I am what I think about
Good morning. It is wonderful to be here with you today. Last Sunday we began a new series titled, “Reset, Jesus Changes Everything”
Week 1 we talked about resetting our faith-in-self to faith-in-Jesus. We learned that we must realize that Jesus is near to us. We learned we need to run toward Jesus and bow down in worship, surrendering all to Him. We need to reset our hearts. Until we do that we cannot move forward to step 2 which we are going to talk about today.
Week 2: Jesus, Reset My Mind renewing our thinking through spending time in God’s Word
The title of today’s message is “I Am What I Think About.”
The best part of spending time with Jesus is that we get to know Him. As we learn to focus on Jesus, we can’t help but become more like him.
I would like to start off this morning by reading to you Psalm 27 Verses 1 thru 4.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against meto devour[a] me,it is my enemies and my foeswho will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,my heart will not fear;though war break out against me,even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,this only do I seek:that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
Now in this portion of scripture David was speaking about literal, physical armies and literal, physical wars. Now I am sure there are probably some here today who have had experience battling actual adversaries. But, I would say it is far more likely that most of us rather than battling physical beings have experienced battles of the mind. This after all where every struggle begins – with a dark thought.
A thought of despair. A thought of fear. A thought of inadequacy. A thought of greed.
A thought of hopelessness. A thought of hatefulness. A thought of haughtiness. A thought of rage.
This is the army that chases us day by day, line after line of armed soldiers marching through our minds just dying to pick a fight. To which Jesus says, “Bring it on.”
I’d like to show you how this scenario plays out. This war between evil thoughts and the One to whom all things must bow down.
Let’s take a look at Mark Chapter 5 Verses 1 thru 20. I will be reading this portion of scripture from The Message.
5 1-5 They arrived on the other side of the sea in the country of the Gerasenes. As Jesus got out of the boat, a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones.
6-8 When he saw Jesus a long way off, he ran and bowed in worship before him—then howled in protest, “What business do you have, Jesus, Son of the High God, messing with me? I swear to God, don’t give me a hard time!” (Jesus had just commanded the tormenting evil spirit, “Out! Get out of the man!”)
9-10 Jesus asked him, “Tell me your name.”
He replied, “My name is Mob. I’m a rioting mob.” Then he desperately begged Jesus not to banish them from the country.
11-13 A large herd of pigs was grazing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs so we can live in them.” Jesus gave the order. But it was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the sea and drowned.
14-15 Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country. Everyone wanted to see what had happened. They came up to Jesus and saw the madman sitting there wearing decent clothes and making sense, no longer a walking madhouse of a man.
16-17 Those who had seen it told the others what had happened to the demon-possessed man and the pigs. At first they were in awe—and then they were upset, upset over the drowned pigs. They demanded that Jesus leave and not come back.
18-20 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the demon-delivered man begged to go along, but he wouldn’t let him. Jesus said, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how he had mercy on you.” The man went back and began to preach in the Ten Towns area about what Jesus had done for him. He was the talk of the town.
Now although we cannot be sure why demon-possession occurs we do know that evil spirits can distort and destroy man’s relationship with God. While it is important for us to recognize their evil activity it is reassuring that we know we can resist the devil and his influences.
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Although God and the devil are at war, we don’t have to wait until the end to see who will win. God has already defeated Satan. With the Holy Spirit’s power, we can resist the devil and he will flee from us.
Now I would like to go back and talk again about the scripture we read from Mark 5.
Mark often highlights the supernatural struggle between Jesus an Satan. The demons goal was to control the humans they inhabited. Jesus’ goal is to give people freedom from sin and Satan’s control.
The demons knew they had no power over Jesus, so they simply begged to be sent out of the area. Jesus granted their request to enter the herd of pigs and they stampeded over a cliff and into the sea and drowned.
Now after such a wonderful miracle of saving this man’s life we find it hard to imagine why the people from that area wanted Jesus to leave. We wonder why. Well for one thing, they were undoubtedly afraid of Jesus’ supernatural power. They may have also been afraid that Jesus would continue destroying their pigs. The pigs were their livelihood. They apparently would rather give up Jesus than lose their source of income and security.
Now many times Jesus urged those whom he had healed to keep quiet about it. But here Jesus told this man to go tell his friends about the miraculous healing.
Why the difference? For one thing, this man had been living alone in the cemetery unable to speak. By telling others what Jesus did for him it would prove he was healed.
Secondly this was mainly a Gentile and pagan area. By sending this man away with this good news, Jesus was expanding his ministry to people who were not Jews.
I’d like you to listen again to verse 20.
“The man went back and began to preach in the Ten Towns area about what Jesus had done for him. He was the talk of the town.”
Don’t you just love that last line? “He was the talk of the town.” I bet he was. Can you imagine if this had happened in our little town of York Springs? Everyone would be talking about it!
The reason we read this portion of scripture from The Message this morning is because back there in verse 15 it says that after Jesus’ intervention, after Jesus offered a reset of the mind, the troubled individual was, and I quote, was “no longer a walking madhouse of a man.”
How many of us can relate to that description?
How many of us have lived that description? In fact, continue to live it today, even.
A walking madhouse of a man. A walking madhouse of a women. A walking madhouse of a teen. A walking madhouse of a mom, a dad, a student, a friend, a daughter, a son, a businessman, a doctor, a realtor, a teacher an athlete, or a walking madhouse of a spouse.
When evil thoughts plague our minds, “a walking madhouse” of a person is exactly how it feels at times, isn’t it?
Think about it. In a madhouse, the scene is characterized by mayhem and chaos by turmoil, by distress and disorder. We talk about things here in terms of “being like a zoo” or a “three ring circus.” Everything seems to be in a state of pandemonium.
Quite literally, our mind has not been reset.
So how do we go about resetting our minds?
We begin by spending time with Jesus. We go to him. In the story of the madman from Mark Chapter 5 do you remember what the walking madhouse of a man did upon seeing Jesus? He bowed down and worshiped him. Despite all the unclean and unholy thoughts running through his mind, body and spirit, he rushed toward the Messiah, not away from Him. He lowered himself in submission to the King. His mind was reset.
As we learn to focus on Jesus, we can’t help but become more like him – more self-aware, more confident, more self-controlled, more content.
So what is our first step? We need to realize the importance of making a commitment to spend a daily time with God in prayer, Bible Study and listening for God’s guidance.
Some will say, Oh yes I spend time in prayer and bible study each day. But what about the listening for God’s guidance part of that time? I’m afraid we are in so much of a rush sometimes that we tend to skip over that part.
Jeff Simms shared this story in one of his sermons. I’d like to share it with you today.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt got tired of smiling that big smile and saying the usual things at all those White House receptions. So one evening he decided to find out whether anyone was paying attention to what he was saying. As each person came up to him and extended their hand, he flashed that big smile and said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” People would automatically respond with comments such as, “How lovely!” or “Just continue with your great work.” Nobody was listening to what he was saying, except one foreign diplomat. When the president said “I murdered my grandmother this morning” the diplomat replied softly, “I’m sure she had it coming to her.”
Now, we smile at that story, But in truth aren’t we guilty of the same thing? …Not listening to what God is saying to us!
Is this how we are sometimes treat God? He talks to us through His word, or in our prayer time or in a quiet time of reflection but we are not listening.
Has anyone ever come up to you and said, “So what’s on your agenda for today”? You whip out your phone or your calendar and list for them each of the important tasks for the day. We’ve all had similar situations. But how many of us have a specific time set aside to spend with God each day? The truth of the matter is that unless you make a commitment each day to spend time with God, it probably will not happen.
God created you to know Him and to have fellowship with Him.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command.15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Jesus says that he no longer calls us slaves or servants, but friends. Can you honestly say right now in this moment that you consider Jesus to be your friend?
In the Old testament God was approached once a year in the most sacred area of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. Only the Israelite high priest could enter. It was a fearful task that some priests did not live through. It was also a very dark place. Inside the veil where the ark of the covenant was it was completely dark. God was full of mystery and hard to know.
Thankfully for us Jesus changed all that. He wants us to spend time with Him, he wants to be our friend, our guide, our teacher, our Redeemer.
We talked earlier about the madman from the cemetery who approached Jesus. As I was reading my NIV Life Application Study Bible I found a page with the heading “The Touch of Jesus”.
This paragraph follows the heading.
“What kind of people did Jesus associate with? Whom did he consider important enough to touch? Here we see many of the people Jesus came to know. Some reached out to him; he reached out to them all. Regardless of how great or unknown, rich or poor, young or old, sinner or saint – Jesus cares equally for all. No person is beyond the loving touch of Jesus.
The following list appears.
Jesus talked with a despised tax collector, an insane hermit, the Roman governor, a young boy, a prominent religious leader, a homemaker, an expert in the law, a criminal, a synagogue ruler, a fisherman, a king, a poor widow, a Roman centurion, a group of children, a prophet, an adulteress woman, the Jewish high council, a sick woman, a rich man, a blind beggar, Jewish political leaders, a group of women, the high priest, an outcast with leprosy, a royal official, a young girl, a traitor, a helpless and paralyzed man, an angry mob of soldiers and police, a woman from a foreign land, a doubting follower, an enemy who hated him and a Samaritan woman.
What about you?
Have you reached out to touch Jesus?
By the way that list in my Bible also comes with a corresponding list of scripture references where those encounters happened. If you would like to see that list I will be happy to share it with you.
I would like to read to you a portion of a prayer written by Ken Gire. Sadly enough I think it is a prayer that all of us could be praying at times.
“Help me to realize that it was not the healthy who reached out to you. But it was those who suffered greatly who reached out to grasp you. It was the people in the streets, the needy people. People with outstretched arms. People with empty hands, people who had nothing but the faith that you could make them whole.
I confess O Lord, how often I have followed in the crowd pressed around you. I have touched you, but only in the rush hour of religious activity. Sunday after Sunday I take my part in the crowd as I sit through the service. I sing the hymns and hear the sermon. I read my Bible, say my prayers, give my money. I attend the right seminars, tune into the right programs, read the right books.
How could I be so close to your presence and yet be so far away from your power? Could it be that my arms are folded? Could it be that my hands are full? I pray that if my arms are complacent, you would unfold them in outstretched longing for you. And if my hands are full, I pray you would empty them so I might cling to you. Amen.
So how do you start having a quiet time with God each day.
Here are a few suggestions.
- Make the commitment. Understand this is something God desires of you. Commit yourself to make this sacrifice. Make the choice for this to be a priority.
- Set aside a time and place to pray. For me mornings are good. For others late in the evening works well. There is no right or wrong time or place. Jesus prayed often in many various locations at different times of the day. It does not matter when or where you pray. What matters is that you “Just do it”.
- Pray expectantly. Read with anticipation. Don’t allow your time with God to become just routine. Pray before you read the Bible asking God to reveal something to you. Think about what you read. Really listen to what the scripture is saying to you. Be ready with pen and paper to jot down notes, insights, and questions.
- Share yourself completely. You are coming before the one who knows you better than you know yourself. Be honest with God. If you are hurting, tell him. No matter if you are filled with joy, or doubt, or worry, share what you are feeling with God.
And remember, as we spend time with Jesus, as we get to know more about Him, as we focus on Him we can’t help but become more like Him – More self-aware, more confident, more self-controlled, more content.
Yes, Jesus wants to reset our minds! He wants to teach us how to think pure thoughts.
You are loved! You are forgiven! You are valuable! You are not condemned!
When we see that we are priceless creations of the most high God, we start treating everyone else like they really matter. We treat others the way we feel about ourselves.
I want to close today with a scripture.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Only when the Holy Spirit renews, reeducates, and redirects our minds are we truly transformed.
Let us pray.
Dear Heavenly Father, Please forgive me when I am hearing and not listening. Forgive me when I allow Satan to fill my mind with negative and evil thoughts. Please reset my mind today renewing my thinking as I spend time with you. Amen.