Storeroom Sermons of David Chadwell

Learning to Think Like God

Quite often when we are driving, we will see a yellow or orange sign that says, "CAUTION." We know immediately by the color of the sign and the word used that we are being warned. Though only one word and one color appear on the sign, we understand that we are being warned of possible danger, and we are being told to exercise special vigilance. If we have an accident because we ignore the sign, few people will sympathize with us. The attitude likely will be, "You were warned. Why did you not pay attention to the warning?"

This lesson is intended as a warning. The warning does not come from me. It comes from my understanding of what God said. The source of the warning is God, not me. To "steal" God's warning by "hiding His caution sign" would not be a harmless prank. It would mean the potential death of people.

Ironically, most Christian are convinced they think like God thinks. That has never been the case! The reason we study scripture is to learn to think like God thinks. Long before Jesus Christ came to earth or Christianity existed, God said through one of the prophets:

Isaiah 55:6-9 "Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,' declares the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.'"

Isaiah revealed many harsh realities to Judah and Jerusalem. (See Isaiah 1:4-9 as an example.) There were some who understood his warnings. They basically reacted by saying, "It is too late. Too much evil has occurred." Isaiah basically said, "You do not understand how to think like God thinks. He does not think like you think."

Jesus once told the Pharisees, "But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent (Matthew 12:7)." The Pharisees were recognized in first century Jewish society as the "official conservative interpreters of scripture." Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6, and said they did not know what God meant by that statement. He said if they understood what God meant in that statement, they would not have condemned the innocent. They did not know how God thought.

  1. Because a person is immersed in Christ does not mean he or she automatically thinks like God thinks.
    1. Because a Christian reads the Bible regularly (which is a wonderful thing to do) does not mean he or she automatically thinks like God thinks.
      1. Such reading can lead you closer to God's thinking if some things are true.
        1. You listen as you read.
        2. You carefully refuse to force your desires on God's revelations.
        3. You are willing to grow as you increase your understanding.
        4. Your are willing for God to change your thoughts and understandings.
      2. If the Pharisees (who were recognized as experts in scripture) could fail to understand how God thinks, so can we.
    2. Because a person goes to church, listens to the preacher, and follows the direction of their elders does not mean he or she automatically thinks like God thinks.
      1. Going to church does not carry an automatic guarantee that your thoughts will be God's thoughts.
      2. Listening to the preacher is an important help if his thinking is in tune with God's thinking.
      3. The same is true for elders.
      4. Because of one's position in a congregation, we must not assume the person is spiritually mature.

  2. Consider an example.
    1. Let's begin with an incident in Luke 22:24-30.
      And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
      1. This incident occurred just after Jesus gave them the Lord's Supper.
        1. That means the twelve were with him his entire earthly ministry, yet they still did not "get it."
        2. Jesus said his kingdom was not like all the kingdoms they knew--those kingdoms were power based.
        3. Those who occupied positions of authority liked the power of position and loved the designation of the person of power.
        4. It would not be like that with the twelve.
          1. Greatness would be like being the youngest person (the least influential person) and like being a servant.
          2. Yet in Jesus' kingdom he would turn things upside down--the server would be greater than the served.
          3. The 12 were given positions in Jesus' kingdom, but as servants.
      2. That is not the way things were done then and is not the way things are done now.
        1. People are still power-based (it is who I know or what I have).
        2. We want our significance to be declared by our position over others.
        3. Jesus said in his kingdom that was not the way it worked.
    2. Consider an extension of the example in Mark 9:33-37:
      They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me."
      1. The 12 had an argument among themselves about who would be the most significant in Jesus' administration when Jesus ruled in his kingdom.
      2. When they reached their destination, Jesus asked them what they were discussing as they traveled.
      3. They did not respond because Jesus had made himself clear on this matter before.
      4. He told them in his kingdom the path to greatness was the path of servitude.
      5. He illustrated his point by taking a child in his arms and stating that receiving a child meant receiving him and God.
    3. Frankly, it just does not work that way in anybody's world in any age.
      1. Servitude is a matter of behavior, not a matter of words and claims.
      2. Nobody wants to be a servant.
      3. Everybody wants to be served.
      4. However, Jesus said greatness (not the path to greatness) was achieved in his kingdom by serving.
      5. You have to really listen to God to learn to think like He thinks.
        1. To save us, God served--that is the only reason we have grace, mercy, and compassion.
        2. To give us a Savior, Jesus served--all the way to and including death on a cross.
        3. The 12 became our servants.
        4. The apostle to the gentiles was a servant.
        5. Paul told the Christians at Philippi in Philippians 2:3:
          Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;...
      6. There is no way you would ever learn to think that way if you did not listen to God--people just do not think of being great in connection with serving rather than being served.

  3. Consider Jesus' statement give in a prayer shortly before his death.
    John 17:20-23--"I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.
    1. Just as Jesus was about to give the ultimate sacrifice of self in suffering and death, he prayed for the oneness of all who believed in him.
      1. He not only prayed for our oneness as believers, but that our oneness would reflect the oneness he had with God the Father.
      2. His prayer was that he be so thoroughly in us that we would reflect his presence in the oneness we share with each other.
      3. It is by sharing this oneness that we cause the world to believe three things:
        1. That God sent Jesus.
        2. That God loves those who follow Jesus.
        3. That God loved Jesus even though He permitted Jesus to die on a cross.
    2. In his request, Jesus forever gave proof that oneness can exist even when there is great differences (something we have been very slow to learn).
      1. Jesus was flesh; God was not.
      2. Jesus could and would die; God could not die.
      3. Jesus was temptable and about to face his greatest temptation; God is not temptable.
      4. Jesus could physically suffer and know physical pain; God could not.
      5. Jesus could actually experience human emotions that could threaten his commitment; God could not and does not experience those emotions.
      6. As different as they were, Jesus the Son being human and God the Father being divine, they were one.
    3. And we struggle with each other because we do not agree on every detail.
      1. In Jesus and God's value system, oneness ranks high on the list of important things.
      2. Does it on ours?
      3. Or do we reason that to preserve unity we need to divide and place "me" in control?
      4. Do we really know how to think like God thinks?

Learning to allow God to teach us how to think is a huge, never-ending challenge if we aspire to spiritual maturity. It takes enormous courage to allow God to change your thinking. When a person allows that to occur, he or she increasingly becomes behavior- centered in his of her life. It is more than what he or she affirms to be correct. It is allowing conviction held to become behavior practiced. It is a faith in Jesus that increasingly becomes focused on "me" instead of a faith focused on others.


David's Home Page Return to the Storeroom Next Sermon

Link to other Writings of David Chadwell