Counseling One Another

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Counseling One Another

A Confession of Fruitless Contemplations

Matthew Henry gives us the following counsel and then follows it with a way to pray: “Ask God’s forgiveness for your absorption with things that deserve little or no consideration, and your failure to concentrate on subjects that nourish the soul.”

The first impulse of every imagination of our heart has been evil, only evil, all day long. These fruitless contemplations have occupied our thinking from our youth. How long have these vain thoughts taken up lodging within us! Our foolish thoughts are riddled with sin. From the inner self, out of the heart proceed evil thoughts….

O God, you are not the centre of all our thoughts as you should be. We are doing well if you have a place in any of them. You are the Rock that brought us into existence, yet we have forgotten you, the God that formed us. Days without number we have forgotten you. Our hearts have focused on things utterly hollow and useless. Our deepest inward thought has been that our achievements in life—our houses, our families, what we have produced with our lives—would last indefinitely. Like the rich fool, we have forgotten that you could bring death to our door tonight and we would be required to give you a full accounting. How foolish we have been!

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  1. This idea is so true. When I became a believer, I thought in terms of personal sins to avoid which all were focused on excessive behaviors. The Lord has been working in me very recently on this topic regarding sports. I listen to sports radio, watch them, follow teams on the internet. Pretty soon that “stuff” occupies your mind fruitlessly. I am seeing now that just as a tea bag is steeped, so I must steep my mind with Gospel-centered thoughts. In your class last week at Calvary, your applications of “beholding the glory of the Lord” has proven helpful. My wife and I listened to Laura Story’s “Blessings” the other night together. Very powerful.

  2. This is a never-ending battle for me! I daily entangle myself with insignificant things. This one sentence stuck out to me: “We are doing well if you have a place in any of [our thoughts].” I constantly wonder what place I have to get to in my spiritual walk in order for such things to become natural…and then I see those who have been walking with Christ much longer than I struggling as well. Looking forward to the day when my faith will be sight! This seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life lately…

  3. As soon as I read this it made me think of football season and sunday worship service. On the way to church the radio is tuned to sports radio in anticaption for the football game at noon. During worship service, instead of worshiping in spirit and in truth; thoughts of the game gets worshiped. Just as a starting point can He have all our thoughts just two hours.

  4. Titus 2 talks about denying ungodliness. Ungodliness is simply life without God. How many days/hours/minutes do I live without any thought of God? I know I need to fill my mind with thoughts of my God, because I can get distracted so easily. Life without God is so empty.

  5. Matthew Henry’s quote alone convicted me right away. How much of my thinking is caught up and entangled with myself and the world around me? When comparing that with how much I make God number One in situations, much less put Him in the equation at all, I realize I still have such a long way to go. If I placed Him in the center of my thoughts, if I fought daily to keep Him there, if I didn’t rely on my heart and my own thinking (Jeremiah 17:9–“The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it?”), what would my life look like?

  6. I have never heard the wanderings of my heart and mind so aptly stated as “fruitless contemplations,” but that it what they are! Thanks for posing this quote; it is very convicting. It met me right where I am in my battle to keep my heart in tune with Christ.