Elder William Hampton explores God’s power and purpose of our thoughts in the second of a 3-part series on the Elders’ Corner.
The World Book Dictionary defines a thought as “the power or process of thinking.” It is a mental activity; the characteristic thinking of a particular person, group, time and/or place.
The average human brain contains around 100 billion cells. The cells can live for an entire lifetime, frequently making them the oldest living cells in the human body. The brain weighs about three pounds, and continues to grow from conception until around 18 years of age.
The left side of the human brain has considerably more neurons than the right side, and the forebrain, which controls intellectual function, is far larger in humans than in other animal species.
The thoughts of the human brain are powered by neurotransmitters, which in turn are powered by copious quantities of blood flowing through the brain every minute.
According to scientific research, it is said that we have approximately 48.6 thoughts per minute which translates into 2,916 thoughts per hour and 69,984 thoughts throughout the day. We are literally thinking the entire day.
Even as we sleep, our brains continue to process thoughts. A different set of neurotransmitters controls our thoughts while we sleep, which is why our dreams can seem so different from our waking thoughts.
KNOWING OUR THOUGHTS: 7 QUESTIONS ANSWERED
As we can see, our brain processes a lot of thoughts. We have good thoughts and bad thoughts, and out of them come the decisions of life. How can thoughts affect our lives? Who, or what, determines our thoughts? And does God know our thoughts?
Here are 7 questions to ask in understanding God’s purpose for our thoughts:
- Does God know our thoughts? In 1 Chronicles 28:9, David gives advice to his son because he has experienced first-hand the power of God. David’s thoughts at times were not pure; therefore, they led him into various sins. He’s telling Solomon not to do as he did because God knows his thoughts. In Isaiah 66:18, God tells the prophet that He knows the thoughts of the people, and the ones with pure hearts and thoughts will be taken as priests and Levites. Other scriptures about thoughts include, Psalm 94:11-“The Lord knows the thoughts of man that they are futile/vanity.” Matthew 9:4-“But Jesus knowing their thoughts said ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’” From these and many other scriptures, we can infer that our thought patterns are known by God.
- Who should determine our thoughts? Amos 4:13-“For behold He who forms mountains, and creates the wind. Who declares to man what his thought is and makes the morning darkness, Who treads the high places of the earth…The Lord of hosts is His name.” Amos is saying, “Let God determine your thought pattern.” God is the Sustainer and Creator of everything. If He can form the mountains and wind, He can definitely form our thoughts.
- How can we develop our thoughts? Proverbs 16:3-“Commit thy works to the Lord and your thoughts will be established.” If we turn over to the Lord what we plan to do, our life’s purpose will come to fruition. As the song says, “Turn it over to Jesus, and you can smile the rest of your day.” Saints of God, please give your lives over to JESUS!
- What are God’s thoughts? Psalm 92:5 says, “O Lord, how great are your works, Your thoughts are very deep” We cannot even begin to fathom the deep thoughts of God. God’s thoughts are beyond our conception; beyond our expression. His thoughts are the products of great power and wisdom, of great consequence and importance! Our works are nothing to Him. Isaiah 55:8-“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says 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.” We cannot comprehend the greatness of God’s works. We can only reverently and gracefully wonder at them, and even stand dumbfounded at the magnificence of them. Our works are small and our thoughts are shallow; but God’s thoughts and works are great and cannot be measured or comprehended.
- Now that we know God’s thoughts, what about man’s? Isaiah 59:7 – “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood, their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity…” This is the thought of man. Romans 1:21 – “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Some of us know people in this state: but again, these are the thoughts of man.
- How can thoughts affect our lives?
When inner desires respond to outward enticement, sin is spawned. In James 1:14-15, James does not mention Satan’s role in temptation. His purpose is not to discuss the origin of sin, but to explain that enticement to evil is not from God. In stressing the inward nature of temptation, James leaves sinners no excuse. Satan is indeed the external source of temptation, but no one can blame him for the roots of sinful deeds. Sin starts with a thought which becomes a very prevalent mindset. This leads us to trouble; then, our thoughts can become uncontrollable. Negative thoughts can begin to take root deep within our being, and those thoughts are fulfilled when the desire is satisfied. This is what is known as a spiritual death: but thoughts can also lead to physical death. For example: ingesting a foreign substance into your system, making the decision flee from the police, or sharing intimate relations with someone and contracting a deadly disease can all lead to demonic transfer or a tragic ending. This is why God tells us in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Paul is telling us to exercise our minds. If we keep the mind of Christ, we can simply stay out of trouble.
- How do we keep our minds focused on good thoughts in life? All of us can testify that we thought of something bad – or good – and it actually happened. We, as saints, must understand one thing: every time we sin, we become more bound by that particular sin. That is how sin can become a part of us and we are unaware of its presence. Our bad thoughts are the same. They can become a part of our thought process, and can begin to lead and to guide our lives until we get pleasure from thinking them. We feed off of them as if they were a narcotic substance in our bodies, then, when God saves us, we think everything will be alright. What God will do is begin to bring months, years and even decades of wrong thoughts to our remembrance, and allow us to see them for what they really are. Acknowledging that we have these negative thoughts, however, can be difficult.
The bible says in Proverbs 23:7 “ For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Saints of God, your thoughts are the gateway, portal and doorkeeper to your heart. When we allow thoughts to fester in our minds, they become embedded within our spirits.
This is why God has given us the provision to think upon His goodness. We must learn the art of “letting go and letting God.” Please keep your mind as pure as possible, and watch your life drastically change for the better.
SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – 1 Chronicles 28:9, Isaiah 66:18, Psalm 94:11, Matthew 9:4, Amos 4:13, Proverbs 16:3, Psalm 92:5, Isaiah 55:8, Isaiah 59:7, Romans 1:21, James 1:14-15, Philippians 2:5, Proverbs 23:7.
Elder F. William Hampton is a long-time member of West Angeles Church of God in Christ under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. Born in Houston, Texas, he received his High School Diploma from Hinds Agricultural High School, his Associates of Arts Degree from Utica Junior College, his BA from Texas Southern University and his MFA from Loyola Marymount University. Elder Hampton joined West Angeles Church in 1985 and was ordained as an Elder in June of 2008. He has worked with the West Angeles Sunday School and Youth Ministries, and is currently a member of the Web Team.