Anytime we attach the eternal value of hope to the temporal, we are discounting hopes true worth. Job knew this when he said, “Though He slay me, I will hope in him.”
The Devil is a liar and a thief. Okay, we all know that. The question is, “How does he steal?” You can know that the Devil is a burglar, but if you don’t know how he is gaining access into your life, then you can’t stop him.
Instead, things just keep disappearing from your life. One day you notice that the vase is no longer up on the bookshelf, the next you come to the realization that you have wasted your twenties or thirties believing a lie.
I read recently about a man who embezzled millions of dollars from the bank where he worked. The crazy thing is that he never touched any actual money in the process. Rather, he stole it the old fashion way, /.009 cents at a time. Somehow the man had figured out that if a deposit was valued at less then one cent then the computers would never pick it up. What the computers would do is add that .009 cents to his personal Swiss bank account. The money would disappear without a trace from where he worked but be credited half way around the world. This happened on every ATM, bank and online transaction the bank processed. Here’s the point. While it may not seem like much, .009 cents adds up to fortune when there are transaction every moment of everyday.
Satan robs our lives in the same way, except the currency of the spiritual world is our thoughts. The Devil is in a battle for our minds. At every opportune moment (Luke 4:13) the Devil will try and conduct a transaction in you mind. He does this by tempting us with just a small thought; something like, “Why are you still in your thirties and not married?” Perhaps it is the idea that your husband will cheat on you or the temptation to fear this or that situation? It really does not matter. Whatever turns your mind away from the truth of God’s Word and the abundant life (Jn.10:10) of the redeemed.
Last week I had a woman stop by my “ministry cubicle at the church.” Let’s just say that it is not the corner office. She shared with me that she was, “just so unhappy”. When I enquired as to why, she launched into a laundry list of problems and concerns. She told me that these thoughts had consumed her for an entire week. The first thing I asked her why she chose to think about all of these issues for a seven straight days?
I asked this because every time we are tempted to follow the trail of any thought, we have a choice. Will I allow this thought to distract or consume me or will I take it captive to Christ? There is no thought, even one that the Devil might present that does not have eternal and glorious potential if taken captive and made obedient to Christ.
2Cor. 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
When we lack self-control and allow these thoughts to consume us, our life is being stolen from under our eyes. Every .009 millisecond that you allow a thought to run rampant over your mind, soul and emotions is another millisecond of your life taken.
I believe that much of the anxiety and depression that we are seeing in our society today started for each person with just one thought. That thought then became an avalanche. Remember the Devil is not satisfied with footholds. Satan wants a barricade himself in a stronghold deep within the far reaches of your mind.
Eph. 4:27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
If you know anything about how the brain works, then you will understand that eventually your mind will change to produce the necessary chemicals needed to keep this cycle perpetuated. Here is what I mean.
The brains job is to protect the body. The body hates being surprised. A callous is a good example of this. Rub a spot on your knee enough and you will eventually develop a callous to protect it. This is also why if you sleep with an alarm you will often wake up a minute or two before the buzzer sounds.
Depression and fear work in the same way. If you lack the self-control to protect yourself from negative thoughts and emotions, your body will do it for you. Before you can surprise your brain with a depressing or fearful thought, it will produce the chemicals to mask that emotion.
This is also why self-control over our thoughts and emotions is so crucial. It protects us and trains our minds to produce the makings of peace and joy as opposed to negative emotions. If you are not able to do this, then there are hosts of prescribed psychotropic drugs to do this for you.
1Pet. 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1Th. 5:8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
This is also how the Devil shackles us in bondage to thoughts of envy, bitterness and a powerful array of other emotions. The Devil understands the laws of God and he leverages them for his purposes.
Can you see why the Bible exhorts believers to meditate on the word of God? Unlike the Devil’s thoughts, God’s word comes with God’s eternal power to heal and prosper. Imagine what your life would look like if you took on the mind of Christ? How would your brain and emotions react to that? You might even wake up before the thief creeps in that window again!
Rom. 8:6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
1Cor. 2:16b “But we have the mind of Christ.”
So many people I meet with are not satisfied with where they are in life. Since I work mostly with 30 and 40-year-olds I come across heaps of people who are waiting for the magic turn of the key that will usher in the life they always wanted. Many feel that they have missed out on someone or something that should have been their destiny. Others wonder if their divine destination will ever present itself.
This waiting and wanting can be crippling. The reason for this is that it is very difficult to live inside out for God today when your eyes are set on the future or the past. Does this mean that we are not to desire good things for our life. No, it does not. The problem is when we allow our desire for the future to devalue who we are in the present. So how do we live well in the present while hoping for the future of our dreams?
David is one of the Bibles greatest examples of this. In the pages of 1st Samuel we find the story of a boy who was anointed King, but spent years developing and leading a nation before he would ever where the crown. This ability, the ability to be the person who he was called to be in the present is what set David apart. David acted like the king he was long before he ever wore the crown. Even though David understood his divine calling, he did not allow it to cloud his present.
This fresh Biblical perspective is so far removed from how I have lived much of my life. For years I have sought after a crown or a pulpit that would bring meaning and worth to me. Once reaching this plateau I believed I would then be released into my authentic life. This imaginary life was the one I wanted and longed for. It was the life that had value. It was the life where people would finally discover how important I was to God’s cosmological plan. Give me a break! Thankfully God has freed me from this delusion.
I use the word delusion, because this is what it was. The bible is clear that the vision of my life that I can imagine is a faulty and incomplete view of all that God has for me. If I spent the rest of my life thinking up my best plan for this life, I would still never come close to the glorious plan God has determined for me.
1Cor. 13:9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
1Cor. 13:12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
2Cor. 1:14 as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Eph. 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us
When we look at David, we see a king that was not defined by a crown or a thrown. David’s integrity, leadership and courage, the ways of a king, were intact long before his physical coronation. As a matter of fact, David never really needed a kingdom to confirm his calling. In God’s eyes David was a king long before he sat on Jerusalem’s throne. Instead of pining for an unattained future while wasting today, David seized the day by being the king he was called to be. May we be able to do the same.