Renew your Mind and Life through Romans 8

A Bender Byte Moment

By Ron Bender © 2011

What do you think about as you go about your day? Every moment of every day you and I have the freedom to think about whatever we want.

What you Think About is Essential

The thoughts that you choose to dwell on are the most important factor in how you feel and what you say and do. Ultimately, your thinking determines the kind of person you become. The Proverb is true: “As a person thinks in his heart that’s who he or she becomes” (Proverbs 23:7, paraphrase).

Real, lasting change is always an inside out process that begins with our mind, goes down into our heart and body, and then goes outward into our behavior and relationships. David learned this and that’s why he prayed to God, “What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life” (Psalm 51:6, MSG).

Problem Thinking

Problem thinking tends to show up in the irritations, loneliness, hurtful words, and long waits that we experience in the course of a day.

We don’t have to react to stress with negativity, anger, lust, or impatience. We don’t have to accept self-criticism or internal pressure to do more, better, and faster. We don’t have to give in to pressures to “make” other people happy. We can focus on Christ’s love for us and “overflow” with his love to others. We can keep in step with the Spirit of God that sustains our life and vitality (Galatians 5:25).

Don’t Try, Train

How do you learn to do this? The common answer is, “Try harder!” But the truth is that trying harder only gets you more of the same! Even if you put all your effort into doing better it won’t work. You might have intermittent success, but in the end you won’t be able to sustain your effectiveness by willpower alone.

To make positive character changes you need to tap into God’s power by going into training with Jesus off the spot, outside of and before you get into the trials and temptations that have been overwhelming you. You need to do a “spiritual workout program” that helps you to be transformed by God’s grace.

Watch and Pray

This is what Jesus coached Peter to do right before his denials. “Your spirit (heart) is willing to follow me to the death, but your flesh (natural human abilities) are weak. Watch and pray so you don’t fall into temptation” (Matthew 26:41, paraphrase).

Learning to watch and pray is an application of the part of the Lord’s Prayer where we pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).

To watch and pray is to anticipate our vulnerability to repeat a particular sin or problem and then to work with God on making the internal changes that will enable us to overcome our temptation. In other words, we become the kind of person who even when under duress wouldn’t isolate, criticize, indulge in _______, push to get ahead of others, or react with some other “compensation behavior” to feel better.

Renewing your Mind to be Transformed

A good “watch and pray” training program with Jesus begins with renewing your mind in God’s Word. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” Paul taught us (Romans 12:1).

God’s Word diagnoses (Hebrews 4:12), washes (Ephesians 5:26), and gives life (Genesis 1, Matthew 4:4) to our minds and ultimately our whole being when we meditate on it, study it, memorize it, and pray through it with an open heart, applying it specifically to our needs and struggles.

Use Romans 8

For instance, meditate on Romans 8. This is an amazing chapter of the Bible! It is full of God’s gracious promises. And it teaches us how to tap into the electric current of God’s Spirit and resurrection life. 18 times the Holy Spirit is named in this one chapter. The other 15 chapters of Romans name the Spirit 10 times.

Years ago I memorized Romans 8 – it took me awhile! And I’m afraid I lost it because I didn’t refresh often enough. But I do remember the heart of it. I wrote down some key verses and carried them on an index card to keep them memorized. They’ve been powerful for renewing my mind and life. And I’ve helped many people do this.

How about renewing your mind with us? Fix your thoughts on these words from Romans 8 by joining with God and saying these promises from him to yourself (fill in your name where the blanks are):

  • There is no condemnation for ________, who is in Christ Jesus (vs. 1)
  • The Spirit has set _______ free from sin and death (vs. 2)
  • The Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in and is energizing ________ (vs. 11)
  • _______ is led by God and thus is a child of God (vs. 14)
  • _______ can call God “Abba” or Daddy! (vs. 15)
  • Through Christ _______ is an heir of God, inheriting divine blessings (vs. 17)
  • _______’s body will be redeemed, set free and made whole (vs. 23)
  • The Spirit helps _______’s weaknesses with intercessions from deep inside (vs. 26)
  • All things work together for the good of ________ who loves God and is called according to his purpose (vs. 28)
  • God takes initiative to know, guide, call, justify, and glorify _______, helping _______ to become more and more like Jesus (vs. 29-30)
  • If God is for _______ then who can be against _______? (vs. 31)
  • In all things _______ is more than a conqueror through Christ’s love (vs. 37)
  • Nothing – absolutely nothing! – can separate _______ from the love God that is in Christ (vs. 38-39).

If only we’d learn to trust what God says in the Bible! If only we’d learn to trust God! And to trust Him in view of our particular struggles by watching and praying with Jesus. We need to rely on God’s Word – not our compensation behaviors – as real and life-giving!

We also need Christ’s Ambassadors

To learn to live by God’s Word we need the help of “Christ’s Ambassadors” who embody the love of God that the Bible testifies to (2 Corinthians 5:20). This may be a caring friend or a spiritual mentor. Or it may be a Christian counselor who not only incarnates Christ’s love but also is skilled at pointing out problem thinking and re-training minds to think more and more like Romans 8.



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Thank you!

Ron

Ronald Bender- President/CEO Bender Consulting.~http://www.benderbytes.net/bender_consult

 

 

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