18th January 2015
Strengthen Yourself in God: Believing
Discipleship groups take place this week on Tuesday at 12.30pm and Friday at 6am. Come in groups or individually, or you can also use the blog and life application questions in your own small group settings.
God wants you free, healed and fruitful. He has given us all we need to follow Him and live for Him. But we have to access it.
When we read the words of Solomon to his son in Proverbs 4:20-27, we know that these are the words our Father in heaven would say to us, today, too.
We’re told to be vigilant of our hearts because all life flows out from the heart. Notice that we are told to guard our hearts. It’s our responsibility. The way to tell what is in your heart is by what flows out – what goes on inside us can so often be seen on the outside. Jesus said that good things come out of the good stored up in our hearts (Luke 6:43-45).
We can tell what’s going on in our hearts by what we say, how we react to situations, whether we build up those around us or tear them down, even by what we write on Facebook.
We will never fulfil our potential in God if we do not learn how to guard our hearts: “The heart and what we do in stewarding that one place determines the outcome of our lives” – Bill Johnson
Strengthening ourselves in God is all about guarding our hearts and stewarding them well. How do we cultivate healthy believing?
“Listen well to my words; tune your ears to my voice. Keep my message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart! Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they are bursting with health.” (Proverbs 4:20-22 MSG)
What is shaping your life? Is it family? Work? Tragedy? Your past? Illness? Or is it what God says about you? We guard our hearts and strengthen ourselves in God by letting His word over our lives cancel out our old beliefs about who we are.
If I plant an apple tree but it doesn’t have any apples on it, is it still an apple true? Yes! Likewise, we’re not defined by circumstances, tradition, or anything other than what God says about us. If He says He has chosen us and appointed us to bear fruit, then we will be fruitful. Sometimes we’re not bearing fruit, but that doesn’t change our identity. We need to pursue Him and believe His promises, because what He says about us trumps everything else.
How good are you at speaking out truth to other people? There is something powerful about speaking out truth, both to ourselves and to others. It does something on the inside.
Defining ourselves by the word of God takes training: we need to remind ourselves of the promises of God often, dwell on them, reflect on them, speak them out.
There are times, however, were we suffer from ‘broken believing’, where we are stuck in patterns of thinking and behaviour that are broken and don't line up with what God says about us. They stop us being fruitful and can provide an opening for the enemy to trip us up. The Bible calls these ‘strongholds’ (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). These need to be actively torn down, and in their place we need to build new strongholds based on God’s unfailing love.
When I have a stronghold in my thinking, it will only be looking for proof of what it already believes. Everything will be seen through that filter. The reality is that all of us believe things that aren’t true, but in some ways the highest level of spiritual warfare is taking every thought captive and making them obedient to Christ. We need to guard our minds and our hearts, allowing knowledge of God and obedience to Christ to reign. We need to keep fighting, using the Word of God as a weapon. In Christ, we have the power to demolish every stronghold.
I find that it’s a like a thief climbing in through the window of rejection and then opening wide the doors of discouragement! And once they’re open, it’s a bit like a train, it’s not just one negative thought, but a whole load of carriages one after another. If I’m going to guard my heart and renew my mind, I need to understand which lie I’m believing. We need to identify the lie by finding out what God says about it. We need to renounce the lie and announce the truth. Replace the lie with the truth, through mulling over God's word.
We need to demolish strongholds and fill our minds with the wonderful truth that God loves us. He has provided all we need for life and godliness. But we have to play an active part too. What practical steps will you take to guard your heart and renew your mind this week?
Posted by Paul Mann