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Paul is saying: extract the negative things, and bring into your life the positive things, and we're going to see this morning what those positive things are as he lists them to us

Of course we've been many weeks now, about twenty plus, in our studies on Lord's day mornings in the book of Philippians, which we have called the epistle of joy. Just last week we embarked upon a study of verses 6 and 7, and we called it last week: 'The Path To Peace Of Mind', the path to peace of mind. Really this is part two, as it were, of that series, that title: 'The Path to Peace of Mind - part 2', because in the verses that we'll look at this morning, verses 8 and 9, we have more steps to peace with God in our minds, and to know the peace of God and the God of peace in our hearts with us day by day.

Let's read verses 6, 7, 8 and 9 so that we can get the flow of Paul's thought. Verse 6: "Be careful for nothing", and we saw that that 'be careful' could be translated 'be anxious, or be worried about nothing', "but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 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. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you".

Now in verses 6 and 7 we saw how to have the peace of God in you, isn't that right? Verse 7: 'The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus'. How to have the peace of God in you, but now if you look at verses 8 and 9, what Paul is saying here is how to have the God of peace with you. At the end of verse 9: 'and the God of peace shall be with you'. Really it's an extension of more ways that we can know peace of mind and heart with ourselves through knowing God in a personal relationship with Him. I was telling another preacher friend in the week that has gone by what I was preaching on this Sunday, he was asking me what text I was on, and he happened to title these verses: 'The Philippian's Peace Pill' - verses 6 to 9. How to have peace, it's like a little tablet that you can take and the outflow of it will bring the peace of God in your heart, and the God of peace into your life immediately.

Now we saw last week in verses 6 and 7 that that happens when you don't think about negative things. Be careful for nothing, extract negativity from your life - that means anxiety, anxiousness, worry, being over careful for things in your life. Now the way that was done, we found, was: pray about everything, worry about nothing, and be thankful for anything. If you do that, extract negativity from your life of over carefulness and anxiety and unnecessary worry, you will know the experience of the peace of God flooding your heart and mind through Christ Jesus. So last week, if you like, was telling us to extract negative things, not to think about negative things. But now this week we have the antithesis, the opposite of that in verses 8 and 9, and he's now telling us: it's not just enough to take away negative thinking from your life, but you've got to replace it with something, you've got to replace it with positive things.

Listen: what God is waiting on you doing is working out what He has already worked in. If I could put it like this: the ball is now in your court

Now this is more than the power of positive thinking and good psychology, this is something supernatural  - because good psychology doesn't give you the peace of God, nor bring you into a relationship with the God of peace and bring Him intimately into your life as a felt reality. Paul is saying: extract the negative things, and bring into your life the positive things, and we're going to see this morning what those positive things are as he lists them to us. But before we go on any further I want you to really grasp this, for this is important if you're ever going to have victory in your life by extracting negative thoughts and bringing into your mind positive thoughts - this is the thing that you must come to. Now we know, I hope all of us know, that the power of God is essential in your life for Christian growth. We've already found that out in Philippians chapter 2 and verse 13, look at it: 'For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure'.

Now we all believe this, that if we're going to grow and mature in the Christian life in whatever sphere, we're going to need the power of God. We're going to need to know the power of the Holy Spirit to help us, because within ourselves we feel of ourselves that we're not strong enough to accomplish many of the commands and precepts that are given to us in the New Testament. Maybe, as we've been following through these studies on Sunday mornings, you've been listening to the exhortation of the apostle - maybe even last week you've been thinking: 'It's alright David, saying worry about nothing and pray about everything and be thankful for anything, but it's a different thing trying to do it!'. Maybe you were sitting there thinking: 'I just can't do it, no matter how much I try of myself I cannot do it'. Well, here's the first lesson: you cannot do it of yourself, you need God's help, you need God's power in your life.

But you know, I feel for a lot of people that this leaning upon God's power is often just a cop-out. What I mean is: they sit in their anxiety, or they sit in whatever sin they may be resigned to, and they say: 'Well unless God shifts me out of it, unless there's a bolt of supernatural lightning from the Holy Spirit to totally and utterly change me, I will be like this the rest of my life'. That is wrong, because although we need the power of God, if you look at verse 12 just before verse 13 in chapter 2, Paul told the Philippians: 'work out your own salvation with fear and trembling'. So there is a responsibility upon you as a Christian to work out your salvation, and that means to actively use your own volition and will to follow the commands of God. The thinking, as we saw a few weeks ago when we looked at this verse in particular, was: God has put His power in you. When you were converted, no matter what the charismatics say, you were given the gift of the Holy Spirit, you were baptised into Christ, you were given all the spiritual gifts necessary in potential within your heart and soul, but it is your duty now - now that you have the power, now that you have the potential - of using your will to work out that power in your life.

It is within your reach, believer, to overcome anxiety and worry and over carefulness. It's there for the taking if you will but reach out by faith!

Do you see the thinking here? It's no good just saying: 'Well, I don't have enough power. If only God would come into my life in a miraculous way and deliver me from these things!'. Listen: what God is waiting on you doing is working out what He has already worked in. If I could put it like this: the ball is now in your court. The responsibility is with you, don't be waiting for God in some kind of supernatural way to reach out into your life and do something different, because He's done everything that He needs to do and the emphasis now is on you, on you to work out what God has already worked in. All that remains for you to overcome worry, or indeed any problem in your life, is for you, by faith, to utilise the power that God has already infused into your being - and it's all down, and this is what I'm getting to, before we go any further you must get this: this matter of overcoming worry, anxiety, and problems, of extracting the negativity from your life and injecting the positivity, is nothing more than a matter of choice. When you choose to do it.

That is very clear from this text, if you look at chapter 4, our text again, verses 8 and 9: 'Finally, brethren, whatsoever things...', and the list is there, but then at the end, '...think on these things'. It's a command! As another translation puts it will: 'Fix your thoughts, let your mind dwell and ponder on these things' - it's all to do with your will! In verse 9 the same language is used at the end of the verse: 'do', you can't get much clearer than that. Another translation says: 'keep putting into practice, model your way of living on', and Paul gives himself as an example, as he has followed the example of the Lord Jesus. What I want you to see is that all the language in these two verses is the language of volition, the language of will, the language of choice. In other words, it is within your reach, believer, to overcome anxiety and worry and over carefulness. It's there for the taking if you will but reach out by faith! If you do not have it, it is simply a matter of choice.

The reason why I say this and must emphasise that, apart from a complete and universal understanding of what we're going to find in these verses today, I say this because there is a battle on for the mind of believers. I think that perhaps one of the greatest spiritual supernatural battles that is going on in the unseen world, remember we wrestle not with flesh and blood, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, we wrestle with principalities and powers, and the rulers of this wickedness in heavenly places - but the greatest battle, and the battle I believe that many believers are losing at this present moment, is the battle for the mind. I have said to you before, but it bears repeating and I repeat it so many times in private counselling: that the devil cannot rob you of your salvation - praise God for that, isn't that tremendous to know that today? He cannot take your salvation away, and when you're a Christian soldier, born-again, standing on the victory ground, he cannot effectively take you back into his own camp of the Egyptians. But one thing that the devil can do and is within his power is to rob you of the peace and the joy which is the effulgence of your salvation. In other words, he cannot rob you of your salvation, but he can rob you of the benefits of it.

For many Christians the greatest battle in their life is with evil and negative thoughts, even sinful thoughts

We're not talking about eternal life and so on, but I'm talking about specifically this peace and joy that Paul has been talking about. Effectively, if he can take the benefits of it away from you, it's as good as taking your salvation - not for eternity, but for the present! It means that you're not living in the reality of your salvation now - and although you'll go to heaven, there's no doubt about that, and you'll be in eternal peace and joy for all of the ages and aeons of limitless timelessness, now what is the effectiveness of your salvation in your life now if that peace and joy has been taken from you? For many Christians the greatest battle in their life is with evil and negative thoughts, even sinful thoughts.

I wonder am I speaking to your heart today? I don't think there's anybody in this meeting exempt from this, I have had this in my life, you have it in your life, if you don't you will have it. We're all in this together today, some more than others. I don't know what that particular problem is in your life, but I know from my own life that it seems to be when you try to address this problem and weed out these thoughts from your life, more thoughts seem to come, and the more you try to put these things right the more wrong they get, and the more you suppress these evil thoughts, it seems that there is a flood of evil that comes into your mind at that moment. It's difficult.

Now for that reason, Paul didn't say: 'Wrestle with those thoughts', do you notice that? Paul didn't tell us to wrestle with those thoughts. Many psychologists today, not that it matters, but they agree that one of the worst things you can do is start to wrestle with evil and negative thoughts, start to try and root them out, you only aggravate them - it's the worst thing you can do. But what Paul is telling us to do after verses 6 and 7 of last week, telling us not to think negatively, is now to think positively. He is saying that you can't just take negative thoughts out of your mind and heart, you've got to cultivate good thoughts, you've got to replace those evil thoughts with something, and those good thoughts will lead to good actions, and ultimately change your mind and heart. That is what the purpose of salvation is - not just to be saved in eternity, but to change the whole man, body, soul and spirit and mind. Remember what Paul said in Romans chapter 12 verses 1 and 2: 'I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but' - what? - 'be ye transformed by' - what? - 'the renewing of your mind'.

I wonder has your mind been renewed? Sometimes when I talk to young people about evil thoughts and so on I use - and I haven't ever found a better illustration than this, and you have maybe heard me say it before - I use the illustration of a bottle. I ask the question: 'Say you had a milk bottle and it's filled with air, how do you get the air out of the milk bottle?'. You get some hare-brained schemes - get the end of the vacuum cleaner and stick in the nozzle and try to suck it out, put your mouth over it and try to suck it out - but you know the way you get the air out is you pour something else in. You pour water in and the air comes out of it, and really that is the philosophy that was in the mind of the Psalmist in Psalm 119 - and young people, especially young men, grab hold of this and put it in your heart - verse 11: 'Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word'. Thy word have I put in, that it may put out all evil thoughts and all the negativity.

There are eight things in these few verses that Paul tells us to pour into your mind so that the negativity may come out

That's what we're going to be talking about this morning, and there are eight things in these few verses that Paul tells us to pour into your mind so that the negativity may come out. Then in verse 9 he tells us that to think right and to do right, are like a horse and cart, when you start thinking right you'll start doing right - because almost everything in life depends upon your thoughts. Just as the whole forest lies in the little embryo of the acorn, so a good holy life lies in your thoughts. What did the wise man in Proverbs say? 'Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life'. It comes from your thoughts, your imaginations. He also said: 'As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he'.

So to have the God of peace with you, Paul says, you must do two things: you must think right, and you must do right. Let's deal with the first one, this is probably the most important: to think right. Really what he's saying in verse 8, 'think on these things', is that spiritual stability is a result of how a person thinks. Proverbs said: 'As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he', and the word here 'think on these things' could be translated 'dwell on', and the Greek is in the sense of a command - think on these things! It's a choice, and it's more than just entertaining these thoughts, it's stronger than that - the word means 'to evaluate', to sit down and really consider and calculate these things, and to work them out in your mind, to spend time. The verb is in a certain form that insinuates an habitual discipline of mind, where you set your thoughts on spiritual virtues.

Of course who of us doesn't think about spiritual things now and again. Maybe you're sitting here and spiritual thoughts are coming, I hope they are coming to your mind as we study the word of God. But that's no big thing, is it? When you're in church, spiritual thoughts coming; or even when you're reading the Bible - but what this is talking about is a discipline whereby each day you choose in your mind to think upon spiritual things as opposed to thinking about sinful things and worthless things. The importance of doing this is because you will imbibe and inwardly digest those thoughts, and they will determine the type of person that you will become.

'You are what you think', one man said, 'not what you think you are'. Many people think themselves to be something, but they're nothing - and if we could see into your thought life, and you could see into mine, we would really be able to see the measure of a man and a woman by what we think about. I'm not very computer literate, but I hear that there is an acronym in the jargon of computer buffs and it's 'GIGO', and it simply means 'garbage in, garbage out'. If you put garbage into a computer you will get garbage out, the output is dependent upon the information that is input, and it's the same with people's actions. What you think about will be put out in your actions, and indeed your actions will be determined by the thought life that you have.

Many people think themselves to be something, but they're nothing - and if we could see into your thought life, and you could see into mine, we would really be able to see the measure of a man and a woman by what we think

Do you remember in Mark's gospel chapter 7, the Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples: 'That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man'. Although He said it's not what you put in, in the sense of food and drink, that defiles a man; ultimately in His thinking and philosophy it is that what comes out is what has already been put in in the thought life. You know that in the Sermon on the Mount He told us that to hate a person is the same as murder, and to lust after a woman in your mind and with your eyes and your heart is the same as adultery - because ultimately that is the seed of thought that will lead to the very action.

Now let's really get to the crux of what he's telling us to do when we're told the thing. If you turn to Matthew's gospel chapter 6, you're at the Sermon on the Mount, that we studied not so long ago. We don't have time to read the whole portion I want us to look at, but there's just a few words that are so important, verse 25 of Matthew 6: 'Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought', that's the same phrase, you remember, as 'be careful for nothing' in Philippians chapter 4, 'take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold', that means 'look', 'Behold the fowls of the air'. Then in verse 27: 'And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider', behold, look at, think about, 'the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin'. Verse 31: 'Therefore take no thought'. Verse 34: 'Take no thought'.

So you see that the thinking of the Lord Jesus is: 'Don't think about bad things, negative things, but think about good things - that is, there's the lilies of the field. Look at how beautiful they are, they're greater than Solomon in all his glory and your heavenly Father cares for them. Look at the sparrows in the sky, they don't need to beg for their food, or go out and work for their food, your heavenly Father loves them - how much more are ye than sparrows?'. You see what He's asking them to do, He's asking them to stop thinking negatively and start thinking positively, to think in reality and in truth. Listen to what Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones says about that particular passage, and I think he sums it all up for us: 'Faith, according to our Lord's teaching in this paragraph, is primarily thinking'. He's saying faith is thinking. 'And the whole trouble with a man of little faith is that he does not think. He allows circumstances to bludgeon him. That is the real difficulty in life, life comes to us with a club in its hand and strikes us upon the head, and we become incapable of thought, helpless and defeated. The way to avoid that, according to our Lord, is to think. We must spend more time in studying our Lord's lessons, in observation and deduction. Look at the birds, think about them, and draw your deductions. Look at the grass, look at the lilies of the field, consider them. The trouble with most people, however, is that they will not. Instead of doing this, they sit down and ask: 'What is going to happen to me? What can I do?'. That is the absence of thought, it is surrender, it is defeat. Our Lord here is urging us to think and to think in a Christian manner, and that is the very essence of faith. Faith, if you like, can be defined like this: it is a man insisting upon thinking when everything seems determined to bludgeon and knock him down in an intellectual sense. The trouble with the person of little faith is that instead of controlling his own thought, his thought is being controlled by something else - and, as we put it, he goes round and round in circles - that is the essence of worry, that is not thought, that is the absence of thought, the failure to think'.

The trouble with the person of little faith is that instead of controlling his own thought, his thought is being controlled by something else

Isn't that true? Think about the sparrow, just for a moment. Now I don't know just how much a loaf of bread was in the Lord Jesus' day, I'm sure we could find out, but I know how much inflation is going up in our day, and I can imagine without any calculation in exactitude how much inflation has gone up on a loaf of bread since Jesus' day to our day - yet isn't it amazing that the little sparrow, when you look out your window into the garden, still struggles with the big crust! It makes you think, doesn't it?

Paul is just saying what Jesus said: 'Think on these things'. Look to Luke 12 for a moment, because it's the same thought, Luke 12 verse 29, and here's a part that we don't usually meditate on. He's talking about clothing the grass, and in verse 29 He says: 'And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink', and here's a wee phrase that is tremendous, 'neither be ye of doubtful mind'. Look at the margin if you have a good margin Bible, the margin rendering says: 'Live not in careful suspense'. If you're thinking right, you will not live in careful suspense, in a continual atmosphere of fright and fretfulness and anxiety. Now the question here we're asking, and need to ask ourselves is: do we consider and think upon God's truth, or do we consider and think and imbibe on the devil's lies? I believe that the devil, now listen, this is one of the most potent Satanic plans and schemes of the 21st century, and it always has been with the people of God, it is to win the minds of believers and to bind them and paralyse them by anxiousness. But Jesus said: 'Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall' - do what? Make you free!

I have had this experience in my own life, to be made free from anxious thoughts by the Lord Jesus Christ and His truth. Don't for one minute think that faith is a leap in the dark, it is not! Faith is based on facts, God's facts, and that faith comes when you start to think upon those facts and believe them - because faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Now what are the practicalities of this? Let me make it as practical to you as I can: thinking upon these things doesn't come naturally. What I mean is, when you wake up in the morning good thoughts are not going to naturally immediately come into your mind - you must, here's our point again, determine to do it! You must make the choice of thinking about good things. Now when you get up in the morning, your mind is like a fertile field, it's pure black in its soil and its purity. Now, you see when you get up, if you don't start to plant good thoughts, good seed in the soil, before lunchtime that field will be full of weeds! But if you make the right choice when you get up in the morning and you start to put the good seed of the word of God in that field, by lunchtime there will be a harvest of good thoughts and there'll be no room for any weeds whatsoever!

That's one of the reasons why I believe it is more necessary and desirable that you read the Scriptures and study and meditate upon them and pray in the morning, rather than the evening. Let's spend just one moment on the psychology of this thinking. Remember the Lord Jesus when He was teaching in the Gospels, He used to say: 'Let this sink down deep into your ears'. Do you ever wonder what that meant? 'Let it sink down deep into your ears'. Well, when you think about this, the Lord Jesus is the Creator of the universe. He created you, He created your ears, and He also created your whole being so that He knows that you've got what is called a consciousness, and an unconsciousness. The consciousness is the thing that you think with, the things that you're aware of; and your unconsciousness is the things that you imbibe and you're not aware of, but makes up your being, your inner man. Now Jesus and Paul are teaching us to sow good thoughts in your consciousness, plant good seed in your consciousness, and what will happen is that will sink down deep into your ears, into your subconsciousness - and eventually after a period of time, a season, that subconsciousness will bring forth a harvest of well-being in your heart.

Filling your heart and mind and melody with pop music and the philosophies of godless, immoral and amoral men! Will this bring forth a harvest unto good or a harvest unto evil?

Do you see it? But what do you think happens if you sow sinful thoughts, depressive thoughts, careful thoughts, over careful thoughts, anxious thoughts - it will breed depressiveness in your subconscious. You wonder why you're down in the dumps, why everything seems to be against you, and why you feel like you maybe don't even want to go on living - because the fruit that is being brought forth has been put in by the thoughts of negativity that you have allowed and even planted in your own heart!

Let me get even more practical: here's the ramifications of this psychology of this teaching of Paul and Jesus - do you think these kinds of thoughts and harvest will come from watching television? I'm not saying it's wrong to watch the television, don't misunderstand me, don't go away and misquote me - but do you think imbibing the soaps, the philosophies, the morals, the values of the world on a continual 7, or 6, or 5 night a week basis will bring forth this type of harvest in your life? Do you think filling your heart and mind with all the depressive news through all the newspapers, I'm not against reading them, it's important that you read certain newspapers and not others - and it surprises me at times what some of the children of God read! But even filling your heart and mind with the crime and the rape and the pillage and the old people that are being mugged and all the rest, continually dwelling upon these things. Going to the cinema, watching films that are anti-God, that have no thought of God, filled with bad language, imbibing this in your mind - and then when you hit your thumb with a hammer, what's the first thought that comes to you? Filling your heart and mind and melody with pop music and the philosophies of godless, immoral and amoral men! Will this bring forth a harvest unto good or a harvest unto evil?

I think when you consider how much time we give to these things, is it any wonder that we're reaping a harvest of depression in this day and age in which we live? Especially if you give your mind to nothing but feeding upon worry, anxiety, and what can go wrong - you will know this in your heart as a fruit of dejection. Someone has well said: 'Fear is the darkroom where many negatives are developed'. Now remember it's not just about subtraction, it's about subtraction by addition, you have to not just stop thinking wrong thoughts, but start thinking right thoughts. You've to pour in the positives to push out the negatives.

Here's what they are, we don't have time to look at them in detail, you can do that. He says: 'Think on whatever is true', that means whatever is real, not just true, but whatever is real - reality in God's terms. You can do that only when you meditate upon the word of God. So many times I'm talking to people, and they're downcast in their Christian life, and they're backslidden - one of the questions I've learnt time after time to ask is: 'Are you reading your Bible?' - and most of them aren't! True, honest, noble things, worthy things of respect, honourable things - not trivial, temporal, mundane, common earthly things, but things that are worth praise and adoration.

Just, that means righteousness, whatever is in perfect harmony with God's eternal unchanging standards. You can find that only in the Scriptures, reading the Scriptures. Whatever is pure, whatever is morally clean, undefiled. Bishop Lightfoot translates it 'stainless' - and you know as well as I do that there are certain things, when you put them into your mind, it's hard rubbing the stain off. The way that men morally collapse is that they imbibe in their inner thought life some evil, and they harbour it, that impure thought - and it destroys their moral defences of mind, and when the temptation to do the actual thing comes along they meet it and they fall. Whatsoever is lovely, wholly admirable, having an innate beauty all of its own. Things that are consistent with passages like 1 Corinthians 13 about love, it means things that are sweet, generous, patient. Then he goes on 'of good report' - that means winsome, something that's attractive. Do you think about attractive things or depressive things? Things that are highly regarded by men and by God. Virtue is another thing he says, and Guy King the commentator says it could be translated, he believes 'by consistency'. Do you apply the same rules to others as yourselves in your thought life? Or are you inconsistent?

Can I beg of you: whatever you do, don't let your thoughts go unnoticed. I imagine, and I think it's remarkable, that so many Christians have a thought life like a sewer - and their lives are starting to smell!

Things that are praiseworthy, he says, primarily things that God estimates as good things to think about. Paul says to pour these in, all these things in your mind, and they will push out all the negative things, they will be like soldiers standing at the gateway of your soul to challenge anything and everything that appears that is wrong and ungodly. They're like angels that penetrate your heart and root out all the intruders, the evil residents that will pull you down and destroy your heart. Martin Luther was right when he said: 'You can't prevent a bird flying over your head, but you can prevent it making a nest in your hair'. Evil thoughts come to us all, don't they? Sometimes it's like walking down a street, like Thorndyke Street, and everybody has their windows open and they're all shouting at you for attention, and you're just trying to walk to the end of the street. All those evil thoughts and everything, and it just takes all in your power almost to get to the end of the road without stopping and turning and taking your attention away from the things of God.

You might say, 'But David, what about when I'm down praying on my knees, or I'm at the Lord's Table, or I'm in church, and some of the worst imaginable thoughts come into my mind?' - the answer is: pour in good thoughts! Paul would say in another place: 'Act as a police man' - 2 Corinthians 10:5 - 'Bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ'. Do you know what a police man does when he sees a burglar unlawfully trying to enter a house? He goes over and arrests that person in the name of the law and the state! Paul is saying that whenever those unlawful things spring into your mind from Satanic sources - and that's where they're from, as long as you haven't committed them all, those things that come out of the blue, if you arrest them in the name of the King of kings, and pour in good thoughts you will be delivered.

Can I beg of you: whatever you do, don't let your thoughts go unnoticed. I imagine, and I think it's remarkable, that so many Christians have a thought life like a sewer - and their lives are starting to smell! It's remarkable in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, he talks about a man called Ignorance, and the description of him was as he walked beside the two elder pilgrims going to glory, that Ignorance says to them: 'My heart is as good as the next man's', and then he adds, 'As to my thoughts, I take no notice of them'. How many are like that? Listen to what F. B. Meyer says about that: 'Those people leave the Castlegate of their soul perfectly open for any intruder that may wish to enter either from heaven or hell, and so it befalls that the thoughts of the world, of vanity, of impurity; thoughts which are inspired by demons, but which are arrayed in the garb of respectable citizens, pour into the great gateway of the soul, filling the courtyard with their tumultuous uproar. Without discrimination, thought or care on their part, they allow themselves to be occupied and possessed with thoughts of which they have every reason to be ashamed, and they teem in and out and do just as they will - and this is the reason why you sometimes find your heart filled with passion, it is because Guy Fawkes has entered in disguise with his fellow conspirators, and under long flowing robes have introduced explosives'.

I remember going to school during the troubles in the centre of town - you remember too, don't you? On the bus you weren't able to get down Donegal Place on the bus until a man or a woman got on there at Robinson Cleavers, where it used to be, and searched the whole bus for a bomb. You weren't allowed into the citadel of the city without that search, into the supermarkets, into the superstores - they stopped you, and that's what you've got to do with your mind! Stop your thoughts, search your thoughts, and only let them come in when they are pure and when they have all these qualifications that Paul speaks of.

Your character will take on the complexion of your thoughts. If you cherish noble thoughts you will become noble, if you cherish evil thoughts you will become evil

I wonder is there somebody saying: 'Well, that's alright - it's alright for you to say all that, but that's too high a goal for me'. My friend, listen to me, and let this penetrate your heart today: all of these attributes, everything that you see before your eyes on this page, they have all been won for you by Jesus Christ. All of them! They were native to Him in His life, He won them also because He pursued them throughout His temptation and His earthly journey. He kept them as His own, face-to-face with the most terrible and terrific temptations that any human being has ever faced - He endured them all, and then He died, then He rose again, then He ascended to the right hand of God as a human being who eternally and inherently can give to those who, by faith, through His Spirit, ask Him for that same power. It's attainable by faith. If you think right, and you do right - and we haven't got time to look at the doing right, but let me just say this: your thinking will determine your action, and it cannot be divorced from your action. Your character will take on the complexion of your thoughts. If you cherish noble thoughts you will become noble, if you cherish evil thoughts you will become evil, and all the rest - and you know as well as I do that when you consider things in your mind over and over again it becomes comparatively easy to do it if you're presented with the opportunity.

What's a summary of everything that we've just read last week and this week? It's simply this, especially this week: what you do when you rise from your knees is as important as what you say when you're on your knees. It's not just about praying, it's about the way you think, and it's about how your thinking determines your actions. When you think on these things, when you're anxious for nothing, you pray about everything, and are thankful for anything, and when you think on these things and do the will of God: God will be with you. He was right when he said: 'Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny'. Where is your destiny? Where is your joy?

Our Father, we thank Thee for Thy practical instruction to us. We pray that everyone whose heart is wrecked with fear and anxiety may know this very day, in fact this moment by a choice of faith upon the authority of Thy word, the peace flooding their heart which is beyond comprehension. Give it to them now, we pray, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Don't miss Part 23 of 'Philippians': "The Secret Of Contentment"

Transcribed by:
Preach The Word.
May 2003

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the twenty-second tape in his Philippians series, titled "The Path To Peace Of Mind - Part 2" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.

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