Tom Hinkle - The Standard - Salem, Oregon - January 15, 2006

Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." This is the standard of thinking for a child of God. The second verse of that hymn, 379, says, "Search all my thoughts." I cannot think of anything scarier than to have someone search all my thoughts.

When I think of God searching all my thoughts, I know what He is going to measure them by, that verse that I just read from Philippians 4:8, the standard of thought for the Kingdom of God, for every child of God. Our government, and I think most governments have what is called the Bureau of Standards, at least that is what it is called in the United States. There is where standardization is worked out as to what size is a quart, how big is a foot, how small is an inch. So many things that we take for granted in day to day life are standardized. Can you imagine what it would be like if you went to buy a new tire for your car and found it not to be the same size that you thought it would be? When no standard is used, tires would just be what ever size happened to come off the press. You might get one that fits and you might not. What a headache.

It has been said that God's people are a mindless people, they never think for themselves. Well, that isn't true at all, but I can see why somebody might think that because they have a standard of thinking that is very, very important to a child of God. Our thoughts are our front line of defence. We sometimes say, "Oh, I just did that without thinking." I suppose that that is possible at the moment, to act without thinking but the reason that that is, is because you have thought about it too much. Trained responses come from having thought the thing through often. It is a wonderful thing when God's people can operate without thinking. It is not that they didn't ever think about it. It is because their thoughts have been so ordered according to the standard of thinking of God himself that they can act and it will be in line with the thinking of God and the actions of God.

In Isaiah 55:7-8, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' saith 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.'" "High as the heavens are above the earth, so are My thoughts higher than yours." I can't imagine the distance that there is between God's thoughts and our thoughts. Yet, He has standardized thinking for all men, women and children, so that we could think His thoughts. So that that great gap doesn't have to be there. He says, "Just let the wicked man forsake his own thoughts, then he can have My thoughts." We sometimes feel like we would like to know, "How does God think about a certain thing?" Every question, every matter of life that we have, it would be a good idea that that was our thought, "How does God think about this?"

This Bible that I have been reading from and that you have in your hands is, we often call it the Word of God. You children here have learned all about the Word of God, but it is God's thoughts. It tells us how God thinks about everything. It is access to the highest available thinking in the universe. There are some people who feel like or wish that they could think like some of the great thinkers of the land. If I had the mind of Einstein, think what I could do. Well, you couldn't do any better than Einstein. He was a great man he thought great formulas, he discovered certain mathematic principals beyond all men before him, but he never once with that great mind was able to think the thoughts of God. I wonder if he ever read what the standard for the thinking of a child of God was. I don't know that he even ever knew that. We have access to the highest thinking that the world has ever known; angels cannot think any greater than the thoughts that we can have from God. They have access to nothing more than you and I have. It has been said that our actions will never exceed our highest thoughts. I don't know if that is exactly true or not but it surely seems like it to me, that everything that we do has some thought behind it. I remember an old man in one place, someone had given their testimony which was very revealing and thought provoking, and this old man said, "I would have said that, too, if I had thought of it." Well, some things we think about and we say it, but do we think about it and then do it? The reason that God gave us access to the highest thoughts of the universe is so that we would do them. Not that we would just talk about them, not that we would have these meetings, like special meeting, to talk about the greatest thinking in the world, the greatest events in the world, the greatest love in the world, the greatest of everything in the world, but it is so that when we leave here that we will do what is the greatest thing in the world, and that is follow Jesus.

When we measure our thoughts by the standard of the thinking of God Himself, then we realize so quickly that everything Jesus taught makes perfect sense. It is acceptable, it is reasonable, it is right, it is what we want. Those great thoughts are at our disposal every day that we live. If we can hold something off in our thoughts, we can hold it off anywhere. Many battles are fought and won right in our own minds. Many battles are fought and lost right in our own minds. If we lose the battle in our thoughts, we will lose the battle in our actions, we lose the battle every where because we lost it in our thoughts.

It surprised me to look at this verse again, and I don't know why it hasn't made more impact on me, Matthew 22:36, "'Master, which is the great commandment in the law?' Jesus said unto him, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.'" In another place, it even mentions body. To think of loving God with everything that is in our mind. I didn't realize that I could love God with my thoughts. We always think about loving God with our heart, but this is even with our mind. A few days ago, we visited an old lady in a nursing home. She is a very happy old lady. I don't know when was the last time that she was out of bed. It probably has been a couple of years now at least. Can you imagine laying in bed for years? I can't imagine much more than eight hours. Years, not able to do anything. A person who was very active in the Kingdom of God, very willing in the Kingdom of God. We talked to her and said, "You know, there is one thing that you can do, isn't there?" She said, "Yes, I can still think." She honours God with all of her thoughts. She said, "Oh, sometimes I have a struggle with it." Maybe we sometimes feel, "My thoughts condemn me so much." I don't think that our thoughts ever really condemn us, it is our choices, because we choose every thought that we think. When I think about that, I think, "Boy, I have made a lot of bad choices." No, hopefully we didn't keep thinking that way. She knows that as she lays there in that bed, not even able to write a letter now, I'm not sure if she can talk on the phone or not, but basically she spends her hours, her days, her years, thinking. She said there is nothing to stop her from thinking about God, thinking about all the blessings God has given her in her life, all the fruitfulness that she has known in her relationship with God. Thinking about others and praying for others. She has a wonderful place of service in the Kingdom of God.

Malachi 3: 16, "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His Name." A book of remembrance was written for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His Name. Just because they thought about God. I'm sure that there are days that go by that I don't do one thing for God, but He hasn't forgotten about it if we had just even thought about Him. Sometimes I would rather that God didn't know my thoughts, but then when I realize that even my thoughts can make me right with God, can give me fellowship with Him and that is what He is looking for, a people who have fellowship with Him. There is a great opportunity for fellowship with the God of Heaven even for those who can do nothing. Just this simple act of thinking, something we do hours and hours a day, yet how much of it is an honour to God? It all could be. It is easy, so easy, to think about the things that we love and the ones that we love. When Jesus said that the great commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and spirit. He said, "That was the greatest commandment that there ever was, ever is and ever will be." That is the greatest commandment of all, to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind. That is because love is a choice, we choose what we love and it is easy to think about what we love. So, we find that it is so simple to serve God with our thoughts when we love God. There isn't anything that we would rather think about. When I feel condemnation creeping over me because of what I have thought, then I have to think about what I love and what I have chosen to love in life, then I know where the correction needs to be made. It needs to be made in that very first line of defence, my thoughts.

We have heard it said, it is the thought that counts. I didn't used to really believe that and maybe I still need to think about that a little more but I didn't realize that the thought counted so much. Our thoughts are a product of what we love, that counts for a lot. Our thoughts are a matter of choice, that counts for so much. Our thoughts are a predecessor to all of our actions. We do need to be in control of our thoughts. It is one thing that nobody can take away from us. It doesn't matter where we are or what we are doing, we alone have control of our thoughts. I would like to be more willing for God to search those thoughts, the secret places where polluted things have empire over the soul, control over the soul. I am thankful that I am not afraid to have God search my thoughts anymore. I have this avenue of service to the God of Heaven that no one can take away from me.