Anything Praiseworthy

Philippians 4:8 — Finally, brothers, 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 (NIV).

Something praiseworthy is deserving of approval, a person or idea that should be commended. Heidi and I went to an outdoor music festival a few years ago. Nine or ten artists performed over the course of the two-day event, and there were over forty-five thousand people in attendance. There were five musical acts the day we attended, but only one of them blew us away.

I’ve set through many concerts in my lifetime. I’ve heard bands that should rethink their careers, and I’ve heard others who are absolutely awesome. I had anticipated this certain individual’s set all afternoon. I knew he would not disappoint, but he totally exceeded my expectations. His guitar playing was second to none, he sang beautifully, and he related well to the audience. It was the greatest musical performance I have ever experienced in a concert setting. Keith Urban put on an amazing show.

When he was finished, the crowd roared their approval and applauded (myself included). He was to be commended; his performance was definitely praiseworthy.

I want to challenge you today to think about what is praiseworthy. Keep alert, and look for opportunities to applaud the people who surround you. If one of your children does something exceptional, voice your approval and appreciation. If a coworker or subordinate resolves a pressing issue at work, commend him or her. How many times a day do we miss out on blessing others for their accomplishments?

Don’t miss the positive things in life because you’re so focused on the negative. Readjust your thinking today, and give praise where praise is due.

2 Corinthians 10:18 — For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends (NIV).

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Anything Excellent

Philippians 4:8 — Finally, brothers, 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 (NIV).

I believe the word excellent is widely misused. It is defined as possessing outstanding quality or superior merit, remarkably good. Given this definition, how many people or things do we label as excellent that do not possess outstanding quality or superior merit? The answer: too many to count.

The truth is the definition of excellent is going to vary from person to person, but Paul lists seven things that are excellent and profitable in Titus 3:1-2: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men” (NIV). If you desire to be excellent, you must purpose in your heart and mind to live according to these verses. Examine yourself as I go through them.

It is not uncommon for me to hear Christians bad mouth and ridicule anyone from bosses to pastors to the President and so on. If you do not agree with those God has established over you, submit to their authority anyway and pray for them.

Partial obedience is disobedience. Are you doing something God has not asked you to do? Perhaps you are avoiding something He has told you to do.

You have to put yourself in position to do whatever is good. Many people wind up doing or saying things they regret because they set themselves up for failure. Set yourself up for success.

Now let me ask you some questions. Do you slander or gossip about others, or do you uplift with your words? Are you pursuing peace with everyone you are in relationship with? Do you put the needs of others above your own? Would the people in your life describe you as humble? If you are lacking in any of these areas, I encourage you to commit yourself to excellence today.

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Whatever is Lovely

Philippians 4:8 — Finally, brothers, 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 (NIV).

The word lovely is defined as charmingly or exquisitely beautiful, of a great moral or spiritual beauty. The Greek definition refers to something acceptable or pleasing. Christians run into problems when their idea of what is lovely differs from God’s. Many times we find things acceptable and pleasing that God finds repulsive and offensive. We must learn to think about what God considers morally and spiritually beautiful.

If you don’t know where to start, begin by getting into the secret place where God is. Anywhere God dwells is beautiful because He is beautiful. Make this your prayer, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:1-2, NIV). His dwelling place is lovely, and your thoughts wander from lovely to ugly when you live outside of His presence.

God desires intimacy with you, and that relationship is formed and developed in His presence. The most intimate times I have with my wife are face-to-face, not over the phone or in written notes to one another. The most meaningful moments in our relationship have come when it’s just the two of us together.

Relationships suffer when the individuals involved do not spend enough quality time together. If your thoughts are immoral or unpleasing, get back into God’s presence. Look upon His face because He is lovely. When you become intimate with Him, you will begin to think about how beautiful He is. Thank You, Jesus!

Psalm 27:4 — One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple (NIV).

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Whatever is Pure

Philippians 4:8 — Finally, brothers, 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 (NIV).

The word pure in this verse comes from the Greek word meaning freedom from defilement or impurities, innocent. The dictionary defines pure as free from anything contaminating. Given these definitions, one might think, “Lord, have mercy. The majority of my thoughts are impure!” If this is you, don’t be disheartened. You’re not alone, and your thinking can change.

In order to purify your thoughts, it is important to first identify where the impure thoughts originated from. They can stem from a variety of sources such as the way you entertain yourself, past experiences, addictions, etc. You need to ask the Holy Spirit to help you pinpoint the cause of the impurity, and then repent and rid yourself of it.

Impure thoughts never come from God. They are a product of your fleshly, sinful nature. If you are not thinking about whatever is pure, then you are feeding your sinful nature somehow. What do you listen to or watch on television or at the movies? Maybe you participate in unclean conversations with friends or coworkers. Perhaps you have been mistreated or abused in your past and haven’t forgiven yet. Bitterness and resentment cause impure thoughts of revenge and malice. Lust leads to unhealthy, sexual fantasies, and the list goes on.

Thoughts eventually lead to action, whether pure or impure. Romans 8:5 says, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (NIV). If you are struggling with impure thoughts, crucify the sinful nature with its desires. Then your thinking will change.

Galatians 5:24 — Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires (NIV).

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Whatever is Right

Philippians 4:8 — Finally, brothers, 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 (NIV).

The King James Version of this verse says to think on whatsoever things are just. In other words, the words right and just are interchangeable in this verse. To be just is to be correct in judgment. We are to think about what is good and proper.

There are many well-meaning people who have poor judgment. Poor judgment comes as a result of not knowing the difference between right and wrong. (Others make bad choices willfully.) Many people never realize their dreams because they make foolish decisions, or poor judgment calls, trying to fulfill them.

Take for instance a little boy who dreams of flying. Full of vigor and expectation, he glues paper wings to his back and climbs onto the roof of his house. He carefully positions himself at the edge of the roof, extends his arms, and takes a flying leap. The end result is less than desirable. His dream is shattered, and he’s left injured and confused. He thought for sure his plan would work, but he went about fulfilling his dream all wrong.

I know this is an extreme example, but the lesson learned can be applied to everyday life. Maybe you find yourself at a standstill today. All you have to show for your dreams is a laundry list of bad decisions and poor judgment calls. It’s hard to do the right thing when you don’t know what it is.

Psalm 119:125 says, “Give discernment to me, Your servant; then I will understand Your laws” (NLT). Ask God to give you discernment every day when you pray. It is one of the gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12. He wants you to know and do what is right.

Proverbs 3:21 — My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight (NIV).

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Whatever is Noble

Philippians 4:8 — Finally, brothers, 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 (NIV).

Think about whatever is noble. The word noble in this verse comes from the Greek word semnos. It is actually translated as the English word honest. The definition of semnos is dignity; a majestic and awe-inspiring quality that invites and attracts.

I’ve learned we eventually become whatever it is we think about. If you think happy thoughts, odds are you’re a happy person. If you view the glass as half empty, you’re likely a negative person. If you want to be noble, you must think about whatever is dignified, majestic, or awe-inspiring, and then live that way. Noble thoughts are centered on God and His word. He is dignified, majestic, and awe-inspiring. When you fix your mind on Him, you will want to be like Him.

Nobility is an attractive quality. People are drawn to individuals who are honest in thought and deed. On the other hand, people tend to avoid those who are dishonest and have poor character. Many unsaved people are turned off of God because a lot of Christians do not think, look, or act godly. Their thinking is carnal, and they do not meditate on whatever is noble.

Be careful not to become snobbish in your thinking, though. Being noble doesn’t mean you look down at those who are not. The noble Christian leads by example. I encourage you today to evaluate your way of thinking. Maybe you think about things that are good, but they are not noble.

I challenge you to begin focusing on the person of Jesus Christ, His majestic and awe-inspiring qualities. As you do, you’ll become more like Him, and people will be attracted to Him through you.

Luke 8:15 — “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop” (NIV).

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Whatever is True

Philippians 4:8 — Finally, brothers, 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(NIV).

I believe one of the main reasons Christians don’t mature in their faith is they haven’t stopped thinking like children yet. Think about it. Your mindset is what causes you to reason, relate, and react the way you do. Your emotions and problem-solving ability are all linked to the way you think. If a person has the mind of a child, he or she is going to act like one. In order to go on to maturity, we have to start thinking maturely.

1 Corinthians 14:20 says, “Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults” (NIV). What do adult, or mature, Christians think about? Philippians 4:8 gives us a breakdown.

Paul first tells us to think about whatever is true. The word true in this verse comes from the Greek word meaning true in conduct; sincere and upright. It is genuine and not deceitful or confusing. Someone who only thinks about what is true does not speculate. He or she gathers all the facts before judging whether something is true or false.

A godly individual has no business thinking about things that are not true. Doing so is a waste of time. It is not healthy for you to even listen to statements or accusations that are false. There will be people that come across your path who speak lies about everything from religion to relationships, and believing those lies will bind you. That’s why it is so important for you to know the truth, and if you don’t know what the truth is, take time to find out.

Don’t be gullible. If you entertain fallacy for an extended period of time, you will eventually accept it as truth. Nobody purposes in their heart to believe lies, so be on your guard.

John 8:32 — “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (NKJV).

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