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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thoughtful Worship

       The Christian life is a mindset and this concept is all throughout the New Testament. If our life is to be worshipful; after our hearts worship attitude, the next place we find worship is in our thought life.  There are many passages that command, make reference to, and exemplify the proper thought life of a believer.  An example of each of these will be looked at.
"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"

       Philippians 4:8 is probably the most common verse that commands a holy thought life.  There are 8 root words in this verse that produce good fruit in the thought life and, unfortunately, no human can fulfill this command, unless they are walking in the spirit. Like Romans 12:1 says, these can only be fulfilled by the mercies of God.  An exercise can be utilized with this verse. Choose 1 of those 8 words and practice thinking only about pure, or true, or honest, etc.  It won't be long until you find that it is very hard to do and when left to our own abilities (rather, inabilities), failure is sure.  God's mercy and grace is needed for our thought life to be holy and acceptable and God desires for His children to kneel at the cross in humble submission with every part of our lives.  In fact, believers are commanded to shun away thoughts that are  inappropiate, in 2 Corinthians 10:5, and to bring every thought to the obedience of Christ. 

"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity 
every thought to the obedience of Christ"

       There are also verses that reference the importance of the thought life.  Colossians 3:1-3 indicate this.  

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
       There are a few key words in this passage that refers to the thought life, and to ponder on spiritual things.  First, in verse 1 is the command to seek things above.  This Greek word translated "seek", actually means to seek by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to enquire into.  We have a responsibility to study the scriptures, and to rightly interpret them, but also to sit and meditate about the truths God has richly blessed us with, and revealed to us. What a blessing it is, just to ponder on the thing of the Lord! 
       In verse 2, this sentiment is repeated, to set our affections on things above.  This word, "affections", again, pertains to the thought life. However, this word goes a little deeper in meaning.  Not only are we exhorted to meditate on the truths of God's word, but "aim to be wise" in our understanding.  How are we to be wise, by rightly interpreting scripture.  It would be unwise for believers to interpret the tables of the moneychangers in  Matthew 21:12 as the prophecy of the collapse of the world's economic system, when this parable was, in fact, a rebuke by the Lord Jesus of inappropriate behavior in His house.  God wants us to be wise in the handling of His scripture, and to set our affections on rightly understanding everything about them, even how to interpret. 
       In Colossians, the reason believers are to seek or meditate on things above and strive to rightly understand God's Word is because our life and every aspect of our life is hid with Christ in God.  Everything a person does is premeditated, in some sense and whether the motives are good or bad, but it only makes sense that the thoughts should be right if our actions are to be right.  Proverbs 7:25 exhorts to "Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths."  A literal translation would be to not let our hearts (or innermost thoughts) deteriorate and then follow in that way.
       Lastly, there are accounts in the Bible of believers in dire circumstances, yet their mindset is on things above.  For example, there is so much that can be learned from the account of the imprisonment of Paul and Silas in Acts chapter 16 in addition to this point, but reading the circumstances of this account reveals that Paul and Silas were naked, beaten and thrown in prison.  At midnight, they prayed and sang praise to God.  These men were probably very cold and hungry and sick, but their position in Christ and striving to set their minds on things above allowed the joy of the Lord to be in their hearts and minds.  There was nothing in those circumstances that would change that and this is a great example of what having the right thought life will result in: not only an overwhelming joy, but worship to God no matter what the circumstances. 
        Like Paul writes in Romans 8:35  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"


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