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Directing Your Thoughts

 

cross 2I’ve been posting about how our minds are renewed by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. This was also evident in the life of Christ.

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
Luke 24:45

The word understand in this verse literally means to put together. The Lord opened up the minds of these disciples to put together all that was happening. This included the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ, as well as the Scripture that foretold it. They had to walk in a supernatural understanding in order to grasp what was happening.

We need this ability of the Holy Spirit in us to put together – understand and apply – all that’s in the Scripture. If I don’t cultivate my spiritual prayer life, then where will all of this understanding come from? We can receive these blessing nowhere else but from the spirit.

Paul understood this and tried to make it clear to his readers. In the following verse, the apostle is taking an Old Testament verse and revamping it for a spiritual people.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16

What this verse actually says in the Greek is, “Who has known the mind of the Lord well enough to be knit together with Him.” But we hold, possess the mind of Christ.

What an incredible truth! In the spirit we have access to the mind of the eternal God. The big question is; will we lay claim to this gift by the spirit?

It’s clear that the Holy Spirit is needed in order to renew our minds. But this renewal is more than just accessing God’s knowledge. It’s much deeper than that.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…
Philippians 2:5

This means that the direction of our minds should be the same as Christ. This is evident in our current church experience. So many of our prayers seem to go unanswered. We think we’re praying “in the will of God.” But we don’t see anything happening.

Many times we don’t receive when we pray because we’re headed in a different direction than Christ. We want the blessings of God. We just want them for a different reason than He does.

We need to direct our mind like Christ. When the Lord walked the earth, His mind was directed by the Spirit. That’s what renewal is all about. It’s not just changing what we think about, but how we think.

This is a difficult thing to do in the natural. Actually it’s pretty close to impossible. Trying to get the mind to renew itself is a losing proposition. Instead, the best way is to activate our spirit in order to keep our mind Christ-centered.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Colossians 3:2

This would be quite a challenge for us to do in our own power. I know I can accomplish this temporarily. I wanted to see how long during the day I could make myself think about the things of God. I found it to be a lost cause. The littlest things would distract me and refocus my attention on the things of earth.

Prayer in the spirit, however, allows you to zero in on things above for an increasingly longer time. Your mind will begin to follow the lead of your spirit. You will begin to understand the things of the spirit like never before.

In this way your mind will start to become reset and refreshed. When this is taking place it goes a long way to changing how the outward man reacts to life. If we’re going to win the battle of the mind, then we must pray in the spirit regularly.

Question: How have you noticed your prayer life affecting your thought life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Daily Renewal

ButterflyIn my last post I began talking about the renewing of our minds. We saw from the Ephesians 4:23 that it’s a work that’s accomplished in the spirit.

…to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
Ephesians 4:23

Even the phrase be made new is full of meaning. It’s the Greek word ana-neoo. Neoo means brand, spanking new, right out of the box. Ana is a prefix that adds an intensive repetition. This renewal is to be done over and over again.

This is the only place in the Bible that this word is used. Every other place the word renew means to freshen or renovate. In this verse we’re talking about resetting everything back to the original factory settings. This is the ultimate do-over. But it can only be done in the spirit.

That’s why I place such a high emphasis on prayer in the spirit. Without it we have no chance of overcoming the sin nature, or walking in the renewed life. I feel that renewal of the mind is the most important part of the process. Without setting our mind correctly, it will never fully cooperate with God’s plan.

This is reiterated throughout Paul’s ministry. At one point he felt the need to remind Titus, a young pastor, about these things. He reminded Titus what they were like when they first came to God. They were just like everyone else in the world. They thought and acted like everyone around them.

…he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…
Titus 3:5

The salvation process is described here in two parts. First, the washing of rebirth – the removal of the old man and the putting on of Christ. Then came the renewal by the Holy Spirit. We have to give up the idea that it’s just about reading the Bible.

As important as Scripture is to us, I know many people who aren’t even saved, who read the Bible every day. Their lives show no improvement because of this practice. The Bible will only bring change if it’s activated by the Holy Spirit.

That’s why this is not a one-shot deal. The word renewal contains the thought of repetition. We must continue in it day after day. Prayer in the spirit is not a holy “toy” that we take out of the box merely to play with on Sunday mornings. It’s a vital agent of change that needs to be cultivated day after day. We must continue to refresh and reset our minds.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16

In the context of this verse, Paul is not talking about the entire church. We read this and think that every Christian is being renewed daily. That is absolutely not the case. In all of 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, Paul is talking about himself and his ministry team. Paul, who prayed in the spirit more than most believers of his day, was allowing himself to be renewed daily in the spirit.

This is why our daily time with the Lord is so important. We must take the time to read the Bible and pray in the spirit. Reading gets the written word into you. Prayer in the spirit activates that word and brings it to life within your heart.

That’s how you live in daily renewal, just like Paul. Not doing this is one of the biggest hindrances to serving Christ in His ability.

Question: How do you spend your daily with the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Renewing the Mind

BiblesI’m posting about the teachings that the Apostle Paul referenced in his letter to the Ephesian church.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24

My last few posts dealt with the putting off of the old self. The second thing that the Apostle Paul said was taught to the believers in Ephesus was to be made new in the attitude your mind.

In the sequence of putting off the old self and embracing the new, the mind becomes the battlefield. It can be our greatest ally or our worst enemy. That’s because our mind can side either with the flesh or the spirit.

In order to win the war, our minds must be renewed. This can be a very quick process, if it’s done in the spirit. But the mind must be in agreement with submission to the will of God.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

So many people have approached me over the years asking how they could find God’s will for their lives. The reality is that you can never “find” God’s will. According to Scripture, you must approve the will of God for your life. This will only happen as your mind comes into agreement with what God wants for you.

God has a perfect plan for your life. He developed it before the foundation of the universe. He knew you before you ever existed.

Even so, He will never implement His plan without your approval. That’s why we’re told not to conform…to the pattern of this world. That literally means don’t be forced into the world’s mold.

Instead, we are to let our mind be renewed. The word Paul uses for this is like the English word morph. We know about morphing in special effects in movies and on TV. When one thing changes into another, we say that it has been morphed. That’s what God wants to do with our mind.

He wants to take the thought pattern that we’re used to, the attitudes of the world. Then the Lord changes them into His thought patterns. In that way we’re renewed into His way of thinking. This is a work that the Lord must perform in us.

We’ve watered it down, in this generation, to the point where I’ve heard it taught that all you need to do to renew your mind is to read the Bible.

What is the Scriptural way to a renewed mind? It’s right in the second verse that we first looked at.

…to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
Ephesians 4:23

Again, the translation waters down the true meaning of this verse. We need to get back to the original meanings. The literal Greek of this verse says renew, in the spirit, your mind. Let that sink in. We need a spiritual renewal. How can we ever expect our mind to renew itself?

There needs to be an outside force at work in our mind. That’s where true renewal comes from. It’s a work done in the spirit.

I don’t know why we keep striving to do in the natural what can only be worked in the spirit. You may think that I’m wrong for continually emphasizing it, but our spiritual prayer life is more important than we realize.

Question: How has your thinking changed since you’ve been saved?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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