Hard Changes

We are talking about mindset in this series. What we think about is essential to what our lives become. Our choices impact our behavior and our situations. Changing our mindset means changing what we are thinking about. To help you with that, text ‘godspromises’ to 689-214-5554. As you meditate on these things that God has in His mind for you, you will get hold of them in YOUR mind for you.

Choose to feed your mind daily with the best thoughts. Resolve to free your mind from destructive thoughts. Feed your faith and starve your doubts. “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit” (Romans 8:5) 

You have got to fight to free your mind. Focus every day. Focus on what matters the most. How do you make your mind mind, especially when your thoughts often disobey you. Do you find, for example, that when you want to read your Bible or pray, your mind drifts away? Or do you spend a chunk of time worrying about something that never happens? Defeat in life comes when we don't know how to fight the battle of the mind. 

One battle of the mind is with temptation. When temptation comes, it follows a process described in James 1:14. Desires entice us and drag us away. Temptation starts in desire. 

Desires are not inherently evil. They are usually natural desires that are a part of life. They are God-given. There is nothing wrong with a desire for food or sleep for instance, but if desire grows beyond control, it becomes destructive.

Doubt follows desire that has gone rogue. Doubt in what God says, the truth we find in His word, leads us further into the temptation process. Maybe we decide that He doesn’t really mean what He has said about a certain topic. We doubt the truth and give way to deception. 

As a person doubts God’s word and what He has to say about the area we are struggling in, we begin to settle for lies. These may be justification for the uncontrolled desire or they may be a lie about not really having a choice in the matter. Maybe it is a lie about how others will feel if we don’t participate with them. Remember too, we have an enemy and Satan will use just the right bait to draw us in. He always has a hook that will snag us.

Disobedience is the step after doubt. Scripture says that the truth will set us free. If we depart from truth and yield to deception, we will lose our way. Disobedience to the truth causes departure from healthy, life-giving behavior and good choices will be forfeited for behavior that brings defeat. 

As defeat becomes reality, we are in full-fledged sin which leads to death. Attraction leads to action and that's where the problem lies. Whatever you flirt with you will fall for and the end result is death. Death does not mean you quit breathing necessarily, but it definitely means you are not living the life God has in mind for you. You are not making choices that satisfy your soul and birth abundance into your life. 

Make up your mind to obey - no matter what (Ps 119:112).  Have you made that decision? You become what you think about the most. What you think about the longest becomes the strongest focus of your mind. Heavenly minded people tend to be of more earthly good. A lot of us are too earthly minded to be of any heavenly good.

 

So, why are certain behaviors, that are not doing you any good, hard to change?

 

  1. There are thought patterns you've had for a long time. Some are survival tactics you developed as a child. They may be thought processes that don't really work well, that are obviously harmful to you and others, but they are like old friends. 
  2. Some are perceived identity. An example would be “I'm a workaholic.” Or “I will always be overweight.” Those defects are not your true identity. Your identity is in Christ and it is what He says about you and what He has authored in you, that is the truth. However, what you expect with confidence will become your self-fulfilling prophecy. Listen to your self-talk and what you say about yourself. It can be very revealing.
  3. There is a payoff - emotional, relational, physical… You're “rewarded” for that bad habit and whatever gets rewarded, gets repeated. Ask yourself what the payoff is from a thought process you're trying to change. Your thinking leads to behavior and behavior is reinforced when it “works for you”. A good example is a mother calling family down for dinner. She tries nicely several times even adding that the food will be cold if they don’t come eat. Finally, she yells and that is the behavior that gets results. The reward is that when she yells, the family comes to dinner. Another way to say it is that we get our way when we act out. If you can't get approval, you'll get attention.
  4. Satan wants to keep you stuck. It is his constant goal to keep you from reaching your God-given potential. He is the accuser of the brethren. He can't control your mind but he can drop negative, accusing thoughts into your mind.

Change starts with choices. What are you choosing to think about? Since you've heard about Jesus, throw off the sinful nature let the spirit work (Ephesians 4:21 27). Join me next week to learn how to make lasting changes. Meanwhile, don’t forget to download the Promises Over Problems ebook by texting godspromises to 689-214-5554.

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Take Captive

Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

We have a choice to allow God to change the way we think. If we pay attention, we realize choices shape a lot of our life, even more than circumstances. We are a byproduct of our past but we're not a prisoner of our past. Choices have consequences so if we change our mind, we can change our world.

Stinking thinking is a hindrance. Is there an area where you could use a fresh start? Most of us can say yes to that question. But, before you change your location or your job, change your thinking. The next thing after saying “Yes” to Jesus is to change how you see yourself, how you see your problems, and how you see God.

So, if mindset matters, what are some things you need to be aware of that will help you reset?

  1. Thoughts direct your life.

Proverbs 4:23 (TEV) instructs us to be careful how we think because our life is shaped by our thoughts. How often do you sabotage yourself? Outside of your conversations you have with God, what are the conversations you have with yourself? As you think, you will be. The problem is in your mind.

  1. Struggles happen in your mind.

The mental battle is continuous. Depression, stress, addiction, fear, anxiety, jealousy, resentment low esteem, lies from the devil – these are all mental battles. There is always a battle in your brain. Paul was gut-level honest about his own struggle in Romans 7:22-23 (LB), “I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin.” The battle is intense because your mind is your greatest asset. It matters.  

  1. The mind is where God’s Spirit works.

When we come to belief in Jesus and what He did for us, we invite Jesus into our hearts. The heart is a symbol for the brain. Ephesians 4:22 (CEV) is worth memorizing – “You were told that your foolish desires will destroy you and that you must give up your old way of life with all its bad habits. Let the Spirit change your way of thinking.” When Satan suggests an idea into your mind, we call it temptation. When God suggests an idea into your mind, it is inspiration. Romans 8:6 (NCV) let’s us know that where our thinking is controlled by sinful self, there is death but where it is controlled by the Spirit, there is life and peace.

Nothing is going to change until you change the way you think. When you change your thinking, you can change your life and when you change the way you look at things, the things that you’re looking at will begin to change.

What can you do to transform your mind? One way is to feed your mind with good thoughts. Feed your faith and starve your doubts. Philippians 4:8 shows us how to do that. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Does this verse describe the majority of your thoughts? We have to train our thoughts to do this. We have to choose. We need to monitor what we are taking in, - watching, reading, listening to. What's on your mental diet? 

In John 8:31-32, Jesus tells us if we continue to obey his teaching, we are truly his followers. Then we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. He also says if we continue in His word, we're His followers. Would Jesus say you are truly one of his followers? We need to choose every day to feed our mind with good thoughts and choose to free our thoughts from destructive thoughts. Destructive thoughts can be from our old nature that is contradictory to God’s way for us, it can be lies we have believed and held onto, and they can come from the world we live in.

How serious are you about transforming your life? Mindset matters. Investment in changing your mind in order to change your world is worth every effort.  

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Change Your Mind

Have you limited yourself by your own thinking? Do you struggle to stay positive? Mindset is a premier topic in the Bible. I like to think of it this way, the person of Jesus prepares you for heaven, but His principles prepare you for life here on earth.

One of my favorite scriptures is Ephesians 3:20. The Amplified version gives a clear picture, “Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever.” In this verse, the power that works in us is our asking and our thinking.  

It is true for most of us that a new way of thinking is the key to producing the results we want. We need a check up from the neck up! There are three areas I believe we need to consider as we check up on our thinking. 

 

  1. Transformation: We need to look at things differently. In Romans 12:2 we learn to not copy the world but to let God transform us by changing the way we think. By changing our thinking, we can change our world. God has a plan and pattern for your life. His plans for you are good. Do not conform to the world’s pattern but to God's pattern which is good, victorious, and abundant. God's plan is always better than our plan. In the world, we will have trials and tribulation. But, He will fight with you in your battles and He always wins. Get into His perfect plan for your life. Transformation means a change in nature, metamorphosis. As you renew your mind to God's way of thinking, you will change from the inside out. You learn new things, what to believe about God and about yourself based on what He says about you. We gain Godfidence, knowing we are His and who we are in Him. Godfidence is confidence in Him. It's important to read the Bible, pray, and go to church but changing your mind brings transformation. Think differently. Favorable circumstances will follow. Believe God will do good things in your life.
  2. Declaration: In Joshua 1:8, we are given clear instruction, “Study this Book of Instruction (God’s word) continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” We are to meditate on God's word day and night. What does meditate mean? It means to not cease speaking what God says out of your mouth but talk to yourself day and night. Then prosperity and good success, doing well, comes. Prosperity and doing well follow speaking God’s word to yourself day and night. Use the right words to talk to yourself. Words are powerful. Are you hurting yourself by what you're saying to yourself? Please, speak positive things to yourself. Proverbs 21:5 (NIV) “The plans (thoughts) of the diligent lead to profit (plenty).” John prays for you in his epistle, 3 John, verse 2, “I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” The soul is the seat of your feelings, desires, affections, will and emotions. Our soul gives us good health through what we're thinking, declarations that our mind makes on a daily basis.
  3. Meditation: Train your mind to focus on what is good and what is godly, taking captive your thoughts. The mind is a continual battlefield. Meditation is training your mind to focus on the good things God has for you. Philippians 4:8 teaches us to fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. God, and life, will give you what you think about most often. Think about your thinking. Going back to Ephesians 3:20, considering Him who is able to carry out His purpose beyond anything we can ask or think, infinitely more than anything we can ask or think - we realize thinking is a huge part of this equation. We are not just talking about the five minutes or even the hour that we pray. It's the thinking during the next 23 hrs and 55 minutes that impacts our lives more. Our thinking is a lot more powerful than we typically give it credit for. Many Bible promises are tied to our thinking. God will provide all He paid for and He paid for a lot more than just our getting to heaven. He paid for life and life more abundant. Get wisdom in your thinking. According to Proverbs, wisdom is like sharpening your ax. It makes things a whole lot easier.

God has set up life to bless you. What are you thinking about most often? Even the word “repent” means to think differently. You are not unworthy scum. God doesn't make junk. As you think differently, you will act differently and your life will change. You will stop hindering your life and open yourself to faith and receiving from God. Change your mind, change your world. 

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A Purpose That Will Inspire You

There is a significant difference between setting goals and setting goals with a God-given purpose. In 2 Timothy 1:9 we learn God has saved us and called us with a holy calling not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. We are saved, called and graced for PURPOSE. Purpose is all that God created you for, called you to and graced you for. It is what life equips you for. 

Purpose has your name on it. Purpose doesn’t quit and it points to Jesus in the form of a current testimony, what you are able to tell others about His work in your life today. Purpose points you forward. It motivates, inspires, and encourages you. And, purpose inspires others toward “a purpose driven life.” Purpose doesn’t happen to you, it happens THROUGH you. Purpose is 1) Why you are saved, 2) Why you are filled with the Holy Spirit, and 3) Why you are alive.

When your existence (your life) and purpose collide, you are dangerous. You are heading toward destiny and creating a legacy. It is a powerful opportunity when people realize they have a purpose. God anoints you for this. Purpose defines how you speak and think and it is the reason you get out of bed in the morning. It also affects those around you.

Why does God want us to live with purpose? Are you familiar with what is generally referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer”? In the words of this prayer, we pray “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Purpose brings heaven’s purposes to earth. That is what Jesus did. He brought heaven to earth. Jesus came with purpose - to preach the good news, to heal broken hearts, to set captives free, to open blind eyes, to release the oppressed, and to preach the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19) 

Ultimately Jesus’ purpose, and ours, is to spread God’s fame. Every believer has a purpose, a role to play in the spread of the good news. No matter what you do for work or ministry or life, you have purpose. Use your gifts to serve God and watch what God will do. You can be used for the glory of God and see success in the process. Success is a Bible word and if there's good success (Joshua 1:8), then there can be bad success. Bad success is all about yourself. Proverbs 16:3-4 promises that if you commit your actions to the Lord, your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes. 

To everything there's a season. There is a time for every purpose under heaven. This is your time. Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. He is the same God who saved you, but it's not just about yesterday. Make it about today and tomorrow and forever.

Purpose is an issue of the heart. Psalm 33:11 promises that the purposes of God’s heart stand through all generations. It's a heart condition. He places his purpose in our heart, a divinely planted sense of purpose. Align your purpose with His and you're going to find that sweet spot in your life. It will be turbo charged because of God's grace and his anointing at work in your life.

When purpose is in your heart, it will find its way into your mouth. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Purpose is in God's mouth and His word does not return to Him empty but will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it. When we have purpose, our mouth is not subject to vain gossip or false narrative but helps propel our purpose.

Purpose frames the things you desire. “May He grant you according to your heart's desire and fulfill ALL your purpose” (Ps 20:4). Desire changes with God's revealed purpose.

Don't be surprised if the devil fights you as you walk into purpose. He gets threatened when people start living their purpose. His purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. He will try it but he doesn't have to be successful. Purpose says “no permission” to steal, kill or destroy. Purpose allows “no opportunity” “no advantage” and “no place” to the devil and his schemes. 

God can do all things and no purpose of His can be thwarted. His purpose cannot and will not be annulled. His purpose stands firm. Ask God to put His sense of purpose in your heart and make your life about purpose. Live WITH purpose, FOR purpose, and ON purpose.

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How Do I Know I Really Hear Him?

In John 10:3-5 we learn that sheep follow their shepherd’s voice and they do not follow a stranger’s voice. God does not have a speaking problem. 

So, how do you know if it's God talking to you? 1 John 4:1 teaches us to test the spirits. Have you ever had someone tell you they believe God is telling them to tell you something? If what they say confirms what God has been impressing upon you, then it is a good chance they have heard from God and are speaking truth to you. Cool. But, sometimes, a message such as this is obviously off base. And, sometimes, if you haven't got a confirmation but you also think it’s possible, you can put a message such as this on the shelf. I had a message like that. It took 17 years, but what I was told did come to pass eventually and it was truly exciting when it did!

Whether we are hearing for ourselves or whether someone believes they are hearing God on our behalf, people do miss it. A great example of this was the Apostle Peter. In one moment, he had a revelation and rightly proclaimed Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah. But, in the next, he was rebuked by Jesus for speaking against Jesus’ road to Calvary. Jesus actually looked at Peter and exclaimed, “Get behind me Satan!” 

This is one reason I am very careful saying “God spoke to me.” Proverbs 14:12 explains why. There is a path that seems right to man that ends in death. So, what do we do about this and how do we make sure to stay on the right path?

I have four processes that will help you know what to do with God’s whispers and promptings and will give you confidence that you're moving in the right direction.

  1. Make sure what you believe you have heard lines up with the Bible. God will not contradict his word. He has the right to say something is right or something is wrong but He will not go against His own word. 
  2. Ask yourself if what you feel God is telling you will make you more like Christ. The more you know God the more you’ll become like Him. Let him work on your attitude and on your decision making and choices. Read the Bible, listen to messages about God, go to a new believer’s class, discover your purpose. Our goal is to become like Christ and the decision you are making should draw you in the direction of that goal. Philippians 2:5, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” James 3:17-18 explains this mindset, “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
  3. Another way to know if it is God speaking is through godly counsel. Do you have agreement with people you know who follow God and whom you trust? There's power in agreement. Proverbs 12:15 enforces this, “The wise listen to others.” Proverbs 19:20-21 says it another way, “Take good counsel and accept correction— that’s the way to live wisely and well. We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God’s purpose prevails.” Don’t keep trying to get God to say what you want to hear. If you don't get agreement, stop. Do what God is telling you to do or stop doing what God is telling you to stop.
  4. A fourth way to know you are hearing from God is His peace. As a Christ follower, we have the Holy Spirit living on the inside. God inside of us! Think of it! So, we know we are hearing from God when we have peace, a peace the world can't give us. God is not a God of disorder but of peace - 1 Corinthians 14:33. Even if something looks like it lands in the “do” file based on your pro/con list, if you don’t have peace, don’t do it. Remember, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7). 

Each of these processes is important on its own, but if all four line up, you can have confidence that you're on the right track.

Tune into God everyday. Read your Bible, not just to check off your list, but to lead you to the person of the Bible so that you can tune in to His character. As we get to know Him, we can hear His voice more clearly. We become familiar with His voice and we will know how to follow Him. We also must tune out the other stuff. Actively shut down the voices that oppose God. We need to get far away from those things that are not of God. Tune in, tune out, and the closer you get to God, the clearer His voice is. Choose a “God-first life” and you will be amazed at what He is speaking to you. 

 

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