Living Victoriously In The Present

Isaiah 43:18-19 Amplified says, “Do not (earnestly) remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it?…”

Consider means to ponder, think about, and mull over in our mind. Romans 4:19 says that Abraham did not consider his impossibility. Mary did not consider her impossibility. She clung to the angel’s words. Luke 1:37 says, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

I want to go back to a verse in Romans 4 that highlights something we need to know about the Lord. Verse 17 says, “…God, who gives life to the dead, and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.”

In Genesis 15:5 God had brought Abram outside at night to look at the stars. He said, “…count the stars if you are able to number them. And He said to him, So shall your descendants be.”

Verse 6 says, “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” From that moment on Abram walked in those words. Not exactly. There was a fleshly detour, however Genesis 21:1 says, “And the Lord visited Sarah, as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken.”

When we continue to stand in God’s word, in the face of our impossibilities, our faith will grow and gain strength. Romans 10:17 says that our faith increases as we hear God’s word.

Quote His promises out loud. Live in them. Breathe in their life-giving power. Don’t look with your natural eyes. Don’t look back to what used to be. Keep your eyes on the Eternal One. 2 Corinthians 4:18 is our prescription for endurance.

It says, “While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things that are not seen are eternal.”

Non-Existent Things

Here is a great set of verses to ponder. Isaiah 41:11-13 says, “Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing. And those who strive with you shall perish. 

You shall seek them and not find them—those who contended with you. Those who war against you shall be as nothing, as a nonexistent thing. 

For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, Fear not, I will  help you.” Note that verse 12 uses, ‘as nothing, as a nonexistent thing’ to describe past adversity.

Though He was speaking to the Israelites, we can apply this in our own lives. Our past was real. We walked in it. The events, good or bad, existed then. Now we are in the present, and things from the past are now non-existent things. 

When we continue to go back to them, we veer off the path that our feet are on right now. You cannot walk a straight line while looking backwards. At least I can’t. Luke 9:62 says, “…No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” 

Not fit, in this verse, refers to a divided heart. We are called to serve the Lord wholeheartedly, and with a single focus. Remember James 1:8 says that a double-minded man is unstable in ALL his ways.

It is satan’s goal to get us off the path of righteousness, which conforms our thoughts, purpose, and actions to God’s will and ways. Our enemy uses stealth operations. One way is through fiery darts. Remember that not every thought we have is of our own origin.

Our past is passed. We can only go back to it in our mind. That means that our thoughts take us back. Lot’s wife froze in her tracks when she looked back. Let us look at our past as a nonexistent thing, as far as moving forward in God’s Kingdom work. We will continue this tomorrow.

Strength Through Our Thoughts

Proverbs 10:17 Amplified says, “He who heeds instruction and correction is (not only himself) in the way of life (but also) is a way of life for others. And he who neglects or refuses reproof (not only himself) goes astray (but also) causes to err and is a path toward ruin for others.”

This is a very sobering verse. Some of us are leaders and some are followers. It is essential to know the character of the one that you are following. Do you know them well enough to know what they do when no one else is watching?

Check your own heart. Do you have accountability in place? Do you have someone who is over you spiritually that you allow to ask you hard questions? The enemy of our soul is always on patrol. He is looking for weak links in our testimony.

We are not called to perfection. We are called to obedience. When the word says, “Flee!” do we ignore the warning? Every temptation is a test. James 1:13 says, “…God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.”

David understood the pull of temptation. He lived in the consequences of his thought life. Psalm 26:2 says, “Examine me O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.”

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Everyone of us can be pulled off the path of righteousness. Therefore we must continually be in God’s word. When the counterfeit comes, we are able to resist through inner strength.

David had faults. Yet Scripture records that he was a man after God’s heart. We have faults. In Psalm 19:12 David asked a question and then prayed. It says “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.”

David put some key actions into his life through prayers recorded in the psalms that he wrote.  Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me You way, O Lord; I will  walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.” He asked the Lord to give him singleness of heart.

This is our key as well. Let us be singled minded with God’s purposes. Let us continually strengthen our inner man with the daily manna-food from His word. It will build our thoughts up on higher ground. It will help us rise above our adversities by setting our gaze on Him.

Building Inner Strength

Proverbs 24:10 says, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Ephesians 3:16 Amplified says, “May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the (Holy) Spirit (Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality).”

Our innermost being is our character on display. Hebrews 1:3 says of Jesus, “ Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person…” The Greek word for express is charakter. It means the exact copy of representation.

How does God build our character? Romans 5:3 says, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.” Verse 4 in the Amplified says, “And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity)…”

Our character is developed as we embrace our trials. Hebrews 12:11 says IF we are trained by them. Look what Jesus said to Peter. In Luke 20:31, Jesus told Peter that satan had desired to sift him.

Sifting is best described in Amos 9:9, which was written to the house of Israel. It says about His sifting, “…as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.”

Jesus assured Peter that He would come through the sifting. Our trials sift our faith, as Peter’s trial did his. Let Luke 22:32 speak to your heart now in your trial. It says, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

I take great courage from this verse. Jesus prayed for Peter’s faith to remain steadfast. I also appreciate His words, “when” and “then.” There will be an end when God’s purpose for our trial is accomplished.

Our trials are a training ground. There is much instruction during the process. The Lord will lead us to passages in His word that He wants us to implant. He also bids us to ask Him for wisdom, but to ask in faith that He will answer. James 1:6-8 says to ask in faith without wavering.

Abraham did not waver in unbelief. He did not consider his body as good as dead. He did not ponder all the ramifications of Sarah being beyond child bearing years. Romans 4:20 Amplified says, “No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God…”

Here is the key to his inner strength. The verse continued, “…but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God.” He praised the Lord for what He was doing! Abraham embraced his impossibility by refusing to look at it. Instead his gaze was on the Lord’s ability not their inability.

What an example for us to follow. Was Abraham’s character sterling? No. What did he do behind closed doors when he thought no one was watching? What did he pass onto his son Isaac? His message and his messenger were not the same.

Isaac did the same thing as his father with the same king. He lied. In Genesis 26:7 he told the men that Rebekah was his sister. Behind closed doors, after he had been there a long time, verse 8 says, “…Abimelech…looked through a window, and saw, and there was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife.”

The whole story would have been a testimony of God’s goodness, instead Isaac brought reproach onto the name of the Lord. John 3:21 encourages us to live in the light of the truth of God’s word—always.

It says, “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” All secret sin is seen with God’s eyes. Yes, we might hide it from others, but before Him all things are exposed, naked, and defenseless. More on this tomorrow.

Retraining Our Tongue

James 3:8 says, “But no man can tame the tongue. It  is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” What does a parent do with an unruly child? They discipline them. The Lord disciplines us. He is our Excellent Father.

How does He retrain our tongue to speak words that will honor Him? He allows hardships, adversities, and impossible circumstances to come into our lives. Like a Master Potter, He works the water of His word into the barren places of our heart.

Clay is barren soil. It is hard and unmanageable. A potter has to work water into the dry clay in order to soften it. I used to work with clay. I could get my clay nice and soft. It was pliable and ready to be shaped on the potter’s wheel. 

In order to form the lump into something beautiful, I had to first center it. That required consistent, unyielding, and intense pressure. At first the clay fought my hands. I could feel when it was getting centered. It smoothed out. Then I knew that I could begin to shape it.

What a picture of our flesh. When we fall into a new trial, we are taken by surprise. Any hidden flesh rises and comes out of our mouth. If we listen, we will hear what we are believing in that moment.

Our heart is our belief center. The Lord will use the pressure from the unexpected hardship to expose the hidden lies that have been buried. They are not in our conscious awareness. That is why we have to listen to what we are saying.

Isaiah 55:3 says, “Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live…” Incline means to listen favorably. I have found that my thoughts can become so noisy, that they drown out the Lord’s whispered words.

Jesus only spoke what He heard His Father speaking, and He only did what He saw His Father do. That is a remarkable example for us to follow. Authentic followers of Jesus are attentive, sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and obedient.

In order to retrain our tongue, we have to retrain our thoughts. Psalm 19:14 was another one of David’s prayers that we can adopt. It says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable  in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”

Note that the meditation of his heart was coupled with the words of his mouth. What we think about in Scripture becomes our meditation. Jeremiah 15:16 says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart…”

In contrast, a persistent negative mental dialogue will become our meditation. It occupies our thoughts which become words. When negativity comes out of our mouth, we slime anyone who hears us, including ourselves. 

Watch Your Language!

I wrote a while back about why I got my mouth washed out with soap. I used a word that I heard at school and had no idea it was unacceptable. I learned after that to watch my language.

1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits.” I have always used this verse about being around bad influences. As I type this. I realize how it can apply to what I hear coming out of my own mouth. Do you hear what you are saying? Are you nourishing or destroying your body?

1 Corinthians 6:19 is a great reminder of Whose we are. It says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? Since we are not our own, then how shall we live? Verse 20 says, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

James 3:10 was written about our tongue. It says, “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” With our lips we praise the Lord in worship. With those same lips we speak derogatory words over our body.

I can write this because that is what I used to do. The operative word is ‘used to.’ I learned a more excellent way. In order for us to fulfill our calling, we need to watch our language.

Paul wrote something that captured my heart back in early 1977. Philippians 1:20 says, “According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Those words sunk into my heart like a well appointed arrow. I fell on my knees and cried out to the Lord. “Lord, I want to magnify You in my body, whether by life or by death!” Shortly after that I fell head first into a six foot ravine.

The Lord used that fall, and all its brain injury ramifications, to woo me to Himself. He took me into a depth of relationship with Him that I had never heard or read about before. 

Our trials are designed to conform our thoughts, purpose, and actions to His will and ways. We magnify Him with our body when we reflect His character. 1 Peter 2:22 says, “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His  mouth.”

David had a great prayer that we can make our own. Psalm 141:3-4 says, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep a watch over the door of my lips. do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies.” More on this tomorrow.

Reclaiming Uncultivated Soil

We create holes in our heart that are filled with uncultivated soil. Weed seeds grow and flourish in the barren places. Our heart is designed to be a full, deep, clear, and nourishing reservoir of living water. It is there to refresh our spirit, and be a drink we can offer others who are parched.

Let me take you back to Isaac. His father, Abraham, had dug many wells. The Philistines, which speak of our flesh, had stopped up the wells and filled them with earth (Genesis 26:15). Verse 18 says, “And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father…”

That is what we do when we reclaim the ground that was given over to the enemy of our soul, either through our own sin, or sins done against us. The well of our salvation gets debris in it. The barren ground in our heart needs to be cultivated with ‘soil amendment’ through Scripture. 

We take the verses of truth that apply to our situation, bringing those truths into our heart through memorization and meditation. They will be our tool for inner transformation. Renewing our mind from old barren thought patterns, to a radically life-giving empowerment.

Here is what the ground of your heart will look like. I love the picture Psalm 65:9-11 gives. I see it through the eyes of abundance. Picture verse 10 as your newly cultivated heart. It says, “You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows; You make it soft with showers, You  bless its growth.”

Here is a verse that I encourage you to make into a personal declaration with awe. Verse 11 says, “You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance.”

Remembering John 10:10 in the reflection of the above two verses. It says, “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 have it more abundantly.”

Strong’s definition for abundantly is: superabundance, excessive, overflowing, surplus, over and above, more than enough, profuse, extraordinary, above the ordinary, more than sufficient.

We always have a choice of how we think. An authentic follower of Christ lives in experiential truth. Their heart’s soil is fertile because it is constantly being amended and watered by God’s word. Let us reflect His character through our actions.

Regaining Ground

Ephesians 4:27 says about letting the sun go down on our anger, “Nor give place to the devil.” ‘Place’ means an opportunity. It is not only the matter of anger, but it pertains to any unresolved issue that we buried.

It leaves the devil an opportunity to occupy real estate in our heart. It affects thoughts, actions, attitudes, and habitual behavioral patterns. Graph out your heart on a piece of paper by drawing squares.

The object is to take each square before the Lord. Ask Him to show you any unresolved issue in your life. Then ask Him to show you ways that have allowed the enemy to occupy that ground in your heart.

In each square you can write areas where ground has been given through various means. Here are a few: abusive home life, angry, divorced, or adulterous parents, rejection, angry siblings, friends, spouse, drug use, self-hatred, abortion, and the list can go on.

Many years ago I had a 65 year old woman come up to me after I had spoken. She wanted me to help her with an unresolved issue. She and her fiancee, whom she loved very much, were walking in a park together. She was gang raped in front of him. All those years it had festered.

What ground had been given over was reclaimed and she was set free. It took forgiveness at many levels. She was so mortified that she refused to marry the man she truly loved. She married someone else. She had lived with regret.

Once you identify the unresolved areas in your own life, it is essential to first confess it as sin. We have a great High Priest. He already knows what we buried. He desires for us to acknowledge and confess it so it can be released. We will continue this tomorrow.

Destroying Inner Strongholds

The devil is cagy. He is wily. He always uses something that is hidden in us, that he hid through a fiery dart lie. He abides his time. In Luke 4 Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the devil. Verse 13 says, “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”

I never connected this before until I was typing it. Here was the opportune time recorded. Watch the fiery dart in action. John 13:2 says, “And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot… to betray Him.”

Verse 27 says, “Now after the piece of bread, satan entered him…” We betray Jesus when we take satan’s bait, by yielding to his temptations. If we don’t flee them, we will be ensnared. There are never signs that say, “Beware, Temptation Ahead.”

Here is an essential truth in our progressive sanctification journey. Accountability. When a person is deceived, they do not know that they are walking in deception. The lies they have believed seem to be the truth, and the truth seems to be a lie.

Anytime we add anything that is not Bible based, we have walked into satan’s trap of deception. We blissfully go on with our walk with the Lord. Proverbs has many verses about being trapped because of lack of understanding.

Hosea 10:13 is very clear. It says, “You have plowed wickedness; you have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way…” If you do not have spiritual accountability partners—get them! Mine have been in place since 1983.

Strongholds, or mindsets create fallow ground in our heart. They will only bear weed seeds, and choke out any fruit that will glorify the Lord. Glorifying fruit is the evidence of one who abides in Him. John 15:1-8 is so clear.

Hosea 10:12 is our mandate. It says, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up the fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” Oh, let us step under His waterfall of righteousness!

We do that by implanting His word into our hearts. James 1:21 says, “…which is able to save your souls.” Verse 25 says that we must be an attentive hearer and a dedicated doer of His word.

Are you feeling a weight? Are you carrying a burden that you have no control over? Are you impeded in your race? Inner strongholds dog our steps. Hebrews 12:1 says, “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us…”

Inner strongholds fall when they are underplanted with truth. It’s not a fight when His word is implanted which means naturally rooted. Truth topples lies. A lie is weak and helpless unless it is believed. Truth is eternal. It cannot be changed or altered in any way.

When we seed truth into our heart’s soil, it will take out the weeds. It is experiential truth that undergirds our thought processes. It not only sets us free but keeps us free. John 8:32 says it is the truth we know by experience, or it has living proof through our actions which come from our thoughts.

Here are Solomon’s words to his son. Proverbs 4:5 says, “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.” Verse 7 says, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.”

Treasures In Darkness

In Isaiah 45:1-3 we read the way the Lord used a pagan king to do His work. He called him His anointed. He held his right hand. Verse 2 says, “I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze  and cut the bars of iron.”

Verse 3 gave the reason. It says, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by name, am the God of Israel.”

We have the same anointing. Jesus came to set the captives free. Authentic followers of Jesus do what He did. John 14:12 says, “…he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”

We, the church, are His mobilized army. Isaiah 14:2 is a great definition for deliverance. It says, “…they will take them captive whose captives they were, and rule over their oppressors.” How do we do that? First we have to understand the main reason people become captives.

Hosea 4:6 says, “My  people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” Isaiah 15:3 says, “Therefore my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge…” Proverbs 9:10 says, “…the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

Paul’s prayer for the Colossians was very specific. Colossians 1:10 says that they would increase in the knowledge of God. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.”

We cannot walk in all that He has given unless it is gained through our knowledge of the Lord. Verse 5 says that we are to add knowledge to our faith. Verse 8 says that when we do, “…you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Knowledge is essential.

2 Timothy 2:25  says, “In humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.” This is our mission. We are to be truth bearers. Verse 26 says, “And that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” Some are entrapped without any realization that they have been snared.