We've all heard the old adage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me." The response was to bullies on the playground that called us names. The reply was to imply they might be able to hurt us by physical force, but their insults would not. America values 'Freedom of Speech, so people are quick with expressing what's on their mind. Whether it's an opinion about world events, another person, or just how we feel, it's uttered without restrictions regardless of repercussions. In fact, in our culture today, we support the irresponsible use of words through music, movies or in the public. Most individuals think nothing of the foul language that's expressed. Because we've become desensitized, by our consistent hearing of it, we do not notice it and we allow it to become common place.
As a Christian, words are extremely important, especially to God. Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits." Since God created the world by speaking, then utterance must be significant. What this scripture means, is that we frame our future by what we say. That's why it's important to think before vocalizing. You know, we don't always have to say everything we think about!
Do you know of someone that has been affected by what others have told them? Perhaps a parent that spoke negatively to a child, telling them "You're not going to amount to anything, you're such a loser, you lazy no good kid."; A teacher that said, "You're such a failure, what's the matter with your brain? When God passed out brains you must have thought He said trains and you said no thanks." If this degrading talk is consistent, they begin to believe what's been said. That's why the Word of God says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Prov. 4:23) It's critical that we guard what goes into our heart, because our life is shaped by what we let in. We should be protective of the movies we watch, the music we listen to or the conversation with which we yield.
Not only it is our obligation to protect our ears, but we must put a guard on our mouth. Proverbs 21:23 "Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles." Most of us are praying and believing God for a specific thing. We can trust Him and be in faith when we pray. But we must remember, to retain the blessing of the Lord it's contingent upon our mouth. It's easy to loose faith and our blessings, when our mouth complains or talks about the problem. In Mark 11:22-24 Jesus says, "....Have 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]." Don't lose the answer you've received or the miracles because of opposing conversation. Remember Proverbs 18:21, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue..." We want blessing not cursing!
Take a look and see what's enthroned on your heart. You decide by what's coming out of your mouth. "For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45) Make a quality decision today to place the Word of God in your heart. Heb. 4:12 "For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart." Gods Word is Life, Choose Life!
It's so easy to give up. If you have ever waited for something to happen or change and the delay was lengthy, you probably wanted to stop believing that it would occur. The desire to quit can be quite pressing, if you've longed for something a great while. Getting tired and the expectation waning makes one think there's no hope of a promised conclusion. Regardless for what you are holding on, despair almost always seems to creep in. Still as we look about we can see others that seem to get their victory, although we remain clinging to hope. We begin to question ourself, then doubt and fear enter, and we decide to throw in the towel. That's it, it's impossible, we say!
Remaining steady and intent may be difficult, but not out of the question! 1 Cor. 15:58 says, "Therefore my brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." Faith is what pleases God. Often to stay in faith we must encourage ourself. After all we are with ourself more than anyone else. The chances for others to stir us up is highly doubtful. They will probably tell us we might as well give up, because we've been waiting "forever", and if it was going to happen, it would have by now. When Paul wrote the Corinthians this letter, he was trying to stimulate their faith to have an unshakable attitude. The perspective that it doesn't matter how prolonged the situation, belief will not falter. It's like taking a glass and super gluing it to a table, so that when the table is shaken, it will not fall over. One could pick the table up and hold it upside down and the glass will not be moved! That's the type of attitude we need when believing God. Convinced to the point that whatever tries to rattle us, mentally or physically, we continue to be anchored to the Word of God and His promise.
Paul again wrote in Philippians, to "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6-7) Persistent thankful prayer to God, helps activate faith, by expressing we believe we have already received the request. Therefore bringing God's peace that exceeds anything our heart or mind can produce. Because when we believe we are in possession of faiths end, there is perfect peace.
Our desire is to encourage you to stay super glued to the promise to which you are believing! Don't give up! With all your might grab onto faith and know that you will receive if you do not quit! Resolve to hang on like you've never done before. Like Paul says, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong." (1 Cor. 16:13)
Have you ever felt as if everyone and everything was coming against you? Your thoughts being bombarded with condemnation, telling you it's all your fault and that you're a complete mess up! And no matter how hard you try to fix it, you're not getting out of it? Let me tell you right now, you have invisible enemies! Ephesians 6:12GWT tells us, "This is not a wrestling match against a human opponent. We are wrestling with rulers, authorities, the powers who govern this world of darkness, and spiritual forces that control evil in the heavenly world." Our opposition isn't coming from people. It's what's behind the problem - unseen forces trying to kill, steal and destroy your hopes, dreams and faith. (John 10:10)
1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." One of my favorite minister teachers said, interpreted the verse like this: "You must be constantly alert and on your guard! The devil, like an accusing lawyer, will try to charge you will all kinds of arguments and accusations. You need to know that he is like a lion on the prowl, constantly walking around, roaring, with a deafening sound, earnestly seeking the kind of person he can completely consume and slurp up!" (from Sparkling Gems from the Greek by Rick Renner)
These powers from the supernatural realm are assaulting with depression, defeatist attitudes, hopelessness, worry, fear, discouragement, distress and the like. Does this sound like you? The problem is that most people don't recognize 1) it's coming from the devil and 2) there's a way of escaping this! (1 Cor. 10:13)
If you want to become free from any attack of the devil, here's what you can do!
1) James 4:7 "Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you." Submitting to God means, prayer and reading or studying the Word. We must know about the authority God and Jesus has given us and how to operate in it. (Luke 10:19) Just sitting in your room and thinking God's going to zap the devil, isn't going to change anything. He is not in control. If He was, He would have control over the evil. God has done all He's going to do through the power of the cross and Jesus' resurrection. Resisting something takes determination and a firm stand. A great example would be a dieter that is refusing to eat cake. Closing his eyes and pretending the cake will go away won't work. He must strongly fight against the urges to eat the dessert. To combat the tactics of satan's attacks, it requires a purposeful persistent opposition. The decision to cast down all imaginations that don't line up with the Word and a commitment to remain dedicated to confessing the scriptures. With this type of perseverance you can win every time!
2) Walk in the Spirit! Galatians 5:16 says, "...walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." By saying walk, we are implying that we need to live our life, make it our behavior or habit to be in the Spirit. One who 'walks in the Spirit', is asking the Holy Spirit for direction, listening and heeding His instruction! Saying what God's Word says, rather than talking about the problem. Walking in the Spirit means we're not participating with things that are contrary to the Word of God! It's control over the flesh!
3) And when we've done all to stand, stand! (Eph. 6:13-18) In other words, after doing everything in the Spirit we know to do, taken our authority, prayed in the Holy Ghost, and resisted the devil, we stand convinced that things have already changed. Why? Because we've acted in faith. And faith is the things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Faith is calling those things that be not as though they were, running the course with endurance, and never let go strength. It keeps it's eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of faith. Praise and Worship is in our mouth because we believe we have already obtained victory. And when the invisible enemies come, we are already convinced that we are more than conquerors through Christ!
We encourage you to fight the good fight of faith, stay true to your course, never give up, know that you're an overcomer through the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony above the invisible enemies!
Many years ago while in Arkansas ministering, we visited a secluded farm. The sole purpose of going there was to get some blackberries. Fresh picked fruit is the best. We each sought out a bush and began to pick. Pastor Michael found an extremely large one that had the biggest berries, we'd ever seen. He began to choose the choicest ones and his small container filled fast. While gathering, he noticed deep within the giant bush there were even bigger berries. As he carefully tried to move the vines to avoid the thorns in order to reach in, an unsuspecting branch swung over and hit the hand holding the container. Just then all the berries, he had so thoughtfully gathered spilled to the ground, in the middle of the bush. Now all the huge fruit, he so cautiously harvested was scattered and his receptacle was empty. What had taken him twenty minutes to collect was gone in seconds. So disappointed in the loss, he looked around and found an abandoned fence post. He took that post and began to beat the bush, until he made a hole wide enough for him to crawl into. He picked up his little can and on his hands and knees, he wriggled into the bush to begin picking up all his lost fruit. He began to say, "I picked these berries, they are mine, and I'm going to have them!" All of a sudden an audible voice, that only he heard spoke to him and said, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." When he heard this, he paused, but within a second later was back in picking and saying "I picked these berries, they are mine, and I'm going to have them!" Again the voice spoke a little bit louder to him, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." Once more he paused and listened, but quickly began pressing in to get all that fruit he so much longed for. Then the third and final time the voice spoke, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." Just at that moment he realized he had heard the voice of God. It wasn't until much later that evening that he became aware of thorns that had pierced him in his ears, legs and arms that he hadn't noticed during his berry quest. If one desires something, a focused determination will bring it about, although there are 'thorns' trying to hinder.
Some learning aspects of this experience, would be:
1) "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." (Mat. 6:33) Just like in this illustration, what a man seeks is the direction that will be leading him. Becoming so ingrained in something, can be positive if seeking the right thing. God first! If one is on the hunt for their own desires, success, fame or fortune, they can get off course and self driven, which leads to trouble. And when God speaks, it's often difficult to hear Him because the attention is based on our own passions. Grasping the attitude of Kingdom business and righteousness first, means all the things that God has for us will fall in line. Our needs and wants will be fulfilled if we give Him and His desires priority.
2) Being extremely committed and focused, to the direction God has for you, will desensitize distractions. Heb. 12:1-2 says, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." Pastor Michael was zeroing in on his task at hand: "Pick the berries". His intention was to get the biggest and best at any cost. It didn't matter that the bush had thorns or that they were piercing his flesh. With tenacity and purpose he pressed in despite any obstacle. We should be that persistent when it comes to our faith! Regardless of what comes against us, others conversation, deceptive speculations, or discouragement, our resolve to keep on keeping on should prevail.
Listen people of God, life has many distractions and lots of daunting events. There's going to be 'thorns' along the way. It's what we do in the midst of them that determines what kind of person we're going to be. We can notice every little "owie" or chose to keep our vision centered on God and His Word. One thing we do, is believe what God said above any circumstance, despite how we feel or what we see. We purpose to live daily in agreement with God, which means saying what He says and thinking what He thinks. Is it easy? NO! But if you resolve to be consistent and tenacious, you will not only grow up in Christ, but not even notice the "Thorns".
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."