Sermon Notes February 18, 2017
What Do You See?
“Then the Lord said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?”
And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.” And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching, and I will certainly carry out all my plans.” Jeremiah 1:11-12 (NLT) (What do you see?)
There is more than just seeing the Almond Tree – you also have to understand what the Almond Tree represents. We often see the object but cannot discern the meaning.
The Almond Tree is synonymous with life and fruit. It was the first tree to produce buds. In Numbers 17:8, Aaron’s rod budded as a sign of his authority. Therefore, Jeremiah is seeing that God has given him authority, fruitfulness, and life in his ministry.
God is trying to show you things as well. It isn’t just the surface; it’s the meaning that God is trying to get across to you.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve talked about coming to God with great expectation. Whether you come to God with a thimble full of expectation, a bucket full of expectation, or a barrel full of expectation that’s what you will get from God. Whatever you expect from God, God will meet that expectation.
More than the surface relationship, we need to go deep. We need to get into God’s Word and change the environment, change our thinking, change our believing – stop believing so small, and believe for the miraculous. Most often we want to do this, but we have insecurity.
Last week we talked about breaking out of insecurity. The further you get from God, the more insecure you become. The closer you get to God, the more secure you get.
Sometimes, we hang around people, or have past experiences, that have tied our expectation below where God wants them.
The Rope of Restraint works against the barrel of expectation.
Often what happens is, when we come with that expectation, the rope of restraint comes through other people, through the doubts of our own minds, and the enemy of our souls; the battle between our flesh-man versus our spirit-man.
In the book concerning the training of the elephants, it talks about the mentality that is developed called, Learned Helplessness.
Learned behaviors that are reinforced by the environment that animals, or humans, grow up in creates an environment that prohibits growth and limits God (God is limitless, but unless we let down our doubts, He cannot work).
“So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
“When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
“But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.” Luke 5:1-7 (NKJV)
Simon let down reluctantly, but He did let it down. By letting down, he received what God had prepared for him. Simon was so focused on the disappointment of an all-night, no-catch experience that he took lightly the words of Jesus. Isn’t this the stance of an average believer who, at best, would have reacted to Jesus just like Simon did?
In verse five, the Bible records what Simon did next: ‘But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.’ He obeyed, reluctantly, more or less to get Jesus off his back.
Here, we have two completely opposite view points – one from Jesus, the other from Simon:
(1) Jesus says launch out into the deep. Go for it Simon. I know what’s prepared for you.
(2) Simon is still wracked in thought about the disappointment of the night before.
We must be careful how we respond to God’s already prepared blessings in order to avoid shortchanging ourselves.
All Simon focused on was the toiling of the night before, completely oblivious to the impressive plans Jesus had prepared for him. When he eventually let down his net, he caught such a large number of fish that it began breaking the net to the point that he had to request for the assistance of his colleagues, James and John.
Don’t go through life ignoring or downplaying, the words of Jesus. Many people will go through life beneath the privilege God has for them, because they are thinking (perceiving) beneath the will of God. Their perception, or thinking, has become a barrier to what God wants to do.
Look at Matthew 16:21-23.
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
“Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
“But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew 16:21-23 (NKJV) (emphasis is mine)
Peter’s rebuke of Jesus was based on his imprecise, human perception of the situation, which Jesus rightly pointed out. As Christians, our outlook of various situations of life must be as close to God’s perspective as possible.
In your marriage, finances, career, and life in general, what do you see? Where did you borrow the notion that it is too late or impossible for you to make it in life? Who gave you the idea that your background, your history, your city, your address, or your talent, is a hindrance in achieving God’s purposes for your life?
You must be mindful of God’s perspective in every situation as this is what really counts. Too many people have missed out on their blessings, and destinies, because they could not see beyond their human viewpoint.
God asked Jeremiah, “What do you see?” That’s the question for you. What do you see? May I tell you, what you see is entirely dictated by your thoughts. The closer you walk with the Lord, the more secure you are, you will view things differently.
The danger of living from a human point of view is that you ultimately become what you perceive. This was what Lot experienced in Genesis 13:10, which read: ‘Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the LORD or the beautiful land of Egypt. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah’.
So did the ten spies, in Numbers 13. They could only see the giants in the land, and this eventually led to their demise. However, Joshua and Caleb, who saw the land from God’s perspective, eventually lived to tell the story. They conquered the land and enjoyed the inheritance they had perceived from the onset.
Our thought life is important and God takes note of it.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” (NKJV) (emphasis is mine)
Let the mediation of my heart be acceptable in your sight.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (NKJV) (emphasis is mine)
You cannot be held accountable for something over which you have no control. Far too many people have bought the lie, I can’t help what I think, or, the Devil somehow has the power to control our thought life. People blame others for how they think, saying, “You made me think that.” In reality, if either Satan, or other people, truly had the power to make you or I think something, it would be highly unfair for God to hold us responsible for our thoughts.
Yet, over and over, in the Bible, we are told not only what to think, but that our thought life is our responsibility. This means we can possess our own minds, manage our thought life, and choose what we will allow to play on the screen of our minds.
This doesn’t mean that we can control every thought that arrives in our minds from the world around us. Every day, thoughts inspired by other people, our environment, and even evil spirits, will come knocking on the door of our minds. These thoughts provoke many feelings that seek to take root in our minds. While we cannot prevent thoughts from coming to the door of our minds, we can choose which thoughts we are going to allow inside.
Proverbs 23:7 says you become what you think:
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you.” Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV) (emphasis is mine)
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NKJV) (emphasis is mine)
“Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” Colossians 3:2 (NKJV)
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6 (NKJV)
You need a good mind diet. In order to get healthy physically you need diet and exercise. Here is the mental or mind diet you need:
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 (NLT) (emphasis is mine)
The number 4 represents creation. The number 8 represents the number of new beginnings.
You want to create a new mindset
- Truthful– The things of truth are things which are in keeping with the Person of Truth, the Lord Jesus Christ: “I am … the Truth.” (John 14:6)
- Honorable Things – Something noble and massive, awe-inspiring and grand, that awakens our reverence and inspires grand thoughts.
- Right or Righteous Things– Justice means, rightness with God; nothing is just until it is adjusted to God. Our minds need to feed on things that reflect righteousness, justice, and the kingdom of God.
- Pure Things– We should allow no unclean or morally polluted things, including those that are sexually impure, to taint our minds.
- Lovely Things– Some people have the idea that our duty must always be disagreeable, and we make any number of duties out of diseased sensibilities. If our duty is disagreeable, it is a sign that we are in a disjointed relationship with God. If God gave some people a fully sweet cup, they would go carefully into a church, turn the cup upside down, empty it, then say, “No, that could never be meant for me.” The idea has become incorporated into their make-up that their lot must always be miserable. Once we become rightly related to God, duty will never be a disagreeable thing of which we have to say, with a sigh, “Oh, well, I must do my duty.”
We need to feed on beautiful sights, sounds, and relationships. If something is ugly or unattractive to our flesh, we need to avoid it in our minds.
- Admirable Things– To admire something, or someone, is to feel inspired by them. We need to find people, and things, that inspire admiration within us and focus our attention on them. We are drawn to what we admire—good or bad.
- Excellent Things– Our minds need a quality diet. Excellence means, beyond mediocre or average. We need to read books, associate with people, and be in environments that challenge us to rise above the status quo, and reach our potential.
- Praiseworthy Things– One way to defeat dark-thinking habits is to focus on things for which you can thank and praise God. If your mind is drifting towards the negatives in your life, immediately imagine one thing for which you can sincerely thank and praise God. It can be anything. Begin to verbalize to God your praise, and thanks, while allowing yourself to feel grateful. This one action alone has a powerful effect in resetting the mind, and breaking negative thinking cycles.
Paul then states, “You must put these things into practice.”
“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9 (NLT)
Understand, when you begin to think like this, you will have to combat the prevailing attitudes and mindsets of our day. When you begin to draw close to God, God will begin to inspire you, and you will begin to live differently, think differently, and believe differently. It will affect the way you think, and it will affect those around you. You will come against their long-held beliefs, and mindset and you’ll have to combat that.
God’s ideas always shatter the long-held and commonly believed thoughts, attitudes, and mindsets.
Moses: Had to go into the house of Pharaoh, so he didn’t develop a captive mindset. He began to realize that the way the people of God were treated was unfair. Had he been treated that way all of his life, he’d have grown used to it.
Joseph: At age seventeen, was given a dream. He then went around the dream-killers. They threw him into a pit, but the pit is what ultimately kept the dream alive.
Jesus: The common thought was, can anything good come out of Galilee? He’s just the carpenter boy.
What do you see?
People often grow to the level of their environment. People say this of fish: Koi will grow to the size of the environment they’ve been placed in. Sharks will grow to the size of the environment that they’ve been placed in.
If the tank is too small, it will stunt their growth. If the tank is too small for it then the fish will start to become deformed because its spine will begin to grow crooked. Some people may say it grows to its tank size. Actually, their growth is stunted, meaning their insides are still growing but their outsides aren’t, and ultimately they will die.
I believe a lot of people are growing on the inside, but because of the environment they’re around, they are dying.
You have these dreams inside of you, a purpose placed within you, destiny around you; yet, you believe that, because of the environment, you cannot grow. That belief is untrue. It’s a myth. It’s a lie.
God wants you to let it down so that you can draw out from Him. To draw in what He has prepared for you.