It’s Not What You Think by Tony Cooke

It’s Not What You Think by Rev. Tony Cooke

Albert Einstein said, “Thinking like we always have is what got us where we are.  It is not going to get us where we are going.”  One of the great quests of life is simply to get from point A to point B—from where we are now to where we need to be.  Of course, action is a huge part of the journey, but thinking the right thoughts is also essential.  Many never progress because they never change the way they think. 

It seems like all the people in the Bible who successfully completed their journey had to undergo a radical change in their thinking and perspective.  The Psalmist said (50:21), “You thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes.”  God powerfully confronted Israel about their limited thinking when He said (Isaiah 55:8-9): “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.”

I believe that God continually seeks to help us move forward, but this means that we have to be willing to stretch and grow.  We’ve all probably heard the phrase, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be what you’ve always been.”  Yet to do something differently, it really helps to first think differently.  Thank God that He loves us enough to challenge us, stretch us, and even to correct us when our knowledge and perspective of Him is not what it should be. 

Consider the following people who had to make a radical change in their thinking:

  • Abram was very comfortable in Ur of the Chaldees, but God called him on a journey of faith.
  • Moses was very comfortable herding sheep in the wilderness, but God’s people needed a deliverer.
  • Jonah was very comfortable preaching in Israel, but the people of Nineveh needed to hear from God.
  • Nehemiah was very comfortable as the king’s cupbearer, but the walls of Jerusalem needed to be rebuilt.
  • Peter was very comfortable as a fisherman, but Jesus saw another purpose for his life.
  • Paul was very comfortable as a Pharisee, but God needed a great church-planter.

All of these had ideas about what they wanted and where they were headed in life, but God, in essence, told them, “It’s not what you think.”

Samuel (1 Samuel 16:6-13) almost anointed the wrong person to be the new king of Israel because he was so impressed with the stature and appearance of David’s brother, Eliab.  But God told Samuel, “It’s not what you think.”  Samuel had to discover that “the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-14) almost missed out on receiving from God because he had a preconceived idea of how God would heal him; he expected Elisha to come out and wave his hand over him and pray for him.  But when Elisha sent a message for him to go dip in the Jordan River, Naaman became angry and almost walked away.  Fortunately, one of Naaman’s servants persuaded him to abandon his preconceived ideas and cooperate with God’s appointed method (as illogical as it seemed).  In essence, God was saying to Naaman, “It’s not what you think.”

When Jesus went to the cross, it appeared that His entire mission had ended in utter disaster.  The world thought He had failed.  Two of his disciples even expressed their disappointment and disillusionment on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-34).  Their hopes had been dashed and they thought that Jesus was still dead, but God said, “It’s not what you think.”  The living Jesus revealed Himself to them, and they realized their hope had not been in vain.

Millions of Gentiles needed to hear the Gospel, and God gave Peter a prophetic challenge to step into some unexplored territory (Acts 10:9-23), but Peter resisted, thinking that he was correct in maintaining all of his predetermined ideas.  The Lord, in essence, said to him, “It’s not what you think.”  Peter learned that he should not call unclean that which God had cleansed, and the doorway of faith was opened to the Gentiles.

Psalms 78:41 tells us that the children of Israel “…limited the Holy One of Israel.”  How many times have we limited God in our own lives by having preconceived ideas that restricted our vision of who God was and what He wanted to accomplish in and through our lives?  Many never receive from God or progress in the will of God for their lives because they never get free from their preconceived ideas or step out of their comfort zone.

If we don’t like the results we’re getting, it’s good to examine what’s beneath the surface.  Stephen Covey said, “Your systems are perfectly designed to get the results that you are getting.”  Our prayer for you this month is that you will have innovative and creative ideas and to see and explore any new possibilities that God might be placing before you.  Ephesians 3:20 says that God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,” so if you hear God say to you, “It’s not what you think,” be glad because He’s got something great in store for you!