As I walked through the darkness of depression, there were days when I felt helplessly controlled by my thoughts and emotions. Over time, however, I learned I didn’t have to be the victim of my own thinking. This was especially true when my mind was filled with fear, doubt, and sadness. It was liberating to discover that just because I was thinking something didn’t mean it was true! I could choose to change the focus of my thoughts and, as I did, my emotions eventually followed.
Whatever we dwell on eventually bears either positive or negative fruit in our lives. To receive the wonderful transformation God has for us, we must first bring our thoughts into alignment with His thoughts. The change we long for is already within us as we learn to think life!
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Rom. 8:5–6)
The world tells us that our emotions are the result of our circumstances or the actions of others. If this is correct, the only way to be happy is to change our circumstances or change the people around us. But God’s Word tells us the opposite is true—our feelings are determined by our mind-set. When we fix our minds on the Lord instead of our circumstances, our hearts quiet like a child in his mother’s arms.
As our thoughts bring stability to our emotions, life no longer seems so overwhelming. We don’t have to be conformed to the fears and worries of this world any longer. We can be transformed by the renewing of our minds (see Romans 12:2)!
So how do we renew our minds? Every day we are bombarded with our own thoughts and the thoughts of other people. We desperately need time to listen to God and hear His thoughts! This includes studying the Scriptures and even memorizing passages until they become part of who we are.
Renewing our minds also means setting aside time to hear from God through prayer and worship. For me, listening to worshipful music helps me direct my thoughts to higher things. Sometimes taking a walk in the woods or listening to biblical teaching online puts me in a better place. Find whatever you need to do to lift your thoughts to higher things.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Col. 3:2)
Renewing our minds means choosing to focus on that which brings life to our spirits. Satan wants us to dwell on anything that pulls us from the awareness of God’s presence. If we choose to rehearse the regrets of the past, we live in the darkness instead of the light. If we fix our thoughts on our fears, we lose the peace God has for us even in the storms of life. If we focus on our hurts, we miss the grace God has for us in that moment. When we listen to that which is worthless and negative, our lives will begin to bear the fruits of death rather than life.
We are responsible for our own thoughts, and with God’s help we can change our thoughts! In my own life, I have learned to change the channel when depressing or judgmental thoughts come to mind. If those around me are dwelling on the negative, I can choose to simply walk away or even change the subject.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things
are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Phil. 4:8)
There are many things only God can do for us, but there are some things we can do for ourselves. We have the freedom to decide what we think about! As we learn to meditate on higher things, the Holy Spirit will breathe life into our bodies, minds, and spirits.
Father, thank You for showing me that I can be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Today, help me look up! As I fix my gaze on You, Lord, may I reflect Your glory more and more. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
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