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Monday, February 24, 2014

The Thing of Thoughts

“A Bible saturated mind loves to linger long and mainly on the beauties of holiness.” John Piper

Her mom said she was never going to measure up and so she believes that she never will. Though she’s in her 20’s (or 30’s or 40’s)  now and no longer lives under the influence of her mother’s voice… it doesn’t matter. It’s still there. Echoing in her mind and keeping her from thinking that she really can be who she’s intended to be.

Though he has a family that is supportive and caring and will do anything to help, he has difficulty having the confidence to believe that he REALLY can be who God wants him to be. Though he believes in Christ and knows the scriptures and sees God’s hand at work, it’s hard for his mind to think (or his actions to show) that he really can succeed.

When I taught kids with special needs there were lots of different kids with lots of different issues. Some could barely read. Others had difficulty understanding what they read and others were 15 but could still only do basic elementary math. Some had behavioral issues while others were dominated by anxiety and panic.

It always amazed me when I had several kids with the same or similar issues how some did well, but others fell by the wayside. Those that did well generally had the mindset that “come what may, I will try and I can succeed”. Though they may have never reached the academic level of their non-challenged peers, they still believed that they COULD succeed at some level and in their minds progress was progress. Their minds were set on being the best that THEY could be and did not worry about anyone else.

It’s no surprise to anyone that our minds are breeding grounds for failure or success. It’s very simple. When I think that I can do something it is no problem for me to charge ahead with confidence that I will succeed. When I think I can’t do something… well, let’s just say that I procrastinate, complain and don’t always do so well..

There is a story in the book of Matthew (Chapter 9) where Jesus went into His own city of Nazareth. A group of people brought a paralytic to Jesus on a bed and when Jesus saw the faith of the paralytic’s friends Jesus said, “Take heart, my son, your sins are forgiven.” (vs. 2) There were some scribes standing near by and they were THINKING that Jesus was a blasphemer.

Verse 4 says, “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”

It has been so amazing to me, over the past year, to realize how intimately God knows me. My whole life has been built around church and knowing God, but it wasn’t until He put a new call on my life and I FINALLY (Oh, I wear myself out!) surrendered everything to Him that He has shown me just how in tune He is to me.

God’s Word tells us that He has us written on the palm of His hand and that He knows every hair on our heads, but I am not sure that I have BELIEVED that with all of my being for the majority of my life. I have believed that He loves me, that He is in control of this world and that His life was lived perfectly so that He could be the sacrifice for my sin, but I have lived much of my life believing what OTHERS say about me and not what God says.

My heart and mind have had to go through a renewal process and I have had to surrender things that were holding me back from following Him and it all started on the inside. Once your heart and mind are set on following Him the acting on it becomes much easier.

Romans 12:1-2 God’s Word says just that…”I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern the will of God,what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

For me renewing my mind means several things:

1) Being in God’s Word more and BELIEVING what He says about me.

2) Moving away from situations or people that were not seeking to honor God in what they stand for or how they live or what they say. I realize that I live IN this world and that not all things or people will love God. Where and how I spend most of my time, however, is a choice and I had to choose to make some changes so that I could hear God’s voice above the world.

3) Start being obedient to WHATEVER He said. (I have SO far to go with this, but I want to be obedient and live a life that is acceptable before Him. Being willing to come to Him with my hands and heart wide open is my goal so that He can take whatever I am holding that does not belong and so He can fill my hands with what He wants. What a process, but what freedom!)

As with any relationship, our relationship with God is intentional. It takes a conscience effort to be a friend with someone,and our walk with God is no different. This includes the things that we think about and where our hearts and minds linger. We can choose to be defeated my lingering on the things that this world throws at us OR we can choose victory and a life lived in freedom knowing that God is honored by our thoughts being set on Him.

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