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The thoughts of one who knows must be different from the thoughts of one who believes, thus the plans and even dreams of one who knows are very different.  So when God said, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways…” it should not offend nor surprise anyone except those foolish enough to even think that God’s thoughts and ways are the same as theirs.

And it is the express purpose of the Lord that our thoughts be changed to conform no longer to the world but to be like His.  When I say this, it gives you the impression that God wants to be a dictator and that we should all think as He does, exactly in the way He wants us.  If that were the case and purpose of God, He would not have ever given us freedom of choice in our will, but merely put into each of us a program that we would follow and respond to as key passwords are manifested.  The changing of our thinking, thoughts and even imaginations so that we can think as He does, is not a mind washing program so that freewill is eliminated.  The fact that God wants all men to retain and use their freewill is amply evident when Jesus said, “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, whatever you will, and it will be done for you.”  Thus, the taking captive of our thoughts and making them obedient to Christ is not the obedience of a mindless, will-less robot, but rather the obedience of an independent free thinking individual who has learnt to think as one who knows so that he may be wise in what and whom he believes.  Eve was foolish in what and whom she believed, that is, the words of Satan and Satan himself.  Foolish because she didn’t know him, and secondly because he contradicted the words of the One she already knew, God.  She was the sheep who listened to the voice of a stranger.

It is little wonder then that it is difficult to change old wine skins, for they are familiar with what and whom they know and they have been taught not to listen to the voice of strangers.  The Jews found it difficult to listen to Jesus and believe Him because He was a Stranger in their midst.  Those who believed Him the most tended to be those in dire need such as the Centurion, the rich men with their sick and dead daughters, the woman with the issue of blood, the blind men, the man with a demon possessed son and the Phoenician woman with a demon possessed daughter— people who found that which they had been familiar with, had lived with and had been taught to believe in all their lives, finding themselves in a situation that which they knew and believed no longer offered the solution.

Someone said, “Necessity is the mother of all innovation,” and that has some truth.  None of those people who sought Jesus for help would have done so if their religious and medical practices solved the problems they faced.  It was written of the woman with the issue of blood:  She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.  She had come to the place where she knew, not believed, that no one and nothing else could help her except this new Prophet, this new Preacher, Jesus Christ, so that when she heard about Him she sought Him out.  Why did she seek Jesus out?  Was it just because she was desperate?  No, but because she must have heard that the sick were healed by Him.  If she had not spent all her money, if she had not gotten worse instead of better, she would not have had this thought and action as recorded by Mark:  When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.” 

See the words ‘she thought’, not she believed, and Matthew recorded:  She said to herself…  You see, it wasn’t just her faith that moved her to Jesus, it was what she knew.  She knew she was sick, she was bankrupt and she was worse, thanks to the doctors, and she knew she had to do or try someone or something different, so she changed her behaviour.  Her words, her actions, the way she snuck up behind Jesus were that of a person not just of faith, but also of knowledge.  She didn’t know if Jesus could heal her, she just believed He could from what she heard, but she knew no one else had done any better.  And He was free!  After all, she had also spent all her money.

When we first believe, we think as one who believes, but when we come to know, we begin to think as one who knows.  A child tends to think as one who believes and an adult tends to think as one who knows.  Since it is first by faith and not by knowledge that we can come into the Kingdom of Heaven, then the preaching must be done so that people can hear and believe.  You see, the sick woman heard about Jesus.  She had not yet met Him or known Him, but her faith prompted her to give Him a try, and her knowledge gave her the boldness and desperation to come up behind Him without permission less He was just another religious man who’d send her away because her condition was a sign of her sinfulness.

So then, you and I must understand that God’s thoughts are the thoughts of the All-Knowing, not the all-believing.  God said, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you… the thoughts and plans that I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Understand that God thinks His thoughts and makes His plans about you based on what He knows about you, not what He believes about you, which makes the grace of God all the more incredible and His love all the more immeasurable.  Because God knows we are sinners and that all the inclinations of the thoughts of our hearts are evil from birth, that our hearts are wicked beyond understanding and that the things we ought to do we do not do, and the things we ought not to do we do.  Knowing all that and God’s thoughts and thinking and plans to us are for prosperity and good?  What a Person God is!  Now, remember He is thinking and planning all this for you not because He believes you, no, but because He knows you, so God isn’t being nice to you because you managed to fool Him, but because He is God and He is Good.  Perhaps you might learn to see why Jesus said, “No one is good—God alone is Good.”

Most people think their thoughts and plans on the basis of what they believe of people first, not on what they know of people, and as time passes when they get to know that person, their thoughts, plans and actions toward that person changes.  Just ask many a divorced couple or politicians.  God however made His plans and thoughts abut you on what He already knows and foreknows of you so that nothing you say or do can really affect Him because He already knows you.  You can change a person’s faith, but it is much harder to change what a person knows unless you present him with the truth.  A person who believes that there is no God, an atheist, can be changed with a personal audience with God, but a Person who has always known God cannot change what He believes about God, that is why even when He was forsaken on the cross, Jesus still cried out and said, “Father, into Your hands, I commit My spirit.”

Likewise, as you prepare yourselves for innovations and are preaching innovations, you must learn to think as one who knows there is a problem and hence an innovation, a change, is needed, and not as one who believes there is a problem.  A person who believes that there is a problem can be wrong and deceived, just look at Eve.  She believed that there was a problem with God’s command that it cannot be true that she would die if she ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  She looked for an answer to a problem that did not exist.  Do not be like that or you too will be deceived.  Evolutionists looking for the ‘Missing Link’ to explain the evolution of man are looking for an answer to a problem that does not exist.  Scientists looking for the answer to what started the ‘Big Bang’ that began this evolution are looking for an answer to a problem that does not exist.  False teachings and doctrines come from people who are looking for an answer to a problem that does not exist.

James the Younger offered his advice and judgement in Acts 15 by saying that things should be made easier for the Gentiles concerning the keeping of the Mosaic Law, so instead of making us keep all of it, he recommended that only four parts be kept:  The avoidance of drinking blood, the avoidance of eating food sacrificed to idols and strangled animals, and the avoidance of sexual immorality.  He offered an answer to a problem that he believed existed, the problem of Gentiles trying to observe the Mosaic Law when the problem never existed, for Jesus had fulfilled the law on behalf of the Gentiles and moved us all into His laws, His words that were given to Him by the Father, not the words They had given to Moses earlier.

So, the changing of your thinking and therefore the product of your thinking, your thoughts – for thinking is the process, thoughts are the product and imaginations are the results hoped for – must begin first, otherwise your attempts at innovations are futile and even dangerous.

When the council adopted James’ innovations, which were not innovations at all, the whole system broke down and led even apostles into hypocrisy and open verbal fights.  The task that we face is very different because the problems are very real:

·       Powerlessness in the church.

·       Division in the church.

·       Heresy in the church.

·       Ignorance in the church.

·       Disobedience in the church, and so on and so on.

So we are truly blessed for we do not have to look for answers to imaginary problems like James did, but we have to begin to imagine answers for very real problems, so that from those imaginations, plans can be formulated, and from those plans, action can be taken that will ensure the arrival of Jesus Christ on the Mount of Olives.  Some of the answers are easy and obvious, and you know them already, but unfortunately, so does the enemy, and as such, those answers are of little value because of the opposition the enemy has raised against them.  Therefore, what are needed are the new and the innovative answers to the very real problems we have faced since Acts 15, new innovations, yes, but effective and in keeping in the thoughts and ways of God.  And that is why we have to begin with changing the way we speak, act and think, and the Lord has done that to us by giving us not only revelations but experiences that have changed our lives and caused us to confront the limitations that men have set upon us.

As part of that process we know, not believe, that blind men can see, lame men can walk, there is healing for all and food can multiply, rain can be stopped and so on.  Just like the Hebrews, God didn’t set them free with a conventional revolution, for there were countless slave revolts throughout history, but with an event that has never been done for any nation before or since the twelve miraculous signs and wonders witnessed and experienced by the Hebrews, which turned them into the only nation that worships the God they know and not the God they believe.  Likewise, disciples of Jesus are supposed to listen to the One they know, not the One they believe, if not all disciples, at least apostles.  But you do not have to be an apostle to know Jesus, anyone who listens carefully to Him like Mary did can come to know Him like Mary does and more, and that is the beauty of God’s simple command for all:  “This is My Son, whom I love.  With Him I am well pleased.  Listen to Him!” 

Paul wrote to the Ephesians whom he discipled:  Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  If you understood what the first four words meant, there would be no need to heed verses 3 to 7.  (Read for yourself.)  Imitators are not the real, but they are supposed to remind people of the real, because they have learnt to mimic, copy and replay the words and actions of the real.  (Circa – ‘Elvis imitators’)  An imitator however is not an impersonator.  An imitator does not try to pass himself off as the real, but rather seeks to remind others of the original.  A painter who paints like Van Gogh is not an impersonator; a forger who tries to sell his painting as a Van Gogh is an impersonator.  So then, understand that we are not called to be impersonators of God, only imitators.  There is one who will try to impersonate God as Paul warned us:  He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 

You have been taught and trained since I first spoke to you, almost eight years ago at 13/83 George Street about being imitators of God, to speak and act like him so that you remind people of Him, and around that time God restored to us the power and had us read His word so that we know what He said.  Now it is time for you to begin to learn to imitate God in His thoughts and His ways.  And that imitation begins when you learn to think as a person who knows, not as a person who believes.  Your thoughts will become like the thoughts of God when you base your thoughts on what you know of Him and His ways, not what you believe of Him and His ways.

You see, Paul is so different from James the Younger because Paul’s expertise of the Mosaic Law gave him the knowledge that no one is justified by the law, whereas James the Younger, being an amateur in the Mosaic Law, still believed it had a part to play in the justification of a sinner.

Likewise, you and I must become expert witnesses, professionals at what we know of Christ, and refuse to stay amateurs who are full of self opinionated beliefs without substance.  Anyone can write a theory on how to cause a blind man to see; only the one who has done it knows what it takes to make a blind man see.  Anyone who has never been with God can write their theories about the realities or delusions of God; only the One who has been with God from the beginning and came from God can tell us the truth about God.  And for those who are interested, there is a universal religion that leads all men to God, even atheists.  I call it ‘Funeralism,’ for it is a true and worthy saying that every man will see God at his own death.

This transformation, this transfiguration, happens to all and anyone who is prepared to believe what they have heard and practised enough to see that which they have believed is true, so that they come to the conclusion that perfects their faith, that the rest of what they have heard but not yet seen must also be true.  We have never seen a man who can live and never die yet, but we have seen enough of the sick being healed by the laying on of hands, enough demons driven out and enough of speaking in tongues to now know that John 11:26 must be as true as Mark 16:15-17, and so on.  That is why it is so important for you and I to not only hear the word but to practise the word, for the practice of the word brings out the knowledge and so increases the seed of faith until every mountain is moved.

Yes, God’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts, but if we would learn to think as He thinks, then we have begun the journey of elevating our thoughts as God’s thoughts are elevated and our ways as God’s ways are elevated.  And since it is our thoughts that should govern our speech and actions, then the elevation of our thoughts will elevate our speech and actions, so then we will learn to think like God thinks, speak like God speaks and act like God acts, truly imitators of God who remind people of God, but never impersonators who deceive people about God.  So, before you answer Jesus’ question: “What do you think?” check how you think!

 

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