How to Strengthen Your Mind

As you may well know, human beings are a three-part being; which means that every person is made up of body, soul and spirit.

  1. The body allows us to interact with the physical world.
  2. The soul allows us to respond to the intellectual and emotional world.
  3. The spirit allows us to relate to the spiritual world.

Each part of this system is extremely important!

  1. Without the body, we would have no contact with the world.
  2. Without the soul, we would have no ability to think or feel.
  3. Without the spirit, we would not have the ability to commune with God.

Of course, when we leave this world, the body ceases to be a part of who we are. Even when the body is raised at the end of time, it will be a different type of body than the one we have today, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44.

At death, if you are saved, your spirit will have already been made alive in Jesus and is sealed by Him until the “day of redemption,” Ephesians 4:30.

In other words, the body will drop away and be changed while the spirit has already been changed. What we have left is the soul.

The soul of a person is the seat of the mind, the will, and our emotions. It is where we think, feel and decide. It is also the place where all of the conflicts we face in this life begin!

The mind is the ultimate battlefield of this life. The Lord, our own flesh (that negative base side of who we are) and the enemy (the devil or Satan) are all battling for control of our mind. Why does the battle rage here in the mind? Because the Bible says, “For as a person thinks in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7, NASB.

We need to understand that the battle which is raging in the mind is a spiritual battle. Ultimately, it is a battle between good and evil for the control of our lives. Since this is a spiritual battle, we cannot fight in our own strength or use the common weapons of warfare, we must fight with spiritual resources, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-18.

Today, I want you to know that…

  1. You do NOT have to lose this battle for your mind!
  2. You do NOT have to be defeated in your walk with the Lord.
  3. You do NOT have to be a slave to worry, anxiety, thoughts, feelings, and fear.
  4. You do NOT have to live a life controlled by the lusts and desires of the body!
  5. You can live your life under the control of the Spirit of God. You can win the battle!

How, you might ask? The first thing you need to know is that it doesn’t happen automatically! You have to take certain steps that will allow it to happen in your life, Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; 1 Peter 1:13.

As we take the step in 1 Peter 1:13 to “think clearly and exercise self-control,” we put ourselves in a position where the Lord may renew the mind. The word “transform” in Romans 12:2 and the word “renewed” in Ephesians 4:23 are both in the passive voice. They are something done to and in the child of God.

Secondly, we need to know that we do NOT have to do this alone. We have the Lord’s promise in 2 Timothy 1:7, that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind, (or of discipline). So, today, I want to take these verses in Philippians 4 and show you Paul’s plan for victory in the battlefield of the mind.

I want to share with you five simple steps that teach us all How to Strengthen the Mind. If followed, these steps will help us to build a wall of protection around our minds. They will help us to achieve victory in the daily struggle we all face.

1. BUILD THE WALL OF PRAISE (Philippians 4:4)

A repeated refrain in Philippians is Paul’s command for believers to “rejoice.” He uses this word in the imperative form, and it is so important that he immediately repeats the command. This word means “to be glad.” I discovered that this word is in the present tense, active voice and imperative mood. All that means is, the believer is commanded to “keep on being glad in the Lord.”

Now, let’s face it, life is tough, and not much of it lends itself to our happiness! In fact, when Paul penned these words, he was bound by chains between two Romans soldiers while in a prison cell. Even in the midst of this hardship, Paul knew that regardless of the circumstances of life, God never changes, God never leaves, God never forsakes. That is why we are told to “rejoice in the Lord.” We don’t rejoice in the circumstances, he says to rejoice “in the Lord.” You see, people will change, circumstances will change and life constantly changes, but the Lord never changes! He is constant, he is faithful, and he will always walk through this life right beside us.

Since this is true, we can learn to rejoice in who He is, what He has done for us, and what He is doing in our lives. Even if the road is hard, remember that

  1. God has a detailed plan for your life, Psalm 37:23.
  2. God has promised to make all things work for good, Romans 8:28.
  3. God has promised to go with you through everything in life, Hebrews 13:5.
  4. God has promised you abiding victory, 1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 8:37.
  5. God has promised you that the destination will be worth every step of the way, Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17.

Therefore, even when you can’t be happy about your life, learn to be happy in the Lord! Build the wall of praise into your life!

2. BUILD THE WALL OF PATIENCE (Philippians 4:5)

The word “gentleness” literally means “considerate or gracious spirit.” It has been translated in a variety of ways:

  1. Wycliffe translates it patience,
  2. Tyndale uses the word softness,
  3. King James uses the word moderation.

It has the idea of being patient with other people; of yielding to the rights and wishes of others in this life. It does NOT mean we are to compromise in our doctrinal beliefs in the name of tolerance, but it does mean that you have a willingness to take the back seat in favor of other people. This is the same idea that Paul introduces back in Philippians 2:4. Thinking of others as more important than yourself.

Paul is saying that the reality of our faith should be demonstrated in how we treat other people. If the focus of our lives is on ourselves, then when people hurt us, slight us, cross us, there will be a desire to retaliate and get even.

Paul wants us to take the focus off of ourselves, and put it onto other people. When we are focused on people around us, we will be less likely to be hurt by what other people do. What they say won’t sting us so bad, because we are not focused on ourselves. How they act can be passed over more easily when we focus on THEIR hurts, their situation or their well-being. It has been said that “hurting people hurt people.” So when people hurt us, we ought to seek to discover what is happening in THEIR life to have behaved the way they did. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is the right thing to do.

When we adopt the mentality of self-love which is all around us, we will always look at the things people do and say as a personal attack. It will cause us to wear our feelings on our sleeves and to be more easily hurt by the words and actions of others.

This will cause us problems in the mind because we dwell on what was done or what was said. If we can learn to accept other people just as they are and overlook how they act and what they do that hurt us, it will protect our mind from dwelling in negative areas. It will build a wall of protection around the mind that others cannot penetrate!

The bottom line is this, if we can learn to live in genuine contentment, Philippians 4:11, then it won’t matter what anyone says or does to us. The mind will be protected from the evil that it likes to find in others. The devil loves nothing better than to get your eyes off Jesus and onto the faults of others! The flesh loves nothing better than to go along with the devil in accusing others and judging others. When this happens, the mind is in danger!

3. BUILD THE WALL OF PRAYER (Philippians 4:5b-7)

Philippians 4:6 warns us against the dangers of worry. The word used for anxiety in the NASB, is translated in other places as “careful” or “be careful.” The idea of “anxiety” comes from the term, “to be troubled with cares.” It refers to a state of mind that is agitated over the events and circumstances of life. There is nothing wrong with having concerns, we all have them, but it is when your concerns have you that the problems begin to spring up!

Worry is so dangerous because it allows the mind to conceive false notions about God, others and the world around us. Worry says, “God is dead!” Or, “If there is a God, he obviously doesn’t care about me and my situation.” Both of those statements are false! God is certainly alive, Hebrews 7:25, and God does care, Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 5:7.

When the problems of life come our way, we are given some wonderful help in these verses.

  1. The Lord is near (Philippians 4:5) – This refers NOT only to his second coming, but that He is always near to His children – Hebrews 13:5-6.
  2. Exercise the tool of prayer (Philippians 4:6) – Paul speaks of prayer, supplication and requests. These might be thought of as general praying, specific praying and detailed praying. The main point of this verse is that instead of worrying, the believer is to demonstrate his faith in the power and the will of God by seeking the Lord in prayer!
  3. Develop a thankful heart (Philippians 4:6) – Regardless of the situations you face in life, learn to praise the Lord through all of them. Nothing brings Him nearer or drives the devil away any faster than a genuinely thankful heart!

The Lord’s promise to us is that He will replace our worries with HIS PEACE when we come before Him in trusting, humble prayer. The word “keep” or “guard” in Philippians 4:7 means “to garrison, or build a fort around, or to post a military guard.” The Lord promises to post a guard around the heart and mind of the person who trusts Him with the needs of life. Instead of worrying yourself sick about things you can’t change, learn to lean on the Lord in prayer! Build the wall of prayer!

4. BUILD THE WALL OF PURITY (Philippians 4:8)

All of these words Paul uses in this verse are a clear picture of the Word of God. God’s Word is true – John 17:17. Since the Bible is true, everything it says fits within these categories mentioned by Paul. It is honest (honorable), it is just (right), it is pure (holy, clean), it is lovely (beautiful), it is of a good report (good reputation), it is full of virtue (excellence) and worthy of praise (that which leans toward worship).

What we must do is fix our minds upon the things of God, things that are from above. The source for discovering these things worthy of filling our minds is the Word of God. In other words, if we will fill our minds with the Words of God, there will be no room left for evil, no room for worry, no room for fear, no room for vengeance, no room for immorality, no room for confusion or trouble. A mind filled with the Word of God and a mind led by the Word of God is a stable, fortified and strong mind!

So, if you want a stable, strong, and godly mind, the best place to develop it is with the Bible. We must take the initiative and force the mind to dwell on the Bible and what it says, instead of allowing the mind to run toward evil, or gossip, or slander, or sexuality, or immorality, or other people and what they are doing, or our problems. A mind saturated with Scripture and fixed upon the Word of God is a stable mind.

This is something that you must do for yourself!

  1. The church cannot fortify your mind.
  2. The church cannot keep you from dwelling on negative thoughts.
  3. A Sunday School class or a small group cannot build a wall of protection around you.
  4. No one is ever transformed when the motivation is external.

Just like running a marathon, I can surround myself with encouragers cheering me on toward the finish line, but if I am not inwardly motivated to finish, I will give up and will stop short.

The Christian life is very similar. If I am told what to do in order to grow spiritually yet fail to have the inward motivation of pleasing God in all that I do, or fail to walk in a manner worthy of being called a child of God, I WILL live a mediocre life.

How long will I be obedient to God if my motivation for Christianity is to avoid hell rather than loving and serving God out of a grateful heart and mind? Fortifying your mind is something that YOU do to yourself, it is not something done TO you or FOR you.

5. BUILD THE WALL OF PRACTICE (Philippians 4:9)

These things you have LEARNED and RECEIVED and HEARD and SEEN in me, PRACTICE these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.

Do you notice how relational this verse is? Sometimes we think it reads, “If you want the peace of God, do the things I taught you.” This is not like a class or a sermon where we take notes; it involves walking through this life with other people. The Christian faith is caught more than it is taught.

Paul tells the Philippians to practice the things you have seen and heard in his own life. For us, it’s NOT that we have it all together, like we’re perfect in this life. Perfection is a goal, but it will never happen this side of heaven.

You’ve heard the phrase, “Practice makes perfect?” Well, statement is wrong. If you practice it wrong, you will NOT get it right. Ask any musician. The real truth is in the phrase, “Practice makes permanent.” As you practice the rift on the guitar or the violin, you may start out slow, even at half speed, but you MUST get it right before you practice, practice and practice some more. If you learn it wrong, you will play it wrong.

If YOU want permanent change in your life, you may start out slowly, but the more you practice it under the accountability of a trusted mentor or friend, the more permanent the transformation will become.

NEXT STEPS:

  1. Which wall is needed most in your life right now?
  2. Name a person who is spiritually mature that you will seek out to help you grow in this area.
  3. How will you begin to make a change in your life to fortify your mind?
    1. Challenge: Who will you tell about this commitment?
    2. Covenant: When will you seek out this accountability person?
    3. Commandment: Love God with ALL your heart, soul, and MIND (Matthew 22:37)

Your mind is a precious gift from God. It can be used for good or for evil and all the forces of good and evil are battling for your mind all the time. Who wins the battle is always determined by you! No one can control your mind, but you. We are told in the Bible that we need to fortify the mind, it is our job, individually, and it cannot be passed off to another person.

This is a very critical matter, because how you THINK determines how you will LIVE your life, Proverbs 23:7 (As a person thinks within himself, so is he, NASB). Until the mind is settled, all of life is out of control – James 1:8. (a double-minded man is unstable in his ways), so I challenge you to strengthen your mind!

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Minding Your Mind and Emotions

The counseling process has been around a long time, and there are a lot of different methods, theories and procedures that are as different as night and day. Many begin with how the therapist views the nature of mankind, others focus on:

  1. The psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud, understanding the Id, Ego and Super-ego and the role of the subconscious in our mental functioning, and using dream analysis to discover both manifest and latent content (hidden symbolic disguised messages);
  2. The transactional-analysis of Eric Berne tells us that life and relationships are full of scripts that run through our minds and these transactions are sent and received by the scripts of the parent, adult, or the child inside of us;
  3. Or the use of behavior modification techniques to increase or decrease the likelihood of a certain behavior;

There are so many directions one can take:

  1. The Rational-Emotive Therapy of Albert Ellis which focuses on how beliefs influence our behavior;
  2. The Client Centered Therapy of Carl Rogers which focuses on the belief that all people possess a strong drive toward personal growth, health, and adjustment (which he calls self-actualization);
  3. The Reality Therapy of William Glasser which focuses on the three Rs of facing reality, doing right, and being responsible;
  4. The Logotherapy of Viktor Frankl which focuses on mankind’s search for meaning in life.

Dr. Page Huff would be able to tell story after story of people suffering through life and the need for help in coping with stresses, hurts, pain, self-image, neuroses, psychoses, relationships, decisions…

The passage in Romans 12:2 challenges us to have a renewed mind. We are human and live in a fallen world so when Paul tells us that anyone in Christ is a new creation, the old is passed away and all things become new, we wonder why we continue with the same struggles, experience the same pains, and give in to the same vices as we did before we were saved. We are desperately seeking for a renewed mind, but how can we do it?

That which was available in the first century is still available to us today. With all of the science, technology, and counseling theories to help explain our thoughts and behaviors, sometimes getting back to the basics of Scripture can help a huge percentage of what ails us. Psychology has a definite place in our society, and is a great tool for helping people gain insight and awareness into the reasons for their behavior and thinking, but if we can get back to the time of the Bible to see how the spiritual side of mankind can help us cope with developing a renewed mind.

Why is it so important to renew your mind? Because of Proverbs 23:7 – “As a man thinks within himself, so is he.” NASB

Skip has mentioned this before, but today I want to expand on the idea that emotions respond to a signal sent to them by the mind.

Here is a wife and mother:  “Why do I feel so much resentment toward Harold every time he comes into the house?”  Her life and marriage were being destroyed because of the powerful emotion of resentment.  Her emotions were being produced by the thoughts within her mind.

Or how about you driving down highway when suddenly a glance into the rear-view mirror reveals that a highway patrol car is closing on you with its blue lights flashing.  Your heart leaps into your throat.  You feel nervous, uncertain, and the palms of your hands begin to sweat (perspire).  You begin to pull over, all the time wondering what you did, and contemplating receiving a ticket.  As you begin to pull over, the patrol car pulls on around you and keeps going.  Then you realize that he is not after you and your emotions return to normal.  What has just happened?

  • You thought you were going to be stopped and issued a ticket.
  • Your emotions responded to that thought.

You placed a wrong interpretation on one fact, the patrol car coming up behind you with its blue lights on. You did NOT think of other reasons why it was happening.  (Maybe the car ahead of you was his target . . . maybe he had received a call and was being dispatched to an accident scene . . . Maybe the Krispy Kreme doughnut sign was flashing hot and ready . . .)

  • Your distorted view and interpretation of that one fact produced your emotion.
  • Your emotions responded to the signal that your mind sent them.

Listen Carefully:  It is not the actual event but your perception of the event that results in changes in your moods . . . your emotions.

  • You determine your emotions by the choice of thoughts you hold and believe. Something happens and then you THINK before your FEEL.
  • Emotions are not external entities which enter our bodies arbitrarily like a germ. They are a part of our makeup form the very beginning and rise up within us because of what we THINK.
  • So, your emotions, regardless of their nature, are the product of your thoughts.
    • You re in the driver’s seat . . . You select your emotions when you select your thoughts.
    • You feel the way you do right now because of the thoughts you are presently thinking.
    • The bottom line: change your thinking and your will change your emotions.

The Five Senses:  (Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell) These are the doors to the mind . . . especially the eyes and the ears.

This is why we must be very careful as to what we allow to enter our minds through our eyes and ears. There is an old computer phrase that is very applicable to human beings… “GIGO” which stands for Garbage In Garbage Out.

The band Casting Crowns took that little children’s song and challenged the dads in our generation to stay pure by guarding ourselves from the negative things that enter our lives through the senses, “be careful little eyes what you see…” Garbage in, garbage out.

Let’s look at some biblical support for this concept:

  • Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”
  • Galatians 6:7 – “Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap.”

We must be diligent to lean toward purity, righteousness, and thinking, because sowing negative thoughts produce negative emotions, and negative behaviors and consequences.

Think Right to Feel Right:

Look at Proverbs 23:7 again – “As a man thinks within himself, so is he.” NASB

“How do you feel?”  The answer to this question depends on what you are thinking at the moment.

  • If you are thinking positive thoughts your response may be, “I feel great!” or “I have a positive outlook.”
  • On the other hand, if your frame of mind is negative you may say:
    • “I don’t feel so hot.” “I feel lousy.” Or “I’ve felt better.”
    • Like the old song, “Everybody hates me, nobody likes me, I think I’ll go eat worms…”

If you think negative thoughts, you WILL reap a crop of negative emotions.  If you think positive thoughts you will reap a crop of positive emotions. So, WHY do we dwell on the negative when there is an alternative?

Feelings Aren’t Facts!

In the police illustration at the beginning, the blue lights were NOT intended for you.  You felt at the moment that they were, but the true fact was that they were NOT for you.  Feeling they WERE for you did not make them be FOR you. Feeling are not facts.

Bill Bright, with Campus Crusade for Christ, developed a graphic called FACT, FAITH, FEELINGS Train. The fact is the engine, your faith is the coal car and the caboose is your feelings. Many times we reverse the order; we put our faith in our feelings. We say things like, “I just don’t feel saved” and we live in ambiguity and fear rather than conviction and assurance. The challenge is to change your thinking. Put your faith in the facts that we find in the Bible, and the fact that you have committed yourself to Christ. So when you don’t FEEL saved, it’s because of your improper thinking. Dwell on the FACTS so that you KNOW you are saved whether you feel like it or not.

Emotions respond to feelings whether the feeling is factual or not. Our minds will respond to the FACTS whether they feel like it or not.

Twisted Thinking:

Twisted thinking produces emotions that are also twisted. I worked with a fellow, a professional counselor, years ago and he told me about his philosophy of counseling. He mentioned that people with emotional problems will often listen to negative self-talk, which is rarely based on facts. They will play this tape over and over about how bad they are, how worthless they are, how trapped they are, how pointless life is for them. His goal was to help them to understand the truth (the facts) no matter how they feel. He needed them to get rid of their twisted thinking.

Twisted thinking is your mind processing thoughts, not actual facts or events, and producing emotional responses such as fatigue, nervousness, anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, and a host of others ailments.

Twisted thinking can create problems for people. We move out on what we FEEL is true rather than letting the facts guide us.

Ever heard the phrase, “Just follow your heart?” I sense that following your heart is the single worst piece of advice that someone can give to another person. Now that I have you thinking differently, and you have the emotional response to support it, let me explain. Check out Jeremiah 17:9, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” So, when you follow your heart, you will end up with heartache.

Failure and negative thoughts, which produce twisted thinking, need to be ejected from our mind. Let me give you a biblical example. Saul, before his conversion, is a great example of twisted thinking.

In his defense before King Agrippa, he acknowledged the results of his twisted thinking.  Acts 26:9-10 – “So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them.”

The prime motivation behind Paul’s actions against the church, Christ and his followers, AND his emotions, according to his OWN confession, was his thinking.  “I thought to myself that I had to do. . .”

He was the product of what he permitted to enter his mind, the negative and false teachings about Christ and Christianity.

  • He thought both were wrong and needed to be eliminated.
  • Later, through proper instruction which he accepted, he was able to straighten his twisted thinking.

Apply this principle to people in a denomination and you will better understand that their feelings and emotions are based on what they THINK is right, even if it isn’t according to biblical instruction.  Churches may adopt unbiblical stances on hot topics and politically correct issues, but deep down that position cannot be condoned or supported through proper exegetical Bible investigation.

When people’s thinking is changed, their feelings and emotions will also be changed.

People’s thinking is NOT changed by dealing with feelings, but dealing honestly with their thinking.  You are not going to change their feelings until you change their thinking . . . perceived facts. This is why it is so important to have a renewed mind (Romans 12:2).

My friend’s counseling goal was helping them to hear positive, rather than negative self-talk. Stop playing the tapes of the lies we tell ourselves about us, the world and other people, and the world around us. So, the discipline of counseling helps correct their stinkin’ thinkin’.

Sometimes we need help to understand why we have this negative self-talk, or what triggers the negative thinking, but you know, all of us can search for the truth to know exactly what the Bible says about us, our behavior and the world around us.  This is why the matter of biblical authority is so profoundly important.

  • John 8:32 – “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
  • John 17:17 – “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.”

What About the Truth?

  • Romans 1:28 – The truth can be suppressed.
  • Romans 1:25 – The truth can be exchanged for a lie.
  • Romans 2:8 – Truth that is not obeyed leads to unrighteousness.
  • Romans 9:1 – Truth can be told and taught to others with the authority of the Holy Spirit.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:6 – Truth can be rejoiced in.
  • Galatians 2:5 – The truth continues, remains or preserves.
  • Galatians 3:1 – Truth will not be obeyed by foolish people.
  • Colossians 1:5 – The truth is the gospel of Christ.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:12 – Condemnation comes where the truth is not believed.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:13 – The truth is involved in salvation.
  • James 3:14 – People lie against or cover up the truth.
  • 1 John 2:21 – The truth can be discerned from lies.
  • 3 John 3 – The truth can be confirmed to others and people can live by the truth.
  • 3 John 4 – The truth can be walked in . . . and lived.

It has been proven over and over again that the emotions do not know the difference between an established fact and an erroneous fact.

Illustration: Man received a phone call and thought the caller said his father was dying with a heart attack.  He got into his car and drove as fast as he could to his father’s house, only to be greeted by his father at the door.  The son almost had a heart attack himself.  His emotions were responding to thoughts the mind were holding as true, but were not actually true.  In his mind he believed his father was dying, thus his body acted accordingly.  Later he learned the caller had said “John,” instead of “Don.”  John was a friend of the family.

The Keys to Winning Over Stinkin’ Thinkin’ or the meat of the message, to Find God in Psychology.

We need to recognize that our thought patterns and habits can be changed for the better and we can experience release from twisted thinking, reactions and responses that eventually will defeat us.

1. Recognize that YOU are in control of your thoughts.  God created you with this wonderful ability to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

2. Don’t try to suppress your thoughts. Burying thoughts only reinforces the negative response demonstrated by your emotions. We must be alert to these thoughts as they come into our minds and say “NO” to them, and saying “YES” to a positive replacement.

3. When you are challenged by a twisted thought, ask yourself, “Why am I thinking this way?  What has triggered this negative thought?”  Determining the stimulus or root of the thought is a key to victory.

4. At the very suggestion of a defeating thought, eject it from your mind with a positive Bible verse. I don’t suggest this lightly, or because I’m a pastor. The New Living Translation of Philippians 4:8 reads:  “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. 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.”

Isn’t that a wonderful piece of advice  . . . It came from God through the Holy Spirit as penned by the apostle Paul. As a matter of fact, I plan to preach this passage on Sunday October 13, How to Fortify Your Mind.

5. Changing your thinking is an act of the will.

  • Colossians 3:2 – “Set your mind on things above.” Now are you beginning to see why the Bible teaches this? This imperative statement involves an act of the will . . . Who sets your mind . . .  YOU set your mind.
  • Colossians 3:5 – “Therefore, put to death whatever in you is worldly: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.”
  • Colossians 3:8 – “But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language…“
  • Colossians 3:12 – “Put on or clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

6. You cannot control what others say about you or think about you, but you can control how you react to it. If I’m having a bad day it is because I choose to allow the circumstance of that day to bring me down.

  • Proverbs 25:28 – “A man who does not control his temper is like a city whose wall is broken down.” Question:  What can happen to a city whose wall is broken down? It will be overrun by the enemy.

Our desire is not to rid ourselves of our emotions, but rather, learn how to control them with God’s help.

7. Pray to God for wisdom and strength.

We need to face life in the spirit of a man who lost his eyesight.  He rushed to the doctor.  The treatment by the physician made it possible for him to see again, but the return of his sight caused him to lose his memory.  He returned to the doctor.  This time he was treated for a loss of memory.  The man regained his memory but lost his eyesight again.  “Well,” said the physician, “we can’t cure both of them together, so you’ll have to choose between sight and memory.  Which will it be?”  The man answered, “Eyesight!  I’d rather see where I’m going than to know where I’ve been.”

It doesn’t matter that you have been plagued in the past with twisted thinking or warped emotions; the next step you take to handle it is what counts.

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A Love Relationship with God

Today we move into the second reality that God pursues us with a continual love relationship that is real and personal. We must always remember that God is the one who takes the initiative in this relationship. The first question we must ask ourselves is, “Do I have such a relationship with God and why?”

The answer depends on whom you trust for your salvation. If you answer YES and it is because of your commitment to Jesus, obedience to him, faithful service to Christ, then you just might be off track. However, if you answer YES and are sure of your salvation because of your trust in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross to pay the penalty for your sin, then you are right on target.

Blackaby mentions a man in church who was asked a question, “Can you describe your relationship with God by sincerely saying, ‘I love you with all my heart?'” The man could not. He said that he obeyed God, served God, worshiped God and even feared God, but could not say that he loved God.

THAT is what God wants. The Old Testament cornerstone verse is Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and the New Testament equivalent is Matthew 22:37-38, which Jesus called the Greatest Commandment (Mark 12:30).

These verses tell us much about the love that God has for us:

  • Deuteronomy 30:19-20 – God has set before you life and death… now choose life, so you will live, and love God, and listen to God’s voice, and hold fast to God.
  • John 3:16 – This is what God did since he loves us so much.
  • John 14:21 – This is what we will do if we love God, and what God will do for us if we love him.
  • Romans 8:35, 37, 39 – What can separate us from the love of God…?
  • 1 John 3:16 – pair this verse with John 3:16, since we demonstrate our love for God through actions.
  • 1 John 4:9-10, 19 – God showed his love by sending his Son, but the point is not that we love God, but that God loved us first.

A love relationship with God is more important than any other single factor in your life. Everything in your Christian life (about knowing him, experiencing him, and knowing and doing his will) depends on the quality of your love relationship with God. Everything God says and does is an expression of love. We are created for a love relationship with God.