Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE THOUGHTS OF THE GODLY” Part 4

Malachi 3.16

 

Over the last several weeks we have considered the benefits of thinking on God and on His glorious name. This evening I will suggest some practical considerations about actually doing this. Before I do, however, I would like you to think about this matter of thinking about God. Is it not an amazing testimony to our spiritual dullness, a verification of our selfishness and sinfulness, a witness to our lack of wisdom and insight, that we need to be convinced to think on God and on His name.

If we were wise creatures, if we were insightful beings, if we had knowledge and understanding of spiritual matters, you would think we would know to think on God, as well as the benefits associated with such thoughts. We are truly needy children, and we do well to spend a great deal of time and effort thinking on our heavenly Father. That understood, how should we go about doing it? As well, how should the lost go about doing it, since there is virtually no likelihood of any lost person being saved until he begins to think on God?

 

First, SET TIMES TO THINK ON GOD

 

You set a time to wake up in the morning. You set a time to go to work each day. You set a time to accomplish any number of important and necessary tasks. Why not, then, set times to think on God? Do we not agree that most spiritual behavior is planned behavior? Since that is the case, and since every successful person creates a schedule and plans for his future success, the same approach should be taken with respect to thinking on the One who is most important, God. Four suggestions for you to consider adopting as your own:

First, think on God when you rise in the morning. It is beneficial to find yourself thinking on God when you first begin to come to yourself in the morning as you wake up, when your first thoughts, before you open your eyes or move your body, are thoughts of God. In Psalm 63.1, David wrote, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee.” Notice that David sought the Lord early because he purposed to do so, because he decided to do so, because he wanted to do so. And because he followed through his thoughts with action. Though thoughts of God are usually closely associated with prayers to God, they are not the same. Most mornings my initial thoughts are of God when my mind first stirs, minutes before my eyes open, and minutes before I move on the bed. It is after my first thoughts are of God that I pray for the first time of the day. What do I pray about? Typically, the first cry of my heart is for grace for the day. Of late, the first cry of my heart has been for Rosa. What a wonderful blessing it is to me to think on my God when the first stirrings of consciousness occur as I wake up. How is this accomplished? First, you must get sufficient sleep. If the alarm clock wakes you up your first thoughts may not be of God, but of getting ready for work. However, if you get enough sleep you can train yourself to think on God.

Next, think on God when you retire in the evening. In my opinion, the real key to thinking on God the first thing in the morning, is to think on God with your last conscious thoughts before going to sleep. Perhaps you would pray yourself to sleep. Perhaps you would pray and then think on God as sleep overtakes you. However, if you think on God as you slip off to sleep, and have gone to bed early enough to get a sufficient amount of sleep (and it varies for everyone), then you will find it much easier to think on God as you are waking up in the morning. As I said before, thoughts on God and prayers are typically closely associated. Therefore, why not make your last thoughts at night like the evening sacrifices of old? Psalm 141.2: “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”

A third time to schedule your thoughts for God is when you conduct your devotions. I do not know what your schedule is, but every Christian needs a time each day when he partakes of God’s grace by feeding on His Word, by meditating on the Word, by studying the Word, and by means of his regular and routine prayer life. You do have a Bible reading schedule, do you not? You do mediate upon God’s Word at a set time each day, do you not? You do actually study the Bible, as in looking up verses and finding things out from scripture, do you not? Finally, you do have a regular and routine prayer life, do you not, when you call out my name before God, and the names of your brothers and sisters in Christ in our church? Though it is possible for a Christian to have such devotions without thinking on God, it is pretty difficult. Yes, people can actually read their Bibles and pray their prayers without really thinking on God. Should your thoughts actually be on God when you are doing these things, it makes your devotions all the richer and more enjoyable.

Fourth, when you eat. You do pray before you eat, do you not? You may not pray out loud. I typically do not pray out loud when I eat alone. However, if there is any gratitude to God for what you have to eat, you can take that brief time of thanksgiving to God for your food as an instrument to draw your attention to Him. Of course, you are allowed to think on God without waiting for your scheduled time. It is perfectly okay to step outside and take in the fresh air and sunshine, and fix your grateful heart on God for it all. Whatever occasion gives you pause to think on God, with thanksgiving, with a yearning for blessing, with an appeal for grace, is useful and glorifying to God.

 

As Well, SET TACTICS TO THINK ON GOD

 

You do recognize that the world in which we live is geared to distract all thoughts away from God. Therefore, knowing that the battleground on which the Christian life is lived and fought is your thought life, let me suggest some tactics that will make it a bit easier to avoid the distractions that would pull your thoughts away from God:

First, with respect to your observations. Psalm 119.37 reads, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.” In Psalm 101.3, David writes again about what his eyes observe: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.” Though his general plan of life was to exercise control over what his eyes beheld, godly David was not always successful, way he? There were times when he saw what he had no business seeing, were there not? In Second Samuel 11.1-2, we read the account of a series of events that resulted in great tragedy in David’s life and on his household. As I read these two verses to you, notice that his trouble begins when he observes what his eyes should never have seen:

 

1      And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.

2      And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.

 

You need to do what you can to control what your eyes see. Your trouble will likely come from what you have seen distracting you from thoughts that should be on God, but have settled upon someone else, or something else.

Next, with respect to your thoughts. Quite obviously, what David saw greatly affected what he thought. Once his thoughts had gone astray his downfall was almost inevitable. Why do you think it is so necessary to control your thought life? You need to recognize that you are a walking time bomb, capable of exploding into life destroying sin, family destroying sin. James 1.14-15 describes how it always happens:

 

14     But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

15     Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

 

Though James does not tell us explicitly, it takes just a little understanding to realize that this entire process takes place in your mind. You see, it is your own lust that is titillated, not someone else’s. The suggestion may come from what you see or hear, but what is excited inside you, and inside me, is the lust, the sinful appetites each and every one of us has. Where it ends up, where it always ends up, is sin. Therefore, the battle must be fought on the high ground, before the fire is in your bosom to commit sin. You need to fight for control of your thoughts before you get to the point of having a trashy girlfriend with no morals or modesty sitting with you on the sofa in the den.

Third, there is your love for God and His ways. A person cannot help but think about the one he loves. Jeremiah 2.32 reads, “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” In this verse, God declares that people focus their attention on what they really love. Therefore, if you go days without thinking about God, without contemplating His name and His glory, His attributes and His works, what should you conclude but that you do not love God? However, keeping in mind that no one falls in love, or falls out of love, and that love is a decision that is made, you can react to your alarm for not loving God by choosing to love Him again, by searching the scriptures to learn by you should love Him, and by rehearsing your blessings to remind yourself why you should love Him.

Finally, there is your interest in God, His ways, and His people. Psalm 48.14 declares, “For this God is our God for ever and ever.” In Exodus 15.1-2 Moses sings after their Red Sea experience,

 

1      Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

2      The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

 

Do any of you remember the Bill Gaither song with the words “My God reigns”? The psalmist and Moses embraced a certain kind of ownership of God. They possessed Him. He was their God. In the same way, enthusiastic and energetic Christians “own” God as their own. This God is my God, and I am His child. A true story before we conclude. Eta Linnemann, the author of this book I hold in my hand, is a first rate Biblical scholar from Germany who was a student of the well-known modernists Rudolph Bultman and Ernst Fuchs.[1] Some years back she broke with them and has written several books exposing the bankruptcy of the liberal’s approach to undermining confidence in God’s Word. She summed up her scholarly and scientific reasons for disagreeing with them by saying, “They tried to take my Jesus away from me.” Is He your God? Is His cause your cause? Are His people your people? Do you side with us against the world? Is His church, this church, your church? If the answers to these simple questions are not emphatically “Yes!” a wedge can be, and eventually will be, driven between you and God, and you will not think of Him much anymore. Remember reading about David’s defeat of the giant, Goliath? Ever wonder why no one else would fight Goliath, the man who blasphemed God before the armies of Israel, while young David did? Think about it this way: The issue of where he stood with respect to God and all others was a settled matter with David. His interest was in God, therefore his thoughts and, indeed, his actions, naturally followed.

 

To be sure, setting times to think on God, and adopting tactics for fighting off distractions that would interfere with you thinking on God, cannot guarantee you will not sin. However, the issue is not whether or not you will sin. You will sin. I will sin. It is our nature, and is the course of our life this side of eternity to experience sins and shortcomings. The issue before us, however, is not us, but God. For your thoughts to be fixed upon Him, your mind stayed upon Him, your heart fully embracing Him, steps need to be taken.

Will you ever be perfect? No. Will you escape all tragedy and heartache produced by your own sins? No. However, you will be a far better Christian, will enjoy greater success in glorifying God, if you will set times to think on God and His name, and if you will employ tactics that will help you fight off distractions.


[1] Eta Linnemann, translated by Robert W. Yarbrough, Is There A Synoptic Problem?, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992)



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