Stinking Thinking

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 NIV

“Just think positive thoughts,” some say. “Just say no,” others. If it were only that easy. Would you believe these are setups for failure? Why? Because they teach people to trust in themselves, in their own abilities, and not in God’s Almighty power.

“He who trusts confidently in his own heart is a [dull, thickheaded] fool, But he who walks in [skillful and godly] wisdom will be rescued.” Proverbs 28:26 AMP

Human will at best is weak. But there is an all surpassing power that can be found only in God.

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12‭-‬13 NLT

Paul learned that God’s power could enable him to do anything. God taught him how to go through hard times and good times without losing it, and remaining content. Paul learned to stop trusting in his thinking. We must learn the same. Too often our thoughts and feelings trick us. (Jeremiah 17:9) And we forget that demons have the power to suggest wrong ideas to our minds. (Matthew 4:1-11) Whether we listen to them or not is a different matter. But this can get very tricky. Sometimes we don’t even know that unseen wicked forces are influencing us. (Ephesians 6:10-12) We think how we’re feeling at times is due to just our own emotions. That’s not always so. We need to really be on guard regarding our moods, feelings, and thoughts. To simply, “follow your heart,” as they say isn’t wise. We could be going down a wrong path that we’ve been tricked into believing is right.

“The heart is deceitful above all things And it is extremely sick; Who can understand it fully and know its secret motives?” Jeremiah 17:9 AMP

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12 NIV

SOMETHING BETTER THAN A PILL

Sometimes we feel all types of funky ways that we can’t explain. Trusting in God’s thinking and not our emotions is the only way to win. Let’s illustrate how this can be done. Recently a friend of mines was feeling a little down. We all get that way at times. Anybody who says they never do is so deep into fantasy land or they’re just lying to you. But anyway, I made a suggestion to my friend that I know will work for anyone who loves God. I asked her to identify how she was feeling in one phrase or word, then take her Bible concordance and look up that phrase or word, then read and meditate on the scriptures given. I told her to pray to God before reading anything; asking Him to lead her to what He wants her to see and for understanding of His word. Then I guaranteed her if she did this she would feel better. She said she would do it. I called her back an hour later and sure enough she was feeling much better; laughing and giggling as she confidently spoke about God’s promises to help with her situation. She was already helped because her mood had totally changed. I knew this would work for her because I know she loves God. She was just hurting at the moment from enduring many trials, something that happens to all of us. (2 Corinthians 4:8) But when she focussed on God’s word the Holy Spirit comforted her (John 14:15-17), and she immediately felt better. When we study God’s word we are shifting our minds off of how big our problems are, and focusing on how big our great God is! There is no problem He can’t handle or teach us how to cope with. Doing personal Bible study runs away all stinking thinking.

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Joined

“Meanwhile, Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran. At sundown he arrived at a good place to set up camp and stopped there for the night. Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” Genesis 28:10‭-‬16 NLT

“Then he [Jesus] said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” John 1:51 NLT

God lives in heaven. Yet He walked in the Garden Of Eden on earth. Adam and Eve could hear his footsteps:

“When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees.” Genesis 3:8 NLT

After Adam and Eve’s fall fear became a part of their reality. They heard the footsteps of God walking in the Garden and hid themselves from Him. It is impossible for sinful humans to stand in the presence of the Lord. But if sin is removed there is no guilt, judgment, or fear. Then one can have communion with God. (Isaiah 6:1-13) This is how it was before the fall in the Garden, and how it will be for all mankind again after Christ’s thousand year reign when all things are made new. God himself will be joined with people. He will not only walk among them, he will even live with them:

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1‭-‬5 NIV

Wow! What a glorious future for mankind! The only thing that separates unrepentant man from God is sin. Not the different worlds we live in. As Revelation shows God and all mankind will be united again. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. All things will be made new. There will be no more death, crying, pain, mourning, etcetera, because there will be no more sin. All these undesirables are the effects of sin.

THE LAMB

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 NLT

Jesus did just that. He removed the barrier between us and God, opening the way to heaven:

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 NLT

As stated in John 1:51, Jesus is the stairway that links heaven and earth together. He is the stairway (or ladder) that Jacob saw in his dream connecting heaven and earth. Had it not been for the Lamb (Jesus) removing sin, no one could have a relationship with God. He literally bore our sins on himself:

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

Jesus; the only man who never sinned, was the perfect, unblemished, sacrifice to God for our sins. Just as one man (Adam) sinned and got us into this mess (Romans 5:12), the second Adam (Jesus) who never sinned and didn’t fall for Satan’s lies like the first man (Matthew 4:1-11), got us out of great trouble. The first man sold us all as slaves to sin. The second man (Jesus) redeemed us back to God, saving us from sin and eternal death. We who believe are even now joined to God through our faith in Jesus Christ.

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Romans 10:9‭-‬10 NLT

Believers in Jesus share the most intimate relationship with God. (John 14:6) They have been redeemed and made right with Him already. Jesus is the stairway that joins heaven and earth, God and mankind.

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:14‭-‬16 NLT

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The Power Of Understanding

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; Yea, with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7 ASV

When I first became a believer God gave me a mentor. His name was Phillip. He told me many great things. Things that I couldn’t understand at the time. But everything Phillip said has come true. One of the things he explained to me is that everything (I mean EVERYTHING) in this world is imbued with sorcery. Little did I know how right he was.

“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19 NIV

In light of 1 John 5:19 what Phillip said shouldn’t be impossible to believe. Magic arts permeate everything in our society and is listed in God’s word as one of the works of the flesh. (Galatians 5:19-21 Revelation 21:8) In fact witchcraft is mentioned throughout scripture as one of the religious practices of God’s enemies. So why all the talk about the dark side? I believe had Phillip not explained to me what he did, I would have been ill prepared for what I was about to face. Phillip was prepping me for spiritual warfare. Decades later it all now makes a lot of sense. I thank God for Philip and the understanding God used him to give me. He played an important part in my life.

“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.” Proverbs 14:29 NLT

When you do not understand why something unpleasant is happening it is easy to become upset by it, and come undone. Haven’t you heard people say in the heat of anger, “I don’t understand why such and such and such a such …..?” We hear it all the time. It’s our human nature to become angry when we don’t know why something is going on. So if God gives us a heads up; knowledge in advance about a situation, wouldn’t that make it easier to handle? We’re not blindsided. We saw it coming. Basically, the experience does not cause us to lose our faith. It actually helps build our faith. Jesus said:

“I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.” John 14:29 NLT

“I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. This is because they have never known the Father or me. Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning.” John 16:1‭-‬4 NLT

Understanding helps us with self-control, a fruit of God’s Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) Understanding enables us to go through anything successfully. Everything from minor annoyances, to severe persecution. We are not defeated by anger, disappointments, depression, or the fear of death. (Revelation 12:11) Your understanding and application of the knowledge of God makes you powerful. See why God said, “With all thy getting get understanding?”

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We Are Pilgrims

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” HEB 11:13‭-‬16 ESV

How often we feel like we’re wandering through the wilderness of earth? Sometimes we forget that we are pilgrims. We are passing through this plane to another place, a better one. I once heard it said, “When you pitch your tent don’t drive your pegs too deep into the earth. You don’t know when you’ll have to suddenly up and leave.” Basically don’t get too comfortable and attached to anything here. Don’t set your heart on it. “Here,” is not your destiny. (1 Corinthians 7:29-31) 

If we keep our faith we will one day reach the end of this journey and say, “What a ride!” There are great things we never would have learned had we not traveled through earth. God in His divine wisdom planned it this way. He knows what He is doing. 

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” Psalms 37:23‭-‬24 KJV

All men steps are ordered by the Lord, so especially are the steps of a good man or woman. (Proverbs 16:9) That doesn’t mean that we are robots. God created us with free will. On this journey we choose daily (throughout the day) which road to take. Jesus says to choose the one least traveled:

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” Matthew 7:13‭-‬14 NLT

If your way is difficult because you’ve entered the narrow gateway be encouraged, you’re on the right road. Isn’t that what we want to know; that we’re traveling the right way? Jesus says if you have difficulties in this life because you follow him you’re definitely going the right way. Stay on course. (Luke 9:23-25) The way to life is difficult. But a life of ease and self indulgence means death:

“And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’    “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’    “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16‭-‬21 NIV

Doesn’t this man’s life retirement plan sound familiar? Some today call it, “The American Dream.” There is truly nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10) The highway to hell can look very appealing. It’s wide, it has many lanes on it. You can get where you wonna go faster, so it seems. That road is a trap. It leads only to destruction (hell). And many travel that way. We’re much better off on our slower, one lane, dirt road, filled with potholes. Our automobile will break down by the end of the trip, but this road leads to eternal life. Who cares about the bumps in the road along the way, as long as we reach our destination? And that old car; our body, we can’t take it with us where we’re going anyway. Besides, we will get new bodies:

“He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” Philippians 3:21 NLT

We will be given new bodies just like Jesus’ own glorious body. Wow! We will live forever in our city, our country, the New Jerusalem. We will be with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the angels, and all of our brothers and sisters who were sojourners on earth just like us, forever. That’s our destination. That is our family. That is our home. Getting a little homesick? Just hold on. In a little while we will all be there. 

“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” Philippians 3:20‭-‬21 NLT

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