You May Think...
A statement of encouragement from a friend.
We all struggle at times and some of us 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. He knows that our thinking does not change overnight and is there to help us. If we ask Him to help us He will teach us the right way to think through the reading of His word and the help of the Holy Spirit. All we need to do is ask Him. When Peter wrote to those who were going through difficulty he encouraged them to think about God and how God is so willing to help us change for the better.
“Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.”
2 Peter 3:1
When you became a Christian you were pronounced right with God through the work of Jesus, but everyone still struggles with wrong thinking. 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 the way we often judge ourselves. God wants to encourage us and this is why Paul could 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. That is why the writer of proverbs could say: -
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
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. Jesus speaks of the 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 placed a robe on the struggling son and brought Him back to the family home.
God wants to bring us home. 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.
In Jewish thinking the purpose of studying God’s word was to see God as He really is. He is not a slightly better version of us, a self-help guru or someone who barks out orders with no care or concern for any of 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 if we are willing to embrace it.
You may be struggling so much that you just think, “What is the use? I might just as well give up.” Remember that Jesus know what you are going through. He understands what it is to feel isolated, rejected, misunderstood and vulnerable. He went through this because He willingly stood in our place. He knows what suffering is all about and has never given up on us. He triumphed over all darkness through the cross and rose victorious. 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.
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
“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.”
You may think that 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.”
The word ‘atonement,’ in the above verse, speaks of covering and is a word that we find used of covering Noah’s ark with bitumen. 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 us and how to bring us back to our true self. You are His son or daughter (1 John 3:1) and He knows how to help you.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
You may think that you are condemned because all the old thinking keeps coming back to the surface and making you feel guilty, but this is a false guilt. Remember the Bible 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.
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 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.
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 to be in good works (Eph 2:8-10) but in Jesus (John 3:16). There are no second-class citizens in God’s kingdom and we 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. Think about the disciple Peter who must have felt incredibly anxious at times, especially when he ended up denying Jesus and struggling with a whole host of emotions ranging from guilt to self-condemnation. Yet at a later stage in his life Peter writes:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7
The word ‘cast’ that Peter uses speaks of throwing with all our strength. Sit down, slow down and talk to God about how you really feel – about what troubles you and makes you struggle. 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 every hair 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.”
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”
Whether we like it or not, we all have a choice to make. Are we going to live by our emotions and what we think about self or are we going to talk to God and
accept what He says about our lives? At times it may be very hard to make decisions, but we should be encouraged: He will help us if we ask Him.