The mind is a powerful thing. Thoughts. What do you find yourself dwelling on or meditating on the most? Are they uplifting and positive thoughts? Or do you have trouble with negative thinking?

 “and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds.”—Eph 4:23

As Christians, we are to put off or put away our former deceitful way of life (Eph 4:22) and put on our new self – living a righteous life created after the likeness of God (Eph 4:24). We are made new not just at one specific point in our life, but continually. It starts in our heart and mind. We are renewed continually in the spirit or attitude of our minds. We are what we think. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (NASB). Our actions follow what we are thinking. So if we are to change the way we act or live, then we must first change our way of thinking.

I wish it was as easy as it sounds. Maybe it’s just me – but I really struggle with negative thinking. It’s difficult for me to change my way of thinking – or to stop the negative thoughts or worrying about circumstances. I know I’m not supposed to worry or be anxious about anything – especially about things that haven’t happened yet. Jesus makes that very clear in Matt 6:25-34. Yet often I seem to go back to the same old things – in my thoughts, my writings and my prayers. Then I’m hard on myself because I keep going back to them – rather than moving on in the direction I know I should. It’s one of those vicious cycles.

Obviously we don’t just wake up one day and begin thinking differently. Don’t you wish it was as easy as flipping a switch on the negative thinking? I sure do! Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. First and foremost, we must want to change. It seems like that should be a no-brainer. I mean, who wants to remain darkened in their understanding and alienated from God – which is how Eph 4:18-19 describes our old self? We want to put on our new self – to be renewed – to move from darkness to light (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10; Eph 5:8; Acts 26:18).

Therefore, the way to change our way of thinking is to change what we put into our mind. Yes, that can include positive self-talk. But, even more than that – it involves God’s Word. Reading, meditating on and gaining understanding of the truth of God’s Word is what our mind should dwell on – that’s our responsibility. Then, the Holy Spirit transforms us by renewing our mind (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 3:18). We can’t transform ourselves, but God can.

My Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for being patient with me as I struggled for days to write this devotional on this verse. I realized as soon as I read the verse in my quiet time – it was the verse I needed to study. My thoughts have always been an issue for me. I’m a thinker – unfortunately, more of a worrier than an innovator-type of thinker. Yet, ironically (or not) my own negative thoughts and inability to put my thoughts in an understandable form almost kept me from writing it.

Help those of us who struggle with negative thinking to dwell more on your Word, your promises, your commands and your character – than on our circumstances, hardships, fears or struggles. You understand how difficult life is. It’s just hard to leave old habits, no matter how destructive they are. They are what we know. But, we do want to change our negative thinking to positive thoughts. Lord, I do pray that you will create in me a clean heart and renew a right or steadfast spirit within me (Ps 51:10). In Phil 4:8, you tell us specifically what to think on: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy.

When I’m in my quiet time, especially at home and it’s warm and comfortable, it’s easier to have my mind and thoughts centered on the right things. Yet, I need your help in bringing these truths to mind when I’m struggling. Obviously I need to be in your Word more – meditating and memorizing it more so it becomes familiar to me. Because when I’m outside my comfort zone, when I’m missing mom, when I’m lonely, when I’m facing financial issues, when I’m unsure of how to handle issues with dad, when I’m sick, when I’m tired and don’t see an answer to an issue – that’s when it’s difficult to keep my mind from going to the negative thinking and worrying. In other words, when life hits – I want hope, your Word, your promises and your peace to come to mind and to be evident to me and to those around me, rather than worries, doubt and despair. Help me Lord to be renewed in the spirit of my mind. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.