“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
–Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
We’ve all heard about the Little Engine that Could, and there is no question that we are commanded in scripture to have a positive attitude. Aside from what Paul says in the above verse, though, there is a big difference between what the world calls positive thinking, and what the Bible teaches.
While positive thinking alone is a nice idea, it is empty without anything to sustain it. In contrast, we have the Bible–the bread of life–which sustains us. God’s Word tells us that His mercies are new every morning.
Instead of being based on a form of hollow repetition, the Bible instructs us in a dynamic faith, in which we can move forward in life. In order to receive all of its riches, though, we need to feed on God’s Word and this new faith. Therefore, we will expand on this idea as we continue.
I like to call walking according to the scriptures positive believing for this reason. Even if I face heartbreak, God promises to work out what was initially bad for good in my life. He has a positive plan for me and you.
To take it one step further, unlike positive thinking, positive believing is not something that we trump up in our own strength or willpower, so let me emphasize again that a positive belief needs to be God-centered.
A strictly man-centered aproach can be seen as I elaborate on the idea of the empty phraseology in the positive-thinking movement, which I spoke about above. Two famous positive-thinking examples are, “If it’s going to be it’s up to me,” and “If you can believe it, you can achieve it.” In overwhelming situations, though, it is more important than ever that we keep our eyes on Christ.
But instead, we lose our focus, and we usually sink under the waves of life. Then, like Jesus’ disciple Peter, we finally call on God when we’re in deep trouble, instead of trying to perform the impossible in our own strength.
What we really need to talk about is what the Bible calls abiding in Christ. Dwelling or abiding in Christ is simply increasing my dependence upon the God of the impossible. Since God has the only correct strategy that will help us fight against the enemy, one way we can increase in that dependence is by being skilled in His Word. Learning to read and love scripture also helps to alleviate doubt, and can the can’ts which come our way. Those can’ts also speak of the fiery trials which Jesus said would come to His followers, but His Word is faithful.
The Bible tells believers that God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, offering clear direction in a foggy world. So if you feel like you are walking in spiritual darkness with land mines on every side, my friend, God is not angry with you. Remember that the Bible says we are all in a spiritual battle, and take heart.
In the arsenal which Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6, He writes about God’s Word as being our offensive weapon. Also, the book of Hebrews tells us that the Word is sharper than any two-edged sword, and it can discern the innermost thoughts of our hearts and motives. That means that nothing is hidden from Him, and He knows us inside and out. We will elaborate on this as we go along, but again we need to learn to feast daily on what God has said. Then, when the enemy of our souls creeps into our minds and hearts with un-biblical thoughts, we will be prepared to go into combat against our defeated foe.
The good news is that Jesus doesn’t leave us alone in this battle. He fights this foe alongside us. Like any good leader, however, He requires some teamwork from us. Therefore, please bear with me as I use this analogy to explain how God has revealed this truth to me.
If you have read any books about how the settlers came to this country, you know how our forefathers used to can food. Since they had no refrigerators, they had to make canning a priority, in preparation for winter. Therefore, they all had to pitch in and work together as a team if they wanted to eat.
In the same way, God has chosen to work together with us, preparing us for the winters we must all face in life. But He asks those who belong to His family to pitch in.
There is no better way to abide in Christ and can against the can’ts that come against you, than making God our number-one priority. Don’t take my word for it–put Him to the test.
Just get up 15 minutes earlier tomorrow morning, and thank Him for your blessings over coffee. Read His Word and prayerfully think about it, and you will find your outlook on life gradually changing. Or, as a famous pastor has said, “read your Bible and pray every single day.” If you are a new Christian, you might want to start with the gospel of John.
Then, take the scriptures you’ve learned with you throughout your day, and turn God’s Word over in your mind. While your problems won’t go away, your knowledge of His Word will expand. This will equip you to fight against whatever missiles Satan hurls at you. As you study and put your trust in Him to a greater degree, you will have a greater degree of confidence in Him, knowing that you can face all of life’s challenges through Christ.
But there is a second step to this teamwork. Just as people had to store up what they had canned, God wants us to store His word up in our hearts. Remember how we talked about feasting on His Word? Please make this a daily practice, for reading the Word is essential.
Then, really savoring what speaks to you is the second step. Learn to read scripture slowly, and see what God wants you to hear, as you expect Him to speak to your heart. Then meditate upon it throughout the day, really chewing on it, and letting the Word season your life. Also, by using scripture in your prayers, your communication with God will be enhanced.
Memorizing scripture is another component. This can seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. It is essential to our growth, but if you are like me, you have a hard time getting started. Therefore, you might want to think about it in this way.
Perhaps you had a piggy bank or a savings account when you were little, but it seemed like saving money took forever. Still, you put nickels and dimes in it every week, and just as your parents told you, the money finally added up. Then you were able to get that shiny new bike or beautiful doll, and you forgot everything else. If someone had asked you if it was worth it you would have grinned, whether you had any teeth or not.
God wants us to deposit the nickels and dimes of His Word in the bank of our hearts with joy. While it might seem to take a long time before you can make a withdrawal, you might be surprised, for God can use every ounce of knowledge you possess. But when you memorize the Word, don’t be afraid to take baby steps. Otherwise, it can seem like an overwhelming task.
So if you’re feeling defeated, can the can’ts, as you use God’s Word to come against the enemy. You will find that delving into the scriptures gives life a totally new meaning, as you confront the giants in your path head-on.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 6:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.