It Starts With the Mind
Have you ever wondered what the mind has to do with our relationship with our Father? What is the mind? How does the mind control our behavior and thoughts? Scripture teaches us the impact that our minds have on our ability and willingness to do or not do the will of God. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians that if our minds are blind, we cannot believe the gospel. “If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” (2 Cor. 4:3-4)
Our minds are not just our brain, conscious thoughts, or our intellect. It is a thought process that starts with our spirit and is followed by our actions.
The New Testament uses 11 different words that are translated as “mind”, but each means something a little different. For example, Matthew 22:37 reads “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind”. The word mind in this verse is “dianoia” which means willpower or volition, yet it was simply translated “mind”. The Old Testament gives us more clarity. Mind was translated from three Hebrew words, reins, kidneys, and spirit.
Reins control, lead, and direct action. A rider uses reins to guide a horse to make it do certain things. Our minds can guide us in a way to do the actions God wants us to do – obedience. Or just like some horses that are stubborn and willful, and pull and fight against the reigns to go another way, our minds can take us in the opposite direction away from God.
The second Hebrew word for mind is “kidneys”. Our kidneys serve two major functions: to filter out and eliminate all the debris, waste and filth from our blood; and control and regulate the amount of blood flow into our bodies. So, it is with our minds. We use our minds to get rid of our negative thoughts – unforgiveness, resentments, etc., and we decide who will control or regulate our lives- the Holy Spirit or Satan.
The third Hebrew word for mind is “spirit”. Our spirit is the core of our being and is separate from our brain. It has a continuing existence, unlike the brain. Our mind creates the thoughts of our hearts, and what leads to certain actions in our lives. However, there is an unregenerate spirit and a regenerate spirit. If we are born again, our spirit connects with the Spirit of God. We can now know God, and do His desired will. The unregenerate spirit has no power to connect with and thus goes against all that God desires. And as Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians, they do not have the ability nor willingness to do the will of God.
The choice is ours. Do we choose to let God lead our lives through the blood of His Son Jesus, or follow another spirit that offers us no hope and fulfillment for our lives? Do we choose to have the mind of Christ, or follow the god of this world? Do we choose to be led by the Spirit of God or by our natural inclinations? Do we choose to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can do the acceptable and complete will of God; or do we choose to be conformed to the world? (Romans 12:2) Do we choose to put off the old man and its corruption; or do we renew the spirit of our mind and put on the new nature of Christ? (Ephesians 4:22-24)
My brothers and sisters, I encourage us to be more “mindful” of our relationship with Christ. Christ didn’t die for us to live mediocre lives as we go about calling ourselves “Believers”. He wants us to live a completely transformed life being connected with and led by His Spirit.
“For God so (greatly) loved and dearly prized the world, that He (even) gave His (one and) only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him (as Savior) shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world (that is, to initiate the final judgement of the world), but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17, Amplified Bible).
Often, we see, hear, or read John 3:16. But verse 17 does not get as much attention. The verse specifically tells the reason (purpose) the Son came to earth in human form. It tells why He did not come and also why He did come. The thought to be understood is that God did not send Christ to “condemn” the world. The word “condemn” means to express complete disapproval of, typically in public; to censure or to sentence someone to a particular punishment, especially death (Oxford Languages Dictionary).
Once we understand why God sent His Son, then we can believe the “why” and accept the “work” that was completed by the Son’s coming to the earth. When this process of understanding and acceptance is completed, the following applies: “Therefore there is now no condemnation (no guilty verdict, no punishment) for those who are in Christ Jesus (who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior)” (Romans8:1, Amplified Bible).
After accepting God’s gift of salvation through His Only Begotten Son, the verdict or stain of condemnation no longer exists. There is no guilty verdict or punishment for those who have accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. So, the purpose for Christ’s coming was not to express disapproval or punish mankind. The latter part of verse 17 tells us the reason God did send His Son to the earth. That is, that the world might be saved through Him. God wanted the world saved because He (God) so loved the world (His creation). Verse 16 tells us that He “so loved” the world that he did not want the world to be without a “Savior.”
Born again believers are in the class of blood-washed members of the family of God. We should not live in fear by thinking “am I good enough to be a member of the royal priesthood? Our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. God’s purpose for sending His Son was fulfilled once Christ resurrected with all power. That finished work put the next move on mankind. If you have accepted that finished work through faith by confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart (Romans 10:9-10) you have been filed in the permanent category of “no condemnation.”
Why have I shared this thought/teaching? It’s because once we fully understand why Christ came and accept the reason for His coming, we can live a more productive spiritual life – a life without worry of whether we are good enough or will we “make it to heaven.” We can live a life that’s pleasing to God and serves as witness that all can be saved without fear of condemnation.
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called’’ (Ephesians 4:1)
“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10)
“That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory”
(1 Thessalonians 2:12)
Due to current challenges and issues facing the world, I am revisiting a topic I shared several months ago. These challenges and issues have become more aggressive during the past few months.
Every time I hear the phrase “walk worthy” I’m reminded to represent. To walk worthy of the Lord means to live a life that presents and represents Christ. It’s a challenge of a few words but enormous responsibility.
In the books of Ephesians and Colossians, the apostle Paul writes from a Roman jail to the church at Ephesus, the Colossian Christians, and other churches of Asia Minor. In Thessalonians, he is writing from and during his long stay at Corinth. His message to all is emphatic and to the point: Continue to live and walk in a fashion that represents Christ. He had received reports that believers were “backsliding” to beliefs and practices they entertained before becoming Christians. As a result, their lifestyles (including worship) were looking more like walks of non-believers rather than walks of believers.
Paul’s rebuke and challenge to the early Christian churches apply to current-day believers. We are encouraged to live our daily lives in ways that are pleasing to God and to be fruitful (effective) in all we do. When others see us and/or talk to us, they should see Christ. We have been called to live in ways that reflect God’s goodness, compassion, and love. Our “worthy walk” is a daily vocation that requires dedication and commitment. We must be focused and prepared at all times to present Jesus to those who don’t know Him as Lord and Savior.
Certainly, there are many distractions that can hinder us from allowing our light to shine so that others will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (“Matthew 5:16”). Hence, all the more reason to be reminded to stay focused and “on point” in our walk and lifestyle so that we will be victorious in winning souls to the kingdom. Remember, walking worthy is a vocation from God. He has called and equipped us (through the Holy Spirit) to live in ways that reflect holiness. No, it is not always easy. Yes, it can be done. We can do all things through Christ which strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Walk worthy.
The Power of Intercessory Prayer
Oftentimes we don’t realize the impact of our prayers when we pray on behalf of someone else or “intercede” for them. In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he wrote “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (1 Timothy 2:1)
In both the Old and New Testaments prayers of intercession are prominent - even those that impact nature. Elijah prayed for it not to rain, and for three years there was no rain. James reminds us of this even as he encourages us to pray for one another. “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops” (James 5:17-18).
Moses was one who constantly interceded with God on behalf of the people. He interceded for his sister Miriam when she, along with Aaron spoke against him and she was struck with leprosy. (Numbers 12:13). He prayed on behalf of the people after they complained against God so much, He sent snakes into their camp that bit and killed many. (Numbers 21:6). Moses again interceded to God to preserve the life of the Israelites when the twelve spies returned from scouting out the land and ten scouts convinced the people there was no chance they could possess the land. Instead, they wanted to choose a leader and return to Egypt. They complained against God all night and so intensely that He was ready to destroy them. (Numbers 14:1-25).
It doesn’t matter if we intercede on behalf of one or many, we must intercede. The early believers prayed for the release of Peter from jail. Scripture says that while he was in jail, the church prayed earnestly to God for his release. God released him and led him out of the prison by an angel. (Acts 12:5-11).
Abraham interceded for the city of Sodom for his nephew Lot. God was ready to destroy the city because of its constant wickedness and sin. Abraham did not want his nephew to be destroyed with the wicked. So, he interceded and asked to preserve the city if there were ten righteous people. God assured him that he would not destroy it if he could find ten righteous people. We know the end. God destroyed the city, but he did preserve the life of Lot and his family by leading them out of the city by the hand of two angels. Scripture tells us “But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain” (Genesis 19:29).
What is my point in all this? Brothers and sisters, let’s use the power that God gave us to change our circumstances and the lives of others. God hears the prayers of the righteous. “The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power” (James 5:16).
Cast Your Care
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
How often have we heard or used the phrases “I don’t care, who cares, or no one cares?” Probably more often than we think. Merriam - Webster Dictionary defines “care” as a suffering of mind or a disquieted state of mixed uncertainty, apprehension, and responsibility. When this level of concern and worry occurs our minds and emotions are not at ease.
In 1 Peter 5:6-7, Peter addressed his readers to be subject (responsible to and supporting of) one another. He challenged them to humble themselves under God’s hand and to cast all their cares on Him because He cares for them. In mentioning “their cares” he is referring to their suffering of the mind or disquieted state of mixed uncertainty defined in the Merriam – Webster Dictionary. In mentioning “God’s care” he is referring to God’s love, attention, and provision.
There are two particular points I want to emphasize here. The first is that the readers are encouraged to “humble” themselves in order that they may be exalted (verse 6). The second point is that the readers are encouraged to “cast, throw, get rid of” their heavyweight. What’s so important about this? We must humble ourselves to the point of admitting that we are not strong enough to carry the stress and worries of this world. We must humble ourselves to the point of believing and accepting the fact that God is so concerned about our well-being that He does not want us to carry any unnecessary weight. He wants us to be free of every burden.
Surely we must trust God to the point of knowing that no problem is too difficult for Him to handle. As the saying goes, “from the top to the bottom, God can handle our problems.” However, we must allow God to take control of the stressful situations in our lives by releasing them to Him. He can’t (and won’t) handle what we are not willing to let go. Hence, “let go and let God.” Peter instructs his readers to “cast or throw off” their burdens and distractions. That implies to get rid of them with intense determination and force rather than just hoping God will work them out. Yes, be emphatic and deliberate about it.
Are you in a time of uncertainty, stress, discomfort or worry? I remind you of what the apostle Peter instructed his readers to do – simply cast your care!