There Is a Better Way–To Possess Right Thinking Devotional Reading and Podcast
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” –1 Peter 1:6-7
When God emancipated the Israelites from Egyptian slavery the journey from Egypt to Canaan was only 11 days. Yet they were in the wilderness for 40 years because of their ungrateful hearts and disgruntled thoughts which led to continuous disobedience against God. When the Israelites were camping at the Red Sea and saw Pharoah and his army, instead of praying for God’s Divine intervention to save them, they blamed Moses for forcing them to leave Egypt. As a result, they verbally attacked Moses and accused him of placing them in harm’s way.
“Then they said to Moses, ‘Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:11-12).
At some point in our lives, every Christian will have a wilderness experience. Trials are never something that we wish for, yet they are part of the believer’s spiritual journey. Trials are not random. God is specific in determining what each of us needs to experience continuous spiritual growth and transformation.
In the Bible, we have faith heroes, Joseph, and the apostles Paul and John along with many others who experienced lengthy hardships. God uses trials to build our faith and rid us of unrighteous character traits. When it is time for us to enter the wilderness do we willingly accept God’s plan for the testing of our faith?
To remain steadfast during our spiritual journey, we must have a mindset of “Right Thinking.” What is right thinking? “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
Right thinking acknowledges that our trial is permitted by God to produce spiritual growth in our faith and to transform our character into the likeness of Christ. Obedience, endurance, and perseverance are characteristics of right thinking.
Trials and sorrows are always unexpected unless we are suffering from the consequences of willful disobedience. Our first response to the trial is usually much praying and studying the Bible as never before. We have confidence that God will keep His promises and provide deliverance [as soon as possible]. But placing a time limit on the duration of our trial is the beginning of compromising “right thinking.”
Because of our expectation for quick deliverance, our mindset is not in alignment with God’s will. As the days become weeks, we continue to pray and remain hopeful that God will intervene soon. Yet, when the weeks become months, and months escalate into years, and God remains silent, our faith decreases and our hope fades into discouragement.
With time, we lose our spiritual focus. The frequency and fervency of our prayers decline. And we avoid the Scriptures that emphasize the reason for suffering and patiently waiting on the Lord. We no longer possess right-thinking.
Without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, we begin to think of options–plans A or B to end our hardships or ask God if He has forgotten about us. Some even attempt to negotiate with God by promising to attend church more often or confess that they have not been fulfilling their purpose, but they will do better.
When will it end? As the journey continues our emotions overrule our faith. Now our minds are filled with doubt. Without faith, our discouragement grows into depression, and anger may arise because we have grown weary of our circumstances. Our prayers no longer reflect the hope that God will deliver us.
A few years ago, I recall a good friend who was experiencing a wilderness trial saying, it’s just too hard to serve God. Despite spiritual counseling, attending church, and studying God’s promises, he gave up. Sadly, to this day, he continues to reject God.
God’s Perspective: Trials and tribulations prepare us for Kingdom life in the New Heaven and New Earth.
We do not see ourselves as God does. Humanity cannot judge itself. Because we do not engage in worldly activities, attend church, give our tithe and offerings, pray, and study the Bible, we perceive ourselves as righteous, and do not see the need for lengthy or frequent trials. Again our mindset compromises right thinking.
King Solomon says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
King David was aware of our spiritual condition. He prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24). How often do we pray King David’s prayer?
When God remains quiet and our prayers unanswered, those who do not have a steadfast relationship with Christ are filled with worries and anxieties. Then our wayward thinking increases. “Why isn’t God answering my prayers?” which leads to the demise of our faith, trust, and hope in God.
Satan takes advantage of us when he knows we are losing faith in God. Remember the fallen angel cannot read our minds, but he observes our downcast behaviors and listens to our spoken words of defeat and negativity. When our times of praise and worship almost become nonexistent then he works to bring his diabolical plans to fruition.
Satan uses the waiting period to plant the seeds of doubt in our minds. Without faith and right thinking, our perception of God changes from a loving Father to a God who is punitive. Our internal thoughts accuse God of withholding the job, finances, house, vehicle, husband, wife, the children we desire, or healing our illness that we rightfully deserve.
To make matters worse, like Job’s friends, our family and friends may ask what did you do that God is not answering your prayers or delivering you?
With our archenemy at work, we are filled with anger, resentment, a sense of entitlement, and despair. Unhealthy emotions easily permeate and corrupt the human mind. A heart filled with negative and ungrateful thoughts toward God eventually leads to a severed relationship with our Creator.
Although the apostle Paul was imprisoned until he died as a martyr, he never complained or spoke against God. Paul advised us to focus on the reward of eternal life when we are in times of suffering.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…” (Romans 5:3-5)
Waiting in the Wilderness Exposes Our Spiritual Condition: The wilderness trial has revealed the root of the problem, our faith in God along with our endurance and perseverance is weak.
Have you ever made a cup of coffee or tea, added cream or milk, and tasted it, only to discover it was spoiled? Without an alternate answer, we have to admit our responsibility for not checking the expiration date.
Yet, when we fail in our faith journey, we blame God for putting more on us than we can bear. We resent our wilderness trials because we do not desire a life of tribulations that God says is necessary for the growth of our faith. Spiritual transformation is lifelong. Trials and sorrows will remain part of our journey until we take our last breath or until the day of Jesus’ Second Coming.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Only God knows the strength or weakness of our faith. He also knows the true condition of our hearts and characters. Our Heavenly Father’s goal is to save our souls. We must ask ourselves if we desire the reward that Jesus promised to the faithful in Revelation. If yes, then our daily prayers reflect David’s prayer to God for Him to search our hearts and give us the strength to persevere.
“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
There is a better way to live—To possess Right Thinking. We surrender ourselves wholly to God by accepting that His plans are perfect for us. In humility, we agree that God is only allowing what is necessary to receive eternal life. Right thinking acknowledges that every trial, short or extended will produce a complete transformation of our minds and character, a steadfast faith, and the endurance, and perseverance necessary to receive our eternal reward.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Those who strive to have a relationship with Christ built on steadfast faith and trust will receive their crowns. Hallelujah! Amen!
Prayer: God, we have lost our right thinking. We ask for forgiveness for our wayward thoughts of not accepting the wilderness trials. We pray for a complete restoration mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We ask for the anointing, presence, and power of the Holy Spirit to impart the strength we need to remain in the wilderness according to Your will. In Jesus’ Worthy name, we pray. Amen.
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