What thoughts run your life? What do you think about? Are you nursing old hurts and disappointments? Do you spend your time focused on what your spouse, your children, or others do wrong? Do you feel like youre a victim of thoughts that run rampant in your head?
Is it possible that your thoughts have a bigger impact on your life than you know? Could wrong thoughts, actually be running your life and stealing your peace and joy in the process?
Welcome to Gods Word Day by Day. I hope youll join us every day. You can sign up here. But even if you only stop by occasionally, each days devotion stands on its own. And anytime we read Gods Word, it has the potential to impact our lives.
Jeremiah 29 & 30
1 Timothy 1.1-20
Do Wrong Thoughts Run Your Life?
Thoughts & the Heart
As in water face reflects face, so a mans heart reveals the man.
The heart is mentioned 830 times in Scripture, referring to the inner man. Its who we areour mind, our will, our emotions, our intellect. Proverbs 4.23 in the New King James Version says:
Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it spring the issues of life.
The New American Standard Bible says:
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
But the New Century Version says it even plainer:
Be careful what you think, your thoughts run your life.
What are you allowing into your heart? Are you allowing wrong thoughts to simmer there? What videos are you replaying for yourself, possibly over and over, instead of thinking the way God wants you to think?
Thoughts are not harmless. What we put into our minds by reading and watching is not harmless. The thoughts and ideas we cultivate for ourselves, also, affect us. What we think about works itself out into our lives in many ways.
So first we need to guard our hearts by being careful what we put in through our eyes and ears. But we also need to be careful about the thoughts we allow to simmer as a result of the circumstances in our lives.
Can You Change Your Thoughts?
Some people think we cant change what we think about, as if, were victims of our own thoughts. Others, while they would never say so, live as if thats true.
Have you ever had this kind of conversation in your head? I know I have.
I cant believe she said that!
Whats wrong with her anyway? Why does she have a problem with me? Im so sick of it!
I should have said the next time Im going to put her in her place! Next week were NOT going over there!
Why didnt Joe stand up for me? He never does. He lets his mother walk all over me. I never do that with my mom.
He thinks his mom is such a good cook! I know how to cook, too, just because I dont cook like his mom! All I hear is that his mom needs his help. I need his help, too!
And on it goes.
The rest of the day is ruined. Youre in a bad mood and your husband doesnt have a clue what happened.
Husbands might be thinking things like:
My wife never shows me respect.
Why cant she be more like [my co-worker]. At least, she appreciates me.
Im not ready to go home to that chaos. Ill just have a beer with the guys.
Why cant she get it together and have dinner on the table when I get home? Doesnt she know how hard a work?
But, if we make it a habit to have those kinds of conversations in our heads, our attitudes will turn increasingly ugly. And before long we will find ourselves saying and doing things that damage our relationships, make us miserable, and displease God. It will, also, breed unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger. And if left unchecked, it can lead to all kinds of strained relationships.
In short, our thoughts are running our lives.Do wrong thoughts run your life? #thinking #soulsurvivalClick To Tweet
Learning to Think Gods Way
So, how can we learn to think Gods way? 2 Corinthians 10 says:
3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.4For the weapons of our warfarearenot carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,5casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
Notice what the strongholds are. Three words in verse 5 can help us understand: arguments, knowledge, and thoughts. The strongholds that must be pulled down have to do with our thoughts and beliefs. How do we cast down the thoughts, beliefs, and arguments that try to exalt themselves against Gods truth? We must take those thoughts captive by choosing to think the way God wants us to think.
Ephesians 4.22-24 tells us that we are to put-off the habits (habitual ways of thinking, speaking and acting) of the old man and put-on the habits (new habitual ways of thinking, speaking and acting) of the new man. The New Living Translation says this new man is created to be like Godtruly righteous and holy. The thoughts, words, and actions that make up our lives should be righteous and holy like Gods.
And the way to put off wrong habits is to put on or replace them with the right ones. Gods Word is full of specific examples of how to do that. Lets look at just two of them.
Fearful or Angry Thoughts
From Philippians 4:
6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever thingsarenoble, whatever thingsarejust, whatever thingsarepure, whatever thingsarelovely, whatever thingsareof good report, ifthere isany virtue and ifthere isanything praiseworthymeditate on these things.
And from Ephesians 4:
31Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.32Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
In Philippians 4.6 were told to put off anxiety (fear, worry, fretting). And in Ephesians 4.31 were instructed to put off bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, slander and all types of evil behavior.
Think about Proverbs 4.23 again, Be careful what you think, your thoughts run your life. We cant expect to indulge in fearful, angry, or bitter thoughts and somehow put-off fearful, angry or bitter words and actions. It just doesnt work, at least not for long and it, certainly, isnt pleasing to God who is always concerned about what is going on in the inner man.
Right Thoughts & Attitudes
If you look back at Philippians 4.6, youll see that were to put-off worry and anxiety and put-on prayer, supplication, and thankfulness in its place. And when were tempted to be angry, were to put-on kindness, tender-heartedness (compassion), and forgiveness.
So, we need to develop an attitude of prayer and thankfulness by going to Him each time we experience fear and worry. Then we need to remind ourselves of the blessings in our lives and to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness. That may mean taking the time to sit down and make a list of those blessings, memorizing verses like Philippians 4.6 and reminding ourselves every time were tempted to worry.
With Anger & Bitterness
When we find ourselves tempted to be angry or bitter, we need to intentionally choose to think kindly of the other person by giving them the benefit of the doubt and reminding ourselves of Gods love and mercy with us. We should cultivate compassion by putting ourselves in the other persons place and by remembering our own sin and shortcomings. And no matter what, we need to ask God to help us forgive.
So, again that means memorizing passages like Ephesians 4.31-32 and thinking about it often. When we do, our self-talk might look more like this:
I cant believe she said that!
Oh, please forgive me, Lord, I know Ive said much worse. And my thoughts toward her havent always been sweet either. Please forgive me. Give me your compassion for Joes mom.
Lord, I dont know what its like to have all your children grow up and leave home. I might be struggling, too, if I were in her place. How can I show her kindness without worrying about whether she deserves it or reciprocates?
I know Joe loves his mom and You do, too. Help me remember that You died for me while I was still a sinner, so I can be an instrument of Your grace in her life.
Sometimes I really want Joe to stand up for me, but I know hes caught in the middle. His mom does need some help right now. Help me to be understanding with Joe and to be a blessing to His mom, even when I dont feel like it.
Someone out there is probably thinking, Oh, sure, you want me to think like that about my mother-in-law?! Youre killing me!
But isnt that exactly the kind of radical change to which God has called us?
23Then He said tothemall,If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,and follow Me.24For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it (Lk. 9.23-24).
When husbands are tempted to focus on how their wives are not being respectful or taking care of things at home and wives are tempted to focus on how their husbands are not loving biblically or leading well, it helps to remember how easy it is for us to fall short in our own roles as husbands and wives. Realizing that should help us show mercy and grace to others.
Our Own Logs
We need to remind ourselves that God has first called us to take the logs out of our own eyes (Matt. 7.3-5). Then we are to pray for one another, seek to overcome evil or perceived evil with good (Rom. 12.21), and not get weary of doing good (Gal. 6.9-10).
So, lets guard our hearts by choosing not to put in filth or things that breed fear, discontent, anger, and lust. And lets deal with the thoughts that arise from our own sin nature so we can grow in holiness and become more like God. The fruit of that may very well be better marriages and relationships with our children, in-laws, and others. But our first goal should be to live lives that are pleasing to the Lord (2 Cor. 5.9) by relying on the Holy Spirits power and trusting Him with the results.Your thoughts run your life! #soulsurvivalClick To Tweet
Todays Other Readings:
Jeremiah 29 & 30:
An Incurable Affliction
Chapter 30 contains one of the most descriptive pictures of the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel, followed by Gods amazing promise. Its also a picture of our spiritual condition apart from Christ and the redemption He purchased for us at the cross. Think about each phrase as you reread it:
12 For thus says the LORD.
Your affliction is incurable,
Your wound is severe.
Apart from Christs work on our behalf, we were totally and completely incurable.
13 There is no one to plead your cause,
That you may be bound up;
You have no healing medicines.
We could not save ourselves. We could never be good enough.
14 All your lovers have forgotten you;
They do not seek you;
All the false saviors we chased after left us abandoned and feeling emptier than before.
In Faithfulness & Love
For I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy,
With the chastisement of a cruel one,
For the multitude of your iniquities,
Because your sins have increased.
In faithfulness and love, He wounded us, so we might come to the end of ourselves and cry out to Him.
15 Why do you cry about your affliction?
Your sorrow is incurable.
Because of the multitude of your iniquities,
Because your sins have increased,
I have done these things to you.
Are you crying out only to get out of the affliction or are you crying out for Him?
17 For I will restore health to you
And heal you of your wounds, says the LORD,
By His stripes, we were healed from the worst malignancythe malignancy of sin that kept us separated from God.
18 Thus says the LORD.
19 Then out of them shall proceed thanksgiving
And the voice of those who make merry;
Jesus said he who has been forgiven much loves much (Lk. 7.47). It should also make us joyful and full of thanksgiving.
I will multiply them, and they shall not diminish;
I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.
22 You shall be My people,
And I will be your God.
What a great demonstration of His faithfulness to those who will accept His gracious offer of salvation!
What Will You Choose?
The psalmist made a choice to believe and to obey Gods Word. He said, for I trust in Your word for I have hoped in Your ordinances So shall I keep Your law continually for I seek Your precepts. I will speak of Your testimonies I will delight myself in Your commandments and I will meditate on Your statutes.
We, too, have a choice whether to believe and whether or not to obey.
1 Timothy 1.1-20:
The Biggest Sinner in the World
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief (v. 15).
Here was the great apostle near the end of his life calling himself the chief of all sinners.
Earlier in his walk with God he had called himself the least of the Apostles and later, the least of all saints and now the chief of all sinners, not because he was sinning more, but because he understood more and more the holiness of God and how unworthy every one of us is to be called His sons and daughters!
How has God spoken to you today? Perhaps you saw a passage in a new light or an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? Id love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, well talk about whether our faith is genuine, Gods teaching on women and more.
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