Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Mind of a Conqueror

Joshua: the mind of a conqueror, Image courtesy of godsacres.org

I’ve been thinking about Joshua and Caleb this week. Specifically, I’ve been reminded by the Holy Spirit that although an obstacle may loom larger than life, an obstacle does not tower over God. Joshua and Caleb had the mind of a conqueror because they both believed nothing was greater than God. Moses sent twelve men to the land of promise, each was assigned to analyze, assess, and evaluate the level of effort needed to take possession of land promised to the nation of Israel by God. Twelve of those men came back and reported that the land offered the things to which God had spoken of, a land that:

…certainly does flow with milk and honey1

But ten of those men also said:

…the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.2

This is an example of how obstacles appear larger that they really are. Our eyes will cause us to exaggerate and believe things we see, even when the truth echoes before us. Caleb (one of the twelve) responded by saying,

We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.3

Why after all the things God had done for these people did ten of these men reach a place of doubt, worry, anxiety and fear?

I think that these ten men looked not to God, but measured themselves against the people who inhabited the Promised Land. In Egypt, these men were slaves. They had a slave mentality. Even though God delivered them from their Egyptian oppressors, parted the Red Sea, fed them bread from heaven, provided them with meat and water, led them with pillar of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, they still considered themselves as slaves. It’s the reason I believe they kept making references to how good they had it in Egypt; making bricks!

I believe that we embrace our past because we fear the future; even if that past was the worst possible experience we’ve ever had. Why does a person stay in a dead-end job? What keeps a co-dependent dependent? What makes a person see the worst possible thing in their life as something to hold on to? Why does a person find it so easy to say, “I’m a failure” rather than saying, “I’ll face this challenge by trusting God for my success”?

How often do the words, “I can’t”, “I’ll never”, “It’s hopeless”, and “What’s the use” come from your mouth?

Have you ever found yourself singing or (those who don’t sing) humming a tune in your head that somehow doesn’t want to go away? Sometimes, it’s just a catchy phrase such as, “You’ve got mail”, “Not going anywhere”, “What’s in your wallet?” or “Bags fly free”. We hear it and then subconsciously it begins to loop in our mind, constantly repeating; again and again.

The same thing appears to happen when I repeat messages that somehow reinforce that I’m incapable of achieving anything. Instead of saying these words repeatedly, I must choose to say something that gives me faith, joy, contentment and hope. I’m not talking about a commercial where I claim to have the knowledge of a skilled surgeon just because I slept in a certain hotel. No, just saying, “I’m a surgeon” one hundred times, doesn’t make me one. But why are the words, “I'll never...”, so believable to me? What if I began to remind myself of who I am, who I belong to, and who is on my side?

I am a follower of Christ. I confess my faith and trust in Him daily, and yet, something happens when I’m faced with A Problem. I transform it into My Problem, volunteering myself for this duty. I do this even though the words, “the battle is the Lord’s4 are in my spirit, I act as if I’m all alone. Worry, doubt, anxiety and fear are all consuming. Like a wildfire, worry, doubt, anxiety and fear consume me until I’m a living example of worry, doubt, anxiety and fear. I sacrificially offer myself in an effort to appease it, but after being consumed, all that’s left is a discouraged shell of someone who feels helpless and hopeless.

I realize now why the scripture says,

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert.5

I believe this means to throw worry, doubt, anxiety and fear off myself and direct them toward God. What’s the first thing you do when you enter your home? You remove a coat, jacket or sweater; tossing it to a familiar place. Perhaps it’s those shoes you’ve worn all day. Maybe it’s a hat or scarf you remove. You’ve done it so many times, that it becomes a subconscious act. Whatever it is, you don’t continue to wear it because you recognize it’s unnecessary; you’re home, a place of comfort and security. I believe God wants me to have that attitude about Him; He’s my shelter, my spiritual home of comfort and security. It is here that I must remove (cast off) all my cares (worry, doubt, anxiety and fear), and direct them to God.

Why? God cares about me, totally and completely.

So only two of the twelve men (Joshua and Caleb) recognized that the physical appearance of those who lived in the Promised Land didn’t mean defeat, they dared to say,

…and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, 'The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us--a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.' ”6

They understood that the LORD was with them. The LORD would empower them to achieve victory. They understood that when you look at an obstacle with the natural eye, defeat appears imminent, but when I look through the eyes of Christ, that obstacle becomes a stepping stone to victory. Stop carrying around your cares (worry, doubt, anxiety and fear); have the mind of a conqueror, a spiritual conqueror.

Cast them, throw them off; give them to the LORD.

Remember, your obstacle has no protection from God.

Remind yourself that, the LORD is with you.

Do not be afraid of what opposition you face.

Do you want to be a spiritual conqueror?

Stop saying what you can’t do and begin reminding yourself what God can do!

Believe and trust God…Be all you can be in Christ…be a conqueror!

...we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.7

Dear LORD,

You give us Your grace in abundance. In all things we are more than conquerors through Christ. I am confident in You. I acknowledge that the obstacles I face have no protection from You, You are with me, I will not fear what is before me. The realization that You are God and there is none like You gives me both joy and peace. Bless our faith so that we may bless and encourage others, pointing them to You. We can do nothing without You LORD. I bless and exalt Your Name, which is above every name. I thank You for the joy and peace the Holy Spirit gives me. It is written that, "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed." Your grace abounds in us O LORD. Thank You. Amen.


Footnotes:
  1. Numbers 13:27, NIV
  2. Numbers 13:28-29, NIV
  3. Numbers 13:30, NIV
  4. 1 Samuel 17:47,NASB
  5. 1 Peter 5:7-8, NIV
  6. Numbers 14:7-9, NIV
  7. Romans 8:36-39, NIV
References:
  1. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  2. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  3. Biblegateway.com

19 comments:

Nicole said...

Another great post my friend!

It is way to easy to have those thoughts constantly in your head. I do know that God is there with me all the time and that He is there to go through everything with me, He will take care of me and will not let me fail. I have to remember that those days I feel like a failure that God doesn't make junk! He is there to take the burden from us, to help and guide us through it. (if we will just allow Him to do so)

I just don't know why I sometimes forget that. It seems so simple but yet it is still so hard for me to just let Him have it all, even though I know that is what He wants. We have to trust in Him!

Love this post and just wish my comments were as well thought out and written as your posts are!

You are a blessed man and I thank God for you all the time! I am blessed because of you!

Wanda said...

MTJ, you've given me lots of questions to reflect upon. At times I can easily quote the appropriate Chistianese and an applicable scripture but as you said when a problem comes I have doubts if I can get through this one. "I" being the word that needs correction. Apart from Him, I can do nothing. Our minds have to be constantly renewed. Not just daily but moment by moment. As you stated so eloquently, one can be physically removed from a location but still possess the same mindset of that location. And YES, I want to be a conqueror.

Sharon Kirby said...

Oh, MTJ.

I have tears in my eyes right now. My heart is blessed, first of all, because I am saying, "You understand." You have so perfectly captured the cloaking, pervasive, cloud of worry, doubt, anxiety and fear that can consume us. It's like a large, heavy overcoat - it's too heavy to wear, but all too often, it's too comfortable to take off.

How often have I wanted to stop the tape in my head, the voice in my heart - "I can't, I'll never, It's hopeless..." It all boils down to the worst thought of all - "I'm nothing."

I'm so tired of it. I want to be a conquerer! This was such a wise and courage-inspiring post. You have emboldened my spirit.

Just for today, I'm taking off my coat. I'm hurdling an obstacle or two. I'm choosing to not be afraid.

My catchy phrase? You gave it to me - "The battle is the Lord's!!"

"What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, WHO can ever be against us?" (Romans 8:31)

Move over Joshua and Caleb - today I'm going to stand alongside you, and look at "milk and honey!"

YOUR Grace abounds in us O LORD. Your Strength is made perfect in our weakness.

GOD BLESS!

Stuff could always be worse said...

I do have that song playing in my head, again and again. I want to be this warrior you post about

Virginia said...

What an awesome God we serve.
Wonderful encouraging post.
Much Blessings,
Virginia

Ruth said...

Hi MTJ, what a beautiful reflection. how beautifully and clearly you explained. i needed to hear this today. thank you!

Blessings,
Ruth

Charlotte said...

I remember teaching this lesson to 2nd graders many many years ago. Thank you for the memory and reminder that with God nothing is impossible.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Donnie said...

This was a lovely post. Your words were so inspiring. Have a blessed day.

sarah said...

great post like always....your words...your slant helps me so much....

Sashindoubutsu said...

Thank you so much for this post. You and your blog are a blessing. Very inspiring, encouraging, and moving. You always write something that can be applied to daily life -- something that can make it a living testimony of Christ as our Lord and Savior. Nice as always! :-)

lioneagle said...

Hi MTJ -

This is superb. It so much expressed profound truth.

Thank you

MTJ said...

Nicole: I am humbled by your words my sister and friend. I find comfort in both what you say and how you say it; your words are heartfelt. I think others recognize this as well. I also think that like me, you are the harshest critic of yourself. You and I must learn not to beat ourselves up; finding joy, peace and contentment in what God is doing in our lives.

Wanda: I know what you mean. Why do I take ownership of my doubts and fears when God wants me to give them to Him? I continue to seek answers to this and the subject of having a slave mentality.

Sharon: I too am learning to cast off my cloak and recognize that in Christ, I'm in a place of comfort and security.

Kim: I believe that I must refresh my mind with God's word. It is a constant battle (between flesh and spirit) that is waged within me.

Virginia: I am blown away as I contemplate those words, "What an awesome God we serve."

Ruth: Blessings and peace to you.

Charlotte: As I read your comment, I thought about how scripture spans time, geography and every other boundary; yesterday, today and forever. I once heard someone sing a song about God specializes in the impossible.

Donnie: Blessings and peace to you.

Sarah: I continue to be encouraged by your words and testimony.

Sashindoubutsu: It's good to hear from you my friend. Blessings and peace.

Sandra: You are a blessing sister.

B. Niles said...

Great post MTJ! It reminds of a day last week where I felt like a failure for a few hours because even after I'd done my best, I'd missed some things. I turned to the Lord and said, "Father, I could use your encouragement right about now." I never forget that he is able or that he is bigger than any obstacle, any perceived failure, any mountain; however, that doesn't mean I don't have moments where my feelings temporarily overpower my mind and my spirit. Thank God, they are now only moments and not seasons.

God is faithful. He sent encouragement. But even if he hadn't, like David, we have to encourage ourselves in the Lord(1Sam. 30:6) and "Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness" (Is. 61:3).

Finally, I often think of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemene and though he came for the specific reason to die for our sins and save the world and had all power, he still felt the agony of the moment when the appointed time had actually come.

Joshua and Caleb have always inspired me and given me courage when all others oppose me. Jesus' example strengthens me when my own flesh fails within me at the magnitude of either failure or task God has commanded. I press.

Thanks for your insight MTJ.

Peggy said...

Amen and many blessings MTJ!!!

Short and sweet for now, I'll be back tomorrow with more indepth reflection of yet another excellent reflection of God's Word!!!

So because I'm home, and want an intimacy with the Father of comfort and security (PTL), I'm casting off my GRIEF and placing on my full armor as a Mighty Conqueror in Christ, wrapping myself up with an attitude of VICTORY and TRUST as I rest in Him, believing...

Peace,
Peggy

MTJ said...

Beverly: You are so right! There are times when my life may be going through a wilderness experience, I may feel discouragement in and around me. I must encourage myself just as David, Paul and Silas did. Circumstances may imprison me but I am not held captive. I'm set free by the power of Christ.

Peggy: Hello my sister. I am launching a business venture and I haven't been visiting blogs as I once did. Although the pace of my schedule has increased, please know you remain in my prayers.

Carolyn said...

Hi MTJ,

I just want to send a quick note...I am still studying Excel (the second workbook with the complex formulas are a little harder). I woke up this morning with a cloud of discouragement and entertaining thoughts of doubt, etc.... then later in the morning as I was working on Excel and all these thought attacks from Satan kept filling my mind...I thought I am going to take a minute and visit some "wise" bloggers. I went to Spiritual Sunday to glance through the list of last week and saw your name....and here I am reading JUST what God directed me to and what I NEEDED! Praise the Lord....thank you for writing and being led by the Holy Spirit! :)

Have a great weekend my friend!
Carolyn ~ Cottage Sunshine
P.S. I will go back now and read again....and bask in His eternal love!

Teresa said...

Amen and amen MTJ! Hallelujah for this awesome reminder of Who HE, The GREAT I AM was, is and is to come!!!! Yes..He is able to make all grace abound, so that we are sufficient in everything and that we may have an abundance for every good deed! Hallelujah! Thank you Lord for MTJ!

Anonymous said...

Bless you MTJ... I'm back but was diverted by the additional post today and then your comment.

I knew you were B.U.S.Y. Being Used & Sustained by YAHWEH!!!

I am so blessed by your prayers but I had something special for you (Nov. 5th on this post)(thought about sending your part in an email with it but for now I will just link I think! ... we'll see how well I remember what you taught me). It's hidden to most if they just quickly pop in to visit... I'm not fretting yet... (lol)or feeling slighted. I've had internet problems and other stuff too!

I think you may enjoy
Invisible War
also.

We truly are more than a conqueror and strong in the Lord, the battle is His!!! As always, I have been extremely blessed by your well written thoughts but know that because of your prayers, I am able to press on and push through, and not struggle with defeating thoughts or lies ("repeat messages") so I'm renewing my mind with God's Word and choosing to
"... say something that gives me faith, joy, contentment and hope".
Thanks to your well thought out journey here with Caleb and Joshua!
So I say, "Be strong and courageous!" and I take possession of what is mine and yours in Christ Jesus!!! Thank you MTJ!

Peace,
Peggy
ohhh I'm not signed in but I hope you know which Peggy... and we'll see if my links work

From The Heart Online said...

Amen!! Wow. You're blessed with understanding. Thank you for speaking bold challenges to us.

I've recently clung to 1 John 4:4 "1 John 4:4 - "But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory ... because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world."

If God is for me, who can be against me? ... the recent challenge of our pastor to 'let our fear feed our faith' has also helped me to push through fear of the future, fear of the unknown, and rely on God who is sufficient - who is awesome - who created everything and whose plans are for the good of those who love him.

Thanks again for this fantastic post :)