Paul's Ponderings

Thoughts about following Jesus

Tag: Thoughts

Heart Guard

Guard Your Heart

Staying healthy is an important part of our lives. From a Christian perspective, maintaining our health is part of being good steward of the life God has given us.

If this is true for our physical lives, it is certainly true for our spiritual lives. In fact, I would say the two are linked. At the core of our spiritual health is our heart. Erwin McManus wrote; “When your heart is sick, it can spread everywhere. Like a cancer, despair in the human soul can cause all kinds of malfunctions” (Uprising; p. 133).

This is why Solomon wrote guard your heart above all else. The condition of our heart is going to influence every other area of our lives. Our hearts determine our thoughts and our actions, so if something is wrong with our hearts, it will affect the rest of our lives.

How do we guard our hearts?

I think the apostle Paul provides us with an answer:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

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. 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 4:6-9; NLT)

There are two actions we must take to guard our hearts.

  1. We live by faith. This isn’t just simply believing that God exists, but it is trusting God. The element of faith that Paul focused on in this passage is prayer. We are to turn all our worry, uncertainty, and our doubts over to God. In return God will grant us peace. This peace will guard your hearts and minds. Here Paul gave only one example to illustrate how faith guards our hearts. A life of faith will guard our hearts with hope, joy, and love in addition to peace.
  2. We think proper thoughts. The conversations we have with people, the videos that we watch, the podcasts that we listen to, and the blogs that we read all provide fuel for our thoughts. Bad fuel will make our hearts sick, because our hearts are the factories of our thoughts. This is why Paul emphasized that we are to focus on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Being vigilante about what we read, watch, and listen to will provide a healthy environment for our hearts.

God has blessed us with life. We have the responsibility of caring for this life, and that requires keeping our heart healthy. Guard your heart by faith and right thinking, and keep you heart healthy.

 

Questions to consider:

  • What is it like to have a sick heart?
  • Are there other ways we can guard our hearts?
  • What do you do to focus on the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable things of life?

 

 

Holiness and Media

Holiness and MediaI was recently asked:

What standards do you set for television, movies, video games, magazines and other media? What are some biblical principles that might guide us in the decision making process?

This was my response:

Holiness is not only about being set apart, but it is also about living an unordinary life. That means we are not going to make the same choices as the world around us, we are not going to love like the world loves, and we are not going pursue the same things the world pursues. We will not settle for an ordinary life.

When it comes to the standards we use for our media, I can’t think of a better passage than Philippians 4:8; “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.” (NLT)

Another principle that I think is good to apply to our media consumption is the principle of no secrets. In Luke 12:2-3 Jesus says; “The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!” (NLT) If we are trying to keep something a secret we need to ask ourselves why we want it a secret. Most of the time when we are trying to keep something a secret it is because we don’t want people to know that we are doing it.

Guard Your Heart

Guard Your HeartThe condition of your heart are essential to your health. If your heart are sick, then it means that your body will be sick. You cannot have a weak heart and a strong body. Sooner or later the weakness of the heart will catch up to you.

This is also true for us spiritually. A person’s heart, according to the Bible, is the seat of his emotions and his thoughts. We usually equate our hearts with our emotions, but the original readers of the Bible would have understood the heart to be person’s true self. The heart is what motivates your actions and directs what you believe.

This is why it is important for our hearts to be healthy. Erwin McManus wrote: “When your heart is sick, it can spread everywhere. Like a cancer, despair in the human soul can cause all kinds of malfunctions” (Uprising; p. 133).

To have a sick heart makes life difficult, and can result in the destruction your life. A diseased spiritual heart leads to depression, anger, confusion, and fear. It prevents you from living the life God created you to live.

Proverbs 4:23 reads: Guard your heart above all else,for it determines the course of your life (NLT). A piece of wisdom that Solomon wanted to pass on to God’s people is to be intentional in protecting their hearts.

I believe we do not do a very good job at protecting this precious gift from God. We are very casual with them, and willingly give our hearts to many different people and things. The result is that our hearts become broken, wounded, and diseased. When we fail to guard our hearts, then we allow the enemy free access to them.

The apostle Paul wrote; “And ’don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” (Eph 4:26-27; NLT) Paul mentions anger, but the principle can be applied throughout our lives. If we do not make time to deal with our sin through confession and asking forgiveness, then we give Satan an opportunity to attack our hearts.

How do we guard our hearts?

Let’s take a look at what Paul wrote in Philippians:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

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. 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 4:6-9; NLT)

  1. We guard our hearts by faith. The most basic way we demonstrate our faith in God is through prayer. One of the things we do through prayer is to surrender our worries and problems to God, because we trust Him to work things out for good. Prayer can also help us gain proper perspective on what is happening in our lives, and through prayer God will give us the wisdom we need to discern the next step we are to take. There will be times we need God’s supernatural intervention to help us make it to the other side of a difficult situation. Prayer helps us guard our hearts.
  2. We guard our hearts by thinking good thoughts. When we put garbage into our hearts, then our hearts will become a garbage dump. We have to be vigilant with what we allow to fuel our thoughts and emotions. We can’t concentrate on the things of God if our minds and hearts filled with junk. Take note of what you are putting into your heart, and make the appropriate changes.

The heart is important to our health. This means we need to work hard to guard our hearts from damage and disease. Protected and healthy hearts allow us to live the life God created us to live.

 

 

Good Thinking

Good Thinking {Proverbs 23:7a; NASB}

For as he thinks within himself, so he is.

Our thoughts determine the direction of our lives. If you are constantly thinking about how everyone is stupid but you, there is little doubt that you will be perceived as an arrogant fiend. If you are always thinking about how the world has “cheated,” then you will become a bitter person. If you are spending time thinking about how badly a certain person hurt you, I think it is safe to say that you will be a person with trust issues.

What we choose to think about affect our moods and our actions. A person cannot spend hours watching “sexy” movies without it playing a part of what he/she thinks about. The thoughts of our minds will eventually be played out in their actions, one way or another. Perhaps that is one of the reasons Jesus said; “You have heard that it was said, ‘shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28; NASB).

Murder is an extension of the hate we have stored up in our hearts through our constant thinking hateful thoughts. Adultery is the result of lustful thoughts that have been fantasized about in our hearts. When we are not careful about our thoughts; they eventually become actions.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is and excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Philippians 4:8; NASB).

There are three types of thoughts we need to have in our lives:

  1. Profound Thoughts (whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right). Profound thoughts are those thoughts which deal with the bigger issues of life.  These thoughts are thoughts that are concerned with issues of doctrine, theology, and worldview.  They are the thoughts are the foundation for what we believe and how we see the world.  The fuel for these thoughts is the Bible.  We need to spend time in Scripture, not just reading the words on the page, but meditating on the truth that is written on the page.
  2. Precious Thoughts (whatever is pure, whatever is lovely). Precious thoughts are those thoughts that deal with our memories, especially those memories that surround the relationships of our lives. Thinking about our loved ones have the ability to change our moods, for they are close to our hearts. They help us put our lives into perspective. When I remember the good times of the past, I am reminded that the bad times of the present are only temporary. When I think about the loved ones in my life I remember that I am not alone and that there are people in this world who love me. Thinking precious thoughts keeps our hearts healthy.
  3. Positive Thoughts (whatever is of good repute, excellence and worthy of praise). Positive thoughts are those things that we put into our minds. These are are the ideas, the images, the philosophies, and the music that influences our thoughts. If we fill our minds with movies, songs, TV shows, books, etc. that are dark then we will develop a dreary view of life. If we fill our minds with violence and gore we will become desensitized to the suffering of those around us and become more aggressive in our behavior. If we fill our thoughts with hope and love then our lives will be filled with those same things. It is so crucial that we monitor what we allow into our minds. Life is negative enough, so we need to be more intentional about filling our thoughts with things that are positive. Positive thoughts brighten the outlook we have of life.

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fill his heart” (Luke 6:45; NASB).

Ultimately the person we are is determined by what we spending our time thinking about. What are you thinking about?

Questions to consider:

  • Why are the quality of our thoughts so important?
  • In what ways have you noticed the effect your thoughts have on your life?
  • How can you change your thoughts?

Guard Your Heart

Guard Your HeartA healthy heart is essential for good health. This is true for both our physical life and our spiritual life.  Our hearts are very important.

A person’s heart, according to the Bible, is the seat of his emotions and his thoughts.   In other words the heart contains the dreams, desires, passions, and hopes of a person.  The heart directs the way we live.

While we in western culture have equated the heart with our emotions, the original hearers/readers of the Bible would have understood the heart to be person’s true self which was reflected in how he lived.

For us to be faithful and live holy lives it is vital that our hearts be healthy. Consider what Erwin McManus wrote; “When your heart is sick, it can spread everywhere. Like a cancer, despair in the human soul can cause all kinds of malfunctions” (Uprising; p. 133).

A sick heart robs us of hope and joy and it holds us back from truly following Jesus. To have a sick heart means that we will be depressed, angry, confused, anxious, and fearful. Rather than living a life of hope we will have a life full of despair. A sick heart will keep us from experiencing the life God wants us to enjoy.

Proverbs 4:23 reads; Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (NLT). Solomon tells us that we need to guard our hearts, for our hearts direct our lives.  We need healthy hearts to live the life God created us to live.

The problem is that we don’t know how to do that.

While it is good that we study the Bible, worship, are in community with other Christians, and serve other people, we need to do more if our hearts are going to be protected. We have to make sure to remove and keep out the bad.

The main reason our hearts are sick and ailing is because of the presence of evil in our lives.  This evil comes at us in the movies and television shows we watch, in the relationships we have with people who drag us down, and in the continued habitual sin of our lives. When this evil is present in our lives our hearts become sick and damaged.

So how do we guard our hearts?  The apostle Paul wrote:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

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. 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 4:6-9; NLT)

We guard our hearts:

  1. through prayer.  In prayer we switch our focus from our lives to God’s glory, we seek God’s will, and we ask God for our daily provision.  Not only our provision for life, but also our provision for godliness.  Remember God desires that we live by faith and have healthy hearts, so it is logical that we ask for His help.
  2.  by living in peace.  This is peace is not just the absence of conflict, but rather it is living the full life God created us to live.  That is possible because our relationship with God has been restored through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  As we live in confidence and faith, which is God’s peace, then a shield is raised around our hearts to protect it from the attacks of the enemy.
  3. by thinking good thoughts. Our minds must be set on the things of heaven rather than the things of this world.  When our minds are consumed with the things for this world then we will be bombarded with evil, depression, anger, and the like.  By setting our minds on the things of heaven our hearts are able to be filled with thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.  The type of thoughts that will strengthen our hearts and make it more resistant to the evil that seeks to destroy it.

The heart is essential to our health. We need to be very mindful to guard our hearts.  It is very precious for it directs our thoughts and our actions.  Set a barrier of faith between your heart and the things of this world. Set your mind on the things of heaven rather than the things of earth.  When we do these things we guard this great treasure God has given to us.

Questions to Consider:

  • Why is the heart so important to living the Christian life?
  • How has your heart been broken?
  • What is one practical step you can take to guard your heart?

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