Dr. E. Dale Locke and Rev. Trevor Johnston
Series: The Attitude of Gratitude
Week 1: Thoughts on Thinking
PDF file for printing: 11-11-2018
- Share with your group several things you are grateful for with regard to your life right now.
- Begin working on memorizing Philippians 4:8-9:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
What thoughts or questions come to your mind as you read this passage?
- The word, “Finally” tells us that this passage is strongly connected to what Paul wrote before it. Read Philippians 4:4-7:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
What principles and ideas in these verses are foundational or relate to verses 8 and 9 above?
- Research shows that people tend to think many of the same thoughts over and over, and that the thoughts that go through our heads are often negative. Why do you think that is?
Let Your Thoughts Begin and End with God
- Our thoughts can easily wander away from God. How does it impact you when you don’t keep God in your thoughts?
- What are some things that help you not to let your thoughts wander away from Him?
- Pastor Dale shared that he often repeats the following sentence to himself, “The Lord is near, the Lord loves me, the Lord wants to help me.” How might it make a difference in your own life, if you were to remind yourself of these truths on a regular basis? (Try it this week!)
- Read Psalm 139:7-12:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
What is the main message of this passage? What encouraging thoughts do you see here?
Aim at Higher and Better Thoughts
- Paul urges us to focus on what is
Talk about each of these words: define what each word means and contrast it with what many of us tend to fill our minds with.
- Are there any habits or activities in your life that are working against you being able to live out this passage?
- One area where we can live out this passage is in how we think about other people. We have two options when it comes to how we think about others – especially when we don’t have all the information about them. We can mistrust and assume bad things about a person, or we can trust and assume good things about a person. How does it impact our world when people choose the first option?
Our thoughts determine who we become
- How are the principles in Philippians 4:8-9 different from the current cultural ideas of “the power of positive thinking”?
- Greg Boyd wrote in his book, Letters from a Skeptic:
“We tend to become the decisions we make. The more we choose something, the more we become that something. We are all in the process of solidifying our identities by the decisions we make. With each decision we make, we pick up momentum in the direction of that decision.
The more we choose something, the harder it is to choose otherwise, until we finally are solidified— eternalized— in our decision. The momentum of our character becomes unstoppable. We create our character with our decisions, and our character, in turn, exercises more and more influence on the decisions we make.”
What do think of this?
- Read Proverbs 4:23:
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Why is it so important to guard our heart?
- Over the coming week, pay attention to what your thoughts are and what is on your heart: and compare your thoughts to Paul’s ideas of what we should think about.