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Study Scripture:

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  (Ephesians 6:12)

Introduction:

I wish I could take credit for being clever enough to write a devotional like this, but this 14 day series is going to give us a small glimpse into Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind Devotional.  I am interested to see what we can gain from these next two weeks, and how we can apply what we learn.  I’ve a pretty good idea how we’re going to merge Joyce’s commentary in with that of our own, and hopefully we come away with a pretty good series of teaching.  I thought it would be wise to allow her own words to be the introduction into this series, and that we’d take off running from there.

Life can catch any of us off guard at times. When war starts to wage in your mind, the enemy will use every tool in his arsenal to weaken your relationship with God. But you don’t have to be his victim. This devotional will equip you with inspirations of hope to conquer anger, confusion, condemnation, fear, doubt…you name it. These insights will help you uncover the enemy’s plot to confuse and lie to you, confront destructive thought patterns, find victory in transforming your thinking, gain strength, encouragement and, most importantly, victory over every battle in your mind. You have the power to fight back and it’s essential that you do…even if it’s one day at a time! – From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved

Today’s Message:

“How could you?” Helen screamed. “How could you ever do such a thing?” – From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved

Anyone other than me ever been faced with this question?  You ought to know by now that when it comes to writing these messages I’m going to be real, honest, and truthful because it’s part of what God’s called me to do as a minister.  It’s hard to relate to some pastors because they never really seem to be human…know what I mean?  They’re always hearing from God, they’re always too blessed to be stressed, and they always seem to have a perfectly flawless relationship with God…don’t they?  Well, my friends, I am not perfect, I am not flawless, and even though my heart is after God’s I still fall short.  I still make mistakes.  I still miss God, and I think that even though we expect our pastors to be infallible…the truth is we’re not, and I’d rather be honest about my struggles and short comings…that way you don’t put me on some pedestal, and you can see that  just because I’m called to serve God…that doesn’t make me any different or better than you.

Tom stared helplessly at his wife. He had committed adultery, faced his sinful actions, and asked his wife to forgive him.

“I never planned for an affair to happen,” Tom said with tears in his eyes.

Tom wasn’t lying. He knew he was making a few bad choices, but he hadn’t looked ahead at the consequences of his actions. After almost an hour of pleading, he said something that helped Helen begin to understand and eventually to forgive.

“I was unfaithful to you before I ever committed adultery.” He spoke of their being too busy to spend time together, his critical attitude, her lack of emotional response, her not listening to him when he talked about problems at the office.

That’s exactly how Satan works. He begins by bombarding our minds with cleverly devised patterns of irritation, dissatisfaction, doubts, fears, and reasoning. He moves slowly and cautiously (after all, well-laid plans take time). –  From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved

I have to admit that I found myself in this place.  The truth is that satan definitely does take his time in doing just what’s written here.  “Bombarding our minds with cleverly devised patterns of irritation, dissatisfaction, doubts, fears, and reasoning.  He moves slowly and cautiously.” 

Not long ago, I found myself slipping back into an old pattern of behavior, and it allowed a crack to be opened for satan to work to bring division into my marriage.  Without going into too much detail, I wasn’t having an affair or anything like that, but I was having inappropriate conversations with other women.  Now, this is how cunning the enemy is, and I want you to understand that he works the same whether you’re in ministry, or if your just someone who comes to church. 

In my past I’d always been a flirtatious guy whether in a relationship or not, and while I wasn’t interested in being physically unfaithful to my wife…still I found myself being so without ever having the intentions of doing so.  You see, a while back I was talking about Sexual Sin being toxic to our relationship with God, and the problem with sexual sin is that it’s not an outward sin.  It begins simply with a lustful thought, and can lead to things like having inappropriate conversations with women or men other than the person you are married to…and that’s what happened with me.  I had no intentions of being unfaithful, but just by being flirtatious with another woman…that’s exactly what I was…unfaithful. 

I surely hope that this doesn’t change your opinion of me, and I’ll understand if you chose to no longer follow me or my ministry.  I understand that’s something that’s viewed in a very negative light when it comes to people in ministry, but the truth is people in ministry are…well..people.  We can get caught being carnal just as well as anyone else.  Like I keep saying.  Just because I’m in ministry doesn’t make me better than you, and it certainly doesn’t disqualify me from being tempted or missing God.  It just means that I have to be more aware of the things the devil does, and being more careful that I don’t let him have access into my life. 

You know, let me just take a short side journey here to say this.  I John 2: 1-2 says:  “1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”, and I John 1: 8-10 says: “8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

I think if we’re honest about life whether we’re pastors or not it’s not “if” we sin, but “when”.  As I’ve said dozens of times already…I think that pastor’s do the body of Christ a dis-service by appearing to be perfect, flawless, and act as though they never miss God.  When they act that way, what does the Bible say?  It says that if we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, and write me an email about how your pastor is a good man of God, and he’s a really good Bible teacher.  That’s not what I’m saying at all.  What I am saying is that when we appear before the people the Lord has given us as pastors to shepherd, and we act as though we’re holy…instead of sharing our struggles…and how the Lord has helped us to overcome those struggles…we do the body of Christ a dis-service.  I prefer to believe that if I share my failures, mistakes, and short comings…but still strive every day to live as best I can the way God wants me to, and show that I’m striving after God’s heart…even though I miss the mark sometimes…that you’ll be able to come to the conclusion that if I make mistakes, and can still be convinced that God loves me, can use me, and that at the end of my life I’m going to heaven.  If I can fall short of the glory of God, and still continue to press toward becoming the man God’s called and designed me to be…you can do the same.

You can come to the conclusion on your own that I really am not all that different from you, and that if I can overcome so can you.  If I can be assured of my salvation, and eternal security…you can be also.  If I can falter, and serve God…so can you.  This is the reason I chose to be open and honest with you.  I’m not perfect, but I serve the One who is.  I’m not holy, but I serve the One who is.  I am not flawless, but I serve the One who is.  I should not be exalted above anyone or anything, but I serve the One who should be exalted about all things and all people.  I serve the very God that came to die on the Cross for the things I do to miss God on a daily basis.  I need Jesus’ blood to cover my sin on a daily basis, and for those who act like they don’t…I believe they are deceived, and that’s why people are so shocked when pastor so and so has an affair.

Then you hear the “I can’t believe he did that.  How could he?  He’s a pastor.  He’s one of them so-called Christians.  How could he do such a thing?”  I hate to burst your self-righteous bubble, but we sin and fall short the same way you do…we give in to desires and lusts of the flesh.  We’re not in the Spirit 100% of the day, my friends.  I’m sorry to disappoint you, but that’s the truth.

Tom began to doubt that Helen truly loved him. She didn’t listen, and she didn’t always respond to his amorous moods.

One of his coworkers listened. One time she said, “Helen doesn’t deserve a warm, caring man like you.” (Satan also worked in her.) Each time Tom took a tiny step off the right path, he justified his actions in his mind: If Helen won’t listen to me, there are people who will.

The coworker listened. Weeks later, he hugged her and wished he could feel that caring response from his wife. It was a harmless embrace–or so it seemed.

Tom didn’t grasp that Satan is never in a hurry. All he needs is an opportunity to inject unholy, self-centered thoughts into our heads. If we don’t kick them out, they stay. And he can continue his evil, destructive plan. – From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved

Satan is never in a hurry.”  I like how Joyce outlines this story because this is exactly how satan worked to destroy my first marriage.  I was playing softball with my brother-in-law, and the pitcher’s daughter was our scorekeeper.  At first, she was just the scorekeeper for my softball team, and nothing else.  I can remember thinking that I never intended to be the guy that cheated on his wife, but eventually I began to take notice of the scorekeeper.  Eventually we began to connect of a friendship level, and as our interest in each other began to take root…satan was working behind the scenes.  Eventually, we began to discover that we were attracted to each other, and we had similar interests, and then we began to spend time together away from the softball field.  We met after the game to celebrate our wins, or drown the sorrows of our losses.  Then, one day the affair happened, but like Tom said…the affair didn’t begin with the physical…it began with the seed of a lustful thought that went unchallenged by the Word of God…and it ended with the physical affair.  I told you that to let you know that it took two years of softball in the summer, and another 3 months or so after the second softball season for this relationship to destroy my first marriage…satan is never in a hurry…he’s willing to take his time, but make no mistake about it…his end game is always to steal…kill…and destroy what God’s done in our lives.

Now there are some other things about that marriage that I’ll probably be able to use in later messages, but in away this gives me the ability to put a personal illustration on this first message from Battlefield of the Mind.  It’s sad that I relate to this, but this is just another opportunity for me to show that what the devil used to try to destroy me…God took to bring Him glory, and defeat satan’s work in my life.

We don’t have to allow those wrong thoughts to take residence in our heads. For the weapons of our warfare are . . . mighty before God. . . . [We] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ . . . (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). – From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved

Today, I’ve learned to be better about leading my heart and my thoughts, and bringing them into the captivity of being obedient to Christ.  But, it’s not easy.  It’s one of those things that I have to do daily, and some times moment by moment. The whole point of today’s message is to help you to understand how the enemy works, and the first place he starts is in the mind. 

Conclusion & Prayer:

I surely hope that my honesty here doesn’t cost me your support, but I understand if it does.  Again, my hope here is to help you to understand that I’m really not all that different from you, and to share with you the things that the Lord has done in my life…so that like I said earlier you might be able to come to the understanding that if God can do what He’s done in, through, and for my life…He can do the same in, through, and for yours.

Let’s make what Joyce writes here as our own personal prayer…shall we?

Lord Jesus, in Your name, I cry out for victory. Enable me to bring every thought into obedience. Help me not to allow Satan’s words to stay in my mind and steal my victory. Amen. – From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved