Tag Archives: thinking
Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 7)
At this point the inquisition gets quite, please forgive the pun, muddy! Jesus “made mud” — and to the Pharisees this was WORK! And a man of God doesn’t work on the Sabbath!
In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.
A Simple and Logical Conclusion: Although it is not specifically stated, Jesus’ making mud on the Sabbath violated the Sabbath (in the eyes of the Pharisees). A Sabbath-breaker simply could not be from God. The logic was clear. Given the premise (that making mud as a step to giving a man sight for the first time in his life was a breaking of the Sabbath), the conclusion followed.
A Practical Division: But there was a formerly blind person standing in front of them. So some of the Pharisees couldn’t help but ask, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” A very legitimate question! Sometimes our logic gets us in trouble, even when a work of God has been done right before our eyes!
The Troublemaker’s Response? In their division these spiritual leaders of Israel turn their guns on the man who has been healed. I don’t imagine their question was asked with any kindness. “What have you to say about him?” And, perhaps to make him feel guilty, they add, “It was your eyes he opened!” The blind man might have thought, “Oh, great. Make me feel guilty for getting healed!” I wonder if the man born blind thought much before he answered. I suspect he just wanted these angry, irritated Pharisees out of his face. So he blurted out, “He is a prophet.” What he was saying was that Jesus was a man of God on God’s mission. And that’s the last thing the Pharisees wanted to hear from him.
Today’s Challenge: How does your logic sometimes get in the way of recognizing a good work that God has done in your life? What assumptions do you or I make that confuse our thinking? Submit your mind and your reasoning to the Lord today.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I suffer from a condition called BBS. I’ve created the term for this malady because I think many of us are afflicted by it. BBS stands for “Broken Brain Syndrome.” I’m not talking about some head injury that I’ve sustained. I’m talking about how my thinking is often distracted, confused, unfocused, muddled, and unspiritual.
But I’ve found the cure for BBS. It’s here in Hebrews 3 where the writer says, “Fix your thoughts on Jesus!” I need my thoughts fixed. How about you?
Three Steps in Curing BBS (Getting Your Thoughts “Fixed”) from Hebrews 3:
1. Take responsibility for your own thinking! The writer — guided by the Spirit of God — wouldn’t have commanded us to “fix” our thoughts if there weren’t the opportunity and power for us to do so. We must take charge — by the power of the Holy Spirit — of our minds, our thoughts, what we ponder on and ruminate about. And, by the way, the command is to fix “your” thoughts. I’m not responsible for what others think. I’ve got some mechanical work of my own to do. And I need to get to it.
2. Marinate your mind of the Person of Jesus Christ! We’re to soak our minds on who the Lord Jesus is. And in this passage He is “our apostle and high priest” (v. 1). He is the One who was “faithful to the one who appointed him” (v. 2). He is the One who is “worthy of greater honor than Moses” (v. 3). He is the builder of God’s house and is God Himself (v. 4). He is the Son over God’s house (v. 6).
3. Don’t Ignore the Things That Will Break You Mentally! If we need to “fix” our thinking, the assumption is that something is broken with our thinking. The writer here in Hebrews 3 points out what those brain-breakers are. I count three: (a) spiritual wavering. We are told in verse 6 that we are His house “if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” We are to “hold firmly.” Not let go. Not have a weak and distracted grip. We are to hold on to what we know to be true with a biblical tenacity and an uncompromising hope. (b) The second brain-breaker I see is unbelief. We are commanded not to “harden our hearts” (v. 8). We are warned by the history of Israel’s rebellion. And their issue was that their hearts were “always going astray” (v. 10). The believers here in Hebrews 3 are directly addressed: “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart” (v. 12). (c) The third brain-breaker I see here is a hardening by sin’s deceitfulness (v. 13). Believers in Jesus are completely susceptible to the hardening effects of sin! And we deceive ourselves if we think otherwise! The writer challenges us “do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion” (v. 15). We choose to allow our hearts to be hardened. Worse than that, WE harden our own hearts by not believing God and by determining to go our own way!
A testimony: I could give examples of where I’ve failed to fix my thoughts on Jesus, but we sometimes see BBS better as we look at others. And grieve for them. People I care deeply about have abandoned their spouses, gotten involved romantically and intimately with a wrecker of their household, and are defending their disastrous choices by statements like: “I deserve to be happy.” “I’m on my own spiritual journey and my God is supporting me in my decisions.” “I’ve been spiritually abused for decades and I’m just DONE.” “I have no desire to salvage my marriage. But my God knows what I’m going through.”
Can you weep with me over these two real situations? And will you choose to “fix your thoughts on Jesus”?
Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #32 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 4
Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.
I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter. Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verses 3-5.
We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, and to be transformed by the renewing of his mind.
The fourth critical imperative is —
4. The believer is TO THINK OF ONESELF WITH SOBER JUDGMENT (vv. 3-5)
Someone has defined humility not as thinking less of oneself but of thinking of oneself less. Our self-image is an overused topic today. But I’ve seen the opposite where some Christians act as if they, individually, no longer exist. They are fond of quoting Philippians to the effect that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Paul is not challenging us to somehow disappear from existence, but to making the Lord Jesus absolutely prominent in our lives.
We are to think of ourselves “with sober judgment.” How we look at ourselves is important, but our judgment is not greater than God’s! We read in I John 3 —
19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.”
Today’s Challenge: Do you need to do a heart check-up this morning? What does your heart say about you? Is it right and biblical in its opinion?