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How Do I Discipline My Mind?
Welcome to Part Two on the topic of Spiritual Disciplines. When I started out to write on this topic I had intended to write all four of the Christian disciplines in one hub.
I have to tell you, I am amazed at how the information has expanded. Instead of fitting it all in one hub, each Christian Spiritual Discipline has merited its own hub.
I have been so blessed by spending time with the Lord in preparation for this writing. If you missed Part one on Spiritual Disciplines, Study God's Word, this link is for you.
For those of you who have read part one, I'm glad you are back and I pray God will bless you and give you insight into His heart for you.
Draw near to God and when you do, He promises, He will draw near to you! I encourage you to open your heart to these spiritual disciplines. The disciplines are tools to lead you to victory and growth as a child of God. Listed below are the four topics on Spiritual Discipline.
- Study God's Word
- Discipline the Mind
- Scripture Memory
In part one we looked into the need and the 'how-to's' for studying the Word of God.
In part two I hope to create a desire, deep down in your heart, to deal with your mind. Your mind has the power to destroy your life or to equip you to live victoriously. Come along with me as I share my understanding and vision on the topic. My prayer is that you will catch the vision, act on it and grow into a healthy place of peace and blessing.
A Disciplined Mind
Everything you believe is colored by what you think. What you think will lead to decisions you make today about your future.
Our minds are a trust from God. Did you know that you have control over what comes into your mind?
We must not allow our minds to be a dumping ground for lies, negative thinking or destructive thoughts.
TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE
2 Corinthians 10:5b “take every thought captive to obey Christ,”
Here's what Doctor Mike says, "Everyday there is a power struggle going on in my head. A struggle to see who gets to control my thoughts. There are not many things in this world that I can have complete control over, however, my thought life is one of those things I can control. I've learned, over the years, that to gain control over my thoughts takes discipline and commitment, daily."
The mind is a magnificent and powerful gift from God. The disciplined mind is a beautiful mind. It is also a target for the enemy. As you start your day with scripture, prayer, and gratitude you lay the foundation for the rest of your day.
"Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." Romans 8:5-6
God's word, memory and prayer (the good stuff) acts as a blanket that smothers out the enemy's attempts to distract and lead us into darkness.
As believers, we are in the midst of a War. God's Word says it this way: “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” NLT Ephesians 6:12
We have an enemy dear brother and sister and he is vigilant in looking for ways to bring us down. God tells us what we are to do: "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." I Peter 5:8
What is Truth?
Your mind is the enemy's target. If satan can get you to believe the lies he whispers into your thoughts ... he can lead you into all kinds of destruction.
If we accept or believe the lies he whispers, we will make wrong choices which have the power to destroy us. Do you recognize the lies the enemy puts in your head? A lie is the opposite of the truth. So, how can we decipher truth from lies? By knowing what, truth looks like.
He (Jesus) is TRUTH: Jesus says, "I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me." His Word (the Bible) is TRUTH: The Psalmist exclaims: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105
The truth is found in every word, written by inspired men moved by God, recorded in scripture. We must dig into it, learn of truth and incorporate it into our lives. Only then will have discernment between good and evil and only then will we be free to enjoy the abundant life Jesus promised.
Take Every Thought Captive
2 Corinthians 10:5b “take every thought captive to obey Christ,”
Every thought that is a lie or sin based is your cue to grab it, take it captive then release it to Jesus. Can you visualize doing that in the unseen battle that goes on in your mind? If we are 'on guard' and aware that the enemy seeks to bring us down by sneaking lies and sin into our thinking we will be prepared to take every thought captive.
After you've captured the negative thought and laid it at Jesus' feet you need to fill that empty spot, in your mind, with the truth. Replace the lie with a specific truth from God's word .. a truth that counters the lie.
As an example, let's say you are going along, doing your thing when someone tells you that you failed. The thoughts that come flooding into your mind are that you are worthless, stupid and a complete miserable failure. You are on guard and prepared to recognize these thoughts as lies. You grab those thoughts and in your heart you lay them at Jesus' feet. Now you pull God's truth from the pages of Scripture to counter the lie. Here are a couple of truths to put in your arsenal.
- Psalm 139:14 "I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well." God does not make JUNK.
- Jeremiah 29:11 God said to Israel "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." We that know Him as Father God and accepted His Son as Lord and Savior are also His children and His plans for us are the same. He has plans for our lives - we are not failures
- Zephaniah 3:17 "The Lord your God is in your midst, he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." The God of the universe Sings over you.
God loved us so much He gave up His one and only son to redeem us and restore us to fellowship with Him. He went after us with a plan that cost Jesus His life. You are supremely loved by your Heavenly Father .. You are of great value.
When satan or people whisper condemnation, ugliness, sin and lies into your ears and the thought rests in your mind - you need not feel the guilt for having that thought. The thought itself is not sin - it's what you do with that thought that determines the outcome. As you read the following verse ... notice the progression from thought to sin.
"Remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, "God is tempting me." God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death." James 1:13
As we put this Spiritual Disciplines in place we will find that our hearts are tuned into Him. It is then we will develop discernment to recognize the still small voice of the Holy Spirit as he alerts, prompts and convicts us.
Immersing your mind in God's word will sharpen your spiritual senses so that you quickly recognize the attacks of the enemy. Here's a key - Speaking His word out loud reinforces and plants it in our brains.
Drawing near to God means that we choose to fill our minds with good things. "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" Philippians 4:8
"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." II Corinthians 10:5 We are told to take (take = action that means you and I are to do something) every thought captive unto the obedience of Jesus Christ.
Love Verses Legalism
Beware of legalism. When we love the word of God, it changes us. The Pharisees of Jesus day knew the scriptures well, but those precious words never reached their hearts. Though they knew all about the word they were not changed by it.
Allowing the word of God to change us involves a relationship with Jesus and a surrender to His will. It's way more than knowing 'the facts' of God's word. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." James 1:22-24
How many people have you known who say, "I do believe." To this I ask - what do you mean when you say you believe? James 2:19 "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder."
Believing in God is so much more than mere head knowledge. It is far deeper than keeping a set of rules.
To know God is to enter into a relationship where love, adoration and security reigns. It is to know that God the Father sought you out and drew you to Himself. It is knowing that although there was nothing in me that deserved His forgiveness - He made a way to redeem me.
When we finally get his love and pursuit of us we bow in humility and praise Him for His grace and mercy. "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, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:5-7.
Disciplining your mind will take practice. Envision a guard standing by your mind ... the guard shuts the door every time a negative, sinful or degrading thought tries to enter it. Now imagine you are that guard. You see that thought and recognize that it is NOT from God. You shut the door, call upon the Holy Spirit who enables you to conquer and capture it. Next, you turn that wrong thought over to Jesus, walking away and returning to your post.
The enemy is not happy when you walk in obedience. He declares war on you and will do anything he can to bring you down. It's warfare and the enemy is seeking whom he may devour .. Be prepared and be wise by heeding God's Word: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" .1 Peter 5:8 ... .that means you and me.
Though there is a battle raging; the victory has already been won. Take courage and know that God is greater than the one who seeks to destroy you. "Take heart and be filled with confidence because Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4
Time with God
I strongly encourage you toward Scripture Memory. When you memorize God's word you are planting His word in your heart. The Holy Spirit will use these verses in ways you cannot imagine. In the midst of temptation, up pops a verse that you memorized on handling temptation. When depressed and discouraged, up pops another verse on your value and His purposes for your life. His word gives life - do you believe that?
There may come a day when we will not have a Bible to access. What will you do then? If you have hidden His word in your heart God will use it to comfort, encourage, instruct and grow you up.
If situations and people have taken over your life ... I encourage you to reign in the controls. Carve out time with God .. Just one step at a time will enable you to experience consistency and success.
None of us is perfect, we all fail and mess up. The important thing to remember is when we fail to discipline our lives and chaos begins to overtake - Go to God then make the choice to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.