Controlling our Thought Life
Each of us has more than 10,000 thoughts per day. Some experts even say even 20,000. Most of those thoughts, however, are fragmented, only to be interrupted by another. We pay little heed to those thoughts on a moment-by-moment basis, and if I were to ask you what you were thinking 30 seconds ago, you may be hard pressed to tell me. Then to add to that confusion, if you did not get a full night's sleep last night, you would be even less likely to remember those thoughts.
While we sleep, our thought life has to be refiled, so to speak, back into our memory bank, only to be reopened with the right promptings at a later time. Our brain is like a computer, so for simplicity sake, let's look at our thought life like a hard drive. If 10,000 thoughts are opened out of the hard drive of our brain each day, plus we add what new things we have learned during the course of that day, which adds to our memory bank, each of those thoughts become like files that have to be properly stored somewhere in our brain.
While our brain goes in a deep rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, our body does the work of restoring itself; however, our brain is actively sorting out those thoughts we had the day before. If we did not go to sleep that night, however, it would be like taking all those files for two days, bringing your brain to a point of exhaustion. Somewhere along the way, our brain has to do some sort of filing; however, because of a lack of sleep, it would be like you took those files and shut off your computer without closing any of the files. Nothing would be in order, and your brain would be in a state of confusion. Therefore, it is imperative that we get the proper amount of sleep each night so our brain can categorize and file our thoughts away properly. Each night, one by one, those files are being carefully categorized and filed in its right place – ready to be reactivated when the promptings or need comes at a later time.
Since our brains are like a computer, the longer we live, the larger the hard drive we need because our memory bank expands and grows over the years. As such, the more sleep we require depends on our body's need to restore itself, and for our brain to file all of the data throughout our lifetime. The more data it holds, the more sleep will be required to sort out those thoughts properly back into our memory bank.
While we all dream almost every night, not remembering most of them, dreams come because of a variety of reasons. How often have you had a goofy or strange dream and wondered where it came from? It can be comforting to know that most of those dreams consist of the mixing up of one incident after another to make up one crazy dream. Simply put, our brain is trying to categorize our thoughts from yesterday into files – and often they got a little mixed up in its process of catagorizing it back into its proper place.
Another reason for strange dreams could have come from the spicy food that is tearing your stomach apart during the night, upsetting your filing system to bring on some strange thoughts out of your past.
A dream could also be God talking to you. While hearing the voice of God comes through a variety of ways, this article centers on our thought life. If God is trying to get your attention through a dream, He will confirm it to you. God will then show you your part in that dream. In other words, why did God give you specifically "that" dream? What does He want your response to be concerning that dream? This, I will say, whatever you do, don't try to conjure up some interpretation of a dream and claim it came from God. When it is of God, you will know it.
The Battle of the Mind
Satan is well aware that our mind is the area of success or failure in our life, because this is where our battles are fought. That then brings two questions:
- Can Satan read my thoughts in my mind?
- Can Satan put his thoughts into my mind?
Can Satan read your thoughts in your mind? Satan does not live within you; thus, he has no capability to read your thoughts. There is nothing in Scripture that would indicate that Satan can read your mind. Remember, he is NOT omniscient (all knowing), nor is he omnipresent (everywhere at all times). Satan is simply a fallen angel and he can only be in one place at a time. He does, however, have a host of spiritual wicked angels roaming the earth and in the heavenlies under his control. Some of them are continuously watching you.
Even though Satan does NOT know what you are thinking, having no ability or capacity to do so, you and everyone else are creatures of habit. We all have weaknesses that have been modeled many times over in our lives over our lifetime. Satan and his hosts know exactly how we respond to all situations because his angels, ones probably assigned to us, see what we do, what we say, and the things in which we listen to over and over. Even our eyes can be an expression of our emotions. Our mannerisms are very predictable.
Does Satan have the capacity to put his thoughts into our minds? Absolutely! Satan, or any of his hosts work overtime to fill our minds with negative thoughts. They feed on our weaknesses, using every device they can to plant negative thoughts in us to further our weaknesses.
John 13:2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that he should betray Jesus.
Act 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back [part] of the price of the land?
Satan or his demonic hosts can put some of the most outlandish thoughts in us that could be imagined. You may often wonder – "where did that thought come from?" How you respond to those thoughts can be vital to your success in life. If you accept those thoughts Satan plants within you, meditating and feed on them, they will eventually become a part of YOUR own thinking pattern. Since we usually put our thoughts to speach and action, we are in danger then of bringing on our own destruction.
God Knows Our Thoughts
The Lord knows our thoughts and He most certainly can put His thoughts in our minds (I Cor 2:11-12). As believers in Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives within us, and God knows our thoughts through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within our spirit. As such, He searches our most inner being to know our every thought, as well as gives us the ability to overcome negative thoughts that Satan or any of his hosts would try to put within us. When you pray, using the authority of Jesus' name, you are giving power to your prayers to defeat Satan and his hosts. When Satan puts negative thoughts within us, we all as believers have the power to defeat Satan and his hosts.
Our Amazing Brain
Science tells us that we have grooves in our brain, and they can form ruts, so to speak, based on our thinking patterns. Using those ruts as an analogy, let’s just say you are prone to negative thoughts. Those thoughts may have started with a bad remark someone said to you as a child. Repeated enough times, those thoughts create grooves in your brain. Since we are creatures of experiences and habits, said enough times, those ruts become very deep and part of our own thinking pattern.
Let's look at a variety of scenarios: Say your were teased as a child for being fat. It really doesn't matter whether you were fat or not. Those words were spoken and instilled in your mind. You then began to meditate on those thoughts to where everytime you looked in the mirror, you saw yourself fat. Again, you may or may not even be fat. Then to add more fuel, Satan, already knowing you are sensitive in that area, puts more negative thoughts in your mind, and off to the races you run. You then run the risk of overeating to solidify those thoughts into a reality. As you do, those ruts keep getting deeper and deeper.
Another scenario: Maybe you were abused as a child and it continued over and over throughout your growing up years. Those thoughts related to those abuses left deep ruts in your brain. Each abuse made the ruts go deeper.
Another scenario: Maybe you were unpopular as a child. You saw the popular kids group together, leaving you out. As that continued to happen, you felt unloved, ugly, and unpopular. These feelings become ruts in your brain – and the more it happened, the deeper the ruts became. Satan used those situations to plant further negative thoughts in you to a point your response to others became filtered through those ruts. You became super sensitive toward rude remarks, and when they came, your mind automatically went off in a spin, thinking the worst of them and pity toward yourself.
The more negative ruts you have in your brain, the greater the battles you face - even today. Because your continuous negative thoughts created a life of negativity, you now live the unhappy life you once feared, and you have taught others to leave you alone in your own unhappiness.
But what if you were raised in a loving, happy family where you felt loved at all times? Because you lived a life of love, you became well liked by those around you. You had, and still have a lots of friends and good experiences in life. You still have ruts; however, but those ruts, going just as deep, are different. They are filled with good emotions, and as you think, you automatically look at the positive side of life. If someone says something negative toward you – you just roll it off and continue on.
We all have some good and some bad ruts running through out brain. God, however, wants us to learn the things of Him to change those negative ruts to conform to His will. Then and only then will true happiness come into our lives. Rom 12:2
Meditating on the Word of God
God's perfect Word needs to become a part of us. Our ruts need to be full of the Word of God instead of negaive experiences in life. We need to come to a point where everything we think is filtered through God's Word. We need to learn how to meditate on God's Word throughout our day. Let's look at the "meditate." It means...to ponder, imagine, think, mutter, or talk to oneself. As crude as it may sound, let's compare meditation on God's Word to a cow chewing it's cud. Over and over a cow chews, swallowing and then digesting its food. Within a short time, that same food is regurgitated back up, only to be chewed, swallowed, and digested again. Nine times a cow does this for every morsel of food eaten. The cow literally spent the day chewing, swallowing, and digesting its food. When the food is completely digested, it became a part of its body.
To override the negative carnal thinking that goes on in our brain each day, we need to do the same thing as a cow does with her food, but our food needs to be the Word of God. As we chew on God's Word, we ponder, imagine, think, mutter, or talk to ourselves what we just learned. We mutter the Word of God over and over again in our mind. While we may shortly swallow and digest what we learned in God's Word, we purpose in our heart to have what we learned to come back to our minds throughout the day. As it does, we again chew (meditate) on what God is telling us, speak it out - even outloud, pondering it over again, swallowing and digesting what God is saying to us over and over again. (Josh 1:8)
Throughout the day, we purpose to meditate on God's Word until it becomes a part of us. In this way, we are overriding those bad ruts that Satan has fed into our minds thoughout our life. As such, we need to form new ruts, and when we do, those old negative ruts will start to level out as good ruts as God's Word are formed.
Meditate (mutter), and meditate, over and over again throughout the day on the Word of God.
Take Every Thought Captive
So how do we discipline our thoughts toward the Word of God when it is so natural to follow the negative deep grooves in our brain? God created us, knowing what Satan can do. To defeat him, God has given us a way to protect us from those thoughts that have plagues us for so long. (2 Cor 10:3)
- If that is true, which it is, how then can we stop those negative thoughts? Did you know that you have the God-given ability to stop any negative imaginery thoughts that have been a part of your life for so long, even in the middle of a thought? God would not have told you to take "every" thought captive to the obedience of Christ if He didn't give you the ability to do so!
- The very moment you realize you are thinking a negative thought, replace it with something that the Word of God tells you. Take a promise of victory and repeat it over and over. Turn those thoughts around to work in a positive direction for you.
- To begin with, it may take a half an hour or so before you even realize you are thinking negatively. To shorten that time, pray and ask God to show you sooner, and He will remind you. You can then take action to stop those thoughts immediately.
- As often as Satan tries to put a negative thought in you, the more agressive you have to become. (Phil 4:8)
Think (mutter, mutter, mutter) on God's Word. Set your mind on the things of God - His promises, His blessings, His kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and every wonderful thing He has provided for you.
- Think about the answers, and the problems will be left behind.
- BUT if you think about the problems, sadly your answers will be left behind.
Because your mind has been so trained to think negatively, speak the positive things of God, even though your mind tells you something different. In time, your mind will begin to think God's way!
The Importance of Speaking the Word of God
When you speak, whatever it may be, your ears hear what you say. As such, you need to continuously speak the Word of God outloud so that your own ears can hear you speak. Faith, and anything else we need to plant within us, comes by hearing and hearing (Rom 10:17). What you speak over and over and over, hearing it over and over, eventually drops down into your heart. Then what you believe in your heart becomes a reality. That's a promise of God, and I can vouch for that!
There are 168 hours in a week. Remembering that each day we think a minimum of 10,000 - 20,000 thoughts, and if our thought life does not line up with the Word of God, that means we need to dedicate more time to changing our thought life. As we meditate on the Word of God day and night and purpose to do what God is showing us in His Word, our life will begin to change. What was once a negative thought becomes changed according to the Word of God. Our whole thinking pattern becomes more like Christ. (I Cor 2:16).
Meditating on the Word of God, acting upon what the Lord is saying to us, is our key to a prosperous and successful life in Christ.
Josh 1:8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. NIV