Thank You Jesus!
Friday Night Sermon 03-08-02 [Living It Part 4]
I'll bet that we can all agree that we've hit on some good subject matter. Still, there's a bit more to cover. Today, we'll talk about the how part of the thought life.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Reading this, we know what; not how to start it and keep it going so that we can make use of it. This is where trying to be familiar with the whole Bible comes in handy. I would break the practice of a good thought life down into four keys to successful. Follow along.
 Praise Of The Lord
Though we will not, at this time, make an in depth study on the Praise of the Lord, if you want something to set your day off right and faster than a cup of coffee, try praising God for who He is and what He has done in your life. Nothing could better prime your brain for good thinking and give your thoughts the right foundation and perspective. After reading
Philippians 4:8, what could be better thinking that this? Unfortunately, I, as well as you, do not praise the Lord properly. Sometimes I take the glory for what He has done or given me power to do. Sometimes I don't see the working of God beyond the circumstance of the moment.
On Christian Radio, I just heard the story of an old Christian saint. Upon knowing that the Roman Government was soon to arrest him and seek to make him deny Christ, He took time to prepare dinner for the men and made a great effort to witness Christ to them. Would that have been any of us? Some of us would have run or hid. Some of us would have fought even to the death and felt justified in doing so. Could any of us honestly say that we could prepare kindness for solders? Would we share Christ with those that would come to do us harm? How could a man do this? When taken before authorities and told to deny Christ, the man is said to have replied that for eighty-some-odd years he served Christ and Christ had never done him wrong. Herein is the perspective of Praise! He did not see the greatness of man's power. He saw the greatness of God almighty!
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Do you want to learn how to praise God? Go thought the books of Psalms and Romans. Incidentally, do you want wisdom? In that case, start praising God more. As your perspective straightens, you'll begin to fear God above all else. Now, we know what good the Bible has to say about the fear of the Lord don't we?
Now, we need to know that Praise of the Lord is more than shouting, raising of hands, dancing in the aisles, putting money in the offering plate, or anything else we do. Praising God is the exact opposite thing you'd if you were arguing with your sibling. In an argument, we tend to take all of a person's failures and flaws that we can remember and throw them "SMACK" in the person's face. Praise, on the other hand, because it is a loving act, sees the good. God is nothing but good. When we praise God, we return to Him that goodness. The nice thing is that handling goodness that way is infectious. You can't take a big ball of this goodness of God and try to tell it back to God and give Him recognition without getting some on you.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
That's why Jesus taught us to pray the way He did. It's not just the words of the prayer. It's the praise of the prayer. Praise is giving reverence to God and His Glory! Praise helps us to see things for what they are.
1 The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
That, my friends, is what is.
 Meditation On The Lord
If you ever want to get beyond praising God because you haven't been hit by a train today or stricken with ebola, you might like to try this. Meditating is like the yeast in bread. If you want your relationship with God to grow, feed it praise. If you want to enrich your praise, sprinkle it with some meditation. The more you use, the richer it gets.
What is meditation? Do you have to be able to twist your legs up in a bow? Nope. Do you need incense? Nope. How about a funny chant? Sorry, no mantras for Christians. The Bible's view of meditation is as follows.
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. 10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, 11 And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; 12 Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. 14 Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; 15 (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth. 16 Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Did you especially catch that speaking to yourselves part? Pastor Dave Nobles of Bethel Free Will Baptist Church in Woodbridge VA likens it to daydreaming about God. The Bible tells us to be constantly filling our minds with thoughts of God.
Can anyone remember what the Bible tells us about people that have been set free from demonic influences only to put a clean finish on the outside while neglecting working on the inside? Sooner or later that person will end up worse off than when they started. Now, a Christian can't be possessed. Still, we can have some heavy demonic influences on us. Like standing water, a Christian with a mind that is not flowing with the things and thoughts of God; a mind that is unfocused, is sooner or later to become stagnant and rotten.
"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is."
Satan and his forces are working 24/7 to see that we don't sprinkle our praise with meditation. Praise is intermingled with prayer and he hates for us to be in communion with God. He really hates for us to prosper in that communion and to grow. That's why I'm sure he has some of his top demons working on the hearts of those that have power in his communications network. If Satan has an Earthly base of operations it's the New York financial district. His home away from home would be Hollywood California.
We've all heard it. Sex sells! Monetarily motivated sexual perversion is the number one communicated message being broadcast on all channels. Yet, there are many more where this one comes from. Satan never ceases to pander his mind clogging wares in the most alluring ways. We don't need to give his influence an inch. Not for all of Satan's efforts can he break through the praise of God. He has no power to force us to sin and he surely cannot influence us to sin when we are busy meditating on the Lord.
We ought to control the things we see, say, and hear. We need to be careful of the people we allow to influence us. We need to be aware that people and subtle things do influence us. We need to care for our children and families in this same way as well. I had to tell my daughter today that Brittany Spears is not an example of a Good Girl. Truth supercedes popularity. Sin seeps into the mind subtlety. Therefor, let us be overt in the guarding of our minds.
 Works In The Lord
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
How many of us know that you can't really Praise God if you don't have faith in Him? How many of us know that you can't really have faith in God if you're not willing to do anything with it?
Remember how I have said that God does not want blind faith. When you have faith in Him, He's just itching for an opportunity to show Himself in you. That requires you to do something in His good will.
A Christian of Praise, no matter how young or young in Christ, is available to do good work in God. A Christian without Praise is of dead faith and is not available to do good work in God. That Christian of praise is being led by God. That Christian of Praise will see the good and success of God. Guess what other reward that Christian of Praise gets: More material for meditation!!! It's a growing cycle that, if managed properly (as far as a human is involved), will show itself in powerful works of God but be alive within an open communication relationship with God.
Now, how did this key get here and how can it help us manage our relationship with God? Well, to be honest, it can't. We don't actually manage the relationship. We are, however, responsible for ourselves.
1 Peter 1:14-15
14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
2 Timothy 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
1 Corinthians 8:2
And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
Keep yourself in line and keep learning to keep yourself. You don't want to stagnate at one point of learning. You don't want to become like standing water. Idleness is a major stumbling block to our Christian walk.
Here's the deal. When you stop growing and making forward progression in your walk with Christ, you stagnate and begin to degrade and revert backwards. We all know the word is backslide. Before you know it, your thoughts are becoming more like the world's and your actions are not far behind. Your Praise of God will dwindle as will your faithful good works. Satan will be there to trick you with pleasure and soon after your heart will fill with fear and dread for the consiquences of the sin you bring into your life. The source of the power you once knew will seem to be far from you and your hope will be all gone. Desperation and confusion will beset you on every side. All of your efforts will desintergrate in your palms. Backsliding makes the soul bleak.
How is it that idleness can do this? Remember, Satan is working 24/7. For the Christian, he works not to possess but, to influence. Not long after you stop yeasting your praise with meditation, it begins shrink. Eventually, even your praise will retract away to useless levels. It is by Self-Management wherein we take time to pray, and to remember, and to share in the Glory of God that we do prosper and Work to God's Glory. Remember Abraham and the pillars and alters built? Why was this done?! They were reminders of the power and Holiness and Glory of God. They were Praise to the Lord! Yet, when the thoughts of his influence were changed, what happened? He got himself into trouble and fast! Poor Self-Management, not just self control, will wreck any good relationship. We have got to invest time and effort and we have got to want to. The more we do. The more we will. The more of God's success we will see.
The Keys To A Good Thought Life
 Praise Of The Lord
 Meditation On The Lord
 Works In The Lord
I thank God for the opportunity to share with you and to think on these things as well.
To God Be The Glory,
Great Things He Has Done,