Monday, 1 April 2013

Revolutionize Your Thinking and Transform Your Life

Revolutionize Your Thinking and Transform Your Life.
By Bishop M A Lalachan

“Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NLT)

Change is something that happens around us and to us all the time. 7 billion human beings share this in common: we all have to face change. Our lives are in a constant state of transition. Life is always moving forward; nothing ever remains the same. Change comes to all of us--whether we prepare for it or not. How we deal with those inevitable changes--no matter what the source--determines whether they will ultimately be a positive or negative force in our lives. Yet most people don't like or govern change successfully and constructively

As we go through life, our bodies change, our families change, our neighborhoods change, our jobs change, our attitudes change, our lives change. We know that God wants to transform us by the renewing of our minds…what does that mean? Why do we need to change the way we think? Our thoughts tie into everything. How we view God, ourselves, and others. How we process information, circumstance, joy, and pain. Bible says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Our thinking shapes our worldview and perspective and on the flip side our worldview and perspective shape our thinking as well. A truly magnificent change is possible if we, "with God" have desire to do the changing. We take the initiative and God will do the completion. We'll do our best and God will do the rest. Filling our thoughts with godly truths and principles are vital. Let God transform you by changing the way you think. Let God-ordained change be initiated to the world through you. View times of transition from God’s perspective. Find tremendous opportunities for personal growth and fulfillment. Change comes to all of us, whether we prepare for it or not. Don’t let it derail you, but discover the principles that enable you to put the positive power of change into service in your life.

Institutions are constantly changing, perhaps in response to events or process improvements, and the introduction of new technology, organizational restructuring or mergers. The greatest challenge for leaders are often to achieve the behavioral shift that is often required to achieve the planned benefits, even when it is recognized that change is required. Change management needs to be practiced for some time, to ensure sustainability. Lasting cultural shift will only be achieved through clear leadership, creative planning, and skilful communication and by developing a coherent strategy that will drive and sustain real change. There are a lot of things pulling at us in life… many times others are driven by their own motives to want us to do certain things, behave  or act certain ways because they want something from us or for us. God’s Word is a great resource for us to determine what is good, acceptable and perfect in our lives because He wants what is ultimately best for us.

To live differently, we must think differently, to think differently, we must have a purpose and passion to change and it does not easily happen, we must make deliberate choice daily. Bible shows us how to change and improve our selves to become what God wants. Jesus said the same thing in John, "you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).  First we should not allow ourselves to be poured into the world's mold. This will only cause us to look like the world, to act like the world and to talk like the world. Instead we should be transformed by renewing our minds with what God has said. The only way to replace the error of the world’s way of thinking is to replace it with God’s truth, and the only infallible source of God’s truth is found in his revealed word, the Bible. There are no shortcuts. There is no magic formula for renewing our minds. We must fill our minds with God’s word. As Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Many people struggle with change and crisis in life, especially in our highly technological world, but taking control of our thoughts is essential. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." The Bible has much to say about the heart of man. The word “heart” in the New King James Version of the Bible is found 835 times in 775 verses. When the Bible speaks of the human heart it is speaking of the mind of a man, a man’s will, a man’s emotions or feelings, a man’s conscience, or any given combinations of these. However, the word may also have reference to the whole inner being of man combining all these elements into the one whole that makes up the man.  The “heart” includes the mind and all that proceeds from it. Someone said that every sin we commit, we commit twice, once in our thoughts and again when we act upon those thoughts. It is easier to rid our lives of sin if we attack it at this fundamental thought level rather than waiting for it to become rooted in our lives by our actions and then try to pull it out.

In Proverbs 23 it says, as a man thinks in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7). Our actions are a result of what we think. Intellectually we may believe something to be true, but our real convictions come out of our actions. This is why it is so important to renew our minds with word of God. To take the scripture and implant it in our hearts so that it is in alignment with what God has said. If what is in our heart is scripture then we will act based on that belief system. All external changes, if the mind was not changed, would be useless, or would be hypocrisy. Christ seeks to reign in the soul; and having its seat there, the external conduct and habits will be regulated accordingly.  God expects that, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will be radically changed.

Bible portrays many different metaphors to express the change that should take place in the life of a believer begin with spiritual rebirth, spiritual growth, spiritual journey and spiritual reproduction. Let us carefully consider the following scriptural verses.

We are "born again" (John 3:3,5); born from above, of the spirit and not the flesh.
We become "a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come" (2 Cor 5:17).
We are rescued from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God's son (Col. 1:13). Our citizenship and our allegiance have been changed.
We have become adopted sons of God (John 1:12-13; Rom 8:15-16).
We are "made new in the attitude of your minds" (Eph 4:23).
We "put off your old self" and "put on the new self" (Eph 4:22,24; Col 3:9-10).
We "live by the Spirit" and not by the flesh (Gal 5:16; Rom 8:13).
We become "instruments of righteousness" rather than "instruments of wickedness" (Rom 6:13).
We have "been buried with him through baptism into death" in order that "we may live a new life" (Rom 6:4).
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20).
We have "been set free from sin and have become slaves to God" (Rom 6:22). We are no longer "slaves to sin, which leads to death", but have become "slaves to ... obedience, which leads to righteousness" (Rom 6:16). 

Each of these metaphors, in a different way, emphasizes the magnitude of the change that is expected. Paul instructed  us how to shape our thoughts “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Christ is our ultimate example to tag on. One of my ideal verse is about our Lord is that “He “loved righteousness and hated wickedness” (Hebrew 1:9) the holiness of Jesus Christ manifested itself in a love of righteousness and a hatred of iniquity. It is not enough to love righteousness; iniquity must be hated as well. On the other hand, it is not enough to hate iniquity; righteousness must be loved as well. There are those who profess to love righteousness, but they do not seem to hate iniquity. They are strong in applauding right, but not equally strong in denouncing evil. There are also those who profess to hate sin, but they do not seem to love righteousness. They are strong in denouncing evil, but not equally strong in applauding right. Jesus Christ's holiness was complete as well as spotless; he loved righteousness and hated iniquity.

Lack of knowledge and motivation are a major reason people do not change to please God. They do not have sufficient desire to change. Instead they want to please themselves or their friends and family. Often they are too concerned with the things of this life. Until our motives are right, little else in this study will help us. God's word is the best source of guidance for self-help and motivation for self-improvement. People sometimes convince themselves, "I just can't change. It's too late. Besides, I'm only human." They are not just belittling themselves; they are denying God's word. They will fail simply because they will give up instead of persisting and using God's divine power.

Change of our attitude and character does not come easily; we must make deliberate choice daily. Bible shows us how to change and improve our selves to become what God wants in the second letter of Apostle Peter.  
Peter said, By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things and you will never fall away.  Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-11NLT)

As we study the attribute of the holiness of God and the Son of God, let us be mindful of the importance of this divine attribute. “The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy the whole earth is full of His glory.  In Isaiah 57 verse 15 when he said, “For thus says the high and exalted one who lives forever, My name is holy.”To be holy is to be distinct, separate, in a class by oneself. When we think of God’s holiness, we think of His utter separation from sin because everything in the creation is affected and influenced by sin. The primary meaning of holy is ‘separate.’ This means that the one who is holy is uniquely holy, with no rivals or competition. We see clearly God’s distinction from us in the matter of His moral, perfection. As Habakkuk the prophet wrote, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil. You cannot look on wickedness.” When the Bible calls God holy it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate. Exodus 15:11 says “Who is like Thee among the gods, O LORD? Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders? The holiness of God is not simply a doctrine to which we give assent. Rather, the doctrine of the holiness of God should guide and govern our lives. For God to be holy is for Him to be holy in relation to every aspect of His nature and character. It reminds us that His love is holy love, his justice is holy justice, his mercy is holy mercy, his knowledge is holy knowledge, and his spirit is Holy Spirit.

When things are made holy, when they are consecrated, they are set apart unto purity. They are to be used in a pure way. They are to reflect purity as well as simple apartness. Purity is not excluded from the idea of the holy; it is contained within it. To be holy is to be morally pure and free from defilement. Everything that comes from God, every manifestation of God’s nature is a reflection of His moral perfection.

In Hebrews chapter first we read, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers and the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son whom He appointed heir of all things through whom all things He made the world and He, the Son, is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” So if I want to know anything about God, the clearest representation of that, that I will ever be able to comprehend is manifest in Jesus Christ.

There is nothing more excellent than this truth, of which the Church is the keeper and preserver here among men, the ministry of the word being appointed to that end and purpose: for it teaches us the greatest matters that may be thought, that is, that God has become visible in the person of Christ. 

Paul said “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16 )

Great is the mystery of godliness, the mystery that God has revealed to us in the gospel in order to make men godly. The glory of the Lord - The splendor, majesty, and holiness of God as manifested in the gospel, that God was clearly and distinctly seen in the gospel. In the gospel we were permitted to look on the full splendor of the divine perfections – the holiness, justice, goodness, mercy, and benevolence of God - to see him as he is with undimmed and unveiled glory. Paul said “As all of us reflect the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, we are becoming more like him with ever-increasing glory by the Lord's Spirit.”  (2 Corinthians 3:18) as in a glass-in a mirror, namely, the Gospel which reflects the glory of God and Christ, From glory to glory-from one degree of glory to another. As Moses' face caught a reflection of God's glory from being in His presence, so believers are changed into His image by beholding Him. The holiness of God should guide and govern our thoughts, words and action.

To say that Christ is absolutely holy is to say that He is absolutely pure. Bible declares that "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."Hebrews 4:15 "For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." The holiness of Jesus manifested itself not merely negatively in not doing or speaking wrong, but also positively in speaking all that God desired, all that was right to do or speak. A full manifestation of holiness does not consist merely in doing nothing wrong, but in doing all that is right. The holiness of Jesus manifested itself in constant and never-failing victory over temptation. It was not merely the negative innocence that results from being shielded from contact with evil, but also the positive holiness that meets evil and overcomes it. 1 John3:3 — "And every man that have this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure." Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

To get what you want, change who you are by simply changing the way you think, speak and act. "People do not attract that which they want, but that which they are." To attract good people, you must be good. To attract godly people, you must be godly. To attract faithful people, you must be faithful. Instead of going to change and work on others, you go to work on yourself.  Act like the person you want to become. Before you can do something, you first must be something. Strive not to become a man of success, but rather seek to become a man of God. You become valuable when you value what God value. Transformation comes when you allow God’s Word to change your thinking. As your thinking changes, your feelings, decisions, actions and attitude will change. “And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind. And put on the new nature created in God's image, in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph. 4:23-24. (Amplified Bible) Divine Character is the foundation upon which all else is built.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John1:5,” When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”— John 8:12 " The dazzling white light that glorified the face and garments of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration was the outshining of the moral purity within. Everything we need for life and godliness comes through the knowledge of him. In other words, applying the word of God is what affects your life. Life and godliness is a byproduct of knowing God and what he has spoken.

Life is not just party and pleasure always. It is also pain and despair. The choice is either to act like a victor or like a victim. It is not our position but our disposition that determines our destiny. Adversity builds or reveals character. Under adverse circumstances, some people break records and others break themselves. The greatest buildings have strongest foundations. This is why Paul said to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. We are so hectic with the world and it's philosophies that it is hard to escape its corruption and not to internalize some of those viewpoints, but through the knowledge of him we are able to escape the corruption in the world because our beliefs are based on his principals.

People with Divine character, good values and positive attitude are the right foundation for the success of any society or a Nation. In other words the success of an individual, institution, or inhabitants, depends on the quality of their people. Most people fail not because of lack of ability or intelligence but because of lack of right desire, direction, dedication, discipline, diligence and divine attitude. Divine attitude refers to the consistency of godly Character that matches thoughts, words and actions.  A person with a Divine character is like a fruit of all season. Ability without the Divine attitude is wasted energy, good look without godliness is irritation and Position and Tittles without divine Grace and Agape Love is tyranny and tragedy. Therefore daily start our day with God’s thoughts. Remember that “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2. NLT) God Bless you

(The author is the presiding Bishop, Believers Church, Patna,  Diocese)

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