Ken Cunningham – Our thoughts, God’s thoughts – February 2023

It’s very good to see you all. I’ve been feeling a bit like it says in Acts about Paul as he moved through different areas and saw the friends and it says he took courage. I am thankful for that feeling in my heart that God’s people have continued and have a love for the gospel.

Today my thoughts have been with thoughts – our thoughts and God’s thoughts.

First of all, I would like to read a verse in the book of Genesis: ‘when God created man in his own image ……male and female created he them’. So here we read God made man after his image. When we think about God and think about ourselves, there are things that are very different to God, our thoughts and our abilities, many things, but I like to think it says God made man in his own image. We all have a head, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, feelings. In the scripture we also read that God has these things, God has feelings, God has got a mind, mouth, ears. God has given us a body which is a very temporary dwelling for us. And it is to prepare us for an eternal future with him, he hopes. God is in eternity and our little human minds cannot comprehend eternity – from everlasting to everlasting. We are limited compared to God, but God has given us this human body that we can use. This body has got the potential to take our soul into a place that is infinite, eternal.

Every single one of us in this room has a little piece of property – we have a heart and soul. It says if you should ‘gain the whole world and lose your own soul what would it profit?’ That lets us know that we have a possession inside our bodies that is greater than the whole universe. It’s our heart that makes us either right or wrong in God’s eyes. That’s how God wants to work through the Gospel, he wants to give to us a new heart, and when we get a new heart, we get a new mind and new thoughts.

We know our hand is very small, but the scripture tells us that God can hold the waters of the earth in the hollow of his hand. That’s how much greater he is than us. Our eyes – we can just see so far. I can just look down here and see bodies, people, but God can see right into your heart and he knows everything in your heart. We can hear sounds, but God’s ear can hear further and hear the very thoughts and sighs of our heart. So, God is so much greater. In Isaiah 55 it says, ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts………’ That’s the difference between God’s thoughts and our thoughts. Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. God wants to help us with this. Thoughts are powerful. From when we get up in the morning until we go to bed at night our thoughts never stop, they just go and go. Someone said we sow a thought and we reap an action, sow an action and reap a character, it all starts with a thought.

I remember being in a huge big factory one time and the owner was showing us around the factory and then he told us how it all started, and you know how it all started? Something that seemed so great just started with a simple thought. They worked on it and built on it and it grew into something great. God wants to change our thoughts, so he can change us, change our ways of living, change our outlook and change our eternity.

I was reading in Jeremiah 21 – this is God speaking – ‘for I know the thoughts I think toward you, thoughts of peace…’ These are God’s thoughts towards us – thoughts of peace and not of evil. I love the scriptures that Richard spoke on tonight about the goodness of God, and I also loved the next scriptures he tied in with that about the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man in eternity, he still had his thoughts: he thought, there is someone left to tell and if they went to the earth and told people what it’s like here that people would repent. This wasn’t God’s thoughts – God sent his son Jesus. That was his thought. Jesus came to earth not to tell us about hell, he came to the earth to tell us about Heaven, he came to earth to tell us about the love of God. The love of God and the goodness of God, when we see that it leads us to repentance, in other words it leads us to change our thoughts and embrace God’s thoughts. If somebody came from hell and told us how terrible hell is and we really understood what they said, we would repent because of fear, but God doesn’t want people in Heaven because of fear, but he wants people in heaven because they have learned of his love. It’s a completely different way. In many false religions it is a gospel of fear, but the gospel that Jesus brought is not a gospel of fear. It’s the love of God that wins our hearts. Our purpose is to tell people about Jesus, and the love that Jesus has for us. When Jesus came to this earth he had a human heart and mind just like we do. His heart was completely submitted to the will of God and resigned to that. As a result, because his heart was right, his mind was right. And because his mind was right, then his actions were right. That’s the order. Jesus said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength – we can’t do it the other way round. All God wants is for us to open our hearts to his will. Here he says, ‘thoughts of peace’. When our heart is centered in the way of God, the result of that is peace, the result of that brings joy and then we start to have a love for things we wouldn’t naturally love.

We meet many people that talk about religion and debate religion, that doesn’t mean to say they love God. There is nobody born with the love to do the will of God, but the more we seek God and his love and righteousness and his greatness, the more we love him.

I enjoyed today just walking in the countryside and seeing the little lambs running around in the fields, the sunshine and the beauty of nature. I often marvel, this is our God, this is the God we believe and worship and love, this is what he has done. Why do I ever question his work in my life? In this verse it says, ‘to give you an expected end’. If we understood the end product of what God wants to do, we would be willing for anything to allow that to happen. I was also thinking about God creating the earth: there was nothing, it was empty, cold, dark, nothing, and God started his work. That’s just how it is in our hearts – nothing, cold, dark, and God starts and he sends light, and the light separates the darkness. The heavens were separated from the earth and on day three there was light, and that is just like the order of God working in our hearts. And there are lots of separations, our thoughts and God’s thoughts, God’s ways and our ways. When we start to allow the life and the word of God to work in our hearts here on earth, things start to change in our hearts. After the first day God looked back at his work, right up to day six and then he said it was very good. God was very modest about what he had accomplished. If man could create anything that’s got life, he would think it’s amazing, or out of this world. Man can do amazing things, but the difference between what man makes and what God makes, as one of our brothers said once in a meeting, you never see an airplane giving birth to an airplane or a car giving birth to a car. It doesn’t happen because everything man has made is amazing but it doesn’t have life. Everything God has created, God signed his signature with life. That’s what God wants to do in your heart and my heart, he wants to put in new life, new life that changes our thoughts.

There’s another verse in Psalm 139 I often enjoy, about David, a man that God was able to say, ‘a man after my own heart’. David’s heart had changed, he learned to repent and then David could say, ‘how precious are your thoughts unto me‘. David was talking about God’s thoughts toward him, he said they were precious.

Sometimes people ask us, ‘What does God’s voice sound like?’, and we find it very hard to answer that. I have never heard God’s voice as an audible voice, but God’s voice can be like a little thought voice. When God speaks to you, you will know it is real because it does something to your heart.

In Sunday morning meetings and bible studies, before I made my choice, I had a great fear in my heart – how could I speak in the meetings Sunday after Sunday. It was just a fear because I didn’t understand God. Now, I am very thankful it is not just standing up and preaching a sermon, but everybody telling what God has put into their heart that week. Those of us that have this experience, we all know what it feels like to go and prepare for a meeting and feel we don’t have anything or we read a chapter, read it twice, three times and we feel we don’t have anything, and then we pray and ask God for help. Maybe you read a little verse and something touches your heart, and it’s real, just a simple thought, but it’s real: that’s getting thoughts from God.

This morning when I saw the little lambs, I love when they are born and the first thing they want is to find milk. When they find milk, the shepherds see the little tails wagging and they can relax; it is going to be ok as long as long as they get milk. That’s how it is when people receive life in their soul, they find fellowship and a family and a way. That’s just the beginning – serving God is not just making this decision once in your life and then going on about your own thing. When we begin to serve God, this is changing our whole life, our whole direction and its part of something living and we have to keep it alive, and how we keep it alive is feeding on the word of God. We read it, we meditate on it and God brings life and understanding and everything changes. As we experience that, we will experience a response. Here David says God’s thoughts towards him are many, and that’s the way it is. I believe that every day God wants to put a thought in all of our minds. That’s why Jesus said to pray, ‘give us this day our daily bread’. That’s not the bread for this body, but bread for the soul.

Somebody said about our heart and mind, they likened it to the old-style grinding mill. There is a flat stone and on top of that stone there is a round stone like a wheel and sometimes you can use a horse, or a mule and as it walks around it turns it. A hard stone upon the top of a hard surface and it rolls the grain and it turns into flour. It’s like our mind and our hearts. The things we let into our hearts, there are two avenues. One is our ears and the other is our eyes, the things we hear and the things we look at will affect our heart. We need to let the right things into our heart, the word of God. But we need security guards on our eyes and ears. In the computer world they have a saying, ‘garbage in, garbage out’, and it’s the same for our soul. If we feed our heart with garbage don’t expect good thoughts and good actions. And that’s the order. If we try to control our mouth and our actions naturally, we are going to get exhausted because we are just human. If we start with feeding the heart and mind with the right things, then what comes out of it will be pure and it’s going to be what comes from God. That’s how God works in our hearts. That’s why we emphasize the importance of reading the word of God.

There’s one verse in Philippians 4 v 7, ‘the peace of God which passeth understanding….’ In the previous verse I read in Jeremiah about an ‘expected end’. Here we read about the peace of God which passeth understanding shall keep your heart and your body. So, as we feed our hearts and minds on the right things, the result of that is peace. People that make it to Heaven and be with God, in some ways it’s going to be something they have already tasted of, the joy, they have already tasted the peace, they have already tasted the love. God said I will give them an expected end. These are things that God wants us to prove here in our lifetime and as we allow God to work in our lives, that happens.

In verse 8, Paul says, ‘whatsoever things are true…… think on these things and the God of peace shall be with you’. That’s what comes from God – it’s just beautiful to think that everything that comes from God is true and Holy and right and fair and comes from the heart of God, and through his goodness it leads us to repentance. When we see his goodness, it just makes us want to turn. I want to turn away from my thoughts – it often scares me the thoughts that come into my heart, but that is just the human heart. We are so thankful there is a solution, and it is in the word of God. The same word that made this universe is the very same word that God wants to speak to our heart.