What do You do With Your Thoughts?

It happens all the time. In church. When you’re trying to have a conversation with God. You were really exploring some deep topics, and learning about God. And then They walked in. Distracted you. Led you astray. Totally entrapped you. It’s called “The Scourge of the Unhelpful Thoughts.”  Whether those thoughts were about your blog, your work, your studies, or your weekly meal plan, they shouldn’t be there. So you need to get rid of them. Fast.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But how can that be accomplished? Exactly what do we need to do? Often, I find myself just ignoring them, and quickly getting back to what I was supposed to be thinking about. The problem is, they come back. Fast. So you re-focus, and get going again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.grass.thoughts.2

I think that the way we deal with unwanted thoughts can’t just be fast. It has to be deep. Instead of pushing my Unhelpful Thoughts away, instead of packing them up, instead of filing them away, I send them away.

I think of my thoughts as a little airport, complete with airplanes, baggage trolleys, and hangars. All my thoughts are there, being moved around, and used as necessary. Here is the important point which I would like you to consider.

Every thought which lands can either be sent straight away, or it can be utilized.

Our heads are full of thoughts we’ve thought over the years. And not all of them are useful. So next time you remember something, or a new thought comes flying down,  take a moment to deal with it. Reflect on its usefulness in serving God. Then, send it away or keep it.

This way, your thoughts can be pure and honouring to God as you serve Him.

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Obedience is Only Instant

tea towelsImagine your mum comes into your room, and says “Go hang out the washing”. Do you:
Say “Sure, Mum, I’d be glad to,” put a marker in to your book, and head to the laundry?
Say “Yes Mum,” finish your chapter, and go along out?
Say “Mmhmm”, read for 15 minutes, and then climb out the window and sneak round the house so she doesn’t see you?
Well, I’m sure you realize that only the first scenario is the right one. And it makes no difference who gave you the instruction, what it was, or what you were doing. If you don’t obey instantly, you’re not real obeying at all. And this doesn’t just apply to legal minors. This is true for all of us, no matter who we’re supposed to be obeying.
Imagine that your instructor instructs you, and then hangs round staring at you until the task has been carried out. It would be irritating in the extreme, but you would definitely get onto the job much sooner, and perhaps even do a better job, knowing that you were being watched.
I’ve just realized that God is always watching. He sees every time you sit around, slack, take too much break time, or carry out your chore with a sullen attitude or rebellious heart. God sees. And he cares.
Look up these verses, in context, to more fully understand this important truth. John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Acts 5:32 “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Romans 2:8 “but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.” Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

An instant response to the initial prompting of the Holy Spirit, or to the commands of another authority, is true self-control. Look up 2 Peter 1 and  Galatians 5:22-23 on the subject.

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 We don’t serve God because we have to. We are freed from Satan. Serving is our privilege, and it is our work of thankfulness to God for our freedom from slavery to Satan. Put aside your pride, and become an obedient servant of God, and all the authorities He’s placed over you. And do it with Joy!

Casting Our Cares on Him

file0001010718196One night I lay on my bed, with all the weight of this world‘s cares, frustrations, and worries lying heavily on my shoulders. As well as this life’s usual problems, I had a couple of larger issues to deal with.

But something changed-

I remembered “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”, a verse in 1 Peter 5. And instantly they were gone – cast upon my Saviour, with whom our yoke is easy, and our burden is light.

And then I thought-

What should I care about? I’ve already discovered that my desires should be for His second coming, and for His kingdom to be extended through all the earth. There needs to be something more, however. And while we should take every thought captive, some earthly things must be thought of while we are here on earth. We cannot live without thinking of that which we are doing. But the cares of our hearts should not overwhelm us, as in Mark 4:18-19. Ask yourself, would God care about this?

With our worries in the hands of our Saviour,

knowing that we belong to Him, and that He cares for us, we are free to serve Him!

Pictures of Home

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This picture was taken in New Zealand, the beautiful country which I have never left. It was just such a scene as this which I gazed upon as I returned from a family reunion in Wanaka at the end of 2012. Wanaka is in Central Otago, a dry, tussocky place, like the one shown here. After two days of fulfilling the Newton family motto, “If you’re not eating, you’re not having a good time,” my coastal eyes were homesick – for the sea.

As we drove down the Waitaki Valley (and yes, it might help if you looked this all up on Google Maps!), I felt an aching tug in my heart, because I was going home.

However, as I thought this over, I realized that where I was headed was not actually my home. Instead, this moment served as a picture of heaven, that far-off country which we cannot see. It was a reminder of that fact of my heavenly citizenship.

Whenever I see a striking part of God’s creation like this one, I see it as a glimpse and a shadowy picture of heaven. These moments come and go, but the knowledge of living where I do not belong does not.

The longing to see my home in Oamaru was soon replaced by a stronger one, that of waiting for the return of Jesus in the clouds, and our ascension into heaven. Only then will we truly be at home. Because, after all,

This world is not our home.

This World is Not Our Home

file000520062726This world is not our home. John 17:14 makes that clear: “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,” adds Philippians 3:20.

OK… so what? We know that. We’re headed for heaven, and, well, that’s good, isn’t it?

If you are assured of your salvation, that’s a reason to rejoice! But this knowledge also has implications for our lives in this world.

If we don’t belong here, we shouldn’t live as if we do. We should actively examine our motives for all that we do, say, and think. This is assuredly no easy task, and this need for godly wisdom and discernment is a reason to spend time with godly, wise older people who have learnt from their life experiences and can give us help in our lives. Spending time with people, or girls, of this world will just encourage us to be like them, worldly, foolish and certainly not a good influence. But mature believers who have walked life’s narrow road for some years are sure to be a help, and not a hindrance!

Another implication of our heavenly citizenship is that we should not be satisfied with our lives as they are. We should be able to see our sins, faults, and unwise choices, and work to eliminate them. If you are comfortable with your life, and the world around you, you should do some serious thinking about how you measure up to God’s standards.  Even if you aren’t, we all need to evaluate our habits, and examine our lives.

If you are living for this world, and the things of this world, you may be of it.

We must also look at our serving, and be sure that we are serving God, and not the world.  It must show that we are not taken up with worrying about earthly things, but concerned only with giving the glory to God. It must be honouring to Him, and show that we are waiting for our eternal reward.  Because, after all,

This world is not our home.