Making life Matter: The Thoughts Challenge

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Photography by Melinda Maidment

 

The other day I was thinking, after looking at my thoughts: how else can I make my life matter? And it was as if God just pressed pause. Pause on making my thoughts matter. Pause on making it practical, and implementing it in my life.

So here is the Making Life Matter – Thoughts Challenge:

In the previous post we looked at Philippians 4:8 (NKJV):

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

This will be the focus verse in my process to detox my mind and thoughts. Let’s briefly look at the meaning of the word meditate: (This is not a post about meditation, so I will not go into detail about it.)

To meditate (on Google) means to focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting (praise and worship), for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation, think deeply about (something). Let’s break it down a bit for the challenge:

  • Focus my mind
    • What will I focus my mind on?
      • “Whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, any virtue and anything praiseworthy” – Philippians 4:8
  • For a period of time
    • How long will this be?
      • Set aside specific time in my day for this, and (“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” –  Matthew 6:6)
      • Continue to practice throughout the day. (“Pray without ceasing” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • In silence
    • Why in silence?
      • This will help me block out other things that might take my attention away from hearing God’s voice. (“Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalms 46:10)
  • Or with the aid of praise and worship music
    • How can praise and worship music help?
      • Sometimes it is harder to be in complete silence, some people find it better to rather have gospel music playing in the background.

The challenge: practice kingdom thoughts in the time you set aside every day (you can also use your ‘quiet time’ for this), and choose to have kingdom thoughts about people, events, work and tasks you do every day. Push out any thoughts that aren’t Philippians 4:8 thoughts.

The second part of the challenge is: what you put in you get out.

What do I mean by this? What you see and hear will influence your thoughts. Evaluate the things you see and hear against Philippians 4:8. Is it true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy? If no, remove it from your day as much as you can. It is not always possible, as we often find ourselves in situations where we cannot control the inputs. What you can do in situations such as these, is to change your ‘lenses’. My father sent me a short piece that he read in an airline magazine about changing your lenses with which you view or observe situations/people/things. By just changing the lenses or filters, you can change what you let into your mind. Our human perspective versus God’s perspective. Choose God’s perspective.

The Word urges us to renew our minds – to think what and how God thinks, we start doing that by changing:

  • What we let into our minds – using a different filter/lens
  • How and what we think about – using Philippians 4:8 to guide us how to think about situations, people and all the other things that occupy our minds.

Easier said than done, but that is why God challenged me to make it practical. There is no quick or easy fix. Having a relationship with God takes time and input from my side. God did His part, now it is my choice, and I choose HIM! I want to make my life matter, and I will start doing so by making my thoughts matter and following God in this journey. So let’s make our thoughts matter in this Philippians 4:8 thoughts challenge!

Making life Matter: Thoughts

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Photography by Melinda Maidment

 

The Lord is still busy talking to me about making my life matter, so I am continuing with the theme of making life matter (click here for the previous blog on treasures). A while ago I read Philippians 4:8 (NKJV) again:

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

When I read this, I realised that in making my life matter, I need to make my thoughts matter. You may be thinking:  How do I make my thoughts matter? What do thoughts that matter look like? Where do I start?

Well we start by looking at the Word. We all know Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) very well, this is about the thoughts God has for us:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

God has thoughts of PEACE to give us a future and a hope. NOT evil. Lately I am especially challenged with this, because when I look at my own thoughts they are not always of peace. If we look at our Father and we want to follow His example, we should have thoughts of peace.

It is also very easy for us to think of others in a negative way, we remember and focus on their mistakes and flaws. We criticise, condemn, and think the worst of others. Whatever the reason for your thoughts – jealousy, your own insecurities, their actions or the past – these thoughts are definitely not of peace. The word also tells us what God’s thoughts are on this in Hebrew 8:12 NKJV:

“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

So God doesn’t think about our sins and lawless deeds anymore. This is such great news for us! But if we want to make our thoughts matter, yet we keep ourselves prisoners in our minds by not letting these thoughts go, we miss the point. If God doesn’t think about the sins of the people around you (or your own), why do you? And what gives you the right?

So what would thoughts that make life matter look like? Let’s look at Philippians 4:8 in more detail. Here are the meanings of the words in this verse:

Whatever things are

  • True                             – in accordance with fact or reality, accurate or exact
  • Noble                          – having or showing fine personal or high moral principles
  • Just                              – based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair
  • Pure                             – not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material
  • Lovely                        – very beautiful or attractive
  • Of good report         – a person’s high standing among others: dignity, good name, honour, prestige, reputation, repute, respect

If there is

  • Any virtue                           – behaviour showing high moral standards
  • Anything praiseworthy  – deserving approval and admiration

MEDITATE on these things     – focus one’s mind, think deeply, plan mentally, consider

These are the thoughts God wants us to have! I knew what all of these words meant, but looking deeper into it, it got me thinking… All of the things mentioned in the verse and the meanings of the words are values that remind me of the kingdom of God. Therefore Philippians 4:8 is about kingdom values – basically this verse says that we should have kingdom thoughts.

Matthew 6: 33 (NKJV)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

A life seeking the kingdom of God, is making life matter. How do we seek the kingdom of God? One of the ways is to have kingdom thoughts. What are kingdom thoughts? Anything that is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if there is any virtue and anything praiseworthy. This will become easier the more we practise it, the more we spend time with God, hearing His voice and the more we are in continuous conversation with Him.

Let’s meditate on God’s word and all the things that is of kingdom value. Let’s think of others and ourselves the way God thinks of us. Let’s make our thoughts in our lives count, let’s make our lives matter by having thoughts that matter.

Making life matter: Treasures

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Photography by Melinda Maidment

Lately I am wondering a lot about what is really important in life? What is it that you are searching for in your life? What do you invest most of your time in? What is it in 10, 20, 30, or how many ever years that you will look back at and will make you smile? How are you measuring your life? All these questions keep circling in my mind.

 

A while ago I remembered this quote by Abraham Lincoln that I first heard when I was still in primary school:

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

Continue reading

Endings and Beginnings 

Every beginning has an ending, but every ending is the start of a new beginning.

My Gran’s lilies in full bloom – Photography by Melinda Maidment

I thought a lot about what I should say in my first post for 2017. I asked God where He wants me to start this year, where He wants to take me this year, and what is stuck in my head is a quote by Abraham Lincoln: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” I believe that God wants me to focus on making the life in my years count. More on this topic in my next blog post. Continue reading