For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 61

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:7-9

In the animated movie INSIDE OUT, each thought is represented by a large colored marble. Each time a colored marble dropped the child would experience a corresponding emotion.  Yellow = Joy, Blue = Sadness, Green = Disgust, Red = Anger and Purple = Fear. The movie beautifully demonstrates that what we think about is powerful. Our thoughts, our ideas, and memories have the power to change our lives. 

Do you remember something someone said in the past that somehow altered your life? If you were to identify a few marbles (thoughts) still rolling around in your brain what would it be?

* Damaging- “you are dumb, you are worthless, you are ugly, you are fat.”  One damaging statement can be rehearsed in a person’s mind a thousand times.  
*  Inspirational- “You are really smart, you are talented, you have a great smile, I believe in you.”  One encouraging affirmation may have inspire someone to do or become something he never thought possible.
* Scarring- A horrific memory from a person’s past, a pornographic image you can’t shake, a tragic news event like 911… while a tragic event may only last a moment, its memory may persist throughout her whole life.
*  Transformational- Observing her Dad show affection to her Mom, visiting an orphanage or reading a provocative book, a person can be transformed by the impact of her thoughts.

These kinds of memories and thoughts can change you forever.  The clear connection that Paul makes is that your thought life and your ability to experience peace are directly related.  As Paul explains to the church in Rome, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”Romans 12:2.  

We are not talking about half-cocked ideas like the pseudoscience, “Law of Attraction,” which erroneously and absurdly promotes the idea that a person can send positive thoughts out into the Universe and that in return, the Universe will send positive and beneficial outcomes.  We are also not talking about a Christian version of “The Power of Positive Thinking,” which professes that people can overcome everything in their lives (including their own sinful nature) and achieve unlimited success through simply focusing their thoughts positively.  

What Paul is teaching here, could be labeled, “The Power of Christ in Biblical Thinking.”  Only Christ can transform us- “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, the new has come into being.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Positive thoughts can change your momentary outlook, but they cannot change your eternal outcome. Our sinful nature cannot lead us into spiritual life, regardless of how well we discipline our thoughts. “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. When we surrender our sinful nature to the Holy Spirit, we begin to learn how to “take every thought captive” and practice thinking with “the mind of Christ.” (See 1 Corinthians 2:16 & 2 Corinthians 10:5).

It is true, your thoughts are very powerful and they hold great influence over your personal well-being, relationships and even future success.  “The Secret,” however, is not some squishy self-help spirituality that you can find on Oprah; it is this- 

“This is the secret, Christ is in you and He is the hope of glory.” 

Colossians 1:27
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