How about a reality check?
What’s your attitude like? Would you describe yourself right now as full of hope and excitement, or are you full of despair and discouragement? Maybe you’re allowing all that activity to rob you of the ability to worship? (Remember Mary and Martha and the lesson Martha learned about joy-killing busyness?) What are you focused on, thinking through, and meditating about the most?
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, “But since we belong to the day, we must be serious and put the armor of faith and love on our chests, and put on a helmet of the hope of salvation.” This is especially important right now as things seem to be growing progressively dimmer!
Are you focused on the hope of your salvation? What happens when that is the first thought of every day?
Jesus gives you a keen awareness of and gratitude for your deliverance from the bondage of sin and your ability to live a pure and God-pleasing life. If you have recently found yourself griping too much, it’s possible you’re not praising Him enough. The hope of your salvation gives you a deep understanding that sin can destroy your health, your relationships, and the ability to fulfill your purpose, so you must remain focused on the Savior.
This laser beam of intentional concentration enables you to have deep compassion for those who need a Savior and need to experience what you have in Christ! Intentionality also makes you quicker to witness, give thanks, offer praise for your Savior, and intercede for others.
This is the real battleground on which the enemy fights his strongest, dirtiest, bloodiest, and most important battles. Consider this: Jesus is Savior and His work in us is salvation. There is tremendous benefit in meditating on His loving-kindness and His death on the cross, so you might live free of sin and inherit an eternal home.
Reality check number one is that no one can govern or monitor your thinking but you. You control and govern what you will allow your mind to dwell on. You have the power to both dismiss and entertain thoughts. Paul makes it clear that we are to pursue having the mind of Christ. His attitude. If you allow wrong thinking to control you, before long it becomes a stronghold and will end up characterizing your attitude toward life.
Tony Evans says, “If it becomes a stronghold it is because you either do not know the truth or are not making use of the truth you know.”
Reality check number two is that you can even have victory in your mind and your thinking. Easier said than done, but Paul would not have made the challenge if it were not possible through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds. What is the most important thought to remain focused upon? That Jesus is your Lord and Savior. Salvation does not only refer to a person’s initial acceptance of Christ, but also to God’s ongoing rescuing and delivering power. This is why you are instructed by the Savior to pray daily, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”
Reality check number three is that how you think usually determines how you function. The helmet protects the head where the brain is the control center for all we do. Protect your thought life by trusting God to save, rescue, and deliver you from the onslaught of messages you encounter every day. God desires to save you from all doubt and deliver you from the enemy’s lies. This onslaught is meant to rob you of joy, peace, security, and confidence. Second Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.”
Reality check number four is that the helmet of salvation is what protects you from discouragement. The enemy tempts you to give up when you don’t see the results you desired. You prayed but God did not answer it the way you had hoped. You poured your life into a ministry and yet it did not grow and flourish. You discipled someone countless hours but they did not continue on the path you believed they should. The temptation is to lose heart. You begin to wonder if you have labored in vain as the enemy whispers into your ear that you are a failure. Remember that he is a liar and God has called you to be faithful.
Reality check number five is if the enemy can discourage you, he will then deter you. Discouragement comes from looking at your failures, sins, unresolved problems, poor health, or anything else negative in your life causing you to lose confidence in the loving care of your heavenly Father. You begin to doubt His promises, goodness, and dependability. Do not forget you are in a race you cannot lose and a fight where you are guaranteed victory. The helmet of salvation gives us confidence and assurance that our present struggles won’t last forever! Reality check . . . in Christ you are on the winning team.