September 2021

Poisons of Good Thoughts – Part 6

Feeding thoughts with healthy fuel requires identifying the things which poison our thoughts. A poison of thoughts can be anything that resists holiness, values sin, and decreases your closeness with the Lord. Poisons reduce faith, weaken relationships, lessens your desire to serve, and promote self-first.
Poisons of Good Thoughts – Part 6Just as there are many sources of good thought food, so there are many sources of thought poison. The worst of these, which is the most difficult to deal with, are poisons of the heart. Weather you intentionally allowed these poisons in, or they were inflicted upon you, makes little difference, they need resolving by Christ to bring their destructive work to an end.

Working against us is the fact that the heart instinctively protects pride, anger, unforgiveness, offences, resentment, impatience, and envy, which all exacerbate our heart problems. Sooner or later however, the heart cannot help but expose its treasures. Jesus explained this in Luke 6:45, the good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Sinful treasures can lay dormant in the heart for a long time waiting for the opportunity to awaken and speak into our thoughts, our actions, and our reactions. But rest assured, treasures of the heart will always show themselves, whether good or bad.

Just as good diet is essential for good health, so good heart food is essential for good thoughts. If you feed your heart with discontentment, unmet expectations, gossip, slander, conspiracy, unfaithfulness, lies, pornography, crude humour, violence, abusiveness, or worldly thinking of God, all these will poison your heart. As the heart is the inner reservoir supplying your mind with food, it is critical to fill the heart with clean and healthy supplies.

We naturally find this level of heart evaluation distasteful. Becoming aware of poisons within calls for serious humility. When David called his son Solomon to build a temple for the Lord in 1 Chronicles 22:19, he instructed him to set your mind and heart to seek the LORD your God. This instruction called Solomon to filter what he permitted to enter himself. It also required Solomon to wilfully determine the activities of his mind and heart. And finally, it directed Solomon to speak God oriented instructions to himself, ordering that inner activities of all kinds were to seek the LORD your God.

Instinctively, without the Lordship of Christ, mankind’s heart increasingly becomes as in the days of Noah, where God observed every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). If we neglect this important area of practical faith, our natural impulses will gravitate towards pre-salvation desires. Unfortunately, poisons of the heart come naturally and easily, often existing as the oldest residents of our hearts. They are often well disguised, buried within personality, protected by many layers of self-preservation, and masters of deceit. When they speak into our thoughts, they speak with loud familiarity and authority, plus they are always self-vindicating and destructive to both ourselves and others.

Biblical attention given to our hearts and thoughts can spare us great pain while promoting Christlikeness. Solomon instructs us to make our ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding (Proverbs 2:2). Our inner selves require spiritual maintenance, but not by this world’s standards. Backslidden David new this well when he asked the Lord to create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).

To be continued…

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Where thoughts take us – Part 5

Biblical instructions aimed at directing our thoughts are NOT intended to be demanding laws. Rather, they are practical, God oriented principles for Christian living. These principles enable Holy Spirit energised blessings. And it is these blessings that enrich our entire state of wellbeing; spiritually, mentally, and physically, enabling us to live with greater joy and security in Christ.

Where thoughts take us – Part 5
It’s understandable that during prolonged and painful struggles a believer can experience fatigue. David, at times overwhelmed, confessed that evils have encompassed me beyond number (Psalm 40:12). Believers are not removed from the ugly realities of life, but they are provided with spiritual resources to sustain them during those times.

Jeremiah 17:7 offers an incredible heart resource, blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. In fact, both Jeremiah and David recognised that to trust in the Lord during nightmare periods is to invite the Lord to be the actual trust mechanism within (Psalm 40:4). Here, faith reaches out to our gracious Lord to supply what we desperately lack – TRUST. Then, faith steps forward believing that you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! (Psalm 40:11). This inner faith-trust should have the volume turned up full to become a prevailing voice within our thoughts.

Philippians chapter 4 is rich with thought refining directions for enabling healthier mind activity. The crescendo arrives in verse 8; whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8). Even during the most difficult times, the believer who is trusting God to be their inner spiritual resource, chooses to think upon beneficial and God honouring things.

Faith is realistic, as it acknowledges the pains of life while dedicating periods of time to focus on the true things of God. Refusing to be silenced, faith schedules times of honourable thought which look outside of self to fix its attention on the pure and lovely things of Christ. Even when darkness seems to be all encompassing, by faith the believer will invite another believer to speak and pray into their thoughts the excellent and praiseworthy things of the Lord. Introducing righteous thoughts into your flow of thoughts can be done in many ways and at any time. We can include worship songs, Bible reading, listening to Bible teaching, watching the beauties of nature, enjoying good friendship, and prayer. Changing routines with spontaneous variations to the input of Christlike thoughts can be helpful and refreshing.

Regardless of circumstances, faith refuses to surrender to the dominant voices of fear and destruction. By inviting help from the Lord and from fellow believers, faith speaks over top of persistent pain or bewilderment. Faith creates choices when negative voices say there are none. Faith counts blessing when others say there are none. Faith reaches out for assistance when darkness says you are alone. Faith actively exchanges isolation for fellowship, silence for praise, and complaining for gratitude.

Believers dependently look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Regular attention given to the Lord Jesus can interrupt the flow of destructive thoughts. By faith a believer is able to transform dark thoughts into thoughts of light, of love, and of certain hope. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

To be continued…

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Where thoughts take us – Part 4

God’s Word tells us that we are not waging war according to the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3). Our spiritual struggles are against the dark forces of this world which seek to steer our minds against God’s truth (Eph 6:12). In spite of what we may feel during life’s battles, believers are able to destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). But here’s the crunch. Thoughts made captive to Christ still require converting into right attitudes, right desires, right choices, and right actions. Biblically aligned thoughts still require volition, which is our God given choice maker. To be victorious, volition must prioritise God over random or irrational thoughts.
Where thoughts take us - Part 4
In the whirlwind of thoughts, we can choose which voices of thought we listen to and which we reject. We can even choose to introduce new voices into the flow of our thoughts. Similarly, we can adjust the volume of voices speaking into our thoughts. Taking our thoughts captive to obey Christ is a personal discipline of healthy Christian living which requires much patience, much determination, and openness with other believers on the same quest for Christ honouring thoughts.

In 2 Corinthians 10:4, Paul explains more of our spiritual resources, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. Thought management is an effective weapon of our warfare against the relentless thoughts which create turmoil in our lives. The greatest weapon believers possess is the applied sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Introducing God’s Word into the flow of harmful thoughts can destroy arguments in our minds which stand against God.

Submissive Christian thoughts governed by God’s Word have divine power to destroy strongholds which work destruction in our minds. Evil voices do not have to be the victorious voices. Holy Spirit controlled thoughts make Holy Spirit controlled choices, and they are the BEST choices. When we turn the volume of God’s Word up, reading in agreement with God, inviting God to educate our values and conscience with it, good changes happen. When we do this with thanks, with obedience, and by sharing biblically inspired thoughts with others, victory begins to grow a fresh pattern of life.

When Peter rebuked Jesus for speaking of His upcoming crucifixion, Jesus’ response enabled Peter to evaluate his well-meant, yet wrong thoughts and words. Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23). Poor Peter, he only had the best of intentions for Jesus! But Jesus knew what Peter did not know about himself. Satan had seized an opportunity through Peter’s well-intentioned words to attempt to persuade Jesus away from the Cross (Lk 4:13). Peter certainly was NOT demon possessed, but Peter had allowed Satan to somehow influence his thinking enough that he would object to Jesus fulfilling His purpose of going to the Cross (Mat 26:39; Php 2:8).

Understandably, devoted Peter did not want Jesus to suffer the horrors of crucifixion, and Satan played on Peter’s compassion. Plus, Satan certainly did not want Jesus to be the substitutional sacrifice on the Cross that would appease the wrath of the Father for sinners who would believe in Jesus (Rom 3:24-26; 1Jn 4:10). I’m sure that it was to Peter’s horror, when he discovered just how easy it was to have his best intentions for Christ influenced wrongly by the enemy of Christ.

To be continued…

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Where thoughts take us – Part 3

All available sources of information generally go to construct our thoughts. The things we experience through our senses, our imaginations, our dreams, and our memories, all contribute in forming an information reservoir for thoughts. To a large degree, we have control over the information we permit to enter our intellectual collection centre. From this reservoir, we deliberately initiate thoughts. Similarly, from the same resource centre, other thoughts are spontaneously triggered by our subconscious minds. Either way, both the collection of data and how those thoughts develop once they enter our cognitive minds is our responsibility for the most part.
Where thoughts take us - Part 3
The power of thought enables us to evaluate and understand all sorts of things, to construct creative plans, and to distinguish between, good, best, bad, and worst, plus make decisions. Many of us simply allow thoughts to run without restraint and without boundaries. This, in part, determines the effort required to bring our thoughts under God honouring control as Christians.

We have been given the word of God (which) is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). The Bible is God’s primary tool used by His Spirit to educate us according to His righteousness. No other resource is able to achieve the depth of inner examination and correction as God’s Word. While this world happily rockets along concerned with the surface pleasures of life, they neglect the deep and eternal issues which are of greatest importance.

So, when we read God’s Word, realise that His intention is for your thoughts and intentions of the heart to be exposed to you and for you to submit your thoughts and intentions of the heart to His Lordship. Few thoughts are ever neutral, and this is never truer than when you read God’s Word. While thoughts are NOT self-authoritative, they do need to be consciously brought by us into alignment with the truths of God.

People who are consumed with self and live an active self-centred thought life do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they do not understand his plan, (Micah 4:12) but they need to. Every believer needs to accept their responsibility to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

While many think of their thought life as a secret haven for independence and sinful pleasure, they wrongly assume that their thoughts are hidden from all others, including God – WRONG! In Matthew 9:4, Jesus confronted some self-righteous scribes who disapproved of Him forgiving a man of his sin and then healing him of being a paralytic. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, Why do you think evil in your hearts? Attractive appearances and self-righteous words cannot hide or rectify the evil thoughts which may exist within our hearts. God knows them and they are self-condemning even though we may hide them from others.

Today, I invite you to consciously invite the Lord Jesus Christ into your thought life to begin any needed reconstruction work. Invite Him to open to you your true inner heart intentions towards God. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). These are early steps towards a God directed thought life.

To be continued…

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