Welcome to week 2 of my cyberspace Bible Study. This fall, my posts will follow the heart of the messages I am teaching each week at my church. I pray you will be blessed.
Last week, I wrote that like an old caterpillar transformed and burst forth from it's cocoon into a beautiful new butterfly, God desires each of His children to enjoy a whole new way of life on this earth, while we expectantly look forward to eternity with Him in heaven. Years ago, the Lord showed me that one reason we don't enjoy the fullness of the abundant life He intends is because we don't change our thinking. I have found this to be true in my own life, and have witnessed it in others.
For years, I have observed that one of the greatest obstacles to renewing our minds is the lies that we believe. Lies we may have heard from others, lies we told ourselves, and the lies whispered to us by our enemy, the devil. However, until we recognize these lies and learn to dispel them, we are held captive to them. These lies keep us from experiencing the freedom that Jesus gave His life for. Like a butterfly who doesn't understand it can fly, the lies we believe keep us down on the ground where we get kicked, stepped on and, sometimes, even squashed.
One of the biggest lies I believed, when I was a young wife and mother, actually came flying out of my mouth each time I blew it with my kids or my husband, as I shouted, "I can't change! This is just the way I am!"
This huge lie kept me grounded. It hindered me from enjoying many of the blessings God desired for me and my family. Thankfully, with the Lord's help, I began to recognize the lie and seek out His truth. Over time, this lie, and many others, lost it's hold on me as I
1. Persisted in Prayer
And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.Luke 11:9-10 NLT
When my children were small, I cried out to God, again and again, after yet another angry outburst. I felt like a failure as a mother. And, I believed my own lie, "I can never change. This is just the way I am." Yet, each time I lost my temper, I turned to the Lord and I pleaded for His help. I didn't want to be a bad mommy. I desperately longed to change. So, I also turned to the truths in my Bible.
2. Promises in God's Word
Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.John 8:31-32
One promise I clung to was James 1:19-20. I wrote it down. I carried it with me. I memorized it. At first the scripture would come to mind after I yelled at my precious little children. Then, with a contrite heart I would plead with God, "Lord, please teach me how to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Help me to live the righteous life that you desire." Then, once again, I would confess my sin of anger to the One who gave His life for me.
3. Precious Blood of Jesus
If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:7-9
Each time, after I yelled at my kids, I would kneel down, wrap them in my arms, and say, "Mommy blew it. I am so sorry. Please forgive me." Then, I would ask the Lord to forgive me, once again. You see, one truth I did believe was that I could not make myself clean or righteous. Only the precious blood of Jesus could take away my sins. I also knew another truth. I was filled with a power greater than myself. As I would yield my life to the Lord, He would turn my life around.
4. The Power of the Holy Spirit
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. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. Romans 8:5-6 NLT
I continued to press into the Lord. I was desperate to change. I didn't want to be an angry mommy. I understood I had a choice to be controlled by my sinful nature or to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. One led to death, the other peace and life. I wanted peace and life for me and my family. So, I began to invite the Holy Spirit to control my mind and to change my thinking.
The happy ending to this message is the Lord heard the cry of my heart. He answered my prayers. God radically transformed my life. (And, not just my anger.) Through His Word, I learned truths that demolished the lies that held me hostage to my sin. And each time I did sin, through my confession, I was forgiven and cleansed. Then, as I surrendered my powerlessness to the power of God's Holy Spirit, I was set free to live the abundant life God intended!
How about you? Is there an area of your life where you are being held captive? No matter how much we long to change, we cannot change ourselves. Only the Lord can renew our minds and transform our lives. He does this as we continually turn to Him in prayer; as we hold tight to the promises in His Word; as we receive forgiveness and cleansing through the precious blood of Jesus when we confess our sins; and as we yield "our control" to the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us.
It is my prayer, with God's help, we will renew our minds and allow Him to transform our lives. Because, God did not intend us to "crawl on the ground" but to "soar to great heights."
Scriptures for further study:
Prayer - Matthew 26:36-42; Luke 5:16; John 15:7-8, 16-17
Promises - John 8:31-37; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:4
Precious Blood of Jesus - I Peter 1:1-2; I Peter 1:18-20; Revelation 12:10-11
Power of the Spirit - Acts 1:8; Romans 8:1-14; Ephesians 3:14-17a