Proverbs 23:7 KJV For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: . . .
Philippians 4:8 KJV 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.
I. INTRODUCTION—THE MIND IS A VALUABLE THING. . .
-The Bible describes our minds by using the figure of a ship looking for a harbor. Though you may be unable to keep disease-ridden ships from sailing back and forth on the ocean, you can refuse them docking privileges in the harbor of your mind.
• Job talks about those who harbor resentment in their hearts.
• The Psalmist talks about those who harbor malice in their minds.
• James talks about those who allow bitter envy and selfish ambition to harbor within them.
Jeremiah 4:14 NLT How long will you harbor your evil thoughts.
Deuteronomy 15:9 NIV Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought.
Matthew 9:4 NIV Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your mind?
Romans 13:14 NIV Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
-Your mind is the most valuable thing that you have in your possession. The way you spend your mind is of utmost importance.
-You will become what you think!!!
A. General Quotes
Marcus Aurelius—The most important things in life are the thoughts you choose to think.
Gary Collins—It doubtless is true that people become what they think about.
-I also have to tell you a very important fact. Your mind is under siege every single second of the day. There is a great plan to control your thinking. In the course of time, you will become on the outside what you believe on the inside.
-The devil loves to take advantage of a mind that is ignorant or one that is pushed around by wayward emotions.
J. Oswald Sanders—The mind of man is the battleground on which every moral and spiritual battle is fought.
Vance Havner—Our defeat or victory begins with what we think, and if we guard our thoughts we shall not have much trouble anywhere else along the line.
2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV 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;
Romans 12:2 KJV And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Philippians 2:5 KJV Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Isaiah 26:3 KJV Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Matthew 22:37 KJV Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
II. TWO OF THE LORD’S CHARACTERS
-There are a couple of characters that the Lord mentioned in His teaching that to this day we have no idea what their names were. But so powerful was the lifestyle that they developed, it can help us to see how to think.
A. The Man with His Hand on the Plow—Luke 9:62
Luke 9:62 KJV And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
-Jesus was addressing a crowd of people who were considering following Him but had various difficulties with the call.
• One man could not give up his home—9:57-58.
• One man could not give up his dead relatives—9:59.
• One man could not give up his family—9:61.
-All of their excuses prompted the metaphor He used that day. Perhaps Jesus reverted back to the memory of the carpenter’s shop when under the direction of Joseph’s careful instruction; Jesus had finished His first plow.
-The farmer came to pick it up and soon was in the field turning over the rich dark earth. Perhaps it was on such a day that Jesus had gotten the permission of Joseph to slip off and watch the farmer from a distant hidden place as he used the plow that Jesus had made.
-As Jesus watched, He foresaw the very day in Luke 9 when He would speak about this nameless and faceless farmer from so long ago. He had intently watched the farmer use that plow the Lord had made to plow his field.
• He had watched the discretion of the farmer with the seed he was going to plant.
• He had noticed the care that he had for his oxen as they were in the yoke.
• He had observed the precision that he adjusted the plow to dig into the earth.
• He had most of all noticed the focus of the farmer as he plowed the field… he never looked back once he started his row… the force of his focus was forward.
-He took that plough and held it as it cut deep into the soil. When he got to the hard ground where the rocks and roots were contentious, he never lost his focus, he just kept plowing. When he got to the place that the weeds had taken over the fallow ground, he just kept plowing.
-I can only wonder how many blisters burst on that plow handle. I can only imagine how many drops of sweat fell on the plow. Could it be that there were some tears that fell to the plow handle? The Lord never went into any details on that matter, all He said was that the man never looked back!
-As a man thinketh. . . so is he! There is power that comes from focus. If you can just think, if you can give your mind to God in such a way that He can use it, it will be amazing what He will do with you!
-You will have to endure some calamities in life and some deep disappointments along the way but they have the power to elevate your life, if you can make sure your thinking is right!
-The farmer had an aim. His ultimate aim was a great harvest but in the interim he had to focus on plowing straight rows.
1. Benjamin Franklin—Thirteen Virtues
-Benjamin Franklin identified thirteen virtues whose regular practice would make him a better and more successful person. They included temperance (self-control), silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility.
-He knew that just writing down the words on list would have little effect on day-to-day behavior. He knew that people do not change by thinking but rather by doing. So he set himself on a self-improvement program and concentrated on practicing each of these virtues for one week before moving on to the next.
-Each week of practice he believed would create a habit of behavior that would stay with him over time. Then the thirteen virtues would be a part of his manner of living and dealing with others. He even kept a notebook where he recorded every lapse of virtuous behavior as a way of keeping track of his progress.
-The virtue of industry was what we might commonly refer to as time-management. He wrote in his journal, “Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”
-This made Franklin one of the most diligent and focused men that have ever lived. His thinking is what pushed him in the right direction.
2. Life Must Have a Focus
-Life has to have a definite aim about it. Our actions are always in harmony with the thoughts that we have. Whatever we are thinking will dominate us so that we will find ourselves pursuing our thoughts. That is why that Paul was so insistent on making sure that we had the ability to think right.
-Some lose their focus and look back when they are plowing for various reasons:
• They aren’t willing to give up some of their friends and social connections.
• Some give up because they want to give in to their sin one more time.
• Some give up and look back because they are tired of the spiritual tension that is created in their soul.
-What could be said about Lot’s wife in a summary of her actions? She was looking back while she was getting out. That is the attitude that a host of people in our generation are caught up with. As a man thinketh, so is he. . . Is your thinking forward or backward?
-One of the great dilemmas of life is that we have an interest in what is front of us and an equal interest in what is behind us. A half-way man will ruin everything he sets his hand to.
Henry Ward Beecher—Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself. . .
3. Where Your Mind Is. . . Your Body Will Follow
-Wherever your mind is your body will soon be there.
In the autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. he writes about growing up in Atlanta, Georgia:
I remember another experience I used to have in Atlanta. I went to high school on the other side of town—to the Booker T. Washington High School. I had to get the bus in what was known as the Fourth Ward and ride over to the West Side. In those days, rigid patterns of segregation existed on the buses, so that Negroes had to sit in the back of buses. Whites were seated in the front, and often if whites didn’t get on the buses, those seats were still reserved for whites only, so Negroes had to stand over empty seats. I would end up having to go to the back of that bus with my body, but every time I got on that bus I left my mind in the front seat. And I said to myself, “One of these days, I’m going to put my body up where my mind is.”
-And he did. . . Our bodies always end up where our minds are.
-Can you think it? If you can think it, God can help you to do it!
B. The Merchant Man—Matt. 13:45-46
-The second character that also is without a name shows up in one of the Lord’s parables in Matthew 13.
Matthew 13:45-46 KJV Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:  Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
-The Lord was probably having reference to one of those travelling jewelers of the East that went on land and sea in search of goodly pearls. He was always on the march looking for more precious pearls.
-One day in his travels he is rewarded when he discovers a pearl like none of those he had in his collection among his merchandise. It is of great size, it had perfect form, it had brilliant beauty, and the light was cast off of it in a thousand directions. In his wildest dreams, he had never expected such a treasure.
-When he is told the price, he immediately develops a plan—it will require everything he has. He will have to sell all of the other pearls already in his possession. It will require the he sell his home. It will require the he sell his store. It will require that he sell all of his equipment used to work with pearls. It will take everything he has.
-But this cost is not too much for him. . . He has spent his entire life looking for this pearl and despite its great price, to him it is a bargain. It does not matter that he will have to give up all of his other pearls that he scouted out in the days of his disgraceful and guilty ignorance.
-Every man, no matter what age he is, is pursuing something. His thinking pushes him toward something to pursue.
-You will always have to refuse the urge to quit and throw in the towel. There will be a temptation to give in and give up.
• I wonder how many times that the merchant man had to deal with the criticism of well-meaning people?
• I wonder if he ever had to endure the thoughts that others perceived him as a little bit crazy?
• I wonder if anyone ever told him that he was wasting his life?
-If your godly, righteous thinking leads you to a lifestyle that people think you are little crazy. . . so be it! We are looking for a pearl that only a few in this world will ever be able to attain.
1. JFK and the Race to the Moon
In the ‘60’s people thought President John F. Kennedy was a little bit mad when he made this speech on May 25, 1961. . .
“I believe that this nation should commit to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single project will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”
Not everyone was sold on it but urgency pressed him on. In a speech at Rice University in 1962 he said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our exercises and skills.”
Six years after his death we got there. . . all because somebody decided to push!
-There is a great price on the pearl!
• Paul carried the pearl through imprisonment, darkness, shipwreck, and martyrdom.
• Shadrach carried the gem through the furnace heated seven times hotter.
• Elijah hung on to that pearl through his depression.
• Jeremiah found company of the pearl when he was in the pit.
• David took solace from the pearl when he was in the cave of Adullam.
• Joseph clung to the pearl when he was in the pit and when he got to the prison.
• Andrew Urshan grasped the pearl when his wife left him.
• Kelsey Griffin carried the pearl through the grief of losing his wife to death.
• Multiple others have let this pearl of great price sustain them in their darkest days.
III. CONCLUSION—IT IS ALL IN WHERE YOU LET YOUR MIND DWELL
-There was a poem written about two men who were in prison. Two of the most important lines of that poem go like this:
Two men looked out from prison bars,
One saw the mud, the other saw the stars.
-As a man thinketh. . . so is he. . . you can live with the mud or you can give yourself to seeing the stars, the choice is entirely up to you.
-I want to conclude with some questions that I asked you back at the beginning of the year.
• What are the three most important things you do in life?
• How do you measure the results, success, and accomplishment in those areas?
• What special gifts, abilities, and talents do you have?
• What are the three most important goals in your life?
• What actions are you taking to get to those goals?
• What are you going to do about the following aspects of your life: spiritual, personal, family, health, and finances?
• What are three skills that you could develop that will help you?
• What are the greatest opportunities you have available to you right now?
• How are you going to take advantage of them?
• What are the three biggest worries and concerns you have?
• What are the things you could do immediately to change those concerns?
• What three personal qualities do you have that you are the most proud of?
• What are three weaknesses that you would like to overcome?
• What three words would you like people to use to describe you when you die?
• What three most important values do you believe in?
• Do you have them in your life?
• Who are the most important people in your world?
• What would you do with your life if you knew you only had six months to live?
• What would you do if you had $20 million dollars in the bank but only 10 years to live?
• What goals would you set for yourself if you were guaranteed complete success?
• If you could have a magic wand and make your life perfect in every respect, what would your life look like?
• Knowing what you know now, is there any situation in your life or work that you would not get into today if you had it to do over again? Work? Investments? Money? Health? Family? People? Activities?
• What are ten goals you would like to do in the future based on what you now know?
• What are the obstacles that are hindering you from getting there?
• What are you going to do to overcome them?
• Who can help you get to that particular goal in your life?
• Are you willing to master your spirit to do it?
(Adapted from a podcast of Brian Tracy. Unknown date.)
-As a man thinketh. . . so is he. . .
May 22, 2011