“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord – Isaiah 55:8
There you have it, God tells us straight that we don’t think the way that he does and we don’t act the way that he does. The question is; are our ways better than God’s? Really, do you think I am actually asking that question! God even goes on to tell us:
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:9
All great, God’s thoughts and ways are superior to ours except of course not everyone believes in God and when you start looking at the way of the world so often it seems in conflict with God’s ways, his wisdom which we find in the Word. At times the ways of the world don’t just feel like they are in conflict with God’s wisdom they seem to turn it upside down.
Take growing up and leaving home, we are encouraged from a young age to strive for independence, to be our own man or woman who need not rely on anyone. But the bible tells us:
“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” – Isaiah 41:13
God wants to help us, He is there for us, He will take our hand and cause us not to fear. He doesn’t want us to try and deal with our lives and the troubles we face on our own.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”- Philippians 4:6
There you go again, we shouldn’t fear, we shouldn’t get anxious we should go to God in prayer and that means thanking God and presenting are worries, not just presenting our worries.
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” – Isaiah 40:29
I’ve mentioned it already but God doesn’t expect us to cope on our own, He knows we are going to get tired and feel weak be it health issues, financial issues or worldly issues and He is ready to give us strength.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” – Proverbs 3:5
Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts and as such when things don’t work out like we want we should trust God because His ways for our life our not ours, oh and don’t worry because God is love so God isn’t going to do some thing bad to you because God can’t. Romans 8:28 reminds us that “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” so start trusting and starting thanking him because if you are going through a tough patch now there is something good coming and it is God good which is even better than our good.
These verses and so many more tell us not only that we need God but he wants us to rely on him. But as I said you look at the world we live in where we are encouraged to be in control of our lives, our destiny whilst also being self-made (big laugh) and it is sadly little wonder that people feel like they no longer need God and you could say some people want be their own God. I can even speak from experience because there was a time in my life where I wanted to be in charge, I wanted to be a self-made man and some times I find myself falling back to that old way, still trying to be in control even though I know with out God I was making a pig’s ear of things.
The whole focus on independence brings me nicely to the culture of Self where we have self-help, self-esteem, self-confidence and let us not forget selfies where we are the centre of the picture. Is it little wonder that even as Christians some times we can go to God in prayer and end up asking him for this, that and the other with it all being about us. But the bible tells us:
I can do all things through him who strengthens me – Philippians 4:13
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go – Joshua 1:9
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me – Galatians 2:20
Again there are more verses but the world we live in constantly leads us to think about self, about how we feel, being assured in our own ability and being the centre of attention where instead we are told to die to self. And the negative side to this self culture is that if you don’t have self-confidence and self-esteem you often end up feeling negative about yourself, I am a failure, I am ugly, I am not as good as so and so. God never wanted that, as Christians we are children of God and he loves us and he wants us to love ourselves but not to the point that self love is more important to us than God. In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus reminds us to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” so yes love yourself but love others equally and more importantly love God first. Not only that but when you stop thinking about yourself and start going that extra mile, helping others and relying on God for your strength you stop thinking about all those things you think you don’t have.
I also like what it says in James 3:16 “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice“. That verse sums up the culture of self because when everyone cares more about themselves and how they feel we have a world at war with each other, we have squabbles over silly things which escalate and people turning to doing wrong because it is all about them.
Interestingly the bible does mention self a few times, it tends to go like this “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” 2 Timothy 1:7, in some bibles it says self-control and that is what you will find through out the bible when it mentions self, it says self-control so being in control of your worldly desires and lusts.
And then there are possessions; we want more money, we want a nicer car, a biggerhouse, fancier toys, the best technology and so on especially when you see that your neighbour has got a new car or is having an extension built. And let me say that there is nothing wrong with having nice things but when you can’t take it with you when you die why work yourself to the bone for it, why are you putting your worth in what you own instead of who you are. Ask yourself this: once you have that latest phone are you happy or is that just a temporary happiness and you are already looking for the next thing to make you happy.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” – Exodus 20:17
Let me tell you some thing I have discovered, the less you have the less you have to worry about and the happier you are. I use to have hundreds of DVDs but I had to find room for them, room for things I had watched once and forgot I had anymore even though my self worth was tied up in how many DVDs I owned. I don’t have as many DVDs now as I once did and I no longer have to think about where I am going to keep them, less stress and having a big collection doesn’t define who I am. I remember once buying a new TV, top of the range model it was big, beautiful and frankly ridiculously heavy to move. Within a week I was already looking to what TV I would get next because the happiness it gave me was temporary. When I stopped trying to keep up with the latest technology I realised that often what the new technology was offering me was not actually anything I needed, I just wanted it to be keeping up with others and to get a shot of happiness.
Think about this; if you live for 80 years that isn’t even a blink when it comes to eternity so why be so concerned with having this that and the other when they won’t be important after this life.
Here is the thing, the Devil, yes he is real and don’t forget that, wants you to think about yourself, your importance, your possessions because it makes you focus on this world and how you feel right now rather than on the treasures in eternity. The more importance we put on the stuff of this world be it fitting in, climbing the social ladder, finding the love of our lives or always having the biggest, newest and best the harder it is to live in God’s will because we are making the stuff of this world more important than God and the Devil is loving it.
And the trouble is as Christians we are surrounded pretty much all the time by a world which says you need to conform, you need to get that big beautiful house, that fancy car, that latest phone and the nice clothes because if you don’t you are nobody. Remember not only did God create you, which frankly makes you awesome, highly important and not a nobody, but it is people of the world who make this rule, that you need to own something to be someone so they can compare you to others, it isn’t God as in his eyes we are equal and who would you rather listen to?
I am going to finish with some thing which the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans and as Christians we need to remember this every single day because when you live surrounded by society which creates classes of people, puts you in boxes with others and judges you on how you look and what you own it is easy to feel like you must conform.