“Guess what Jill?” said Susan excitedly. “Johnny plans on proposing to Mary!”
“Ahh! Oh No!” proclaimed an unexpected voice.
“Who said that!” demanded Susan.
After a long minute of silence, a voice sheepishly replied, “Sorry, it’s me Beth. I couldn’t help but overhear.”
“Beth, you need to get off the line. You are not part of this conversation,” said Susan.
“Sorry,” replied Beth. “I’ll hang up now.” CLICK.
How did Beth become part of Jill and Susan’s conversation? Well, an uninvited participant wasn’t uncommon if you were part of a party line. What’s a party line you may ask? It’s an old system using a single telephone line shared by 2 to 10 houses.1
With a party line, each time 1 house received a call, the phone would ring in all the houses. Yes, all of them! How did you know who the call was meant to reach? Ahh, that was accomplished with a personalized ring tone.
Just imagine living with a party line. Do you want to use the phone? Check to see if the line is free by repeatedly picking up the handset. But, don’t count on it being available if there are any teenagers or long-winded people on your party line. A phone left off the hook? Now, no one in any of the 10 homes can use the line! The breathing you hear in the background? It’s not a prank call, but probably an uninvited neighbor listening in. As you might have guessed, there was no privacy. Anyone could answer any phone call, listen in or insert themselves into the conversation.
Does your mind ever feel like a party line?
Where did that thought come from?
Did you know that the Bible actually answers that question? In Matthew chapter 16, it describes 3 sources of thoughts.
1. We can generate our own thoughts and ideas.
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So, they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Matthew 16:13-14
2. Thoughts can come from God.
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 16:15-17
3. Thoughts can come from the evil one’s kingdom.
Then Peter took Him, (Jesus), aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew 16:22-23
How do you identify which source is popping thoughts into your mind?
Ahh! By identifying one source, the others are easy. When we know the Word of God and draw close to Him, we can more easily identify the thoughts from Him, as well as those that aren’t.
Think of this example;
You receive 2 emails from unfamiliar addresses. You know one is written by a friend and one by a stranger. Would you be able to identify which was written by your friend? Of course, because you know how your friend thinks and expresses himself. It is the same with God. The more you know about God, the more you can tell what thoughts would be like God’s character and which would not.
Anyone who has to drink milk is still a baby, without experience in applying the Word about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by continuous exercise to distinguish good from evil, Hebrews 5:13-14 (CJB)
Here’s how to use scripture as a tool to identify thoughts.
Ask yourself these 3 simple questions about your thought;
1. IS IT LOVING?
God’s character is love. His thoughts will follow His character like the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Evil thoughts are the opposite, creating feelings of condemnation, hatred, fear, etc. God will not give you thoughts or tell you to do something that is not loving.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law, Galatians 5:22-23
2. DOES IT GLORIFY GOD?
Glorify is defined as: “to make glorious by bestowing honor, praise, or admiration.” 2 We glorify things we consider to have value, whether they do or not. God wants to glorify Himself so that we can perceive His true value. Recognizing His value will draw us to a relationship with Him resulting in eternal life and blessings.
That you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 15:6
3. DOES IT AGREE WITH SCRIPTURE?
God’s thoughts are truthful. The evil one’s thoughts are deception and lies. God will not contradict His scriptures. If it does not align with the scriptures, then it is not from God.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then the thought is not from God.3
If you answer yes to all 3 questions, in faith you can believe that the thought is from God. But, if you are still unsure, continue to pray and get godly counsel.
What if you determine that a thought is from the evil one?
Don’t hang on! Hang up!
Susan and Jill took control of the party line by telling Beth to hang up. We can take control of the party line in our mind too.
Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5-6
Refuse to hang on to those intrusive evil thoughts! Refocus on God’s truth! For example; if a thought says “you are no good,” refocus on God’s truth;
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well, Psalm 139:14.
What if that evil thought pops back in to the party line?
Hang up! Like Beth hung up after she was confronted, the evil thought will do the same. If it does pop back in? Keep telling it to hang up!
Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you, James 4:7.
Our biggest battle starts in our minds with our thoughts. Who are we hearing?
We win the battle by exercising our discernment to examine our thoughts.
But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil, Hebrews 5:14
God knows our minds are a battle ground and He knows we may not recognize every intruder. But our loving God is there beside us, to encourage us with His loving thoughts and open arms, even when we fail.
Are you unsure whether a thought is from God? Test the thought with the 3 questions.
Heavenly Father, as I write Hebrews 5:14, please help me to habitually exercise my discernment to identify who I am hearing. In Jesus name. Amen.
EXERCISE YOUR DISCERNMENT TO IDENTIFY GOD’S VOICE
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May your day be filled with love and laughter!
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3 questions compiled by an old friend, Bonnie Smith
Monkey photo by Gerd Altmann, pixabay
Frog photo by Ulrike Langner, unsplash
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