Mental Training

  • Mental Training
  • Philippians 4:8
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • November 16, 2020
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Capturing Rebellious Thoughts: Part 2

Good morning Church! We are in the midst of our series, “Capturing Rebellious Thoughts” as we talk about the power of our minds. Today I want to start by taking a quick poll. How many of you would say that even though you may be embarrassed you often make decisions that make no sense and are sometimes incredibly irrational? Raise your hands up.

Surely I’m not the only one who does this. I can make incredibly irrational decisions, that makes no sense whatsoever. Maybe you can relate, sometimes you make up your mind that you’re going to eat well. I’m eating healthy and you do for two days straight. Then somebody brings donuts into the office and you eat one bite, so you eat the whole donut and then another one for good measure so that you can completely wreck the worth of anything you did for two days. Why do I do that? Why do you do things like that?

Let’s say you decided to be wise financially. We’re gonna get out of debt and for 11 straight days you’re making good decisions. Something breaks, you freak out. So to sooth your pain you go on Amazon and buy two new pair of shoes and an outfit to match your new shows. Why is it that we do this?

Why is it so many times when we know we should apologize we don’t. When we know we should take responsibility, we do the opposite. When we know what’s right, we do what’s easy. Why is it that we often make irrational decisions?

If you were with us last week we talked about what happens when you think a thought. Your brain is not static, your brain actually grows and evolves like a computer that’s programming itself every time you think a thought it becomes easier to think that thought again. Literally your brain is creating neural pathways. A thought creates a pathway which makes it easier to then think that thought again which is good news if you’re thinking good thoughts. The problem is we often aren’t.

All through life, experiences and your thoughts are programming your brain to believe what you think is true based on what you thought, even if the thought was not true. As a little child it’s true, if a baby smiles and the momma smiles back. The baby’s brain says, smiling is good.

If a baby touches something hot, ow hot. The brain creates a pathway that says hot is bad, don’t touch the things that are hot. If a child wants a sucker and momma says no sucker and the child’s like, I want a sucker, momma says no sucker and the child cries and so mom, plop gives the child a sucker, the child’s brain says crying is good. That’s why some of your 12 year olds are spoiled rotten because you gave them a sucker when they were crying.

What’s happening, our brain is constantly evolving, creating neural pathways. It’s good news when you think true thoughts. It’s bad news though when you believe the lies because your brain basically doubles down and tends to believe the lies more fiercely.

What’s the problem? The problem is that most of life’s battles are won or lost in the mind. There’s a battlefield in the mind. Last week we looked at the truth that Paul communicated when he said the weapons that we fight with, those of you that are followers of Christ, our weapons are not of this world. They have divine power from heaven to demolish strongholds.

What’s a stronghold? It’s a wrong thought pattern. It’s a prisoner based on a lie of deception. God’s power demolishes strongholds. That’s why we demolish, we crush, we vanquish, every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and what do we do? We take captive every thought and we make it obedient to Christ. In other words, we’re creating new pathways of truth. We’re letting God’s truth renew our minds.

We’re looking at the Apostle Paul, the way he fought and won the battle of the mind inspires me. From a Roman prison, writing from a Roman prison, when he wanted to be in Rome preaching, he was locked up, he wrote this powerful, weighty, encouraging letter to the believers in Philippi and he ends his letter with this word of encouragement. He says, I’m gonna tell you one more thing but what he doesn’t say is this. He doesn’t say, I’m so discouraged, will you pray for me? I’m hurting, things are bad. I never thought this would happen, where is God? At the end of his letter he says, one more thing. Don’t ever forget this.

He says in Philippians 4:8, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Why does this matter? Because your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. If a thought comes into your mind, it comes out in your life. You cannot have a positive life when you have a negative mind. Your thoughts matter so much. Your thoughts are shaping you. If you cannot control what you think, you will never, ever control what you do. Why is it that we so often make irrational, unwise and ungodly decisions? Because, the wires are crossed.

It becomes about training our minds. Training my mind. You may say, how do you train your mind? It’s very similar to training your body. If you go to the gym and you lift weights, what are you doing? You’re training my muscles. If I work on my mind, I’m training my mind toward truth. To truly have a God- centered mind it’s not just about what you do with it but it’s also about what you put in it.

Psalm 119:15 says, “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.”

Psalm 143:5 says, “…I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.”

I’m talking about filling your mind with God’s truth. Just as we train our bodies, we’re training our minds toward truth. It’s not just what I do with it, it’s what I put into it.

This might look like any number of things…

  • It might look like reading from your Bible or Bible App each day so that you can focus your brain in a direction for a few minutes.
  • It might look like breathing in and asking the Holy Spirit to give me a name and then when I breathe out I just say that name. And then I do it again and if God gives me a name and I breathe out and God gives me a name. So I might pray in, and God gives me my friend Jim who is going through chemotherapy treatments right now so I take Jim before God. What does it do? It’s taking the focus off of me. It’s putting it on someone else and it’s taking them before God, then after that I do deeper prayer.

What that five minutes focus does is, is it’s training my mind, it’s focusing and my prayer on the other side is really rich because the problem with me is I am admittedly an ADD prayer.

I don’t know if any of you can relate. Oh man I got good intentions, dear God in heaven I love you today and I worship you and oh my gosh I forgot to change the oil, I forgot to send that text and “Hey, look a squirrel” and my prayer might last like 32 seconds. And I wonder what happened?

I’m training my mind to focus on God’s truth. Meditating on truth. At the very simplest it’s just focus. I wanna focus on what is true because when my mind wanders, it doesn’t wander toward the truth, it wanders toward the lies. You’re not good enough, you can never measure up. Who do you think you are? Why do you bother trying? Your life is hard, nobody understands, you can’t go on at this pace, you’ll never make it.

No, no no, take every thought captive, make it obedient to Christ. Scientifically speaking I’m creating new neural pathways. Spiritually speaking, I’m letting God’s truth renew my mind, I’m not believing the lies, I’m embracing the truth.

Let me apply this to last week. I told you what we did last week was gonna matter and this could really be a game changer for some of you. If you can change your thinking, you could truly change your life, your thoughts matter so much.

Two questions we asked last week. The first question we asked is this, what stronghold is holding you back? At what point are you a hostage of a wrong mindset?  You’re believing that something isn’t true. You’re not good enough. After what you did, God could never use you. You’re always gonna struggle financially, everybody in your family does, you’re never gonna get ahead, you’re never gonna be a blessing to anybody. Identify whatever that lie is that held you hostage, what is the stronghold that holds you back.

Then what I want you to do is identify the truth. What truth demolishes that stronghold? Name it, write it down. Write it down, the truth. Well I don’t know what it is. I am not what I buy. Or what I have or who comments on my Instagram post that I edited and put a filter on to make me look six years younger. You know, I am not a hostage, I’m not a prisoner to that addiction. I have the power of Christ dwelling within me and I can overcome that thing that has haunted me. My God is for me. My God is a great provider, he will meet all of my needs, I will be a blessing to others. Whatever it is, name that truth.

New neural pathways, the power of God’s word renewing your mind so you don’t react to the lies that you have held you hostage from the past but you respond with truth that is dwelling within your brain.

Write it, think it, confess it believe it. Write it, think it, confess it and believe it. “I don’t know how this will play out in your mind but so many of you are worried all the time. You’re a hostage to your fears. You lay awake at night wondering, worrying. What are you gonna do? You’re gonna write it, think it, confess it. Yours may go like this, here’s your declaration. Because of Christ, I’m not anxious about anything. I cast my cares on God because he cares for me. I have the peace of God dwelling in my heart and ruling my mind. Write it, think it, confess it, until you believe it.

Maybe you say, I don’t know what to do. I can’t make a decision, I don’t know what God’s will is, I’m afraid I’m gonna mess it up. You declare it. My life belongs to God. Daily I seek him and daily he directs my steps. I know his voice and he leads me to his perfect will. Maybe you lack confidence, never good enough, I never measure up, I never can make a difference, you declare the truth. My confidence is in Christ and Christ alone. Because his Spirit lives within me, I can do everything he calls me to do. Write it, think it, confess it until believe it. Listen, you’ll feel foolish at first. You’ll be saying something you wanna believe but your life says something different.

Keep on renewing your mind. A few minutes every day, sparking the brain that God so intricately created with new pathways of truth. Truth, truth, truth, truth, truth. Write it, think it, confess it until you believe it. And then one day, the wires won’t be crossed.

Several people have battled for years and years with the lie you’re not good enough, you’re inadequate, you’re never gonna measure up. You don’t have what it takes.

Maybe your battle is with putting God first. Because you’re too consumed with what people think, living up to others expectations. So when you get overwhelmed, you take your spouse for granted, you neglect your kids, you dive into work, work, work, work, work…

So what do we do? We wake up, and renew our minds. We take in God’s word everyday. Remember, it’s not just what we do with it, what we put in it. We take in God’s word. We focus. We train it to focus. We declare some truths about ourselves from God’s word and we pray for those around us.

There are some things that you can declare about yourself:

  • Jesus is first in my life. I exist to serve and glorify Him. I
  • I love my spouse and children. I will lay down my life for them.
  • Christ in me is stronger than the wrong desires in me.
  • I am growing closer to Jesus every day. Today will be no exception.
  • The world will be a better place today because I have loved and served Jesus.

Remember, your life is moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. You cannot have a positive life when you have a negative mind. What comes into your mind comes out in your life. What are we gonna do? We’re gonna recognize the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. Ours have divine power to pull down to demolish strongholds. We take every thought captive and we are renewing it by the power of God’s word.

 

PRAYER: Father I pray that your truth would set us free. God help us to focus our minds, to meditate on you, your power, your goodness, your kingdom, your glory, your truth, your word. God call it what you want. New pathways are renewing our mind God. Help us not react with a lie. But God help us respond because your truth dwells within us, we pray for a victory. God we pray for renewed minds.

There are those who have been believing a lie for way too long spiritually, lies like “God doesn’t care about me” or “God doesn’t love me.” Lord, this morning we proclaim the truth that you, O God, are love. Love isn’t just something that you do, love is who you are, so we choose to live in the truth that you love us.