Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Too many of us approach life in combat mode, always battling and very rarely winning. This isn’t the life you have to live. Sure there are seasons when life and hell is throwing everything at you but this isn’t reality 100% of the time. You don’t have to live under constant pressure and feeling over burdened. Get a different perspective. God offers us a relationship with him, whereby, we get access to his inexhaustible grace and power to live the life he’s called each of us to. But you have to come to him. You can’t keep doing life in your own strength. You must choose to stop and drink from his living waters. Often times, we are our own worst enemies because we don’t create space in our minds, hearts and schedules for his presence to renew us. It’s time to stop making life harder for yourself than what it needs to be. Run to him and ask for his help!
We are a culture enamored with changing the external, thinking if we change our jobs, image and relationships that our lives will be happier. We have TV shows that promote this ideology and the web is saturated with images and stories of people who proclaim to be happier because they lost weight, made a million dollars or bought their dream car. Whilst being healthy, prospering and achieving life goals are admirable and meaningful pursuits by themselves, they might only make you 10% happier at best. Real change happens from the inside out. Romans 12:2 exhorts us to not be conformed to the pattern of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As we meditate upon those things that are godly, excellent and life giving, our minds are renewed to think like our creator and our spirits come into alignment with Gods perspective on our lives. If you desire an extreme makeover in 2016, begin with renewing your mind with the truth of Gods Word and you will discover you’ll be happier far beyond anything this world can offer you.
Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
A new year brings with it new hopes and resolutions. The truth is by Feb 1 most people’s new year resolutions are discarded for the onslaught of everyday demands. Don’t let this be you. The bible exhorts us to put off the old self and put on the new self, patterned after Christ. If you are going to embrace the new you in 2015, you need to pay attention to your thoughts. Where the mind goes, the body follows. What is your mind predominately preoccupied with? Faith, hope and love or doubt, fear and hate. The bible exhorts us to focus our minds on the things that are above and not on the things that are below. Millions of people are unhappy and unfulfilled because they only ever look horizontally around them at the things this world is preoccupied with but God is inviting us to get a vertical perspective on life by looking heavenward and seeing life from Gods perspective. Don’t struggle in your strength to put off the old self but ask for Gods help to empower you to be the new you in 2015!
You might have heard the saying, “You are what you eat”. Helpful advice but not as helpful as “You are what you think”. Your thoughts determine the outcome of your life. Thoughts lead to words, words lead to actions, actions lead to habits, habits form character and character informs your destiny. Your destiny is shaped by where your thoughts are taking you. If you don’t like where your thoughts are taking you, it’s time to think another thought. True but not easy. There’s so much cultural noise around us that reforming our thought life is no easy task. We must enter into Gods exchange program, old thoughts need to be replaced with new thoughts. Take stock of the most consistent and dominant thoughts in your mind and if they aren’t promoting God and his purpose for you, replace them with promises from Gods Word. When doubt enters your mind, replace that thought with, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. When fear enters your mind, replace it with, “I have not been given a spirit of fear, but power, love and self-control”. The most important discipline you can develop is the renewal of your mind because your thoughts control your life.
Too many of us are leading ourselves around, rather, than being led by the Spirit. There is a tension that exists between using my brain to live and following the leading of the Spirit. Head knowledge is helpful and important. It does make a difference. But sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is more important and separates the men from the boys. God gave me a brain and I’m convinced he wants me to use it but I’m aware that my brain can get in the way of my heart and what God is trying to teach and lead me in. We must learn to live out of what God’s spirit in our spirit is revealing to us. A renewed mind is critical if I’m going to make healthy and productive decisions. There is a critical connection between a renewed mind and a full spirit. My life is shaped by the decisions I make and my choices need to be shaped by the leadership and counsel of the Spirit of God. He’s not passive but very active in seeking to guide me. I foster clarity in the Spirit by regular times of communion and being still. Life can sometimes feel very jumbled up and upside down. It will get back on track if you will surrender and seek more to be led by the Spirit of God.
Extreme Makeover was the highest rated TV show in the USA just a few years ago and highlights our culture’s obsession with image. There’s no problem with people looking after themselves through exercise and nutrition or having great fashion sense but unfortunately too many of us are trying to change external symptoms rather than deal with root issues. We are so enamored with the external that we are missing where true change comes from.
God is into extreme makeover, it’s just that he works from the inside out, not the outside in. With God, what is without is what is within. When you get saved your spirit is born again and your sinful nature is erased. Your old self is crucified (Rom 6:6), your sinful nature no longer lives but Christ lives in your spirit (Gal 2:20) and you are now a new creation (2 Cor 5:17).
Once saved, you have a divine nature, however, your mind has memory patterns of the sinful nature and must be renewed. Thus the mind becomes the central battlefield of your life because the mind is still conformed to the patterns of the sinful nature and must be transformed to be aligned with your spirit nature in Christ.
Romans 12:2 says, ‘Don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God.’
‘Stinkin-thinkin’ doesn’t just disappear when you become a believer, it must be actively confronted. If we don’t continually renew our thinking, our minds default to the old program. The pattern of this world is alienated from the patterns of God’s kingdom. To repent is to change your mind and think differently.
In Isaiah 55:8-9 God says, ‘My thoughts aren’t your thoughts and my ways aren’t your ways.’ If our ways are going to become his ways, our thoughts must be renewed by his truth. It’s all in the mind!
Prophecy is a revelation of God’s heart and mind. The OT prophets became the message before they delivered the message. On the revelation of the OT prophets and the Law depends the greatest revelation God could ever give to us.
We often hear about how much God loves us and for good reason. Our flesh and the enemy of our souls tries to pull us away from this profound and central truth but there is no greater revelation and commandment than God’s call to us to love him with all of our heart, soul and mind.
The sort of love God is calling us to is characterised by sacrifice. Jesus said, ‘Whoever would save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life will save it.’ True love is demonstrated by what you are willing to give up for it. Every time God’s called me to embrace something, he’s asked me to let go of something else. You can’t go up in God, if you don’t give up something.
The greatest act of love is what Jesus did for us on the cross. Jesus left heaven. The word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus lived a sinless life. He was persecuted even though he was innocent and he was ultimately killed for his obedience to his Father.
The tragedy is in the last days the love of many will grow cold. Our affections have become more for this temporary world than for eternal things. The western church says, ‘What’s the least I can do and still follow Jesus?’ It doesn’t work like that. That’s an oxymoron.
Following Jesus requires everything. Empowerment comes from dependence upon him. Dependance comes from attempting that which only the Holy Spirit can achieve. The more out of depth you are, the more dependant you are and the more dependant you are, the more empowered you are.
You can’t clock on and clock off with God. You’re either all in or you are taking up space. God wants to be God alone in your life. It’s not God and my career or God and my hobbies or God and my house. It’s just God.. period. He’s a jealous God and he wants you and the affections of your heart.
All the Law and the Prophets depend on this one primary thing = Love God with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind. This speaks of whole-hearted devotion. How much we love God will be determined by our level of sacrifice, the affections of our heart, the passion of our soul and the content of our thinking.