YOU MAY THINK....
We can all struggle at times and sometimes may feel we cannot change the way we think. Yet there is hope and fortunately for us this hope it not found in self.
Our hope comes from Jesus who knows that our thinking does not change overnight. If we ask Him to help us He will teach us the right way to think through the reading of His word and the presence of the Holy Spirit. All we need to do is ask Him.
“Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Coming to Jesus
When you became a Christian you were pronounced right with God through the work of Jesus. This does not mean that we will not struggle with our thoughts and emotions at times, but does mean that we can overcome difficulty in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
The good news is that God is very much for us and therefore against anything that harms us which includes our own negativity, guilt and way we often judge ourselves or regard our lives as small and insignificant. God wants to encourage us to see and embrace the truth which is why He instructed Paul to write…
“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
It is through the help of God’s written word and presence and power of the Holy Spirit that…
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:5
If we ask God, He will help us to gain wisdom, knowledge, understanding and a sound mind which is how it is that the writer of Proverbs could say: -
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10.
The word ‘fear’ in the above verse does not speak of being scared of God; it speaks of seeing God as He really is and having respect for Him, knowing that He is our heavenly Father and the One who cares for us most.
God is our heavenly Father and perfect in every way, with Jesus speaking of our heavenly Father as being like a Father who runs out to greet a prodigal son who had got it so very wrong (Luke 15:20). The Father then places a robe on the struggling son and brings Him back to the family home.
God wants to bring us home in both heart and mind. He can help us change our thinking – not into something weird, strange or peculiar, but as a means of getting us back to our true self – without the stains, rubbish, hurt, negativity and difficulty that we so often find.
The purpose of study
In Jewish thinking the purpose of studying God’s word was to see Him as He really is. God is not a slightly better version of us, a self-help guru or someone who barks out orders with no care or concern for us. He is perfect in every way, awesomely powerful and incredibly gracious and merciful. The Bible says that “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and that love is there for each of us to embrace.
Don’t give up
You may be struggling so much that you just think, “What is the use - I might just as well give up.” Don’t. Remember that Jesus knows what you are going through. He understands what it is to feel isolated, rejected, misunderstood and vulnerable. He underwent all of this and then stood in our place as a willing sacrifice.
Jesus knows what suffering is all about and He will never give up on us. He triumphed over all darkness through the cross and rose victorious.
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
He has sent His Spirit to help us in all things (John 15:26; 2 Cor 3:17-18). Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the shepherd of the covenant agreement between you and God. He stood in your place and is the “I will never leave you nor forsake you One.” Tell God about how you really feel and about how you feel like giving up and ask Him to help you, to give you His strength to continue and to draw close to you. He is the One who said…
"I am the good shepard. The good shepard lays down his life for the sheep."
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
God’s word also says to us…
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
Sometimes it may feel as if God does not love you, yet this is not true. God’s love is a self-sacrificing love and He sent His Son so that you could find forgiveness and be reconciled to God. That’s why 1 John 4:10 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” You have been totally accepted through Jesus Christ.
The word ‘atonement,’ in the above verse, speaks of covering and is a word that we find used of the bitumen covering Noah’s ark. This covering meant that the Ark was waterproof and floated to safety. Through God’s grace and mercy we are lifted out of the mud and mire of our existence and covered in the work of Jesus. That’s why the Bible says we are clothed in Christ (Gal 3:27).
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God….”
We are never told to trust in our feelings, yet are continually told to trust in the Lord who wants to help us become our true self in Him. This is an act of amazing love. When we are in difficulty we do not always feel loved, yet this does not change the truth: God loves us.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
The Hebrew word for heart speaks of the mind, will and emotions, which are always active – like a heart that is always beating. Ask God to shape and mould your thinking – He knows what has affected you and how to bring you back to our true self. He’s not out to fix you as if you were some sort of project – he’s out to restore you to your true self. You are His son or daughter (1 John 3:1) and He knows how to help you.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Don’t feel condemned
You may feel condemned because all the old thinking keeps coming back to the surface of your mind and making you feel guilty. Yet this is a false guilt and you need to remember that the word of God says…
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them…”
2 Corinthians 5:17-18
The above verses tell us what Jesus has done for us and that we have been reconciled to God in such a way that our sins are not counted against us. Yet, you say, I still remember old ways.
When the Bible says, “The old has gone, the new has come” it does not mean that we never remember the old ways. What it means is that the power of old thinking has been replaced by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that I never think about the things that have been wrong in my lives; the verse is not about this at all. So what does it mean? It means that although all manner of bad memories may come to the surface of my mind from time to time, we are no longer condemned. I may feel uncomfortable but I am not condemned – I am totally forgiven through the work of Jesus Christ. Therefore the only power that old thinking has is the power that I give it. God does not want me to rule my life with my thinking. He wants us to know the truth about our position and standing in Him.
You may think…
You may think that you are useless and inferior yet this is not true. If another Christian led one thousand souls to Jesus yesterday, whilst you struggled to do anything good, the truth remains the same: both of you can only approach God through what He has done and not good works. We are not to trust in self and are to approach the throne of grace with confidence.
Approaching with confidence
The reason you can approach the throne of grace with confidence (Heb 4:16) is because it is a throne of grace and because your confidence is not in good works (Eph 2:8-10) but in Jesus (John 3:16). There are no second-class citizens in God’s kingdom and you are totally accepted through Christ. Stop measuring yourself by the standards of others or your own feelings and start accepting how God views you.
“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen.
You may be someone who feels anxious all the time, yet there is hope and God’s word says…
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7
The word ‘cast’ that Peter uses in the above verse speaks of throwing something with all our strength. Mentally we are called to take hold of all that bothers us and hand it over to God knowing that He will not turn away from us and that He is always willing to help us.
A truly strong person is one who slows down, sits down and talks to God about how they really feel – because it opens their lives to receiving His strength and power. Tell Him what you struggle with and hand it over to Jesus. Ask Him to touch your heart with the power of His Spirit and give you confidence to move forward in Him. He will never leave you nor forsake you. You are important and He knows you very well – He even knows the number of hairs on your head (Mat 10:30; Luke 12:7).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:6-7
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”
We all have choices to make each day and one of the main choices is going to be to choose to hand our lives over to Him day by day rather than live on our own emotional roller-coaster. God loves us, has accepted our lives through Jesus Christ and indwells us by the Holy Spirit. Our part is to actively choose to open our lives to Him moment by moment and benefit from all that He has done. Be encouraged.
Written and produced by Pastor Jem 2016