We have all exaggerated the size of a problem, imagined it impossible to solve, only to come face to face with it and watch God work on our behalf.
We have all speculated about what someone else thinks about us or their motives in acting a certain way only to find out later we were mistaken.
How often have you found yourself replaying negative thoughts again and again, only to come back around the conclusion that you cannot be forgiven, cannot forgive, cannot see a way out of a problem?
How often our minds deceive us and hold us captive.
We must consistently make an effort to “stay our minds” on God and be kept in “perfect peace,” as Isaiah wrote [Isaiah 26:3.] This battle is ongoing, no matter what our age or experience.
One of my favorite examples about wrong thinking is Jacob.
Beginning with Genesis 37, we see God working in the lives of Jacob and his family to preserve them in the famine which (God knew, but they did not) was soon coming. God used Joseph and his unwise decision to share his vision with his jealous brothers to cause them to get rid of him.
They sold Joseph into slavery and took his coat, soiled by the blood of a goat, back to Jacob, who believed their lie. When Jacob saw the coat, he said, “Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces” and “I will go down into my grave unto my son mourning.” (verses 30 & 35)
Was this true and was that how Jacob ended his life? No. Genesis 48:11—And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and lo, God hath shewed me thy seed.
Most of us believe that “God is first” in our lives, but too often He is not. We think we are “all right” because we “do all the right things,” but when trouble comes, we realize our dependence on God is lacking because we have enthroned someone or something other than Him.
Here’s a checklist–it will not explore all the possibilities, but will help us consider.
Are you at the center of all your thoughts? Do you try to control everything and everyone around you? When you cannot control people, do you compensate by controlling your surroundings? In 1 Chronicles 13, David was doing “a good thing” by bringing the ark back to Jerusalem, but he was not following God’s directions about how to transport it and Uzza followed David’s example in “helping God out” when he reached out to steady the ark when it almost fell. (verse 10). Are you trying to control things only God can control?
Is someone else at the center of all your thoughts? Does this person occupy all your thoughts because you love him /her so much? Because you are angry at him/her?
Abraham put Sarah at the center of his thoughts and Ishmael was born. Genesis 16
Saul put David at the center of his thoughts and lost his own life as well as that of his sons and his soldiers. I Samuel 31
Solomon put his wives at the center of his thoughts and lost his kingdom. I Kings 11
Is service at the center of your thoughts?
Elijah performed magnificently in I Kings 17, trusting his physical needs would be met at the brook Cherith. Then in I Kings 18, he faces down the prophets of Baal and calls fire down from Heaven. But in I Kings 19, he is running for his life from Jezebel and sitting first under the juniper tree, and then hiding in a cave, telling God he was “jealous” for the Lord of Hosts.
Was this really the case? Or was he grieving (understandably) that his service had not been better rewarded than having to be on the run from a wicked woman? Elijah presents a classic example of burnout and depression and the fact that “doing” is not the cure for everything.
Consider this quote from Oswald Chambers:
We have shown our ignorance of Him in the very way we are determined to serve Him. Have I been persecuting Jesus by a zealous determination to serve Him in my own way? If I feel I have done my duty and yet have hurt Him in doing it, I may be sure it was not my duty, because it has not fostered the meek and quiet spirit, but the spirit of self-satisfaction.
Win the battle for your mind. Labor always to keep God at the center of your thoughts.