Thought ReplacementLet’s say I tell you, “Think of a fish.” Your fish could be any number of species, with an infinite combinations of shapes and colors. However, if I say, “Think of a purple fish with green stripes,” a new picture will pop into your head. In order to change your thoughts, you can’t just say, “Stop thinking about that!” If I tell you, “Stop thinking of a fish,” you’ll get the image of a fish in your head. It doesn’t chase the image away, it actually brings the thought to the forefront of your mind. So, if we want to completely change the thought of a fish, I would need to redirect the picture in your mind completely. I might say something like, “Think of a snow-capped mountain, towering over a green valley filled with wildflowers.” Did you notice that the picture in your mind completely changed from the fish to the mountain vista?
Thought ControlWe control our thoughts and emotions using this same tactic: by replacing negative thoughts and emotions with the Word of God! For example, rent is due this coming Friday, but you don’t get your regular paycheck until next Friday. Many of us have faced this exact situation! Our natural minds might think, Oh man, I won’t get paid in time, and I don’t even have close to the money I need to pay rent. What am I gonna do? Maybe our landlord will give us an extension. But I want to be faithful; I don’t want to be late! I’m going to get evicted…Where will we go? I could ask my friend if we can stay with them for a while, but I don’t want to impose. What if they say no? There isn’t even enough room in our cars for all of us to sleep in there! Where will we shower? I don’t want to be homeless! Wow, do you see how those thoughts went through expecting to not have money to pay rent, to imagining coping with homelessness? This is how the natural mind begins to rationalize our circumstances without any thought to what the Word of God says, even as a believer wanting to do the right thing. And these are the circles of thought that keep us anxiously awake at night! We have to replace these thoughts with the promises of God, the Word of God, and visions and imaginations of what we are believing God to see!
Think God’s ThoughtsLet’s take the example above and replace those thoughts with God’s perspective that we find in the Word: “Jesus, you said not to worry about our physical needs because our good Father God already knows that we need them. My paycheck is irrelevant in this situation, Lord, because You supply all of my needs according to your riches in glory. I have favor with God, favor with man, and a good understanding. Rent, you are paid, in Jesus’ name! Lord, I don’t know how You are going to pull this off, but I know You will! The how doesn’t matter because I know the end result will be amazing. I am yours, and I lack no good thing! You take care of my family. I cast this care upon You, right now. I put my trust in You, Lord, and I know You will never let me down. It is finished, in Jesus’ name!” Now you have replaced those negative imaginations of homelessness with the truth that God always comes through for you, He will never let you down, and that He has promised to even provide more than enough for you! You have also given Him free reign to resolve this challenge however He sees fit. You haven’t placed Him in a box by demanding the how. For example, “Lord, I ask that you have a random stranger hand rent to me in the street!” You have just said, “Lord, I trust You to provide for our needs in the best way possible.” His plans are so much better than anything you can dream up.
Expand Your ExpectationsGideon probably had no idea God would deliver an undefeatable army into the hands of his mere three hundred men. Esther undoubtedly did not foresee how God would use her to deliver the Jews from genocide. Naaman wouldn’t have thought that dipping himself seven times in the Jordan river would heal his leprosy. The widow of Zarapheth most likely didn’t imagine that her little bit of oil and flour would last her through years of famine! Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.
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It is vitally important to become mindful of the source of your thoughts: the world or the Word. So, it’s time for some Brain Training! Discover what the Bible teaches about the mind, and how to be transformed by renewing yours. Learn how to keep your life from conforming to the pattern of the world around you and to start seeing things from God’s perspective.