Friday, October 18, 2013

Walk Not….

You know what makes a good loser? Practice. – Ernest Hemingway
That sounds really glum.  But it highlights a spiritual truth that we’ll explore today.  Not because it’s an inevitability, but because the solution is so easy.

Exodus 17:14 (KJV)  And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.

I highlighted part of that verse for a reason.  Take a look.  Joshua, who was a good commander, had just defeated the Amalekites.  God’s command to Moses was to repeat it to Joshua.  We’ll get back to that, later.  But let’s continue with the reverse of that, from Hemingway’s statement.

Have you ever talked to someone who seemed to be consistently a failure?  There are a couple of things that become evident.
  1. They’re likely to blame outside forces that they say they can’t control.  And
  2. They have a mindset that’s prepared more for failure than success.
That’s pretty telling.  Many of the success gurus tout the idea that you can think yourself into success.  To a large degree, that’s true.  But that doesn’t mean that my practicing long hours and thinking I can shoot 40 foot baskets will get me facing Kobe Bryant and beating him.  It’s never going to happen.  But that’s part of that second point.  If we expect to fail, we’re unconsciously going to select things to do that we’re not likely to succeed at.  We may not consciously want to fail, but we become comfortable in our failure.

Proverbs 23:7 (KJV)  For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
The full thought is Proverbs 23:6-8.  We often think of it as avoiding the wrong outside influences.  But what about ourselves?  Other than God (if we let Him), our greatest influence is our own mindset.  Even if we give control to others, who we let have that kind of influence comes out of our own thinking. William Ernest Henley said it well in his poem “Invicta”, “It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

But we need to remember what Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”  We’re likely to choose the options that fit what we believe, the sources that support our thinking, and the direction that will obtain the results we expect.  Even if those results are unpleasant.  God gives us the opportunities to grab the blessings He has for us.  But He also gave us free will to choose correctly or incorrectly.  Part of the problem is heritage.  Just like our physical genetics will determine to great degree our mental capacity and how we’re made up physically, our spiritual genetics will affect our thinking and our spiritual life.

That sounds like our possibilities are pretty dire.  And we’d be right if we didn’t have a God who loved His creation.  The Bible makes it clear that we do.  It took something as drastic as Jesus going to the Cross to create an eternal solution for our problem.  But our more immediate needs are not ignored either.  The Word gives us directions on how to get out of our own wrong thinking.

Philippians 4:8 (KJV)  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.

Focus.  It needs to be in the right direction or we continue to wallow in how we can’t do things, when God gives us ways we can.  We need to take God at His word, not filter it through our own thinking.  We’ve all seen the results of that: God depicted as always angry and vindictive or as so weak willed that everyone goes to heaven, no matter what.  Hell depicted as being our main option, intended for us.  The power of Truth can eradicate those misconceptions.  And it can clear our own thinking.

James 4:7 (KJV)  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Choose well.  It’s a simple yes or no to God and what He has for us.  If we’ve already accepted God’s salvation, that encompasses making choices that agree with God instead of our own opinions.  Once we determine that our own thinking is not the final arbiter of reality and what’s right, that lets God direct us.  As in Nehemiah 9:19, “Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go.”

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Sometimes that child is us.  Even in our presalvation state, we are, in a sense, children of God.  That training is in discipline and right thinking.  We need it to aim us toward salvation and to be fully in line with God’s thoughts after salvation.

Ephesians 4:17-27 nails it pretty well.  Let’s look at some highlights.

Ephesians 4:17 (KJV)  This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

Ephesians 4:22 (KJV)  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

Ephesians 4:23-24 (KJV)  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Don’t live in our own thinking.  Get rid of the thinking corrupted by what we want to happen.  That may be the same as God’s thoughts, but not often when God isn’t involved and we’re not involved with God.  Let God’s thoughts regenerate spiritual life in us.  We’re created to be righteous and act accordingly.

There’s a foundation which predisposes us to think correctly, to enjoy the blessings God has for us, and to bless others.  Our own thinking can derail that train of thought.  But God has made provisions for getting us back on the tracks.  We don’t have to live in Ernest Hemingway’s negativity.  When we reach for God, He also reaches for us.  We never have to do things alone.

What are you practicing, today?

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