Through Parts 1 and 2, you recognized the need to dream and seek God for His inspiration. You allowed Him to plant a desire in your heart that is in line with His good will and plan for your life.
You starting building yourself up in your faith in God, learning to combat doubt and unbelief. Your hope is being renewed as you search His Word and stand on His covenant promises.
You determined in your heart to persevere. Whether this first dream is located just down the block in the unseen realm, or whether it requires a journey around the world, you made up your mind that nothing and no one will stand in your way and stop you from bringing it to fruition.
And, you are now seeking God more and quieting yourself before Him so you can become more sensitive to His voice. Knowing He has the route laid out and the solution for every challenging situation, you’ve recognized the need to hear and heed His advice.
You are well on your way to taking back what the enemy has stolen from you for so long, and to seeing your dream come to pass in this life. And just think – then you’ll have the faith and confidence to dream even bigger.
It was my intent to conclude this series with this post. Well, that’s not going to happen. There is so much I want to say on this next principle that it took several rewrites just to keep this post at a doable length.
My plan all along has not been to provide a lot of detail in each area. This series is meant as an ignition switch to get the motor running, with needed fuel and maintenance to follow as you travel further down the road. That is especially true in the next few areas because there are so many supporting Scriptures that explain their necessity and help us put them into practice.
I did my best to keep it brief while stressing the importance, but brevity is not my strong point. That being said, let’s move on to the fifth of seven principles God established to help our dreams come true.
Guard Your Mind
If you want to see your dream come true you cannot afford to let your heart be governed by the negativity, discouragement, and defeat that come from the natural world or from the lies of the devil, who comes to steal your hope and deplete your faith in God.
We are taught in the word that as we think in our heart, so are we (Proverbs 23:7).
That Scripture is primarily addressing the moral condition of our hearts. Regardless as to how we might act, if our hearts are evil so are we. If our hearts are pure so are we. Even if we try to pretend otherwise, eventually our true colors are going to show because that’s who we are.
By that same token, if there is an image of defeat in our hearts we will be defeated. If we see ourselves as a nobody, that’s who we will remain. If, however, we can accept in our hearts that we are successful, victorious, happy, blessed and free, that’s who we will become.
This is why we are cautioned about the condition of our hearts:
Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 AMP
So if I’m stressing the need to guard our heart, why is the instruction on guarding our mind? Because the mind, what we think, is the primary gateway to our heart. If we learn to control the mind, guarding the heart will just about take care of itself.
With every thought we make a choice. We choose whether to accept it or reject it. If we accept it, it settles into our heart and sooner or later we are going to act on it.
It is our responsibility to guard our minds and make sure our thought life is one of love and hope and promise and success. Protecting our minds is vital to living the abundant life Jesus provided for us because it affects every single aspect of our wellbeing.
This law of God does require some effort, but I trust if you’re reading this you have a dream worth putting some effort into. So let’s talk about this for just a bit.
First of all, stop saying things like, “I can’t help how I think or what I think about.”
Yes, you can.
God never, ever, ever tells us to do anything we can’t do, yet in His word we are instructed several times concerning ways we should and should not think. This often referenced verse found in Philippians needs to become a way of life for us:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8
Did you pay attention to the last four words? Think on these things. You can learn to control your thinking and bring it to a place where your heart is nourished with the food of peace, health, prosperity, and success.
Let me give you just a few examples from Scripture of people who were controlling their thoughts in a positive way.
The prophet Jeremiah penned these words:
This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23
He said, “This I recall to my mind…” Jeremiah made himself recall the goodness of God. He trained his mind to think on the mercy and compassion of our heavenly Father and how through them God keeps us from being eaten alive by the sin, corruption, abuse, and standards of this world.
And what was the result? Hope! “…therefore I have hope,” he declared. He refused to allow negative and fearful thoughts enter his mind and feed his heart. He remained a man of strength and faith, accomplishing that which God had for him to do, often in terrible circumstances, because he controlled his thinking.
Then there is the Apostle Paul.
I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: Acts 26:2
Paul was actually saying he considered myself fortunate to defend himself to Agrippa concerning the allegations made against him. Paul had confidence in Agrippa as far as his knowledge and understanding of Jewish ways. Most Bible translations word that verse accordingly.
In a difficult situation Paul’s focus was not on why God allowed it, on fear of the outcome, or on how unfair the whole situation was toward him. He wasn’t focused on failure or revenge. He directed His thoughts to how God was making a way out and putting him in just the right place at the right time.
But it goes even beyond that to a place that causes me to just love this verse as it reads in the King James. You see, this war against rampant, destructive thoughts has not been an easy one for me. One day in the heat of a battle, I just happened to be reading in Acts and came across this account.
It stood out to me more vividly than white patent leather shoes against black slacks: I think myself happy.
Paul was thinking himself happy and so could I.
And so can you.
We can think ourselves happy and healthy and successful and prosperous because as we think in our hearts so are we. I am not saying that we can sit down on the sofa and think ourselves into a whole new life or think our dreams true.
But this is a spiritual principle set in place by our Creator and it has been proven true time and again. You see, what we think about will begin to govern our lives. Thoughts we retain eventually become automatic. They settle into our hearts and we act on them.
The more we think about our sore throat or headache, the more we convince ourselves we should stay in bed and nurse ourselves back to health. We can imagine our spouse having an affair to the point we accuse and act on jealousy and suspicion, even when they are absolutely innocent. We can focus on our mistakes to the point that we will never try again, having convinced ourselves we won’t ever get it right.
Such negative and damaging thought patterns are far too common in our lives today. We have to get that garbage out and the Word of God in so we will begin to act on thoughts of love, joy, health, success, and the overall goodness of our Father.
Procedurally, this is a simple principle:
Stop thinking negatively. Stop worrying about mistakes, failures, what might or might not happen. Stop dwelling on things as they are now. Stop emphasizing your inadequacies.
Start thinking in line with God’s promises and His will. Start thinking success, blessing, and victory. Focus your imagination on the outcome you desire and go to your happy place, to cite a cliché.
Sounds simple enough. However, the mechanics may not be so easy. Many of us have allowed ourselves to be hindered by fear, failures, disappointments, and the standards of the natural world to the extent that our thoughts (thus our actions) are dominated by those things. We don’t even realize how often we think that way or the adverse effect it is having in our lives.
So while understanding the process is simple, actually working through it may take some real effort. I know from experience the result is worth far more than the labor. Here are the basic steps to help you get started:
1. Think about what you are thinking about.
Thoughts are always scurrying around inside our heads. Very often, our active thoughts are pushed to the background and we don’t realize they’re working back there because work or television or driving or whatever else has our attention. But they’re there.
Have you ever said something “out of the blue”, or, without a defined reminder suddenly thought of a long ago memory? It really wasn’t out of the blue or suddenly, it’s just that the thoughts lining up one after the other to that point weren’t at the forefront of your mind.
Make some effort to pay attention to the thoughts wandering around behind the scenes. Force them stand front and center so you can size them up. Force them to show themselves.
Another way of thinking about what you are thinking about is to question why you respond to certain things or people the way you do. Why did I give him that answer? Why did I open the refrigerator to see what’s in there when I already know? What was I thinking?
And yet another, ask yourself why you believe what you believe or why do you feel so strongly about one matter or another.
Become of aware of your thoughts.
2. Recognize thoughts that need to be replaced.
These are the thoughts that argue with you when you see yourself successful and move in that direction. They are thoughts of death, suffering, failure, unworthiness, inadequacies and so on. They say words like “can’t”, “never”, and “just accept it.”
They come from our environment, from past experiences, from other people, and even from the devil who will plant lies in our minds to steal from us and destroy our dreams.
There is nothing lovely about them. They don’t bring a good report or praise. So they have to go.
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
This process is known as renewing your mind. And though it is our responsibility to do so, God has provided the means.
3. Use the weapons God has given us to destroy those arguments.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; Romans 10:3-5
The weapons He refers to? There are more than these, but some dominant ones are:
(a) Free will. We can choose how we will think. We make the choice which thoughts to discard and which to keep and nourish. Nobody can force us to think against our will;
(b) Grace. Ask God for grace to conquer the negative thoughts. He is more than willing to help us in our time of need; and
(c) His word, which is full of hope and promise. It is His word we use to replace the thoughts we are removing. If we don’t replace them, I assure you, they will return.
The ungodly thought pattern that had the most effect in my life was that of failure. I couldn’t get anything right. I didn’t meet the standards or requirements for what I wanted to do, and likely never would. I had made too many mistakes that would forever haunt me. Who would listen to me anyway? There were little or no results from past efforts.
On and on and on reasons why I would never succeed bombarded me every single time I dreamt of doing something meaningful. They ran wild in my mind and overpowered every accomplishment, every triumph, and every good thing I am through Jesus.
But then I learned to capture them. I hunted them down, lured them out into the open, and then destroyed them. And in the territory they once occupied, I planted guards such as these (as paraphrased by my mind for me):
I am the workmanship of God, created in Christ to do the good works God preplanned for me to do so I can live the good life He prearranged for me (Ephesians 2:10)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
Because I have committed my life and my works to Him, He brings my thoughts in line with His will so I can succeed (Proverbs 16:3).
Because I trust the Lord with all my heart and don’t lean to my own understanding, and because I make Him a part of everything I do, He directs my paths. (Proverbs 3:5, 6)
I am remarkably and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
I am more than a conqueror through Jesus. (Romans 8;37)
Everything I set my hands to do is blessed; it prospers. (Deuteronomy 28:8)
With my new thoughts, I started making myself imagine myself where I want to be, not where my toxic mind was showing me I was headed.
Anticipation and expectation have replaced fear of disappointment. Confidence has replaced insecurities. Hope and faith have replaced hopelessness and unbelief. What a wonderful change God has wrought in my life.
He will do the same for you.
4. Repeat steps 1-3.
5. Repeat step 4.
6. Repeat step 5.
7. Repeat…okay, you get my point. A lifelong mindset is not likely to go away at the first attempt. Some will take more effort and resist eviction more than others.
As a matter of fact, I still have to fight the feelings of failure and impending disappointment. It’s just that now the battles are fewer and farther between, and won much more quickly than they used to be.
Don’t give up. Remain aware of those thoughts and mindsets, choose to oust them, replace them with the Word. If you don’t already, you will eventually have positive experiences and memories to accompany Scripture in taking the place of destructive thoughts.
Finally (don’t stop now, you’re almost to the end!)…
As far as back as I can remember, I have heard this said: You might not stop a bird from flying overhead, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair.
In other words, you can’t stop a thought from entering your mind, but you can reject it (if you are thinking about what you’re thinking about) and keep it from taking root in your heart.
While there is much truth to that, I believe we sell ourselves a little short by clinging to that counsel in its fullness. We can indeed stop a lot of the thoughts from coming in, in the first place. When it comes to guarding our minds offensive moves are much easier and more effective than defensive ones.
King David wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “I will set no wicked thing before my eyes…it shall not cleave unto me.”
David was speaking primarily of things that would tempt him to sin. He wouldn’t even look at things that would bring thoughts of evil doing into his life. He determined to guard his mind in order that his heart remained pure. (He learned that lesson the hard way.)
That same principle should be applied to not allowing thoughts of defeat, disappointment, failure, or giving up enter into our minds. We can prevent negative thoughts from entering our minds by simply not exposing ourselves to them.
I’m not implying you should live in a silent world all alone. But you can greatly reduce negative influence by separating yourselves from dream killers – people who respond with words like, “Aren’t you a little old to be trying such a thing?” “You just need to make a living and stop worrying about all this other stuff.”
Things like, “You can’t do that.” And, “Do you realize how many businesses fail every year?”
Or the dreaded laugh, “Yeah right,” followed by the sarcasm, “Good luck with that.”
Don’t share your dream with people who have poison in their mouth unless you want your dream to suffer.
And turn off the television more often. Stories of doom and defeat dominate the air waves in both news broadcasts and fictional programming. If you have to watch, find stories of those who overcame the odds to march triumphantly down Winner’s Circle.
You can stop some birds from flying overhead. There are going to be plenty that you can’t, so stop the ones you can.
To sum it up –
We become as we think in our heart. Our hearts are fed by our minds, our thought life. So by all means guard your mind. Let your thoughts and imagination work for you, not against you. If you are a born again believer you have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), but it’s up to you to let it work (Philippians 2:5).
I will try my best to make Part 4 the final part of this series, but no promises. Until then I hope you will remind yourself of God’s principles for making your dreams come true that we have addressed so far and start putting them into practice.
There are great things waiting with your name on them.
See more at http://jybinspired.com
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are from the Authorized King James Version.
Scripture marked NLT is from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.