In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
—2 Timothy 2:20
This is the fourth message in my series on preparing for your calling. Follow this link to read previous posts in this series. Last week, I talked about God taking us through the wilderness to empty us and fill us with His Word, so we can be equipped to walk in faith until Jesus returns. When we are going through times of intense testing, it’s important to remember God’s faithfulness and keep our minds focused on Him. Whenever the Israelites saw God perform a miracle, they believed and praised Him. But the moment they were in need, they quickly doubted His faithfulness.
The Bible says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” (James 1:2-8).
My greatest weakness used to be doubt. I was extremely double-minded. My husband would often ask me how I could have so much faith one moment, but when circumstances changed I’d quickly lose it. It was easy to believe God when I saw Him bless me. But just like the Israelites, I’d quickly return to doubting God the moment I was in need.
I didn’t understand why I struggled with doubt so much. In my heart I believed God was who He said He was. I believed His Word was true. I felt like the father that cried out to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). It didn’t make sense to me. How could I believe and have unbelief?
I didn’t understand that my carnal mind that I operated in before I knew Jesus was defiled with unbelief. “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled” (Titus 1:15). I was double-minded because I was still used to operating in my carnal mind. My mind needed to be transformed and renewed into my new Spiritual mind, the mind of Christ.
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16, KJV
Whenever a storm suddenly arose, I’d naturally default to my carnal mind because that was dominant in me. I believe that’s why the disciples quickly lost faith when they were hit with a storm soon after following Jesus in Matthew 8:23-26. It takes time to put off our old thinking and start operating in the Spirit.
… if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Ephesians 4:21-24, NASB
The Israelites wouldn’t lay aside their carnal mind. They often complained that they would’ve been better off in Egypt. They kept their minds focused on what they left behind. If they would’ve kept their minds on God, and allowed Him to change their thinking, they wouldn’t have wandered around for forty years and died in the wilderness.
This is why Satan attacks our minds. That’s where our spiritual battle takes place (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Satan knows if he can get us to keep our minds off the Spirit, then we won’t follow the Spirit. God leads us into the wilderness. But He doesn’t force us to follow Him. We can turn back any time we want. Satan knows once we accept Christ, it is a critical time to hinder us from following Christ to the end. Satan and his army go full force trying to get us to turn back and return to captivity. We must not give him the glory by letting him succeed.
I spent many years struggling in the wilderness. Once I learned the importance of renewing my mind, I committed myself to being in the Word daily. Within only five months of seeking God daily I saw my life take a dramatic turn. I was able to quit the job I had been praying to leave for many years and take the first step into God’s calling for my life.
The Bible says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).
If things aren’t going well in your life right now, don’t give up seeking God and His Word daily. In due season, you will reap a bountiful harvest if you continue to persevere. God is faithful. Praise Him and speak His Word out loud to help keep your mind focused on Him. Don’t let your mind think about your problems. Change directions by shifting your focus to God’s faithfulness in His Word.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
For our prayer this week, I want to close with a psalm David wrote when he was in the Desert of Judah (Psalm 63:1-8).
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
In Jesus name, I lift my voice in praise!