Joyce Meyer - Thinking on Purpose - Part 1
Well, thank you for joining us today for "Enjoying Everyday Life". Today, I wanna talk to you about your thoughts. You know, I read recently, that we have 30.000 thoughts a day. That's pretty amazing. And you know, the way we think determines how our life goes. So, I would say that our thoughts are a very important subject. And I know for many, many years, even though I was a Christian, I never heard anything about my thoughts in church. And I didn't really think about my thoughts. And today, I want you to think about your thoughts. I want you to think about what you've been thinking.
You know, for example, if you're depressed, then you've been thinking some kind of negative, sad thoughts because our words, our feelings, and our actions all follow our thoughts. Until I learned better, I didn't really know that I could do anything about my thoughts. I just thought whatever came to my mind and didn't think it was a problem. After all, they're my thoughts, they're hidden. But actually, God knows all of our thoughts even before we think them. And as we study the Bible today, you'll see how important they really are. And I hope that there's a lot of people watching today that have never heard anything like this because it can be absolutely life-changing.
Proverbs 23:7, in the new King James version, says, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he". Another translation says, "For as he thinks in his heart, so does he become". I have a little different way of saying it, I say, "Where the mind goes, the man follows". Now, let's just think of an example. Let's just say that you really, really, really like ice cream. I wonder how many of you'd put your hand up, say, "Yes, I really, really, really like ice cream"? Matter of fact, you like ice cream so much that you don't even keep it in your house because you know, you would be tempted to eat it. But let's just say that you're not thinking about ice cream. Ice cream hasn't been on your mind for a while, but you see a TV commercial, and someone is eating an amazing-looking ice cream sundae.
Matter of fact, it's your favorite kind of ice cream sundae. It's vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup all over it and whipped cream all over that. Well, that makes you wish that you had one. And if you think about it long enough, there is a real good chance that you may go get in your car and go to the store and get ice cream. That's how big of an effect our thoughts can have on our life. If you think about something unjust or unkind that somebody did to you, and you think about it and you think about it, there's a good possibility you might get on the phone and call them and just let them know you were offended and how bad they hurt you. If we think about ourselves all the time, we're gonna be selfish and self-centered. But if we think about what we can do for other people, that will help us avoid selfishness, and it will bring us great joy in our lives.
I really want you to understand today that your thoughts are very important. You might say they're like the beginning of everything else that happens in your life. Let's just say, if you think about taking a nap for a long time, pretty good chance you're gonna get sleepy and wanna go lay down. I get up really early in the morning, sometimes 3:30 or 4 o'clock, and I guess, to most of you that sounds obnoxious, but I also go to bed pretty early. And I love the couple of hours in the morning before it's daylight. I turn on one little light and I get my coffee and I have my prayer time and I just really enjoy it. But some mornings, because I get up so early, I'll get sleepy, and I'll go back to bed and take a nap for about an hour. Well, I've got in the habit of doing that now, and so, I find that I wanna go back to bed, even if I'm not sleepy because I start thinking about it.
Once again, your thoughts affect your words, your feelings, and your actions. You might say, sometimes, "Well, why did I do that"? Well, it's probably because you were thinking about it, and not just thinking about it one time, but you thought about it a lot. "Well, why did I say that"? Well, because you had it in your mind. The Bible says, "Out of the heart, the mouth speaks". Or out of the mind, the mouth speaks. 1 Peter 5:8 and 9: Amplified translation says, "Be well balanced, (temperate)", which means self-controlled, "(sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times". I underlined "At all times". You know, we don't need to be careful about our thoughts just occasionally, we need to be careful about our thoughts all the time. And the Bible says we should watch and pray.
And there's a lot of things to watch for. We should watch for the lies of Satan, make sure he's not trying to deceive us through lies. But a lot of times, we need to just watch our self. We need to make sure that our behavior is godly, and we need to watch our thoughts and be careful about what we're thinking about. I always say, when I teach on the mind, "Think about what you're thinking about". And many times, if you do that, you'll locate the source of your problems. "Be cautious at all times: for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour".
Well, the fact that he's seeking someone tells me that it doesn't have to be me, and it doesn't have to be you. He's seeking someone who's not paying attention or who's not gonna recognize that they're being attacked by the enemy. And much of the time, the way that he attacks us, his initial attack is to put thoughts in our mind that are not true. The devil is a liar. He's the father of lies. The truth is not in him. Matter of fact, he cannot tell the truth. And so, he does put thoughts in our mind. He will tell us bad things about ourselves. He'll tell us bad things about God, bad things about other people that aren't even true. We have to really make a decision, at some point in time, in our life, if we wanna have victory, and I say, "If you wanna have victory," that you're going to believe what the Bible says more than you believe your own thoughts, unless your thoughts agree with the Word of God.
When you become a Christian, when you receive Christ as your Savior, there are several things that you wanna learn and study in the beginning of your relationship with God: how much he loves you, how to fellowship with God, and spend time with him. But one of the things that is very necessary is that you have your mind renewed according to the Word of God. Going on with 1 Peter 5, it says, "Withstand him: be firm in faith [against his onset]". Now, like that "Against his onset".
Let's think of another example. I eat cottage cheese. I don't know if you eat cottage cheese, but I like cottage cheese. So, we always have a box or two of cottage cheese in our refrigerator. And, you know, cottage cheese stays good for a long time, but everything does have its limit. And every once in a while, I'll forget to look at the dates on the box, and maybe, one should have been thrown away, before it got thrown away. And I'll take it out, take a bite of it, or put a little in a dish and take a bite of it. And occasionally, it's soured. Well, I mean, I go to the trash can and I spit it out right away. I don't eat a little bit more of it just to see if I made a mistake and it's really not sour. I get rid of it right away. I spit it out at the onset of realizing that it's sour.
And that's the same way we should be about thoughts. Let's just say, a thought comes to your mind, an unkind thought about somebody. And it's not based on anything that you know or even have any knowledge of. It's just an unkind thought about that person. Or have you ever just met somebody and had the thought, "I don't like you"? Well, how would you know whether you like 'em or not? You haven't even really had enough experience to know who they are. But I've had that happen to me. I don't like you. Well, we can't make a decision about who we like and who we don't like that fast. And those kind of thoughts, that don't agree with the Word of God, are from the devil and he is trying to control you by putting thoughts in your mind that are not true. "Withstand him: be firm in faith [against his onset: rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined]". I love all those words. "Knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world".
So, we're not the only one that this happens to. Satan is looking for someone to devour, and he will try everybody. The only people that are really smart are the ones who have learned the difference in truth and lies. And today, especially in our world, there is such a lack of knowledge of what truth really is, and some people are trying to say that truth is whatever you want it to be. Well, that's just foolish. truth cannot be whatever you want it to be. There can only be one truth. You can't have five different truths. You can only have one truth. So, we need to realize that we're not the only ones going through this. So, there's no need to feel sorry for yourself when you're under attack. And let me just stop here and say, and this is not very good news, but it is true. As long as you live, at various times, you will be attacked by the enemy.
You may go along, for a long time, and you're doing really good in your walk with God, and you think you've got this thought thing under control, and all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, you will begin to have negative thoughts about everything. And it may go on for two, three, four days. Well, if you've learned and you're educated by the Bible, then you will, pretty quick, recognize, "Well, this is just a testing time. The enemy is trying to find a point of access into my life". And so, as long as we're alive at various times, the enemy will attack us. And you don't even really have to try to figure out why. He just does it, because that's what he does. God is good, the devil's bad. As long as you keep that in mind, it'll keep things pretty clear. Fill your mind with good things, and then, there won't be any room for the bad things.
So, this is where choosing your own thinking becomes very, very important. If you choose to think about how blessed you are, and how thankful you are, and all the good things that God has done for you in your life, and one of my favorite things to do is to actually, purposely, think about things I can do for other people. Every morning, a great way to start your day is to think about who you're gonna be with that day and what you could do to bless them that day. How could you put a smile on their face? What could you do that would make them happy? Today is one of my daughter's birthdays, and I was gonna take her out for lunch. But as I started thinking about it, I thought of about three or four other things I could do that would make her have even a happier lunch. And so, I made arrangements for those things. Well, as long as I'm thinking about things that I can do for other people, there's no room for the enemy to get in and give me selfish, self-centered thoughts. If we will spend our time making other people happy, God will always take care of us and make us happy.
Now, I just wanna talk for a few minutes to people that are unhappy. You know, just because you're born again, that doesn't necessarily mean that you're happy. Now, we talk about how the joy of the Lord is our strength. And joy is different than happiness because happiness is usually based on what's happening. But joy is a Fruit of the Spirit that's on the inside of us. And joy is defined as anything from extreme hilarity to a calm delight. And I like that calm delight. I wanna just enjoy my life, and be calm, and be peaceful. But if you are an unhappy person or you don't know where your joy has gone, I wanna encourage you to think about what you've been thinking about.
And I can tell you, you can't be selfish and happy at the same time. For a long time, I'd been a Christian and I didn't have any real reason to be unhappy. I had a good husband, good kids. We didn't have any particular money problems. We both had good jobs. We went to church all the time, but for some reason I just could never really stay happy. It seemed like there was always something that was making me unhappy, and I didn't really understand why. And so, I asked God. It's amazing what God will tell you, if you ask him. And so, I asked him, "Why am I so unhappy all the time when I have every reason to be blessed"? And he answered me in my spirit and said, "Because you're selfish". Well, to be honest, I didn't care for that answer. I would have rather that he would have told me something else because nobody wants to think that they're selfish. But it really was true. I was only happy when I was getting my way, and I was only happy when things were going my way.
And I've really learned, and I've been at this for 45 years, so it's good to really listen to people who have had a lot more experience than you. I have really learned that you cannot be selfish and happy at the same time. Be careful to not sit around and let your mind be blank for very long because empty space is still a place. If you let your mind be blank, Satan will be happy to fill it up for you. So, what I recommend that you do is think about things that are gonna bear good fruit, like things you can do for other people or meditating on the Word of God. The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of meditating on the Word of God. And if you know how to worry, then you know how to meditate. Because when you worry, you just roll your thoughts over, and over, and over on the same thing. Over and over, you might think about the same thing for an hour or two hours, just trying to figure out what you're gonna do about this situation.
Well, when you meditate on the Word of God, you take a scripture, or a group of scriptures, and you just think about them. Over and over, you roll them over, and over, and over in your mind. And, you know, the more you meditate on the Word of God, even though you might not be, quote, "Trying to memorize the word," that is what will happen. And what you put out of you is what you put in you, is what will come out of you when you really need it. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit "Brings things to our remembrance" as we need him to. And so, maybe, you're going along, and everything is good and, all of a sudden, for no reason that makes any sense to you, you just feel yourself sinking and going downhill. Well, if you're trusting God, first thing you say is, "God help me. What's wrong"? The Holy Spirit can bring a scripture to your heart that will straighten out the whole entire thing. Meditating on the Word of God also means to mutter softly under your breath.
So, I'm very big on reading the word, hearing the word, meditating on the word, and speaking the word. That's part of every morning of my time with God is I meditate on different scriptures. I think about 'em. And I also speak the Word of God out loud. Proverbs 4:23, in the niv Bible, says, "Above all else", so, it must be important, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows out of it". Or we might say, "Guard your mind because everything you do flows out of it". Sometimes, heart and mind are interchangeable in the Bible. So, here again, we have a scripture that says, "Above all else," so, this is something really important. Be very careful what you're thinking about. And what you're letting into your mind and what you're meditating on. Because out of your heart, out of your mind, flows all of the issues of life. If you wanna have a good life, then you have to think good thoughts. I want you to think about that. If you wanna have a good life, you have to think good thoughts.
Matthew 12:34 and 35: Jesus, he wasn't very fond of Hippocrates. And Hippocrates are people who tell other people what to do, but they don't do them themselves. They're phonies. They love to preach to everybody else, but they won't lift a finger to even help them do what they've told them to do. So, he calls 'em a "Brood of vipers" and vipers are snakes. "How can you who are evil, say anything good? For out of the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good that's stored up in him. But the evil man brings evil things out of the evil that's stored up in him".
You know, I always say that you can quickly learn what kind of a person someone is. Doesn't take very long. All you have to do is listen to them. And if you meet somebody, and it's not very long, and you hear them gossiping about somebody else, right away, you should be smart enough to know that's not somebody you wanna get very close to and become friends with, because I can promise you, if they're talking about somebody else, they're gonna talk about you, too. If you're around somebody and they're always negative about everything, that's not somebody that you want to spend a lot of time with. But if you're with somebody and they're always thankful, they're always talking about how good God is, and how blessed they are because of God in their life, now, that's somebody you might want to spend a little more time with. You can learn a lot about people by listening to them.
The Bible teaches us in Romans 12:2, which I think Romans 12:2 is one of the most important scriptures in the Bible. It's about renewing your mind. And it says, "Do not be conform to this world (this age), [fashioned after an adapted to its externals, superficial customs]". So, we don't wanna be like the world. We don't wanna think like the world. We don't wanna talk like the world. We don't need to dress like the world. We don't have the same entertainment the world does. Jesus said, "Come ye out from among them and be separate".
So, we're in the world, but we're not supposed to be worldly. We're not supposed to act like the world does if the way they're behaving is against the Word of God. And sometimes, the biggest problem that a person has is they're just spending time with all the wrong people. Maybe you have a group of friends that are not really ministering life to you. They may be sucking the life out of you and teaching you bad things. I can tell you, whatever you are around, if you're around it long enough, you're gonna begin to take on the same kind of traits. I mean, I've had people tell me, who maybe listening to my teaching day in and day out, "Oh, my husband told me, 'you sound just like Joyce Meyer'". Well, you know what? You will become like who you're around and what you're around.
So, you should choose people to spend time with, that you wanna be like them. If you wanna be a more generous person, don't hang out with people that are stingy and greedy. If you wanna be a more positive person, don't hang out with people all the time that are negative and critical and always have something bad to say. So, don't be like the world, "But be transformed", and that means that entirely changed. Are there any of you that need a change in your life? "But be entirely (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in his sight for you]". So, if I can just kinda put that in my own words for you, he's basically saying, "If you want to have the things that God has promised you", he's got a plan for all of our lives and it's a good plan.
If you want to experience that good plan, if you actually wanna live in the will of God and live the good life that he pre-arranged and made ready for you to live, then you need to learn to think like God thinks. And you say, "Well, how can I do that? I'm not God. How can I think like God thinks"? Well, you'll see in a little bit that you have the ability to do it, it's just a matter of retraining yourself. Like I said, I spent years not even knowing that this was an option. I just thought, "Well, you thought whatever falls in your head". I didn't know that I could cast down one thought and choose to think on another one. So, if you want to experience the good will of God for your life, then you have to learn to think like God thinks.
Well, you might say, "How does God think"? Well, I don't have a Bible up here with me, right now, but if I did, I'd hold it up and I'd say, "This is the way God thinks". Everything that's written in the Word of God tells you God's will, his thoughts, what he wants for you, and how he wants you to live. And we don't just read the Bible just to fulfill some obligation to God. We read it to learn. And there's no point in even reading it if you're not gonna already set your mind that you're gonna do what it says. I wanna let you know that God loves you. We love you. We don't know you personally, but we love all of God's children. And I'm so glad that you joined us today. And I bless you, right now, in the name of Jesus. And I pray that the rest of your day will be phenomenal. Thank you for being with me today.