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Norman Vincent Peale wrote a popular book years ago entitled The Power of Positive Thinking. It has been years since I read the book. While I basically agree that positive thinking is a good thing, there is a better approach to life. Positive thinking is a beginning point, but to think the thoughts of Christ is far better. Those who practice thinking the thoughts of God will be positive most of the time, but not always. However, those whose thought life is laced with the words of Scripture will find that God will be with them always. Today we examine how Christians should think about certain important issues. The thoughts that run through our minds are important. The Bible, psychologists and common sense tell us that we are what we think. All our words and deeds are preceded by our thoughts. Before you buy a car you think about what you want and what you can afford. Before you head to church there is a though in your mind that church is important. Before you openly confess your faith in Christ, there is the thought, "I do believe in Him." The person who commits adultery first has lustful thoughts in the mind. The point is this. Whatever words we speak or behaviors we perform, there are thoughts, ideas, beliefs that precede our words and deeds. We are what we think, so it is very important that we practice godly thinking. If our minds are full of the "wisdom" that is present in our secular society, we will speak and act accordingly. As we fill our minds with the Word of God, and then base our words and deeds on that divine Word, we discover the power present in godly thinking. RIGHT THINKING ABOUT CHRIST'S POWER: We begin our reflections on godly thinking with Philippians 4:13. There we find a powerful, life changing thought: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." The words go beyond positive thinking. Positive thinking says, "I can do it if I believe in myself" Christian thinking says, "I can do it with Christ's help." In the context, Paul was recounting his various experiences as a Christian. He had known plenty, and want. He had been well fed, but had also known hunger. There were days when the grace of God caused him to abound, but there were days when his trials dragged him down. Then comes the profound truth, "I can do or endure whatever life throws at me because I trust in Jesus." When we think like that, whatever life brings our way, we can handle it, not because we are positive thinkers, but because we are Christian thinkers. The essence of Christian thinking is to think that with Christ's help all things are possible. Philippians 4:13 should be a required memory verse for all Christians. If the words, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" are deeply imbedded in our minds, we are ready for anything life throws our way.


Page 1 of 4 Warsaw Christian Church (7/17/11) Richard Bowman, Pastor

The Power of Godly Thinking

Page 2 of 4 RIGHT THINKING ABOUT SIN: Romans 2:3 tells us to think right about sin. It reads, "And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?" I don't believe thinking about sin comes under the heading of positive thinking. One popular TV preacher refuses to preach about sin because it is negative. According to Paul, we better think about the word "sin." Paul's point is clear. Do not think that somehow you can disobey God with impunity. Sometimes we are very hard on others and their sins, but lenient with ourselves. Paul wants us to think clearly about sin, especially our own. I have the feeling that there are those in our society, and even in the church, who believe that when their loved ones die they will go to heaven, regardless of what they believed and how they lived. Psychologically, that is understandable. It is too awful a thought to believe that any of our loved ones will be damned. We hope the best for all those who perish, but we need to think clearly about this issue. God assures us there will be a judgment, and if you think it will not impact your life or that of your loved ones you are sadly mistaken. Either you are trusting in Jesus Christ to bear your judgment, or you must bear it alone. If you chose the latter, you will spend eternity in hell. That may not be positive thinking, but it is Christian thinking. Make very certain this issue is settled in your mind. Wrong thinking about sin has eternal consequences. RIGHT THINKING ABOUT THE BIBLE: This leads me to John 5:39 where we are admonished to think right about Scripture. The verse reads, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me." Jesus cautions us not to think that because we know a bit about the Bible, or even a lot about the Bible, that we have a free pass to heaven. The Scriptures are full of wisdom on many topics. They teach about psychology, about finances, about history, about family, about the future, about many subjects. However, they have one overriding purpose, and that is to lead the reader to personal faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible, as a book, has no power to save anyone. Only Jesus Christ can save. Make sure as you study God's word that you discover Jesus. Here is a prime example of where positive thinking comes up short. As valuable as positive thinking is, it will not take you to heaven. Only thinking the right thoughts about Jesus can accomplish that. Yes, the Bible covers a variety of subjects, and we are blessed as we study the Bible. We dare not overlook the Bible's main purpose, however, and that is to testify about Jesus, the Son of God. When our hearts are broken because of our sins and we turn to Jesus Christ with true faith, the Bible has accomplished its main purpose. We do need to think properly about the sacred Scriptures. Once the Scriptures have led us to Christ, they have lots of useful, practical advice on living life in a way that honors God. For one The Power of Godly Thinking

Page 3 of 4 thing, we must not think we are wiser than what is written. That problem plagued me for several years. I decided what was valuable in Scripture, and what could be ignored. As a result, I was cut off from a living relationship with God. Paul put it like this: "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37). Spiritual people recognize that what is written in Scripture is the very Word of God. Paul also added this caution about Scripture, warning us "that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other" (1 Cor. 4:6). Harold Camping needs to read this verse. His prediction that the world would end on May 21, now revised to October 21, went beyond what is written. The Bible does not reveal when the end will come. We are cautioned not to think beyond what is written. RIGHT THINKING ABOUT OURSELVES: The Bible stresses repeatedly that when we think about ourselves, humility should be the main thought. In Philippians 3:5-8 we read that great passage where we are told to think like Jesus. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." If anyone ever had the right to be egotistical, it was Jesus. He was God incarnate. Yet during His earthly life He made Himself of no reputation. He did not demand that everyone bow to His divine prerogatives. He took the form of a slave, humbling Himself even to the point of accepting death on the cross. Let us not miss the point. Paul says, LET THIS MIND BE IN YOU WHICH WAS IN CHRIST JESUS. Jesus, who had every reason to be filled with pride, humbled Himself. We, who have every reason to be humble, can so easily fall into pride. Paul adds this thought. "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Romans 12:3). In other words, when you think about yours truly, do not set your thoughts too high. Elsewhere Paul suggests that we think of others more highly than ourselves. Do not place yourself on a pedestal and expect others to acknowledge your superiority. Jesus did not do that, and neither should we. Humility is one of the marks of Christian thinking. RIGHT THINKING ABOUT PRAYER: Next, we consider how we are to think about our prayer life. Ephesians 3:20 gives a wonderful promise in regard to prayer. "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us..." Whatever you think God can do in answer to your prayers, He can do exceedingly abundantly above the limits of what we think. Do you keep that verse in mind as The Power of Godly Thinking

Page 4 of 4 you pray? God is not weak. God is not incompetent. God is not uncaring. Think about what you want God to do in your life. If your thoughts are in harmony with His will, then multiple your thoughts by 1000. Our God is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond what we ask or think. Don't limit God by your puny thoughts. Whatever you think God can do, He can do so much more. Positive thinking says, "If I just believe that what I want will happen, it will. There is power in positive thinking." Christian thinking is different. Christians think like this: "If I entrust this matter to God, and if I am in harmony with His will, He will not only grant my request, but He will bless me way beyond what I had anticipated." RIGHT THINKING ABOJUT TRIALS: Let us look at one final example of how Christians are to think. There are those who tell us that if we think positively we can ward off bad things from coming our way. Even some Christians have the notion that if we just have enough faith nothing bad will come our way. In contrast, listen to the Apostle Peter. "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you" (1 Peter 4:12). Are you going through a trial? Do not think that is strange. Do not think God has forsaken you. Christians go through trials along with the rest of humanity. God is with us in the trial, but He does not always keep our lives free from difficulties. Peter tells us that God allows trials to come to test the genuineness of our faith. We need to think of this present world as a proving ground. The prize for Christians is not a trouble free life, but an eternity in heaven. There may be power in positive thinking, but there is greater power in Christian thinking. As we allow God's Word to shape our thinking we will grow by leaps and bounds in our understanding of God. We will be able remain faithful amid the storms and uncertainties of this life. I close with these words from Paul. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16). When our thoughts are in tune with the word of Christ, the result will be a victorious Christian life, filled with praise and song unto our Lord. I encourage you to think positive, but to go beyond that and think godly thoughts. Thinking the thoughts of Christ will take you far beyond positive thinking. It will finally take you to the glories and beauty of eternity.

The Power of Godly Thinking


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