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How to Find it and Keep It
Jesus said, “My peace I leave with you.” Very likely, when we pray, peace is often what we ask for - peace in the world, peace at home, and maybe most of all, peace in our relationships - but what did Jesus mean when He said His peace? And when life gets hard, really hard, we have two options. We can become consumed with worry – which is what most people do, OR we can trust God, who tells us not to worry or be anxious. God promised His children supernatural peace - even in the midst of conditions that threaten to absolutely overwhelm us. In this series, Chip reveals how God’s peace works and how you can have it – regardless of your circumstances.More from this series
Our goal today is very, very simple. We want to ask and answer two questions. Question number one: Is it possible to have a supernatural inner peace in such a violent and uncertain world?
And number two, if so, how? Are you ready? God made your brain to process information, because there has always been evil, there has always been violence, there has always been difficulty. But God has made your brain in such a way, that how your process and expose yourself to certain amounts of information, and when you do it, makes a difference in your life.
Now, this is not a message about never watching TV, never watch the news, put our heads in the sand, and become isolationists. But this is a message about: What do you put in your mind and what do you dwell on, and what impact does it have on you?
We have learned for a long time, physically, you are what you eat, correct? You think about your favorite fast food restaurant, I won’t mention any names. Go eat their breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next ninety days and come back, and we will notice a change.
Here’s what I want to tell you: You are what you eat, physically. You are and become what you think – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
You are the product of your thought life. How you think about God, how you think about yourself, how you view the future, how you view the past, how you view your job, how you treat other people – you are the product of thoughts that you have been thinking for the last six days, the last six months, the last six years, the last twenty-six years, and beyond.
And here’s how your mind works. If you have negative thoughts, and whether they are from family origin or dramatic experiences or putting a lot of negative things in your mind, and if, even unconsciously, I don’t measure up, I’m ugly, I’m not very valuable, no one will really like me, I don’t think the future holds anything positive for me. When you have thoughts like that, it creates emotions. Emotions always follow your thinking.
And the emotions are you feel kind of depressed, you’re not very motivated, it’s hard to get to work on time, relationships don’t seem to work so you go into multiple relationships. And then you don’t feel very good about yourself, so it leads to behaviors.
Behaviors like eating when you’re not really hungry, going shopping when you don’t have money, taking a couple extra pills here, three glasses of wine over here, escapism behavior, multiple affairs, logging on to the Internet, which produce devastating consequences.
And then those consequences lead you to believe, See? I knew I wasn’t worth very much. I’m not…right?
And there are people who live in that pattern all their lives. And the contrast is true. When there are positive, godly thoughts: I am valuable, I am important, I matter, I have a future, God’s in control, He has a purpose for my life, He will use the suffering, it produces positive emotions. Those positive emotions lead to positive behavior. You become others centered, you become disciplined, you care about other people.
And then feedback, what happens? The consequences are people want to be around you, good things happen in your life.
We are the product of our thought life, number one. It’s that simple. Second, our emotions flow from our thought life.
So many people try to change their behaviors, or try to change attitudes. Attitudes and behaviors and emotions all start with how you think.
Third and finally, what we allow to enter our minds is the most important decision that we make every single day. What you allow to go into your mind and what you dwell on, where your mind goes when you’re driving in the car, where your mind goes when, at work, it doesn’t demand something. What you think about and ponder on, it will define who you become.
As you open your notes, we are going to learn that the apostle Paul, his situation isn’t real good. He is in prison writing this letter. He has a very warm and loving relationship, but he is writing to a group of people – their world is not a lot better than ours, and maybe a lot worse.
They live under Roman oppression. And the Roman oppression was ruthless. A soldier could just kill someone at will, or demand this or demand that. They were a minority group. Eighty percent of the Early Church were slaves. Life was hard.
Things like kindness, things like humility were seen as a weakness, because for Rome, it was power.
Then they had the Greek culture was wildly immoral – brothels on every corner, all kinds of different gods. So all I am going to tell you is, what we are going to learn, please don’t go, Oh, well, that was two thousand years ago, and probably life was different. What’s that got to do with me?
He is going to teach them, very specifically, not just how to have peace in their lives, but, literally, to have the God of peace and experience the shalom God of His presence, His power, His protection, His provision with you, in every moment, of every day, in the midst of good, bad, ugly, difficult, chaos, whatever happens.
And he is going to teach them exactly how they could experience the God of peace in their lives, because they had earthquakes and there was injustice and there were all kinds of factions. And if you said, “I love Jesus,” instead of, “I love,” or, “follow the emperor,” they would march you into a coliseum and you would die. And so they had a lot of reason, like many of us, to not have a lot of peace.
If we look at the passage, follow along, he says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” Circle the word “dwell,” I’ll come back to it.
“The things you have learned and received, and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Circle the word “practice.”
So there is a command about thinking, then there is a command about practice the things that they have been instructed by him – that they have seen, that they have heard, that they have learned, they have applied to their lives, habitually make these a part of your life, and then there is the promise. There is the God of peace.
So command number one is to dwell on these things. The word “dwell” here, Colin Brown is the classic dictionary of Greek words. And he writes, “This word means: to reckon, to deduct, to reason, to calculate, to ponder, to deliberate, to have a protracted analysis and thought. It is thinking a matter, to take into account its character, thoughtful consideration.” And then he goes on to say in this very thick book that is a grammar: “This is not an unemotional word. It is a philosophical thought. But it is the very process of reasoning and deduction, which separates good from evil.”
It is taking something and pondering and dwelling and thinking, and, What are the implications? And meditating on it. That’s what this word is all about.
He says, “Dwell on these things.” And what are, “These things?” That which is pure, that which is honorable, that which is right, that which is holy or pure and lovely and of good repute.
Now, here’s what I did. I did a word study on each of those. And I want to tell you what they mean. And then what I did is I have a preview question, because I am going to try and help you and help me build a filter. It doesn’t mean that we don’t ever allow anything negative in our minds. There is a reality to deal with. But a filter that you could ask six questions to say: Is this pure? Is this honorable? Is this lovely? Should I allow this in my mind? And a lot of it, I can’t control what comes into my mind, at times, but am I going to dwell on this or not?
And what I can tell you is, if you learn to think the way he is talking about, you will radically change, because you are the product of your thinking – both consciously and unconsciously.
So let’s begin. First of all, think on that which is true. Objectively true. The word means to be conformed to reality, versus things that are deceptive, or illusions – promises of peace and happiness.
So, think on what is true. So, for me, every day, I start my day by thinking on what is true. So I have a very specific plan, and I read God’s Word. When Jesus prayed, the last prayer on the earth, “Father, set them apart and make them holy by Your truth; Your Word is true.”
How you wake up, the first thoughts in your day, what you put in your mind begins to orient you. And you’ll begin to filter the rest of your day through that. And so for me to talk to the One who knows what all my day is going to be, who is in total control, who loves me – I want to ponder and dwell on what is true. And so I start with His Word.
The second is, then, I put my identity in Christ. You all have this, right? You feel like, Gosh, you don’t like you – anybody go through that?
You say this or that or just feelings like, I don’t measure up. Oh, why did I do that? Maybe I shouldn’t have done that. Oh, I forgot to do that. And so these thoughts of, I’m not a very good person, I’m not a very good dad, I’m not a very good friend, I’m not a very good pastor, I’m not a very good…right?
Don’t look at me that way. Don’t we all have those? Well, if you start thinking like that, well, when I do that, I want to put on ESPN and sit in front of the TV and feel sorry for myself. That doesn’t produce good results.
And so I will willfully say, Okay, who am I? I don’t like me right now. And I’m not sure why. I’m not sure if it’s just spiritual opposition or maybe I didn’t get enough sleep. And then I’ll begin to think, Wait a second, this is what is true, and I’ll say it out loud. I am a son of the Living God. Christ died for me. I have been adopted. I have been forgiven. I am precious in God’s sight. He has a plan for my life. He is with me and He is for me. He has already prepared a place in heaven for me, so I must matter. He has given me an inheritance. He has deposited spiritual gifts in me. I am His son.
See, that’s true. That other stuff is false. That doesn’t mean that when I do something wrong, I don’t own it. But I will tell you, when you begin to think and ponder and dwell on what is true, it will change – it will change your emotions, it will change your thinking, it will change your future.
One of the things I meditate on is God’s goodness. You might jot down Psalm 84:11. When I think about the future, sometimes I have fears or I think about my grandkids and the world that they are going to grow up in. And then I think, The Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord gives grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. And I dwell on the goodness of God. He has a good plan, even in an evil world.
And so I ask the question – before I watch the program, before I keep listening to a conversation: Is this the truth or a lie? When someone talks to me and starts saying, “You know, this marriage isn’t worth it. And, you know what? I’m just, ah, forget it. And I just think I’m going to bail out of this thing.” Is that a truth or a lie?
When I’m watching a movie or a commercial and they are telling me that this toothpaste or drinking this kind of beer or if I would only go online and do this, then I can rich in ninety days. Is it a truth or a lie?
See, if you are passive in your thinking, your brain doesn’t know. So you tell your brain what is true and what is not true, and dwell on things that are true.
The second thing he says, “Whatever is honorable.” The word translated means “grave, worthy of respect,” it’s the dignity of holiness. It refers to things, which reflect the seriousness of purpose of a believer’s life. I like, in parentheses, what is it that you think on that inspires awe?
For me, what inspires awe is the holiness of God. There are certain passages that I will read Revelation 4 and Revelation 5 – when I see, pictured, the throne of God and angels with six wings, and with two they cover their eyes and with two they cover their feet. And they cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”
And I think, Whoa. God is unapproachable light. He’s not the Man Upstairs. He’s not my buddy. He is awesome. Do I honor Him? Does what I am doing honor Him? Does what I think honor Him? Does this program honor Him?
The second thing I do is I think in terms of that which inspires awe. Have you ever just thought about how amazing life is? The awe of these two cells coming together, giving birth, and something growing just from this single cell and then there’s a sacredness.
Ephesians 2:10 says that I am His workmanship, you are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to walk in a good work, that from the foundations of the earth, He prepared for you to walk in. Just to think of, What am I going to do with this little thing called time, in this one, little life that I have? What a sacred stewardship. Am I using it well? Am I moving in the right…? You think about that.
It inspires, gives awe. And so I ask myself, Does this honor God or dishonor God? Does this conversation honor God or dishonor God? Does this movie honor God or dishonor God?
We are living in a world where you are bombarded with trivia. You are bombarded with information. And as you just like, like, tweet, retweet, YouTube, Oh, that’s funny, that’s funny. Am I saying there’s anything wrong with ever going on Facebook or doing this or that? No. What I am saying is, how much of life has distracted you and your world is filled with getting back with people on email and Facebook and tweeting and liking. And forgetting the seriousness of life!
I was tired a couple days ago, and there is a show I really like. I like shows that have certain things. One, is I like the good guys to win. Justice! I like that. I like it when they do it and they are super creative about it. And I like it when I can’t figure out how they are going to do it.
So if a show has those three things, I like it. And I like to try and figure out the writers and what they were doing and how they are setting me up to believe stuff. So I am analyzing stuff. It’s fun. That’s how I relax.
And so I am watching, okay, my mind. I can’t help it. So I am watching this show that I really like. I actually recorded it and the whole deal. And so I am watching it and it’s developing. And this lady, it’s one of those where the bad guys are trying to rule the world or something. And so they found these moles. And so this lady wants to find out who. And this guy looks like he has been beat up. And this lady is supposed to tell the truth.
Now, and she says to him, to this lady, “Now, this guy gave me some information. Now, you tell me what you know, or I am going to blow him away.” And she starts crying. And she goes, Bam! And, I mean, just, the gun right to his head. And this is just a regular primetime show. And it didn’t show the actual bullet, but it flashed to her and then it flashed back, and just blood spatter behind him. And him like this.
And the Holy Spirit whispered, Does this honor Me? Does this honor Me? Now, I’d like to say I said, No, Lord! And I turned it off. But I didn’t. I wanted to find out: Is she going to tell? And how is it going to come out? And so there was a two minute delay. And I never found out.
But as I continued to watch, the Spirit just said, Chip, does this honor Me? Life is sacred. You keep watching people get blown away like that, you’ll be desensitized to the most precious thing I have ever done. And what I did is I created life. And then I remember turning it off.
Because what I know is, what I let in my mind and what I dwell on will produce the person that I will become. And I never, ever want to think that life is not sacred.
The question is: Will this renew or harden my heart? The King James Version says, “Ponder,” or, “dwell on that which is gracious,” or, “admirable.” Literally it means, “fair speaking.”
I love this. It describes things which are fit for God to hear, versus ugly words, false words, impure words. I don’t know about you, but now and then I will drive and I will pull up next to someone, and the vibrations, Boom! Boom! Boom! Right? You know?
And then I hear these words: “Kill your mother and blinkety, blink, blink, blink, blink! And a delete and a delete and a delete and kill and blow and…”
Think of the music videos. Think of the culture. Think of the games that people play. Why are we surprised? Why are we surprised that a seventeen year old boy just got a life sentence for killing his best friend’s little brother who was ten and his response was, “I wanted to know what it would feel like to kill someone before someday, someone kills me.”
What perverted culture produces that? It all starts with your thinking. There is no casual, This doesn’t impact me. The question is: Could I recommend this to someone who looks up to me?
And this may sound a little cheesy, but I’m just going to say it, because I actually do it.
Let’s face it, everything is not black and white, right? There are certain things that this is on YouTube – don’t go there. This is on the Internet – don’t go there. This movie – don’t go there.
But there are some that, well, it’s kind of grey and I kind of like it and I’m not sure. And so I actually have a little experiment. I will sit down, and when I am feeling a little bit of the Spirit of God thing, I am evaluating, I ask this question: If the Lord Jesus, in His resurrected body, sat down on the couch next to me, I would say, “Hey, what do you think, Lord? Why don’t we watch this together? Do you like this part?”
Or I think of one of my little grandsons – six, seven, eight years old – sitting on my lap, “Let’s watch this together.” Here’s the deal. If you don’t feel comfortable watching it with Him or with someone who really looks up to you or one of your kids or a grandchild or one of the pastors in our church, why would you watch it alone?
And, yet, that process, that seduction is sucking the life and the heart out of people. And the upside down finances and the depression and the relational struggles and the parenting pain – you are the product of your thought life. And the person who shows up to do those things believes either a set of lies, or the truth.
And when there is no peace, we all do it, we sedate it, right? And you sedate it with shopping or pills or workaholism, and then it reinforces the cycle.
He finally says, summary, just in case I have missed anything, “If there is any praise, if any moral excellence, set your mind on these things.” Anything that will inspire, that will motivate toward godliness, encouragement, and positivity.
And, by the way, it doesn’t have to be spiritual. It might be walking through a museum for some of you. But what is it, that when you do it, when you hear it, when you ponder, you are motivated?
For me, often, it’s getting a workout. Sometimes it’s watching someone do something amazingly. When I see gymnasts do things. I was on a gymnastics team as a young kid, and so I kind of get what happens.
When I see leadership done in an amazing way, the moral excellence and the beauty of it! When I ponder that. When I go on and think it’s a long plane flight and these movies are all a bunch of trash and what am I going to watch? And I turn on a TED Talk. And I hear someone with brilliance that goes, Wow! I’m inspired!
It moves my emotions to want to be and want to grow and want to think, instead of sedating my mind with mindless teaching and potato chips.
Why? Why all this? Because your mindset determines your future, okay? Do you think I have said that enough times for us to either get it? I don’t know if you believe it yet, but get it?
Let me read a passage to you. I would recommend it as a possible passage to memorize. If you think that I am overdoing it, Romans chapter 8, Paul has told believers that there is no condemnation in Christ. Whoo. Awesome.
But then he talks to them about how that process has to happen in your life. He says, “For those who live according to the flesh,” the world system, notice the phrase, “set their minds on the things of the flesh. But those who live according to the Spirit,” life and peace, “they set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death,” separation, negativity, “but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
Does anyone see a phrase in here that: Set the mind, set the mind, set the mind, set the mind on the flesh – death. Set your mind on the Spirit, things that are good, holy, honorable, winsome, good repute – life.
He goes on to say, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.” When I am watching stuff that dishonors God, it’s hostile to God. “For it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot. And those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
And so I guess the question that I would ask is, you’re sitting here and I hope by this time, because I kind of know my struggles and I hang out with a lot of you, you’re thinking, Man, you’re killing me, Chip. I brought a friend to church and this is what you’re talking about? I’m thinking about, please to don’t come to my house and look at my movies or no one look at my hard drive. This is really painful.
But you’re probably also saying, I would really like to change, or you wouldn’t be here. And I never thought about it like this, I didn’t realize this was so important.
And the culture is just, whoo. I mean, the culture is just squeezing you like crazy, and your kids.
And so to learn to dwell on good things, I did this a number of years ago, and I didn’t understand all this, but now I realize why it was so powerful. I thought, If I am going to dwell on truth, I thought about, Here is a question, you might jot down on your notes just this question: Who do I really want to be? Who do I really want to be? Not expectations of others – who do I really want to be?
I remember asking that question and I felt all these pulls and all these demands and pleasing people and all my insecurities. But Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” And that other passage says, “If you would ask, seek, and knock, God will answer.”
And so what I did is I started writing things down. They are just desires. I didn’t try and memorize them, I didn’t try and, This is what I am going to do. I just started reading these over every morning and then before I went to bed. And I didn’t try to do anything with it.
So the first one is: I want to love God. So I just wrote, not even a goal, because if it’s a goal, it’s what I can do and I can fail. I desire to hunger for God and His Word, to memorize and mediate on it at a renewed level, and consistency in order to know Him better. I just wrote that down. And there is a passage there where Paul talks about: “I want to know Him.”
Then I thought about, Okay, my goal is to fill my mind with good things and guard my mind from evil things, and there were three or four passages that I just memorized about setting my mind, setting my mind, setting my mind.
And then I just thought about my, this was, I have been a people pleaser most of my life, and so I wrote down: I want to stop caring what others think, and apply myself and my schedule to what will make me the best that I can be, to honor God the most. I want to grow free of the invisible expectations that I allow to hinder my joy, my freedom, and my schedule from pursuing the best.
I found myself always, down deep, afraid to do this or do that or these expectations. And I just, God, I can’t change that. But I began to change.
I long to cultivate a heart of integrity and purity before God, allowing the Holy Spirit freedom, daily, to correct, convict, and restore me.
I don’t know about you, but I can skim with God and not have any really honest times of prayer and one layer after another layer. And so I just read this over.
I thought about my wife and you’ll notice the circle, you can’t read it, which is really good. It says, “Insensitivity.” I’m, historically, was an insensitive husband. And so, My desire is to love Theresa sacrificially and in a way that makes sense to her. And then later I added, Every single day.
It’s just a desire. It’s just a desire. I don’t have to do four or five, I just, that’s a desire.
And then I thought of my kids, and this was very specific, because some of you have struggles with your kids. And I had a son who, a long history, but he was so fearful. He was afraid to try anything.
And I love my kids. This was 1986. My goal is to help Eric overcome his fear of failure. And I asked him to do something simple. And he goes, “Dad, I can’t. I’m afraid I’ll mess up.” And I realized I had an assignment from God. I needed to push with love, encourage and build him up, and help him see the positive in his life.
And then finally, with other people, it was, I would like to preach great messages, serving others for the glory of God, that are used to transform multitudes of people’s lives. Now, I wasn’t teaching to a lot of people when I wrote that in 1986. But those were desires.
You know what? When you have desires, what I know is every one of those is the will of God. They are the desire of my heart. I don’t have to ask, God, do You really want me to love Theresa sacrificially? Oh, gosh, let me think about that one. Do You really want me to help my child? Do You want me to hunger for Your Word? All I know is, left to myself, I don’t do those things naturally.
And by reading those over, you know what happens? Whatever you put in your mind, you unconsciously start gravitating toward making that happen.
And so I started finding myself doing stuff for my wife. Where is this coming from? God was giving me the desires of my heart. If you want to change, challenge. Jot down two or three desires that you know are God’s will. Just read them over.
Second, how the principle, is the principle of mind renewal. Romans 12:2 says, literally, it’s, “Stop allowing the world,” the messages of the world system, “to mess up and mold your life.” It’s the Chip Ingram translation. “But start allowing the Spirit of God and the Word of God to transform your thinking so that your experience, your lifestyle, that you would experience the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.”
“Do not be conformed to this world; be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And so you have to stop some of the negative messages. See, you have to limit how much screen time, how much TV time, you just have to limit it.
I saw a lady outside in between services last night and she had these three, small kids, literally, this size, this size, this size. And she said, “I’m kind of new and I am in with this mothers group, and we are doing something really radical and crazy.” I said, “What are you doing?” “We are reading the Bible in sixty days.”
I said, “Not the whole Bible.” “No, no. The whole Bible.” I said, “How are you doing?” She goes, “I’m halfway through.” And I looked down and I said, “But, are these your kids?” “Yeah,” she goes, “when you make that as a goal, you watch a lot less TV.” I’m sitting here thinking, Read the Bible in sixty days? I’m not sure I can pull that one off.
And then she goes, “Yeah, my husband started doing that too and, man, the changes were crazy.” But then she said, “Staying on the schedule is almost impossible. But when I started it, he got back with it.”
Now, here’s what I want to tell you, if God leads you to do that, that’s a great plan. That sounds like so over the top to me, right? I would be excited to see you read the Bible every day.
But you know why I think God had that lady run into me and tell me that? And she was glowing. She removed every excuse in the world. A young mother with three kids – one, four and six – see, you do and I do what matters. And she decided that mattered. So her schedule got changed. Her priorities got changed. And then she began to tell me of the change that has happened in her life.
Renewing your mind – really important. I would encourage you to, I used to tell people to do a three-day media fast and almost no one does it. Okay? Do a partial one. Some of you it’s like, Chip, are you kidding me? The playoffs are on. I’m not doing a three-day media fast, right?
And some of you, Well, you expect me to do a three-day media fast? You don’t understand, if I don’t read the Wall Street Journal, the world will end! Okay?
So here is what I would encourage. Why don’t you figure out what a partial fast, where maybe you don’t watch any news for three days. Maybe just glance. What I do, every day, I read all the headlines in the papers and decide which of those things I need to put into my mind, and know what is going on.
But just a thought. I found when I got real strong and said, “You should do this,” no one does it. So how about this? Just a thought. You know?
And then what if you memorized something. What if, for some of you, what if you memorized verse 8? “Whatever is true. Whatever is honorable. Whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute. If there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, set your mind, let your mind dwell on these.”
What if you just memorized one verse? I will tell you. Or the chapter of Romans 12. Just try it! You’ll like it! It will really start changing you.
Well, the second portion is it’s not just doing a mind renewal. Notice the second command is: Habitually practice these things, which you learned and received. To learn, you have to have an appetite, right? You’ve got to want to. That lady had an appetite.
“Receive” means you put it into practice. You apply it. He said, “What you have heard and saw to be in me,” so they got instruction and then they modeled it. And so here is what I want to tell you. I am going to give you a very specific plan about how to completely change your mind. It will cost you thirty minutes. That means that whatever time you get up right now, you’ll have to set you clock thirty minutes earlier.
Because I am going to tell you, the best way to do it is first thing in the morning, because it will shape everything. Well, Chip, you don’t realize how early I get up. Go to bed thirty minutes earlier. What were you doing at eleven thirty anyway? Work. Facebook. The news. Okay?
If you will take this challenge, thirty minutes. And start renewing your mind. And start saying no. You’re going to have to say no to something, all right? You’re going to stop some media, somewhere, somehow, and you are going to say, This thirty minutes, I am going to do for the next thirty days. And, God, if You are real and if it works, I’ll see. And if not, forget it.
But here’s the promise: If you begin to renew your mind, and think on what He said, and notice, habitually practice, habitually practice, habitually practice, habitually practice. Did you get the word “habitually?”
How many people here brush your teeth every day? How did you ever learn the discipline? You amaze me! How many people eat one meal a day? You’re the most disciplined people in the world! How did you ever pull that off?
You have habits. Your habits produce a character. Your character produces a destiny. I’m saying start one new habit. And I will tell you, six months from now, people at work will go, “What happened to you?” You will be kinder, you will be more gentle, you will have more peace.
Five years from now, you’ll look back and you won’t recognize you, because you will be the product of what is pure and honorable and lovely and holy.
So how do you do that? On the very back, I have given you your game plan. It’s very, very simple. Thirty minutes to change your mind, literally, it’s to change your life. Pray. And if, for some of us, I didn’t grow up in the Church, so I didn’t really know how to pray. I put a little acronym called “ACTS.”
Just four little words. “A” is for adoration, it just means start by praising God. Second is confession. Actually, God, was I rude? Did I do anything wrong? And just tell Him. Just agree with Him. Clean the slate.
The “T” is for thanksgiving. I usually write these down, just because it helps me. And “S” is supplication. That means, Who do I care about? Pray for a friend, pray for a wife, pray for a husband, pray for kids, pray for a co-worker, pray for a brother, pray for a sister. Ask God specifically.
And so take eight or ten minutes. Believe me! If you use a little clock, it will be the longest eight or ten minutes of your life. And you will begin to connect with God. And then listen. So you read, you pray, and then just sit quietly, God, whatever You would want to say to me, I am going to sit quietly and learn to hear Your voice.
And if you have thoughts come into your mind that have to do with loving people, being generous, caring for others, making a sacrifice, believe me, it’s not you. It’s the Holy Spirit. If you get weird ideas about jumping off of cliffs, being mean to people, that’s not the Holy Spirit.
Finally, apply it. And this is the key. Apply one specific truth to your life. That’s the key. So, what do You want me to do? I read about this. What do You want me to do? And second, choose right there, you are going to serve someone. You’re going to serve someone.
Let me just tell you, you really, really want to change? This church wants to change, we want to reach this valley, you want a different kind of family, you want different kind of relationships, two things have to happen. One, two.
Your mind has to be transformed, and that is with the Word of God in your thinking. Number two, your heart has to be transformed. The only way your heart ever is transformed is you have to serve. We are all narcissistic.
Until your time and your money is given away to others, you will be a self-focused person and your heart will stay hard. That’s why Jesus talks so much about giving. It was for our benefit, not His.
He said, “Wherever your treasure is, that’s where your heart will be.” So where do you want your heart to be? Your heart will never be a generous person, your heart will never be soft, you’ll never be transformed until God gets your money and God gets your time.
And He will show you how and where and what to do. But those two things, that’s why this is one of the most important messages we have ever had as a church. Because the weight of, What am I going to do with that? I will guarantee the peace of God and the God of peace will be with you in ways beyond you could ever imagine.
And, see, He has lots of time. He can give you more. He has lots of money. He will give you more. He is just looking for some regular people who would trust Him.