The Voices We Hear

Everyday, there are voices in our head, evaluating what we see going on around us, discussing our plans for the day, warning us of dangers that may lie in the “path” we take, and a whole host of other commentary. It’s not something we can normally just turn off and on at will.

But I do not want to talk to you about the dialog you carry on with yourself. No, I want to talk to you about the voices that come from the outside, often times disguising themselves as your own thoughts and ideas.

These voices tell you about yourself: how you talk; about your looks; about your worthiness in any given situation; about conversations you’ve had with others. The voices tell you about your relationships: about your performance at your work; about what your friends and co-workers think about you. The voices tell you about what God thinks of you: about why God can’t possibly forgive you; about why he surely won’t ever love you, especially after all the horrible things you’ve thought and all “those” things you’ve said to people … not to mention all the things you’ve done!

You think these words and ideas are just you, taking a truthful and objective look at yourself. After years of listening to them and falling deeper into self-loathing and depression you believe them. The result is that you are trudging instead of walking. You might be bent over, looking only at the pavement in front of you with a perpetually drawn face that hasn’t smiled in years – and I’m not talking about the polite smile that you might flash to people on an exceptionally good day of your life, but a true, ear-to-ear smile that just exudes joy.

Is this you?

The Battleground of the Mind

Well, I’m telling you now, these are lies and they do not originate with you nor do they originate from our Father in heaven who loves us. They come straight from Satan and his cohort of demons and they have only one goal: to keep you from being a happy and productive child of God. Period. If you are a child of God, then you are then you are under God’s protection and Satan has lost his battle to keep you out of heaven. And if you are not a believer, guess what: God is still willing to help you.

Even Jesus had to fight this same voice – Satan’s voice – that you are hearing:

“Then Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil, and after he had fasted forty days and forty nights, then he was hungry. And the tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, order that these stones become bread.But he answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man will not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God.” Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the highest point of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down! For it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will lift you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “On the other hand it is written, ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.”‘ Again the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he said to him, “I will give to you all these things, if you will fall down and worship me.Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan, for it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve only him.'” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and began ministering to him.”

Matthew 4:1-11, LEB

I underlined and made boldface the reply that Jesus made to each of the challenges of Satan. If you look at them carefully, Jesus’ reply in each of these rebuttals is a quote from the Bible. He was recalling the truth that is written in the Bible and throwing it back in Satan’s face. Satan tempted Jesus on three different levels:

  •        appeal to the lust of the flesh: “turn these stones to bread”;
  •        appeal to the pride of life: “throw yourself down,” God will save you;
  •        appeal to the lust of the eyes: “I will give you all these things”.

This passage also illustrates Satan’s goal: to be worshiped. This is clearly stated in Satan’s third and final question, “if you will fall down and worship me.” The first two questions are seemingly benign and if Jesus had answered either in the affirmative, Satan’s goal would have been achieved, but Jesus rebuked him with quoting the proper passages from the Bible – a much stronger way to say “No.” It’s like a football team standing behind a 98-pound weakling when he makes his stand against the class bully.

This is the reason why we need to read the Bible and even memorize passages that we can recall and make a rebuttal to Satan when he comes whispering at our ear. The word is the weapon that is sharper than any two-edged sword and will silence Satan.

Prayer

Are you being affected by the voices in your head and whispering in your ears? Ask the Lord to help. Pray something like this:

Heavenly Father, I ask for your help to silence these voices that keep pestering me day and night. They tell me lies about myself, my friends, strangers, and the world around me. It is to the point that sometimes I don’t know what to believe and what not to believe. I need your help. I am a sinner and so, I ask you to please forgive my sins. Remove them from me and break them away from me, never to be remembered again. These voices I am hearing are driving me crazy and confusing me. Please, I ask you, in the name of your Son, Jesus of Nazareth, to silence them. I also ask that any curses that are upon me that have been placed by other people or even, unwittingly, by myself that you would annul them and free me from their oppression. Please I need the peace that only you can give, Jesus. Thank you, Father. Amen.

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Recognizing Discipline and its Worth – Haggai 7-11

Haggai 1:7-11 

7Thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot: “Set your heart on your ways! 8Go up to the hills, bring wood and build the House. Then I will delight in it and I will be glorified,” says Adonai. 9“You have looked for much, but indeed, there is little. What you have brought home, I have blown away. Why is this?”—it is a declaration of Adonai-Tzva’ot—“because My House lies in ruins, while you are running, each to his own house. 10Therefore, because of you, the sky has withheld dew and the earth has withheld its yield. 11For I have called for drought on the land, the hills and the grain, on the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on mankind and beast, as well as all labor of hands.”

Review of the Previous Post

Never let it be said that our God minces words or dances around the subject with hints – He determines the who, what, where, when, why and how of His message! In the previous post, we read in verse five of God telling the people to “set your heart on your ways.” God wants them to take an honest look at the path they have been walking. He goes on by outlining what has been happening in their lives in verse six, explaining the troubles they have been having.

“Think About Where You’re Going … “

In verse seven, He again tells the people to “set your heart on your ways.” But this time, He is telling them to take action (v.8) to make things right between He and His children. “It is time I had a house to live in. It’s time I had a fine paneled house (v.4) like you have, it’s time I was glorified.”

As I read verse nine, I get the sense that God is puzzled, although, I think it is,  to a degree, sarcastic. He seems surprised that His people – His kids – just don’t catch-on to what’s happening.

He asks the question: Why do you expect much but find little and what do bring home is diminished (blown away, like just a piece of lint pulled from the bottom of a pocket). It is because “My House, My Temple lies in ruins while each of you runs to his own paneled house.”

Times are Tough Because …

This passage is an example of discipline – not a very welcome word in today’s world because it implies punishment. God is creating and allowing hardship in order to make his people consider the reason for that hardship, which, in turn, will cause them to open their eyes and understand that He is their provision and should be treated accordingly. As it turned out, He had to tell them out-right.

God caused a drought so that not even the morning dew would water the ground. The crops would therefore not be fruitful. In fact, God’s call for a drought affected all lands, all people, all livestock and all crops, and as we see in the next section, God’s message as delivered by Haggai did not go unheeded.

Exacting Discipline

This part of the scripture in Haggai is about the discipline that God brought on those who returned from exile in Babylon when they turned away from rebuilding the temple.

It cannot be denied that God told the Israelites as far back as the Exodus from Egypt that if they followed his commands they would be His people and He would be their God. Yet, throughout their history, they would devoutly trust Him and then slowly they would turn to what was “right in their own eyes” and turn away from Him. Consequently, God would exact a discipline on them, the severity of which seemingly depended on the depths to which they had fallen.

Those who were watching knew that if a prophet came into town that they had better pay attention.  Check out 1 Samuel 16:4:

And Samuel did that which the LORD spoke, and came to Beth-lehem. And the elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said: ‘Comest thou peaceably?’

They were were very frightened that the spokesman for God had shown up in their village!

The Godly Art of Discipline

Some who criticize Christianity and look for excuses for rejecting God like to use the “always angry god” argument. I can see why they do – because the anger is easy to find in a cursory reading of the Old Testament. Read almost any book of the Old Testament and you can find examples of God punishing, scolding, disciplining, taking the lives of people – not only enemies of the Israelites, but also His own people who messed up. I can understand that and I, too, had that same “angry god” thought until I began to read more carefully and think.

The truth is that God created the human race because He wanted a family that he could love and they would choose to love Him back. But we turned our backs on Him at the very beginning and because of that, as long as we are living in this world, we will always have the tendency to turn our back on Him. Therefore, like any good father, God disciplines out of love so that we will return to Him and once again we can be a loving family. Unfortunately, many of us have had earthly fathers who have been down-right cruel and so it is nearly impossible to associate our Heavenly Father with good and good intentions.

 

Summary

With the conclusion of this section, we have come away with two lessons to be learned:

  • God wants His temple to be kept in good repair – in fact, it should be our priority;
  • God’s Temple is not just an edifice on a hill or street, it is our own body, and so we need to keep it in good shape;
  • God works in our lives to spur us into opening our eyes and ears to see and hear what He is trying to tell us and to see the path that He wants us to take; and
  • God created us out of love so that He could have a family to love that would love Him back.

Thank you for reading and God bless.

 


 

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Leave the Past in the Past

There are many actions we have taken in our past that come back to haunt us – both sins and foolishness – and in Luke, Jesus tells us about the consequences of allowing our past to resurface.

Luke 9:62  But Yeshua said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.”  (Hebrew Names Version)

We are forgiven through the washing of the blood. All sins are forgiven and cast as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12); we are not to revisit them in our heart and mind. To do so is to turn away from the plow, that is, to stop moving forward in our faith and we are thus cautioned by Jesus of the consequences of this kind of action. But this is not only about revisiting sins – I believe this refers to more than sin.

A Page from My Own Life

I am talking about those things in your past that cause you to become paralyzed into inaction and grief and shame.

My past is full of all the sins that plague each of us.  When this happens, depression sets in, followed by a plummeting of my self worth and a period of paralysis when anything I try to do is never good enough – for me.

But I have also done many silly and stupid things in my life and every now and then I consider these foolish things and I am embarrassed, and in some cases, ashamed. It’s the inappropriate things, the embarrassments and the idiotic words and actions that make me cringe today.

What Does Paul Say about the Past?

Paul cautions us on this in Romans 6:3-7 :

3   Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?
4   Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5   For if we have been joined together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection;
6   knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.
7   For he who died has been justified from sin. (Modern King James Version)

At times, it is hard to forget what happened in the past. We dredge them up and squirm in our chairs and souls because of them. Sometimes, I think we actually like to remember them, but I can’t, for the life of me, come up with a good reason why.  Maybe we take some sort of perverse comfort in them because of the other things happening then – a happier time. Or … Maybe we just want to feel sorry for ourselves and pin present faults, failures and feelings on the past as an excuse. Maybe … it’s the enemy who wants to paralyze you into inaction and keep you under his thumb so you can’t accomplish anything for the kingdom.

When we take our hand from the plow and revisit the baggage of the old man, as Paul puts it, we are negating what Jesus did for us on the cross and that is a sin. At least, that’s what I’m calling it and it appears that Jesus is saying that, too.

There Is Hope

But you know what?  Not all is lost. Unlike humans, Jesus will forgive and forget if you repent. He wants nothing more than to have you lead rich, full, and happy lives without the baggage of past sins, past indiscretions, or past foolishness that cause embarrassment.  He wants you to be able to work for him and his kingdom. Jesus wants us to take command of the past and leave it right where it is – in the past.

If you have these feelings or if the past is constantly being pulled into your thoughts, repent of any action you may have done to dredge up the past. Pray that God will help you understand why it is important for you not to dredge up the memories. Ask for forgiveness and for help to fight any desires to resurrect that old man that was buried when you asked Jesus into you heart and life.

The Apostles’ Creed

It might also be one of those times when reaffirming your faith is necessary for your own good.  To actually hear yourself declare …

“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

And I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father, who will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Amen. “

will work wonders to your feeling of being on the right path.

Thank you for reading. God bless … .

 


 

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