Our Pastor, Rick Warren, at Saddleback Church here in Lake Forest, California is the best expository teacher I’ve ever listened to. Since I’m some sixteen years older than him, I can safely say, he reminds me of myself. That’s why I connect so well with him. He just started a new series of messages on “Why You Need To Think About What You Think About: Rethinking Your Life.”
I want to share his basic outline with you to give you some points to ponder. Under each major point, I will add my Reflection.
Choosing to Manage My Mind
Rethinking Your Life
“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. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLT)
WHY MUST I MANAGE MY MIND?
BECAUSE my thoughts control my life.
“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”
Proverbs 4:23 (GNT)
[Reflection: As Christians, we are called to “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5). We know that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Rom. 12:2). But often our minds seem to be out of our control. Thoughts come unbidden and unwanted. They entice us into sin or taunt us with doubts. We must learn how to control these thoughts by replacing them with positive spiritual thoughts, thereby truly taking them captive?]
BECAUSE my mind is the battleground for sin.
“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.” Romans 7:22-23 (LB)
[Reflection: Jesus tells us to be careful that the light He placed in us does not go out and leave us in darkness. (Luke 11:35). We must recognize that the areas where we hide in denial will be the very areas of our future warfare. Also, beware because pride is a barrier that conceals those dark areas. We must realize that the greatest defense we have against the devil is to maintain an honest heart before God. Scripture tells us that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. So we must submit ourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from us. (James 4:6). Satan fears virtue. He is terrified by humility; he hates it. To compromise is refusing to explain away our thinking even though we know it’s wrong. Keep in mind that demonic strongholds are any type of thinking that exalts itself above the knowledge of God. This gives the devil a secure place of influence in an individual’s thought-life.]
BECAUSE it’s the key to peace and happiness
“If your sinful old self is the boss over your mind, it leads to death. But if the Holy Spirit is the boss over your mind, it leads to life and peace.”
Romans 8:6 (NLV)
[Reflection: There are times when you feel so confused with what to do next or how to do one thing or another it makes you freeze in fear. There will also be times when you feel like you have no guidance or no assistance shows up to help. You feel miserable when you face that kind of confusion. In fact, the more miserable you feel, the more you will stay stuck with no ideas at all. The truth is, that kind of feeling attracts more resistance to receiving any inspiration. In order to gain inspiration and to attract more opportunities, you need to be at peace. In that state, your prayers are heard and inspiration will flow into your mind. Scripture tells us that God will keep those in perfect peace when their minds are concentrated on Him because He trusts us to obey His will. (Isaiah 26:3).]
3 DAILY CHOICES I MUST MAKE TO MANAGE MY MIND
I MUST feed my mind with truth.
“Man does not live by bread alone. Rather, he lives on every word that comes from the mouth of the Eternal One.” Matthew 4:4 (The Voice)
[Reflection: We can call this “Soul Food.” We all know that seeing, hearing, and feeling are stimuli channels to the mind. How often do we watch a movie, see a TV show, or read a magazine that contains things that our conscience is not comfortable with, and sometimes, even offended. But we tend to overlook those things and try and find the good, exciting, dramatic, suspenseful, or funny content instead. Little do we know that like pollen, those things do not go away but migrate to our mind and heart where they generate thoughts and ideas we would otherwise never think of. That then leads to desire. As Jesus said so clearly, where your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:21). So if God and Christ and heaven are where our treasure is, our heart will follow. (Matt. 6:33).]
WHEN SHOULD I FEED MY MIND WITH GOD’S TRUTH ALL THE TIME!
I RISE EARLY . . . I cry out for help and put my hope in your words.
Psalm 119:147 (NLT)
“Lord, how I love your Word. I think about it ALL DAY LONG.
“Even in the DARKEST NIGHT, your teachings fill my mind.”
Psalm 16:7 (CEV)
“Though the wicked hide along the way to kill me, I will quietly keep my mind on your laws.” Psalm 119:95 (NLT)
I MUST free my mind from destructive thoughts.
Three Enemies battle against the truth & my best intentions:
[Reflection: First we must identify our destructive, or negative, thoughts so we can challenge them. We should not have an all-or-nothing mindset. That means everything is either black or white, there is no middle ground for finding a solution. Also, we should keep away from overgeneralizing everything. Stop criticizing by telling someone, “You always do or say...”, “I never do or say...”, or “Everyone is or does…”. Having such a point of view will throw away a whole basket of apples because you spotted one bad apple in the bunch. Furthermore, get rid of your mental filtering, keeping out what you don’t want but need to hear; stop jumping to conclusions; relying on emotional reasoning; quickly labeling; habitually magnifying even the smallest thing, or as they say, making mountains out of ant hills. The Apostle Paul gives us a great list of ways to keep negative thinking from dominating our minds. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:8-9).
THE 1ST ENEMY OF MY MIND: is my old sinful nature
“I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” Romans 7:23 (NAB)
“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 (NLT)
[Reflection: You don’t have to believe everything you think is true. You must reject the thought that “a little bit won’t hurt that much;” or “I’ll try it just once to see if what they say about it is true.” or “Even though others say it’s bad for you, I don’t see anything wrong in it;” and “I’ll drop it if I don’t like it.” That’s what fooled Eve in the Garden of Eden. The serpent just wanted her to taste the forbidden fruit, in other words, just take one bite. Keep in mind, that the payback for sinning is disaster, even if it’s just a little bit. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23).]
THE 2ND ENEMY OF MY MIND: is Satan.
Paul: (I’ve forgiven that man) so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11
[Reflection: There is a battle going on in this world. “Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the high places.” (Eph. 6:12). However, if we are born into the family of God by the spiritual new birth, we are on the winning side. We will battle much of our lives with the weakness of our own flesh. Some battles may be influenced by Satan. We should certainly know more about him. He is always a foe, never a friend. Nothing he says is true, he is a pathological liar. “He has always hated the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44). So never believe anything he says. He only wants to make you look like a fool.]
THE 3RD ENEMY OF MY MIND: is the world’s values.
“All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16 (KJV)
[Reflection: This equals a total lack of discipline. We live in a convoluted world. The morals of yesteryear that were considered of highest value are now considered as being of little worth, and what was thought of as trash is now bragged about as having great value. The Scripture says: “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” (1 John 2:15-16).
How to Fight:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish STRONGHOLDS. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we TAKE CAPTIVE EVERY THOUGHT to make it OBEDIENT to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)
A “STRONGHOLD”: a lie that I believe.
“I have made up my mind to obey your laws forever, no matter what.”
Psalm 119:112 (CEV)
I MUST focus my mind on the right things
Think about Jesus
“Keep your mind on Jesus Christ.” 2 Timothy 2:8 (CEV)
“Think about Jesus’ example. He held on while wicked people were doing evil things to him. So do not get tired and stop trying.” Hebrews 12:3 (NCV)
[Reflection: Remember these things about Jesus: He loves you unconditionally that’s why He died for you before you even knew Him. He wants the best for you, that’s why He wants to be a daily part of your life. He wants to be number one in your life. Either you make Him Lord of all or He cannot be Lord at all. He expects the best out of you and will give you all the help you need to be the best you can be. He doesn’t find fault in everything you do that doesn’t meet His expectations, but takes what you’ve done and helps you make the best out of it. And remember He’s not a pushover, He’ll stand His ground and fight for you. Even though you may not always follow Him, He’s always following you. Always keep in mind Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep. (Luke 15:3-7). But it is much easier walking with Him than walking alone.]
Think about others“
Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.” Philippians 2:4 (LB)
“Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds.”.
Hebrews 10:24 (NCV)
[Reflection: In being considerate of others, the scripture says “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for the person you’re trying to help.” (Col. 3:23). “Be friendly with everyone. Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people.” (Rom 12:16). “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3). “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Rom. 12:10-11). “We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.” (1 Cor. 10:24)
Think about Eternity
“Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here.”
Colossians 32 (LB)
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)
[Reflection: Everything we see around us will one day be destroyed. So what kind of people should we be? Our lives should be holy and devoted to God. We should be looking forward to the day we’ll be with the Lord, wanting more than anything else for it to come soon. When it comes, the heavens will be destroyed with fire, and everything in the sky will melt with heat. But God made a promise to us, and we are waiting for what He promised – a new sky and a new earth. That will be the place where only goodness lives. (2 Peter 3:11-13)
In the words of that old hymn we used to sing written by Albert E. Brumley:
This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.
O Lord, you know I have no friend like you,
If heaven’s not my home, then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.