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July 14, 2021

The Beautiful Places Our Thoughts Can Lead Us

Thought Life: Part 4


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


Last week I talked about murder. 


A man I knew at my church in Dallas shot his wife.  Yes, it was premeditated, which means he could have stopped that train of thought at any time.  Instead, he came up with an elaborate plan to kill his wife and executed it.  Now he’s spending the rest of his life in a Texas State Penitentiary. 


But just as our thoughts can lead us into dark, scary or negative places, they can also lead us into beautiful places of joy and peace.  The key is gratitude.


Philippians is clear on what should occupy our thought life.  Those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.  And as we grow in our ability to think about such things, we more clearly see how the God of the universe is working behind the scenes and blessing his children.  And for these blessings, big and small, we should give Him thanks.


Our gratitude for who God is and what He does should always be on our minds.  Our thoughts should be a constant stream of gratitude—praising and thanking God for His kindness and mercies.  Yes, life can be brutally difficult sometimes.  But there is always a reason to give thanks.


The more I give thanks, the lighter my heart becomes.  The lighter my heart becomes, the more joyful I am.  The more joyful I am, the more I’m able to see God’s goodness and give thanks.  It’s a wonderful cycle, but I don’t always live in it.


I’ve been on a quest lately to thank God for the smallest things I notice that make me smile and to feel His love in my life. 


This might be the most ridiculous example I can think of.


Are you familiar with the Jeep wave?  I have no idea how long this has been a thing, but Jeep Wrangler owners wave to each other when they pass on the street.  It’s usually a peace sign or a hand lifted off the steering wheel and a nod of the head.  I love it. 


I’ve been driving a Jeep Wrangler for the last fifteen years and I wave to every Jeep I see.  And I love to see the wave in return.  I love it so much that I keep track of the number of waves I get in a row (not every Jeep owner does it).  My record is 11, which was set on April 9th.  It beat the previous record of 9.  Do you know what I did when I saw the 10th driver give me the peace sign?  I celebrated!  I yelled out loud and pumped my fist.  Weird?  Probably.  Insignificant?  Not to me.  And I got to celebrate one more time before the 12th driver failed to wave.


I praised God for that streak of waves.  It made me smile, laugh and feel like a kid as I shared this with Kathleen—all because I chose to see it as a small kindness that I was grateful for.  


And it brought me joy and made my heart a little lighter.


What are the small things in your life that bring you joy and cause you to give thanks to your Heavenly Father?  Are you still waiting to win the lottery or can you honestly thank Him and praise Him for the tiniest of favors? 


As you do, you will feel a shift in your thinking and you will find yourself dwelling on the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.


Next week I’ll close out this series on our thought life with some of my favorite excerpts from The 4:8 Principle by Tommy Newberry.  


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