch as we desire to 'be like' someone, maybe we need to reevaluate with who or what we are trying to identify.
Being a Christian isn't just a cliche'. It means to be like Christ. I realize that there are a lot of people in the world that say they are 'Christians', yet their lifestyle nor their conversation emulate Christ. That does not make everyone who says they are Christian counterfeit. Just like one bad lawyer or doctor, doesn't mean all lawyers or doctors are corrupt. Matthew 12:33 explains a 'tree is known by it's fruit'. Consequently the evidence of a person's character is shown in his/her actions, words, consistency, habits, or mannerisms. If you observe someone long enough you'll know. Plus your reflection reveals your status.
Know for sure what or who you are reflecting, as a guide follow 2 Corinthians 3:18 by keeping your eyes on God's Word, then He will transform you daily to be more like Him. ("And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.")
All scriptures used are Amplified version unless specified.
Thoughts are kind of funny. One can be thinking of something fantastic, then out of no where, a creepy fearful image pops in our mind. The problem is, it doesn't stop there. We have a tendency to dwell on that alarming notion, blowing it all out of proportion. And before we realize it, that thought became a fearful emotion. The feeling of FEAR causes great anxiety in our life, whether it's realistic or unrealistic. What's the difference of realistic and unrealistic fear, you ask? Realistic fright is the imagination of reasonable situations. For instance: getting a dreaded illness; someone not liking you; having an accident; and things that are believable. Unrealistic phobias are unfeasible or illogical. Such as: a building suddenly collapsing; an infestation of tarantulas in your house and other ideas that are far fetched.
Regardless of the kind of fear that sneaks into your thoughts, it can be overwhelming and destructive if we allow it to linger. Someone once said, FEAR is F-false, E-evidence, A-appearing, R-real! Let's face it, no matter the fear it's not of God! 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." Once we understand where fear comes from, it's easier to manage. So, how does one manage this type of thinking? 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, "Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." We must take authority over these fears ushering in God's Word to replace it.
Have you heard the saying,"A mighty oak tree was once a little nut that held it's ground."? Fear, if left alone, can grow so massive it will destroy any faith you have. Make a decision now to demolish all fears, anxieties, or worries with the Word of God. Find a scripture with which you can defeat the enemy. Below we've listed some from the Bible that will be an instrument in conquering fear. Make each verse personal by putting your name in them.
Scripture References (Amp. Version)
Ps. 119:105 "Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."
Phil. 4:6,7 "Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God."
Ps. 112:7 "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is firmly fixed, trusting (leaning on and being confident) in the Lord."
Ps. 27:1 "The Lord is my Light and my Salvation-whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?"
Is. 41:10 "Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice."
Ps. 34:4 "I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him [of necessity and on the authority of His Word], and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."
Heb. 13:6 "So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?"
John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]"
Is. 26:3 "You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both it's inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You."
Col. 3:15 "And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ's] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving always]."
Col 3:2 "And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are the earth."
Phil 4:8 "For the rest, brethren, whatever it true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]."
1 Cor. 2:16 "For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart."
Your consistent repetition of these verses will enable and empower you to gain surpassing victory over any fear that comes your way. We believe that you are more than a conqueror over fear through Christ who loves you.
Have you ever found yourself struggling in your faith? It may be that you're going along real good and the 'old man' pops up! Yes, I'm talking about the flesh man! Perhaps you committed to watch what you say. But one day, it's like you reach the end of your rope, forgetting that pledge and let it rip. Then before you know it, you've crossed the line and said or done things you didn't want to. I just imagine we've all been there at one time or another. The battle between the flesh and the spirit can become strained when we decide it's too hard to walk the straight and narrow. Difficulty comes when we refuse to move forward in our spiritual walk of faith. Thus we return to the previous lifestyle believing it's easier than the spiritual conflict of flesh versus spirit. And now instead of confronting faith, we're up against bad habits, feelings of depression, guilt, anguish and the like. Of course our 'flesh' friends are all trying to encourage us by saying "you're ok, it's not as bad as it used to be". And our 'spiritual' friends tell us that we need to let go of those former associations that pull us back. The problem is, that we keep asking ourself, "If I leave my old friends or old ways, what's going to become of me?" The comfortability we sense with the previous seems to outweigh the desire to move forward.
How can one get out of this kind of rut, you ask? The following are some steps that will help re-enforce spiritual strength and gain the momentum to keep on the right path.
#1. Romans 12:1 & 2 "I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
In order to find peace, joy and the perfect will of God for our life we first must be a living sacrifice to God. That means we must be in a continual state of surrender and consecration to Him. To do this requires that we desire His will more than our own. Whatever we yield to is what our body will cooperate with. It's important to present our bodies to God and not to sin or addictions.
Reading and studying the Bible is a small step toward the renewing of our mind, which reveals the will of God. That causes us to become a 'doer of the Word'. (James 1:22) A renewed mind takes on the thoughts of God and lives in compliance everyday! Kenneth Hagin Sr., once said "the mind doesn't stay renewed any more than the hair stays combed." Renewing of the mind demands effort and discipline, which will then transform our life. But its a daily application.
One way to find out if we are altering our life, is by what we're doing. Any unforgiveness, selfishness, anger or resentment toward others could indicate that we need to remain steady in the Word. It's the 'doing' that shows that our mind is renewed, although quoting of the Word is important. It won't matter what we cite if we're not living life in accordance with the Bible.
#2. Romans 10:17 "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." In the verses just prior to this verse, the writer asks, "...how shall they hear without a preacher?" This hearing comes from the preached Word of God.
God established and set the local church into being for the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ. (Eph. 4:12) Plus we must remember that "every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God's will in thought, purpose and action), so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Tim. 3:16-17
Find a local church that is preaching the uncompromised Word. Locate a church that will take you as you are, but won't leave you there! If they are really teaching the Word it WILL change you, IF you receive it and DO it! Going to church regularly should never be optional. By acquainting ourself with God we find what matters to Him and our fellowship with Him is strengthened. But remember, we're not acquainted with God, just because we are in the place with people who are. It may be important, however, to forfeit any prior relationships that will tug on your heart to return to your old ways. New found friendships with people who are endeavoring to walk with God will be a good influence to you.
Remember that just because our mind is renewed doesn't mean we won't have fleshly desires appear, it just means we won't run away with them. Eph. 4:22-24 says, "that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man, which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." We have to put off the old and put on the new to become a master over situations, over the enemy, old habits or emotions. It's a continual effort to keep our life in line with the Word of God. Quit cooperating with your flesh and put forth the energy to renew your mind!
Are there times you feel defeated, hurt, or perhaps angry over situations that have happened to you? There may have been people that said hurtful things or family members that treated you unfairly. Perhaps some of you had an abusive childhood. All these types of 'life incidents' can develop certain attitudes within us. This type of perspective can influence the way we think about ourself, about others, our values, our priorities, and even how we treat people. It's time we stop allowing these feelings to continue within us and govern our life. I know we can't change what happened to us, but we CAN decide what we will allow to affect us through life's journey. John 10:10 (spoken by Jesus) "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly."
In this world there are two forces at work, destruction and restoration. Of course we recognize that the devil wants to steal any joy or peace that we have, thus bringing up the past and it's hurtful experiences. But notice Jesus said in John 10:10, "....I have come that they may have life and they may have it more abundantly." That's restoration! He wants to restore what the enemy has stolen from you. Wouldn't it be wonderful to live free of anger, resentment, or grief? I know you're asking, "How can I do that? The circumstances are dreadful. I really feel hurt from what happened."
First we must realize we can choose to quite blaming the people or the circumstance on why our life is the way it is today. God said in his Word, "...I set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life..." (Read Deu. 30) We hold the key to our future. Know this, what others have done TO you is not a reflection of who YOU are! It is an expression of who THEY are! Although we can't change what happened, we can decide right now not to take ownership of the heartache! Let's not allow any bad feeling cling to us. We need to enable the Word of God to bond to us and the bad feelings to roll off. Eph. 2:10 (AMP) says, "For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]." Agreeing with the Word instead of the pain begins the restoration process. That's when we will be able to see there's a good life in store for us.
Secondly, we must decide to forget. Phil 3:13 "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,". Forgetting can be difficult, but we must understand what forgetting really means. Forgetting is NOT, denial, amnesia, concealing the facts, or even ignoring. A certain minister once said, "Forgetting is a process whereby the former events loose their power to control your present or dominate your future. Forgetting doesn't erase the history, but eliminates the past from being the predominate factor in your life." You know there's always going to be tribulations. There will always be people against us. And there will be situations that cause hurt. But we must remember God is always for us! Rom. 8:31(b) "...If God be for us, who can be against us?" His intervention of love and grace will allow healing to transpire and thus lead us into an extraordinary life.
Letting the Word of God become more influential than the pain and hurt will free us from the hold of the wounding experience. It's time we take the necessary steps towards living a life of victory, not influenced by anything other than God's Word. Why don't you make a decision today to focus on the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. It will set you free from the law of sin and death! Be the master of your attitude not the victim!
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."