Our Battle Cry…
Our church has spent the first six weeks of 2017 in this series, Facing and Defeating Your Giant(s). This has been a tremendous way to start the year and I have personally gained quite a bit of understanding through it. Our battle cry or declaration as a church has been:
This giant will fall in 2017!
If you haven’t already read some of the other posts from this series, no worries! You can jump in right here, or you can go back and read some of the other posts first. If you have been in some of our services and have been reading these posts, some of this might be a little repetitious. That’s okay too! Sometimes I need to be reminded of something several times before it really sinks in good.
Pastor Jonathan shared this week, reminding us that we cannot and will not experience victory over our giant(s) until we see ourselves as already victorious over our giant(s). We have shared several times throughout this series that one of the keys to experiencing victory against any giant in your life is maintaining a proper perception. Until you view yourself as a victor in Christ Jesus, you will view yourself as a victim. Perception is that important.
As Pastor Jonathan shared Sunday, I jotted down a statement that was on my mind, not really knowing how it would fit in this post until I sat down this morning to start writing.
Mentally acknowledging, believing in your heart, and speaking through your mouth…
Now I see that it is the backbone of this entire series, and a great outline for this post…
Open your eyes…
As Pastor Jonathan shared in his message, the first step to being victorious over the giant(s) in our lives is in seeing yourself as already victorious over them. I emphasize the word already because Jonathan emphasized several times that we have to stop looking at what we need or have to do and begin to focus on what Jesus has already done. There is a major difference between do and done.
Perception is one of the keys to defeating the giants in our lives, which I shared with the church a few weeks ago. As I was looking at the statement that I wrote down Sunday, I thought about how we first have to mentally acknowledge something in order to see any lasting change. We have to mentally acknowledge, or perceive, that Jesus has already done everything that needs to be done for us to be victorious! The decision has already been determined. The battle has already been fought. The victory is ours!
Unless, that is, we don’t see Jesus as He is! Pastor Jonathan stated several times that the way we perceive Jesus determines what we receive from Him. Two thieves were hung on crosses next to Jesus. One perceived Him as just another criminal; the other perceived Him as a King. This one truth made an eternal difference in both their lives.
Those from His hometown perceived Him as a “carpenter’s son” and this perception prevented them from receiving from Him (Mark 6). A soldier, whom likely had never met Jesus, perceived Him as one who had the authority to heal someone by merely saying the words (Matthew 8). The difference was amazing. In both stories, the Scriptures say that Jesus was amazed by the level of their faith, or lack of faith.
We also have the teaching from the Apostle Paul about communion. The Apostle Paul says, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (1 Corinthians 11:30 KJV). Paul teaches that the reason many are weak, sick, and some even die was because they did not discern the body of Christ when taking communion. Pastor Jonathan has taught us over the years that to “rightly discern the body of Christ” is to have a proper view and understanding of what Christ actually accomplished on the Cross.
One thing that amazes me about the religious leaders who pushed for Jesus to be crucified is how they could have such an extensive knowledge of the Scriptures, but fail to perceive Him as the Messiah. Yet, “common people” viewed Him as a much more than common and received quite a bit from them. The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) along with the Book of Acts are all full of stories of people receiving healing, being raised from the dead, having sight, hearing, and speech restored, and much more!
The last one that I will share before we move on is the report that the spies brought back to Moses and the people of Israel in the Old Testament. “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:33 KJV, emphasis mine). The way we perceive our circumstances, our own abilities, and especially how we view Jesus has a tremendous impact on what we are able to accomplish and receive in life.
Mentally acknowledging (our perception) is the first step towards defeating the giant(s) in our lives. The next step is…
Open your heart…
When we, in the church world, use the word heart, we are referring to much more than the organ that pumps blood to your physical body. We are really focusing on the core of who you are. Your heart is your hopes, dreams, admiration's, and goals of what you will become. Your heart is also the totality of who you are right now, just as you are. In short, your heart is what makes you unique and one of a kind. And your heart is the center of your paradigm or worldview.
There truly is a difference between acknowledging something mentally (perception) and allowing that to then sink into your heart (the core of your belief) to become our paradigm (worldview).
Part of that difference is the amount of time that is required to move from mentally acknowledging a fact or truth to allowing that to shape or form your paradigm. Pastor Jonathan taught quite a bit about the importance of your worldview last year, and there are several posts that you can find on our website to catch up on this. Changing a core belief is not easy. These beliefs (paradigm; worldview) have been forged in our hearts since our birth. They are the culmination of our education, both through the school system, our religious beliefs, and what we were taught by family. These are the things that we were taught intentionally and unintentionally. No matter how they were learned, they are ingrained into your core being, your heart. They are not just something that you know to be true. They have become part of you!
I believe another part of that difference is that of accepting something emotionally, not just mentally. Emotions are difficult for me to speak on because I am not the best at even understanding my own emotions. Despite my struggle to understand how to process emotions, I understand that something has to change in us emotionally for us to truly accept something in our heart. A great way to explain this is the natural cycle of processing grief. For example, we can acknowledge the passing of a loved one mentally without experiencing the emotions and processing the loss completely. Sometimes, it is even years after the event before we have fully accepted and processed the loss emotionally.
The Scriptures emphasize the difference between acknowledging something (intellectual assent) and believing something (heart). Our faith is a personal faith, something that is more than an intellectual understanding. In the Scriptures, this relationship is described as knowing the Lord. However, this knowing is much more than an awareness of something intellectually. It is an intimacy, much like the way a husband knows his wife. It is an intimate knowledge of the Lord, not merely a knowledge of facts or statements about the Lord.
Over the last 14 years, my relationship with Casey has grown tremendously. In the initial stages of our dating relationship, we began to understand more and more about each other. This knowledge was surface level in the beginning. I knew facts about her: her date of birth, her middle name, her favorite color, favorite meal, etc. I knew facts about her family, the way she was raised, and how they related to each other. Nearly 18 months later, we were married, and confident that we knew each other. And we did know each other, but after almost 13 years of marriage, we now know each other at a deeper level. Our intimacy is much deeper. Our relationship has grown. We have experienced life together. We have grieved together. We have laughed, cried, argued, slammed doors, and everything in between. We have seen each other at our best and our worst. Through all of this, we have known each other at a much deeper level. Now, I not only know her favorite meal but I also know what makes her heart beat. I not only know her date of birth, I know her gifts and talents and can be a small part of calling those gifts out. And she knows what makes me tick. She understands the passions that I have and knows me better than anyone else. Our knowledge of each other has grown over the years and will continue to grow.
When it comes to defeating the giant(s) in our lives, we have to first see (perceive) ourselves as being victorious over them. Then we have to move from seeing in our minds to believing in our hearts. We have to know in our hearts that we are victorious in Christ Jesus. He has caused us to be more than a conqueror. He has sealed the victory for us. And we have to move past intellectually acknowledging this to an intimate knowledge of it in our core being. It has to become part of our core beliefs, our paradigm thru which we view all of life.
Things begin to change when you have a proper understanding and belief of who you an, whose you are, and what you are entitled to as a child of God. You start hearing, from the Gospel being preached, all of who you are and what you are promised through Christ, and then you begin to believe it in the core of your heart, which leads to changes in your behavior when you encounter difficulty and opposition.
You will behave much differently if you believe you are a child of God. My son has never worked a day of his life (he is three so cut him a break). Nevertheless, he has complete and full access to everything that Casey and I have. Because of his relationship with us, he has access to things that he would not otherwise have access to. This is true for us as believers, too! We have access to things, as children of God, which we would otherwise not have access to.
The final step to successfully defeating the giant(s) in your life is to…
Open your mouth…
The Bible is full of exhortations regarding the speech that comes out of our mouths. There are several that I could share, and likely will through the rest of this post. However, the two which stand out predominantly in my mind are:
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh”
~Luke 6:45 KJV~
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof”
~Proverbs 18:21 KJV~
There are a couple of truths that we glean from these two passages, yet are also consistent with what the whole of the Bible teaches, specifically the words that come from our mouth matter:
1. Words are products of our heart!
“For out of the abundance [overflow] of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45 AMPC). I believe we all have been guilty of allowing our emotions to get the best of us and spewing off at the mouth. Sometimes I refer to this as word vomit, because that is how you feel when you are on the receiving end of it. I have been on both sides many times and I have to admit that both sides stink.
We often attempt to justify our speech and/or lessen the importance of it by saying that we really didn’t mean it. However, this argument does not stand in light of what the Scriptures teach us. Words are the direct product of our heart. The Bible teaches very bluntly that if our hearts are pure the words that flow out will be pure, and if our hearts are evil the words which flow from that heart will be evil.
Perhaps there is some argument there in our allowing our emotions to get the best of us. This is a struggle for me and has been for quite some time. The best indication of our heart is the “normal” patterns of speech that we use. Do your words typically carry a negative slant, a sarcastic one, or even a hateful one? Or, conversely, do your words typically carry a positive or kind slant? I believe this is the best indication of where our heart really is. When I find myself being more sarcastic about a person or circumstance, I have to really stop and take a look at the condition of my heart.
2. Words are powerful!
Not only do our words indicate the condition of our heart, words also have a powerful impact in our life. Proverbs 18:21 states there is power of life or death in our tongue. This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible and a great reminder for us to carefully choose our words.
We have the ability to speak life into our circumstances and into lives of others! We have the ability to create the outcome that we desire, within the sovereign will of God! Throughout the Scriptures, Old and New Testament, you see people using their mouth to bless and curse both situations and people.
We find even more understanding into the power of our tongue in the New Testament book of James. It is a lengthy text, but well worth sharing. James writes to the early church…
“Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. 3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches”
It is worth noting the comparison that he makes above. He says that you direct the path of a horse by the bit in its mouth and you’re able to steer the direction of a large ship using the rudder. And he goes on to say that the tongue is used in the same manner, which leads us to believe that the words that we choose actually guide or direct our actions. James 3:2 spells this out, almost word for word. If we could control our tongues, we could control every aspect of our life. It is the power of death and life. We can create and tear down all with our words. James continues to share…
“But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. 7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison”
James shares how evil and destructive our words can be. Unless our tongue is surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, it naturally is bent towards destructive and harmful language. Finally, he says…
“Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring”
~James 3:2-12 NLT~
This is a strong passage and one that is challenging for me personally. I struggle with controlling my tongue. I have created a lot of heartache and pain for myself and others just by failing to control this small instrument.
We have seen how our words are products of our heart and how powerful they are, but now we need to look at how this relates to us realizing our victory over the giant(s) in our lives.
I believe choosing the right words is the last step to defeating the giant(s) in our lives. If you, like some, take this teaching on the power of the tongue literally then you realize that the words you speak consistently are quite essential to seeing victory. Each of these steps build upon the last. And it is important for us to release our faith from our hearts through our mouths.
How to bring them all together…
If these three steps truly build upon each other, you have to understand the importance of each and how to apply them correctly. I believe they are in this order purposefully, but can actually work in reverse as well.
It is important to use these three steps in conjunction with each other in order to expand our faith as a believer.