After studying our willingness to change last week, we are ready now to come to grips with what needs to change in order for reformation to happen, either in our church or in our own home or life.
The obvious answer to this question of what needs to change is our actions, our behavior. But before these outward changes occur there must be something else. There must be a change in our thoughts, our mindset, and our attitudes. As parents with our kids, we often refer to this as an “attitude adjustment”.
This change of thought patterns is most likely to happen after we have experienced a true revival of our spiritual nature. Because revival involves a change of heart, and the natural flow from that is for our thoughts to become more in line with God’s will as well.
Can our actions and lifestyle change without this change of thoughts first though? Yes, but without a change in our thoughts, any lifestyle changes have a danger of 1. being only temporary, 2. leading to legalism and judgmental and critical thoughts and actions against fellow believers, and 3. not fulfilling the eternal purpose of serving and glorifying God by reflecting His character.
So, we had better pay particular close attention to the subject at hand this week and fully understand how to begin this reformation which follows revival.
Memory Text: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1, 2 NKJV
The King James Version tells us to “set your affection on things above”. I like the older choice of wording because it implies that there is an element of loving or having affection for that which we allow our minds to dwell on, the places where we have “set” our minds, hence our mindset.
Sunday: The Mind Matters
Speaking of setting our mind to something, the lesson quarterly used the illustration of a sailboat and needing to set its sails in order to stay on course and reach the intended destination. Likewise, there must be a determined effort on our part to set our minds on things that will draw us closer to God and not separate us from Him. It makes all the difference in our reaching our eternal destination, that heavenly shore where Jesus is waiting to receive us with open arms.
Discussion Question: As we behold God’s glory and will in His word, what takes place in our life? See II Corinthians 3:17-18, which reads:
“Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass [mirror–NKJV] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” KJV
This substantiates the warning we may have heard repeatedly throughout our life that “by beholding, we become changed”. Let’s keep in mind that it works both ways. By beholding “junk”, we become “junk”, and by beholding Jesus, we become like Him. It depends on the destination for which we have set our sails.
Thought Question: How many times during the day am I getting “off course” from my heavenly destination?
Monday: The Mind’s Filters
Conscientious parents understand that they need to do all they can to protect their children from unsafe and unwanted images and information that abound in all forms of today’s media. We use our parental controls on what stations they watch on TV and assure that their Internet viewing is appropriately filtered at home and at school.
But have we considered that these same filters might be needed for our own viewing and computer use? If we allow our minds and senses to become bombarded with all the greed, violence, and immorality that the world offers, aren’t we also in danger of becoming molded after the world?
Romans 12:2 gives us incentive to do this very thing:
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” KJV
If you want to know the will of God and you need more specifics for the kind of filter needed, see Philippians 4:6-8, which says:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 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 [think] on these things.” NKJV
Notice who is doing the guarding. It’s not us, but the “peace of God”. Only God can apply this filter on our brains. But as the previous verse indicates, we must let our requests be known to God. We must give Him permission to help us focus on the things that will uplift, not only us, but those around us. God can make us a “light in the darkness”.
We don’t have to let the world overcome us. With Jesus, we can overcome the world. We can overcome the entertainment industry, our addictive habits, and our attitudes of anger, criticism, and resentment. With Jesus, we can be overcomers of anything that keeps us tied to the world and our carnal natures.
Tuesday: The Mind’s Safeguard
Our carnal natures are mentioned again in the following verses. Notice where our obedience begins.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” II Corinthians 10: 3-5 NKJV
It doesn’t say to bring all our ACTIONS into captivity, but every THOUGHT. Some may say that’s easy then. I don’t have to change my actions, just my thoughts. But as anyone who has tried, changing thoughts isn’t easy work either. That’s because we can’t just banish our evil thoughts by wishing them away. They must be surrendered.
Discussion Questions: It was Billy Graham who once said, “You cannot stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from nesting in your hair.” What did he mean by this advice? Also, how is it possible to do this? See Philippians 2:5.
Wednesday: Mind/Body Relationships
As our lesson pointed out, the ancient Greeks had the belief that our bodies and souls were distinct entities. But the Bible gives us a picture of man as a more integrated being. Our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions should not be considered separate, but intertwined in making us the person we are. People are even now looking more kindly on a holistic approach of practicing medicine.
As I Corinthians 10:31 teaches us: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” In other words, the things we do to our body can and does affect our spiritual influence on others.
Thought Question: If I’m not glorifying God by my lifestyle, then who am I glorifying?
Thursday: Images of Influence
Although we are bound to benefit from revival and reformation, that is not the goal. Philippians 2:14-16 reveals the true goal of our efforts:
“Do all things without complaining [murmurings–KJV] and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” NKJV
Notice it said that our lights shine IN the world, not TO the world. We must be in the world, but not OF the world. In other words, we don’t have to belong to the world to be living in it. As Jesus prayed for His disciples and us in John 17:15: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
Discussion Question: How does one keep himself “separate” from the world as mentioned in II Corinthians 6:17, and yet still be in the world? In what sense are we to separate ourselves from the world?
The lesson quarterly was on target in saying, “He calls us to be compassionate, caring, and concerned in a world of selfishness, greed, and egotism. He calls us to uphold high standards in entertainment [and sports, I might add] in a society intoxicated with pleasure (Col. 3:1,2). He calls us to healthful living at a time when millions are dying too young from self-inflicted degenerative diseases (John 10:10). In the midst of an immodest, sex-centered, jaded generation, Jesus calls us to something different. He calls us to modesty, propriety, and moral purity (I Peter 3:3, 4).”
Is Jesus calling you to be something different this week? Don’t be a Laodicean and say, I have “need of nothing”. (Revelation 3:17)