Did you know that on average a person has 60,000 thoughts a day? That's a lot. The craziest part is that around 80% of those thoughts are negative. That’s 48,000 negative thoughts a day. And I bet that most of the time we don’t even realise it’s happening.
Our thoughts are powerful. They can direct the outcome of our lives. You may think that is an overstatement, but think about it like this: if I believe I am useless and will never amount to anything then this will have an impact on how much I try and therefore what I achieve or amount to.
Everyone has different thoughts that torment them. Perhaps you have thoughts like these: you’re not good enough, you are stupid, you will never make anything of yourself, you sounded really dumb when you said that, why would anyone want to be around a person like you, you will never be as skinny as her, you’re hopeless, everyone else has it all together- why can’t you, you will never be as tough as he is, they will never like you for who you really are, God must be awfully disappointed in you, God could never love a screw up like you.
Perhaps someone has actually said those things about you, or maybe you came to believe them over time because of different circumstances in your life, or perhaps you believe what the bible says about Christians having an enemy who is the father of lies who has planted these thoughts.
Who knows where these thoughts come from in the first place- it will be different for all of us- but nothing will get you more off track from God’s plan for your life than believing the lies in your head. Regardless of how the thoughts got there, one thing is certain: it will be very difficult to do what God has planned for you if you listen to the negative thoughts.
It would probably shock you if you knew the thoughts that run through my head on a daily basis. Only recently have I realised how many negative thoughts I have about myself.
I have never believed that I am smart. I had some really smart friends at school and I was always the kid who was failing maths and science. As a result, I got the impression I was dumb, that I wasn't good enough. And it has stuck with me. This means that I now am constantly reminded that I am stupid – this thought goes around and around in my head all the time.
I don't know about you, but the negativity in my head is relentless. It never stops.
It says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we need to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. We need to recognize the lies for what they are. Because when lies are not confronted callings are not fulfilled. The voice in your head has the power to lead you off track. If I listened to the voices that tell me I'm not good enough on a daily basis I would never do half the things God has called me to. I would never have written this blog.
A few weeks ago I was leading worship in church and during the sermon all these negative thoughts came into my mind. I started thinking: you're not good enough to be leading worship, you’re such a hypocrite, do you really think that God can use you to lead others when you can't even get your act together? All these thoughts were going around in my mind. I could hear that the pastor was just about done with the sermon and I started panicking. There was no way I could get back up there to lead people. Then I stopped and thought: hang on, God’s word says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, it says that God has chosen me and called me according to His purpose. So I just kept repeating those phrases in my head, over and over. Until I was able to get back up there and finish the service.
We can overpower the negative thoughts in our head by launching a counter attack with the Word of God. We can leverage the advantage that we have because we are God's children. This doesn't necessarily mean the chatter in your head will end. It just means that we have something stronger- and louder- to override the negative thoughts every time they start.
If we want to do all that God has called us to, we have got to learn to preach to ourselves. It is great to go to church on Sunday to hear someone preach to you, but what about during the week when no one else is there to tell you what God says. This is where preaching to yourself comes in. The only way you will know what to preach to yourself is to get into the Word. The only way to overpower the lies of the enemy is with the promises of God. Replacing the lies will take time but unless you make a habit of it, the lies of the enemy will win out.
Knowing the bible isn't just something that pastors suggest you do for some kind of cruel and boring punishment. The Word of God is the key weapon that we take into battle in our minds, the battle against the destructive thoughts. Jesus did the same thing in the desert when Satan was tempting him. Rather than fighting back or giving in to Satan’s lies, Jesus used the bible to stand up to the devil. He said: “it is written”. We need to do the same thing.
It will feel a bit strange at first but here are some of the phrases you can preach to yourself…
God says I am- fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37), chosen (Ephesians1:4/ Jeremiah 1:5/ Galatians 1:15), redeemed (Isaiah 43/ Ephesians 1:7), the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16), his masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10), established in love (Ephesians 3:17), strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9), healed and whole, forgiven and free (Romans 6:18/ Ephesians 1:7).
God says he will- be the cornerstone of my life (Isaiah 28:16), protect me (Psalm 121:7), lift my head high (Psalm 3), restore my joy (psalm 30:11), give me peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7), catch me when I fall (Psalm 37:24), hear my cry (psalm 18:6), draw me close (James 4:8).
God says he has- conquered sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:55-57), washed you white as snow (Psalm 51), forgiven you (Ephesians 1:7), saved you (Titus 2:11), called you (Galatians 1:15), rescued you (Psalm 18:19)
God says I can- do all things through His strength (Philippians 4:13)
Learning how to think the thoughts of God is the most important habit you will ever develop. It’s also the most important battle you will ever fight. Learning to speak God’s promises over yourself will ensure that God’s voice is louder than any other in your life. If you want to live for God you have to learn to overpower the lies of the enemy with God’s promises.
Ps. If you want to read more on this subject I strongly recommend getting yourself a copy of Steven Furtick’s book “Crash the Chatterbox”.