Followers

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Battle For Our Thoughts






 
Several years ago, after spending a few hours shopping with my husband in an overcrowded mall, I was exhausted. He still hadn’t found the one thing we’d come looking for, so he parked me along with all our bags on a bench in the middle of the mall and asked me to wait for him while he continued to search for his special item. “I won’t be long.” He promised.
Neither of us owned a cell phone back then so if we became separated it would have taken us forever to find each other in that crowd!

I usually brought along a sketchbook or at least a notebook to jot down sketches or story ideas or thoughts if I were caught in a situation where I had to wait for any length of time. So when I reached into my purse and discovered no sketchpad or notebook, not even a little pocket New Testament for reading scriptures, alas! I experienced a brief moment of panic! 

I got over my initial disappointment and decided to make the best of the situation—after all, here was an opportunity to observe people. Observation could always improve my art and story-writing skills.
But after about three minutes of looking at a sea of ever changing faces going and coming all around me from all sides, suddenly they all seemed to melt together into a vast ocean and I grew bored and began to check my watch every few seconds with my husband nowhere in sight.  

Soon, like the never-ending wave of shoppers flowing by my bench, random negative thoughts passed right into my brain … “Mark sure has been gone a long time…I just bet he’s found some offbeat hardware store and gotten completely sidetracked by some stupid tools and forgotten all about me,” or “I just know he’s gotten hungry and gone and bought himself a snack and has left me stuck here with all these packages!” or “What if he ran into an old friend! --they’d never stop gabbing and I could be stuck here forever!!” One after another, the negative thought scenarios kept rolling right into my brain and getting worse and worse until I had completely convinced myself that my poor husband had been knocked in the head by a gang of thieves and then had his wallet stolen and that I needed to go and rescue him! 

Just as I began to gather my things together, my heart in a panic, I heard the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit ask; “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to rescue Mark!” My heart literally racing with fear.
“Sit back down,” said the Lord,  “He’s fine. You however need to learn to control your thoughts.”
The Lord then said to me, “You see all these shoppers passing by your bench? Would you allow these strangers to plop down beside you and whisper in your ear any kind of terrible lie about your husband?
I shook my head. “No, Lord.”
“Well, then why are you allowing the enemy to come into your mind and feed your imagination every kind of foolish notion about Mark to worry and stress you?”
None of those things you’ve been thinking are true!
“What should I do, Lord?”
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you!”
“But how?”
The Holy Spirit reminded me of another scripture verse: 
 “…and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  (2 Corinthians 10: 5)

The Lord said, “My child, when negative thoughts come to you, rebuke them! Take authority over them in the name of Jesus Christ. And replace them with thoughts that are true, noble, pure, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy—meditate on these kinds of thoughts.”
As the Lord spoke to me I recalled the scripture from Philippians 4:8 that admonishes us to meditate on “these things.”
The Lord continued, “Resist thoughts that generate fear, stress and anxiety. Those negative thoughts come from the enemy. Resist his offer just as you would resist a poison drink from one of these thousands of strangers passing by your bench. Resist his lies in My name.”

As the Lord spoke the truth to my heart, I began to see how I had allowed the enemy’s lies, in the form of negative thoughts, to captivate my imagination, binding me in his prison of fear.
I settled down, thanking the Lord for rescuing me, and spent the rest of the time waiting peacefully for Mark to return. 

I wish I could say that after that day I became an expert at controlling my thought life and that the Lord never had to rescue me again! Although Jesus Christ said “My peace I give to you…let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,” (John 14:27), there have been some days when He has had to come into my thoughts like He did that day at the mall and say, “What are you doing?” And I will have to confess, “Lord, I’m fretting over … or “I’m afraid of …” or “I’m worried about…” and so on. And then my faithful Good Shepherd never fails to chase every fear and anxiety away. He calms me with His word and fills me with measureless peace. I may not be able to change the situation, but God helps me to change my outlook.
After all, He is in control of my life, indeed, He upholds the universe by the word of His power, (Hebrews 1:3) and He reminds me that everything will work out for my good in the end. (Romans 8:28)

Every day until God calls us home we are faced with the choice to follow after the Holy Spirit or after our old sinful nature, (what the bible calls "the flesh,") (Romans 8:5). Our thought life is the battleground where Satan challenges us and tries to recapture our souls and lure them away from Christ. But thank the Good Shepherd who indwells us through His Holy Spirit! Christ is far stronger than the enemy. For when God’s children are powerless against their foe, the Spirit of the Lord comes to their rescue as He came to my rescue in the mall that day.
“When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19)

God wants us to be able to resist the enemy and rebuke him on our own. But he will not forsake His little lambs and allow them to be devoured by the evil wolf when we are tempted and go astray.
“God is fair and just; He corrects the misdirected,
Sends them in the right direction.” Psalm 25:8 MSG

Our Lord Jesus loves us with measureless love and His mercy knows no limits. He knows how frail and weak we are. His word promises that He will never let us be tempted beyond what we can endure:
“God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) MSG
His word teaches us the way we should go and He expects us to follow it. He indwells us to give us the power to follow His word. But when we come up short on the battlefield of life and the enemy gets the upper hand through our human weakness, God’s power is there within us to provide what we need to give us the victory. Whether it’s wisdom and discernment to overcome fear and negative thoughts, or if we need grace to bear some trial, strength to endure a temptation—whatever the need—our indwelling Friend and Savior is right there with us to help us fight the battle and give us the victory.
His love will never fail us. May we ever praise and glorify Him for His faithfulness!
*Heavenly Father, Thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit to live in our hearts to lead, guide and protect us always. May we meditate on the good thoughts we find in Your holy word and follow after Your Spirit every day. In Jesus’ name.

Copyright © 2012 Suzanne Davis Harden All Rights Reserved.
Unto The Least of These 
Scripture References The Message Bible (MSG) Copyright © 2002 by Eugene Peterson


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