It is unfortunate that the modern Church judges success on carnal things. We look at church attendance, the preacher’s lifestyle, and now even online audience size to determine success. This is not how Jesus looked at success.
John tells us the story of Jesus feeding a multitude in chapter 6. These people were so impressed by the miracle that they tried to make Him king (vs. 14-15). They based their decision on what they had seen and experienced with their natural senses.
At the end of John 6 ends with the account of Jesus’ sermon in which He describes Himself as the bread of life and tells the listeners that eternal life would be available to those who ate His flesh and drank His blood. His sermon was something that could not be perceived by the natural mind. Many people were offended and left Him.
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
I wonder what our reaction would have been to this situation. Would we have posted on social media that scores of people had left Jesus and His ministry was failing? So many of us measure success in this day and age by number of followers and this would have been a great chance to declare another minister had fallen!
Jesus knew the people’s heart condition. He ministered the truth and many were offended. This is a much different model from our seeker friendly church movement that seeks to create a non offensive worship environment!
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Notice Jesus’ response to having so many disciples abandon Him. It did not seem to bother Him, did it?
Jesus did not look to His disciples for reassurance. He drew His affirmation from God’s love! This is something that each one of us should pay attention to.
It is the lack of revelation concerning our position in Christ Jesus that has opened the door to widespread bouts of depression, anxiety, and fear among Christians. So many of us look to the people around us for acceptance instead of looking at how much God loves us.
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5
There are many ways that spiritual warfare is taught. I’ve heard everything from screaming at the devil with a goal of wearing him down to forty day fasts. Paul paints a much different picture in regards to this subject.
I’ve heard ministers talk about the need to map every stronghold over a city to provide a roadmap for spiritual warfare. To the best of my knowledge, 2 Corinthians 10:4 is the only place where “strongholds” are mentioned.
Paul’s description of these “strongholds” is much different than ours. Verse five describes them as “imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God”. We are told to bring these “captivity” to the “obedience of Christ”.
True spiritual warfare involves the renewal of our minds to God’s way of thinking. This is the transformation Paul describes in Romans 12:1-1. Walking in a victorious Christian life will require us to renew our minds to the love of God!
Jesus was secure in His relationship with God. He only sought to please the Father. He was not moved by people’s feelings about Him.
Most of us are too worried about people and too tied into the natural realm. This is an indication of our lack of relationship with God.
God loves us without condition. He is the creator of this universe we live in and if He accepts us unconditionally then what does it matter if our coworkers don’t like us?
It is possible to reach a place in our relationship with God that the affirmations of man will no longer matter! This will require us to spend time in prayer and giving careful and considerate thought to His Word on a daily basis.
It is up to us to either allow sin or righteousness to reign in our lives. God is not the one opening the door to sin or depression in our lives. He has provided complete freedom in Christ Jesus but we must choose to open His Word and allow it to wash away the strongholds that have taken root in our souls.
I used to fight with bouts of depression. The Holy Spirit showed me that this was happening because I was thinking about depressing things. Change required me to purposely choose to think about what God said about me in His Word.
Thoughts will come but we do not have to accept them. I used to carry a card with several Scriptures. When thoughts of depression would come I would pull it out and begin to read them out loud. It was a simple act but one that helped bring those thoughts into captivity to God’s Word. This is an example of true spiritual warfare!
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
We have the ability to choose what we will or will not focus on in our thoughts. Our depression, anxieties, and fears are the fruit of our dominant thought. In a sense, many of us are like a person who plants an apple tree and then seems confused by it producing apples. If we are planting depressing thoughts in the garden of our mind, we will receive a harvest of depression!
I have learned that depression is the fruit of allowing ourselves to focus on the bad around us. There will always be bad things happening. We cannot change this but we can choose not to focus on them. This does not mean we choose to pretend they aren’t happening. They are but we must make the choice not to allow them to become our central point of focus.
We can control our feelings by controlling our thoughts. If we choose to focus on the negative we will feel depressed and sad. If this is true, how do you think we would feel if our focus was on Christ and our position in Him?
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