It’s The Thought That Counts

Igirl THINKING can be born again but my life can still look like something out of Loony Tunes, right up until “Th- th- that’s all, folks!” Inside, I’m perfect―born again in the image of God Himself. But on the outside I find myself falling frustratingly short. What am I going to do? The answer lies in renewing my mind. Romans 12:2 (NIV) commands, “Do not conform 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.” Instead of conforming to the world’s image, I seek transformation into the image of the reborn spirit within me. (Ephesians 4:24)

Wishing for it is not enough to bring about change. My mind is where the battle takes place. Whatever I allow to dominate my mind will rule my life. Will it be the Word of God or the lies of Satan? My choice.

James 4:7 says to “resist the devil and he will flee from you.” The devil is going to attack my mind and cause me to wrestle with thoughts of fear, shame, guilt and rejection. How can I resist the devil? Jesus showed the way in Matthew 4 – combat the devil’s lies with the Word of God. When fear comes that I am going to fail, I remind the devil Jesus already won the victory! Every lie of the devil has a corresponding truth from God’s Word, so I will use the Word as my weapon and fight until the devil flees. The Word of God is my sword (Ephesians 6:17).

Jesus healed a blind man by spitting in the dirt and spreading mud on his eyes. (John 9) Gross!
That whole process certainly would have made the man uncomfortable, but there was a miracle on the other side of the discomfort. We went through a remodel of our home. It was not comfortable: no bedroom, no kitchen, workers in and out, a constant mess. Transformation is not comfortable but it is worth it. Breaking from destructive relationships is not pleasant. Mind renewal is not easy. But there is a miracle just on the other side.

Feeling bad about my current circumstance doesn’t mean I am going to get better. We deceive ourselves by thinking if I really feel bad about the way things are, then I’ll do something about it. I can look at the scale every morning and say, “I really should do something!” But there is no motivation, no energy. Nothing will change. I just go back to my Twinkies. Being dissatisfied doesn’t mean I will change. Being unhappy about where I am doesn’t mean things will get better.

Renewal leads to a better place. Renewal gives me a new thought, a new goal, a new vision, a new dream and that will bring change to my life. I can look at what the Lord has for me and move toward that hope. That brings energy and passion into my life. Then I am not stuck in my past but rather moving with expectancy into my future.

Mind renewal is a battle against the strongholds and mind sets that have taken root in my soul. What is my story? Not the one I tell the world but the one I tell myself. That is the one that will pull me down or enable me to climb higher. I can put up a front to the world of confidence and godliness but behind closed doors I’m on internet sites I shouldn’t be or I’m focused on failure, self-pity, unforgiveness. If I can change my thoughts, I can change my life. New thoughts will bring me to new places.

I find myself in the middle of a failure again and I am surprised and shocked and shamed. I ask myself, “How did this happen?” The truth is, it started with a seed thought that I didn’t capture and it grew into something I never intended it to be. Is there an area in my life where I’m asking myself how I got there, how I let it get so bad or so out of control? There is a way out! “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12 NLT)

I don’t have to think every thought that comes into my mind. Just because I have a thought doesn’t mean it’s beneficial for me or that I should dwell on it. We should test thoughts and throw them out if they aren’t taking us where we want to go. 2Corinthians 10:5 tells us to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. When a thought crosses my mind that is negative, destructive or damaging, I am to test it against the truth of God’s Word and watch what happens. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 to think on whatever is noble, pure and lovely. I plan to think about what I’m thinking about and find ways to focus on the good. If I think like Christ I will live like Christ.

I have one shirt that I love. It is comfortable and sturdy so I can wear it for any job in the garage or the yard. But I can’t tell you how many times I have rescued it from the give-away pile because my wife hates it. In the same way, strongholds give me a sense of familiarity and comfort. My mind is going to go to what is comfortable and familiar in times of difficulty. A stronghold can be the most comfortable thought I have. I have thought it so many times that I don’t even realize the power that stronghold has! The Word of God is given to us in order to help us break free from the comfort zones that ensnare us.

Christians (even non-Christians) love to quote part of John 8:32; “The truth will set you free.” But the full verse makes it clear it is the truth that I know that sets me free, and the verse before sets an important condition: “If you continue in my word.” “Continue” is key. There’s a depth of revelation that comes from consistency that the inconsistent person will never see. Joshua 1:8 admonishes us that if we want to experience success, it comes by meditating on the Word.

When my wife and I were dating, she played a trick on me. She called me on the phone but put her girlfriend on to speak to me instead. This other girl answered, “Hi, sweetheart. It’s so good to hear from you.” I was oblivious and carried on the conversation as normal until I heard the giggles on the other end. They both thought it was great fun. (I wasn’t laughing.) Jesus said “His sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger.” (John 10:4b-5 NIV) Do I know God’s voice or have I listened to the devil’s voice for so long that he is not a stranger so I follow him easily? It is time to make God’s Word an integral part of my life so that I know His voice and the devil becomes a stranger. The Spirit of God will never guide me in opposition to the written Word of God (John 16:13). So, if I’m not familiar with what the Word says, I will find it more difficult to discern His leading.

The faucet in our garage sink was leaking. When I turned it on, water sprayed all over. That’s the kind of job I like. I went to Home Depot, bought some parts, grabbed my tools and a couple of hours later, all fixed. I felt accomplished and the good news was the next day I went into the garage, turned on the faucet and it worked perfectly. Unfortunately mind renew isn’t like that. It isn’t a once-and-done type of thing. It’s a daily process. Also, it’s a process that I must welcome the Holy Spirit into.

What does a Holy Spirit directed mind look like?
1. Decided. In Joshua 24:15, Joshua declared, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” An overcomer makes up his mind and is not sidetracked. In 48 years of marriage we have had the opportunity to be sidetracked by hurt, unforgiveness and self-focus, but we have remained decided. It takes backbone. It means standing when everyone else is running. Daniel’s friends faced the fiery furnace but they refused to run. Romans 1:16 says we are not ashamed of the Gospel. The “decided” mind makes the decision and sticks with it.
2. Disciplined. Living any ol’ way does not produce a champion. The attitude, “Mañana, mañana. Tomorrow I’ll take care of it.” That attitude is for the loser. The “disciplined” mind has integrity and humility. It is uncompromising. Daniel in the Old Testament exhibited it; Timothy in the New Testament also. Godly character is to choose to live by Godly principles. Problems are not going to go away. Battles will continue. The devil will continue to be after you. But discipline wins.
3. Diligent. We are constantly bombarded by the world. We may joke about the picture of a demon on one shoulder and an angel on the other whispering in our ear but reality is the devil is whispering to me all the time. Am I goin’ with the flow or am I fighting upstream? Colossians 1:23 (NIV) tells us to “continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.” Thoughts motivate actions; actions repeated become habits; habits collectively show character; character determines destiny. What is the foundation of your destiny? Are you built on the Rock?
4. Dominating. The enemy is defeated. It is time to stand up and enforce our inheritance. When we take up the whole armor of God (Eph 6:10-17), we will experience the truth of Romans 8:37 (NIV): “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” We have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. (Revelations 12:11) Jesus is King of kings.

Don’t let Satan bind you with the grave clothes of yesterday’s sin and defeat. You’ve been raised with Jesus. Like Lazarus (John 11), come out of the tomb and start living resurrection life! “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV) That’s a promise to get ahold of.