It's a Heart Problem: Do Your Choices Pass the Phil. 4:8 Test?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

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     Thoughts are the breath of life, the power behind words, and the force behind every action. When we think happy thoughts, we have happy days. When we let sadness reign, we let depressed thoughts stay. Beneath everything we do, our mind is the powerhouse. Whatever we let consume our mind will take control of our thoughts, dictating our words, actions, and even our beliefs.  May every thought we think strengthen our faith, not lessen it! We must work to take control of our thoughts and use them for the glory of God.

    As Christians, we are set apart, chosen by the grace of God and destined to share His love to the world. In order to fulfill His calling over our lives, we must avoid the ways of the world and conform to the standards of God's Word. When we truly live a life that is pleasing to God, a life that does not live to please the world but to please God, the Holy Spirit will transform our thoughts and renew our minds and hearts. It starts with a simple question:

Who are we living for?

   When we live for Jesus, our thoughts will take after God's ways. When we live to please the world, the sinfulness of its ways will be reflected in our minds. Joy arises when life is lived in its true purpose: the glory of Jesus.

   Are our thoughts true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy? Our thoughts start with our hearts, hearts that are dependent on what we allow inside its closed doors. First, it begins with whether our hearts are focused on Jesus or whether they're focused on the world. Once we get our hearts right with God, allowing His grace to sweep over us and transforming us by the power of His Spirit, giving us new life, it is our responsibility to stay strong for Him and conform to His ways, rather than the world's. What are we letting into our hearts? Our hearts are like a keepsake, special and reserved for Jesus.

 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

    God commands us in His Word to guard our hearts. We must protect our hearts, guard it, and lock every single one of its doors. If a stranger comes, don't open the door! Only let the ways of God, the One who formed us in our mother's womb and who knew our name before He created the universe, consume our hearts. Everything we do in life will result from the condition of our hearts. When Jesus is Lord of our lives, our hearts are His, no longer stuck in sin, imitating the world. It is a heart that has been made new in the sight of God, a heart cleansed by the blood shed by Jesus as He died a horrible death on the cross for our sins. We should not partake in worldly activities any longer, unless they truly won't hinder our relationship with God!

    Are our choices, what we're allowing ourselves to see and hear, reflective of the Philippians 4:8 test? What we surround ourselves with will impact every part of our lives. When we get caught up in the ways of the world, we begin to be trapped in temptation, leading to sin, which will then affect our hearts, then our thoughts, and finally, our words and actions. Before listening to music, watching a movie, reading a book, surfing the Web, or any other activity, we must ensure that everything we do passes the Philippians 4:8 test. Is this song pure? Is it true (and we know that the only Truth is the truth of God's Word)? Is it praiseworthy? Most of all, does it lead us closer to God?  Do movies like 50 Shades of Grey contain ideas that are excellent, honorable, pure, and praiseworthy? What we let into our hearts will determine the way we live our lives. When our hearts are focused on Jesus, everything we do should reflect our faith and our desire to live to know Him and become more like Him.

    That doesn't mean we can't watch any movies unless it's Noah or Son of God. It just means we have to monitor our choices and take responsibility for our actions. It might mean eliminating every popular movie a teenager today would watch. It might mean taking a break from pop radio, music that defines love and romance through the lies of the world, and rather placing our time into positive music that encourages and leads us closer to God, whether it's For King & Country, Francesca Battistelli, or MercyMe. However, we each have our own personal convictions from the Holy Spirit, so what is right for one person might not be for another. Rely on the promptings of the Spirit, not what other people, even Christians, say it is okay or not okay to do.

    In the end, life is about Jesus. What are you letting into your heart? Don't let sin crawl back into the chambers of your heart. Your thoughts will be filled with joy when you allow yourself to partake in activities that bring joy and encourage. Do your choices, and therefore thoughts, pass the Philippians 4:8 test?

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