Learning to think about God...
Our mind is continually active, running constantly...even while sleeping apparently the mind is active, though thankfully it is in a more relaxed state. Throughout the day, we are up to our ears in busy-ness... daily activity, business, hard work, deadlines, responsibilities, decisions, choices, children...what to have for dinner and the list goes on. Then there are those moments of ease when we might catch ourselves using our imaginations...maybe even day dreaming and/or reminiscing...the mind is in a relentless state of activity.
So in all this busyness of daily life, what is the follower of Jesus to do? One part of the answer is to find those moments like Jesus did when He went away to be by Himself and spent time with His Father. But what can we do when the busyness does not relent? This is where learning to think about God becomes an essential tool every follower of Jesus.
This is meditation” ...try and forget about the baldheaded mystic sitting in some weird contorting position and hmmming himself silly, trying to empty his thoughts. Biblical meditation is learning to think about God in the busy-ness of life.
In Philippians 4:8 the apostle Paul tells us what to spend our time thinking about. “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if there is anything excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” Look at the statements he makes:
Think about what is true...for followers of Jesus truth is embodied in Jesus Himself and in His Word. Therefore, if we are to think about the truth...we should spend time thinking about Him and His Word. Think about what Jesus said and think about what Jesus did. The issue of worry enters here, because a lot of what we worry about is actually not true. Satan is a liar and he is the father of lies and he wants to corrupt our
minds with things that are false. And whenever we believe one of his lies he takes over. We are bombarded with so much that is false. Every day there are slurs and slams against what I believe and the things that I hold dear. So as I read my Bible I must counter the untruths I face daily with the truth of God’s Word. I need to ask the Holy Spirit to control my min though truth John 17:17; 1 John 5:6 The promise stands... and deserves to be proven that He will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed on Him (Isaiah 26:3).
Think about what is noble and right... Watching the news every night we are confronted with violence, lawless chaos and mayhem. We need to be very careful because all of this around us can colour our thinking, our attitudes and even our own desires. How do we think about what is noble and right? Another translation puts it
“whatever is worthy of respect and right.” We can start by filling our minds with God’s Word. At the end of this post I will post five practical things you can do to help with this. By the way, this is not “burying our heads in the sand” and pretending the displeasant things of life are not true...but rather it is a choice that we make...not to dwell on those things that are not worthy of respect and right. Let what is noble and right control our
Think about what is pure...Guard your heart from evil and lust. We are bombarded 24-7 with pornography and we live in a society that is based upon lustful desire. We have it all at the click of the finger, in every media technology. Try not to open those sites you do not know anything about. If you accidentally open up something...get out of it quickly. Run like Joseph away from the temptation. (Note: There are effective filters for computers...especially in your home. BSECURE.com and CovenantEyes.com )
Guard the door of your hearts.
Think about what is lovely and admirable...This deals mainly with our relationships with other people. Look for the good in them. Don’t spend time thinking about their bad habits or what they have done that may have been offensive to you. This causes us to become cynical and critical...and as a result we become miserable...(Hey those almost rhyme!) Guard your lips and pray for the people that may irritate you and may even provoke you.
Think about what is excellent and praiseworthy...What does this look like? This is thinking about the characteristics of God...who, by the way, is totally excellent and He is praiseworthy. Reflect on His goodness, His greatness, His beauty and His majesty...guaranteed you will find this to be overwhelming. Point your mind and your heart to the excellence and praise worthiness of God Himself.
Think, think, think...use the brain God gave you. So how can we think about God in the hectic, busy mayhem of our life? Here are five practical steps...
1. As you read your Bible...stop and reflect on what you have just read...try underlining verbs and circle the nouns... Take a sticky tab or a journal and write your thoughts down beside that verse. Then think about them and pray about them as they apply to your life. Scripture is key to our thinking. (Check out Psalm 19:7-9) Make no mistake if you fill your mind with God’s Word you will have a built-in EARLY DETECTION WARNING SYSTEM...a radar for detecting wrong thoughts.
2. Memorize key Scriptures...and review them during the day...even while you are on the construction site, at your desk or driving your car...or at your locker at school. Write the verse down on an index card and carry it in you in your back pocket.
3. When you are out for a walk in the beautiful fall colours look at creation and think
about how it was God who made them all. Are you surrounded by people at work or at school? Give this a try...look at each face today and remind yourself that God made that face that person unique. (Even if they have a nose ring or two.)
4. Remember, reminisce about how and when God has led you in your life and learn to be thankful for all of the ups and downs of your journey with Christ. Deuteronomy
8:2 “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands.”
5. Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians
Psalm 143:5 “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what Your hands have done.”
“Sow a thought...reap an action.
Sow an action, reap a habit.
Sow a habit...reap a character.
Sow a character and reap a destiny.”Warren Wiersbe
I have to admit I had a tough day yesterday. I had two engagments with two separate organizations that I minister through as a volunteer chaplain. In both situations I was surrounded and confronted by a dying culture that denied my message. In one situation, people were physically dying and desperate for a message of hope. I shared with them the Lord Jesus and the hope He only can provide. In the second situation being one guest of many in an afternoon, I honestly left heart broken and even angry because the message of Jesus was rejected and even ridiculed by men who were spiritually dying. Let me tell you...right then and there I really wanted to react rather than respond...but thankfully God kept my mouth shut.
So what should our response (i.e. not reaction) be to a culture that does not believe they are dying without Christ, or who mock the One who died for them? In 1 Peter 2:17 we read "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God.Honour the king." Four commands for a believer to obey. Each of them go against our natural human instinct to "fight or flight". Each of the four commands are inherently difficult. But because they are written in the Word of God...we know them to be the will of God. Therefore, I must obey them. Think about each one for a moment:
HONOUR ALL MEN... This could be translated "Respect everyone..." Every day as a believer you are surrounded by a culture that rejects your Lord and Saviour...and yet God says to "respect everyone". To do this...is a continuous, concious choice. It requires that we continuallly choose to regard sinful men with honor and dignity. Paul adds in Philippians 2:3 to "esteem others better than yourselves." Ouch! Make it your prayer today to respect everyone you meet including those who reject you on the basis of your message and Who you live for.
LOVE THE BRETHREN...I am growing to love this word "brotherhood" more and more as I study it again and again. The love is the same "agape" that describes God's love for sinful man...a love that is unselfish, unconditional, it sacrifices, and it is an undeserved love...and because I have received this from Him I should extend it to my brothers and sisters in Christ...the verb here agains is a continuous habitual practice. Choose today to love your brothers and sisters in Christ Christ loves the Church.
FEAR GOD...Ultimately God is looking at the heart. He knows full well if you and I fear Him or not. Solomon wrote "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." Proverbs 1:7 This is a lifestle choice that is marked by a reverential fear of God. Choose to fear God rather than man. "Do not be wise in your own eyes...fear the Lord, and depart from evil." (Proverbs 3:7)
HONOUR THE KING... This last point is a struggle for many. We recognize God as the ultimate King but it is God who has put in place the authority on this earth of human government...be it the police officer on his beat or the ministry of corrections or the ministry of health...or the Prime Minister himself. And though they may not agree with me, I still must honour them and obey them as long as what they ask of me does not contend with what God requires of me. Then I must choose to obey the Lord alone. (Please read 1 Peter 2:1-14 for more details) But make no mistake...God does desire for you and I to honour the authorities that He has put in place.
Let me conclude with 1 Peter 2:12 "Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbours. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behaviour, and they will give honour to God when He judges the world."
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