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Faithlife

The Power Of The Tongue

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9908

Before you can be successful in any battle you have to do a few things first. First, you have to know your enemy, second, you have to locate the battlefield, and thirdly, you have to define your battle objectives.

1. THE ENEMY -- SELF

Many of the battles we face on a daily basis involve Satan's attacks on our physical bodies, attacks on our loved ones, or attacks on our finances. But I want us to look at another one of our enemies this morning and it is SELF.

There are many people today who make excuses for their actions or words by confessing, "I just can't help myself". Actually, they can't help themselves because they don't believe they can help themselves. God's purpose for your life today is that you take authority over self and bring it into complete submission and control of the Holy Spirit. In Proverbs 16:2 God's Word reveals that man's ability to exercise self-control or 'rule' over himself is actually a greater accomplishment than his ability to conquer an entire city. The Apostle Paul knew the importance of exercising authority and dominion over himself. He said, "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." (1 Cor. 9:27)

2. THE BATTLEFIED -- OUR TONGUES

During World War I, when men were sent out to fight in specific territories which were crucial to the final outcome of the war, people referred to these soldiers as going to the "front" or "frontlines". When these men reached the frontlines they were usually thrown right into the "heat" of the battle with heavy artillery fire, exploding bombs, and wounded and dying soldiers.

The word "frontlines" means "a military line formed by the most advanced combat units." It is the most advanced or significant position in a battle. In the Christian world, we often associate the "frontlines" or most advanced position in spiritual warfare with: a mission field in Africa, India or some other country. However, the "frontlines"...the most significant battlefield where the struggles are usually the greatest...for most of us is where we live...in our homes...on the job, in our churches.

I want us to take a close look at the words we are speaking in our homes, on the job, at church, to see if they line up with the Word. And then, we are going to discover how to gain control of our tongues and use them as a powerful force to release God's power and fulfill His will in our lives.

You may be wondering, why it is so important that we take control of our tongues? James 1:26 says, "Anyone who says he is a Christian but doesn't control his sharp tongue is just fooling himself, and his religion isn't worth much." There are Christians we attend church services everytime the door is opened. Their mouths are filled with words of praise and rejoicing. Yet, if you would follow them to their home, to the office, to the store, restaurants...and all the other places where they live...you would hear out of that same mouth criticism, complaining, gossiping, backbiting.

This has probably never happened to you, but have you ever noticed how easy it is for your mouth to "switch gears" on Sunday morning as you walk into church or when you have unexpected company drop by your home for a visit? You may have spent the entire morning yelling at the kids or fussing with your husband or wife, but the moment your feet touch the church property or the moment you open the door to greet your unexpected compnay, you smile and say, "Good morning. God bless you." "Praise the Lord, isn't this a beautiful day?"

There are Christian families taday whose homes are filled with continual bickering...parents yelling and fussing at their children...husbands and wives arguing, criticizing and nagging each other. There are churches where members use their tongues to stir up strife, to criticize and complain about the pastor, to spread gossip, or to destroy the reputation of a brother or sister. On the job there are Christians who use their tongues to discredit fellow workers, to criticize, to spread discouragement.

Inconsistency in our lives.....

READ -- James 3:8-10 "but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. ?9? With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. ?10? Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

The second strategy you must take in meeting our battle objectives is to recognize how powerful your tongue is and how vital your words are in determining whether or not you live in defeat or victory. You are responsible for the words you speak. Jesus said: "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgement. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." (Matt. 12:36-37)

In Proverbs 18:21 we read, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." When you were born again you confessed Jesus as your Savior (Romans 10:10). As a result of believing in your heart and speaking the words, "Jesus, forgive me of my sins, cleanse me and come into my heart," you received eternal life.

Did you know that the words that you speak can also greatly affect you actions, your entire body, and can determine the course of your life? According to findings by leading neurosurgeons, the speech center in the brain has total dominion over all the other nerves in the body. For example, if a person keeps saying, "I'm too weak to do that"..."I don't have the ability to do this job"..."I'm afraid to try"...right away the nerves receive the message from the central nervous system saying they are weak or incapable, and their body begins to adjust itself to what it has heard.

Now, since we base our actions on the infallible Word of God and not upon man's wisdom, let's compare these recent findings with the Word: "....if any one does not offend in speech--never says the wrong thing -- he is fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature." (James 3:2)

The neurosurgeons' findings confirm what James wrote two thousand years ago: if a man can control his tongue, he can control his own body! To reinforce this truth, let's consider one of the three graphic illustrations James gives concerning the tongue: "Likewise look at the ships, though they are great and are driven by rough winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsman determines." (James 3:4-5)

In these verses, James draws a parallel between the rudder of a ship and the tongue. Just as the rudder, which is 'very small' in comparison to the large ship that weighs thousands of pounds, controls the direction of the ship and keeps it on course regardless of the fierce winds and pounding waves; the tongue is also capable of directing the course of a person's life. What does this mean to you as a believer?

If you continually speak negative words of fear, doubt and discouragement, you are setting the course of your life to live in discouragement and defeat. If you constantly talk about your problems...your sickness... lack of finances...you will continue to live with your problems, your sickness, your lack of finances. But if you will take control over your tongue, begin to fill your mouth with faith-filled words and the powerful Word of God and begin to speak it forth, you will be setting the course of your life to live in victory.

Your next battle strategy is to reevaluate the words that are coming out of your mouth. The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Ephesian Church, set a good standard concerning the speech that Christian should follow:

READ -- Eph. 4 ?29? Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. ?30? And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. ?31? Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. ?32? Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

In addition to these guidelines concerning your speech, we must not: lie (Col. 3:9, Acts 5:3), speak evil of any man (Titus 3:2, James 4:11), Sow discord among the brethren (Prov. 6:19, 1 Cor. 1:11), Backbite (2 Cor. 12:20, Romans 1:30), Speak with flattering lips (Prov. 26:28, Psalm 12:2-3), Speak 'proud things' (Psalm 12:3, Romans 1:30), Speak deceitfully (Psalm 120:2, Job 27:4), Murmur and complain (Phil. 2:14, 1 Cor. 10:10)

But instead our speech should be: Gracious (Eccl. 10:12), Seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6), Pleasant (Prov. 16:24), Filled with praise and thanksgiving (Eph. 5:19-20), Kind (Prov. 31:26), Honest (1 Peter 2:12).

What words are coming out of your mouth? Remember, "Life and death are in the power of your tongue" (Prov. 18:21). With your tongue you have the ability to create a good or bad atmosphere, depending on the words your choose. In your relationship with your children, your husband or wife, your in-laws, you have the ability to build them up or tear them down. Are your words filled with encouragement, love, praise? Or, are they filled with negativism, discouragement, criticism?

When you face mounting pressures or what you may feel are unrealistic demands, do you take your frustration out on other workers? In your relationship with other church members, what type of words are you speaking? Do you murmur, complain or find fault with me. How about when a brother or sister stumbles and falls, do you use your tongue to lift them up or to cut them down?

As you begin to make an honest evaluation of the words that you have been saying in these areas, don't become discouraged if there are areas where you are having difficulties in controlling your tongue. You can take authority over self, and bring your tongue into submission to the Holy Spirit.

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We have to learn how to use our tongues as powerful weapons.

One of the major hindrances keeping many Christians from putting into practice and applying what they have learned in their lives is the words they are speaking. Instead of speaking out the powerful, faithbuilding Word of God, their words are filled with negativism and defeat. They spend most of their time talking about their problems. As part of the family of God, God wants you speak His Word with power and authority to meet the needs in your life, and to bring healing and deliverance to those around you.

Before this truth can become a reality and work in your life, however, you must have a revelation of the tremendous power that is in God's Word. There is creative power in God's Word! Our of emptiness and void God spoke and this universe was created. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (Heb. 11:3)

God spoke...light appeared. God spoke...the waters separated. God spoke...the land, the sun, the moon and stars appeared. He is holding this universe together by the Word of His power. (Heb. 1:3)

God's Word has not changed. That creative force is the same today. God's Word is eternal. It is alive. It is powerful (Heb. 4:12). It is full of faith (Romans 10:8) As you speak the Word of Faith, you are releasing that same creative power and it will bring a miracle into your life.

There is a good example of the power there is in speaking faith-filled words in Mark 11:12-14, 20-23)

One day, Jesus and His disciples were walking through the country side and they were getting hungry. Jesus saw a fig tree and walked over to it, thinking He and His disciples would be able to pick some figs and eat them. But, when He got there, there was no fruit on the tree. Then, Jesus, did something which was very unusual...He spoke to the tree. Can you imagine that...speaking to a tree! He said, "No man eat fruit of thee herefafter forever." (verse 14)

Have you ever wondered why Jesus did this? Some people might say it was because He was angry because there was no fruit on the tree. But, Jesus had a very definite purpose in mind beyond what appears on the surface. What happened after He spoke? NOTHING. But, was Jesus concerned that nothing happened? NO! Jesus and the disciples simply continued on into Jerusalem.

The next morning on the road from Bethany to Jerusalem, as they came near the same tree, in my mind I can see the wonder and the excitement sweep over the faces of the disciples. And then I can see the disciples come running back to Jesus: "Jesus, come quick. Do you remember the fig tree You spoke to yesterday? Well, all is leaves are gone and it's dried up at the roots."

At this point, Jesus' real purpose for speaking to the fig tree is coming into focus. Jesus was not trying to impress the disciples with a display of His power. He said: "...Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith." (Mark 11:22-23)

Take a pen and circle the word "whosoever" in this scripture. Now, draw a line from the same word and in the margin on this page write the words, "This includes me". You see, Jesus wanted His disciples to know it was possible for them to have this same power working in their lives. And, not only did Jesus perform this miracle two thousand years ago as an example for His disciples to follow. He wants you to know that you can have this same power working in your life.

Once again, pick up your pen and this time I want you to underline the words "say" and "saith". Jesus was emphasizing the power of speaking forth faith-filled words. But, we must also be careful to remember that it is not just the mere act of speaking words that will move mountains in your life. Your words must be coupled with faith! Before you speak, thtere must not be any doubt in your heart. You must get the powerful creative Word of God deep down into your spirit and make it so much a part of your life that when there is a need, you can boldly speak the word with authority to that need and it will be met.

Remember, when Jesus spoke to the fig tree and nothing happened immediately, Jesus did not doubt. He went on His way confident that what He said would take place. In the next verse Jesus went on to say: Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." (Mark 11:24) Underline the word "when".

When did Jesus day to believe...after they had received things they desired? No. Jesus told them they were to believe they were receiving them the moment thtey prayed (or spoke the Word).

This is where many people lose the victory. When they speak the Word in faith and they do not see immediate results, doubt creeps back in. They either figure they didn't have enough faith or that it wasn't God's will. The truth is, when you speak the Word in faith, something is set in motion in the spirit world. You may not be able to see it immediately in the natural world, but once the Word has been spoken forth in faith it will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). It will accomplish its purpose in your life as you keep on believing, and keep on speaking the Word forth.

Once you have: realized the importance of controlling your tongue....realized how powerful your tongue is...reevaluated your words....learned how to use your tongue as a powerful faith weapon...you must begin to apply what you have learned. Your fifth and final strategy in obtaining your battle objectives is to practice what you preach by releasing the creative power of God's Word into your circumstances.

But, before you can do this, you must take dominion and authority over SELF and bring your tongue into submission of the Holy Spirit. When God placed man on the earth, He gave him the power to rule over his own spirit. He gave man the power to think for himself and to act according to his will. Man relinquished that power when he yielded to Satan and disobeyed God. Now, through Jesus Christ, that power and authority to rule over your spirit has been restored to you. You have the ability to use your will to choose to control your tongue and use it for the glory of God.

Once you have decided you want to be able to control your tongue, go to God in prayer. Ask Him to forgive you of any sins of the tongue, and ask Him to give you the ability to control your tongue.

The great warrior, David, recognized the importance of controlling his tongue. He said, "....I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me." (Psalm 39:1)

Surrender your tongue to God daily. Say: "Father, I repent of any sins I have committed with my tongue today. Forgive me. Right now I surrender my tongue to You. Give me the ability to control my tongue and us it to speak Your Word in faith."

As you pray, believe in your heart God has heard you and that He will enable you to control your tongue. As you daily bring your tongue under submission to the Holy Spirit, you should also begin to release the Word of God into your circumstances. In your physical body. Instead of concentrating on your sickness and constantly saying, "I'm hurting so badly, I don't know how I'm going to make it through another day" or "I feel so sick. I think I'm catching the flu". Speak out in faith: "By faith, I say to this sickness in my body: Be healed. Arthritis be healed. Pain leave. Sickness, you must go in the Name of Jesus. By His stripes I am healed."

In your finances. Instead of concentrating on your lack of finances and saying, "We don't have enough money to pay our bills this month" or "There never is enough money to go around". Speak out in faith: "By faith, I say God is my Source. I say to these finances: Be loosed in the Name of Jesus. My God shall supply all my need. By faith, I say the money will come to pay these bills and meet the rent. I release God's ministering spirits over my life to bring God's provision for my needs and the desires of my heart."

Concerning your unsaved loved ones. Instead of concentrating on their problems....their unwillingness to surrender to God, their problem with alcohol, drugs, rebellion or whatever is standing between them and God...." Speak out in faith. "By faith, I say to this hindering spirit (alcohol, drugs, rebellion) release your hold on these loved ones in the Name of Jesus. Satan, release your hold on these lives. By faith I see Jesus setting them free."

Don't give up if you don't see immediate results. Keep on speaking the Word in faith and it will come to pass. prisoner.

I am believing God to give you some major victories in taking control of your tongue.

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I know God has already begun to speak to your heart concerning specific areas in your life where you are sensing that life is not working. I've heard testimony this week of people who are taking authority and control over their tongue and are beginning to use it as a powerful faith weapon to release God's creative power in their lives.

But NOW, you must prepare yourself and be on the 'lookout' for the hindering forces that are lurking behind the scenes...just waiting to ambush you and take you

Make a faith statement with me this morning. Repeat after me: "I am going out into battle against the negative forces in my life and I am going to WIN! The God of battles is with me and I will conquer the negative forces in my life. I will practice what I preach!"

God is preparing a people...a people whose life actually works. He is pouring new strength into your inner man. We can't live on past defeats no matter how many times you may have tried and failed in stepping out to do the works of God. God is doing a new thing at this time in our lives.

The true test of a soldier is how he responds on the battlefield. He may freeze in his tracks, turn around and run and hide, or stand where he is and fight. Where is the soldier most likely to be attacked? A soldier is not usually attacked while he is sitting in a barracks somewhere. Out on the battlefield is where the action is...the gunfire...the one on one combat.

When you determine that you going to go out onto battlefield to take authority over self and begin to put God's Word into action in all your relationships..your health, your finances, your spiritual life...I must warn you that Satan and his hindering spirits will be ready to place barriers in your way in an attempt to block your progress.

When you face these negative forces you must not "freeze in your tracks", turn and run, or hide. You must stand firm and fight! You must take authority over those forces. Many times Satan uses outside forces such as adverse circumstances, the loss of a job, sickness, marital problems to hinder us. He also will use other people...even our loved ones...to bombard us with the negative forces of unbelief and render us powerless to do the works of God.

I want us today to target four specific negative forces that most of us face at one time or another that come from within. Each of these negative forces involve our enemy SELF...that old carnal nature that tries to resurface from time to time. Remember we have been given the opportunity to take authority and dominion over SELF.

One of the first areas that we succomb to in terms of a negative force in our life is usually self-pity. Regardless of the severity of the problems you may be facing right now or the trials or tests you may face in the future, always remember those circumstances cannot defeat you as long as you do not "freeze in your tracks", turn around and run, or hide.

When circumstances come into our lives, many times our old carnal nature -- self -- comes to the surface and one of our first impulses is to feel sorry for ourselves.

Think about it for a moment. What do you do when you face negative circumstances: your son wrecks your new car...your husband or wife walks out on you...you come down with a virus...you lose your job...you get behind in your payments? If your like most people, you want someone to feel sorry for you...to sympathize with you...so you find someone to tell how miserable and rotten you feel.

On the surface, it may seem to you that there is nothing harmful or wrong about feeling sorry for yourself. You may reason, "If I don't feel sorry for myself, no one will." Actually, if you continue to yield to this negative force of self-pity, it will immobilize you and cause you to 'freeze in your tracks'. It will hinder you from releasing your faith to receive what you need.

Have you ever said to yourself, "I might as well be dead", or, "I would be better off dead"? There was a man in the Bible who felt this way. He had become so discouraged by the circumstances he faced that he had run away from them out into the desert. His name was Elijah...a great prophet of God who had performed many outstanding miracles; but the moment he yielded to his feelings of self-pity, he was hindered in carrying out the work God had given him to do. Can you imagine him sitting out under a Juniper tree and saying to God, "I've had it! God, you might as well take my life from me and let me die!" (1 Kings 19:4) Then after the angels had ministered to him by giving him bread and water to drink, what did he do? He hid himself in a cave (1 Kings 19:9). God saw him in his great discouragement and self-pity and asked him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (v. 9)

Elijah had become immobilized. He was not carrying on the work God had given him to do and God wanted to know what a prophet of the Most High God was doing running from a little woman and hiding in a cave. Elijah made an excuse for himself, "All the children of Israel have forsaken You and I'm the only one left. Now they're going to kill me." (v. 10)

Elijah wanted God to sympathize with him. What did God do? Did he pat Elijah on the back and feel sorry for him. No! He told Elijah to go down to Damascus to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria, Jehu to be king over Israel, and Elisha as His prophet (v. 15-16). In other words, God was telling Elijah to get up out of his depression, discouragement and self-pity and get busy speaking the word of faith.

The second area we must target if we are going to stand against destructive forces in our lives is worry. Worry is probably th most common and destructive negative force that Christians today must learn to overcome. Yet, most Christians do not realize how destructive it can be. Worry is faith in reverse. It causes us to doubt and become fearful...it causes us to take our eyes off Jesus and keep them on our problems...it hinders us from releasing our faith....it can even take control of our actions.

We know that Jesus has commanded us not to worry about what we are going to eat or drink, or to be concerned with the clothes that we are going to wear (Luke 12:22). We know that Jesus wants us to 'cast all our cares upon Him' (1 Pet. 5:7). We know that God has provided us a place of rest that we can enter , where we can mercy and grace in time of need (Heb. 4:3,9). We know God has promised to supply all our need according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). We know "the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance" (Psalm 94:14). We know He will deliver us out of Satan's grasp (Psalm 91:3). We know that God's eyes are upon us...that He is just looking for an opportunity to show Himself strong on our behalf (2 Chron. 16:9)

Knowing all of this, when we face discouraging circumstances, why do we allow our minds to be filled with worry? More often than not I believe that we allow what we hear, see and feel to rule instead of walking by faith. We are children of God and must not allow what we see, feel or think to cause us to worry. We are to be charactized as people who walk by faith and not by site (2 Cor. 5:7). We are not like others who have no hope. God has given us the ability to see beyond the outward conditions. The doctors may have told you that you have a condition that is incurable...that there is nothing they can do. Don't be governed by what you hear! You may be facing a desperate situation with no money and no place to go for help...don't allow your thoughts and actions to be controlled by what you see. Maybe you are depressed, lonely, afraid...down in the pits of despair...don't allow how you feel to cause you to hide in a cave like Elijah.

Recognize worry for what it is. Repent...ask God to forgive you for not trusting Him in this circumstance. Take authority over the negative force of worry by filling your mind with the Word of God and begin to speak out faith filled words.

Remember, "don't freeze in your tracks", run or hide...you are victorious!

Target #3 --- Conquering the negative force of unbelief. Last week we learned that if we would speak to the circumstances in our way and not doubt in our hearts, but believe we would be able to have the things that we speak (Mark 11:22-23).

How can we, as God's people, recognize the unbelief that would hinder us from putting into practice God's Word in our lives?

Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to have faith when you are in a church setting, surrounded by people who are full of faith, listening to the faith building Word of God. In a setting like this, you feel as if your faith is strong enough that you could move a mountain.

But what happens the moment you are looking 'eyeball to eyeball' with a person who is bound by drugs or alcohol and needs deliverance, or you meet someone who is suffering in their body from some so-called incurable disease? Do you 'freeze in your tracks', turn around and run, or hide?

If you have ever felt this way, don't be discouraged. You're not alone. The disciples who had traveled with Jesus throughout the country, healing the sick and casting out devils, allowed the negative force of unbelief to sneak up on them. As long as they were with Jesus their faith was strong and they felt ten feet tall.

One day the disciples were out on their own and a man brought his demon-possessed boy to them to be delivered and set free (Mark 9:14-29). They prayed but nothing happened! Can you imagine how they felt. No doubt a crowd of people had gathered together to see a miracle take place. The scribes were there too to check them out and to discredit them. Can you hear them? "I thought these disciples claimed there was power in Jesus' Name to heal the sick. These men are trying to fool us...it's all a lie." The disciples probably felt like hiding. Then Jesus entered upon the scene and turned the situation around. He took the disciples from defeat to victory. He immediately discerned the problem. He said: "O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him unto me" (Mark 9:19)

He first dealt with the unbelief in the father's heart. You see, this boy had been this way since he was a small child. He parents had helplessly stood by while their son had sufferedd, and no doubt his father had almost given up hope until he heard about the miracles that had been performed by Jesus. The father said to Jesus, "...if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us" (Mark 9:22)

Does this sound familiar? How many times have God's people prayed, "If it be your will, take away this pain...save my lost boy...send the finances I need?" Or, how often in our hearts do we think, "I know God is able, but will He do it for me?"

Jesus told the man that if he would just believe that all things were possible. In response to Jesus' command for him to believe, the man made a very puzzling statement: "....Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24).

I believe Jesus' words had caused a small spark of faith to rise up within this man. The man simply released that faith and as he did, he asked Jesus to increase his faith. In response to the father's faith, Jesus took authority and dominion over the evil spirits that were tormenting the boy. He rebuked the deaf and dumb spirit and set the boy free. After teh boy had gone and the crowd had dispersed, the disciples came to Jesus asking Him why they had not been able to cast the evil spirits out of the boy. Jesus told them that "this kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:29). Jesus was saying the battle must be won in the prayer closet. Unless God's people stay in touch with their Source of Power...unless we commune with Him and renew our strength...we will leave an opening for unbelief to sneak into our lives.

The Apostle Paul issued a warning to the Hebrews concerning the danger of unbelief. He told them, "Therefore beware, brethren, take care lest there be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving heart -- which refuses to cleave to, trust in and rely on Him -- leading you to turn away and desert or stand aloof from the living God." (Heb. 3:12)

The negative force of unbelief will shut you off from all the blessings God has prepared for you and hinder you from practicing what you preach.

Just as unbelief caused the children of Israel to wander for 40 years and die in the wilderness without entering the Promised Land, unbelief can cause God's people to miss all the unsearcable riches He has prepared for us to enjoy, and to hinder the flow of God's power in our lives.

Paul said to beware...be watching...be on guard lest unbelief take hold in your life. That means when even the smallest doubt pops into your mind that you must 'take it into captivity' (2 Cor. 10:5). Take authority over it. And continue to trust the Word of God.

TARGET #4 --- Destroying self-righteousness

Out of great desperation Job cried out, "Why did I have to be born...why didn't I die at birth?" (Job 3:3,11). In his heart he longed for death. He was miserable. He had lost everything he owned including his children. His body was wracked with pain. Notice how the negative forces he faced...self-pity and self-righteousness...hindered him from being restored to the health and prosperity he once experienced.

After seven days sitting on the ground, covered in sackcloth and ashes thinking about what had happened to him, Job began to feel sorry for himself...he even cursed the day he was born. Getting no sympathy or support from his so-called friends, Job switched from complaining about his condition to questioning God. He asked the question so many people ask, "Why did You do this to me? Why don't You just let me die and put me out of my misery?" (Job 7:20) It seemed as if the more Job complained and felt sorry for himself, the more bitterness began to set in and he began to accuse God of being unkind and unrighteous." (Job 7:17-21) "I am not a sinner -- I repeat it again and again. My conscience is clear for as long as I live." (Job 27:6)

He continued to proclaim his innocence and condemn God's actions and intentions toward him. (Job 10:3,12-14) Job's other three friends got tired of hearing Job justify himself and so Elihu, who had been waiting for an opportunity to speak, began to reason with Job and expose his real sin. The sin in Job's life was that he had yielded to the negative force of self-righteousness. He felt he had lived an honest life, giving to the poor, following the commandments of God; and yet, he felt as if he had been treated unjustly by God and that he was no better off than the wicked. (Job 35:2-3)

Many Christians today are being hindered from receiving total restoration in their lives because all they can see is how faithful and just they have been. They secretly harbor resentment in their hearts because they see the wicked prospering while they are suffering. Their own self-righteousness causes them to doubt God's love and concern for them and to give up all hope of restoration.

God saw Job and heard his accusations. He spoke to Job out of the whirlwind: "Why are yo using yoru ignorance to deny my providence? Now get ready to fight, for I am going to demand some answers from you, and you must reply." (Job 38:2)

In other words, God was saying to Job, "Who do you think you are questioning my integrity? If you know so much, were you there when I laid the foundation of the earth?" God continued to point out Job's unjust accusations by giving example after example of His mighty power in creation. Then God asked Job another question: "Stand up like a man and brace yourself for battle. Let me ask you a question, and give me the answer. Are you going to discredit my justice and condemn me, so that you can say that you are right?" (Job 40:7-8)

When Satan brings sickness or adversity into our lives, we must not become bitter and resentful and yield to the negative force of self-righteousness by saying, "God, why did you allow this to happen to me? You know I've been faithfully serving you. I go to church every Sunday. I pay my tithes. I am living a good life. There are sinners who have turned their backs on You and yet they are prospering. Why aren't they being punished? It doesn't seem fair that a good person like me should have to suffer."

Job was restored when he repented of his self-righteous attitude (Job 42:1-5).

You and I have to be on the lookout for any sign of this destructive force in our lives and should we discover it, we must repent and renew our trust in God to deliver us.

Are any of these negative forces...self-pity, worry, unbelief, self-righteousness...hindering you from releasing your faith and acting on God's Word?

God has shown me that one of the major reasons why Christians are failing to practice what they preach is because they are failing to take authority over these negative forces that are part of their old carnal nature. They are allowing their feelings to rule their actions.

When these hindrances come your way, you have a choice to make: First, you can allow SELF to control your actions by yielding to your feelings of self-pity, worry, unbelief and self-righteousness, or, secondly, you can crucify (put to death) those feelings, yield to the Holy Spirit, and take authority over them in the name of Jesus.

Remember the circumstances cannot defeat you as long as you don't "freeze in your tracks", turn around and run, or hide when you are out on the battlefield.

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