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RENEWING YOUR MIND

Neil Andeerson
March 29 
Romans 12:2 
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind
 
If the strongholds in your mind are the result of conditioning, then you can be reconditioned by the renewing of your mind. Anything that has been learned can be unlearned. Certainly this is the major path of renewal in the New Testament. Through the preaching of God’s Word, Bible study and personal discipleship, you stop being conformed to this world and experience the transformation of the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).
 
If your past experiences were spiritually or emotionally devastating, then counseling and Christ-centered support groups will help the transformation. Since some of these strongholds are thoughts raised up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5), learning to know God as a loving Father and yourself as His accepted child is your starting place.
 
But you’re not just up against the world and the flesh. You’re also up against the devil who is scheming to fill your mind with thoughts which are opposed to God’s plan for you.
 
Notice how Paul uses the word for thoughts (noema) in 2 Corinthians in relation to Satan’s activity. We’ve already seen it in 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We are taking every thought [ noema ] captive to the obedience to Christ.” Why do these thoughts need to be taken captive? Because they may be the enemy’s.
 
In 2 Corinthians 3:14 and 4:4, Paul reveals that Satan is responsible for our spiritual hardness and blindness when we were unbelievers: “But their minds [ noema ] were hardened. . . . The god of this world has blinded the minds [ noema ] of the unbelieving.” In 2 Corinthians 11:3 and 2:11, Paul states that Satan actively plots to defeat and divide believers: “I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds [ noema ] should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. . . . We are not ignorant of his [Satan's] schemes [ noema ].”
 
If Satan can place his thought in your mind–and he can–it isn’t much more of a trick for him to make you think it’s your thought. That’s the deception.
 
Prayer: In the name of Jesus, I renounce and refuse any thoughts which are raised up against the knowledge of God.


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Recognizing Your Stronghold


by Neil Anderson

 

March 28
2 Corinthians 11:3 
I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ
Hostility is a stronghold. Plan A from God develops the character and the knowledge to love your enemy, pray for him, and turn the other cheek. If you cannot help being pugnacious or argumentative in a threatening situation, it’s because you have learned to cope that way and your Plan B response has become entrenched as a stronghold.
Inferiority is a stronghold. Plan A says that you are a child of God, a saint who is inferior to no mortal. If you are constantly shrinking back from people because of feelings of inferiority, it’s because the world, the flesh and the devil have carved a negative, Plan B groove in your mind over the years.
Manipulation is a stronghold. Do you feel like you must control the people and circumstances in your life? Is it nearly impossible for you to give a problem to God and not worry about it? Somewhere in your past you developed a pattern of control which now masters you. It’s a stronghold.
Homosexuality is a stronghold. In God’s eyes there is no such thing as a homosexual. He created us male and female. There is homosexual behavior, which can usually be traced to past negative experiences. Such experiences prompted these individuals to doubt their sexual adequacy and they began to believe a lie about their sexual identity.
Anorexia and bulimia are strongholds. A 99-pound woman stands in front of a mirror believing that she is fat. She is the victim of negative thought patterns about herself which have been burned into her mind and direct all her activities concerning her body and the proper use of food.
Somewhere in the past you may have consciously or unconsciously formed patterns of thinking and behaving which now control you. That’s a stronghold. Satan works through strongholds to keep our minds from focusing on Christ. But, thank God, as we appropriate God’s truth we are set free.
Prayer: Father, reveal to me and help me deal with any strongholds in my life. I claim Your truth in my life over Satan’s lies.


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WHEN STRONGHOLDS BECOME ENTRENCHED


By Neil Anderson

 

March 27
2 Timothy 2:4 
No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier
 
Once your consideration of a temptation has triggered an emotional response leading to a Plan B choice, you will act upon that choice and own that behavior. You may resent your actions or claim that you are not responsible for what you do. But you are responsible for your actions at this stage because you failed to take a tempting thought captive when it first appeared at the threshold of your mind.
 
People who study human behavior tell us that if you continue to repeat an act for six weeks, you will form a habit. And if you exercise that habit long enough, a stronghold will be established. Once a stronghold of thought and response is entrenched in your mind, choosing to act contrary to that pattern is extremely difficult.
 
Like environmental stimulation, a stronghold of the mind can be the result of a brief encounter or a prevailing atmosphere. For example, a woman goes into a deep depression every time she hears a siren sound. It turns out that she was raped 20 years earlier while a siren was wailing in the distance. In the weeks and months after the rape, the sound of a siren triggered traumatic memories. Instead of resolving that conflict, she relived the tragedy in her mind, deepening the emotional scars and locking herself into a thought pattern she cannot seem to break. That’s a stronghold.
 
Other strongholds are the result of a prevailing pattern of thinking and responding. Imagine, for instance, a nine-year-old boy whose father is an alcoholic. When the father comes home drunk and belligerent every night, the boy is simply scared stiff of him. He scurries out of sight and hides. As the boy continues in his defensive reaction to his hostile alcoholic father, he forms a pattern of behavior. Ten years later, when he faces any kind of hostile behavior, how do you think he will respond? He will run away. His deeply ingrained pattern of thinking and responding has formed a stronghold in his mind.
 
Prayer: Father, don’t allow the enemy to deceive me into weak-willed actions that dilute my testimony and effectiveness as a believer.


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AT THE THRESHOLD OF TEMPTATION

Neil Andeerson

By Neil Anderson

March 26

 Titus 2:11, 12 
The grace of God has appeared . . . instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age
 
Yielding to temptation is another step toward a stronghold being established in your mind. Whenever you are stimulated to conform to Plan B instead of God’s Plan A for your life, you are experiencing temptation. The essence of all temptation is the invitation to live independently of God and fulfill legitimate needs in the world, the flesh or the devil instead of in Christ. That’s the great contest. And Satan knows just which buttons to push to tempt you away from dependency on Christ.
 
The moment you are tempted to get your need met in the world instead of in Christ, you are at the threshold of a decision. If you don’t immediately choose to take that thought “captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5), you will begin to consider it as an option. And if you begin to mull it over in your mind, immediately your emotions will be affected and the likelihood of yielding to that temptation is increased.
 
The Scriptures teach us that God has provided a way of escape from every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). But the escape is right at the threshold of the temptation. If you don’t control the temptation at the threshold, you run the risk of allowing the temptation to control you. Rare is the Christian who can turn around after directing his will toward Plan B.
 
For example, a man sees a pornographic picture and is tempted toward lust. He has the opportunity to respond by saying something like, “My relationship with sin has ended. I choose to take this thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I’m not going to look at it or think about it.” And he separates himself from the picture immediately and escapes the lust.
 
But if he hesitates at the threshold, stares at the picture, and begins to fantasize about it, he will trigger an emotional landslide producing a physical response which will be difficult to stop. He must capture the tempting thought in the threshold or it will probably capture him.
 
Prayer: Dear God, I want to be obedient to Your perfect plan for my life today. I don’t want to give in to Plan B thinking. Strengthen my will to obey.


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STRONGHOLDS OF THE MIND

Neil Andeerson
By Neil Anderson
March 24
2 Corinthians 10:5 
We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ
 
The nature of the battle for your mind is clearly presented in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
 
The first thing you need to know about the battle for your mind is that it is not fought on the plane of human ingenuity or ability. You can’t outsmart or outmuscle the flesh or the devil on your own. Your weapons must be “divinely powerful” if you are going to win a spiritual conflict.
 
The main targets which must be destroyed are the “fortresses” in the mind. The King James Version uses the word strongholds . Strongholds are negative patterns of thought which are burned into our minds either through repetition over time or through one-time traumatic experiences.
 
Thoughts determine behavior, and thought patterns determine temperaments. Strongholds are revealed in un-Christlike temperaments and behavior patterns. A mind-set impregnated with hopelessness causes us to accept as unchangeable something known to be contrary to God.
 
How are these destructive strongholds established in our minds? Usually they are the result of a number of subtle steps which lead us away from God’s plan for us and mire us in Plan B behavior. We will look at these steps and how we should respond to them over the next several days.
 
Prayer: Lord, I determine to prepare my mind for action today and avoid passivity in my thinking, because Satan loves passivity.


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According To the Spirit

By Neil Anderson

 banner_secondary_who i am in christ

October 2

Romans 8:5 
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit
 
The center of all spiritual bondage is the mind. That’s where the battle must be fought and won if you are to experience the freedom in Christ He purchased for you on the cross. Paul wrote: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
 
Before you came to Christ, bad habits and sinful thought patterns were established as you learned to live your life independently of God. Your non-Christian environment taught you to think about and respond to life in a non-Christian way, and those patterns and responses were ingrained in your mind as strongholds. When you became a Christian, your old fleshly habits and patterns weren’t erased; they are still a part of your flesh which must be dealt with on a daily basis. Thankfully, however, you are not just a product of your past; you are a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and now you are primarily the product of the work of Christ on the cross.
 
Old strongholds can be destroyed. Patterns of negative thinking and behavior are learned, and they can be unlearned through disciplined Bible study. Some strongholds are the result of demonic influences and spiritual conflicts from past and present mental assaults. If people believe Satan’s lies, those lies will control their lives. These people need to be freed from the shackles of Satan’s lies by God’s truth. Jesus said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
 
Victory is truly available for those who are in Christ. There is a war raging for our minds, but we are on the winning side, for we are more than conquerors in Christ!
 
Prayer: Today, Lord, I tear down all thoughts established in my mind against the knowledge of You. I choose to believe who You are and who I am in Christ.


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The Father Of Lies

By Neil Anderson

October 1

banner_secondary_who i am in christ
John 8:44 
He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies
 
Alyce was one of the most pathetic-looking young women I have ever met. She was so skinny that she literally had no more body fat to lose. She had lost her job three days earlier, and her vacant eyes conveyed that she had lost all hope for her life. She was a very talented girl and a committed Christian in many ways, but she was also a Darvon junkie who had even been arrested once for illegal possession of prescription drugs.
 
“I want you to tell me who you think you are,” I said to Alyce.
 
“I’m just a no-good failure,” she whimpered.
 
“You’re not a failure,” I responded. “You’re a child of God.” She continued to pour out the negative self-talk and evidences of demonic deception she had been living under, and I continued to counter her negativism with the good news of her identity in Christ. The more we talked, the more aware I became of Christ’s presence ministering to Alyce. We tested the spirit that was harassing her, and she knew firsthand that she had been deceived. Astonished, she said, “Do you mean to tell me that my whole problem has been deception, that I have been listening to a pack of lies?” Today she’s free.
 
The prevailing theme of the New Testament is the position we enjoy in Christ through our faith in Him. That’s the good news: Christ in you and you in Christ. If there is a prevailing negative theme in the New Testament which capsulizes the opposition we face in Satan, I believe it is deception. There are at least three avenues through which Satan will attempt to dissuade you from God’s truth and deceive you into believing his lies: self-deception, false prophets/teachers, and deceiving spirits. We are vulnerable to Satan’s deception in these areas if we fail to clothe ourselves daily with the spiritual armor of the belt of truth.
 
Prayer: Lord, I put on the belt of the truth of Your Word today and stand against the deception of Satan.


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WINNING THE BATTLE

By Neil Anderson

 banner_secondary_who i am in christ

September 28

1 Corinthians 15:57 
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ
 
Here’s a wonderful example of what can happen to a Christian when the strongholds of the mind are overthrown by God’s truth.
 
Jeannie is a beautiful and talented woman in her mid-twenties. As an active Christian for 13 years, she sings in a professional singing group, writes music, leads worship at her church, and oversees a discipleship group.
 
Jeannie recently attended one of my conferences. As I saw her smiling at me from her seat at the conference, what I didn’t know was that she was bulimic, having been in bondage to the strongholds of food and fear for 11 years. When she was home alone she would be captivated by Satan’s lies about food, her appearance, and her self-worth for hours at a time. She had submitted to counseling without success. All the while she believed that the thoughts prompting her to induce vomiting were her own based on a traumatic experience from her childhood.
 
When I was talking during the conference about destroying strongholds, I happened to be looking at Jeannie–quite unintentionally–when I said, “Every person I know with an eating disorder has been the victim of a stronghold based on the lies of Satan.”
 
“You have no idea how that statement impacted my life,” she told me the next morning. “I have been battling myself all these years, and I suddenly understood that my enemy was not me but Satan. That was the most profound truth I have ever heard. It was like I had been blind for 11 years and could suddenly see. I cried all the way home. When the old thoughts came back last night, I simply rejected them for the truth. For the first night in years I was able to go to sleep without vomiting. The truth has set me free.”
 
If you think Jeannie’s experience of finding freedom in Christ is unique, you’re wrong. Winning the battle for the mind is possible for everyone who is in Christ.
 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ today. I choose to think upon that which is true.


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The Blood of Jesus Christ

I started reading a book by Watchman Nee called Normal Christian Life. So far I have only read the first chapter, but within that first chapter something really stuck out to me. He said “a clear conscience is never based upon our attainment; it can only be based on the work of the Lord Jesus in the shedding of His Blood”. The entire first chapter is about the Blood of Jesus Christ and how it applies to the life of a Christian. I thought that the chapter laid out beautifully what the Blood of Christ truly means to us as followers of Christ.

The chapter starts first by pointing out that the Blood of Jesus really isn’t so much for us, as it is for God. Now at first reading you may say, “Hold on a minute, the Blood of Christ is what saves me!” Yes that is very true and Nee is not dismissing that very important truth. What he means is that the only way God pardons our sin is if He sees the Blood of Jesus paying for the debt of our sin. Think about the Israelites when God commanded them to eat the Passover lamb inside the house, but spread the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. Then, when God passed over Egypt on the Passover night, God would see the blood and pardon the household. This is the same with us and the Blood of Christ. When God sees the Blood of Christ applied to our hearts, He can forgive and pardon our sin because of the great sacrifice of Jesus. So consequently, the amount we value Christ’s Blood is directly linked to the value that God values the Blood.

 

After realizing the value of the Blood, it is crucial that we base our life around that. Without the Blood of Christ, we can not go into the Presence of God without fear and shame. On the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament, the high priest alone was to go into the Most Holy Place to offer the sin offering to God. As it is with Christ. He is our High Priest who applies His blood to our sin to make retribution before God. When we allow this to become true in our everyday life, then it shapes our entire relationship with God. Some days I can feel really connected with God. I read my Bible and get a lot out of my reading. I feel like really connect with God in prayer and hear from Him. I am able to reflect the love of Christ well. I feel like I’m serving God well. Other days, it can be just the opposite. I don’t feel the same connection during my Bible reading or prayer time. I don’t reflect Christ’s love well. I may be mean or nasty. But listen to this: our standing before God is not based on our works, our merits, how we feel, or anything we can furnish. It is by the Blood of Jesus that we are able to be seen as forgiven by God!Do not allow the way you feel ditate how you think your relationship with God is based. It is only by the Blood of Jesus that we have relationship with God!

 

It is very easy as Christians to allow ourselves to get beat up when we fall short of the glory of God. We believe the lie that we have to earn our way into God’s love or we have to preform for God to be accepted. But praise be to God that it’s not about what I  can do, it’s about what I can’t do. Only Jesus can bring me back into restored relationship with Jesus. When we try to base our status with God on anything other than the sacrificial Blood of Jesus, we play right into Satan’s schemes.  The Bible calls Satan the Accuser. His tricks aren’t new. He has used the same tricks all through history; lying and accusing. He will try to accuse us of our sin before God and lie to us saying that we are failures and can’t be forgiven. By ourselves, we are failures and we can’t be forgiven. We can’t save ourselves. But by the Blood of Jesus I am redeemed and by His grace I can be pardoned of all my sin!

 

I pray that as you read this blog, you will ponder in your own heart whether or not you are applying the Blood of Jesus to your life. Does it really impact your everyday life, or is it more than a passing thought. I encourage as the Lord to reveal more of Himself to you, and share His value of His Son’s Blood with you. As always, I pray this blog encourages you or helps you! Blessings!

 

Joey

 

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The Virgin Birth of Messiah

Most people have probably heard the story about Jesus’ birth. Here’s Luke’s account:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

There’s something about the birth of Messiah that’s somewhat controversial, even among some Christians. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Many ask, “Was Mary actually a virgin? Was the birth of Jesus truly a virgin birth?” Well let me take you back a few hundred years before Jesus Christ was born.

Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Isaiah clearly prophesies a virgin birth here. The original Hebrew word that was used for “virgin” here is “almah.” This Hebrew word means a “young, unmarried woman who has had no sexual relations.”

The angel, Gabriel, appears to Mary in the book of Luke. Luke 1:26-38 says:

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Notice that Mary tells Gabriel that she is a virgin. She wants to know how she will give birth to a child if she has never been with a man.

My point is this: The Messiah MUST be born of a virgin. It was prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Hundreds of years before the book of Luke was written. It was something that had to be fulfilled. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. If Mary had not been a virgin, Jesus would not have been Messiah. Without the virgin birth, there is no Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah), no Savior, and we are completely lost. But Jesus fulfilled ALL of the prophesied requirements for the Messiah. Jesus born of a virgin. That fact is essential to the Christian faith.

“Jesus was born that you might be born again. He lived that you might live. He died that you might die to sin.” ~Spurgeon
God bless you and Merry Christmas!
-Austin

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