We have to stop and confront our fears.
Prisoners of war have historically endured cycles of physical abuse with psychological propaganda. The human body can survive hopeless conditions longer when the mind believes it can. Once the propaganda lies take root and you believe that either no hope is left–or that you were on the wrong side to begin with!–the body will give up. The ridiculous confessions begin, and you will utter things you never believed and never imagined you could say.
Good soldiers are trained to survive the enemy’s torture and manipulation. The American military’s SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) School involves a rigorous training period where you learn how to survive the unsurvivable. You can quit at any time in the program–but once you quit, you’ve failed. Graduates of SERE school emerge malnourished, physically battered, and emotionally ravaged, but alive. They endured the process of taking every thought captive and making it submissive to their end goal: I will survive, and I will return with honor.
Similarly, as Christians, we are to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Jesus. How does Satan, the enemy of our souls, wage war against us? Through lies and deceit. We find those lies and deceptions swirling around the millions of thoughts circulating daily inside our minds. Have you ever stopped to think about what you’re thinking about? Ask yourself: Who is narrating this, and what story line am I hearing? Am I the victim or the valiant in this narration?
If you find yourself the victim, Jesus is not the Narrator of the story you’re listening to.
Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He condemns, accuses, and lies.
Jesus offers us life to the fullest. He walks with us, weeps with us, welcomes us, and withholds no good thing from us. Jesus speaks what is true, what is good, and what is encouraging.
If the scratched up record player on repeat in your head goes something like this:
“You suck! You’re a failure! You’ll never succeed! You always mess things up. Nobody likes you. Nobody will love you. Nobody wants to be your friend. You aren’t good at anything–why try?”
…if you’ve been listening to this record, take it off and smash it to pieces on the floor. These words are not from Jesus and they are not who you are.
Jesus is victorious, and in Him, so are you.
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us do what we’ve been called to do–we don’t do it alone and we are equipped for every task.
Jesus is our friend. He loves us, and hey guess what? He even likes us! Maybe He’s your only friend for this season, but believe me you will emerge a much better friend, too.
Jesus tells us to persevere–and He showed us how to do it. He endured physical suffering, mental anguish, social isolation, and emotional turmoil. He knew His Father was worthy of the sacrifice.
Jesus survived the treat-tempting, deceit-unrelenting world–He knew who His Father was, and He knew who He was. He wasn’t distracted from His mission.
Jesus evaded the lies of the enemy–He didn’t quarrel with the devil, He rebuked him with truth.
Jesus resisted temptation–He pursued people, not pleasures. He loved the lost and the lonely, but confronted those who used God’s name in vain (using it cheaply, without power). He was seeking His Father’s glory, not His own.
Jesus escaped the grave–and so will all who stay with Him! Death has no power when Jesus holds the keys to hell.
Do we realize that all Satan has to do to have power over us…is for us to believe him? So all we have to do to render Satan powerless…is to believe Jesus! It sounds stupidly simple, and yet we find it challenging at times. This means we actually have to take Jesus at His word–that He is the word made flesh, that He is God Most High descended to dwell with His people, that He is the Bread of Life that fills us with good things, the Living Water that will never leave us thirsting, and the Truth who sets us free.
But as long as we can’t (or won’t) believe Jesus, we’re easy targets.
STOP BEING AN EASY TARGET.
God has called us to be so much more than rubber ducks popped off a fence line with Satan’s BB gun. And that’s how we’ve been living.
God has called us to be fearless warriors who preach the Good News that God is for us, not against us. But that takes faith–we have to believe God is for us, not against us. God has never been against us. Ever since the day we turned against Him, He’s been fighting to bring us back.
God has called us to be the city on the hill, the salt of the earth. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, this means we bring spiritual illumination into every conversation–but this isn’t happening if all we don’t believe the Holy Spirit is actually at work and actually present in our daily lives and actively nudging us further into holiness. It’s hard to tell people about God when we’re never listening to Him!
God has called us to an abundant, joy-filled life. We can’t have this without Jesus. I think some people think the “benefits package” of our salvation doesn’t kick in until heaven, so we have to just grump and grudge our way through this earthly life, but I fully disagree. If God is our goodness, our help, our joy, etc., and He has come to dwell within us, we already have it all, now. Remember Jesus’ prayer? “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”? God’s kingdom and will is happening now on earth, as He fills His people with His Spirit and His presence. AND it will still get better. So even through my depression and anxiety, I can still have an abundant, joy-filled life. (Even through your mental health challenges, so can you.) And it’s only going to get better.
Fear tells us the worst is always about to happen, and it will only get worse.
Jesus says the BEST has already come into the world, and it’s only going to get better–because He is coming again for His people, and then He’s taking us home. The best is just getting started, y’all.
Whose voice will you choose to listen to today?