Change The Way You Think, Change Your Life

Make no mistake about this: You can never make a fool out of God. Whatever you plant is what you’ll harvest.” Galatians 6:7

You don’t plant apple seeds and get tomatoes.

In the same way, you don’t plant bitterness and get love. You don’t plant criticism and then get encouragement from other people.

Galatians 6:7 says, “Make no mistake about this: You can never make a fool out of God. Whatever you plant is what you’ll harvest”.

Whatever you plant is what you’ll harvest. If you plant in the soil of your sinful nature, you’ll harvest destruction. But if you plant in the soil of your spiritual nature, you’ll harvest everlasting life.

God has said for thousands of years that our sins can affect future generations. For instance, when you’re angry and you lose your temper with your kids, you’re setting them up to lose their temper with their kids. Sins get perpetuated in families, possibly for multiple generations. Not only does it work relationally and environmentally but it also works physically. We now know your brain can actually be changed by repetitive behavior, for good or for bad.

Everyone used to think the brain was pretty much set in stone by the time you were an adolescent. Now we know about brain plasticity and how your brain can continue to be molded for the rest of your life.

That’s good to know! It means if your brain has been naturally molded toward depression or a quick temper or anxiety, it can change.

But you’ve got to change the way you think. The Bible refers to this as repentance or changing your mind. You canchange your mind, and when you do, it changes the way you feel. And when you change the way you feel, it changes the way you act.

Then, you plant in your spiritual nature and watch what amazing fruit God will reap in your life.

Your Sin Is Never Private

None of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.” Romans 14:7

Sin may be secret, but it’s never private. It will either come out now, here on earth, or at Judgment Day, but it’s going to be known.

Numbers 32:23 is one of the scariest verses in the Bible: “You may be sure that your sin will find you out”.

Another reason why sin is never private is because everything you do, good or bad, affects other people—even if they don’t know what’s going on.

If someone close to you stayed up all night doing some really immoral things and then saw you in the morning, you would notice something was off. You might not know what happened, but the result of their sin would be obvious in the way they behaved. Very few people could act as if nothing happened.

It doesn’t even have to be some big sin you commit. It could be the sin of omission. If you have a regular quiet time with God and then go a few days without spending time in God’s presence, there’s probably going to be a difference in how you react to people and circumstances. That’s because when you’re not plugged in, you don’t have spiritual power to fight sin.

The Bible says in Romans 14:7, “None of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone”.

A lot of people will say, “What I do with my life is no one else’s business. As long as I’m not hurting anybody, why should anyone else care?” But you are hurting other people. God made us to be connected people, and what we do and say always has an effect on others.

Sin affects you in ways you don’t even realize, and then your actions affect others. When you sin, it cuts you off from God’s power and keeps you from your potential. It limits the good you can do and the impact you could have.

Isn’t it sad to think of what you and others are missing when you’re not at your God-given best? There is only one way to move past the sin that holds you back and hurts others: Confess it.

It’s Time To Start Doubting Your Doubts

The world’s sin is unbelief in me.”John 16:9

At the root of every sin rests at least a momentary doubt about God.

In John 16:9 Jesus says, “The world’s sin is unbelief in me” (TLB). When you don’t believe Jesus is who he says he is or he’ll do what he says he’ll do, that’s the root of all sin.

Here are some emotions you can look for that can help you know when you’re doubting God.

When you become impatient, it reveals your doubt in God’s perfect timing. God has a plan for your life, but he’s never going to be in a hurry. That’s easy to forget when you want things to happen on your own timetable—so you take matters into your own hands instead of waiting on God.

When you become resentful or bitter, it reveals your doubt in God’s wisdom. God is wise and good and loving. But when things don’t turn out like you plan or want, you think he messed up somehow. And you don’t believe he can bring good out of bad.

When you dwell in guilty feelings, it reveals your unbelief in God’s forgiveness. How long should a follower of Jesus feel guilty? About one second. That’s how long it takes to confess a sin. If you’re carrying around guilt, it means you can’t forgive yourself because you don’t believe God has forgiven you.

When you feel inadequate, it reveals your doubt in God’s power. God has said his power shows up best in your weakness. But when you don’t believe that, it shows you think power should come only from yourself. If you think that, you’re always going to be disappointed.

Do you want to turn around those feelings of fear, impatience, resentment, guilt, and inadequacy? Then you need to start doubting your doubts.

If you believe in God’s Word, you can trust what it says about God and the way he feels about you and takes care of you. You can trust that God keeps his promises, has perfect timing, is wise, forgives you, and works powerfully through you.

Results Of An I-Centered Life

“Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” James 3:16

When “I” am at the center of everything in my life, that’s sin.

We all have an “I” problem: I want it my way; I will do my thing; I have to take care of myself first; I don’t have time for others; I am the most important thing.

Growing up, my dad taught me the danger of I-focused living by pointing out that the middle letter of “sin” is “I.” At the root of sin is self-centeredness, and the middle letter of “pride” just also happens to be “I.” Where else does this apply? All “crime” is self-centered. A lot of social problems in the world today are caused by three groups with “I” at the center: racists, sexists, and chauvinists. All of these work off the philosophy that “Iam better than you.”

What other I-centered sins happen when you start living a self-focused life? You start to “whine” and “criticize.” You turn “envious,” “deceitful,” “defiant,” and “merciless”—because you want grace for yourself but not for others.

What are the results of living a self-focused life? Guilt, fatigue, pessimism, hostility, and emptiness—all with “I” at the center.

What is the only antidote to an I-focused life? You have to change your focus.

You were made by God and for God. And you will only find peace and purpose when you focus your life on him. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you” (Isaiah 26:3).

Sin Grows From The Seed Of Selfishness

“There will be more and more evil in the world, so most people will stop showing their love for each other.” Matthew 24:12

Someone once asked Jesus, “What’s the most important command in Scripture?” He replied, “There are two of them: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

If those are God’s two most important commands, then their opposite—not loving God and not loving your neighbor—is sin. Sin is always unloving.

Matthew 24:12 says, “There will be more and more evil in the world, so most people will stop showing their love for each other”. Have you noticed that today? People in general have become more critical, less civil, and ruder than ever. Why? Because as sin increases, love decreases.

Sin is unhelpful, unhealthy, unfair, unwise, untruthful—and it is always selfish.

We often tell ourselves we’re doing something for the benefit of others when we’re really doing it for our own benefit. The Bible says, “Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind” (James 3:16). At the root of every sin is self-centeredness.

Why are you here on earth? God did not make you to live for yourself. You were made for something far bigger than that.

You were made by God and for God, and until you understand and believe that, life’s never going to make sense. God didn’t create you so you could center your life on yourself and push other people to the side. You were made to know God, enjoy him, have a friendship with him, serve him, and center your life on him.

Whatever you build your life around is your god, whether it’s your boat or your business or a sport or another person.

God wants you to center your life on him, but sin will always put the focus back on you. Choose love. Where love is abundant, selfishness will not grow.

Sin Is The Opposite Of God

Everything he does is good.” Psalm 111:7

When you ask people what sin is, you’ll get a wide range of answers, from murder to forgetting to call your mom on Mother’s Day.

Most of the time, people think of sin as bad behavior. And your bad behaviors often do reveal sin. But the Bible tells us that God pays more attention to our thoughts than our behaviors. Because it’s sinful thinking that leads to sinful behavior.

So what is sin? Sin is the opposite of God. The Bible says, “Everything he does is good,”“he is good to everyone and has compassion on all he made,” and “everything that God has created is good” (Psalm 111:7; Psalm 145:9; 1 Timothy 4:4).

For example, when you use prescription drugs the right way, they can bring helpful relief. But when you misuse and abuse drugs, something good becomes something harmful. Money is neither good nor bad. It can be used for great good, but it also can be used for incredibly bad things.

God expects you to turn from your sins and start walking faithfully toward him. Part of faith is trusting that God has your best interests in mind. You don’t have to wonder what God is like. The Bible says clearly that he is perfect and does not sin.

While you will never be perfect on earth, you can become more like Jesus. This starts by turning away from sin and making choices every day to pursue what is good and godly.

Three Things To Focus On Instead Of Yourself

Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here.” Colossians 3:2

True freedom comes when you focus your mind on God’s truth. But how do you focus your mind on the right things so you can experience freedom? Here are three things you can do that will make the biggest difference in managing your mind.

First, think about Jesus. Hebrews 12:3 says, “Think about Jesus’ example. He held on while wicked people were doing evil things to him. So do not get tired and stop trying”. What gives you the power to keep on going? You think about Jesus. Keep your mind on who the Bible says he is and the example he’s given you for how to live a life that pleases God.

Second, think about others. “Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). Most of the people around the world think about themselves first. So anybody who thinks more about others than they do about themselves is going to shine. When you choose to think about what others may need and how you can help, you’ll find it’s hard to let your problems get you down.

Third, think about eternity. The Bible says in Colossians 3:2, “Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here”. Whatever you’re worried about today is probably not going to matter in five years, much less in eternity. Everything is put into perspective when you think about your life in light of eternity.

Whatever situation you’re facing today, stop and think about what you’re thinking about. Then choose to focus on Jesus, other people, and your home in eternity. It will take the focus off of yourself, which is how God intended for you to live. And it will transform your life!

Be Careful With Your Time

“Be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”Ephesians 5:15-16

Time is your most precious commodity. You only have a limited amount of it!

It’s estimated that people will live an average of 72 years, or 26,000 days. You may think you’ve got plenty of days left, but, if you’re over 27, you’ve already passed 10,000 days. You’re not getting any of those days back, and that’s what makes time your most precious resource.

You can always get more money. You can always get more energy. But you cannot create more time.

You have a certain number of days in your life, and that’s it. When you spend them, they’re gone. So life management is really time management. If you learn to manage your time, then you learn to manage your life.

“Be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

The opposite of careful is careless. The Bible tells you not to be careless with your life. Be careful. That means you should be intentional and deliberate with your time. I like to call it being purpose driven!

Do you know what it looks like to be careless with your time? On average, people spend three hours and 15 minutes on their phone a day. And Americans spend more than five hours a day on their phones and check them an average of 58 times a day! That’s 35 hours a week that we’ve devoted to staring at a tiny screen—and that doesn’t include time spent on the computer or watching TV. Of course, not all of that time is fruitless. But being careful with your time means being aware of how you spend it and of whether you are spending it on things that really matter.

“Someone may say, ‘I’m allowed to do anything,’ but not everything is helpful. I’m allowed to do anything, but not everything encourages growth” (1 Corinthians 10:23).

It’s not a sin for you to spend five hours watching cute cat videos on YouTube. But it might not be the best use of your time. Some things aren’t necessarily wrong. They’re just not necessary. It may not be wrong, but is it worth giving your life for?

Be careful with your days. You only have so many.

The Only Truth That Sets You Free

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

A lot of things that are true won’t set you free. You can learn how to program a computer, but that won’t set you free. You could read all the latest self-help books, but that won’t set you free either.

The only truth that sets you free is the truth of God’s Word: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). A lot of people can quote this verse, but not everyone acknowledges that it’s talking about the Bible or is even from the Bible.

If knowing God’s Word is the only way to be free, then you’ve got to make reading and studying the Bible a priority in your life. You’ve got to feed your mind on the truth of God’s Word.

The ancient Israelite King David understood how important God’s Word is. There was a time when he had so many enemies that he was actually a fugitive. He was running for his life and hiding in caves. But no matter what happened, he fed himself with God’s truth.

Psalm 119:95 is one of the psalms he wrote during this time, and it says, “Though the wicked hide along the way to kill me, I will quietly keep my mind on your laws”.

When you look around at things in the world, it’s easy to get discouraged. If you scroll through your news feed, listen to talk radio, or watch the news, you’re going to get down. You’re going to feel hopeless. But when you fill your mind with the truth of God’s Word, then you will have more hope and a better perspective on your life—even when you’re in a crisis and running from your enemies.

“How I love your law! I think about it all day long” (Psalm 119:97). It might be intimidating to try to think about God’s Word all day long. That’s because it doesn’t come naturally to anyone! You might struggle to think about God’s Word even one time in your day, but you can start somewhere.

Try starting your day with the Word of God. Spend 10 minutes reading the Bible in the morning, and then you can think about what you read throughout your day. And the Holy Spirit will help you recall what you’ve read when you when you need it in difficult times.

Are You Telling Yourself The Truth

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.” Romans 8:5

Have you ever felt like you are a hostage to your thoughts? Maybe you just can’t get a thought out of your mind. Or you often find yourself doing things you don’t want to do. You knowingly engage in self-defeating behavior. You know something is not good for you, but you do it anyway.

Romans 7:23 says, “I see a different law at work in my body—a law that fights against the law which my mind approves of. It makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is at work in my body”.

Because of your sinful nature, you think of yourself and your wants more than what God wants. It’s a battle in your mind, and you’re losing it. Your old nature—who you were before Jesus changed your life—is not your friend. It is the source of all your self-defeating habits that tend to take you down.

Do you want to break those habits and have more control over the way you think?

Then you need to hear and understand this truth: You don’t have to believe everything you think.

Your mind lies to you all the time. Just because you think something is true doesn’t make it true. Just because you feel something is true doesn’t make it true. Your mind and your emotions often lie to you. Part of spiritual growth—becoming more like Jesus—is learning to know the difference between thoughts that are true and those that are not.

One of the most important disciplines you can build in life is to challenge your own thoughts. Say to yourself, “I know what I’m thinking, but is that really true?”

No matter how far you go in your spiritual walk, your old, sinful nature will keep trying to take control of your thoughts. You have to learn to question your thoughts, not just one time but throughout your day and throughout your life!

When you start to think nobody likes you, ask yourself if that’s really true. If you think it’s never going to get better, ask yourself if it’s true. When you think your life is worthless, question what Satan is trying convince you of. Then, remember what you know from God’s Word to be true.

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit” (Romans 8:5).

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