IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: THINKING AND SAYING THE RIGHT THINGS MAKE RIGHT THINGS HAPPEN TO US!
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”
- Psalm 19:14
There is a strong connection between what’s in our hearts and the words that we speak. I believe the two go hand and hand. It seems we should examine our hearts more closely on a regular basis. The issues we have never arise when things are going well. But when things are challenging or difficult is when we find out what is secretly hiding in those places of our heart that affect what we speak or how we react in spite of them. I know for my self that how I react in times of adversity is a clear indication of the state of my heart. I have one of two reactions in those moments. 1.) Peace that I can overcome and trust in Gods provision. 2.) Angst which fills my mind with doubt and causes me to react or speak negatively. I realize in those times the truth of what lies beyond the surface. It gives credence to the terms “when the rubber meets the road” and also “you find out what you’re made of. In those moments we must choose to deal with what’s been made clear to us otherwise we risk allowing ourselves to be misled and can cause a stumbling block to our growth in our walk with God.
How do we think “Christianly”? It doesn’t involve thinking exclusively about Christian products, teaches Alistair Begg. Instead, it means learning to think about everything from a perspective that is constrained by the revealed truth of God’s Word. In a world that asserts, “What’s true for you may not be true for me,” we must train our minds through habitual focus on God’s revelation of Himself through His creation and His Word.
Almost a generation ago, when the computer revolution had just begun, the pioneers in the field coined a brand-new word. In those days not many people knew how to operate a computer and those who did made many mistakes. Sometimes the neophyte experts entered the wrong data only to discover a universal truth: If the raw data is bad, the computer can’t do anything good with it. What you put into a computer determines what comes out. If you put the right data in, the right answers come out. The reverse is also true.
In order to express that truth, a new word was coined. It describes in four letters both the cause and consequences of putting the wrong data into the computer. Most computer buffs know what word I’m talking about. The word is GIGO. It stands for Garbage In, Garbage Out. Those four letters summarize a huge truth about computers: What you put in determines what you get out. If your input is garbage, guess what your output will be? Garbage.
What you put into your mind determines what you get out.
What is true of computers is also true of the human mind. That comparison is apt because the human mind has often been compared to a computer. In fact, the human mind is far more complex than the most advanced computer ever designed. But the basic principle of GIGO is still true: Garbage In, Garbage Out.
10,000 Thoughts A Day
Did you know that the average person has 10,000 separate thoughts each day? That works out to be 3.5 million thoughts a year.
If you live to be 75, you will have over 26 million different thoughts.
Already most of you have had over 2,000 separate thoughts since you got out of bed this morning. You’ll probably have another 8,000 before you hit the sack tonight. Then you’ll start all over again tomorrow.
Every one of those 10,000 thoughts represents a choice you make, a decision to think about this, and not about that. Suppose someone gave you $10,000 this morning and said, “Spend it any way you like as long as you spend it all before you go to bed tonight.” You’d be careful how you spent it, wouldn’t you? I’ll bet you’d sit down and take inventory of what you could do with that much money.
How sad that we devote so much time to how we spend our money and so little time to how we spend our thoughts. How sad that one seems so important and the other so trivial.
But are your thoughts really so unimportant? Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Beware of what you set your mind on because that you surely will become.” Norman Vincent Peale said, “Change your thoughts and you change the world.” Henry Ford gave that truth a different spin when he declared, “Thinking is the hardest work in the world, which is probably why so few people engage in it.” Then I ran across this perceptive comment by Betty Sachelli: “Two thoughts cannot occupy the mind at the same time, so the choice is ours whether or not our thoughts will be constructive or destructive.”
Change your thoughts and you change the world.
My whole sermon is in these four words: “The choice is ours.” God gave you 10,000 thoughts today, but it’s up to you what you do with them.
How’s your thought life, Christian?
- Four Kinds of Negative Thinking
So many people struggle with negative thinking. Negative thoughts poison the mind, and ultimately the soul. Here are four common examples of negative thinking:
We all fall into this trap sooner or later. Life is hard for all of us. As the saying goes, into each life some rain must fall. It’s easy to think that somehow we’ve been dealt an unfair hand, that while our neighbor is basking in sunshine, we’re living in a perpetual downpour. This self-pitying person says, “You don’t know what I’m going through” or “You try living with this 24 hours a day and see how happy you are.”
This is the other extreme. Blaming is an attempt to find a scapegoat for your problems. You can’t face life on your own, so you find another person who seems to be the source of your problems. It might be your husband or your wife, it could be your children or your parents. It often is a friend, a neighbor, or your boss or someone at church. Blaming is dangerous because it leads to perpetual victimhood.
- Unwillingness to Change
This more or less follows from the first two categories. Once you immerse yourself in self-pity and once you discover that you are a victim, the logical conclusion is that you can’t or won’t change. Unfortunately, this type of negative thinking tends to reinforce itself. Since you can’t change, then your behavior can’t be your own fault. So you never have to face it honestly. This person says, “It’s no use trying. I’ll never change” and “I have every right to be hurt and I’m not going to give it up” or “I know it’s wrong but I’m not going to stop” or “God made me this way so it’s not my fault.”
- Anger and Bitterness
Usually this is the logical outcome. Once you begin to pity yourself, you become a victim. But victims can’t be blamed, right? Therefore you refuse to face the possibility that you yourself are the source of your own problems. When others suggest otherwise, you get angry, defensive and bitter. You remember every miserable thing ever done to you or against you. You stew in your juices over the slightest negative remark made by others. You bristle at any notion that your life could be different. You hold grudges—even though you say you don’t. You glare and turn your head when you see your enemy coming toward you. You shut them out cold.
Your thoughts matter! Negative thinking leads to negative living.
- The Benefits of Positive Thinking
But that’s not the only option. Our text reveals another possibility. Years ago Dr. Norman Vincent Peale wrote a best-seller entitled The Power of Positive Thinking. But he wasn’t the first positive thinker. That honor should go to the Apostle Paul. At the end of his letter to the Philippians, he gives a prescription for positive thinking that if followed has the power to transform your life. Listen to his practical advice in Philippians 4:8.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
This verse gives us eight questions to ask about our thoughts. Before you think and before you speak, ask these six questions.
- Is it true? “Whatever is true.” Truth is the first test. Knox translates this as “all that rings true.” Before you open your mouth, are you speaking the truth? Do your words have the “ring of truth” about them? This question rules out all that is dishonest, untrue and unreliable.
- Is it noble? “Whatever is noble.” The word means “honorable, worthy of reverence.” It refers to that which is majestic and awe-inspiring. One person translated it as “noble seriousness.” This word is used in another place to describe the proper qualities of an elder. Is your thought life honorable? Do you ponder things that are noble and of serious purpose? Or do you dwell on the frivolous and trivial?
- Is it right? “Whatever is right.” This means “in conformity to God’s standards.” Not, “Is it right in my eyes?” or “Is it right in the eyes of others?” but “Is it right in God’s eyes?” If your thoughts were broadcast for the world to hear, would you be ashamed and embarrassed? If others knew what you were thinking, what would they think of you?
If your thoughts were broadcast for the world to hear, would you be embarrassed?
- Is it pure? “Whatever is pure.” The word means “undefiled, chaste, clean, holy.” It touches the whole area of moral purity. Is your thought-life clean? We used to say, “Get your mind out of the gutter.” If you live in the gutter, don’t be surprised that your mind is covered with slime.
- Is it lovely? “Whatever is lovely.” This word is used only here in the New Testament. It literally means “love towards.” It has the idea of attracting loveliness as a magnet attracts iron filings. One person translates it as “those things that grace attracts.” Do your thoughts automatically attach themselves to that which is beautiful and lovely? A thought may be true and even right but still not be lovely. Here’s a simple rule: If it’s not lovely, if it doesn’t make you lovely, don’t say it, don’t think it, don’t do it, don’t dwell on it, and don’t repeat it!
- Is it admirable? “Whatever is admirable.” That is, is it worthy of study and contemplation? Or is it cheap and tawdry? This question asks us to focus on the things that are positive not negative, constructive not destructive, things that build up not the things that tear down. This means editing your words so that you simply delete the non-admirable things from your vocabulary.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
Inasmuch as the heart is the most important part of man—for out of it are the issues of life—it would be natural to expect that Satan, when he intended to do mischief to manhood, would be sure to make his strongest and most perpetual attacks upon the heart. What we might have guessed in wisdom, is certainly true in experience; for although Satan will tempt and try us in every way, though every gate of the town of Mansoul may be battered, though, against every part of the walls thereof he will be sure to bring out his great guns, yet the place against which he levels his deadliest malice, and his most furious strength, is the heart. Into the heart, already of itself evil enough, he thrusts the seeds of every evil thing, and doth his utmost to make it a den of unclean birds, a garden of poisonous trees, a river flowing with destructive water. Hence, again, arises the second necessity that we should be doubly cautious in keeping the heart with all diligence; for if, on the one hand, it be the most important, and, on the other hand, Satan, knowing this, makes his most furious and determined attacks against it, then, with double force the exhortation comes, “Keep thy heart with all diligence.” And the promise also becomes doubly sweet, from the very fact of the double danger—the promise which says, “The peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
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