|"Finally, brothers (sisters), whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things...and the God of peace will be with you."|
|Do you want to live with hope, peace and joy? Do you want to have pure, kind and positive thoughts? Be a loving, good person? Do you want to be the master of your behavior, rather than it mastering you? Then listen to what God says on how to do it...change your thoughts.
Like a tiny rudder that can direct the course of the largest ship, our thoughts can control our beliefs, emotions, attitudes and behavior, and ultimately our whole life. In other words if you can change your thoughts, you can change your life! It works like this:
Your thoughts (whether negative or positive) lead to beliefs;
Your beliefs (whether based on truth or a lie) determine your feelings
Your feelings (about something, someone or yourself) produces your attitude
Your attitude (your judgements and opinions) controls your behavior
And your behavior becomes your life!
So if our thoughts are so important, how should we think? This verse in Philippians 4:8,9 tells us how...by thinking about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable.
It sounds so easy, right? But doing it can be hard. I know. Sometimes thoughts crash in on us like a wave on the shore; by surprise, intrusive and with greater force than we know how to handle. Critical thoughts, impure thoughts, angry thoughts, unkind thoughts, proud thoughts, jealous thoughts, and on and on the list goes. It can be exhausting and overwhelming just trying to manage all our thoughts and emotions, never-mind controlling them.
Mastering our thought life is like being in a battle, God says. There is a war going on for control of your mind. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have. Even when I'm trying to think the right things the wrong thoughts overpower me.
Imagine your mind as a room with four walls where your thoughts live. In the room is a door that opens to allow thoughts to enter or stays shut to keep them out. We can open or shut the door whenever we want. We're in control of the door. But in the door is a tiny viewing window (like a peep hole) that allows us to see who's knocking on the door before we let them in. Too often we open wide the door and let thoughts rush in and then it's hard to get them to leave. And as we begin dwelling on that thought it starts to affect our beliefs, attitudes and behavior. But if we were to preview the thought through our viewing window first, we'd know if they were good thoughts or negative thoughts; whether to let them in or shut them out.
God shares the secret to winning control of our minds in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
The secret weapon God gives us is to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. When I first read this verse, it sounded too simple. Could I really stop thinking impure and negative thoughts by just 'taking them captive'? Maybe you're wondering the same thing. But when I tried it, I discovered that God's Word is powerful.
Let me give you an example. One day a colleague said something unkind to me. It made me angry and hurt. I was tempted to start thinking about all the mean things I could say back to him. But instead I prayed, "Lord I take this angry thought captive and I give it to you. Please replace my thoughts with your thoughts of truth." He began to show me how my friend had misunderstood something I had said to him which had led him to say something unkind to me. He still shouldn't have said it, but now instead of feeling angry, I felt sorry for how I'd hurt him.
Right away, everything changed; my thoughts, my feelings, my attitude and what I did next. Rather than being resentful and saying something unkind, I went to him and apologized for what I'd said. And how do you think he responded? He immediately apologized for what he said. The situation was resolved without hurting or losing a friend...but it could have resulted in a different outcome if I hadn't taken the thought captive.
I've discovered that when I am obedient to 'take my thoughts captive' and give God control of my thoughts, I have victory in my life. The enemy wants us to think thoughts that will lead to actions that will destroy our lives and relationships. But God wants us to make choices that lead to a life of abundance and blessing.
It may sound simple, too good to be true. But trust me, even more, trust God that His ways are the best, and when we follow His plan, it releases His power into our lives to accomplish more than we could possibly imagine.