What Do You Think?



What do you think? (someone may be asking for your opinion)
What’s on your mind? (someone may want to know what is concerning you)

These may sound like simple questions requiring simple answers. However, I challenge you to think deeply before you answer.

Let us think about numerous scriptures regarding our thoughts and God’s thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. . . . ‘So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.’”
If we want our thoughts to be aligned with the Lord’s thoughts, we may want to make a few changes in our thought life.

Why are our thoughts contradictory to the Lord’s thoughts?
I Corinthians 2:14&16 answers, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
We must not tell the Lord what to do since we have only limited knowledge. May our thoughts agree spiritually with the Lord – not just be opinions originating in human understanding.

There is hope for us.
II Corinthians 5:17 NLT, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
This includes a new thought pattern.

The conclusion of I Corinthians 2:16 says, “But we have the mind of Christ.
What a wonderful promise for us when we become new creations in Christ!

Romans 12:2 NLT warns, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Psalm 139 makes a good comparison of God’s thoughts and our thoughts.
In verse 2 David says to the Lord, “You perceive my thoughts from afar.
God knows all our thoughts whether or not we express them.
In verse 17, David declares, “How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast are the sum of them!
Do you grasp the magnitude and majesty of God’s thoughts?
In verse 23, David cries out, “Search me, o God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
If we allow God to scrutinize our thoughts, we must be ready to make the adjustments He suggests.

How do we change the way we think?
In
II Corinthians 10:5, Paul says, “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
We need to cast down the imaginations in our human thoughts and capture them for Christ. Our imaginations are composed of images we create from the “what ifs” that invade our minds.

Paul warns in II Corinthians 10:7 that too often “You are looking at things as they are outwardly.
Remember
Romans 8:6 NLT, “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
We must allow the Holy Spirit to control our minds, wills, and emotions.
Colossians 3:2 tells us to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Paul gives good suggestions in Philippians 4:6-7.
Verse 6 says, “Be anxious for nothing.
Not worrying about anything is a new way of thinking!
Verse 7 begins, “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension
That means we still can’t understand it!
Verse 7 ends, “(God’s peace) will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
God’s peace protects our minds from negative thoughts and imaginations.

Philippians 4:8, Finally, brothers and 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.
Yes, this is my goal.

I began by asking, “What do you think?”
Now I ask you, “What does God think?”

Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
God wants to share His thoughts if we will think about Him and ask for Him to reveal His thoughts.

I also asked, “What is on your mind?”
I conclude by asking, “What is on God’s mind?”

Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Then He will tell you what’s on His mind.

Psalm 139:17, “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
God’s thoughts  are the thoughts I want to think! His thoughts are what I want to be on my mind!

In Anxious for Nothing, Max Lucado says, “Think about what you think about.” His advice is confirmed by Proverbs 4:23 NCV, “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.

 

 

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Watching the Tides with God


While in Maine this summer, I
watched the rise and fall of the ocean’s tide. The statistics for one of the days we were in Maine were as follows. High tide was listed at 12:26 AM and 12:49 PM while low tide was 6:43 AM and 6:56 PM. The morning high tide was 11.3 feet and in the evening it was 10.9 feet. The morning low tide was 0.2 feet and the evening low was 0.7 feet. The times and heights varied slightly from day to day, but the tide faithfully rose and fell twice every 24 hours. We could count on it.

The ocean’s tides reflect the rising and falling of the sea’s level with respect to land. These ocean motions are caused by the gravitational forces of the sun and the moon. I am not a scientist who fully understands it, but it is fascinating.

Becoming aware of the predictability of tide changes, caused me to think about God’s faithfulness. When He created the earth, He fashioned the waters to rise and fall. Through the tides, He displays His faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV says, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

I like Sarah Young’s words in Jesus Always. (for July 30) Hear Jesus speak, “Beloved, My compassions never fail. They are new every morning. So you can begin each day confidently, knowing that My vast reservoir of blessings is full to the brim. . . . I want you to drink deeply from My fountain of limitless love and unfailing compassion. . . . I keep all My promises in My perfect way and timing. I have promised to give you Peace that can displace the trouble and fear in your heart. If you become weary in waiting, remember that I also wait that I may be gracious to you and mercy on you. I hold back till you’re ready to receive the things I have lovingly prepared for you.”  

I have underlined phrases that we can apply to the ocean’s tides. “Every morning” speaks of the dependable timing of the tides. The “vast reservoir of blessings” can be a symbol of the ocean. We “drink deeply from Jesus’ fountain” during the “timing” of the high tide that “displaces” the visible land of low tide. God does not “hold back” the ocean’s movements – and neither does He hold back His involvement in our lives.

Sarah Young applies the Lord’s faithfulness to His answering our prayers. Although it may appear that the Lord is holding back His response, He is not. He simply waits for the correct time – just like the tide times.

The tides of the ocean come in and go out. Similarly, our lives have ups and downs. We experience both throughout the timetables of our lives. II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Like we wait for the tide to come in, so must we wait for the Lord to answer our prayers.

Paul reminds us in Romans 1:21 NLT, “that God is able to do whatever He promises.” David declares in Psalm 36:5, “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies.” The heavens, the skies, the tides – all exhibit God’s faithfulness.

What Time Is It?


(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.)

What time is it?

OK – how did you determine your answer to my question?

If I were asked about the time, I would look at my watch. My first reaction is to measure time in hours and minutes. Although my finite response is a valid way, God perceives time from an infinite perspective. God interprets time eternally. My view is temporal and chronological. For God, time includes a duration of moments affecting people’s lives. Join me in looking at some timely scriptures.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
Ecclesiastes 3:1

The writer of Ecclesiastes declares that there is a distinct time for everything that happens. Then he lists specific activities in verses 2-8. Being born or dying. Tearing down or building up. Laughing or crying. Loving or hating.
My Reader, what time is it in your life? It is OK to have conflicting emotions because life involves a variety of feelings and behaviors.

And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Esther 4:14

As queen of King Xerxes, Esther was used by God to prevent the annihilation of the Jewish people. Mordecai reminded Esther that God may have given her favor with the king because He had a special plan for her. Esther accepted her position and boldly approached King Xerses. Esther says in verse 16, “If I perish, I perish.” She knew what time it was for her physically and spiritually.
My Reader, what time is it according to your spiritual watch? God orchestrates times in our lives for His glory.

With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
II Peter 3:8

From God’s perspective, time is very different. While we may become impatient waiting for God to fulfill His promises,  Peter reminds us that God is patient because He desires for everyone to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Spiritual time is unique – not like our spacial time. One day is like a thousand years and yet a thousand years is like a day! God’s timepiece is different from ours.
My Reader, what time is it for you regarding a promise you are waiting for God to fulfill? God is never late. And, He is never early. He is always on time!

My times are in your hands;
Psalm 31:15

David places his time in God’s hands. He trusts God enough to give up his agenda and accept God’s plans. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Time does not influence how or when God interacts in our lives. He is always the same no matter what time it is.
My Reader, is it time for you to relinquish your time into the Lord’s hands? Don’t get bogged down trying to see the purpose in everything that happens every minute and hour of the day. Most likely, you are too close to your situation to see the bigger picture of how God is using your time. However, it is amazing how valuable your time is when you place it in His hands!

 

Be a Lighthouse


Recently, we visited a lighthouse museum in Rockland, Maine. On a wall there was a statement that caught my attention. I am not sure of its exact wording, but I do remember the meaning. Basically it said that lighthouses and people are the same because they are all different  – size, shape and color. The quote was not accredited to a specific source.

Today, join me in thinking about the similarities of lighthouses and people. We will consider their appearance as well as function.

No two lighthouses or people look alike.

Some light houses are tall and skinny. Others may be short and chubby. The same can be said for people. Lighthouses are painted differently depending upon the color most visible where each is located. Sometimes white – sometimes red – sometimes striped. The options go on and on. God created people with various skin colors. Red, yellow, black and white.

Lighthouses look like towers with a bright light at the top. They are structures that emit light through a system of lamps and lenses. As Christians, we have a unique light source helping us be a light to the worldPsalm 18:28 says,You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.” He then instructs us to function as lighthouses in Matthew 5:16. “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Lighthouses guide a mariner’s voyage. As Christians, we shed light upon the personal paths of those sharing life’s journey with us.

Signals from llighthouses warn boaters about shallow shorelines and dangerous waterways. They help sailors safely navigate the seas. As Christians, we desire to help others see the shallowness of their lives – and then lead them to a deeper relationship with the Lord. We want to warn others of the world’s dangers. I like the quote, “The scars you share become lighthouses for other people who are headed to the same rocks you hit.” (author unknown)  Our goal is to help those around us safely navigate the seas of life.  I have heard it said, “Don’t forget that maybe you are the lighthouse in someone’s storm.” 

Mehmet Murat Ildan has said, “A lighthouse is not interested in who gets its light! It just gives it without thinking! Giving light is its nature!” This is true because a lighthouse is an object – not a person. However, it is different when we consider people.

In another quote Mehmet Murat Ildan sheds light upon how people function as lighthouses. He says, “To be a lighthouse, you must be strong enough to resist every kind of storm, to every kind of loneliness and you must have a powerful light inside you!” The light inside us is Jesus.

Isaiah 60:2 says, “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and His glory appears over you.”  Psalm 4:6 says, “Let the light of Your face shine on us.” When the glory of the Lord shines upon us, we radiate His presence. Our countenance is changed and we glow with His glory. Darkness is dissolved.

A lighthouse keeper is needed whether we are thinking about structures or people.

Today, most lighthouses of the sea are automated. Formerly, a lighthouse keeper was the person who tended and cared for a lighthouse – particularly the lights and lens. Initially, there were oil lamps and clockwork mechanisms that required attention.

God is the keeper of the lighthouse of our lives. In Jesus Always, Sarah Young points out that some suffering may be involved to help us shine more brightly. When we encounter dark, ugly times, God can transform them into something lovely. He polishes our character till it shines the Light of His Glory.

God’s Word is the manual illuminating how we are to function as a lighthouse. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Let His Word light up your life so that your light does not become dim.

No two lighthouses or people look alike or function the same manner. That’s OK. God made it that way. In your own style, shine your light in the manner God intends. Together as a group of individuals, we form a diverse representation of lighthouses.

Reinhard Bonnke has said, “The Christian purpose is still the same: to carry the light of the gospel into a murky world.” Be a lighthouse!

(A source for quotes: http://www.wiseoldsayings.com/lighthouse-quotes/)

Overshadowed by a Shadow


I decided to go for walk as it was a beautiful sunny morning. Since it was early, all was quiet and peaceful. I had time to notice what often goes unnoticed – like my shadow. My shadow was always before me. I could not catch up with it. My shadow was not behind me because of my position in relation to the sun. I thought about shadows. I thought about the shadow of the Lord. I thought about what it means to be overshadowed by the Lord.

According to Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, overshadowed means to have a shadow over; to be surpassed; to be covered with a superior influence. A short definition is simply to be covered. I decided to search the scriptures for examples of people who were overshadowed or covered by the Lord.

MOSES

Moses was covered by God.

In Exodus 33, Moses and the Lord have a conversation about the Lord being with Moses while he led the Israelites towards the Promised land. In verse 18, Moses said, “Now show me Your glory.” The Lord responded in verses 18-20, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim My name, the Lord, in your presence.” However, God also told Moses, you cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live.” What happened? Exodus 33:21-23 says, There is a place near Me where you may stand on a rock. When My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.” During this time, Moses was overshadowed by the Lord.

Being overshadowed by the Lord assured Moses of God’s presence. Moses needed this confirmation before he led the Israelites to the Promised Land. We, too, must be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit to become confident of the Lord’s presence. Having this assurance, we will be able to lead others to a personal relationship with Jesus. We will have the privilege of leading people into the Land of Promises. The Promised Land of the Old Testament is a picture of the Land of Promises where believers live today.

Mary

Mary was covered by God.

In Luke 1, Mary has a conversation with an angel telling her that she would conceive a baby who would be called the Son of the Most High. In verse 34 Mary asks, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel responds in Luke 1:35, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”

Being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit made it possible for Mary to become pregnant with new life. Today, God desires to impregnate us with His plans and purposes. When we allow the Holy Spirit to overshadow us, He reveals His divine purposes and enlarges us with the gifts necessary to give birth to His plans for our lives.

Peter, James and John

Peter, James and John were covered by God.

In Matthew 17, Jesus and these 3 men climbed a mountain. While praying, Jesus’ appearance changed and they saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus about His fulfillment of prophecy in the coming days. Matthew 17:24-25 says, “While He was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him.’’

This scriptural account is known as the Transfiguration. It involves spiritual overshadowing. First, the appearance of Jesus was transfigured, or changed. Then, the minds of these 3 men were transfigured, or transformed. Their minds were transformed and renewed with a new way of thinking. We also need a transfiguration experience to transform our way of thinking. Bill Johnson says in When Heaven Invades Earth that a renewing of the mind is needed for more miracles to occur. We need a new mind, a transfigured mind, to be able to think and expect God to move through miracles today. We must change our way of thinking. This is only possible when we are overshadowed by the Holy Spirit.

Having unpacked the experiences of these people who were overshadowed by the Lord, I desire the same privilege. I want to cry out as David did in Psalm 57:1, “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in You I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” Psalm 91:4 says, “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

Being overshadowed by the Lord means I am covered by the Lord. Jesus says in John 14:16-17, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” This is the anointing of the Holy Spirit. What a privilege for us to be overshadowed by the Lord!

I close with the words of Psalm 63:7, “Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings.

Mercy Drops

I woke up this morning having an old-fashioned hymn fest with the Lord. The first song in my heart was There Shall Be Showers of Blessing  by Daniel W. Whittle. The words of the chorus are:

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need;
Mercy drops ‘round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

Our summer has been very dry and we need rain. We want rain showers – not just a few sprinkles. However, when we get only a few raindrops, I visualize the blades of grass lifting their thirsty heads and licking each little moisture droplet possible.

We have a similar spiritual desire. We want all the big blessings that the Lord can provide. This is not wrong, but we also need to be thankful for the mercy He drops into our lives. Don’t wait for the big spiritual rains. Receive the mercy drops with thanksgiving. In time, droplets become showers. A rain often begins with a few sprinkles that evolve into more abundant showers. Let us drink deeply the mercy drops the Lord extends. Great things have small beginnings.

My thankfulness for the mercy drops, brought another hymn to mind, The Steadfast Love of the Lord Never Ceases by Edith McNeill. The refrain proclaims:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
Your mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning,
new every morning:
great is your faithfulness, O Lord,
great is your faithfulness!

I love this promise! God’s mercy drops will never cease to rain down on our lives. No wonder I woke up singing about His mercy! Our God is faithful to provide what we need to accomplish His plans and purposes for us each day.

Although nature’s cycles of rain and drought come and go, we can always depend upon God to provide the spiritual moisture we need to grow in Him. Sometimes His provision comes in droplets of mercy and other times our souls are flooded with abundant blessings.

Receive the following mercy drops found in God’s Word.

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, and abundant in mercy.
Psalm 103:8 NKJV

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed.
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
I Peter 1:3

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence
, so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

His mercy extends to those who fear Him,
from generation to generation.
Luke 1:50

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Matthew 5:6 NKJV

O give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good;
for His mercy endures for ever.
Psalm 136:1

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
Jude 1:2

A Treasure Hunt


Please join me on a treasure hunt. The Bible will be our map. We are going to look for meaningful and valuable spiritual treasures hidden in the scriptures.

for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21

As we begin our hunt for treasure, we must look into our hearts. The kind of treasure we will seek is determined by our heart’s condition. Romans 10:10 says, “for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

In the account of Jesus birth, Luke 2:19 says, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Giving birth to God’s son, being in a stable surrounded by animals, having shepherds come visit – so many things for a new mom to think about! Yet, Mary treasured all these things because they were part of God’s plan. She placed a high value upon these experiences. Her heart was full of love. Jesus was her treasure.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.
Matt 13:44

Let’s dig for a hidden treasure in the first gospel of our Biblical map. Matthew says God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field. Paul alludes to hidden treasure when he writes about a hidden message. He says in
Colossians 1:26 NLT, This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people.” Paul is referring to the glory of Christ as a once hidden treasure that we can now find. Matthew 6:33  says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. I think we have found a piece of our treasure. 

I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden wealth of secret places
Isaiah 45:3

Treasures of darkness do not sound like the kind of treasures we want to find. However, we must not be too quick to discard dark times.

In Jesus Always, Sarah Young writes about treasures of darkness. Hear Jesus speak the following words through her writings. “Look for Me in the hard places of your life…. I am tenderly present in the difficulties,… your problems are fertile soil for growing in grace and encountering My loving Presence in greater depth and breadth. Watch for Me in dark times – both past and present. Invite Me into those broken places, and cooperate with Me in putting the fragments back together in new ways…. Against the backdrop of adversity, the Light of My Presence shines in transcendent radiance.”

The last part of Isaiah 45:3 promises hidden wealth in secret places. Even in dark places we can find treasures. Jesus, who is the light of the world, shines His light into our dark experiences helping us find unseen riches.

Discovering Jesus’ presence is a valuable treasure. Sometimes it is easier to find Jesus in the dark places than in the light. Daniel 2:22 says, “He (God) reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.”

He (the Lord) will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.
Isaiah 33:6

I Corinthians 3:11 confirms the words of Isaiah, For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” While digging deeply to lay the foundation of our lives, we find treasure. Our treasure hunt reveals riches of salvation, wisdom and knowledge – not riches of gold and silver. We discover a reverential fear and awe of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our treasure!

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary,
and they bowed down and worshiped him.
Then they opened their treasures and presented him
with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:11

While on their treasure hunt, the Magi followed a star. When they found Jesus, they found the perfect treasure. Jesus was more precious than the treasures they brought with them. Like the Magi, we may be required to lay down our earthly treasures to find Jesus, our eternal treasure.

I Peter 1:7 NKJV says, “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Eternal treasure has a higher value than earthly treasure.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show
that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
II Corinthians 4:7

While on our treasure hunt, we have taken various routes shown on our Biblical map.

We discovered the treasure of the kingdom of heaven in a hidden field. We found wealth hidden in treasures of darkness. We uncovered treasure in salvation, wisdom, knowledge and the fear of the Lord. We found treasure more costly than any precious metal or jewel. All of these treasures are part of the greatest treasure – Jesus. Jesus is the hidden treasure of the Old Testament revealed in the New Testament.

Jesus is the treasure for which we have searched. We want to keep Him in our jars of clay. We want to keep Him in our hearts. Ephesians 3:17 says, “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

Our treasure hunt is complete. We found the treasure. Jesus!