Have you ever wondered if something is holding you back from experiencing the promises of God? I remember a time in my life when I was hearing about all the promises of God but never actually experiencing them.
I heard about peace, but I didn’t have any. I heard about joy, but I was unhappy all the time. I could see God’s promises in His Word and I believed them, but something was missing. As I spent time studying God’s Word, I came to realize that the root of my problem was found in the wrong mindsets I was living with.
Identifying Your Mindset
The story of the Israelites is a good example of what a difference our mindset can make. God called them out of Egypt to possess the land that He had promised them—the Promised Land—a land [of abundance] flowing with milk and honey...(Exodus 13:5 AMP). But what was supposed to be an 11-day journey ended up being a 40-year journey through the wilderness—all because they didn’t know how to think right (see Deuteronomy 1).
One wrong mindset the Israelites had was, “Please make everything easy for me because I can’t take it when things are too hard.” When things got hard for the Israelites and they had to fight their enemies, instead of turning to God—who was actually bigger than the problem they were facing—they started grumbling and complaining about their situation.
The Israelites thought their enemies were the problem, but it was really their thinking. So instead of moving forward and experiencing the good things God had planned for them, He had to take them the long, hard way through the wilderness in order to prepare them.
When in the Wilderness
Like the Israelites, sometimes we’re not ready for all that God has planned for us, so we spend a little time in “the wilderness” growing up and learning how to trust Him. I know what this is like from personal experience. There was a time when I had an “it’s just too hard” attitude and mindset about things I needed to face.
When God spoke to my heart that I needed to completely forgive people who had hurt me, it seemed impossible to me. But realizing that He didn’t expect me to do it in my own strength set me free from the misery of bitterness and unforgiveness. And I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if I hadn’t obeyed God’s direction in this area of my life.
God sometimes brings us the long, hard way to test us, humble us and to see if we will keep His commandments in the wilderness.
In the beginning of my ministry there were times when I taught much smaller groups. For years, Dave and I drove up and down the highway with our little bubble trailer on the back of the car and didn’t even have the money to stay in a hotel. We’d pull into a fast-food restaurant parking lot so Dave could get a little bit of sleep and then finish the drive home. God has done so much over the years and our ministry now reaches people around the world every day because of His faithfulness.
Deuteronomy 8:2 (ESV) says, And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
God wants to help us learn how to obey Him in the wilderness because if we don’t keep His commandments when life is hard, then we won’t keep them when everything is going our way. He wants us to be strong enough and mature enough to keep moving forward in His plan for our lives.
Replacing with Truth
Instead of having the mindset that says, I can’t take it when things are too hard, the truth is that with God’s help, you can do whatever you need to do in life.
Philippians 4:13 (ESV) says, I can do all things through him who strengthens me. So, when the enemy starts to tell you that your circumstances are impossible, you’ll never make it, and you should quit, you can be confident knowing this promise from God: I can do whatever I need to do through Christ who gives me strength. You can look to God for the strength you need to deal with whatever life throws at you.
Keeping It Set
Once we adopt a right mindset to replace a wrong one, we must be determined to keep our thoughts headed in that direction. Colossians 3:2 (AMP) teaches us to set our minds and keep them set: Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value].
And you do that by deciding today that you’re going to live and experience the promises of God. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt and couldn’t envision anything better for their future so they got stuck. God wants us to have a vision for our life—thinking about where we want to go, not where we’ve been or even where we are right now.
Instead of letting our minds get stuck on the hard things in our life, we can think about all that God has helped us get through. And we can change our wrong mindset by putting our focus on Him.