Are You Renewing Your Mind?
Today I am asking the question “Are You Renewing Your Mind?” The Apostle Paul presents us with the expectation that we want to learn and grow to think like Jesus and live like Jesus! This involves our transformation--our sanctification, and the renewing of our minds. I want to share a few Scriptures to help us think about renewing our minds-- to give us motivation and then talk about some application!
I want to start with Joshua 1. Moses has died, and Joshua emerges as the new leader. He has been with Moses ever since he was chosen to go and spy out the land. People are use to seeing him standing beside Moses, but Moses is gone. God reminds Joshua of promises that were given to Moses that now apply to him. The Lord tells him to be brave and have courage.
Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Here God gives Joshua some key instructions and a bit of motivation to lead the people into the promised Land. Take the Book of the Law and be ready to speak it out Loud, meditate on it day and night so that you understand it when it speaks of protection and guidance and when it pronounces blessings and cursing’s. You want to walk into the blessings that God has prepared for you. If you obey the Law and follow its insight and instructions: “you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Now think about this, God is
calling Joshua to lead the people into the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey; a land that its very description makes you think of abundance and God’s favor. I hear God saying to Joshua: “Walk with me by faith, and you will prosper and have good success! Now it makes me curious? Can you prosper and be successful without it being good success? Why did the Holy Spirit have the scripture say: good success?
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
God’s thoughts for you are higher than your thoughts! His plan for you is better than your plan! Good success can be yours if you follow God’s ways.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Have I not commanded you? Yes, you have. Be strong and courageous. How can I do that? Because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!
As we talk about being transformed and the renewing of your mind; there are two key ideas to keep in mind. One, is who you are, how do you see yourself, and what occupies your mind the most, is a major factor. We spent the last three weeks talking about The Story that guides you and influences you every day--this is part of what we are talking about. Two, transformation does not come from your will to change.
There is a reason 95% of all resolutions have failed by February 1st--because willpower is weak. Your willpower is weak and easily distracted. You decide at the first of the year I’m going to grit my teeth and I am going to stop doing something ______ no matter what! Or I am going to get out of bed with a positive attitude and I'm going to start exercising if it kills me! You need to know this: your willpower is not a muscle! You can’t build it up and it doesn’t contract. Your will has the capacity to choose. You had to decide what you wanted for breakfast or what to wear. A lot of different things try to influence your choices. You think you need more fiber in your diet do you want bread or cereal? Maybe you think you need protein, so you have an egg. Your will is kind of like: “What are we doing? O that’s what you want? Ok, fine. Your will is at the mercy of your thought life. So, when it comes to transformation, what we think is fundamental!
Dr. Henry Cloud said the typical sermon in America goes something like this: God is good, you are a bad sinner, God wants you to be good--try harder. So, if my nature is to sin, and given a choice my inclination would be to choose sin. Why does my choice make me feel bad or even hurt me or hurt others? There has got to be a better solution!
Jesus is the answer! Jesus is your Savior, He gives you life. He is the Lord, Master, Counselor and Friend, Transformation is not about trying and failing then feeling guilty. If you surrender your life to Jesus completely out of love, for Him; His love will transform you and give you the best life possible. He will make you sacred and complete you! It won’t be because you are trying harder and gritting your teeth; it will be because you are letting Him live in and through you.
This is what this is all about: Jesus gave us His life for us, so that He could give His life to us--the Holy Spirit living in you, so He could live His life through us! It’s about saying “I’m significant, I’m sacred, I’m valuable because He lives in me!
It’s not about trying harder! It’s about training and learning how to be washed in the Word of God, how to meditate, how to surrender to the Holy Spirit and let the Spirit lead and guide your life. It’s about a community of believers who are committed to seeing each other grow and discover the life Jesus Christ has planned for you. A community of believers who will demonstrate love, bearing one another’s burdens and showing grace and mercy, and walking by faith. It’s in the influence of God’s great love that we can learn to trust and to grow in our Christian walk that we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Question, “If you are counting on Jesus to get you to heaven, then doesn’t it follow that you would talk with him each day? Read his word? That there would be a growing desire to know him better and get the most out of this relationship? Let’s close by looking at Paul’s words to the Romans.
Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
This is a powerful appeal. We receive from the Lord every day the fruits of his mercy. Let us render ourselves; a suitable sacrifice is: all we are, all we have, all we can do! We can make sacrifices at home and at work and in everything we do; and after all, when we consider all that Christ has done for us—blessing upon blessings?
Matthew Henry in his commentary on Romans 12 writes: Conversion and sanctification are the renewing of the mind; a change, not of the substance, but of the qualities of the soul. The progress of sanctification, dying to sin more and more, and living to righteousness more and more, is the carrying on this renewing work, till it is perfected in glory.
Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Our greatest challenge is to not be conformed to this world! The world has a different leader, different objectives and different values than the Kingdom of God. As followers of Jesus, we renew our minds by the filling our thought life with the Word of God. Paul says that you may test and discern the will of God--to do that we have to meditate on the Word of God and be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The work of the Holy Spirit first begins in the understanding--shining light on God’s Word, and then is carried on to the will, affections, and conversation, till there is a change of the whole person into the likeness of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. Thus, to be godly, is to give up ourselves to God.
Renewing your mind: when your thoughts flow freely they tend to move toward some problem. Your focus becomes the problem and your mind is circling around and around trying to figure out just what you are going to do. Your energy is drained away from other matters through this negative focus. Worst of all, you lose sight of Christ being present with you!
A renewed mind is seeking God’s face, walking in trust, and fully surrendered to Him. We have to train our minds to look for Jesus to be present with us in every moment, every situation. Sometimes we are aware of God in seeing something beautiful, a loved one’s smile, golden sunlight. At other times you must draw inward to find Jesus. He is always present in your spirit. In those times seek His face, speak to Him and He will light up your mind!
May God bless you,
Grace and peace to you