The Mind Is A Valuable Commodity

The most powerful faculty given a human being is his capacity to reason.  God created humans with the ability to think and generate thought and placed this faculty inside the anatomical structure called the “brain”. 

The “mind” is where all the invisible activity of the “brain” occurs.  It is where we make sense of our surroundings, our environments, our relationships, and our existence. 

The “mind” is described in the following ways:

  1. The reasoning faculty, which thinks, judges, understands, and directs in humans, capable of great complexity because of the development of the human brain.
  2. The human consciousness that originates in the brain and is manifested especially in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory and imagination.
  3. The mind is the home of our conscience which is the human faculty that enables one to decide between right and wrong acts of behavior, especially in regard to one’s own conduct.

What is interesting and intriguing is that God wants us to become wise in the knowledge of how the faculty of the mind works.  He places such importance on this that he tells us to protect it by putting it under a helmet; to rid it of old sinful tapes through constant and vigilant renewal; and he tells us to upgrade it with newness of attitude. 

Scripture tells us that God is the stronghold of our lives and therefore we should not be afraid of anyone. The word stronghold refers to a fortified place; a strongly defended place; a fortress.  It is an encampment in the field of battle; a place of security and refuge.  It protects us from outside or unwanted intrusion from an enemy or foe.

This is the vanguard God wants in our lives.  From the vantage point of his stronghold, we are able to defend ourselves from attack.  We are especially capable of defending our minds from the attack of the devil.  Scripture tells us that we are in a battle, a war, and a struggle against our former slave master the devil.  He wishes to destroy us and he uses our mind as his battlefield. 

The devil is no stranger to the effectiveness of a stronghold.  He had each and every one of us in his stronghold before we converted to Christianity and for many of us there are some areas of our mind that are still not renewed from his influence.  We manifest residuals of the devil’s stronghold in undelivered behaviors and patterns of thought that we struggle against and feel plagued by.  Because our conversion, or salvation, is a one-time act of God in our lives, we do not have to do anything else in this area.   But because our sanctification is an on-going continuing process, we have much work to do in this area “cleaning out” our minds from the influence of the devil’s stronghold in order for us to grow and mature as a Christian.

God tells us to be mindful of our thoughts, our mental attitudes and our emotions.  He knows that through the channel of our mind the devil will wage his war and try to render God’s stronghold ineffective in our lives.  He is soberly aware of the fact that he must assault the stronghold of God; that these assaults must be continuous.  And he knows that the assaults must be aimed at our mind because it is our mind that is the doorway to our heart and our heart under girds our faith.   

The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind and soul.  God doesn’t tell us to use our brain to love him, he says to use our mind.  Remember, this is where we have conscience, consciousness and reasoning with respect to God’s truths.  If our minds are operating under the influence of lies, then our behaviors and patterns of thought will not be reflective of God, they will be reflective of the devil and we will find ourselves living a life of defeat instead of a life of victory.

God provides us with a foolproof process for not only combating, but for defeating the devil’s assaults on our mind.  Pay attention to what he says:

2Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV) – “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.”

We must demolish, not tolerate, not coexist with, but demolish every thought that is against the knowledge of God.  What an exhausting process that could be if God was not our stronghold.  It is he who provides us with divine power to demolish any opposing stronghold.  This being true, tell me then why so many Christians are defeated in their thought lives?  In my tenure as a biblical counselor I have seen numerous people struggle with various circumstances of life and personal trials all because of incorrect “mind management”.  The thoughts that were operating in their minds were not those of God but of the devil with much confusion, anxiety, hopelessness, poor decision making and destructive behaviors as a consequence.

For many Christians, the reality of spiritual warfare is foreign to them.  I believe this to be true because of a lack of understanding on their part about their salvation.  The component of God’s forgiveness is all they know.  They are unlearned about authority; therefore they do not comprehend the fact that the devil had authority over their minds and lives before they were converted to Christianity.  They are unlearned about the enmity that exists between the flesh and the Spirit; that when they were under the authority of the devil, they weren’t a threat to him because they belonged to him.  But now that they are under the authority of the Lord, they are the devil’s enemy and he wants to destroy them. 

Here’s a concept to meditate on: 

  • The devil hates God and all that belongs to him.
  • When you were an unbeliever, you belonged to him and were an enemy of God.
  • You were under God’s wrath and condemnation and were headed for the same eternal destination as the devil – the second death – the lake of fire.
  • The devil didn’t need to try to destroy you because you were already destroyed.
  • But when you became a believer you then became the devil’s enemy because you were “saved” from God’s condemnation.  You became his child.  You were adopted into his family.
  • The devil now wants to destroy you because of that fact.

If every Christian could get this truth embedded deep within their heart, mind and soul then I believe they would be more sensitive to the fact that they are in spiritual warfare with the devil and he assaults them in the only way he has at his disposal; their mind. 

Though God is our stronghold, he commands us to fortify our thinking by growing in the knowledge of Christ.  We can do this most effectively through knowing the Word of Truth – that’s the Bible.  By studying the Bible, not memorizing the Bible, we will be given revelation from God concerning all of his truths.  They will be part of our fiber because we will have “eaten his truth”.  It will be nourishment to our soul.  Only then will we know the truth of God and will be able to demolish every lie of the devil that he throws our way.

I conclude with this exhortation by the Apostle Paul to the church at Philippi…

Philippians 4:8 (NIV) – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Follow the Directions

When an inventor creates something he usually has some kind of blueprint that lays out the product and gives direction to how it is to be put together. Giving insight into how it is to work properly.

Every aspect of the invention is designed by the inventor, therefore if something is not in working order, you must go to the inventor to get its replacement. Using a part that does not meet the original specifications will not work.

The same is true when you purchase a product that has to be manually assembled. You are working with parts that have been designed by a manufacturer that have specific instructions of how they are to be put together. There is usually an illustration on the package cover that shows you what the finished product is to look like.

How many times have you ever tried putting something together without following the directions supplied? How many times have you been unsuccessful at doing this? I am sure that most of us can identify with this scenario. It is as though we believe we have the ability to just take a look at the finished product and “instinctively” know how to put the pieces together correctly. Boy, how we deceive ourselves when we think this way. Only the one who has designed the product knows how it is to be put together. After all, it was his/her design, not ours.

Surprisingly, this is how many Christians situate themselves with God. They try to put their lives together without following His directions. They believe they know “instinctively” how He has designed their lives to be, how they are to look and operate, but fail. Many lead defeated, disappointed lives because they have left something out of their self-construction. Many Christians fail to truly understand that God is the one who drew up their personal blueprint.

Jeremiah 1:5a (NIV) says: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.

Psalm 139:13 (NIV) says: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Many Christians also try to “order their steps” without considering the Word of God. They believe they have control and charge over the course of their lives but are in error of the designer’s sovereignty.

Proverbs 20:24 (NIV) says: A man’s steps are directed by they Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?

For the born again believer in Jesus Christ, this way of thinking, that I can order my own way in life, is analogous to the finished product resembling the picture on the package but not working at all the way it was intended to work. There are pieces missing or put in the wrong place and the believer turns out to be one who is always struggling in life; not growing in their faith; having no peace; not being blessed and not being a blessing to anyone.

God wants you to know how He has “ordered your steps”. He wants you to be knowledgeable about how the pieces of your life are to be arranged to reflect the picture on the package who is Jesus Christ.

God’s instructions are found in His Word. The Bible.

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

Well, you might be asking what exactly does the Bible instruct? It instructs us in how to piece our lives together and grow to look like Christ. It instructs us in how to get connected to God through a spiritual rebirth. How to identify our special endowment gifts. How to learn our purpose in the body of Christ. How to grow in our faith. How to grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. How to love our neighbor. How to worship. How to become more Christlike in our behaviors and pattern of thinking. These are but a few examples of what the Bible gives instruction on.

The problem with many Christians is their lack of utilization of this manual in the things concerning their lives. Most are inclined to follow the directions of the “world” than to follow the directions of the Bible. What I mean by that is they may read the Bible but not follow the directions for their given circumstance. When that happens, the result is failure to function properly. Something is not in its proper place or something has been left out.

Christians are exhorted to study the Word of God. They are to know how God wants us to fit together and how He has made us. Then He expects us to do those things He has instructed us to do so they become a rule of conduct for our lives.

So, if you are not use to reading your Bible for direction in your life, get comfortable doing so. Remember, only God knows how He put you together, so it is He you should be going to in order to find out how you should be operating. And you do this by understanding the Bible He left for us to refer to and then to follow its directions.

The Challenge of Paradigm

The situation most people of faith find themselves entangled with is the paradigm of godly lifestyle vs. the paradigm of ungodly lifestyle. It is the age-old struggle between good and evil, right and wrong, light and darkness, Almighty God and Satan.

The challenge to the person of faith is how not to conform to ungodly standards of morality by watering down or redefining what Almighty God says are His moral standards they ought to follow in living a godly lifestyle.

Know that the motivation of any person is key in their following any paradigm or model and in the case of a person of faith, the defining drive of their motivation is in their relationship with Almighty God.  This is because they have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Therefore, one must know the motivation of the person of faith is to live a godly lifestyle based on their reverence for God.

When the motivation of the person of faith to live a godly lifestyle begins to focus on the acceptance of their family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers etc., to participate in ungodly moral standards as they may be doing, and the person of faith does so, then there is a conformity to a different paradigm or model.  It is conformity to an ungodly paradigm.  A paradigm not of God.

People of faith must always ask themselves, what is the ungodly world telling them the components of a wholesome lifestyle are?  How have they defined wholesome?  Do the components they speak about line up with God’s components?  How much “alikeness” is there between them?  How have they defined moral values, integrity, virtue, truth, and righteousness?

People of faith should understand that their relationship with Almighty God is to be their primary relationship.  No other relationship is to trump that and therein lies the challenge for so many people of faith against the backdrop of this ungodly world.  How significant and/or important is having your relationship with Almighty God the most important relationship you have in your life?  This should be easy for a believer in Jesus Christ to understand, but for many, it is not.

Remember that participating in an ungodly life on this earth will blot out your sensitivity to God.  It will rob you of your quiet time with God.  It will steal your time put aside to meditate on God and His word.  Participating in an ungodly lifestyle will destroy both your quality of time and your quantity of time with the Lord.

So, take heed and pay attention to all the ungodly paradigms that surround you, and do not let yourself get enticed and dragged into them.  Ask the Lord to graciously keep you aware of those things that will erode the components of love, goodness, truth, and righteousness that undergird the morality of God.

Teach Me About God’s Grace

“Grace” is traditionally understood by many born-again believers to mean God’s unmerited favor. Ironically, this traditional definition has been so used and abused to where it has lost relevance in the lives of so many born again believers. Many cannot comprehend how pervasive this attitude of God is in their lives, and many cannot understand how they can be a recipient of it nor walk in it. In short, many born-again believers do not appreciate the depth nor the breath of this unmerited favor.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “grace” in a way that reflects its deepest implication. It defines “grace” as unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration and sanctification.

Well, the implication here is that both the unbeliever and the believer as human beings are beneficiaries of a divine assistance that is unmerited. Meaning, it is an assistance that is given to them, not because of anything they did that qualified them to receive it, but it was given to them because of the character of the giver.

Now regeneration is the born-again experience and this pertains to sinful man. You see, sinful man needs divine assistance from God to be saved; to convert from an unbeliever to a believer in God. Sinful man cannot do this on his own merit.

Sanctification is the process of growing and maturing in God that a believer experiences once they have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It means that transformation occurs in every aspect of their life, in a way that allows Christ to live through them, bringing glory to the Father through the multiplicity of good works God calls them to perform. Now the believer cannot do this on his own merit, he too needs divine assistance to accomplish it.

So what caused man to be in need of divine assistance?

The answer is in the Garden of Eden. It is the place where God put Adam and Eve to dwell and have dominion over all He had created. It is where they had intimate fellowship with Him. All was well. Life was good. Then something happened. Sin entered into the picture. The sin of disobedience to the command God gave, not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God told Adam and Eve if they ate the fruit from the tree they would die the moment they did. God was referring to eternal spiritual death; eternal separation from His presence, His kingdom, and His intimacy. This separation brought the curse of physical death, the toil, and the change of their nature from godly to sinful with loss of dominion and authority over the earth. The result; man and God are separated. Eternally separated.

Well, it is at this point that the concept of assistance comes into play. God did something to bring about a reuniting of man to Himself because man could not bring himself to God due to his sinful nature. You see, sin cannot stand in the presence of God.

Therefore, man can do nothing to change his separated condition because he cannot be in God’s presence due to his sinful nature. Man is doomed to eternal separation from God.

ENTER GRACE:

John 3: 16-17 (NIV):  16For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

This is God’s divine assistance for the purpose of man’s regeneration. God through His Son Jesus Christ provides rescue from eternal separation.

Scripture tells us that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him and that those who do come will be raised up in the last days. Many people are under the assumption that they have the power to approach God for their salvation. Well, that is not true. God calls you to Himself because of His loving-kindness towards you. You must make a decision when this call comes, either to accept or reject the invitation.

Jesus tells us that He stands at the door and knocks. If anyone hears His voice and opens the door, He will come in and eat with them and they with Him. You see, God is reaching out to mankind and asking him to accept His provision of regeneration. This is the dimension of “grace” that is of greatest importance to God. His assistance in reuniting, reconciling, and forgiving fallen mankind for the sin of Adam.

Then there is the other dimension of “grace” that provides us with the assistance to live the Christian life while in our physical body. God provides us with help to do this in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is our Paraclete; someone who walks with us until we are taken home with Christ.

Scripture tells us the work of the Holy Spirit is to teach us all things and remind us of what Jesus has taught us. The Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth and will tell us what is yet to come and will take from the Father what is Christ’s and make it known to us.

This awesome disposition of God, this “grace,” is rooted in an attitude of God, to want to extend a favor to mankind because of His love for mankind. It is unmerited because man is not worthy of such a favor. Because of what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden, man deserves to be punished. It is only through the mercy extended toward us from God that we are recipients of this unmerited favor or divine assistance.

God sees to it that not only does the assistance reunite, forgive, and reconcile us back to Himself, but it also covers us until the Day of Redemption when we will be taken out of our physical body and placed in a heavenly body that carries no corruption with it for eternity.

So as a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, walk continuously in the knowledge of the “grace” of the Father and be ever mindful that His “grace” is sufficient for you until you are taken home to eternity. Always be encouraged that God is faithful when He tells you He will never leave you nor forsake you.

As it is in the natural – so it is in the spiritual

“As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual.”  I am sure you have heard this expression before if you are a born again believer in Jesus Christ.  Somewhere during your Christian walk, someone has tried to help you gain the understanding of a natural circumstance you were involved in by relating it to a spiritual truth or perspective. Though you were able to follow their comparative analogy with your intellect, you may have had difficulty appreciating its truth with your spirit.  One reason for this difficulty could be that you are not familiar with the spiritual realm in which you exist; a condition I like to call spiritual illiteracy.

Consider this:  The past is what shapes us.  The way we have handled experiences in our past will dictate how we will perform in the present.  Another way of saying this is:  the past is experiential; the present is predictable because of our past, and the future is experientially unknown.

Therefore, salvation (being born again), is a present experience that presents problems to our comprehension because there are no past experiences in our memory banks that support its reality.

The same is true of our natural birthing process.  Once we come out of the birth canal we are in what you could call a “present” experience with no memory to support this new physical reality.  There isn’t one of us who has the memory of a womb experience.  We leave behind one realm of existence and enter into a new realm of existence.

And therein lies the parallel of the natural to the spiritual. The point being, you cannot live in the physical world using the dynamics you lived by in the womb; neither can you live in the spiritual world using the dynamics you lived by in the physical world.

Experiences in “new realms” bring “new experiences” as the order of the day with no past experiences to fall back onto.  The womb world has passed away, behold all things are new in the natural realm at the moment of birth, and the natural world has passed away, behold all things are new in the spiritual realm at the moment of conversion.

This parallel continues with the development of behaviors.  Parental and societal influences in a person’s life are the essential ingredients to the success of this process.

In the natural realm, a person’s behavioral habits are formed as a result of the interactions they experience with family and the society that surrounds them.  This is a development that begins at birth and continues throughout their formative years.  Likewise, the person who has been born-again forms spiritual behavioral habits through the interactions they have with other born-again believers.

Our natures undergird our proclivities.  Our proclivities give rise to our habits and our habits dictate our behaviors.

Here is an acronym:  H.A.B.I.T. = How All Behavior Is Taught.

Therefore, we can say that carnal behaviors and Christlike behaviors are taught.

Born again believers have a spiritual nature and a spiritual existence. Their essence is spiritual, that’s who they are.  They are not carnal in their nature.

Here is a critical observation…many to most believers are not able to identify with; make the connection with; acknowledge, or take confidence in their spiritual nature because they have no memory recall of that nature to fall back onto.  Their memory recall is only from their carnal existence and therefore they suffer conflict.  There are not enough accumulated spiritual experiences in their present life to draw upon.

Behavioral growth in the natural is dependent upon the influence of parents and the social environment that surrounds the baby.    The same is true with spiritual behavioral growth.  The spiritual parent of the believer is the Godhead (the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost).  The societal environment that surrounds the believer is the body of Christ (the church).

The born-again believer comes into the spiritual kingdom of God as the baby comes into the natural world;  innocent, immature, and undeveloped.  Both must go through a growth development that will mold their behaviors and attitudes.

As a child can be disobedient to the natural parent; so can the believer be disobedient to the Godhead.  As punishment follows disobedience in the natural; so does punishment follow in the spiritual.  As direction and guidance are given by the natural parent; so are direction and guidance given by the spiritual parent through the Word of God.

In my tenure as a biblical counselor, I have come to the conclusion that one of the major hindrances undergirding Christian people who are struggling with issues of life is their ignorance of who they are spiritually.  They have not developed strong habits of spiritual behaviors. I have found that many “born again”, “saved”; “redeemed” persons do not understand they exist in a spiritual realm once they give their life to Jesus Christ.  This truth is foreign to their understanding.  Many believe that the only thing that happens to them when they give their life to Jesus Christ is that their “sins” have been forgiven and they have received the gift of eternal life.  Though this is true, they have no understanding of the “rebirth” they experienced.

Though many will tell me their lives have changed drastically, I have come to the conclusion that they are referencing only the tangible things in their physical lives.  They are blinded by all the tangible elements of the physical world; they are indoctrinated by all the philosophies of the physical world; they are motivated by all the aspirations of the physical world and they set life goals according to the paradigms of the physical world.  They have not learned that their spiritual realm of existence is a reality of their “present” state of existence, so their behaviors and attitudes remain immature and undeveloped.

As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual is an expression of the truth that needs to be a reminder to us of the aspect of the world we live in but are not a part of.   A reminder that we are to concentrate our efforts on understanding the spiritual realm of existence we are a part of and not the carnal realm we came from.

And to always understand that the combined integrated influences we experience from our spiritual parents and the surrounding spiritual social environment we live in are what is needed for us to come to the fullness of behavioral growth and maturation in the Lord.

As it is in the natural – so it is in the spiritual.

A devotional challenge – What Foundation Is Your House Built On?

Read this devotional message and then challenge yourself to follow what it’s asking you to do:

Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)

24”Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Insights:      Jesus Christ is the one making this statement.  He presents a truth; an insight into an element of belief that is overlooked many times by believers or not fully understood.

That element is “acting on what you believe”

People make decisions every day in accordance with what they believe, and what they believe is a result of their own processes of acceptance or rejection of presented facts.  A person will assume a posture of a belief that will reflect their understanding of those presented facts as being either true or false.

What is significant for us to note is what does the person do with their beliefs? They can either act on them or not.  Just because someone has a belief in something does not mean they will act on that belief.  When they “act on” their belief it is because they put their trust and reliance on it.  When they “do not act on” their belief it is because their trust and reliance are lacking.

We are told in the Gospel of John 1:14 (NIV) that Jesus is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.  We are also told in Psalm 119:160 (NIV) that all of God’s words are true and eternal.

Therefore, in verse 24 of our devotional scripture passage, Jesus is speaking about those persons whom He calls wise, who hear His words of truth and accept them as truth and act on them out of trust and reliance.

In verse 26 of our devotional scripture passage, Jesus is speaking about those persons whom He calls foolish, who hear His words of truth and accept them as truth but do not act on them because of a lack of trust and reliance.

Jesus is giving us insight into the dynamics of what our faith should be.  The truths of God’s words are what we are to trust and rely on.  If we do what He tells us to do – we are demonstrating the trust we have in Him.  If we do not do what He tells us to do – we are demonstrating a lack of trust in Him.

Jesus is telling us that only by having trust in Him and doing what He asks us to do will ensure that we will overcome the situations, circumstances, trials, and tribulations that come upon us.  We can and will withstand these things because we are anchored on a “rock” foundation that is not moved by any situation, circumstance, trial or tribulation.

On the contrary, if someone has little trust in what Jesus says then they will find themselves not doing what He asks of them and when those situations, circumstances, trials or tribulations come upon them they will suffer great loss.

Application:      Examine yourself over the next thirty days to see how much trust and reliance you are putting in Jesus Christ in the various situations, circumstances, trials, and tribulations you encounter.

Do the following:

  1. Write down what situation, circumstance, trial or tribulation you find yourself confronted with.
  2. Write out the options you have concerning your responses to these areas by drawing a line down the middle of a piece of paper. On one side, label it “My Ideas” to solve the situation. On the other side, label it “Jesus’ Methods” to solve the situation.
  3. Use your Bible to locate various scriptures that speak to your situation. Write those scripture references on the side of your paper labeled “Jesus’ methods.”
  4. Compare your side to Jesus’ side and see what discrepancies exist between the way you would handle your situation and the way Jesus would.  If there are discrepancies you will have to ask yourself how much you believe that Jesus’ methods are true and better than yours. The proof of your faith will be evident with your decision to follow Jesus’ methods.
  5. Record how many times you were successful following your methods’ versus how many times you were successful following Jesus’ methods.

Prayer:        Lord, give me the desire to put into practice the truths of your Word concerning all of the situations, circumstances, trials or tribulations I find myself in.  Strengthen my faith through my obedience in fully trusting and relying on your Word so that I can experience your wisdom of standing in you as my “rock” of deliverance.  Change me, Lord.  Change my habits of reliance on myself so that I can bring glory and honor to you in the way I respond to life’s challenges.

It is in Jesus name I pray.   Amen.