School of Thought

Introduction:
We are in week 2 of our Small Things Big Difference teaching series. In week 1, we gave you the bottom line for the series: “It’s often the small things that no one sees that result in the big things that everybody wants.” This week, we moved into the area of our thinking, or managing our thoughts. One of the great secrets for a victorious life is learning to manage our thought life – what goes on inside our heads. Call it self talk if you will. That talk dialogue that happens inside our head when we are faced with the challenges of life or even simple day-to-day matters. It is a “running commentary” in our thinking about everything we do, and often that thinking drifts into negative areas such as hopelessness, fear, and selfishness to name a few. The goal of this Northstar Group discussion questions and the daily devotional for the week is to help you see how your thoughts are going and if necessary, direct them back to God.

Something To Talk About:
Be careful what you allow into your mind, because your thoughts often will run your life. I can guess your response. “Marty, thoughts come at me every day from all directions: at home, at work, through the media, in my relationships and in my private world. How can I manage my mind successfully?” There is a simple answer, although implementing this answer may not be that simple.

The answer is to submit my thoughts to the authority of Jesus. Matthew 28:18 says: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Jesus controls everything in Heaven and on earth. That means He has the final say on everything—including your thoughts. He has more authority, for example, than your boss who criticizes your skills and your results. And He has the power and the authority to use your gifts to further His kingdom no matter how much you think you just don’t have the skills God can use.

To manage your mind successfully, all you have to do is submit your thoughts to the authority of Christ. Will it happen overnight? No. But with practice and commitment you’ll get better at it. We struggle with it because we put God on the back burner as we go through some mental gymnastics. We cope by putting on a mask and living with a little self-contempt. Like Eve, in the garden, we disbelieve what we know about ourselves and begin to reinvent the person in the mirror to the point that we no longer resemble the person God created us to be.

Questions:
1. Is there a difference between being tempted (a thought entering into the mind) and sinning?
2. What negative and/or destructive thoughts do you need to let go of?
3. How have your negative or destructive thoughts affected you?
4. With your Bible or Bible App, read and discuss Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, and Philippians 4:8-9.
5. What do you think might be the cause of your negative/destructive thoughts?

Take One Thing Home With You:
We are conditioned to make decisions. We hear something and we instinctively decide if it is right or wrong. We meet someone at the park and within seemingly seconds we decide if we like them or not. The brain is remarkable, in that it can make thousands of decisions in a matter of a few hours. But, making bold quick decisions in the heat of the battle may not be a good thing. The wiser course of action is to delay a decision until you have all the pertinent information to make that decision.

In other areas of life we have learned the wisdom and benefit of being still and waiting on God. Being still frees us from the hectic pace of life because it reminds us that God has already measured out our life. Everything He does is good. His grace covers everything. He’s got this and we can rest in him. And that includes our thoughts.

I’m not suggesting that you be still before God and meditate for hours before you decide to cut the grass. But always go to God and allow Him to give you your perspective on yourself, others and the circumstances you face. When you live in that place of connection with Him, the result is that His peace will overwhelm your heart and mind. Paul says “guard your heart and mind” – that is a pretty good starting point for 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”