God wants to help you change how you think—from a material mindset to a spiritual one—so you can have genuine peace.
[Gary Petty] The way you think may be ruining your life. It's time to start thinking about what you think about.
In a very real way the way you deal with relationships, how you make decisions, what you value in life is shaped by what you think. Our emotions are affected by the way we think now, right? I mean, think about it. You go to work and you have a really bad day. So you have really anxiety. You know, you really feel bad. You go home and all you think about is work and you think about it, and you think about it. And what do you feel like at home? Anxious, you feel terrible. Even though you're no longer at work, you feel bad, but at the same time our emotions are affected by how we think. It's a complicated process.
So how much do you think about how you think? Ancient Israel's king David was a poet and a songwriter. In one of the Psalms, he wrote about God in this way, "I meditate on Your precepts and contemplate Your ways." Now, what does it mean to meditate? You know, sometimes meditation is used in relaxation techniques. Sometimes meditation is used to describe a new age experience, which the goal was to attempt to empty your mind, to gain some kind of higher self or to attain some metaphysical state of mind. But this isn't what David wrote about when he said that "He meditated on God's precepts and contemplated on His ways." The Hebrew word translated "meditate" there in Psalm 119-15 means to "ponder" or "consider." And it can even mean to "talk to yourself." In fact, the word in Hebrew means you can say, when you're in this state of thinking and pondering, you could actually talk. There would be a sound as you talk to yourself. So David isn't describing emptying your mind to attain a mystical experience. He is writing about having quiet time in deep thought and what is he thinking about? Not the latest palace gossip or the problems of the realm. No, he's in deep thought about what it's like to be God, about God's ways, about God's precepts, and he's talking to himself.
Understanding the biblical application of meditation is to strengthen your relationship with God and to help you find peace of mind, amid all the chaos and stress and the evil that we face every day. It's interesting that the apostle Paul told the church in Philippi to consider what they think about. He actually says this to them. I'm going to read it from Philippians. And the apostle Paul says, "Finally, brother, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report. If there is any virtue, if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things." Paul says, "Here's a list of things to think about, to dwell upon." And that's how that word is translated in a number of versions of the Bible. To think about these virtuous thoughts and in the next verse, he says, "So that the God of peace will be with you." If you think about these things, this that we're all, you know, every day, we're thinking about things. If you think about these things, if this is what you ponder on, this is what you dwell on, then you're going to find peace from God. You don't actually find it within yourself. It comes from God because of what you're thinking.
So how do you do this? How do you fill your mind with pure and noble and lovely thoughts? I mean does this mean we just sort of empty our minds and think about puppy dogs, and pretend that there's no difficulties in life. Yes, puppy dogs. Let me ask you something. I want you to think about this a minute. Do you talk to yourself? Of course, you do. Everybody talks to themselves. What do you say to yourself? Dr. David Stoop in his best selling book, "You Are What You Think," deals with the issue of what he calls self-talk. He even gives up a list of examples that most of us can identify with of how we talk to ourselves and the effects it has on us. Now here's an example he gives. You call somebody, close friend, and you leave a message. Hours go by, they don't answer. Days go by, they don't answer. And you really start to feel hurt. You really start to feel rejected. Now between the call and that feeling, what did you tell yourself? "Well, he just doesn't want to talk to me." "Well, she must not like me anymore." You know, "He's just too busy to care about me." And then you find out, "Well, no, she was sick and just not answering her phone." But in the meantime, you said to yourself, what you meditated about you know, your self-talk caused stress and anxiety, and yet what you thought wasn't even true.
Now Dr. Stoop has an interesting solution to this. He says study the Bible and meditate, ponder, think deeply, and memorize the Bible. And let this, the things that are in this book, become your self-talk. You use the scripture so that when something's happening to you, that that comes to mind. You know this is basically what the apostle Paul was saying in Philippians. Let's read this in context. You know I just read all these things you're supposed to think about. Before this Paul said, "Be anxious for nothing." Now, Paul had a hard life. And when you read about Paul's life, you find there are times where he feels very upset. There's times he feels anxious, but he's saying don't have a life filled with anxiety, "But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God." So this is, this sentence continues. What he says is, "Start with prayer, go pour this out, your problems to God, what you're anxious about, what you're thinking about." But then he says, "You have to think about something else while you're doing this." Whenever you go to God with an issue, first, thank Him for something he gave to you that day. Find something He gave to you that day to be thankful about, and then tell Him your problems because it changes how you think. He then says, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ." And then he talks about, "Think about these things" and he gives the list and then he finishes this thought with, "The things which you learned and received, and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."
What he basically tells them is, "Go and think about all the biblical things I taught you." He says, "Think about what I taught you and then think about that" and it all comes to the Bible. Now we have this Bible, most people that Paul was writing to didn't have this book. In fact, much of the New Testament wasn't even written at the time. We have it. When you talk to yourself, when you excuse what you're doing, or think about things that you do, what Bible verses come to your mind? I mean, do you even know what Jesus taught about human sexuality? Or the necessity of not just believing in God but obeying Him? Or how you should act when others mistreat you? He talked about it. Does that come to your mind? Is that what you tell yourself when you are being mistreated? Can you find those passages? Can you ponder on them? And listen to this, can you replace your thoughts with Jesus' thoughts? Do know where to find God's promise of what He says He'll give you in this life and His promise of eternity in His family? Do you replace your thoughts with those biblical passages when you're faced with say, the loss of a loved one or a serious illness?
Let me give you an example, just an example. Something bad's happened to your life and you're just, you've lost almost your ability to enjoy life and then you look at everything around you and what do you see? It seems like there's nothing but confusion, and evil, and a bleak future, right? And your mind is filled with conflict and confusion and despair. How do you deal with those thoughts? How do you deal with those emotions? You're in despair. Three steps I want you to think about.
First, we just read what Paul wrote, "Cry out to God in prayer." But when you cry out to God in this desperation that you have, and you pour out your mind to Him, take a second in there to thank Him for something. That's why He says to do it. Thank Him. Looking at a blessing He gave you because you'll start to see more of them. Two, you have to do what we read David said, "You have to search the Bible for God's precepts and ways." How can you meditate on God's precepts and ways if you haven't searched for them? And then three, take time to prayerfully ponder and memorize the passages you read. And that starts to become part of the way you think.
Let me, let me give you an example, okay? Where you just feel despair and you studied the Bible some, and you're looking on what to meditate on. And you find this passage in 2 Corinthians and in your despair here's what Paul wrote. "Therefore, we do not lose heart." He says this over and over again. We're down, but we keep going. We do not lose heart. "Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day." What does that mean? You would have to really think deeply about that, connecting it to other things, especially that Paul wrote. And you would start to understand, "Wow, that's true. I may be suffering outwardly problems in my life, but in here, something important is happening that God is doing. How's He doing that? You could spend an hour with this passage but you just got to come to mind, you've got to go pick it up and read it again. You got to think, "What is God telling me here?" That's why you've prayed first. You prayed first. You asked Him to take you to the Scriptures you need to go to.
He says, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” What does that mean? "While we do not look into things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” When we take time to meditate on these verses and they become part of our self-talk, we begin to find a way of thinking that sometimes is called a mindset.
Now the free study guide we're offering today, "Tools For Spiritual Growth" will help you learn how to develop a lifestyle of biblical meditation. The guide begins with information about how to pray and how to study the Bible. It then contains an entire chapter on how to meditate on your prayer and study. In fact on page 21 there's a list of positive things you can deeply think about that can change your life. Like God's astounding creative power is revealed in His creation. How God is a father to you, what does that mean? God's love and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for you. It has to be made personal. What does that mean? The Bible tells us. Order your free copy of "Tools For Spiritual Growth." by calling the number on your screen, or go to beyondtoday.tv where you can order a copy, or download it right into your computer.
You may have read or heard about the term "mindset." Your mindset is a sort of a mental vision of your future and your mindset is shaped by your attitudes, your beliefs, and assumptions about life. I mean simply put, your mindset is the way you think and your mindset shapes your actions. Let me give you an example. Dylan has a mental vision of the perfect wife. She is absolutely beautiful. Adores him all the time, loves basketball and playing video games, and caters to all of his needs and desires. Dylan's way of thinking and attitude towards women shape his actions and a woman who marries this man will be required to meet all of his expectations, while he's content to do a dead-end job, spend his spare time playing video games, and playing basketball with his friends. And he will be very unhappy if his wife doesn't fulfill his mental vision and mindset.
Now there're some single women in the group here. I wonder how many of you would want to marry this man? You see, there's some heads shaking no. Okay, the mindset of this somewhat fictional man doesn't match reality. This isn't how relationships work and until he changes his mindset, the way he thinks about relationships, he will fail in any relationship with a woman. The simple truth is, and I want you to think about this, the simple truth is the way you're thinking may be ruining your life. Now the good news is that God wants to change the way you think. Authentic Christianity involves a way of thinking about the world around you, your family, your job, your life, the way you think about God as a father and Jesus Christ as your Savior and Master.
It's interesting, the apostle Paul wrote about two distinct mindsets. He said, "To be carnally-minded is death and to be spiritually-minded is life and peace." Paul points out two ways of thinking. Now he calls one "carnal." That just means "fleshly." It's the way of thinking that's normal for human beings. We can call this the "human mindset." The second way he calls "spiritual." As a pastor, I'm asked all the time about how to deal with negative emotions and uncontrolled thoughts and the only way that we can find that life-changing answer is to become spiritually minded which involves a total transformation. You know today we're talking about tools used to help in that transformation, prayerfully, studying to learn God's precepts and ways, and then taking time to think about those ways so you can learn how to live. You know, a spiritual mindset isn't learning to find your inner-self, it's relating to God, understanding how God loves you, how God understands your problems and how God actually wants to change your dysfunctional mindset. He wants to change it. It means learning to think about your life, the way God thinks about your life.
Now you've heard on Beyond Today that we talk about authentic Christianity as a way of life. Well you can only experience that way of life by having a biblically based spiritual mindset. We're all complex, aren't we? But you know, when you break down the way we think there's two basic human mindsets, two broad categories. Remember what the apostle Paul wrote, "To be carnally minded is death, to be spiritually minded is life and peace." The more naturally human your mindset the more your life will reflect certain characteristics, which Paul called "death." The more spiritual your mindset the more your mindset will be in line with God's vision for your life. And the more your life will produce a different set of characteristics, which Paul called, "life and peace."
Now let's look at how Paul further defines this concept of mindset here. He says, "For those who live according to the flesh, set their minds," they choose to think about and meditate "on the things of the flesh. But those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God for it's not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So that those are in the flesh cannot please God." Now we're all in the flesh. But what he's talking about here is that if all we think about is our gratification, the things we get, the way we feel. If that's all we think about, what we collect, then we have a problem. Because the normal human mindset without God's intervention, according to what he said, it means we become the enemies of God. We become the enemies of God.
Now let's look at what the negative emotions and problems that we have with a human normal mindset. It is driven by emotions and motivations that are selfish. It is driven by selfish thoughts, actions based in immediate gratification. That's the normal human being. It also denies God is the source of knowledge and authority. Perfect example of that, evolution. If you have a mindset that believes in evolution and that's what you think about, that's what you believe, you won't accept God as an authority because you don't believe that He created things. It creates a value system that's unable to determine the difference between good and evil or truth and falsehood or even wisdom and foolishness. And relationships in the normal human mindset are based in, "What's in it for me?" So it's very selfish. You know it takes a lot of self-honesty, but does this way of thinking may be reflect a little bit how you think? Okay well, what are the qualities of a spiritual mindset?
Well before we go there let me talk about once again, and encourage you to order your free copy of "Tools For Spiritual Growth." This will help you find peace of mind. And to order your free copy, then you need to go to beyondtoday.tv or call the number on your screen because our minds are bombarded with information all the time and it's hard to even know what's true and false. The Bible has to be our guide and these thoughts have to become our thoughts. And like everything else on Beyond Today, it's absolutely free. So go to the number on your screen or to beyondtoday.tv. It is not possible, by the way, to have a spiritual mindset without the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit. Paul wrote, "But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now, if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His." This is explained by the way, in this "Tools For Spiritual Growth" study guide.
Without God's interaction with us we can't have this spiritual mindset. We can't learn to replace our self-talk with God's precepts and ways. So let's look at what does it mean to have a spiritual mindset? Well first of all, our thoughts are based in God's precepts and ways, okay? And we desire to do good and love others. It accepts and submits to God as the source of knowledge and authority. We look to God and His word to determine the values of our lives. And that means that if you have a spiritual mindset, you develop a value system that is able to determine the difference between good and evil because it's not based on your inner thoughts. It's based on what God says which become your inner thoughts, you see? We have to replace the natural mindset with something else, and you can learn the difference between foolishness and being wise. And also, and this is very important, the more spiritual our mindset, the more our relationships are filled with instead of "What's in it for me?" but this desire to help others to be happy and fulfilled and successful. It's very outgoing towards others. This mindset is spiritual because it comes from God, and it can only be developed in us through the power of God's Holy Spirit. And that's why as we talk about this, you can't just don't make this up. It has to come from a relationship with God because only He can help us do it. And that's why "Tools For Spiritual Growth" will help you discover how prayer and Bible study and meditation all work together because it focuses our lives on God is your Father, and Jesus Christ is your Savior and your Master. And doing that, we learn how to think and that's what made Dr. Stoop's books so, so amazing. Use the Bible to control your thoughts.
Order your copy right now by calling the number on your screen or going to beyondtoday.tv, and download your free copy. And, or you can read it right there online. You know the way you think may be ruining your life. That's what we're talking about. It is time to start thinking about what you think about. Paul teaches us that there are two mindsets, "The natural human mindset that leads to death and the spiritual mindset that leads to life and peace."
Now remember, and I want to go through these again, we develop a spiritual mindset by these three steps. First, you cry out to God in prayer because you recognize you need it. I mean, our thoughts and emotions are out of control much of the time, aren't they? We just don't want to admit it. Well we have to face it. We have to face it. We have to go to God and say, "I don't know what to think sometimes." And you know you get on YouTube and you say, "Oh, oh, look, I, I want to live this research and to watch this three minute thing" and then the next thing says that, you know, "Bear Attack in the Smokey Mountains." Ooh, that looks interesting! And the next thing is, you know, "The Life of Cats." And then the next thing is, "Symptoms of Ebola." I've done that. I'm convinced immediately that I have Ebola,'" right? Pretty soon I don't remember what I went on to YouTube for. We're just flooded with information.
What we have to do is go to God and say, "I need you to show me what information is important, what's real, help my mind.” And only through controlling our thoughts can we even begin to deal with our emotions. Okay? Only then. Remember you have to have God's help, that's why it's a spiritual mindset. You can't do this through some kind of special meditation techniques that come from Eastern religions or The New Age. Then you have to search the Bible for God's precepts and ways. How does God really think about something? You really find that in the life of Jesus Christ. What does He really think?
You know, when you're in a situation where someone has treated you badly, and your initial reaction is to go yell at them, to go mistreat them, and suddenly comes to mind Jesus saying, "Love your enemy." You have to stop for a moment, don't you? That emotions begins to be controlled by what? A spiritual thought. Where did the thought come from? It didn't come from you and me cause that's not how I think. I don't naturally think, "Oh, go love my enemy." It's "Go punch him in the mouth." So what stops us? Jesus Christ's thought. And you've studied that and you've meditated on that. And His thought comes into your mind and you say, "Oh, okay, I can't do that." And then you have to take time to prayerfully ponder and you have to memorize Bible passages. You have to think about them, so that what you read in here literally becomes your self-talk.
There are alot of New Age and Eastern religious meditation techniques that are supposed to lead you to a higher consciousness. The purpose of Biblical meditation is to ponder and think about God and Jesus Christ. It is to ponder God's precepts and His ways. It has replaced your natural way of thinking with His way of thinking. So the Bible is real to your daily life. Biblical meditation is hard to do in our fast-paced, information-overloaded society, but it is a vital tool in becoming a Child of God.
[Narrator] Please call for the booklet offered on today's program, "Tools For Spiritual Growth." This free study aid will provide you with information on how you can actively grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It will help you learn how to pray meaningful prayers to God, how to meditate effectively, how to use tools like fasting and fellowship, and your personal Bible study to actively discern God's will for you. Order now. Call toll free, 1-888-886-8632, or write to the address shown on your screen. You'll learn what the Scriptures reveal about how you can build a personal relationship with your Creator. When you order this free study aid we'll also send you a complimentary one-year subscription to our Beyond Today magazine. The Beyond Today magazine brings you understanding of today's world and hope for the future. Six times a year, you'll read about current world events in light of Bible prophecy, as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family. Call today to receive your free booklet, "Tools For Spiritual Growth" and your free one-year subscription to Beyond Today magazine, 1-888-886-8632, or go online to beyondtoday.tv.
[Gary Petty] Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with United Church of God. If you're looking for a church that encourages living with the Word of God really teaches, you've found the right place. We're a community of believers dedicated to seeking the truth and preaching the good news of the coming kingdom of God. We'd like to welcome you to come and join us on this spiritual journey. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon.