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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 any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8
As a parent of 2 children I know how it is to love my children. I absolutely adore them both equally, and I want to dote on them constantly. Unfortunately I can only do that when they are behaving properly and obeying me. If they are acting up in the store the last thing I will do is reward them for their undesirable behavior! God is the same way. While He truly wants to bless us with our hearts desires, He can only do that when we’re acting in obedience to His word. Now, here’s the kicker. How can we obey rules that we don’t know? We spend time learning them!
How we spend our time determines who we are and how we react to the world around us. Luke 6:45 explains that 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 fills his heart. What we spend our time doing gets stored up into our minds and hearts and is exactly what comes back out of our mouths and attitudes. For example: If you’re spending your time watching R rated movies filled with foul language you can almost guarantee that you’ll be thinking about and possibly using that same language later. If you’re reading a book about witches or vampires you can almost guarantee that later you’ll be thinking about witches and vampires, instead of thinking about good things like… GOD. If you’re listening to music filled with foul language and the message of the songs is all about sleeping around and drinking and drugs, what do you think you’ll be thinking about and more tempted to do later? What are you storing up in your heart; things to build you up and encourage you or things to tear you down and destroy your morale? You may like a song because it’s got a good beat, but what are those lyrics saying to your soul? What subliminal messages are you sending yourself, and your children, every day? While you may think that those lyrics or lines aren’t any big deal, I beg to differ. They have a much greater impact on you than you would think. Our words, spoken, sung, and written, have power in them and even more so when set to music. Music is the language of the soul, there’s a reason all movies have music; it sets the tone and makes you feel the moment. Remember, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
In Luke 10 there is a story of two sisters, Mary and Martha. One day Jesus was teaching at Martha’s house. Martha was busy preparing the meal and the house while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to His teaching. Martha became frustrated with Mary for not helping her in the kitchen, at one point she became so frustrated that she went to Jesus and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Did you hear that ladies? Jesus said that working in the kitchen (or the house) is not the better choice. It’s not the most important thing, THANK YOU GOD! When given the choice between spending time with Jesus and spending time doing anything else, everything else pales in comparison! Right now you might be thinking, “How can that be, if all I ever do is spend time with Jesus I’ll never get anything else done?” Not so my friend. You see the beauty of living in a post-resurrection era is the fact that instead of Jesus sitting in the living room teaching while we’re in the kitchen working, we can take Him with us wherever we go. Remember, we’re the Holy of Holies now!
The key is, are you willing to change your habits? I’ve been trying really hard lately to eat healthier. Not to lose weight, just to take better care of my temple. I’m noticing something; I am still able to eat a lot of the same foods I was eating before just different healthier versions of them. It’s a lot of swapping this for that. Instead of eating canned fruit in sugary syrup, I eat fresh fruit. Instead of eating plain white bread I’ve swapped it for healthier whole grain versions. The same is true for our daily activities and learning more about Christ. I like listening to music while I cook. So instead of listening to secular country or hip hop music, I’ve downloaded hours and hours of every different genres of Christian music, there’s a lot out there to choose from. I love reading fiction (when I have time), instead of reading about the romance of a vampire and a teenage girl, I read about the romance of a Christian woman and her struggle to find faith and a husband that shares that faith. I am so blessed; the Christian/Inspirational fiction section is packed at our library. Instead of watching movies filled with violence and foul language or TV shows with sexual content, I opt for things that make me laugh and have an uplifting message, or I just turn off the TV and read. I’m not saying you have to change everything overnight, I’m just suggesting that you be mindful of the choices you make on how you’re spending your time, and the things that are filling your hearts. James explains that we should be putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save [our] souls. (1:21) God cares the most about your heart, He wants you to keep it healthy and full of: whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on (and spend your time doing) these things. We can always find time to do the things we love. Show Jesus how much you love Him and MAKE time for Him in your life. When you make time for Him, He makes time for you too. Homework for today: sit down and make a list of all the things in your life (yes the list can be a mental one) that you could “swap out” for healthier versions, then start swapping!
Have you ever heard the expression “Garbage in, garbage out”? If we spend all of our time filling up our hearts with garbage, whether it be from TV, movies, radio, etc., where will we find time for Jesus? We have to MAKE time for Jesus. What does that mean? Give Jesus His time first, just as your tithe is the first to come out of your paycheck. As soon as you get out of bed every morning, start praying.
It doesn’t matter how or where you pray. Tamar lays down face first on the floor next to the bed. I actually pray in the bathroom. I know it may sound weird, but that is the room where you are the most humble.
“How much time is needed?” you might be asking. I don’t know. There is no definitive answer to that. Every person and every day is going to be different. Some days you may only need five minutes. Other days you may get an hour or more to bask in his presence. He knows what you need and will make sure that you get it. If you give Him the time that is needed, before anything else, your heart will be filled with His goodness. That means that there won’t be any room for the “garbage”.
I also suggest you give God time at the end of the day. Again, it could be five minutes, or a couple of hours. Just thank Him for the day and the blessings it held. I have actually fallen asleep while praying to him at the end of the day (I do this prayer in bed). This might seem a little disrespectful, but that is when I’m the most relaxed, and my mind is clear, so there is no clutter to get in the way.
It is so refreshing to begin and end the day with the Lord. He is, after all, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.