Those who follow me must take up their cross daily...
The daily struggle to follow Jesus begins in our mind. We must be persistent to win this battle, as the enemy is relentless in his assault on our minds. From the moment we wake up, we are at war with the flesh, battling the desire to please ourselves rather than the Holy Spirit. We need to remember our spirit will live with God for eternity but our flesh will rot in the ground, along with all its desires.
Shaping your thought life
So much of our mental energy is used thinking about ourselves: our own wants, faults, problems and the list goes on. One great way to get our thinking life in shape is to think about other people we care about or pray for them. We can also think about our amazing future with God and what heaven will be like.
This sort of thinking will direct our focus away from our own problems and diverts our self-absorbed mind onto better things. 'Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed', I think this others-focussed mentality is one element of this adage.
Every desire starts as a thought and grows as we entertain it. An unhealthy or excessive desire for money, possessions or people can be snuffed out as soon as we identify the sort of thinking patterns besetting us. The desires of the flesh always seem to be preoccupied on temporary, material or physical things, which many people in the world are competing for and striving after. A life dedicated to such things is empty and shallow and we can remind ourselves of this as we choose to focus on the eternal things.
Choose the right thinking
Part of allowing God to renew our minds is to choose the right thinking: by identifying the sinful thoughts that do not conform to the spirit of God's word. Then we can confront them, refute them, and shut them down. It is simply having a disciplined mind proactively dedicated to serving Christ and submitting our faculty of thought to His will—loving Him with all our hearts and minds.
The allure of the world and its trophies can be strong, but we can see right through the appeal as scripture reminds us temporary things will all ultimately pass away. The enemy loves to draw us away from God's will for our lives by throwing out the bait to distract our focus. Thinking too much after worldly things, and spending our time and energy engaging with them without moderation can distract us from our calling to have God at the centre of our hearts and minds.
The enemy will assault your mind every day if needed, seeking to riddle the mind with negative thoughts, worldly appeals, worries etc. After a while these can spring into emotions, distracting our focus from prayer, contemplation and our daily devotion to God.
Guard your mind
The battlefield really is in the mind, because it is the entry for everything the enemy will throw at us. It truly is a shame when people get tangled up with myriad of emotional issues which easily gags and smothers the person God intends them to be, simply because they did not have the discipline and wisdom to guard the doorway to their heart, which is the mind.
Even if these people did try to monitor their thinking, they might not have understood how to refute or disprove the lies and snares that enter the gateway of our minds. Understanding the truth of scripture is imperative, and not just understanding, but knowing it and believing it is the solution—disproving the lies and negative thoughts with the truth of God's word. When we are victorious and liberated in our minds, it will glorify God.
Amos is an evangelical conservative, who cares about where the world is going, and seeks to understand why it is happening, especially in light of prophecy and the spiritual powers behind the scenes. Amos currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand. Amos pursues salvation for the lost, and considers himself a defender of traditional Christian values, liberal democracy and the historically unprecedented freedom and liberty established and defended by our forebears—which unfortunately, is gradually being eroded.
Amos Sale's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/amos-sale.html