Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Renewed Mind: A Key To Breakthrough In Life

For those who do not know yet, I am a layman preacher. I have preached many sermons over the past 14 years, some of which I have preserved with the hope of publishing them in books.

Here is one message I preached on Sunday 9th May 2004. Many people have testified that it blessed them, and I pray that it will bless you. God bless.

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Our key text is 2 Samuel 5:20, where David testified after winning a battle against the Philistines: “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water.” (NIV) The Amplified Version says, “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me, like the bursting out of great waters.” The Pidgin Bibles states, “Bikpela i olsem wara i tait na i brukim lain bilong ol birua bilong mi.”

Our definition of breakthrough is:

· to burst forth into a new dimension of life;
· to attain a higher level in life than before; and
· to obtain and experience in life what was previously not possible.

Today, I want to share a message entitled “A Renewed Mind: One of the Keys to Breakthroughs. Breakthrough will come when we are in tune with God. God organizes our breakthroughs but there are things we must do. God will tell us what we need to do. Sometimes He might use someone to tell us what we are to do. Sometimes He speaks to us through the preaching of His Word. Sometimes He speaks to us when we read His Word. He might even speak to us through His angels. Many times He speaks to us through our minds in the form of thoughts.

When God spoke to Elijah on Mount Horeb, the prophet expected to hear God’s voice in the earthquake, wind and fire. But God was not in those events. God spoke to Elijah in a still quiet voice (1 Kings 19:11-13).

Our minds play a large part in our Christian lives. What we sense with our five senses is processed by our minds. How we react depends on how we perceive what we sense.

In fact all that we say and do is based on what we think. The Bible says, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” (Proverbs 4:23 – Good News Bible.) This means that our thoughts play a big part in determining the kind of people we are and how we live. Our thoughts shape our lives. We think first, then we act. The thoughts are seeds we plant in our minds. These seeds produce actions. In other words, we sow seeds and reap actions. But then our actions become like seeds we sow, from which we reap habits. Habits are what we do continuously, based on thoughts we think continuously. Once habits are formed, they become part of our character or who we are. Our character determines our destiny – what kind of people we become.

A statement attributed to American Philisopher Ralp Waldo Emerson is:

Sow a thought and reap an action
Sow and action and reap a habit
Sow an habit and reap a character
Sow a character and reap a destiny

Notice this all starts in our minds as thoughts. If we are thinking good thoughts, we will produce good actions. These actions will result in good habits, which in turn produce good character in us. Good character leads to a good destiny. The same is true for bad thoughts. They lead to bad actions, which produce bad habits and spoils our character. Our destiny is not good.

So remember, our lives are shaped by our thoughts. The kind of life you are living now is the result of the thoughts you have thought in the past. The kind of life you will live in the future will be shaped by the thoughts you are thinking at present. This means that if you are not living the kind of life you desire to live, you need to change your way of thinking. Otherwise, you will keep on thinking and doing the same things, as a result of which you will keep on getting the same results you have been getting.

Another verse says, “As a man thinks, so he becomes.” (Proverbs 23:7) This verse refers to the images we produce in our minds about ourselves. Most of the self-images we carry are influenced by our environment, what we have learnt from our parents and teachers, and generally the established standards or systems of the world we live in.

For instance, if we have dropped out of school, we think that there is no hope for us. This is because the world tells us that the only way to advance in life is to do well in school and get a paid job. This is what our parents expect, and this is what we are led to think. Many school dropouts are rejected by parents. In developed countries, dropouts commit suicide because there is no hope as far as they are concerned. In PNG, young people turn to drugs and rascal activities, because the images which they produce in their minds is are ones of hopelessness.

Another image we carry is influenced by what we have tried to do but failed. We may not see ourselves as failures, but the world calls us failures. Our family members, enemies, associates etc, talk about us. “He started or did this and failed.” We tend to agree with the world and think that we are failures. As a result, we become scared to try something else because of this thought, “What if it fails again?” Fear of failure is one of the reasons people do not launch out and discover their potential.

If we are old, we think there is nothing big we can do because our time is past. The world has led us to believe that old people cannot achieve much compared to the younger generation. The internationally accepted age for retirement is 65 years. It has been discovered that most people in the world slow down when they become retired. The world accepts that their useful lives have ended, and they can now wait around for death.

Because of this mentality, which has been entrenched over the years and enforced by the Government, most retirees become sick very quickly. They were healthy people when they were working, but after retiring, they become susceptible to all kinds of diseases. In PNG, most of our people live in the villages so there is no observation of the retirement age. However, when people start growing white hair, lose their sight or some teeth, they start thinking that they are becoming old. They start winding down. They think that they cannot do much. They start thinking about their death. Their self-image is one of not being able to do much.

Many working people in PNG start growing old after they leave their jobs. They may have been terminated, retrenched or retired. When this happens, they think there is no more hope for them. The children have grown up and live separately. They start thinking there is nothing they can do, because they are now old. This thought produces more white hair, and the more they see these white hair in the mirror, the more they think they are old. Some do not wash or dress up as they used to do when they were working. They think, “Its cold and I am old, why wash when I am not going to work today?” Their self-image deteriorates. Aging increases, and sickness also becomes regular.

What scientists have discovered is that the human brain cannot tell the difference between what we actually see with our physical eyes, and what we see with our minds’ eyes. For instance, if we tell someone a made-up scary story, that person will become fearful and it is likely he/she will not go outside at night. Or if someone imagines eating some good food, his/her mouth will start watering. Or is someone imagines being with someone of the opposite sex, their bodies will react as if they are actually together. Pornography is a multibillion-dollar industry because of this fact. This is an important discovery, because our brains will react in accordance with the images we send them. If we project failure, we will fail. But if we project success, we will become successful.

That is why the Bible says that our minds must become renewed. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

To conform means “to accommodate oneself to a model or pattern.” The “standards of the world” are those principles and systems established by Satan, the god of the world (2 Corinthians 4:4). He propagates and promotes these standards through custom and tradition, the education system, the economic system, the political system, the media, etc. This is what we pick up from the day we start thinking for ourselves. The world system is designed to promote certain thought patterns. As we saw earlier, these thought patterns will produce certain actions, which will in turn produce certain habits in people. Habits produce character, and character, destiny. The world system is basically designed towards poverty. It is designed to produce the results mentioned in the first part of John 10:10 – to steal, kill and destroy. It is designed to make a very few very rich and keep millions in poverty.

For example, the basic concept in economic theory is scarcity. Resources are scarce or in limited supply. Economics looks at how these scarce resources can be utilized to achieve more at minimum cost. This runs contrary to what the Word of God says. God told Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth, because He knew He had put enough on the planet to sustain everyone who would ever be born. Has the earth been filled? No. There are still vast areas which people do not live in. But the world accepts that resources are scarce, and they propagate this in the minds of millions.

So the Bible says we must not compromise and subject ourselves to the world’s thought patterns. Instead, it says our minds must become renewed. What does the word “renewed” tell you? To me, it means our minds were new at one stage, but have become old and contaminated, and need to be made new again.

When were our minds new? Back in the Garden of Eden. When God made Adam, he had a mind that was intelligent enough for him to name every living thing. The names spoke of their features, habits, etc. And the Bible says, “Whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.” (Genesis 2:19). In other words, God agreed with him.

What happened to defile our minds? Sin. You can see this in the life of children. We parents do not teach them to disobey, swear, steal etc, but they do so. It is in their system and make-up, as a result of the fall. When we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, our spirit man becomes born-again immediately. But our soul man takes time to conform to the new way of living. Our minds are part of the soul realm. If our minds do not become new again, we can be Christians, but we will still struggle all our lives. We know what the Word of God says, but our thoughts will always be contrary to the Word. For example, when we become sick, our minds will lead us to think the worst, even though we know the Bible says by the stripes of Jesus we have been healed. Or when the Bible says, “All things are possible for those that believe”, we think, “This is not true; from experience some things are impossible”. Or when the Bible says that it is God’s will for us to prosper and be in good health (3 John 2), our minds tell us, “This is too good, it must not be true.”

We will not see change and transformation in our lives if our minds are not renewed. How will our minds be renewed? By doing what Joshua 1:8 says – “The book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do all that is written in it.” The key word I want to focus on is “meditate”.

Most of us hear the word, but we do not meditate on it, basically because we are too busy with the affairs of life. We hear powerful messages in church, but we do not break this down in our minds through meditation. We therefore do not really understand, and although we hear the truth from the Word, we rarely understand and know it. The Bible says “You shall know the truth, and the truth you know shall set you free” (John 8:32). The word "know" here does not refer to knowing by hearing, but knowing by personal experience. For example, an unbeliever may know John 3:16 because he heard someone quote it, but he does not know it by personal experience.

If we meditate on the Word of God, our minds will become renewed. Then we will know the will of God, and our lives will be transformed as a result. We will experience breakthrough in life. No longer will we be thinking like the world thinks. We will think different. When the world thinks poverty, we will think prosperity. When the world thinks problems, we will think opportunities. When the world thinks hopelessness, we will think hope. When the church world thinks smallness based on what man is able to do, we will think big based on what God is able to do.

When our thinking changes, our talking will also change. The weak will say, “I am strong.” The poor will say, “I am rich.” The drop out will say, “I am useful to society.” The old will say, “My potential to contribute to society is greater than the younger generation, because I have the experience of a life-time.” They will speak like Caleb, “Here I am this day, 85 years old. As yet I am strong this day as I was on the day when Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so is my strength for war now. Now therefore give me this mountain where the giants live, and I shall drive them out.” (Joshua 14:10-12).

We need to examine our thoughts today. The Bible says we must take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 4:5). God speaks to us through our thoughts. The devil also speaks to us through our thoughts. We therefore need to examine every thought that comes to our minds, and judge it by the Word of God. It is important that we know the Word, because if we do not know the Word, how will we judge our thoughts? If the thoughts line up with the Word, we can think more and act on it. If the thoughts are contrary to the Word, let us immediately cut them off. Instead, let us think on the things Philippians 4:8 says – things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, things that have virtue and are raise worthy.

Amen, God bless.

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