Sailboats anchored in bay near San Diego, CA.

The Messenger to Floor Eleven: Part 2

One time, when I spent some time with my husband at the hospital, I started to learn a better way to pray to our Father.

The story is here: The Messenger to Floor Eleven: Part 1.

God had provided a “messenger” (I like to call him that…whether a man or an angel, I don’t know). I received his message as a challenge of sorts, one I could accept, or not. Here was an opportunity for my faith to grow.

I was challenged to pray not just for what I hoped God would do. My prayers needed to change, going forward. Our hope cannot rest just in the desire fulfilled. Our hope must rest in God, Himself!

I’ve provided some of the scriptures I meditated on that night, and in the months to follow. I hope they bless you, today.

I’ll discuss just one, but several more are provided here. And these are just a few of the many verses that glorify our God, or instruct/invite us to do so! The Bible is just full of them!

Here is a great passage from Paul’s letter to Philippi (Philippians 4:4-9).

Let’s take a look at this passage, one verse at time. Included are some common patterns that we often fall into. Do you see yourself in any of these? I do. But here is where we can practice “being transformed by the renewing of your mind” that we see Paul teaching about in Romans 12:2. Unfamiliar with that? Check out Romans 12.

What Scripture says

What we sometimes do instead

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say it: rejoice!
Philippians 4:4
Well…I will rejoice if this this problem turns out well; until then, I just can’t.
Let your gentleness be apparent to all. The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5
I guess my fretting is pretty evident; and it can feel like the Lord is nowhere to be found.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6
Try not to worry about how this will turn out, but be fairly unsuccessful. Plead with God to see it my way. Forget to be thankful.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7
The peace of God eludes me; there won’t be a guard rail for my heart and mind, on this journey, anyway. I long for peace!
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.
Philippians 4:8
I don’t know what to think; I find myself worrying about all the possible outcomes. I sometimes ask the Holy Spirit to direct my thought-life, but I always go back to dwelling on my worries.
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 4:9
Whatever Paul may have taught those folks in the early church seems unimportant. God seems very far away. I long for real peace.

There is value in examining a passage like the one above; comparing these injunctions with my old patterns of dealing with stress. Why?

Well, change doesn’t happen without an honest assessment with how things are. Go ahead, see how your pattens are working for you. Why not take a look at what He advises?

While studying this passage, we can’t help but apprehend His great love — the caring interest that God reveals to us. One has to ask: why is this passage even here?

Because His desire is for us to live in the abundance of joy He has provided! Because He would have us wield our weapons and conquer! Because His will is to see us wildly triumphant, living as More Than Conquerors in the fray!

And so in this tender, compassionate exhortation, He provides for us the way to transform our minds. And in this “mind transformation”, our outlook at last changes. We align ourselves with the Mind of God. Can there be a better way to live?

Transformed Mind

In order to understand the passage in Romans 12 where Paul tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”, it is well to read the verse within the context from which that bit is often quoted. Let’s take a look at the whole:

Oh the depth of both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and unfathomable His ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord or who became his counselor? Or who has first given to him that it might be paid back to him again?

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. to Him be the glory forever. Amen.

I urge you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, and acceptable, and perfect.

Romans 11:33-12:2

Mercy! But there is so much here. Let’s take note of a few things that immediately pop out.

  1. We acknowledge His perfection. “Take a look!” says Paul. “See Him for Who He is!” Notice Paul’s passion for God. Let’s enter in to this excitement, this adoration for our all-powerful God. “Look at His unsearchable wisdom!” charges the apostle. We cannot know what He is up to–His ways are unfathomable. We acknowledge His incredible power–I mean, can there be a statement more weighty than verse 36?
    “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever!”
    Might it be, that the starting place for victorious living is in keeping our minds transfixed upon Him? Actually not us, after all?
  2. Relinquishment. As we keep reading, we see the progression of thought. Since this is Who our God is, it is our duty to give Him complete authority and agency over our lives. We present our bodies.
    Interesting, isn’t it? We tend to think that the “spiritual life”, as Christians, is to focus on our souls, minds, spirits. (For treatment of how our bodies fit into spirituality, take a look at What God has to Say About Our Bodies.) Paul clearly teaches us to offer these bodies of ours for the purposes of God. This is an act of worship, says Paul, which is an offering that pleases God. God sees our sacrifice of our living selves as a holy sacrifice.
  3. Do not be conformed. Next, we remember that while living in the world, we are not of it (John 17:16). The word “world” can be translated here to mean both the world, and the age. How easy it is to conform, in our thoughts, actions, reactions, goals, etc. to this age/world. We are surrounded, like never before, with this age, as it bombards us continuously (if we permit it) with its godless standards and values.
    It is valuable to note that the “not being conformed” injunction is best obeyed by turning the negative into a positive. It is hard to not do something. It is easier to do something. Our minds tend to navigate toward the forbidden, so it is in our best interest to turn it around. For example, if I want to stop eating ice cream at night, focusing on not eating it will do me no good. I will find myself with an increased interest in eating it, even as I try not to rehearse the steps in choosing the bowl, grabbing the spoon, etc. So how about if I don’t focus on what I don’t want to focus on.
    Instead, what can I do? I can take steps to break the habit! I will just not buy it. I have healthy options on hand. I act positively to change. In much the same way, as we find the negative influence of the world overtaking us, we take steps to limit this incursion. For example, we make changes: No, phone, you will not come to bed with me. No, emails, you will only be opened once I’ve opened His Email (the Word). No, TV, I will not watch harmful junk at night for “relaxation”.
  4. Be transformed. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Ah, our wonderful, complicated minds. Made by the Creator, do we believe that offered to Him, they can be renewed? Can God renew our minds, and can our thinking patterns thus be changed until we are transformed? Yes! Paul here is not suggesting that our minds need a few fixes, an upgrade, a minor adjustment. No, we are instructed to work with God in complete transformation. Think caterpillar to butterfly. Think tadpole to frog. These examples from nature provide a picture of transformation. They literally lived two completely different lives. Tadpoles live in water, then, after transformation, they are hopping, swimming, land-living creatures. And can anything else in nature come as to close providing an example of transformation, than a butterfly does? A caterpillar, easily stepped on, moving inch by inch with his many legs, eating up leaves, crawling about. Until his metamorphosis. Behold him in flight, flitting about, drinking nectar, crawling no long; our butterfly friend.
    This is exciting news! We are invited to change our thinking patterns into conformity with the thoughts of God. This teaching is all over the New Testament. For more see Ephesians 4:17-32, and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
  5. Well-pleasing to God. The section ends with how it began. With our focus upon Him. The end result of our relinquishment and obedience is that the will of God will be evident, having been worked out in our very lives. His will — that which is good, acceptable, perfect, well pleasing to Him — worked out within us. What joy, to know that our surrender and adoration and obedience not only transforms us, but pleases the God of the ages, as well. Hallelujah!

Here are some more verses to contemplate. These verses are ones you might consider printing out and hanging on your wall!

Glory to His Name

To the King of the eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

1 Timothy 1:17

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be blessing, and honor, and glory, and might forever and ever!”

Revelation 5:13 (ESV)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,

that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being,

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—

that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints

what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,

that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

Psalm 29:1-2

Exalt the Lord our God;
worship at his footstool!
Holy is He!

Psalm 99:5

The steadfast in mind He will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in Thee.
Trust in the Lord forever, for in God, the Lord, you have an Everlasting Rock.

Isaiah 26:3-4

Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!

Psalm 96:1-3 (ESV)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)