© 2021 Hannah Johnston / Harvest City Church

God has a plan for our lives—and it’s a great plan! In fact, it’s a wonderful, outstanding, supreme, cream-of-the-crop, icing-on-the-cake plan! It’s so amazing that if you were to take it all in you would probably stand in awe and wonder that this plan is designed for you.

This plan is openly available and the by-product is freedom. Freedom to not only have, but participate in God’s best. Freedom to be fully satisfied. Freedom to live a life of truth. Freedom that brings true fulfilment. When Jesus Christ went to the cross for us, He said ‘It is finished‘, meaning that every dark and sinful thought, debt and accusation was taken and placed on Him so that we who believe and have accepted Jesus as our Lord and saviour are now free. Free to walk righteously and to fellowship and commune daily with our advocate, our greatest cheerleader, our closest friend: Jesus.

‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10)

With such a great plan designed by our Heavenly Father, why do so many Christians not fully engage or live in God’s best for them? In one word: transformation.

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)

As believers, we need to allow a transformation to take place by allowing the Holy Spirit to change the way we think. Our minds are so important because how we think is the way we will live. From the moment we wake up, our minds enter a battlefield—a battle against our old nature for what gets our attention. The enemy knows that what gets your attention gets you.

We are at war with our flesh and sometimes our old nature wants to take over. Prior to salvation, our nature is self-serving. You only have to look at the world to note that the mantra is all about self—self-reliance, self-satisfaction, self-absorbed—but once we accept salvation we receive a new nature: to serve God.

‘Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.’ (Proverbs 4:23)

‘Listen, my son, and be wise, And direct your heart in the way [of the LORD].’ (Proverbs 23:19, AMP)

‘Hear, my son, and be wise; And guide your heart in the way.’ (Proverbs 23:19, NKJV)

The words ‘guard’, ‘direct’ and ‘guide’ are action words. They tell us that we have to do something:

  • Guard: watch over in order to protect or control; protect against damage or harm.
  • Direct: control the operations of; manage or govern.
  • Guide: direct or influence the behaviour or development of.

‘An unmanaged mind leads to tension (stress). A managed mind leads to peace and tranquillity.’ — Rick Warren

As believers, it is vital that we learn to manage our thought life so that we don’t allow ourselves to drift away from God’s best. God wants us to be able to participate daily in His peace and joy that is available to us all and is not based on our emotions or circumstances.

Recently, I have been working my way through the book of Romans. I love this book because whenever I read it, I feel like I’m getting a health check-up. But unlike the check-up you get when you visit your GP, this health check-up is of the spiritual kind, and it reminds me of God’s amazing love and grace, and that through Christ I can fully participate in His righteousness.

It also addresses areas of sin that are a daily battle. When we don’t manage our minds, the enemy uses the weapon of suggestion (temptation) to lure us into momentary pleasure or satisfaction—but it’s counterfeit! It’s harmful and keeps us away from God’s best for us.

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. (Romans 8:6)

‘Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.’ (Romans 8:12)

The Apostle Paul is telling us that we don’t have to give in to negative thought patterns or allow our mind to be controlled by self-defeating bad habits. Isn’t that wonderful? God’s amazing plan is for every believer to walk in freedom. We come under obligation when a service is rendered to us, causing indebtedness, but Jesus took our debt so now we can have minds that are controlled by the Spirit. We can let the light of God in our mind, will and emotions. Praise God!

How do we take control of our thought life?

1. Fill your mind with the Word of God. The daily commitment to feed on God’s Word is the best antidote to carnal thinking. Take hold of God’s truths and allow the Holy Spirit to renew your mind.

2. Train your mind to be others-focused instead of self-focused! When our mind is fixated on ourself we can become completely detached from those God has placed in our lives. Romans 12:15 tells us to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn‘. When someone in our lives announces good news, we should push against the automatic desire to think about how it affects us and instead rejoice with them. In the same way, when someone is going through a tough time, instead of reflecting on how their illness or circumstance may affect you, look for a way to serve them in their time of need.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (Philippians 2:3-5)

What a wonderful challenge to take up! The world is all about self. If you want to make a big impact and be an ambassador for Christ, then focus on others and look for opportunities to serve and bless the people God has placed in your life.

3. Focus on that which brings glory to God. In light of eternity, our time here on earth is short. It’s so important to keep an eternal perspective! Instead of allowing my thought life to be consumed by the here and now, I must remind myself of Paul’s words: ‘Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.’ (Colossians 3:2)

I’m so excited for when we get to Heaven and all that God has planned for us! Being heavenly minded and fixing our thoughts on eternal things keeps our perspective of this life balanced. An eternal perspective on life reminds us of why we are here—to expand God’s family. When we fix our minds on the bigger picture it can actually inspire us to live a life that is holy and pleasing to our Heavenly Father.