His Year: Our Thoughts

  • His Year: Our Thoughts
  • Romans 12:2
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • January 8, 2017
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1-8-17 Sermon from LakeRidge UMC on Vimeo.

Today, we are continuing on in our series, His Year 2017, where we are examining how life might be different this year if we to focus our lives on Jesus Christ and his purposes.

 

It can be easy for us to look at somebody else’s life and think they have it all together, that they’ve accomplished something that seems to be out of our reach. Maybe they’re good at something that we don’t think we could ever be good at. Sometimes we’re incredibly intimidated and think “I can’t do the big things that could help me accomplish that.”

 

The key thought that will take us through this whole message series is that often it’s not the big things, but it’s the small things that no one sees that result in the big things that everyone wants.

 

Small things make a big difference.  And we’re talking about how our thoughts, which seem small, our words, which may seem small, and our actions, shape and impact us.

 

But you have to embrace this truth:

“Our thoughts are important because our thoughts become words,           our words become actions, our actions become habits and our                habits create a destiny.”

 

Today, I want to focus in and talk to you about our thoughts, which are so important in determining who we become. In fact, Solomon said this in Proverbs 23:7 “As a person thinks in his heart, so he is.”  Another way to put it is that your life will always move in the direction of your strongest thoughts.

 

In other words, if you think you can’t, you probably won’t.  If you think life is going to be bad, it probably will be bad.  If you think you don’t have anything to offer, you probably won’t make a difference.

 

On the other hand, if you think you can, you probably will.  If you believe that there are opportunities out there, you will see those opportunities. If you believe that God is for you and with you, you will sense his power and his presence, because our thoughts matter. As a person thinks in his heart, so he becomes.  Your life will always move in the direction of your strongest thoughts.

 

And so that’s why, to build a kind of a foundation for today’s message, I want to encourage you to do what I call a “thought audit.”  I want you to think about what you think about.

 

 

Think about last week, and in a moment, I’m going to show some slides with some polar opposites in thoughts.  We’re going to look at worrisome thoughts; ask yourself, “Are most of your thoughts more focused on worry, or are they peaceful?”

 

Think about last week.  Were you worried about your kids or worried about your job perhaps?  Or maybe the health of somebody?  Or maybe you’re worried about money because the credit cards came due from last month and you think, “Aaahh! What was I thinking?”  Now you’re worried. I don’t know what it would be, but you find yourself more worried.

 

Or the other side, you’re incredibly peaceful. You’re secure in the promises of God.  That doesn’t mean you’re not active in your life, but there’s this supernatural peace that goes beyond everyone else’s ability to even understand.  You’re bathed in this peaceful presence.  Even when something bad happens, you believe God is still in charge and it doesn’t freak you out.  Where would you fall on that scale?

 

Okay, let’s talk about negative versus positive. Consider what you think about.  Some of you have the spiritual gift of negativity.  Right?  You can find out what’s wrong before you ever see what’s right.  You’re easily critical of people.  You assume the worst a lot of times.  You can be very discontented.  You know, you think “Okay, if I were only married, I’d be happy.”  Then you get married, “If only I had kids, I’d be happy.”  You have kids, “If only I had different kids, then I’d be happy.”  You find yourself more on the negative side.

 

Or you might be more on the positive side.  Consider what you think about. And you just believe the best about people.  When you walk into a church, rather than picking it apart, you see where God’s working and you say, “Wow, that’s a really special thing.  I like what’s going on there.”  You may have a difficult day, but you believe that God is good, he’s for you, and he’s going to work in all things to bring about good.  You’re more on the positive side.  Would you say you’re more on the negative or more on the positive?

 

Let’s talk about worldly versus eternal for a moment.  Do you find that your thoughts are consumed with things of this life and not eternity?  You’re thinking about what kind of car you drive, what kind of shirt you’re going to buy to match the hat you bought that was on sale.

 

You think, “What are people going to think about me if I say this, do this, drive this, go here, do they like me, my duck-face selfie? What do people think about me?”  You find yourself thinking about, more worldly things versus eternal things.

 

Do you wake up thinking about how you can use your life to bring glory to God?  Do you think about people that are maybe far from God? Does your heart aches for them? Do you think, “What can I do to help show them to the love of God?”  You may have some things, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you think “How can I leverage the things I have to make a difference in people’s lives and to impact people with the love of God?”  Do you think more about worldly things or do you think more about eternal things?

 

If you did not give yourself a ten on any of the scales? Guess what?  This message is absolutely and completely for you.  Because our thoughts determine who we become.  Our life always moves in the direction of our strongest thoughts.  As a person thinks in his heart, so he becomes.

 

I believe that God inspired the Apostle Paul to write this passage, recorded in Romans 12:2.  He said, “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.”

 

This begs the question of how do I change my thoughts?

 

First, the Apostle Paul taught us in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 that “3 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. 4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”

 

If you’re a Christian, this is good news.  The weapons that we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  We have supernatural weapons. He said, “On the contrary, our weapons, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

 

The Greek word, translated as power, is the word “dunamis.”  We get the word dynamite from this word.  It’s got the explosive power of God to demolish strongholds.

 

The Greek word, translated as strongholds, is the word “ochuroma.”  And it means, very literally, a prisoner locked by deception.  In other words, think of a historical castle with a dungeon, that’s what an ochuroma is. It’s when you are locked up by the wrong and false thoughts.

 

Think about this.  What is our spiritual enemy’s greatest weapon?  Satan, he’s called the father of what?  He’s called the Father of Lies.  And so what he tries to do is to convince us of things that are not true in our thought processes, so that we can build a life on a lie, rather than on the truth.  Because when you know the truth, Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.”

 

Paul says in verse 5, “We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God.”  We destroy those things.  And what do we do?  Paul said, “We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”  I love this.  We demolish the lies and we take captive every thought, and we make it obedient to Christ.

 

So when we think about the wrong things, “I can’t make a difference. I’m no good. I’m a screw up. I’m never going to amount to anything.”  We take those thoughts captive and we’re going to make them obedient to Christ.

 

Whenever your mind says, “You’re a screw up, God can never use you.  You’re in trouble.” Think instead, “I may have messed up, but the good news is, God working in all things to bring about good to those who have love him and are called according to his purpose.  God is going to use this to conform me to the image of his son.”

 

“I can never overcome this.  I’ve been addicted for so long and I’ve tried and I’ve prayed and I can never overcome this.” That’s trash.  The truth is, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.  We are overcomers by the blood of the Lamb and by the words of our testimony.  We take the thoughts that are untrue, we capture them and we make them obedient to Christ.  We capture destructive thoughts and make them obedient to Christ.

 

Then the second thing that Paul teaches us is very simple.  We capture the wrong thoughts.  And the second thing we do is we fix our thoughts on spiritual things.  We focus on the eternal.  We see the good, we focus on spiritual things.

 

Paul, was in prison when he wrote this:  Philippians 4:8-9, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

 

We capture the lies and we focus our thoughts on that which is true.  We focus our thoughts on spiritual things. Some of us have had some very damaging things said to us, lies that we have internalized and have become our beliefs.

 

 

We allow these thoughts to play in the back of our heads like a bad DVD player that continually feeds us the same destructive messages of the past, telling us we are unworthy, inadequate, and unloved. You fill in the blank.  You know what those messages are because you’ve seen the movie too many times.

 

It doesn’t have to be that way. I’m not suggesting that it will be easy. It may require significant effort. It might even be that you need to engage the help of a counselor or therapist to aid you in this process over a significant amount of time.

 

But don’t miss the power of this.  Some of you, who are one thought away from having your life totally and completely changed, when you stop believing the lies of the evil one and start embracing the truth of our good God. Because, when you know the truth, the truth will set you free.  You fix your mind on spiritual things.

 

Now, some of you are going to say, “Well, I don’t know how to do that.  I’m not a pastor like you.  You’re a pastor.  You glow in the dark; I don’t, I’m just a regular person.”  No, the truth is that I’m just like you.

 

I’m right there with you folks. This is a battle that we all have to fight. This is how it often plays out in my life. On Sunday mornings I usually get to the church between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. so that I can go over my sermon and get myself mentally prepared to preach. If I’m being completely vulnerable with you, numerous times at about 8:00 a.m. I experience very negative thoughts. I doubt myself. I doubt what I’ve prepared to say. I doubt if I really have mastery of what I’m supposed to preach. I worry that I’ll make some sort of mistake or that I’ll do something to embarrass myself in front of you. I worry that I’ll screw up what is being filmed at 9:15 a.m. and then it will have to be played over again for everyone at LakeRidge Praise. I worry that people won’t like what I have to say and will decided to check out some other church instead. More than once in the last six months, I have had those kind of thoughts.

 

Then, at about 8:30 a.m., I come into the sanctuary for a sound check with these thoughts still bouncing around inside my head like a game of ping pong. Then, at 8:45 a.m., praise God, there is a group of people who voluntarily show up to church early so that they can pray over me before the first worship service begins. I can’t begin to tell you what that time of prayer does for me. It settles my mind. It reminds me of the Holy Spirit’s presence with me and in me. It gives me the opportunity to declare my need of God and allows me to place whatever has been taking place in his hands. Those moments are often transformational for me. Prayer functions as a mental shift away from my own thoughts or lies that Satan would want to place in my head to God’s thoughts and the truth that the Holy Spirit wants me to experience as I preach.

Prayer helps us to look for and see where God is at work. If you’re a follower of Christ, you can see God working, if you look for it.  you will find what you are looking for. You can always find what you’re looking for.

 

Take the difference between a buzzard and a humming bird.  What does a buzzard do?  A buzzard flies around looking for dead things.  Dead road kill and that’s what a buzzard will find.  What does a humming bird find?  Nectar, sweet things.  Everyday there are dead things to be found and sweet things to be found, but you will find what you are looking for.  If you look for spiritual things, you will find spiritual things.

 

How do you do that?  Let me tell you how to do it. When you wake up in the morning, set the tone of your day with something spiritual.  Everyday, instead of immediately picking up your phone and going to Facebook or Instagram, open up the Bible and let the first thing you do be to think on God’s word.  And just read a chapter, and let your mind start to drift toward spiritual things.

 

And then say a prayer, first thing in the morning.  If you have to go to the bathroom, do that first.  But then, say a prayer.  It doesn’t have to be an hour prayer, it can be, but it could be a two-minute prayer.  And it could be a prayer that simply says something like, “God, thank you for this day. I know it’s a gift from you.  My gift is to give it back to you.  Use me wherever you want.  Help me to be sensitive to Your Spirit.  God, let me see where you’re working.  Guide my words, guard my thoughts, create my actions to bring glory to you.  God, I give you permission to interrupt me all through the day.  Help me to see where you’re working and I will join you.”

 

You pray that and guess what?  You’re going to see nectar, you’re going to see good things, you’re going to see God working everywhere.

 

Then, on the way to work, or when you’re at the gym, rather than just listening to whatever regular music, listen to some spiritual Christian worship or listen to your favorite sermon message again, and it’s renewing your mind.  Then when something good happens, instead of going, “Well, dang, that was lucky,” give God credit for it, “God, you’re so good.  God, I can’t believe you blessed me in this way.”

 

And then, all of a sudden, you’re going to see god at work everywhere  When your boss chews you out, instead of you wanting to flip out, you think, “How can I pray for my boss?  I wonder what she’s going through?  How can I make a difference in her life?”  Suddenly, you’re going to see someone that’s in need and thinking, rather than saying, “Oh, I don’t have time for this.  Oh, God maybe you’re calling me to make a difference in their life.”

 

Then when God uses you, the forward spiritual momentum makes you more sensitive to where he wants to use you next.  And suddenly, you have, the power.  When your mind says something that’s untrue, that’s trash.  I’m going to focus on what is true and it’s going to transform my life.  Because, as a person thinks, so he becomes.  Your life will always move in the direction of your strongest thoughts.  Therefore, I will take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. And I’ll fix my thoughts on things that pure and lovely.