Sunday, February 6, 2011

Words, Thoughts, Emotions, Decisions, Actions, Habits, Character, and Destiny

Genesis 12.1-3
1. Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Abraham, I am going to do all these things for you, but first we have to get you in the right place. The right place is firstly, away from the idolatrous inhabitants of Haran. Abraham lived in a land where the inhabitants worshipped their god through the moon. They worshiped the creation and not the creator.

There is much negative connotation when we start talking about destiny. I am not talking about an individual predestination. There are those that feel we have an individual predetermined destination. Some are destined from birth to fail God, while others are destined from birth to serve God. That is ludicrous and in direct conflict with the Word of God. Mark 8.34 says, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.Revelation 22.17 says, “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

These two words are phenomenal. I call one, the great equalizer, and the other, the great divider.
· Whosever. This is the great equalizer. This applies to everyone equilaterally. It applies to every man as it does to every woman. It includes every boy as well as every girl. It spoke to the Jew as well as to the Gentile. It does not matter if one is an American or a Russian. It reaches out to every Democrat and to every Republican. This one word places us all on equal footing at the base of the cross. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” All of us are/were in need of a redeemer. The song says, of the blood of Jesus, that “it reaches to the highest mountain; it flows to the lowest valley.” It crosses the path of every man. “Whosoever” say we all stand together in our need of the sacrifice that Jesus provided and in the ability to access His forgiving nature and be washed in His blood.

· Will. This is the great divider. While ‘whosever’ makes us all equals, ‘will’ divides us all. Because, while His forgiveness is available to everyone, everyone will not avail themselves of it. To some, it will be too hard (Rich young ruler .. Luke 18;18-23.) To others, it will be too confining (a strait gate, a narrow way .. in the original text, narrowed by many obstacles.) some will be saddled with doubt, others with pride, and still other with desires. Sadly, as well as ‘whosoever’ joins us, ‘will’ quickly individualizes us. One writer says we are to work out our own salvation, with fear and trembling, before the Lord. When it comes to our own salvation, we are divided from the crowd.

When it comes to destiny:
· I fully believe the Church, the Bride of Christ, is predestined to spend eternity in the presence of God in a city He is building.

· I fully believe those that do not avail themselves of this simple plan of salvation, are predestined to spend eternity in a place of torment.

Beyond that, I do not, in any way, on any day, believe that when I was born, God stamped on my forehead the words “Saved” or “Lost” and that I could do nothing to change that.

When I talk about destiny, I am talking about an eventual destination. I determine that destination or destiny.

Words determine your thinking. Your thinking determines your emotions. Your emotions determine your decisions. Your decisions determine your actions. Your actions determine your habits. Your habits determine your character. Your character determines your destiny.

We need to learn to step back sometimes.
If you are not happy with your destination, change your character.
If you are not happy with your character, change your habits.
If you are not happy with your habits, change your actions.
If you are not happy with your actions, change your decisions.
If you are not happy with your decisions, change your emotions.
If you are not happy with your emotions, change your thinking.
If you are not happy with your thinking, change your words.

Negative words produce negative thinking … produces negative emotions … produce negative decisions … produce negative actions … produce negative habits … produce a negative character … produces a negative destination.

Godly words produce Godly thinking … produces Godly emotions … produce Godly decisions … produce Godly actions … produce Godly habits … produce Godly character … produce a Godly destination.

I have much for you to do for me, Abraham, but first, I need you to get away from that idolatrous nation where ungodly words are crippling your thinking.

Isaiah 55.6-11
6. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11. So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

God said, your thoughts are not my thoughts. My actions are not your actions. How do we change that? How do we bring our thoughts and imaginings into captivity?

2 Corinthians 10.4-5
4. (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5. 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;

How do we become thinkers of God’s thoughts?

Proverbs 23.6-8
6. Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:
7. For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
8. The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.

The bread represents the words.
John 1.1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 6.32-34
32. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
33. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
34. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

How do we become thinkers of God’s thoughts?

We become thinkers of God’s thoughts when we begin to listen to God’s words.

Your brain is like a massive super computer. It is constantly taking in information and storing it for a time when it will need it. We consciously and unconsciously learn. On a computer we store various bits of information in binary code. When we ask the computer to do something, it searches ever bit of information to determine how to do what we have commanded. Our brain works like that. When we try to reason or think, our brain accesses all the information we have stored to determine how to respond or think. By inputting the right words we will think the right thoughts.

Thoughts become emotions

Back to Proverbs 23.7 “… as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” The heart is the seat of emotion. Thoughts produce emotions. When you are angered by something and you ponder it, turning it over and over in your thoughts, it begins to produce that anger and rage. That negative word/seed has tainted your thinking. It has marred the God inspired process of forgiveness. It has produced a negative emotion.

That negative emotion will contaminate the decision making process. Everything you do is stained by that negative emotion. Have you ever had someone cut you off in traffic with their bad driving? What do you do? You get mad. You speed up and try to get back at them. You become the thing that angered you. You become the bad driver. The bad seed has grown and choked the life out of it.

Luke 8.7
“And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.”

The Good Word is being sown in our lives, but if do not exercise the proper caution, we will also incorporate the thorns of those with whom we come in contact and allow them to grow freely, and they will choke away the benefit of the positive Word of God.

There is a psychological process that occurs when we allow wrong thoughts to remain in our thinking. The process is in three steps: Association, Influence, and Transference. When we entertain these kinds of thoughts brought by the wrong words, when we do not bring them into captivity, we are allowing them to freely associate with our thoughts. Eventually that association will become influence. Those thoughts will begin to influence our emotions. They will bend our emotions in their direction. Finally, they will achieve transference. They will transfer into our thinking and become our emotions. The easiest stage to change this process is in the beginning. We cannot afford to allow wrong thoughts to become our emotions. We must bring them into captivity. Paul said that he brought his body (his words, his thoughts, his emotions) into subjection, lest he should end up a castaway.

Emotions become decisions

Be careful of the decisions you make based on bad words. Find the source. Ask the question. Pray about it. Know the will of God concerning it. Haste is generally the enemy of good decisions. I know there are going to be people that will tell you about times they waited and lost. Let me assure you, more is lost by hasty unsure decisions than will ever be lost by prayerful consideration.

The Word tells us that we are to try the spirits whether they be of God or not. It further tells us that every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist.

What does that mean to me? It means, in my opinion, that voice that tells me that God does not understand, that God does not care, that God is not interested in my problems, is denying that Jesus Christ came in the fullness of the flesh, and that is the spirit of the antichrist. It is the devil trying to twist my emotions to make a wrong decision. Bad words lead to bad (wrong) thoughts, which in turn lead to wrong emotions, which will then lead to the wrong decision.

We are emotional creatures. Rarely will a decision be made in our lives based solely on logic. Every decision is dripping with emotion. This is the reason we will defend our choices even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it was the wrong choice. We came to this decision based on our emotional state. In this, the decision is not separate from us, it is part of us. When someone criticizes the decision, they are criticizing us. For better or worse, we are usually married to our decisions. For this reason, we must exercise Godly caution when we are in the process of making a choice. Associate with the Words of God. Let His love influence you. Transfer His Spirit into your process. Make right decisions.

Decisions become actions

I wanted a pool for my kids. I wanted to spend about $400. I went to a pool store in Lexington. I told the salesman from the start that I was looking for a small above ground pool for around $400. He proceeded to show me a $10,000 pool. It was wonderful. It was well built (he went through the entire process of manufacturing and building.) I did the usual polite dodges. “Let me think about it and get back to you.” No deal. He called his manager in New York. Between the two of them they got the price down to under $7,000. (Uh … $400 pool?)
The NY manager asked to speak to me. He told me it was a once only offer. I could only buy that pool for that price on that day. I carefully explained to the NY’er that I agreed that the pool was well worth the $7,000 they were asking. However, I came in and told this salesman specifically that I was looking for a $400 pool. While I completely agreed that this was an incredible deal, it was still not what I was looking for when I came in.

Decisions become actions. I decided I wanted a $400 pool. I went to Montgomery Wards and bought a $400 pool.

In the Bible story of the building of the Tower of Babel, the Word says that the people were of one idea and one language. The Word tells us they had made a decision to build a tower into the heavens, to make a name for themselves, and so they would not be scattered. This was in conflict with God’s plan and command for them to multiply and fill the earth. There are many Bible studies in the story of the Tower of Babel, but I want to deal with this one aspect. They made a decision, albeit a wrong decision, and that decision became an action. When we come to a decision, action will soon follow.

Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

We must make sure our actions glorify God in Heaven. Paul, in his letter to the church at Rome, told them that men should see their works and glorify God. Godly actions require godly decisions.

Actions become habits.

There are good habits and bad habits.

I have always heard that any action you do consistently for 21 days becomes a habit. Conversely, to break a habit, one must not do a certain action for 21 days consecutively. We are familiar with many bad habits. People do them without thinking.

I used to bite my fingernails. I would do it without conscience thought. Many times I would become aware of it after the fact, when I had gotten to the quick and my fingers were bleeding. The habit superimposes itself over health concerns. It places itself over common sense. It lays itself over top of thinking.

This is any habit.

It is another form of integration (a process by which an action becomes part of the whole.) An animal first responds to a stimulus, but if it is neither rewarding nor harmful the animal reduces subsequent responses. One example of this can be seen in small song birds - if a stuffed owl (or similar predator) is put into the cage, the birds initially react to it as though it were a real predator. Soon the birds react less, showing habituation. The stuffed owl simply becomes part of their everyday life and, to them, constitutes no threat. If another stuffed owl is introduced (or the same one removed and re-introduced), the birds react to it as though it were a predator, showing that it is only a very specific stimulus that is habituated (namely, one particular unmoving owl in one place). Habituation has been shown in essentially every species of animal.

Habituation need not be conscious - for example, a short time after we get dressed, the stimulus clothes create disappears from our nervous systems and we become unaware of it. When we first put on a shirt/blouse, we are aware of how it feels against the skin. However, very shortly thereafter, we become accustomed to that feel and no longer notice it. In this way, habituation is used to ignore any continual stimulus, presumably because changes in stimulus level are normally far more important than absolute levels of stimulation. This sort of habituation can occur through neural adaptation in sensory nerves themselves (our tongue is accustomed to the way our teeth feel against it and does not respond to that stimulus, but will respond to a tiny hair in the mouth,) and through negative feedback from the brain to peripheral sensory organs (the brain tells the skin not to respond to the feel of the fabric.)

The learning underlying habituation is a fundamental or basic process of biological systems and does not require conscious motivation or awareness to occur. Indeed, without habituation we would be unable to distinguish meaningful information from the background, unchanging information.

We need habits to allow us to see the difference in the world. When we are not caught up in the common day-to-day routine, we can see the differences in our lives.

That being said, we must guard ourselves against becoming common with the things of the flesh. The works of Satan must, now and always, bring up our sense of concern. We must be an ever vigilant as the watchmen on the wall. We stand between our families and the wholesale works of the Devil. We stand in the gap. We make up the hedge.

How do those around us know us? What dictates their opinion of us and does it matter?

We are known by the assemblage of our actions. We have all heard the old adage, “Actions speak louder than words.” I can tell you all day long that I am a good man, but if you see me kicking kids and drowning kittens, what will you believe?

I heard someone say recently, “Do not confuse the man for the moment.” We are all human and subject to that one moment of weakness. Rest assured, if you have a weakness, the Devil will exploit it. When it comes to works of the flesh, he is the master. He will allow you to progress until he feels it is the optimal moment to create the most damage to those around you. He will allow you to operate unfettered because he knows your actions will become your habits, and your habits will become your character.

Never mistake grace for approval.

When you make a mistake, when you sin by error, and the lightning doesn’t proceed from heaven, it does not mean God approves. He is graciously allowing you space to repent. “Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, .. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, ..”

Repentance is essential to the life of a Christian. While repentance is so much more than saying one is sorry, it does begin with the vocalization of said sorrow or conviction. In Acts, following the message from Peter, the crowd was ‘pricked in their hearts’ and cried out, “What must we do?”

Your habits become your character. “Character is what you do when no one is looking”

Character is what we do in our lifetime. Have you ever heard it said of someone, “That was out of character.”? What does that mean? It means that the habits of an individual have defined his character and what they have seen is out of step with the expected actions.

Christians were first called Christians at Antioch. They did not call themselves Christians. They did not proclaim they were Christians. Someone saw their character and said they were ‘like Christ’. I knew a guy once that had a denim jacket that was covered with scriptures embroidered all over it. It was his walking billboard of his Christianity. It was the thing that identified him as a Christian. How sad, if our life does not identify us. What do others say about you? How do they identify you? What is your character in their eyes?

The things they see you do consistently are how they will identify you.

Do they see you leaving for and returning from church regularly?
Do they hear you talk about God in daily conversation?
Do they see you pray at neighborhood cookouts or at work before eating a meal?
Do they know you are a source of prayer when there is a problem in their lives?

What is your character?

Your habits become your character.

Finally, your character determines your destination.
Now, to clarify, it will take more than character to reach Heaven. There are steps to salvation, but right words will lead to rightful thinking, which will lead to the proper emotions, which will lead to the true decisions, which will bring about the accurate actions, which will create the proper habits, and create the appropriate character, and lead to the right destination. You will not come to know Christ in his fullness without these things.

Your character is the sum total of your words, your thoughts, your emotions, your decisions, your actions and your habits. If your words are not pure, if your thoughts are not untainted, if your emotions are not uncontaminated, if your decisions are not wholesome, if your actions are not uncorrupted, if your habits are not clean, and if your character is not spotless, you will not reach a heavenly destination.

Our old life is passed away, when we become a new creature in Christ. Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2.20)

Why are we here? This is the question that is said to have plagued the thinking of mankind throughout the ages. To the one that doesn’t believe in God, I can see how this would be a difficult question. However, to those of us enlightened ones (Satan has blinded those lest they should see this marvelous light) this is an easy question. Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” We are here to revere God and keep His commandments. We are here to do the right thing. We are here to make our way to the right destination.

My friend,

Get your words right
Get your thoughts right
Get your emotions right
Get your decisions right
Get your actions right
Get your habits right
Get your character right
Get your destination right

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