By Cortni Marrazzo, Crosswalk.com
You’d be hard-pressed to find a Christian that does not have the goal to grow closer to God, but many often find that simply reading the Bible more doesn't quite produce the transformation they were hoping for.
So what could be a missing link when it comes to growing spiritually in your relationship with God?
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT
While reading the Bible is beneficial and important, James reveals the peril of only listening to (or just reading) it and not actually doing what it says.
It’s common to view this verse in terms of specific actions mandated in the Bible, like loving your neighbor or giving to the poor, but what about when it comes to verses that call you to change the way you think? How can you be a “doer” of the word when it comes to your thinking?
Paul describes this in Romans as renewing your mind.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT
The word renewing in the Greek is anakainosis and it refers to the “adjustment of the moral and spiritual vision and thinking to the mind of God, which is designed to have a transforming effect upon the life.”
Renewing your mind to God’s truth is changing your thinking, and thus changing your life for the better. And while changing your thinking can be more difficult than simply changing your actions, changing your actions actually becomes easier as your thinking becomes more aligned with God’s Word.
Have you ever tried to lose weight by going on a diet and committing to exercising more, only to slip back into bad eating habits and gain the weight back? I definitely have!
People who lose weight by changing their actions only are likely to gain the weight back if they don’t change their thinking about food and exercise. If you view eating healthy foods and exercising as a temporary change to lose weight instead of a way to nourish and energize your body, any changes you make will likely be short-lived.
True transformation comes when you change your mindset about eating and exercise, and the same is true with your spiritual life. When you change your thinking to align with God’s values and promises, you will experience lasting change and growth in your relationship with God.
Knowing the impact that changing your thinking could have on your life, wouldn’t it be great if you could just snap your fingers and instantly renew your mind?
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy or quick, but there are some things you can do to help you in this journey.
Here are 5 practical things you can do that can help you begin to change your thinking.
1. Choose a Few Scriptures That Relate to the Area(s) You Want to Change
Renewing your mind is all about changing your thinking to how God thinks, so His inspired Word is the best place to start. The Bible gives you a target to aim for when changing the direction of your thinking and specific verses that you want to focus on will help you be intentional with your growth.
Certain verses may immediately come to mind, or you might want to search online for verses related to an area you want to change. Here are a few suggestions if you need some help getting started:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
2. Post the Scriptures Where You Will See Them Often
Displaying these verses where you will see them often will be a big help.
You could write them on notecards and put them in your car, you can write them on sticky notes and put them on your bathroom mirror or your refrigerator, or you could put them in your phone as a digital sticky note or app.
The obvious benefit of putting them on your phone is that you will have them with you wherever you go, but a downfall could be the distraction of various notifications, so if you do put it on your phone, make sure it is on your main screen and away from social media or news apps that might tempt you to go to the world’s mindset instead of God’s.
3. Speak the Verses Out Loud Regularly
There is a great amount of power that comes when you confess God’s Word out loud.
Reading a text out loud (or listening to someone else read it from a Bible reader or in a message at church) helps you concentrate more on the text, helps you visualize the story or concept, and most importantly, helps you remember more of what you read.
Reading out loud may feel awkward, especially when you are by yourself, but the benefits of doing so regularly are worth pushing through any awkwardness.
In addition to reading your verses out loud, I encourage you to pray them out loud as well. As you pray them over yourself and over others, they will start to root themselves in your soul and begin to change the way you think.
4. Be Intentional about Meditating on Them
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8
When you choose to be intentional to think about and ponder what you read in the Bible, you will begin to see God work in you in powerful ways.
Seemingly lull times in your day like sitting in traffic or standing in line are great opportunities to turn your mind to God’s Word.
Recently while reading my Bible, the power of believing that God rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6) resonated in my spirit as something I needed to remember and change my thinking about. I started reminding myself of that verse throughout each day when I was doing things like making lunch for my kids, grocery shopping, and working out and it has helped me to remember that truth.
Thankfully you can rely on the Holy Spirit to help you remember your verses throughout the day so you can think about them often. Meditating throughout your day will help you remember the verses, see ways that they apply to your life, and help them become part of your thinking patterns.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26
5. Ask God for Help
Lastly and arguably most important is asking God to help you change your thinking. When you notice an area in your thinking that needs to change and you desire that change, that is actually God working in your heart and helping you address that. He wants to help us!
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Philippians 2:13 NLT
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16 NLT
Ask God to lead you to verses that will help you. Ask Him to remind you to meditate on those verses. Ask Him to bring understanding and insight. And ask Him to help you change your thinking.
God designed us to need and utilize His help, so we don’t need to travel this journey alone and on our own strength.
...let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Ephesians 4:23 NLT
I encourage you to try these suggestions and commit to being intentional with renewing your mind for the next three weeks and watch what God does in your mind and spirit, and in your relationship with Him.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Ben White
Cortni Marrazzo lives in Spokane, WA with her husband Jason and their two elementary-age sons, one of which has special needs. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for encouraging and inspiring people toward God’s Word through writing and speaking. You can find more of her writing and contact her at www.Cortni.Marrazzo.com, on Instagram, or on Facebook.