The following is an excerpt from a message a preached a few weeks ago.
In Proverbs 23:7 we are told:
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”(NKJV)
It has only been in recent years that this verse, Proverbs 23:7 has made sense to me. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”
I wonder, has there ever been a time in your life when you knew that God was calling you to do something? But because of fear and self doubt you chose not to do it? Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt led to do something by the Spirit and you did it, and then a little later doubt creeps into your mind as to whether you have done the right thing or not? For years I had run away from my calling but when I said to God that I would enter into full time ministry the peace I experienced was amazing and I felt great; but then after a few days the enemy showed up and I started thinking about everything that had happened in my past and how great my job was and I started doubting what God had called me to do. I started telling myself that there was no way I could do what He wanted me to do. Why would God want to use me? He must have made a mistake; I am not smart enough or talented enough. I want to say to you that as soon as I started thinking like that, I had opened the door for Satan to start causing problems for me. You see for me the battle of the mind has been, and still is an issue. It has prevented me in the past from doing the things I have wanted to do and if I am not careful it will prevent me from doing what God has planned for my life and what He has called me to do. It will hinder me from growing in God and experiencing Him to the fullest in my life. Satan knows this is a vulnerable area in my life and I am sure for many of you also. He constantly attacks my mind trying to bring me down, trying to inject doubt and fear into my thought patterns and trying to distract me out of the will of God. I want to say to you this morning that the Devil will always tear down, he will always condemn and he will always sow seeds of negativity and doubt into your mind.
You see God uses our past experiences and our current ones to mold us, to strengthen us and to teach us. Satan uses those same experiences, especially the tough ones and the ones where we may have failed in the past to destroy us. He tries to discredit us before God by accusing us and he tries to remind us of our past failures in the hope of causing us to doubt and to step out of the will of God. Sometimes he even works through other people to sow these seeds of doubt.
Have you ever told someone an idea that you knew God had told you only to find yourself being told by another that it can’t be done, it will never happen? Or we don’t have the resources or the talent to do it? Or we have tried that before and it didn’t work. Friends I want to tell you today that when we hear stuff like this I want to say to you that this is not from God. If God has called you to it then He will make it come to pass. The devil constantly lives in the past whereas God looks to the future; encouraging us to be what He has created us to be and encouraging us to strive for a better future filled with hope, peace and possibility.
In Romans 8:31 we are reminded of an amazing promise of reassurance that “if God is for us who can be against us?” And that “nothing can separate us from the love of God.” Satan comes to steal our joy, our hope, our peace and our faith that we have in Christ. He plants seeds of doubt and fear in our minds in the hope that we will just give up and walk away from our God given purpose. You know whenever we make a choice to live for Christ these attacks will inevitably come. Satan does not want us to do what God has called us to.
This is why we should always give thanks to God in every circumstance and to sing praises to our father in heaven. We need to keep our mind focused on God and the things of Heaven. Satan cannot get a foothold in our hearts and minds when we are praising God. I don’t know about you but for me the battle in my mind is a constant thing and often I can feel very negative about myself and my ability. But when you feel negative you start to speak negative and then you start to act negative and if you’re not careful the atmosphere you can create will affect everyone around you. If God is going to be able to move us forward then we have to guard our thoughts and our words.
This last year has been especially hard for me as the enemy has tried to make me give up. He has told me that it is just too hard and he has tried to make me doubt that I could ever be effective as a minister. Our enemy would have us believe that we are useless, that we are not talented enough or have the skills that God needs for us to do what God has called us to do and I would say to you this morning that when we get thoughts like that it is just a lie of the enemy.
When God called me to ministry this is exactly what happened. You see in the past, when things got hard, my response was always to run. To give up and throw in the towel before I had even given it a go. Why? Because it was easier to do that. The enemy regularly tries to get me out of the will of God by telling me that I am no good and that the ministry is not the place for me. He tries to remind me of my childhood and my past experiences. He tries to convince me that what I have to say is not important and because I failed at school, how could I ever expect to do well at studying the word of God. He tries to convince me that I can’t pray because people will judge me or I won’t have the right words to say. But greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. Friends, when God calls us He will never ask us to do something that we are not capable of doing and that He is not willing to resource us in. In Jeremiah 29 verse 11 God says: “For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”” What a great promise.
I love what Paul reminds us of in 1 Corinthians 1: 26-31(NIV) when he says:
“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
Satan is right about one thing, I can’t do it!, on my own. But when Jesus enables me to do it and it is His will for my life, I can do all things. If God had said to me seven years ago that He wanted me to enter the ministry I would have run. He knew that it was not the right time for me then.
You know God does not care how smart we are, how many degrees we have. How much money or talent we have. All He asks is that when He calls us to do something that we are obedient and trust Him and to allow Him to do what He needs to do in us. Then all things are possible through Him who gives us strength and He will give us what we need to do His will. When Jesus selected His disciples who did He pick? Twelve ordinary men. And look what He was able to do through them. They changed the world. Why was that? Because they were willing to be used by Him.
You know the verses in Romans 8 are probably the most reassuring of all the verses in the bible. My favourite verse is probably verse 37 when Paul says: That we are" more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Did you hear that? We are more than conquerors because we are children of God. Friends our relationship with God and the Holy Spirit allows us to take authority over the stuff that has tried for so long to control us. When we receive Christ as our Lord and saviour we are able to overcome everything that the enemy can throw at us through the power of the Holy Spirit. If God is for us then it doesn’t matter who is against us because scripture says that we are loved by God and we will be victorious in Jesus name. God’s love will protect us from anything that has taken place in our past and we no longer have to be bound by past experiences. You know the devil will try and limit our ability by reminding us of our past. If people pleasing and fear has been an issue for us before then that is what the enemy will use to hinder us. Maybe we are bound by addiction, self doubt, a lack of confidence, negative talk or self-sabotage. Whatever it is we can be free from it through the power of the Holy Spirit. You know there are times when the battle rages and I want to encourage you that when that time comes (and it will come), push into God. Spend time in prayer, read and reflect on those scripture within the bible that remind you of the victory that you have in Christ and of the strength and the peace that He brings. Paul reminds us in Philippians four to think of the good things, the heavenly things. When the difficulties come call on a friend to pray with you. Play your favourite praise and worship songs and seek out God. The devil cannot infiltrate our minds when we are completely focused on Jesus.
"What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"