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Friday, January 16, 2015

How to Fight the Enemies of Good Intentions

In review of Psalm 119:112 it says, “I have made up my mind to obey your laws forever, no matter what.”

Bottom Line:
You need to make a one time decision and then continue to decide to follow it, each day afterwards, until life on earth ends.

What this means to me:
This verse reminds me that a decision I made to follow Jesus was one that ultimately impacted my life forever. However, I need to make daily decisions to continue to follow, especially when the going gets tough and the outcomes may look dismal.

Today's verse comes at the end of a passage starting at verse 105. The psalmist explains how God's word will guide him in life. How he has promised that he will obey it, even though he has had loss and opposition. He asks for restoration and offers God his praise, he wants to continue to learn. Even though he does not know what the future holds, he is committing to obedience. He knows that he will continue to face opposition, but regardless he makes the decision to continue to follow, as what God provides is a true treasure to his heart.

I believe that the reason why most people are ineffective in life is that they've never learned how to fight the battle of the mind.

In order for me to learn how to manage my mind, I need to deliver it from destructive thoughts. This isn’t easy, because there are three enemies that keep me from fulfilling my good intentions of changing my life.

The first enemy is my old nature. Paul says in Romans 7:23, “There is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me” (NLT). I often find myself doing things that I didn't really want to do. This occurs because the battle is going on in my mind between my old, sinful nature and my good intentions.

The second enemy is Satan. Satan cannot force me to do anything, but he can make suggestions, and those suggestions are very, very powerful. He will constantly plant negative thoughts in my mind. He’ll use other people or he’ll use the television or he’ll just throw a thought into my mind.

The third enemy is the world’s value system. Not much in our society encourages self-discipline. Every advertisement says, “You deserve a break today. Have it your way. We do it all for you.” The Bible says in 1 John 2:16, “For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world” (NIV).
With enemies like that, no wonder I struggle with discouragement, despair and failure.

In learning to fight this battle, I can look to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, it says: “Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

I have a choice. Ultimately my mind has to listen to me. God didn't give me just a mind; he gave me a will! The best time to win the battle with temptation is before it begins.

Today's verse reminds me of how to battle it. “I have made up my mind to obey your laws forever, no matter what” (Psalm 119:112 CEV).

Ultimately God’s rules and instructions are their not just to hinder me and keep me from having a good time. He provides them because they provide protection and develop good fruit. In my life, I’ve seen Satan use random thoughts and images on TV to derail me. Sometimes I even find myself comparing myself to others. These distract me and keep me from progressing. So I need to remember some of the prior steps I had learned to combat temptation, part of it is remember and bring to mind this verse from 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (NIV).

So in order to fight the enemies of good intentions, I need to pull out this verse and then remember my ultimate commitment I have made to Christ. I do have a choice. Further, God will always provide a way out so that I can endure.