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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mike Novotny » Mike Novotny - Take Control of My Thoughts

Mike Novotny - Take Control of My Thoughts

Mike Novotny - Take Control of My Thoughts
TOPICS: What Was I Thinking?, Thoughts

Recently, I read every single Bible passage in the entire Bible that use the words think, thinks, thinking, thought, thoughts, and thoughtful. Because apparently, I don't have very many friends. Alright? I didn't have much to do so I dove into this research, and I'm really glad that I did, because what I found out in the Bible are two things. I found out that in the Bible itself people, all the time, thought wrong. And I learned in the Bible that when people thought wrong, really big things happened. Let me give four quick examples of what I discovered. In the book of Genesis, I found this passage, "Lot," who lived in the city of Sodom, Sodom and Gomorrah, "Lot said, 'Hurry and get out of Sodom, because the Lord is about to destroy the city.' But his sons in law thought that he was joking".

God, in his righteousness and justice was about to destroy this city. Lot knew it. He shared the alarming news, but his sons in law, did you catch the word? They thought. Their thoughts were wrong, and that wrong thought didn't just change, it actually ended their lives. Alright, how about this example? "Then Delilah," the lady friend of Samson, "called, 'Samson, the Philistines are upon you.' He awoke from his sleep, and he thought, 'I'll go out as before and shake myself free.'" You know the rest of the story? He thought wrong. The Lord's Spirit of power had left him, so big Samson wasn't able to shake himself free. He ended up eye-less, enslaved by the Philistines, grinding grain, and mocked by these pagan people. Jesus had an example, too, number three.

Jesus in his teaching on prayer said, "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagan, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words". Jesus warned his disciples, some people think if you go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, eventually, you'll wear out the gods and they'll say, "Fine, what do you want? I'll take your prayer request". They miss, like, the joy, and the beauty, and the comfort of prayer because they thought. Or here's my favorite example, it's Easter morning, Jesus is alive, he has conquered death, he has forgiven sins, he's won eternal life for everyone who believes in him, and he appears to the very first witness out of all the witnesses, his friend Mary. Do you know what happens? I'll show you.

"Jesus asked Mary, 'Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?' Thinking," there it is. "Thinking he was the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him". You thought wrong, Mary. There's Jesus. There's so much joy, comfort, peace. She was about to get it, but first she needed to think again. According to my study of the word "Think" in this book, humans first thought is often the wrong thought. And if you don't think the right thought, you miss all the good, beautiful, and right things that God intends to give you. I read a book that summarizes it this way, if you're taking notes in your program today. Write it like this. Your thoughts take you somewhere. Do you expect that your spouse should change after they say, "I do".

What do you think? Do you expect them to try to change you? What do you think? How much pain should God allow in a person's life if he really loves them? What do you think? How much money do you need to be truly happy? What do you think? How good is God, the fact that he's with you in this moment? Ooh, that's a big one. Where do you find your deepest identity, and the most guaranteed source of truth? Is it out there? Is it in here? Is it in here? What do you think? How much control do you need to have of a situation to be able to... what do you think? How good do your children's behavior have to be for you to feel that you are blessed, and that God hears your prayers? What do you think? The answer to all those questions is something. We all think something. It might be a true something, it might be a false something, it might be half and half something, it might be fake news, it might the God honest truth, but the fact is, with all of those questions, you think something. And that something is taking you somewhere, and it's turning you into someone.

So, here's the big question that I want to wrestle with for the next couple weeks. How close are your thoughts to God's thoughts? Whatever you were thinking when I asked all of those questions, how close does your mind line up with the mind of Jesus? That's what I want to do with you for the next few weeks. We have been studying this book, all of the passages about thoughts, and think, and thoughtful, and I want to take you deep into this word so that your thoughts take you to the life that God wants you to have. God wants you to be a person who is bursting with spiritual happiness, living in complete peace, having what the Bible calls an abundant, full, new life. God wants that for, and so much of that life is based on what happens right here.

So, I want to dive in and begin this journey with a man that one author called the professor of thought-oloyg. His name is Paul. If you would study the New Testament, you would find a lot of the thought language coming from this early Christian, the Apostle Paul, and he deserves all the credit that you can possibly give him. Here's why. Because Paul wrote the most joyful letter in the Bible while he was in jail. It's interesting, isn't it? You would think... Wait, the joy comes after the jail. But if some of you are sitting in jail right now, you need to hear what Paul says. He wrote the most joyful, peaceful, satisfied, content letter, his mind was so good while he was sitting unjustly, under guard, in jail, in Rome. He deserves to speak to us today.

And today I want to dive into some of Paul's epic words about how and what to think. So, if you're going to follow along your phone, if you have a Bible with you today, or just want to look on the screen, let's dive into Philippians 4, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things". Right, you have a choice of what you think about. Maybe not the first thought, you know, you see something on your phone, someone says something to you... like, there's a thought there. But after that first thought gets into your head, you have a choice of what to do with it. You can entertain it, you can accept it, you can question it, you can interrogate it, you can fight it, but you have a choice.

And Paul would say, "Yes, you do". There's a lot of things one can think about, he's commanding us, "Think about these things". Now, here's why I believe that Paul would consider this more important than ever. Have you heard about this recent invention called the internet? You familiar? You might want to write this down, some of you have never heard this before. Did you know that not everything on the internet is true? In fact, when I read Paul's list of things we should think about, "Is it noble, is it right, is it lovely, is it..." Did you know there are some things that you can find on the world wide web that are not lovely, or excellent, or praiseworthy? I'm not trained in marketing or Google's algorithms, but I think I know that what makes something trend is not this list.

Some of you are wise enough to know the way the internet works, to realize that sex sells, that conflict gets clicks, that drama drives up the numbers, that if you can make someone very afraid, very angry, or very emotional, it's more likely to be commented on, and shared, and attached in some email that you send to all your relatives, even though they don't want to hear about it, this is what gets traction in our culture. And Paul is saying, "If you're living in a world where your inundated with those kind of messages, you need to be very, very, careful about what you think about". That's why I want to give you a little bit of homework today. It's pretty simple. Here's the homework. For the next seven days, I want you to think about what you're thinking about. Right, even before we tweak those thoughts, and try to figure out, "Is this noble, is this amb..." I just want you to be cognizant that you are thinking one option of the very, very many options.

You know, as much as you can write this down, if you want to keep a journal, or the little note thing in your phone, like, when you feel any strong emotion, just write down, "Here's what I'm thinking". Because the fact is what you're thinking is going to take you somewhere. Let me give you just one example. Think of someone right now in your life that you're really not getting along with. I'm not thinking of a like a really toxic, abusive relationship, but you know, just someone in your family, maybe you're married to them right now, maybe it's a kid in your class, maybe it's like, maybe it's Gary. There's always a Gary, right? The guy you... the guy, sorry I looked at... not you, Gary, the other, the other Gary's alright? Just, some, you don't love it when they're in the room, it's kind of awkward, there's tension, things have been said, someone texted someone... Alright, think of that person.

Now, when you think of that person, what do you think about? I mean, you probably think about, you know, the thing Gary said, or the time she should have been there, but she wasn't there, the text. Man, there's so much like, between the lines, between their texts, right? You're thinking about, you know, that annoying thing that he always does in class. You're thinking about your boss and how... you could think of that. Most people do, I think that's the first thought. But imagine what would happen if you started thinking different thoughts, noble thoughts, thoughts that God would be proud of, thoughts that God would praise.

Like, "How can I love Gary? When I act like Gary, how does Jesus treat me? What little percentage of the tension is my fault, and what would it look like to apologize? When I'm behaving like she does, what does God do to prove his love to me? Oh, Jesus said, 'You should love your enemies. Turn the other cheek, bless those who curse you. Not return insult for in... What would that look like right now? What would I do differently this week"? Those are thoughts. So, what are you thinking? Jennie Allen was right, you have a choice. You can't control the first thought, but with the help of God we can control the next thought.

So, think about what you think about. You're going to think something, let's let that something be God's thing to lead us the somewhere where God wants us to be. Or as Paul brilliantly said it, "Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, if any is excellent or praiseworthy, keep thinking about such things". Now, the Apostle Paul must know that's difficult. So, look what he says in the very next verse, verse 9. He says, "Whatever you," Philippians, "Whatever you have learned, or received, or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you". So, here's another big question for you.

Do you know anyone like Paul? Like, is there someone who's in the same situation as you, but they don't think the same thoughts as you? Right, sometimes we think that our head space is all messed up because it has to be, until we meet someone who's in the exact same situation as we are, and yet their attitude is so distinct. Right? Can you think of someone who has little kids, maybe like you do right now, but they're not, like, freaking out like the world's going to end? Ooh, can you think of someone who's living under the same government as you are, but isn't nearly as frustrated, or angry, or panicky? Can you think of someone who's married to a very imperfect person right now, but doesn't need to vent, or grumble, or pour another glass of wine just to cope? Can you think of someone in the same class, same classmates, same teacher, same amount of homework, who's like, okay with life? Can you think of someone who's battling the same disease, the same auto immune stuff with just a little bit or a lot more peace than you?

If you can think of someone like that, here's a little more homework for you this week, interview your Paul. I want you to reach out to this person, they're going to be flattered, they're going to say, "No, I don't know". I want you to push them, like, sit them on a metal chair if you have to, get a light bulb over their head, like interrogate them. I want you to ask them, "What are you thinking? Like, when I read the news, I freak out, but you don't freak out. What are you thinking? This is killing me, the fear of having cancer and just not knowing, 'What about my family? What if it gets worse? What if it doesn't... but you, you have like this peace that I don't really get. What are you thinking"? "I know you've experience grief like I have. You don't just stay inside like you're two steps ahead of me. What were you thinking"?

I'm so convinced that we often come to church on Sundays, and we get back in our cars, and we go home, and we don't often change in substantial ways because we forget about the people sitting next to us. I picture God in heaven like waving his arms, "Just ask them. Just tell them. I've brought dozens of people who've been in the same boat as you are, I got them through it, they have the wisdom. Just ask, just be honest, just text your life group and say, 'Hey, can anyone help? Has anyone been through this"? "If you humble yourself," the Bible says, "You will be exalted". And Paul's promise here, as he talks about peace and joy, is that it's not a you and God thing, it's a "Y'all" and God thing.

Tap into the wisdom and experiences of the people around you, put it into practice, and the God of peace, he'll help you think, he'll help you think again. Just before these verses, Paul said this, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". I recently had a conversation with someone who just started attending our church, and I said, "If you'll listen carefully, you will hear me in every single sermon talk about the Law and the Gospel. Alright, there's going to be time when we talk about the Law, 'Do this, don't do that.' It's probably going to get a little bit quiet because we're all thinking, 'Oh, man, I stink at this.' And then, if you wait about two minutes, I'll get to the Gospel, which is what God has done for us. It's how Jesus forgives us. It's about his promises to help us". And that's exactly what this is.

Alright, Paul says, "Think about such things, do what you've seen me do". But in the very context, here's the Gospel, "And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". God's going to help you. He's going to show up, he's going to do something. He's not just going to be waiting in church next Sunday to critique on your thought life, he's going to walk with you through all of those moments, and if you're taking notes, write this down. I love the verb here, that the peace of God, God's peace, guards our minds. Guards our minds. Remember where Paul was when he wrote this letter? He's in jail, which meant he was under guard, which means there's something like two buff Roman soldiers watching the door, and they weren't going to let anyone in or out unless they was good for the job.

I wonder if Paul looks at, you know, Brutus and Cassius, or whatever the Romans names were. You know what God's peace is like? Like that. God's peace will guard your heart and your mind. So, I want to invite two of our friends from the band to come up here on stage. I want to try to visualize what this is like, this amazing promise of the Gospel that the peace of God which transcends, here's Brutus and Cassius. They've showed up to help us out today. Alright, let's imagine for a second that this stool right here, this is your mind and your heart. God loves it, he wants to protect it, he wants to mold it, and shape it. Let's imagine that I am a thought that is bad for you. I'm an accusing thought, I'm a half truth, I'm a rumor, I'm a fear, I'm a worry. This passage is saying that I just can't, just walk up to your heart if you're a Christian because, ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for God's peace. Alright?

So, you know, here's this lie, the Gospel promises, if I try to get at your heart, excuse me, God's peace guards your hearts and your minds. If I use my skinniness, ah alright, doesn't work that way. What if I get aggressive? Ah, you guys are pretty good. Hey, is that your mom over there? Alright. Alright, God's peace, God's good at his job, these two guys are pretty tough, but God's peace is stronger, and it's bigger, and it's better. And God is saying to you, if you are one of his children, "I'm going to help you. I'm going to guard you. I'm going to give you the Gospel. I'm going to bring a friend. I'm going to bring a pastor. I'm going to bring a passage". Something on your phone, something you remember. The Holy Spirit is going to show up so you don't believe that thought for too long. So, no matter how hard I try, these are not going to let me through. I want to get at your heart. Wooh. Oh man, I almost lost a microphone.

Alright, put your hands together for our friends, God's peace. Thanks, guys. Ah, wooh. Full disclosure, when we practiced that before church, I did a flying knee right into his crotch. It was pretty bad, so we... Good thing I'm paying him nothing to help me out with this sermon. Oh, I just love this thought. Right, we feel so weak, some of us struggle with mental health, our thoughts go crazy, we worry too much, and then loves us to his sons and daughters, "I'm going to help. I'm going to be there. I care about you. I love you". And here's the proof. "The peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus".

When I was a kid, all of the sermons ended exactly the same. I don't know what pastor started this tradition in the church where I came from, but when the pastor would get to the last line in his notes, he would say, "And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen. Please stand. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name". And as soon as he started saying, "And the peace of God," as a kid I'm like, reaching for my jacket thinking, "Yes! Yes! Church is almost over".

That's what I thought, but I'm thinking again. What a verse. Who's going to guard my timid heart? Who's going to protect you from you own thoughts? Let me tell you who, "The peace of God which transcends all understanding will," not might, not maybe, not let's see how it goes, "it will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". This is the gift of the blood of Jesus Christ. So, today, I want to end this sermon with these classic words. I don't want to mumble them, I don't want to robotically recite them, in fact, I want you to put your jackets down, put your phones down, I want you to stand up to your feet, and I want you to take your hand, I want you to put your hands out as wide as you can go, as wide as you can, let's think about the bigness of God that goes beyond understanding.

And I want you to, not just recite, with as much energy and enthu... Some of you were raised in the Lutheran Church, your hands are kind of down here. No, this is hard for you, this is hard for you. Okay, above the waist, we can do this. This is such good news that there is a God who loves us this much and his peace is this big, and if this is just my arms, imagine, imagine, imagine the arms of God. So, let's not just speak these words together, let's shout them together. Are you ready to do it with me? Alright, let's do it. "And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". What a thought. Amen. Let's pray:

Alright, dear God thank you so much for your love. We never would think the Gospel if you won't say it. Thank you for unconditional grace. Thank you for the free gift of heaven. Thank for your son who didn't come to judge and condemn the world, but to save us from this broken world. God, help us with our heads. We get stuck there. And the father of lies implant so many thoughts that leave us with fear and uncertainty, instead of hope, and joy, and peace. So, we need you, God, and in this text you promised that you'll give us exactly what we need. Help us not to believe the lie that we need the situation to change before we can rejoice. We don't, we just need you. Help us to think again so that our thoughts are noble, and pure, and good, true, excellent, admirable, and worthy of praise. God, in the days to come, in the weeks to come, in this series, change our hearts, change our minds, so that we could become like Paul, and find the peace that goes beyond understanding. We pray all these things in the glorious name of our savior, Jesus Christ. And all God's people say, amen.

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