Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions
In Part 1, I started talking about the junk room—mess, chaos and a room where just things get crowded. And I said that sometimes we need to just stop and say, Well, I feel stressed because of all the junk.
But that doesn’t always only apply to just a room or an attic you might have where you store stuff. It also can happen to the mind. Some of us are ruled by this tyranny of the urgent—we just won’t slow down So what about the mind? Can junk come in there?
When you’re feeling upset—such as depressed, angry, lonely, or hopeless—you’re almost always having negative thoughts. You may not notice them at the time, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
Your circumstances may be out of your control, but God is in control of everything. Your thoughts shape who you are, but you can change the way you think. Your circumstances and consciousness have shaped who you are, but the way you respond to your circumstances and the thoughts you choose to believe will shape the rest of your life. You become what you think about. Let me put it another way: your thoughts and beliefs determine your behaviour.
The Secret of an Aussie Swimming Champion
Libby Trickett (nee Lenton) is one of Australia’s favourite swimmers, achieving the honour of winning gold at three consecutive Olympic Games, as well as one silver and two bronze medals. Libby’s professional swimming career also includes eight world records, eight long-course and seven short-course world titles, and five Commonwealth Games gold medals. Her biggest success was at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, when Libby won individual gold in the 100m butterfly, individual silver in the 100m freestyle and relay gold and bronze medals.
But I’m interested in what happened in April 2007. She was training, and making plans for her wedding in a few weeks time. She was also studying to complete a Bachelor of Communications degree. How did she balance three big projects all at once? A reporter from Queensland’s The Courier Mail asked what was her secret: “Peace doesn’t mean to be in a place where there is no trouble or hard work. It is to be in the midst of all these things and still be calm in your heart.”
Controlling Our Thoughts
Have you ever thought about how to monitor your thoughts? Do thoughts come out of nowhere without any filtering? That can be dangerous, and hurtful—not only to you, but to those around you. Although life can be a challenge, attitude is always your own choice. Scientists tell us that our minds are really an amazing creation. Our brain contains over 100 billion nerve cells. Each individual cell is connected with 10 thousand other neurons.
If someone feeds his mind with negative thoughts of worries, fear, anxiety and confusion, his life becomes one of frustration, fear, anxiety and worry. On the other hand, if another person feeds his mind with positive thoughts of a better tomorrow, good and worthwhile goals and works towards them, it will become a reality, because that is what he/she thinks about. If you keep feeding your mind with negative thoughts you achieve negative results.
Your circumstances may be out of your control, but God is in control of everything.
Your circumstances may be out of your control, but God is in control of everything. Your thoughts shape who you are, but you can change the way you think. If you are not satisfied with your present circumstances in life and you want to change them, you need to change your thoughts. Think and act like the person you want to become.
Before you can do something, you first must be something. Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value. You become valuable when you value what God values. And Romans 12:2 adds another tremendous concept: “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think”—and that opens up all sorts of great possibilities.
Don’t Get Bitter, Get Better
Transformation comes when we allow God’s Word to change our thinking. How do you eliminate negative thoughts so you can become a refined person? It’s the principle of replacement. The Bible says: “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right … Think about all you can thank God for and be glad about” (Philippians 4:8 TLB).
As your thinking changes, your feelings, decisions, actions and attitude will change and conform to the mind of Christ. We have the power to transform our lives. Romans 12:2 in the NLT (New Living Translation) says:
Don’t copy the behaviour 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.
It’s not what happens to me that matters as much as how I choose to see it and respond to it. Many years ago I heard this statement: The way I react will determine whether the circumstance makes me better or bitter. When I encounter unexpected situations, do I grow from them or allow them to become a stumbling block? You might be wondering, Is it true that my thoughts control my life? Yes! Your thoughts actually determine the quality of your life, because you are a reflection of your thoughts.
Rick Warren says:
A managed mind leads to tranquillity. An un-managed mind leads to conflict. A managed mind leads to confidence. An un-managed mind leads to stress. When you don’t try to control your mind and the way you direct your thoughts, you will have an enormous amount of stress in your life. But a managed mind leads to strength and security and serenity.