Be Prepared To Be Tested!

One never knows when or where the test of your Faith will take place!  It is most embarrassing and condemning when you fail a test right after hearing the answers!This is what happened to me just this morning, and I am ashamed of my actions.

Let’s start at the beginning.

I left home early this morning to take an extra long walk before work.  A car passed by blaring Christian Rock music. I thought to myself,  “There is another Believer!”  At which time, I was reminded that I should put my headphones on and listen to the morning Christian Sermon I like to tune in on my iPhone radio.

The message today, was about obeying God and being ready to obey him when He speaks.  The sermon made us ask of ourselves if we are ready to obey no matter the circumstances, and despite what the world may think.  I continued listening to this podcast sermon while walking around by the lake on my way to work. Having stopped under a shady tree and rested on a bench, I finished listening to the podcast and looking out over the water. When it was over, I placed my iPhone and headset back into my backpack.

Almost immediately, a young couple who looked like they had just spent the night on the beach, came walking by me.  The male of the couple looked at me and simply asked, “Do you have a cell phone?”  In my mind raced thoughts of him taking it and running away with it.  Instead of answering honestly and finding out more, I simply nodded by head “No”.  I knew that he knew I was lying. They both walked on and disappeared while I sat there feeling guilty about lying and not helping in some way.

Over and over in my mind, the sermon that I had just heard played back to me. The guilt and condemnation rose in my heart about how awful I could be right after hearing the Truth!  I had been tested and failed!  Yet again, I got tested and failed and I knew it!

I blame my stone cold heart for failing the test.  Why do I have such a heart? Because I spend all my time indulging in my own fantasies, my own priorities, and living like a loner.  When I return to the world where others are around, I am not prepared to share myself or deal with the situations in the outside world.  My heart is also stony cold because I don’t spend as much time with the Lord as I should be!

Angels are all around us and will test us as we walk through our lives.  Be prepared to be tested and to honour the Lord by living true to His Word!

Being Prepared

Most Relevant Verses

Hosea 10:12

Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.

Matthew 24:42-43

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.


Matthew 25:1-13

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. “Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. “For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, read more.


Mark 13:33-37

“Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. “It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. “Therefore, be on the alert–for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning– read more.


Luke 12:35-38

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. “Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. “Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. read more.


Luke 21:36

“But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Romans 13:11

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.


1 Corinthians 16:13

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.


Colossians 4:2

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;


1 Thessalonians 5:6

so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.


Titus 3:1

Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,


1 Peter 4:7

The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.


1 Peter 5:8

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.


Revelation 3:3

‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.


Revelation 3:20

‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.





A Prayer for Forgiveness

A Prayer for Forgiveness[a]

51 Be merciful to me, O God,
    because of your constant love.
Because of your great mercy
    wipe away my sins!
Wash away all my evil
    and make me clean from my sin!

I recognize my faults;
    I am always conscious of my sins.
I have sinned against you—only against you—
    and done what you consider evil.
So you are right in judging me;
    you are justified in condemning me.
I have been evil from the day I was born;
    from the time I was conceived, I have been sinful.

Sincerity and truth are what you require;
    fill my mind with your wisdom.
Remove my sin, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear the sounds of joy and gladness;
    and though you have crushed me and broken me,
    I will be happy once again.
Close your eyes to my sins
    and wipe out all my evil.

10 Create a pure heart in me, O God,
    and put a new and loyal spirit in me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence;
    do not take your holy spirit away from me.
12 Give me again the joy that comes from your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach sinners your commands,
    and they will turn back to you.

14 Spare my life, O God, and save me,[b]
    and I will gladly proclaim your righteousness.
15 Help me to speak, Lord,
    and I will praise you.

16 You do not want sacrifices,
    or I would offer them;
you are not pleased with burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice is a humble spirit, O God;
    you will not reject a humble and repentant heart.

18 O God, be kind to Zion and help her;
    rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will be pleased with proper sacrifices
    and with our burnt offerings;
    and bulls will be sacrificed on your altar.


  1. Psalm 51:1 HEBREW TITLE: A psalm by David, after the prophet Nathan had spoken to him about his adultery with Bathsheba.
  2. Psalm 51:14 Spare my life … me; or O God my savior, keep me from the crime of murder.
Good News Translation (GNT)Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Random Thoughts Coming To Me

Here are some random thoughts that have been playing in my head lately.

  1. You need to disconnect from the influences of the World to truly renew your mind.
  2. You have known for a long time now the computer and Internet at home are spiritually hazardous!
  3. Watch out for the distractions that will try to keep you from doing what you should be doing!
  4. Stop reading and listening to the thoughts of the Unbelievers.  You know the Truth already, so why waste your time with the Lies?
  5. Video games containing violence, sexually immoral chat, images, and activities all cause the blood pressure to rise, and the heart to beat abnormally.  The wages of SIN is DEATH!
  6. Work out your own Salvation.
  7. Answers to life’s issues come to all. You need to learn how to listen and then obey.
  8. My grandfather’s voice would echo to me talking about little souls trying to find their way.
  9. The measurement of your Judgement will be equal to the level you exerted to others.
  10. Your love of the darkness reflects the darkness in your heart.
  11. It is by the Grace of God you have walked away from alcohol so very easily.  Similarly to when you quit smoking 10 years ago, it was time to lay it down.
  12. God gave you a brand new home to live in, and you allowed the Devil to move in and make it filthy!
  13. You spend far longer procrastinating cleaning than it would ever have taken to actually do the work!
  14. Purge and lighten the weight of your world. Rid yourself of things in the past that no longer fit who you are now.
  15. Create an atmosphere in your home that is welcoming to God, and unfriendly to the Devil.
  16. Practice frugality to lower your costs and pay down that debt.
  17. More GOD and less things!
  18. You once knew the Light and you lost it because you didn’t lay down the ways of the World.  You are going to have to work harder and really want it now.
  19. Don’t be shy about speaking of Jesus in public.  Many have tested you lately and you know these have been tests!
  20. Remember all the signs on the street you encountered a few years ago in your travels…..REPENT! REPENT!  Those were directed at Me.
  21. The Lord called me out of darkness in 2010.  7 years have passed already and I should be a lot further ahead.  The decisions I made along the way are no one’s fault but my own.
  22. Many are called and few are chosen.
  23. Hate, resentment, anger, jealousy steal your peace and harm your health.
  24. Renewal comes from the inside and works it way outward.
  25. You cannot dine with both demons and angels.
  26. Evil is not something to be played with for entertainment!
  27. Even if you don’t feel like it, it is probably best to do it.
  28. Procrastination is a tool of the Devil.
  29. Your dreams are a good indication of your heart.
  30. The Lord is speaking to you through others all the time.

Renewing Your Mind

The Challenge of Renewing Your Mind

  • How can a person renew their mind?
  • What help can I expect from God in changing the way I think?
  • What can I do to get rid of inappropriate thoughts in my mind?
  • What role do your emotions have in determining what you think about?

Trevor became a Christian two months ago. He regularly attends church, making new friends-but he is still struggling with anger.

“I can’t stop my outbursts. I get really irritated at the way people treat me,” he states. “Every day I pray to God, but every day people still make me angry.” He also confided that he is constantly struggling with lustful thoughts.

Harry, 67 years old, has been a Christian all his adult life. He grew up with a father who verbally abused him. “I can still hear my father saying-you’ll never amount to anything! You’re good for nothing!” And the damage still hangs on even though Harry is now a grandfather and loves God.

The struggles may not be identical, but many Christians are caught up in major battles in their mind. The promise of 2 Corinthians 5:17 sounds great, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (NIV) But where reality hits the road-we fall short- especially in our thought life.

The old way of thinking has not gone away. Many still struggle with temptations in their mind, bitterness, depression, fear, hopelessness, frustrations, problems, and putting it bluntly-evil thoughts.

To be a successful Christian means to follow Jesus, to obey His teachings, to love others, to grow spiritually. But this battle still rages in the mind.

God’s solution to this battle is not simply to pray more. Prayer is important-but we need to do more than pray. Romans 12:2 goes to the heart of the problem and offers God’s solution-“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)

The promise is powerful-if I renew my mind, God has some awesome benefits and rewards.

  1. I will be transformed-not just cleaned up on the outside-but completely transformed on the inside, too.
  2. I will know and understand God’s will for my life.
  3. How many times have you said, “I wish I knew what God wanted me to do in this situation.” Here is the path to knowing God’s will-His good, pleasing and perfect will. Renew your mind!
  4. The God of peace will be with me when I renew my mind. See Philippians 4:8-9.


God’s Part vs. Our Part
Three significant scriptures talk about renewing your mind-Romans 12:1-2, Philippians 4:8-9, and Hebrews 3:1. All three of these scriptures say YOU must renew your mind. None say, “pray that God will renew your mind.”

So when you pray, “Oh God, renew my mind,” you are acting much like a child that says, “Mom, do my homework for me.” Most responsible parents would say, “No!”

When it comes to renewing your mind, God will do His part, but not your part.

God’s Part
1. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

Three gifts are promised by God for every true Christian-a spirit of power, a spirit of love, and a spirit of self-discipline. God extends these gifts to His children-but are we taking them, and applying them in our lives?

Self discipline in our thoughts is a critical element of renewing our minds. God has promised to help.

2. When Jesus was preparing to leave earth and return to heaven, He specifically promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth.

John 16:13 says, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (NIV)

Separating God’s truth from the deceitful lies of Satan can be a challenge. God promises to help-He will guide you into all truth-but you have to be willing to take His help. Jesus did not say the Holy Spirit would give you all the truth-He said He would guide you into all the truth. This clearly indicates you must be seeking the truth if you want Him to guide you. It’s the same as the child who says, “Mom, help me with my homework,” versus “Mom, do my homework for me.”

3. God promises to bring us from darkness into light.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ ” John 8:12 (NIV)

One of our students was in 5 secular drug rehab programs before coming to Teen Challenge.

After each of these programs, she would immediately return to her lifestyle of drug addiction. Her mother asked, “What are you learning in these programs?’ The daughter’s reply- “It’s like they have given me a broom to sweep the floor, but the room is totally dark.”

Jesus brings light into the darkness in our world. God’s truth is light for us. One of the most important gifts that God has given us for renewing our mind is the Bible- His written word-a wealth of truth that clearly shows His way of thinking, and how He wants us to think. King David said in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (NIV)

God has given us an incredible tool for renewing our minds-His written word. Now what are we going to do with this treasure?

4. God promises to give wisdom to those who ask.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 (NIV)

He will give generously to us- His wisdom! Another incredible tool for us to use!

Our Part
When it comes to renewing your mind-God has already done His part. And it is clear that He will not do your part.

First, you must accept responsibility for renewing your mind. After all, it is your mind! So what does it mean to renew your mind? We need to learn to think like God thinks. We need to get rid of our sinful attitudes, our negative, critical ways of thinking, our selfish thoughts.

Renewing your mind should not be confused with thoughts that come into your mind. Many times we cannot stop certain thoughts from entering our mind. But what we do with that thought the instant we recognize that thought-that’s where our response clearly shows whether or not we are renewing our mind.

Much of what we think about is directly connected to what we are feeding into our mind. If you put pornography into your mind-that is what you will end up thinking about. And what goes into your mind affects your whole life.

God tells us in His word “I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” Romans 16:19 (NIV)

We need to guard our mind and not fill it with garbage. This includes what we watch on TV, what we read, and the music we listen to.

Romans 12:2 tells us that we need to renew our minds and the benefits we will reap if we do so. But that scripture does not tell us how to renew our mind.

The Positive Approach
The first major strategy for renewing your mind is found in Philippians 4:8-9. It contains 8 specific steps we can take to renew our mind.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such 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 4:8-9 (NIV)

Each of these 8 steps can be a filter in my mind to take me closer to God’s way of thinking. With each of these 8 steps, I must constantly look for God’s standard, not my standard. For example, the first step-think about whatever is true. I need to discover God’s standard of truth, not my perception of truth.

What does God say in His word about truth? If I am going to renew my mind, I must fill my mind with His truth. I need to read the Bible daily- I need to memorize scriptures.

But it is not enough to have this information in my head-I must “put it into action!” That’s the conclusion Paul gives in Philippians 4:9. A renewed mind should lead to changed behavior.

The box on page 3 gives a more detailed description of how to apply the strategy of Philippians 4:8 to renewing your mind. I challenge you to take each one of these 8 steps and work in a very systematic way of evaluating your thought life.

If a thought fails the test of being true, or noble, or right, or pure, then stop going down that path in your mind. Turn your thoughts toward God and His word. We need to put off our old way of thinking and develop a new way of thinking.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Ephesians 4:22-25 (NIV)

Renewing your mind is a process, not a one time achievement. If you realize you have fallen short of one of these 8 standards, don’t beat yourself down-instead focus your attention on renewing your mind right now. Get back on the right path.

With each of these 8 steps, God’s word can help you. Fill your mind with scriptures that relate to that step. If you have a real struggle with one area-then find scriptures that speak to that issue. Write them down, carry them with you, and read them throughout your day. The more you fill your mind with His truth, the more it will help to cleanse your mind of the inappropriate thoughts.

A key issue here is-what do you want to think about? Learning to think like Jesus means that you must continually make decisions in your mind. Your decisions! Your mind! God won’t decide for you. You must want to change the way you think.

Joseph in the Old Testament was sold as a slave by his brothers. He ended up in Egypt, and eventually in prison-with no hope for the future. But God rescued him. Nowhere do you read of Joseph being bitter because of the injustice he suffered.

Many years later his brothers fear he still plans revenge for their evil actions. The response of Joseph shows a truly renewed mind in action- ” ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” Genesis. 50:20-2 1 (NIV)

Battling Evil Thoughts
The 8 steps of Philippians 4:8-9 provide a powerful place to start in renewing our mind-focus on the positive! But many of us face evil thoughts in our minds. They invade our mind without our permission.

Perhaps you have been in church, singing songs of worship or listening to God’s message from the pastor, when in your mind a movie of sinful thoughts begins to play. “Where did this come from?” you wonder. Or maybe you face this battle as you try to go to sleep at night.

You try to focus your mind on God’s truth, but the evil movie continues to play in your mind. God offers another strategy we can use for these kinds of battles in the mind. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

God tells us to take on the mindset of a battle-seasoned soldier fighting the enemy. These evil thoughts are not conquered by ignoring them, any more than a soldier ignores his enemy. The soldier faces his enemy, and fights him.

We must do the same when we face evil thoughts. We must use the strategies of a soldier-fight with passion! Satan is our enemy, committed to destroying us.

This scripture points to the absolute need for us to know God’s word. How do we know if an argument or pretension is setting itself up against the knowledge of God? We must know God’s truth before we can spot an error. How do we make this thought obedient to Christ unless we know God’s truth?

You must speak God’s truth to the evil thoughts that come to you. “This is a temptation from Satan to get me to lie, or to lust, or whatever the thought focuses on. And here is what God says about that issue”-and then you need to remind yourself of the specific truth that relates to that evil thought.

This is how Jesus did combat with Satan in the time of temptation early in His ministry. See Matthew chapter 4. Jesus did not ignore the temptation-He faced it. And He quoted scripture to respond to each temptation.

When evil thoughts come into your mind, don’t try to run from them-attack them! Use the tools God has given you. Once you have exposed what you are battling, then begin to focus on the positive things God speaks of in Philippians 4:8. Bring God into the battle.

Another strategy that can help us battle these evil thoughts is to be accountable to another godly person. Give them permission to ask you how you are doing in the battles with evil thoughts. You don’t need to give them specific details of what you are battling, but you can give them a report on how successful you have been over the past few days.

One of the devil’s most powerful tools is secrecy. If he can get you to keep secret all your battles, then he has a much easier time defeating you.

Focus on Jesus
Sometimes we are faced with difficult problems and confusion. The pain and frustration can drive us to the point of despair. The problem simply does not go away. What can we do in these situations that do not seem to have a solution?

A third major strategy for renewing your mind is found in Hebrews 3:1. “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.” (NIV)

On one occasion I was faced with a difficult ministry decision. Actually several others were making a decision, and I was the one most affected by that decision. I felt it was the wrong decision, and appealed to these leaders. They agreed to a meeting, where I was given full opportunity to voice my concerns. But they did not change their decision.

I left the meeting with a great burden of frustration. Instead of going directly back to my office, I stopped at a park and sat there talking to God. I began to simply focus on Jesus. I set the problem aside in my mind. Only Jesus and His love, His faithfulness, His genuine concern, His kindness were the focus of my thoughts. His promise to never leave me or forsake me.

The more I thought about Him, the better I felt. When I returned to my office, the problem had not changed. But fixing my thoughts on Jesus had taken the burden of frustration off my back. I could face the day with the confidence that Jesus was with me.

Some of the situations we face simply do not have adequate answers. In times like these we can look to Jesus-fix our thoughts on Him. Everything else might be messed up- but Jesus is not messed up or confused. He is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us! We have to keep our thoughts fixed on Him.

Thoughts vs. Actions
It is not enough to think pure thoughts. Philippians 4:9 takes it one step farther-we must put these thoughts into action. It’s not enough to think kind thoughts-we must speak kind words, and live out kindness in our actions.

The prophet Jonah in the Old Testament illustrates the need for a renewed mind to impact one’s behavior. God told him to go to Nineveh and preach, but he ran from God. His actions reveal his need for a renewed mind.

Jonah ended up inside the belly of a large fish for three days. He described the lessons learned in a beautiful prayer-Jonah chapter 2. He then obeyed God and went to Nineveh and preached to the city. A great revival broke out and people by the thousands repented.

The next actions and words of Jonah point to the deep problems he still had in his mind. He was angry that God forgave these people-so angry that he told God he wanted to die!

Our thoughts are revealed by our actions. In one sense our actions speak louder than our thoughts. If we say we are a very generous person, what do our actions say? If our actions send the opposite message, then we may be living in denial or delusion-this clearly does not reflect God’s way of thinking.

Renewing our minds is a challenge that may take a lifetime. God has provided some very special gifts to help us in this process. But the real key to remember-this is my mind, and I must take full responsibility for renewing it.

The blessings are incredible that God has promised if we renew our mind-we will be transformed, we will be able to test and approve God’s will in our lives, and we will experience His peace.

Do Your Feelings Control Your Thoughts?
Do you find it easy to think positive thoughts when you are feeling good and everything is going just great? But how do you respond when you feel depressed, discouraged, bored or unhappy? Do you allow these feelings to control your thoughts?

God has promised to give His children the “spirit of self discipline.” See 2 Timothy 1:7. If you are going to renew your mind, self discipline is absolutely essential.

The call to Christian maturity is to discipline your thoughts and your emotions-to find the balance Jesus had in 3 areas of His life-His thoughts, actions, and feelings.

“Right thinking” leads to “right actions,” which leads to “right feelings.” The priority is critical. If feelings are at the front, they will drive you wherever they feel like going. You’ve heard it said, “If it feels this good, it must be the right thing to do.” What a trap! Your emotions will take you into all kinds of confusion.

“Right thinking” guides us in responding with “right actions.” Right feelings may not come immediately, but they will come eventually.

Accept the challenge that feeling good must have third place in your priorities. Right thinking is based on seeing each situation from God’s point of view, and then right actions-what would Jesus do?

Eight Steps You Can Take to Renew Your Mind
Philippians 4:8-9 Strategy of Renewing Your Mind 

1. Choose one character trait per day or per week. The first one—whatever is true.

2. Remind yourself throughout the day that you want to do a personal checkup on how well you are using this step to renew your mind.

Ask yourself—what have I been thinking about today? Is it true? Or have I been thinking about something that is a lie? Have I been living with a fantasy in my mind? Am I worrying about what might happen? That’s not the truth.

Am I speculating on the motives or thoughts of another person?

One way to help evaluate a thought is to ask yourself—If Jesus were in my shoes right now, what would He be thinking about this issue or person?

3. Consider the opposite of the trait. The opposite of truth is lies, fantasies, speculations. Ask yourself, “Am I thinking about something that is not true.” If so—I need to stop going down that thought path.

4. What scriptures will help me apply this trait to my way of thinking?

What scriptures on truth speak to you? Proverbs and Psalms have lots of treasures to use for these 8 steps. Memorize the verse and meditate on it during your daily activities.

5. After you have gone through all 8 steps of Philippians 4:8, begin to apply more than one test to each thought.

A young man sees an attractive young lady and thinks, “She is beautiful. I wonder what it would be like to be married to her?”

His thought meets the “whatever is true” test. But if she is already married, then this thought clearly fails the “whatever is right” test.

This process of renewing the mind calls us to ever higher standards of filtering our thoughts and placing boundaries so we do not go down the path of sin in our mind. Jesus made it clear in Matthew 5:27-28, that sin is not simply measured by our actions—we also sin when we embrace that thought and go down that path in our mind.

6. When you are evaluating your thoughts, bring God into the mental conversation. Breathe a prayer to God, ask for His wisdom. Quote scripture as a prayer of what you want God to do.

David’s prayer in Psalm 51:10 can be your prayer: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (NIV)

7. Talk with other Christians about your challenge to apply these 8 steps to renewing your mind.

Tell them of your successes and your challenges. The act of telling others can become a way of reinforcing these new thought patterns. It also can give you something positive to talk about!

It’s time to move beyond the weather and sports in our conversations.

Do your feelings control your thoughts?

Do you find it easy to think positive thoughts when you are feeling good and everything is going just great? But how do you respond when you feel depressed, discouraged, bored or unhappy? Do you allow these feelings to control your thoughts?

God has promised to give His children the “spirit of self discipline.” See 2 Timothy 1:7. If you are going to renew your mind, self discipline is absolutely essential.

The call to Christian maturity is to discipline your thoughts and your emotions—to find the balance Jesus had in 3 areas of His life—His thoughts, actions, and feelings.

“Right thinking” leads to “right actions,” which leads to “right feelings.” The priority is critical. If feelings are at the front, they will drive you wherever they feel like going. You’ve heard it said, “If it feels this good, it must be the right thing to do.” What a trap! Your emotions will take you into all kinds of confusion.

“Right thinking” guides us in responding with “right actions.” Right feelings may not come immediately, but they will come eventually.

Accept the challenge that feeling good must have third place in your priorities. Right thinking is based on seeing each situation from God’s point of view, and then right actions—what would Jesus do?

Copyright © 2000, 2006 By David Batty

Developing a Demon-Free Zone Over Your Life

Written by Jentezen Franklin

Scripture tells us that spiritual battles are taking place all around us because we live in two atmospheres at the same time. One is a physical atmosphere that we can see, smell, hear, touch and taste. The other is a spiritual atmosphere that we cannot see with our natural eye or experience with the rest of our natural senses but which is very real.

The devil knows the power of atmosphere, and as believers, we need to know it as well. Whenever possible, Satan will try to tempt you into the wrong atmosphere in order to make it easier for you to fall into sin. Think about it—would you be more likely to fall into sinful behavior in a library or in a wild club or party scene? The answer is pretty obvious because it’s the atmosphere that makes the difference. The atmosphere creates a climate, and the climate creates a culture. If the enemy can get you in his culture, he knows he can get you to sin.

God understands the power of atmosphere as well. He is everywhere—but He does not manifest His presence equally everywhere. He will manifest His presence when the atmosphere is right, and He loves an atmosphere of praise and true worship from His people. The Bible says God inhabits the praises of His people (Ps. 22:3). When you fill the atmosphere with complaining, faultfinding and murmuring, it’s not inviting to the presence of God.

The same is true with the Holy Spirit: Atmosphere is everything. The atmosphere of holiness, purity, praise, worship, prayer, love and unity attracts the Holy Spirit—just as an atmosphere of lust, drunkenness, anger and hatred attracts demonic spirits. If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, and He is dominating your life, then the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control and gentleness—will become increasingly evident in your life (Gal. 5:22-23). When the fruit of the Spirit is in your life, you naturally create an atmosphere for the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Fight Spirit With Spirit

We are at war, but we cannot fight in the spirit realm with our natural ability, education or money. We can only fight spirit with spirit—”For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4).

As believers, we have been given authority over demons. The only way demons can get a stranglehold on us is when we deliberately and persistently walk in sin.

If a believer encounters what he thinks is a true manifestation of demonic oppression or possession, he has the authority and the power of the Holy Spirit to expel that demonic power. There are certain signs of demonic possession to look for when trying to determine if a demon is at work in someone.

A sure sign of demonic possession is someone empowered with incredible strength. Demons will often energize people in this way (Mark 5). Those who are demon possessed may have spontaneous reactions of uncontrolled cursing when the name of Jesus Christ is spoken. An evil spirit can cause contortions in facial features and countenance. People’s eyes can become glazed and even roll back in their heads. Their appearances and even their voices will change. When people are set free, they will usually come immediately back into their “right minds.” Their voices will normalize, and you will see a total change in demeanor.

Extreme caution should be used when discerning whether or not someone is demon possessed. In my more than 25 years of ministry, I have only encountered five people who I was convinced needed some form of exorcism. It is my experience that, when attempting to cast out demons, it should almost always be done in a private setting with a pastor or other mature, balanced spiritual leaders present.

The position of every born-again believer should reflect James 4:7, which says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Jesus Christ, in His ultimate commission to the church, said, “In My name they will cast out demons” (Mark 16:17). While we should always seek the help of a mature Christian leader when dealing with challenging ministry situations, we should not be afraid to take authority over demons as believers in Jesus Christ.

Bring Everything to the Light

Satan and his demons prefer to do their work without being exposed. They definitely don’t like to be identified and cast out. Demons will resist exposure and will resist anyone who attempts to bring the light of God upon their hidden works. Once the enemy has gained ground and set up the kind of culture he desires, he wants us to buzz off and leave him be.

Some ministries unconsciously fall into the trap of the enemy by leaving him alone. Ministers of the gospel who don’t want to deal with the subject of demons often say that all they need to do is preach Jesus. I’m certainly not against preaching Jesus, but I also find in Luke 4:18 that we are called to preach deliverance to the captives. Jesus was a deliverance preacher. In Mark 6:13, He cast out many demons.

Today, most ministries—including mine—cast out few, if any, demons. Many don’t want to deal with this aspect of the ministry of our Lord. Well-meaning Christians, pastors included, feel it unnecessary to discuss or teach on spiritual warfare and are quick to label anyone who does spend time studying and teaching in these areas of Scripture “overboard,” “radical” or a “demon chaser.” But we must make no mistake—avoidance of spiritual warfare teaching is just what the enemy wants. The less you discuss and attack his kingdom, the more he will be able to operate under the cover of darkness.

According to Ephesians 6:12, demons are identified as “the rulers of the darkness of this world.” A demon’s level of authority to operate is based on the darkness in a person’s life. The more darkness, the more authority they have. In contrast, when revelation from God’s Word concerning the devil’s works and schemes comes into a person’s mind, then light comes. And when light comes, the darkness is dispelled—and the rulers of the darkness along with it. Their power is broken by the power of God’s light. That is why Satan and his demons would rather be left alone in the dark.

Mark 6:13 says that Jesus and His disciples “cast out many demons.” Part of Jesus’ mandate was to expose the powers of darkness and set the captives free. That mandate has been passed on to us. The Lord is raising up ministries that will not leave demons alone, but will expose and defeat them with the power and light of God’s truth. We are called to challenge, confront and expose the works of darkness.

The religious system of Jesus’ day would not disturb Satan and his demons. Instead, they coexisted with them. Everything was humming right along in the darkness until Jesus entered the temple and cast out those who were in cahoots with the devil. He infuriated and exposed Satan and his demons by teaching and preaching the truth of God’s Word. Jesus knew that you can’t cast the devil out if you’re best friends with him.

Create a Climate of God’s Presence

The enemy is out to set up a culture that is devoid of the power of God. Even in the church, there is little difference between some Christians’ lifestyles and the world’s lifestyles. The morals are very much alike and reflect one another. Satan is able to set up his culture when we respond to any of the spiritual influences or activities I’ve just described because we have created an atmosphere that enables the devil. We can counter Satan’s atmosphere by creating a climate for the presence of God.

The atmosphere you sustain over time will create a climate, which I also call a predictable pattern. For example, you might live in an area that has a hot day now and then, but that does not create a hot climate. A hot climate is what you would experience in a tropical area where temperatures are always balmy. A climate is created when the same thing is repeated over and over.

Whenever we sustain a spiritual atmosphere of sin and iniquity, a demonic climate takes shape. Conversely, whenever we sustain a spiritual atmosphere of praise and thankfulness, a climate of God’s presence begins to form. If a sustained atmosphere creates a climate, then it follows that a climate creates a stronghold. It is the stronghold that defines the culture of a place. Demonic spirits fight for control in order to control the culture of our lives and even of nations and set up strongholds.

Impose the Authority of the Kingdom

I have heard it said that Christians are not to be spiritual thermometers but spiritual thermostats. In other words, we are not merely supposed to detect the spiritual climate as a thermometer detects the existing temperature in a room; we are to change the spiritual climate, imposing the authority of the kingdom of God wherever we go! It is important to understand atmospheres and our ability to change them because Jesus has authorized and empowered us in this arena.

Jesus changed the atmosphere in His region, and we have the power to change the atmosphere and usher the presence and power of God in our situations, in our homes and in our churches. This is how we keep the devil out—by imposing the authority of the kingdom of God on him.

Keep a spirit of prayer and praise in your life, and it will create the right atmosphere around you. When you have unsaved loved ones who need to hear the message of the gospel, but something keeps blocking them from hearing and receiving, do not back down. Instead, change the atmosphere with prayer and praise, stand and fight, filled with the Holy Spirit.

Go to the throne of grace on your knees and intercede for them. God will meet you and partner with you to bring His kingdom to bear on the kingdoms of this world.

Souls are at stake. People we love are bound in sin, and many still stumble in darkness. But we have a remedy, and His name is Jesus. He has given us the authority to stand between new converts, between our families, including our children, and the spirit of this age that wants to pervert the truth of God and turn everyone away from the light.

We are to fast, pray, praise, worship, intercede, and stand and wage war in the spiritual realm so that our enemy, the devil, cannot work his way into our lives and squeeze the life out of us, rendering us ineffective for God. Don’t allow yourself to grow weary in doing the work of the kingdom. Remember the words of Revelation 11:15: “The seventh angel sounded, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying: ‘The kingdoms of the world have become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.'”

Jentezen Franklin is the pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia; Gwinnett, Georgia; and Orange County, California. He is a popular conference speaker, and his nationally televised program, Kingdom Connection, is seen weekly on national and international networks. He has written several books, including Believe That You Can, Fear Fighters, and the New York Times best-seller Fasting. He and his wife, Cherise, have five children.

To learn more, read this…

In Jentezen Franklin’s Limitless: Your Past Is a Memory. God Makes All Things New(Charisma House), you will learn to stay focused on God’s promises and flourish in the midst of adversity. Find this book at, or wherever Christian books are sold.

Using a Personal Journal for Spiritual Growth

Copied from this online article:  

By: Brad Hambrick

Too often the use of a journal has been dismissed as feminine, “something you do when you need counseling,” or too time consuming. But with a bit of reflection (which is all journaling is) we might come to a different conclusion. Many of the great figures in church history have kept a journal, and the church has benefited greatly from this window into their daily life (not as a voyeur, but to understand what spiritual greatness looks like in the mundane-ness of daily life). And while not a theologian, the great Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

If you are interested in starting the exercise of journaling let me offer the following suggestions. Journal during the time when you do your daily Bible study. Do not feel compelled to write something every day. Do not write for an audience; write for your benefit and as it comes naturally for you.

When you begin with your journal consider the following subjects and review them annually in your journal.

  • What are the top 5 values by which I want to operate my life?
  • What do I believe are my spiritual gifts and talents? What are my characteristic weaknesses?
  • What are the key relationships in my life? What are my goals for each of these relationships?
  • How would I ideally spend the 168 hours I get each week (7/24 hour days)?

As for the journal entries that you write after these core reflections are in place, consider the following subjects.

  • Self-examination based upon one of your top 5 values.
  • A point of conviction regarding sin or a spiritual practice.
  • Reflection on a day’s event in light of your “life story.” These are great for sharing later with spouse, children, or grandchildren as a discipling moment or family heirloom.
  • A personal goal for change and steps of implementation. This is a particularly good subject to record after an insightful Bible study or sermon.
  • A prayer in the form of a letter regarding a key life concern.
  • An answer to prayer.
  • A narrative of a key life event from younger days and the impact you see that it has had upon you.
  • Insight from your daily Bible study.
  • A humorous event.
  • Sermon notes with your reflections.

I encourage you to consider this practice. Many have found it as an immensely profitable way to (1) maintain a focus on your purpose in life, (2) increase the level of intentionality with which they live; (3) enhance the depth of their relationships, especially marriage and family; (4) measure progress and gain encouragement in their walk with God; and (5) remember God’s faithfulness during times that are difficult.


Gathering My Confessional Thoughts

Turning From Sin

My wicked heart is having such a difficult time in speaking to the Lord directly. It is heavily burdened with guilt, shame, and filthy Sin ever since I chose to turn away from God’s Word.  My progressively sinful fantasies and actions have started to grow in me an evil spirit.

In short, I have succeeded in destroying myself spiritually (Hosea 13:9), and am well on my way to destroying myself physically as well.

I was called to the Lord in 2010 by His Word through the teachings of Joyce Meyer podcasts. My hungry soul drank up everything I heard and read. After accepting Jesus as my personal Savior and thus being reborn, my life began to change at a fast pace. My mind and heart was being renewed in the Spirit, I meditated on the Word night and day (Joshua 1:8 and Pslam 1:2), and I felt years younger and more happy than I had been in recent memory.

I experienced the difference between walking with the Lord and living without Him,and i understood for the first time what it all meant! What I repeatedly failed to do was to put off the Old Man and put on the New Man (Colossians 3)

Backsliding was regular and so was the act of repentance. I kept falling back into Sin and each time I did the slide was deeper. As the sin progressively worsened, the guilt of offending the Holy Spirit decreased. My ability to hear the Holy Spirit guiding me away from trouble also decreased as I began to walk down the wide path to destruction.

It has come to a point where the addiction to sin is overpowering my everyday life.

  1. I consume alcohol daily.
  2. I converse with filthy speech to strangers on the Internet
  3. I perform lewd sexual acts in front of others on the Internet and through the open windows of my home
  4. My home is filthy dirty and has not been properly cleaned in many months.
  5. My choice is food is quick and processed, thus causing extreme weight gain.
  6. I hide away from others outside of work and have little interest in socializing beyond that.
  7. The Lord’s Word rarely pops into my mind compared to how much it once did
  8. My heart has hardened to the point I have thoughts of hurting other people out of sexual gratification or simply because I perceive them to be weaker than I in some way.
  9. I lead my fellow man astray and cause him to to stumble by conveying evil ideas that I want him to find attractive.
  10. I role-play young girls in a virtual reality world so that men will molest them in fantasy for sexual gratification.
  11. I use the Internet to harass and belittle people anonymously through e-mails and random postings on websites.
  12. I endured 10 weeks of physical discomfort by breaking my wrist during a lewd sexual display over the Internet.

All the above signs point to the eventual PROGRESSION OF EVIL that occurs for anyone playing in Darkness. The result is that you come to a point where you simply CANNOT REPENT. The solution is to undergo a SPIRITUAL CLEANSING.

it is time for me to once again turn away from my Sin and to Repent to the Lord.
Only He can forgive me for my past transgressions. Only the blood of Jesus can wash away my Sin and cleans my soul. Only the Word of God can restore me into righteousness and a faith-filled walk by His side.

Dearest Lord, my Heavenly Father, I thank you for always being by my side; never leaving me nor forsaking me. Your Love shines through even in my darkest hour. I am truly sorry that I am having such a difficult time in speaking with you out loud to confess.

Dear Jesus, I am asking for Your help in bringing my heart to a place where I can talk to Your Father and release my Sin once and for all.  Please Jesus, soften my heart enough that I may begin a journey back to You.


I CAN’T REPENT – by Ichabod S. Spencer

ONE of the most solemn assemblies that I have ever seen, was convened on the evening of the Sabbath, in a private house. It was an inquiry meeting; at which more than a hundred persons were present, the most of them young or in middle life. The structure of the house was rather peculiar. There was a spacious hall, about ten feet wide and about forty feet long, extending from the front door along the side of three parlors which opened into it, as well as into each other; and at the rear part of this hall was a staircase extending to the second story of the house. Moveable benches were introduced into this hall, and placed along each side of it, to afford seats for those who attended this meeting, and who could not all be accommodated in the parlors. After the meetings had been continued in this place for a few weeks; it became manifest, that the hall was the preferred place. As the different persons came in and took their seats ‘where they pleased, the seats in the hall would be filled, and then the stairs would be used as seats entirely to the top, and then the upper hall would be occupied, and finally the parlors I was accustomed to stand, while addressing the assembly, in one of the doors opening from the hall into the parlor, where my eye had a full view of all those in the hall, on the stairs and in one of the parlors. Besides a general exhortation, it was my ordinary custom to speak to each individual, passing from one to another. And all those in the hall and on the stairs could hear every word, which I uttered in this conversation, and the most of what any one said to me. And for these reasons, as I supposed, the persons who resorted there would choose the hall or the stairs. This listening of others, to what passed in conversation betwixt any one individual and myself, was never very pleasant to me. I should greatly have preferred to converse with each one alone; as there would have been less restraint on their part, and on my own, more certainty, that what I was saying would be truly applicable and would not be applied by any one, for whom it was not intended. And besides this, individuals would sometimes make expressions to me so erroneous, that I was unwilling others should hear them, lest they might be injured by it. To avoid this, I used to speak in a low tone of voice; and if the expressions of any individual were becoming such, as I feared might be injurious; I usually broke off the conversation suddenly, by saying, I will call and see you to-morrow.

On the evening, to which I now allude; all the seats were filled, and three persons were seated on each stair entirely to the top, and many had found their place in the hall above. It was a calm and mild summer evening; and perfect stillness reigned over the crowd assembled there, unbroken except by the long breathing or the deep sigh of some pensive soul. I thought I had never seen so still, so solemn, and thoughtful an assembly. I closed the front door, after all had entered, and took my stand in my accustomed place. I hesitated to speak. I was afraid to utter a word. It seemed to me, that anything I could say would be less solemn, impressive, instructive, than that tomb-like silence in an assembly of so many immortal souls, each visited by the Holy Spirit. I stood, for some time, in perfect silence. The power of that silence was painful. The people sat before me, like statues of marble, — not a movement, — not a sound. It appeared as if they had all ceased to breathe. I broke the silence by saying slowly and in a low voice: — “Each one of you is thinking of his own immortal soul and of his God.” Again I paused for the space of an entire minute; for I was overawed, and knew not what to say. Then falling on my knees, I commenced prayer. They all spontaneously knelt. After a short prayer, I proposed to speak a few words to each one of them, as far as it was possible; and requested all of them, except the individual with whom I should be conversing, to be engaged in reflection or in silent prayer to God. Passing rapidly from one to another, I had spoken to all those in the parlors and in the hall, till I had reached about the middle of it, where every word spoken could be heard, by the whole assembly. Coming to a man, about thirty years of age, whom I had seen there three times before, I said to him: — “I did not expect to seeyou here to-night. I thought you would have come to repentance, before this time; and would have no occasion any longer to ask, what shall I do to be saved?”

“I can’t repent,” said he, (with a sort of determined and despairing accent, and so loudly as to startle us all.) Instantly, I felt sorry for this expression. But I thought it would not do to avoid noticing it, and leave it sounding in the ears of so many impenitent sinners. I immediately answered, as I stood before him, as gently and yet solemnly as I could: —“What an awfully wicked heart you must have! You can’t repent! You love sin so well; that you cannot be sorry for it — you cannot forsake it — you cannot hate it! — You must be in an awful condition indeed! You are so much the enemy of God; that you cannot be sorry for having offended him — you cannot cease to contend against him — and even now, while you are sensible of the impropriety and unhappiness of it, you cannot cease to resist the Holy Spirit, who strives with you to bring you to repentance! — You must have an awfully depraved heart!”

“I can’t repent,” said he again, (with an accent of grief and intolerable vexation) — “I can’t repent, with such a heart!”

“That means,” said I, “that you have become too wicked to desire to become any better; for nothing but wickedness makes repentance difficult. And then, you just plead one sin, as an excuse for another — the sin of your heart, as an excuse for the continued sin of your heart!”

Still he insisted. “I can’t repent! I should if I could!” — (and the tears rolled down his cheeks, of which he seemed to go utterly unconscious, as well as unconscious of the presence of any one but myself.)

“You would if you could,” said I, “is only a self-righteous and self-justifying excuse. Your deceitful heart means by it, that you are not so wicked as to continue in your impenitence willingly. It means that you are willing to repent, but you cannot. You are deceived. You are not willing. You think you are, but you are in an error. You never will be willing, unless God shall verify in you the promise, ‘My people shall be willing in the day of my power.’ In that power lies your only hope, as I have told you before, when I urged you to pray. If you are willing to repent, what hinders you? I am willing you should repent. All of us here are willing. Every angel in heaven is willing you should repent. Christ who died to redeem you is willing. God the Father is willing. The Holy Spirit is willing, who, at this moment strives with you to bring you to repentance. What hinders you, then? Yourself only! And when you say you can’t repent, you mean that you are not to be blamed for coming here to-night with an impenitent heart. You are woefully deceived! God blames you! The whole Bible blames you! Your own conscience, though you strive to silence it, blames you! — This excuse will not stand!”

“I can’t repent!” said he again, (in a harsh, vociferating voice, as if in anger.)

“Then God can’t save you,” said I; “for he cannot lie, and he has said the impenitent shall be destroyed! You say you cannot repent. He has not said so. He commands you to repent.”

He replied, with much agitation, but in a subdued tone: — “I am sure I have tried long; and my mind has been greatly tormented. All has done no good. I do not see as I can repent!”

“Other people have repented,” said I. “There are a great many penitents in the world. I find there are some here to-night, who think they have come to repentance, since they were here last Sabbath evening. One of them told me then, very much the same thing you tell me now, that it did not seem to him he ever could turn from sin; but he has found out he can. As to your having tried so long, the length of time will not save you if a man has got his face turned the wrong way, the longer he goes on, the worse off he becomes. He would do well to stop, and turn about. Such is the call of the Bible: ‘Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die? Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions, so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord.’ Other people have turned to God, and you ought to. But your mind has seized on the idea of your trying and your trouble, and you make an excuse and a self-righteousness of them.”

“Do you think I am self-righteous?” said he.

“I know you are. That is your grand difficulty. You have been trying to save yourself. You are trying now. When you tried to repent, your heart aimed after repentance, as something to recommend you to God, and constitute a reason why he should forgive and save you. It was just an operation of a self-righteous spirit. It was just an attempt to save yourself, to have your religion save you, instead of relying by faith upon Jesus Christ, to be saved from wrath through him. This is precisely the case with every impenitent sinner. The error is one. The forms of it may be various; but in all cases it is substantially the same thing. St. Paul has given a perfect description of it: ‘going about,’ (from one thing to another, from one device or attempt to another,) ‘going about to establish a righteousness of their own, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God; for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.’ One man tries to establish a righteousness of his own, out of his reformations; another one, out of his duties; another, out of his painful attempts or painful convictions; as you just now mentioned your own torments of mind. It is evident, that you are trying to be righteous before God, through your pain — and your attempted penitence. And if you should find any peace of mind in that way; it would only be a deception, not an item of religion in it. You ought to betake yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ, a poor, guilty, undone sinner, to be saved by him alone — saved by grace. You ought to go to him, just as you are, to be washed in his blood, to be clothed in his righteousness, to be sheltered from the thunders of God’s eternal law, in the security of his all-sufficient atonement. You ought to flee to Christ, like the man-slayer to the city of refuge, before he is cut down by the sword of the avenger of blood. You ought to go instantly, like the prodigal to his father, in all his poverty, starvation, and rags, as well as guilt. You ought to cry, like Peter sinking in the waves, “Lord, save me.” But instead of this, you are just looking to yourself, striving to find something, or make something in your own heart, which shall recommend you to God. And in this miserable way, you are making salvation a far more difficult matter, than God has made it. You have forgotten the free grace of the gospel, the full atonement of Jesus Christ, by the sacrifice of himself.”

“But,” said he, “I can’t repent and come to Christ, of myself.”

“I certainly never said you could; and never wished you to think you could. In my opinion, God does not wish you to think so. And if you have found out, that you cannot repent of yourself, aside from divine aid, I am glad of it — you have found out an important truth. Most certainly God does not tell you to repent of yourself. He tells you, that ‘Christ is exalted to give repentance.’ He says to every sinner, ‘Thou hast destroyed thyself, in me is thy help: let him take hold on my strength that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me.’ On the ground that they need it, he has promised ‘the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.’ God never expects you to repent, without divine aid, but with it. He knows you are too wicked to do it, that you are without strength, helpless, undone, a lost sinner! — And here lies the very heart of your error. You have been trying to repent, in a way that God never told you, just by your own powers, instead of trying to get God to have mercy upon you, and save you by his help. You have been looking to the powers within you, instead of looking to the aid above you. You have trusted to yourself, instead of trusting yourself to the grace of Christ. And that is the very reason why you have failed; and now you complain, that you cannot repent; while, in reality, you have exactly the same sufficiency, as the penitent all around you. What has been their help, may be your help. And the sooner you are driven off from all that self-seeking and self-reliance, the better it will be for you. You are in the double error of undervaluing the character of God, and over-valuing your own. God is more merciful and more gracious, than you think him to be. He is more ready to save you. And when he commands you to repent, he does not wish you to forget, that all your hope lies in the immediate aid of his Holy Spirit. Nor does he wish you to attempt to dispense with that proffered assistance, by your not believing, that you are as utterly helpless as you really are. He does not tell you to rely upon your own shattered strength; but you have done so. And when you have failed, you then turn round and complain, that you ‘can’t repent.’ You reject his offered help — the help of the omnipotent Spirit. And for this reason, you will be the more criminal, if you do not repent. That Divine Spirit is your only hope. If he leaves you to yourself, you are lost — eternally lost! Tread softly, my dear friend! The ground whereon thou standest is holy ground! Let not the Holy Spirit, who presides over the souls here this evening, bear witness against you in the day of the final judgment, — ‘because I have called and ye refused!’ Youcan repent; just in the way that others repent; just because God is your help. Trust him; and rely upon yourself no longer.”

As I was saying these things, he appeared to become much less affected, but much more thoughtful. His tears and his agitations ceased; and he seemed to hang upon my lips, as if he was listening to some new wonder. When I had done, all was hushed as death; and in a deliberate, subdued, and solemn tone, he broke that expressive silence, saying: — “I hope, my God will help me.”

“Let us pray,” said I; — and a short prayer, pleading for God’s help, closed the exercises of the evening.

I afterwards found numerous reasons for believing, that that was one of the most profitable religious exercises, that I ever attended. Among others was the case of my friend, whose expression had drawn me somewhat out of my proposed mode of conducting the exercises of the evening. He became, as he hoped, a true believer. He stated to me the exercises of his mind, his repentance, his faith in Christ, his peace and hope, and his reliance upon the Holy Spirit. His mind appeared to seize upon the great truths of the gospel, almost without emotion. He had no ecstacy, no exultation, no joy. He had only peace and hope. lie told me, that his agitations had all been useless to him; that they were not faith and did not lead to faith; and that he thought “sinners ought to attend to the calls of God, in a believing and business manner.” And when I asked him what had kept him from Christ so long, he replied: “I was trying to make myself better — to have a religion instead of trusting in Christ. What you said to me that night, showed me my mistake; and I went home with a deeper sense of my dependence, and a clear view of the free grace of God to sinners, through the redemption of Christ.”

About six months after this he united with the church, and has continued to manifest an established and uniform faith.


To cut off the sinner from all reliance upon himself, his merits and his powers; and throw him, naked and helpless, into the hands of the Holy Spirit to lead him to Christ in faith; should be the one great aim of the ministry.

Sinners certainly ought to repent, for God commands them to repent. But in my opinion, he does not design to have them understand his command, as having respect only to their own ability to repent, and not having respect to the proffered aids of the Holy Spirit. Such aids constitute one grand ground on which his command is obligatory, and sweep away every possible excuse. No man ever did repent without the Holy Spirit, or ever will; and this is no small amount of proof that no man ever can. Nothing seems to be gained by making a sinner believe that he is able to repent without divine assistance. Such a belief will be very likely to mislead him to a reliance upon his own shattered strength And as to his conviction of criminality for not coming to repentance, surely there is strong ground for such conviction, since God offers him all the ability he needs, — in me is thy help, — let him take hold on my strength that he may make peace with me.


Ichabod Smith Spencer was born in 1798 in Rupert, VT. He was unconverted until just after his 18th birthday. The previous year his father died and this left him utterly devastated. “It is highly probable that his father’s death so deeply felt, and so great a trial, was sanctified to his soul, and overruled to lead his mind and heart, so dark and trembling, to the only true ‘Rock of hope and support.’ It was more than a year, however, after this event occurred, before the grace of God changed his heart, and turned his feet into the way of life.”

He was converted in Granville, NY and was educated at schools in the upstate NY region. He became a school teacher, and his fame grew to the place that he was in great demand. In fact, in 1830 he was called to be President of the University of Alabama, and in 1832 the President of Hamilton College of NY. He refused these both as the Lord had by this time called him to preach. He was called to serve as colleague-pastor of the Congregational Church in Northampton, MA in 1828, the church made famous by Jonathan Edwards.

He refused a call to Park Street Church, Boston, the largest in New England at this time because of his tender health. Later in 1832 he accepted the call to the Second Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, NY. This was a church planting effort with no building and about 40 people. He remained at this post the rest of his life, thus spending 22 years at this church. By the time of his death the church had grown to be one of the largest and most influential in all of NY State. His biographer states that he was one of the greatest preachers the American Pulpit produced during that era. At the same time, his greatest gift and legacy was in the pastoral ministry. He was a true shepherd.

He was a man fully committed to the doctrines of grace, and he constantly preached upon the themes of total depravity, sovereign grace, free justification by faith in Christ alone, the certainty of the judgment to come, the greatness of the mercy and love of God. He preached these themes both publicly and from house to house. As great and gifted a preacher as he was, and as effective as his sermons were to awaken sinners, it was his personal ministry that was most mightily blessed by God as he dealt with anxious inquirers.

This article is taken from Spencer’s incredible two-volume book, A Pastor’s Sketches. [The personal volumes I own were printed in 1853. – Ed.] However, they have been recently reprinted in paperback bySolid Ground Christian Books.

Random Thoughts and Unrepentant Sin

unrepentant sin

Having once again fallen from my spiritual walk with the Lord, my mind fills with conflicting thoughts. Part of me is enjoying the “freedom” of doing my own thing and being all about ME and MY desires.

There is enough of God’s Word in me that speaks back to my heart; saying to turn away from this sin and quoting scripture to warn me.  I have not prayed in a very long time, and this already weakens my spirituality by itself. Add to that the succumbing to temptations, and I am totally walking in the Flesh!

Random thoughts have been coming to my mind; urging, suggestions, remembrances that I know better than this.  Here are some of the things being spoken to my heart these days:

1) You know enough of the Truth and how it has set you free.

2) Why are you choosing to continue engaging in the Lie?

3) My gift of discernment has shown you how Sin leads to Death time and time again.

4) My actions are causing my brethren to stumble.

5) My selfish activities are further isolating me from others

6) I am distracted by these things that keep me from doing God’s Will.

7) Your insomnia has returned and you know deep down why.

8) You have regained almost all the weight you lost last Autumn because of your habits.

9) I can’t bring myself to pray, give thanks, or to bend a knee to ask forgiveness…yet again!

10) Your heart does not overflow with Love towards others as it does when walking with God

11) Life is very short and can end without notice.

12) Would you be prepared to meet the Lord today with unrepentant sin in your heart?

13) Though you have been saved by being reborn and accepting Jesus as your Savior, you feel condemned by your actions and fear for your immortal soul.

14) You read the novel and saw the movie, “Heaven Is For Real” and you believed it!

15) You no longer believe you will be taken up into heaven by Jesus before the 7 years of tribulation comes.

16) You began reading the bible 4 years, and you feel that if you had taken it more seriously, you would be much further ahead spiritually by now!

As I can see from the above, the weight of sin is great and plays on your mind. Does it really seem so much fun now?



Lord, Why Can’t I Change? – By Charles F. Stanley


Have you ever vowed to put an ungodly habit behind you, only to fall again soon after? Feelings of guilt can lead to a renewed commitment to never do something again. But the very next day, the cycle repeats itself as we give in to the same temptations. Our defeat leaves us wondering,What’s wrong with me? Our despair at repeated failure produces a sense of hopeless resignation and confusion. We want to know, Lord, why can’t I change?

All of us have experienced the problem of wanting to honor God and yet reverting back to old, sinful ways almost immediately. Isn’t the Christian life supposed to be more liberating and victorious than this? After all, the Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Why, then, does habitual sin take hold of us? Wasn’t Christ supposed to change all this? If we are new creations, why do we still act like old ones? We feel as stuck as a ship run aground.

So how do we shake free from our sinful behaviours? First, we need to examine the way change occurs in the Christian life. Salvation is an instantaneous work of God, which happens the moment we receive Jesus as Savior. But from that point on, we enter a continual process of transformation called sanctification. The Lord’s goal is to mold us into the image of Christ, but this process requires our cooperation. That’s what the Bible means when it says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). If we neglect this responsibility, we’ll find ourselves struggling with the same issues over and over again. But if we submit to the Holy Spirit, He’ll exert His influence in every area of our lives. Old sinful habits will pass away and be replaced with new godly behaviour.

The path to transformation

Becoming the people God created us to be is an inside-out process. Because our thoughts govern each area of our lives—emotions, decisions, actions, attitudes, and words—any lasting transformation must begin with the mind. If all we want is to modify our conduct, we’ll never experience long-term success. What we need is a new way of thinking.

This can be accomplished only by what the Bible calls renewing the mind (Rom. 12:2). It’s not a sudden transformation but a lifelong process. At the moment of salvation, the Lord doesn’t erase all our negative and sinful thought patterns any more than He automatically removes our physical imperfections. If you had a scar on your arm before you received Christ, most likely you will still have it afterward.

We are all a reflection of whatever we’ve been thinking throughout the years. From early on, we are taught to respond to situations in a certain way, with a particular response pattern, and this impacts every area of our lives. In some cases, we can see how people’s expressions reveal the way their minds have developed throughout their lifetime—etching continuous worry, pain, and guilt on their faces.

Take a look in the mirror. Do you see the joy of Christ in your eyes? Or are the destructive effects of sin betrayed by your appearance? The good news is that whatever your thoughts have been in the past, God can teach you to think differently. He gives His Spirit to lead you through a process that produces real healing and lasting change.

Where thoughts originate

So, what triggers negative thought patterns? The Lord has given us physical senses so we can interact with each other and our world. The capacity to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell is an amazing gift from God, which affects how our thoughts develop and what we think. However, because we are continually being influenced by the fallen world around us, we don’t always use these abilities in a way that honours Him. We experience a sight, sound, smell, flavor, or touch that gives us momentary pleasure and we begin to think, What would it be like if I…? This begins the downward spiral—our senses trigger thoughts, which elicit destructive patterns of behaviour.

James 1:14-15 explains, “Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” That is why we must be discerning about what we listen to and watch. It is also why the apostle Paul tells us to lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted, and instead be renewed in the spirit of our minds—to put on the new self which is created in God’s likeness (Eph. 4:22-24).

A second source of sinful thoughts is from the Enemy of our souls. Have you ever been thinking about some plan or task, only to have a vile, ungodly idea pop into your mind? You may wonder, Where did that come from? These are Satan’s attempts to distract us with his ideas and twist the truth, inciting us to disobey God. His purpose is to destroy our character and lead us astray.

The way we respond determines whether we fall to his enticements or stand strong against him. Will we, as Paul says, dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute” (Phil. 4:8), allowing our minds to be transformed by these things? Or will we take the bait?

No matter how our minds are bombarded by unwanted temptations, we must remember that as believers, we do not have to be enslaved by sin. We are not helpless victims, but sons and daughters of almighty God. We have within us the Holy Spirit—a positive, powerful influence that is mightier than the Enemy can ever hope to be. Because we are indwelled by God’s Spirit, we have the power to extinguish the Enemy’s flaming arrows (Eph. 6:16). We are also able to know the mind of Christ, take our thoughts captive to Him, and have victory over every temptation.

How your mind is renewed

God calls us to be watchful and guard our minds at all times. If we don’t, worldly values and purposes will subtly creep in and influence our lives. Whenever we allow ourselves to be conformed to the world, the Enemy gains a foothold in our thinking. And the more we yield to those thoughts, the stronger his hold becomes.

We must wisely choose which thoughts we will accept and which ones we’ll reject. It’s not enough just to resist the Enemy’s lies; we must also deliberately fill our mind with truth from God’s Word. Jesus used this technique when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). He countered each challenge with Scripture, saying “It is written . . .” When we are ready with a verse that refutes one of Satan’s falsehoods, we have the most powerful spiritual ammunition possible.

So consider: How diligent have you been about guarding your mind? Have you permitted the world to influence your thoughts? Or are you allowing God’s Word to shape your reasoning and values? You cannot coast through the Christian life. An unengaged mind is an open invitation for sin. If you’re distracted, having trouble praying or reading the Bible, your thoughts are not where they should be.

Perhaps you feel as if you’re the rope in a tug of war between God and sin, constantly being pulled in two opposing directions. Don’t beat yourself up when you fail. Rather, confess and repent as quickly as possible (1 John 1:9). During those times, remember that you are engaged in a long process, and that you cannot renew your own mind. Trying harder and making promises to God will only discourage you, because in your own strength, you will never be able to change. True transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit—and it takes time. Therefore, submit to His leading, heed His warnings, and obey His voice.

Four Requirements for a Renewed Mind

  1. Fill your mind with Scripture—focusing on the Lord’s character, ways, and commands.
  2. Resist temptation and flee from it by understanding the thoughts and feelings that trigger a sinful response in you.
  3. Check the source of your thoughts—are they from God, your flesh, the world, or Satan?
  4. Rely on the Holy Spirit to empower you to resist sin and break free from its bondage.

Begin today

As believers, we can expect this process of transformation to continue until we reach heaven; however, the important issue is that we begin today.

Just as your area of struggle began with one act of yielding to temptation, so your path to victory can begin with one act of submission to God. Through the power of the Spirit, start saying no to thoughts that don’t belong in a believer’s life. At the same time, say yes to appropriate thoughts. When you fill your mind with truth from God’s Word, you’ll gain discernment and be able to more readily identify the thoughts and feelings that cause you to sin.

As you persevere in choosing which thoughts to allow, the bondage of sin will diminish and your mind will be renewed. This transformation, which began internally, will now be worked out externally as behavior changes. When you think right, you’ll act right. Areas of your life that you were powerless to adjust on your own will be refashioned. And Christ’s victorious life will be beautifully demonstrated through you so that others will see and be drawn to Him.

Questions for Further Study

    1. Ephesians 4:22-24 gives three steps for change. What are they? Which words are used to describe the old self? The new self? How does renewing the mind enable us to “put on the new self”? What would happen if you skipped that step?
  1. Read James 4:7-10. As you think about an area in your life that needs to change, what does God command you to do, and what does He promise to do in return?

You don’t have to fight your battles alone. Jesus Christ died on the cross to free you—mind, spirit, and body—from the grip of sin. And through the power of His resurrection, He offers an abundant new life in Him.

No transgression is too great for the Lord to forgive. Scripture tells us that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Invite Jesus into your life, and let the transformation begin. You can use the following prayer or your own words:

Lord Jesus, I believe You are truly the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing, and let me live in relationship with You from now on. I receive You as my personal Savior, accepting the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross. Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You. Amen.

We will gladly send you our free All Things Are New kit to help you take the next step in your relationship with God. Contact our Customer Care department at 800-789-1473, or visit for more information.

Copyright 2014 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.