In 2016 I went to Uganda, Africa for a month-long mission’s trip.
Two other missionaries and I traveled to multiple churches preaching and teaching the Word of God. We saw people saved, healed, and set free by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One of the missionaries was a personal trainer and had invested in myself and the other missionary by physically training us each week. We chose to run, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week that we were there, as long as we didn’t have any schedule conflicts with ministry. But let me tell you, we were not running on a gym track; we were running on the hills of Africa that had inclines steeper than the highest incline on any treadmill!
I swear those inclines seemed to be completely vertical!
To make matters even more challenging, we were running those high inclines for five miles! Yes, you read correctly, 5 miles! That’s 15 miles per week in the middle of 90-degree Ugandan weather!
The first day we ran was brutal and I finished dead last.
I am a competitive person who is fueled by goal-achieving therefore, I set a goal for myself to finish first. Now, I am not a fast runner, so this was a challenge for me! As the weeks went on, my stamina grew and on the last run, I ended up finishing first! (Although, I did not beat the native Ugandan guide that was leading us on our runs). This was not an easy accomplishment because the entire time that I was running my body was screaming, “Stop! What are you putting me through?!”
The one factor that enabled me to overcome my body’s complaints and push through to first at the finish line was my mind.
My body was telling my mind to stop, but the Holy Spirit within my heart brought to my mind Philippians 4:13, “You can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens you.” There was a battle going on in my mind between the voice of the Holy Spirit and the voice of my flesh (body) telling me to quit.
I began to speak Philippians 4:13 out loud as I was running, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me!” The more that I spoke that scripture out loud, the ‘voice’ of my body telling me to ‘stop’ grew faint.
I began to listen to the Holy Spirit within my spirit (heart) by thinking and speaking the Word of God (Philippians 4:13) instead of thinking what my flesh (body) was telling me, “Quit!” My heart (the house of the Holy Spirit) and my mind began to tag-team against my flesh as if they were WWE Smackdown wrestlers!
Have you ever watched a wring match between two wrestlers on WWE Smackdown?
Growing up, I was obsessed with WWE and my favorite wrestler was John Cena. I remember one wrestling match between two guys, Rey Mysterio and The Big Show. Rey Mysterio was a smaller guy and his opponent, The Big Show, was a heavy-weight. Just when it looked like The Big Show was about to pin Rey, John Cena ran into the arena and tag-teamed with Rey against Big Show and Rey pinned Big Show with the help of John Cena.
In my running illustration above, think of The Big Show as my body, Rey Mysterio as my mind, and John Cena as my heart.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
According to this scripture, we are a three part being:
1. Spirit – heart
2. Soul – mind, emotions, feelings, will, and intellect
3. Body – flesh
My flesh was trying to govern, rule, and influence my mind with statements such as, “quit, give up, you are hurting, you can't do this” and my spirit was trying to govern, rule, and influence my mind with scripture, “You CAN DO all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens you!”
Thankfully I chose to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and began to meditate Philippians 4:13 by thinking and speaking the scripture.
This caused my spirit and soul (mind) to tag-team against my flesh which resulted in a victorious first place run!
Romans 8:6 says, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the spirit is life and peace.”
This scripture reveals that anyone who allows their mind to be governed, ruled, or influenced by their flesh will experience death, but the person who allows their mind to be governed, ruled, or influenced by their spirit (that is born-again) will experience life and peace.
So many people are living their lives ruled by their flesh and they are experiencing the negative outcomes that come from it.
Galatians 5:19-21 says, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Living in the flesh will bring spiritual death, destruction, and sin. Depression is a result of the flesh. Anxiety is a result of the flesh. Sickness and disease are a result of the flesh. Mental illness is a result of the flesh. Poverty is a result of the flesh. Divorce is a result of the flesh. Fear is a result of the flesh. Rage is a result of the flesh. Addiction is a result of the flesh.
How can this be?
Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden by listening to what their flesh wanted instead of listening to the Word of God. The result of their fleshly decision was death and they spiritually died, which means to be separated from God. Sin was passed along through the flesh of the offspring of every human being. Jesus came to reconcile those who are spiritually dead and separated from God through His death, burial, and resurrection. Belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus enables one to be made spiritually alive and reconciled to God.
If you have not made the decision to believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus but would like to make that decision now, repeat this prayer out loud:
“Heavenly Father, I believe in my heart Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe Jesus died for my sins. God, I’m sorry for all my sins and I ask you to forgive me. I believe that You raised Jesus from the dead and I say with my mouth Jesus is my Lord and Savior. Now I am saved, I have chosen life and I am Heaven bound. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”
Now that you are spiritually alive, the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) has come and housed Himself within your heart. He will produce God’s life within your heart, speak the truth of God’s Word to you, and lead you into prosperity and success.
Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Love is a result of the Spirit. Prosperity is a result of the Spirit. Joy is a result of the Spirit. Mental and emotional health is the result of the Spirit. Physical heath is a result of the Spirit. Wisdom is a result of the Spirit. Peace is a result of the Spirit.
Although we have the Holy Spirit within our hearts producing these Godly results, there still is a part of our being that is producing ungodly results. That part of us is our flesh and where we make our decision of whether we are going to listen to the Spirit or the flesh or our mind (soul).
There is a battle in the mind of every born-again Christian between the thoughts of the Spirit of God within their spirit (heart) and the thoughts of their flesh. The Spirit of God is like WWE wrestler John Cena and our flesh is like The Big Show. The Spirit of God’s job is to speak to us the truth (John 16:13) and lead us on God's path of life and peace but the job of the flesh is to lie to us and lead us on a path of death.
We need our mind, Rey Mysterio, to tag-team with our Spirit, John Cena, so we are not deceived (embracing a lie as truth) and win the match against our flesh!
Galatians 5:16-18, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
How do we get our mind (soul) to tag team with the Spirit of God to overcome our flesh? You may have noticed when I was running, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the scripture Philippians 4:13. The reason why He brought that to my remembrance was that I had read it before. He couldn’t remind me of something I had never read before, that is why it is SO important to KNOW THE BIBLE!
If you know the Bible, you will know the truth, and the truth will SET YOU FREE from the lies of the flesh! John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
You may have noticed that when I was running, I began to think and speak Philippians 4:13 which caused me to tag-team with the Spirit of God within me and overcome what my flesh was telling me. That process is called meditation.
The word meditate means to ponder and mutter.
Ponder means to think.
Mutter means to speak.
Joshua 1:8 tells us what to meditate, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
If we think about, speak, and act on the Bible day and night, God promises us that we will be prosperous and successful.