This morning my sister-in-law Christine sent out an email regarding the importance of our thought-life that got me thinking. She wrote: “If we will train ourselves to think like God – what He says in His Word – we will be full of joy and peace, and blessings will surround us. The Life of God in us will flow freely because the thoughts of God and His life are flowing through us!” Those two sentences ignited a chain reaction of ideas in my head.
Our minds, the way we think, WHAT we think, do in fact have tremendous impact on our lives: how we perceive reality, how we feel, what we do, and how we treat others. But the spiritual implications for our lives are of even greater importance. When God speaks to us, his words are always embedded with his power — power we need to live and get things done: “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Dt 8:3, Mat 4:4). And if our thinking isn’t aligned with God’s, we’ll filter what he’s trying to give us. In other words, how and what we think are vital factors that will either help or hinder our ability to receive from God.
This is how it works. God can speak to us through a variety of ways, but his primary method is through that “still, small voice” inside us. That is God’s Spirit communicating with our spirits, our inner-beings. This inner voice first registers on our emotions. That’s where we sense it. We have a gut feeling or an intuition. And it affects us in a vague, general, emotional way. We’re left with a “feeling” about something. Then his words try to work their way outward to our consciousness, our minds — and sometimes this is where they get hung up. Our minds act as filters. If we are receptive, that message from God’s Spirit percolates into our brains, and we receive the full message — no longer as vague feelings but as words. It becomes revelation. And with revelation comes the power. But if our minds are not tuned to God’s frequency, so to speak, if we are so focused on our earthly concerns, if we are not accustomed to God’s thoughts and seeing life as he sees life, we do not hear correctly. We are left with that vague feeling, or maybe we get only a few snippets of his message.
So here’s the point. If our thought-life is cluttered with the “cares of this life”, with worries, with fears, with distraction and simple preoccupation with daily living, we’re not going to hear clearly when God speaks to us. His words (and the power that accompanies them) get lost in the static. If our minds are not trained and continually disciplined to see things as God sees them, to think that way he thinks, if they are not transformed into his thought patterns, we will be hindered in getting direction and life-generating power from him. Our brains will naturally dismiss, filter or just water-down those spiritual messages. We won’t be getting the full impact, the full truth, or the full power of what God is trying to channel to us.
What’s the remedy? How to we train our minds to hear God clearly? If you want to understand a person, you have to spend time with them. If you want to think the way someone thinks, you have to spend a lot of time listening to what they say. For us, this is as simple as our most basic Christian disciplines of prayer and reading Scripture. Jesus modeled this for us: it was his habit to go off by himself in the mornings to pray, and he knew his Scripture well.
Yeah, I know. Sounds simple in theory, but putting it into practice … that’s another matter. But really, what other choice do we have? He set the example, and we should follow it. We should set aside quality time to be in God’s presence every day, to give him opportunity to change us inwardly. And we need to have the filter of our minds transformed and renewed “so that we can test and discern what God’s will is” (Rom 12:2). How? By “the washing of water with the Word” (Eph 5:26). That continual exposure to his way of thinking is necessary to allow God’s thoughts to become our thoughts. Then his messages will flow through our spirits into our consciousness unimpeded. And when we can fully grasp his words to us, we’ll receive his life-giving power also.
The basic concept is simple. If we want to hear when God speaks, and if we want his power flowing through us in our daily lives, we have to learn to regularly clean our filters.
I’m indebted to my friend and spiritual advisor, Dr. Michael Capps, for teaching me these fundamentals of spiritual dynamics during our many conversations about life and godly living.
Christine Schmidt’s email was from her “Word for Today – 01.22.09”