This is a fantastic, very practical devotional. Enjoy!
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” ~ Romans 12:2
It’s likely that we’ve all had challenges with our thinking. Bad memories, harmful relationships, trauma, and the enemy’s attacks can all monopolize our thoughts and, at times, make us wonder if we’ll “ever get our head together.”
Negative patterns — bad habits – addictions (eating disorders, sexual addiction, pornography, alcohol abuse, inappropriate language, uncontrolled anger, etc.) will make us feel out of control and continually defeated.
Over the years, I’ve watched numerous people literally “change their minds” and get control of their thoughts. In fact, the old patterns of their thinking changed. The “renewing of your mind” is a very real experience.
One ministry that I’ve tried to stay involved in is Teen Challenge. I’ve seen drug and alcohol addicts, gang leaders, people with terrible backgrounds, murderers, and all sorts of other criminals change their behavior and get control of their thinking because of what I call “the Jesus factor.”
Dr. Daniel Siegel’s book Mindsight presents some ongoing research about how the mind develops thinking patterns. Siegel demonstrated how bad experiences, abuse, and harmful relationships can affect our thinking and behavior, saying that “interpersonal experience plays a special organizing role in determining the development of brain structure early in life and the ongoing emergence of brain function throughout the lifespan.” Along with developing negative patterns of thinking (i.e., “bad thoughts), he has also discovered that the mind can be re-patterned.
Does this sound familiar to what Paul wrote? “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
There is no question in my mind that people can change. Terrible life experiences remain in our memories; however, the power of those experiences can be removed and brought under control by God’s grace and the renewal of our minds.
How can this happen?
1. We can permit the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and, with His help, we can stop running our lives by ourselves. The Holy Spirit will teach us and speak to us; “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).
“The Spirit establishes the direct connection from the mind of God to the mind of the Christian.” ~ Dr. Bernard Ramm
The Christian has been set free from “old patterns” of thinking. This means that a “new mind” can do what it’s supposed to do . . . fulfill its function.
“For the Spirit God does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” ~ 2 Tim. 1:7 (also; Rom. 12:2)
2. We can choose to think about positive things. Christians have the Holy Spirit’s help to control their thought life and their decisions.
What do you think about? “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Phil. 4:8).
We are largely responsible for the things we let our minds dwell upon:.
• True — Don’t think on deceptive or illusory things, but think on truth.
• Noble — That which has dignity, not flimsy or cheap thoughts.
• Right — Proper thinking, right conduct.
• Pure — Morally pure—not entertaining negative or dirty ideas (clean thinking).
• Lovely — Thoughts of kindness, love, acceptance—not bitter or vengeful.
• Admirable — Good thoughts, fair—not wrong, evil, or sinful.
• Excellent — Positive, encouraging.
“But we can by Spirit inspired thinking help to make our minds pure sanctuaries in which God will be pleased to dwell.” ~ A.W. Tozer
By choosing to utilize the mind of Christ (that every Christian has), our thinking will become transformed (re-patterned). As disciples of Christ, we have “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).
Questions to ask:
• What would Jesus do?
• What would Jesus think about?
This is the natural way we are to think.
“In your relationships with one another,
have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” ~ Phil 2:5
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Phil 4:6-7
“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
~ 2 Cor. 10:3-5
The responsibility is ours:
• We must take control of our thinking, putting out of our minds anything that would hinder progress in our Christian experience.
• Thoughts of worry, fear, lust, hate, jealousy, and unforgiveness can all be eliminated.
This takes effort . . . but the Holy Spirit is available to help you.
We can choose to fill our minds with thoughts and resources that will help us continue to develop healthy thinking rather than continuing in patterns of thinking that injure us.
3. We can pray about our thought life. God will answer us when we pray and help us keep our minds pure. Our new birth in Christ (new creation) is the starting point for controlling our mind, emotions, and behaviors.
“Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
(John 16:24, see Matt. 7:7-8)
Harmful relationships, trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), past behavioral activities, shocking experiences, etc. can certainly create challenges in our thinking. But, even as the secular experts have discovered, our minds can be transformed by the help of the Holy Spirit, positive relationships, and healthy decisions that we permit to become part of our lives.
You are a leader, but more than that, you are a Child of God with the ability to think like Christ.
(c) 2014 Wayde Goodall Used with permission