When I was on staff for The North Alabama Conference Center, I had this sign on the door to my office: “A Lack Of Planning On Your Part Does NOT Mean We Have A Crisis. It Means YOU Have A Problem!” The meaning is pretty obvious: When you are in the panic mode because you failed to make and follow a plan, do not expect me to join you in your panic. Planning is important. To borrow a term from Coach Nick Saban, there is a Process to follow.
We plan lots of things like careers, work, families, and retirement. And we would never build a home without first having a plan. But what about the development of our spiritual life? If planning work, families, retirements, and homes are important, why do so many spend so little time planning the development of their spiritual life? Have you heard this saying? When You Fail To Plan, You Plan To Fail.
Today I want us to look at developing a plan, a blueprint of sorts for Building A Brand New You. I believe that God is on the move in our culture for yet another Great Awakening, much like what God promised Israel through Isaiah in Isaiah 43:19
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
When God promised this, they were in exile and things seemed hopeless. If we are honest, we feel the same way about our culture—that things seem hopeless. But I am convinced otherwise. I see the signs in Africa, Southeast Asia and in Central and South America—and I am seeing and sensing the same in our time and place. God is doing a new thing in our time, and we need to position ourselves to see it. We need a new blueprint for a new you. Every blueprint has a beginning point, so I began thinking about where to start. I kept thinking and thinking and thinking, but I just couldn’t figure out where to start this blue print.
I was thinking about a lot of different things as the first part of this blueprint—transformation of the heart, the importance of living out God’s word, faith, but the more I thought about it, nothing seem to fit. I did my usual walking and pacing as I was thinking. Now, I don’t know how other preachers arrive at their messages, but me, I don’t know how to explain it, other than to say it just feels right. I was doing all this thinking, and nothing felt right.
Finally, I said, “OK, God, what are you thinking?” And I thought I almost heard Him say, “Exactly!” Excuse me? What do you mean by “Exactly”? Then it hit me, the Blueprint For A New You begins with A New Way Of Thinking! And our passage for today comes from Romans 12:1-2. Last week I shared it with you from The Message, but this week I want you to hear it from The Passion Translation:
1] Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.
2] Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.
How we think is more important than many may realize. It influences our perceptions and our reactions—both positively and negatively. And our thinking greatly shapes our daily actions. How many times after we did something that defied common sense did we say, “What was I thinking?” Anyone here other than me who has ever said that? When Debbie and I got married, I wanted to use that country song as we walked the aisle. She wouldn’t let me.
Usually our own answer to that question is: “I Wasn’t Thinking!” Most of the time, this is probably true. But open your minds to another possible answer. Maybe, just sometimes the answer is: “I was thinking the wrong way.”
Case in point is found in Mark 6 when Jesus had been teaching most of the day. This was supposed to be a day for just the Disciples and Jesus. But then the crowd showed up, ruining their plans. This crowd had been there at least all afternoon long. I don’t think the disciples had a table set up with snacks, coffee and water, so they had been there most of the day without eating. The disciples know this, so in order to get their own time with Jesus, they tell Jesus, “The day is almost over. These people need to eat. Stop preaching and send them home.” But their little ploy to keep Jesus to themselves quickly unravels.
Jesus tells them, “OK, they do need to eat, so YOU give them something to eat.” Maybe Jesus doesn’t fully understand this situation. Almost immediately they reached a rare consensus: “It would take 8 months of our wages to buy that much bread. You want us to do that?” At first their thinking was: “Send them home”, and their second thinking was, “It would take 8 months of wages to buy that much bread.” The meaning of that statement is: “We don’t have enough money to feed them. So, let’s go back to our first statement: Send them home!”
But Jesus the Teacher is persistent, so He asks another question: “Well, how many loaves do you have?” There must have been a look of shock on their faces because Jesus added, “Well, go on and see!” It seemed like Jesus wasn’t listening to them. But they do what He says just to prove THEY are right.
They take a very quick inventory. John’s Gospel says they found a young boy with a sack lunch. They come back with their report: “We have 5 loaves and 2 small fish.” Obviously this is not enough, so they are probably back to their first way of thinking: “OK Jesus, send them away.” But Jesus Doesn’t See This Situation The Way They See It. He tells them, “OK, everybody, I mean everybody have a seat. We are going to have a picnic. Sit in groups of 50 or 100. Oh, and save the leftovers.” Try to imagine, if you can, the look on the faces of the disciples. 5 loaves of bread? 2 small fish? A picnic?
Anyone with common sense would know this can’t feed all those people; 5000 men plus women and children. I can just imagine Matthew, who knew how to work with numbers, thinking: “Well this won’t take long.”
But look at what happens. Everyone eats until they are full, and then there are 12 baskets full of leftovers. Their way of thinking said, “This isn’t enough.” But Jesus’ way of thinking said, “Everyone sit down, the servers will bring your meal to you as quickly as they can. And save all the leftovers!”
A New Way Of Thinking Begins When We See People And Situations The Way Jesus Sees Them. And this will never happen in us until we have our minds transformed by God’s grace into the same mind of Jesus who told those disciples, “You give them something to eat.” It happens when we allow Him to make us something altogether different. It happens inside us when His Holy Spirit, is more than with us; But Living IN Us. It’s all an inside job. We can’t make it happen, but we can choose to allow it to happen by surrendering to God’s grace.
Here’s the one thing you need to remember: This Transformed Mind Is Where We Discover, Accept And Live In God’s Intended Design. God has an Intended Design for your life. It’s Called His Will. That Will brings about His Purpose which is bringing people into a relationship with Him.
The natural mind cannot see it no more that the natural minds of the disciples could see how to feed all those people. But Jesus did feed them, and Jesus will use us when our minds have been transformed by the Jesus who wants to live in us. Only with the transformed mind can we discover and live in God’s will.
It’s that transformed mind that understands why we need His Intended Design. It’s the renewed mind that understands 3 Unshakeable Truths that keep us Thinking In A New Way.
1. God’s Will Is Good
God’s will is good because it is honorable. Thinking A New Way understands that our everyday life can also be honorable. We can show integrity and compassion in any situation. It works from the desk of a CEO all the way to a simple ditch digger.
Wherever you are, Thinking A New Way Means We Look For Ways To Express The Holiness And Majesty Of God; His Grace, Mercy, And His Unlimited Love To A World That Desperately Needs To See Him. To say His Intended Design is good means that whatever it is He wants from us is the right thing. This adds value, purpose, and the beauty to life.
2. His Will Is Life As It Is Meant To Be.
Thinking A New Way means that we Look For Ways To Bring Our Daily Life Back Into Agreement With God’s Intended Design For Our Life. Thinking A New Way Shows Us How To Live This Life In Such A Way That We Find A Passion Living God’s Way.
It is pleasing to us, because it is the very life we have been created for—a life in deep intimate relationship with Him. And it is pleasing to Him—who created us and who loves us enough to allow His Only Son to die on that Cross, just for us so that this horrible and destructive power of sin that was Defeated ON That Cross could be Defeated IN Our Life.
3. This Life Moves Us Towards Perfection
God’s Intended Design is perfect because ultimately, it will make us perfect. We’re not perfect yet, but Thinking A New Way means we know that Every Choice, Every Carefully Chosen Word, And Every Deliberate Act Can Take Us Closer To Or Further Away From That Total Perfection. It all depends on YOUR chosen priority. Thinking A New Way means We Live Our Life With A Clearly Defined Purpose—To Allow All The Life That Is Jesus, To Be Seen In Us And Through Us.
God’s Great Desire is to finish the process of transformation that begins when we invite Jesus into our heart as Savior and as Lord. Then we begin this journey to Become The Person Who God Intended For Us To Be All Along. Thinking A New Way can only happen when we offer Jesus both our heart and our mind. Does this process of surrendering the mind really work?
Fast forward to Acts 3. John and Peter are about to enter the Temple in Jerusalem. A beggar stops them, asking for money. They don’t have any money. What will they do? Do they start shouting, “Hey, this man needs money. Will someone please step up and help this poor man out?” That, my friends, would have been their old way of thinking.
But now, thanks to the Holy Spirit, they have a new way of thinking. Listen to verse 6: Then Peter said, “I don’t have money, but I’ll give you this—by the power of the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk!” A new way of thinking is all about knowing that Jesus isn’t just with you, but that He wants to be and can be IN you.
Here’s Your Next Step
Do Something This Week That Will Cause 2 Things In Your Life:
- Find a way to look and think a little more like Jesus each day. Maybe read the Bible more, pray more, start reading a book by a solid Christian writer–whatever works for you.
- Ask God to use you to show someone else that God loves and cares about them.