“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
The Overcoming Power of a Thankfilled Heart, by Randall D. Kittle

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As born-again believers we follow the great, victorious One who has overcome death, hell, and the grave and is now seated in glory in the heavenly realm. Jesus’ finished work on the Cross has given each of us all we need to overcome the enemy and live an abundant, victorious life. The Word of God tells us that no matter what the enemy brings at us we are more than able to overcome him. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Just as Jesus gave to the 70 disciples in Luke 10, He gives to you and me as His disciples today the authority to overcome the enemy. “I have given you authority to … overcome all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19).

Not only has the Lord given us the authority to conquer the enemy and advance His kingdom on this earth, He expects each of us to walk out His victory and to be overcomers. This truth will become increasingly more important as the end of the age unfolds. When you look at the letters to the seven churches found in Revelation 2–3, the exhortation and condemnation for the deeds done belong to all of those who are part of the churches, but the promises of final blessings are given to a select group — a group of believers near and dear to our Lord’s heart —
“to him who overcomes.”

God’s Secret Weapon
While the Bible clearly shows us many weapons we can use to overcome the enemy (such as the Word of God, the name of Jesus, the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony to name a few), there is a weapon of vast power overlooked and untapped by most believers. This secret weapon of God is the power of a thankfilled heart.

When our hearts regularly express thanksgiving, it works to destroy the three-pronged attack of the enemy found in 2 Corinthians 10:4–6, which says:
“The weapons we use in our fight are not the world’s weapons but God’s powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.” This Bible verse shows us directly the three areas in which thanksgiving is a strong weapon. A thankfilled heart overcomes false arguments, it helps us overcome pride, and it helps us take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.

Overcomes False Arguments
One of the schemes of the enemy is to use “false arguments” to discourage, confuse, and cripple the walk of believers. From the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, Satan has used deception and lies to separate mankind from God and cause us to fail to fulfill our purpose as God’s precious children. But the Word of God promises that the powerful weapons God has provided for us will destroy the false arguments of the enemy.

One of the false arguments the enemy uses to push back and prevent the Church from advancing in our day is the victim mentality. You can’t be part of any church for very long before you begin to discover those whose thinking has become ensnared in the enemy’s trap of a victim mentality. They are no longer overcomers — they have been overcome! Betrayal, rejection, falls, and failure have left them only a shell of the men and women of God they used to be, and a mere shadow of who they are called to be in Christ.

When someone has a victim mentality, they are focused on others and how they have been wronged by them. Once they allow this weapon to be deployed in their life, they will soon find it a ready excuse and acceptable reason for anything and everything that is not going the right way. If they hadn’t been betrayed by so-and-so, this would’ve happened. They were unable to do something remarkable here because they were recovering from the rejection they received over there. Everything undone, every failure, every disappointment is viewed through the distortion of what has been done
to them.

But a thankful spirit quickly begins to erode the victim mentality because it causes us to view life in light of what has been done
for us. Instead of seeing things we deserved but never attained, we begin to see things we attained but never deserved. It is impossible to have a truly thankfilled heart toward others and God, and at the same time maintain a victim mentality. The ongoing practice of being thankful will destroy the false argument that you are some pitiful victim … every time!

Overcomes Pride
Another one of the strongholds the enemy uses to ensnare the Church is that of pride. The very fall of Satan was due to his pride as shown in Isaiah 14:12–14, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will also sit on the mount of the congregation, on the farthest sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the Most High.’” When you look at what the heart of Lucifer says in these verses — every sentence begins with “I” — this is the very epitome of pride.

No one knows better than Satan how well pride works to make one fall and become far from God. If the enemy can get us to operate in pride, he knows that it will both distance us from God and cause God to resist what we are doing,
“for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

When we operate in pride, we are focused on self. “‘I’ have accomplished this, and ‘I’ am responsible for that.” But the Bible commands us to
“be clothed with humility” (1 Peter 5:5), for this is how we overcome pride. You cannot wear pride and humility at the same time. The one will always remove the other.

There are two ways to actively pursue humility; one is preventive — to be thankful, and the other is corrective — repentance. These two actions produce humility because both being thankful and repenting are acts of subjection. We choose to subject ourselves to, or under, another.

False repentance says, “I was wrong and I’m sorry.” But true repentance says, “I was wrong. It was sin. Will you forgive me?” Do you see the difference? False repentance keeps you in control while in true repentance you have surrendered your right to be right, and are at the mercy of the other to grant you forgiveness. This is why true repentance brings humility (and why it is so hard for most of us to do).

Likewise, thankfulness lowers our opinion of ourselves and elevates others and God. Thankfulness gets our focus off ourselves and acknowledges that others have had an important part in our successes and victories. Thankful hearts are a death blow to the prideful image of the “self-made man.” They help us to become God-made men — those who realize they have received many blessings from God and our dependent upon His grace.

Overcomes Anxiety
A third scheme of the enemy to keep us from being the men and women of God we were created to be is by invading our thought-lives. Never before has there been a time when mankind is so bombarded by the thoughts of others. Through the newspaper, radio, television, billboards, the internet, and more, our senses are being continually presented with thoughts others want us to think. Many of these thoughts present no moral dilemma, while others are obviously contrary to the will of God. While it is growing more difficult to stand against thoughts of greed, envy, lust, and covetousness in these days, the truth is we know they are wrong and we should actively resist them.

One of the most wearisome and discouraging areas of thinking we need to stand against, however, is far more subtle. It is the area of worrisome and anxious thoughts. With the worldwide news of wars, natural disasters, economic downturns, etc. it would seem only natural for us to be anxious about the days in which we live. But we are not called to be natural, but supernatural.

It is just as clear in the Scriptures that we are not to worry as it is that we are to love! Look at God’s exhortation not to worry found in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life … So why do you worry about clothing? … Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things” (Matthew 6:25–34). It seems clear from Jesus’ teaching here that He expects us not to worry or be anxious. Jesus doesn’t say, “Try not to worry.” No, He clearly commands three separate times in this passage, “Do not worry!” It is always possible for us not to worry (or Jesus would not have commanded it), and just as clearly, we are sinning by breaking Jesus’ command if we do worry.

When we have anxious thoughts, we are focused on our circumstances, what threatening or concerning things are happening around us. But thanksgiving makes our thought obedient to Christ by putting our focus on the blessings, provision, and opportunities we have been given.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). This proper perspective can transform days of worry into days of worship.

Having a thankfilled heart toward the Lord helps us to overcome pride, a victim mentality, and anxious thoughts because it takes our focus off of others, ourselves, and our circumstances and puts it where it should be … on God, and on the grace He has shown us directly and through others. Let us willingly pick up God’s secret weapon of a thankfilled heart so that we might overcome the schemes of the enemy and reveal God’s glory on the earth. As it tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18,
“… give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”


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