Are your thoughts worthy of praise most days? No? Mine either.
I start out well, thankful and quiet with God, but then little people wake up, hubby texts something stressful, the sink gets filled with a ridiculous number of cups, piles of clothes seem to multiply, emails flood in… and my peace goes out the window. My thoughts get all filled up with stress and thoughts of praising God… well they are harder to focus on. Can you relate?
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What Is Worthy of Praise?
The question we need to answer today is, “What is worthy of praise?”
For me, it begins in my thoughts. If my words or actions have any hope of praising, my thoughts must be praiseworthy first.
So, my thoughts are mostly about what is next on my to-do list. Other times I am re-hashing something that didn’t go well or that I am worried won’t go well soon. Occasionally I am daydreaming about a perfect life or replaying a scene in a movie I watched recently. What are your thoughts?
What Does the Bible Say About Being Praiseworthy?
All throughout this study of Philippians 4:8, we have seen ways to swap thoughts that do not honor God with thoughts that do honor Him. We have examined each word and today we will study the phrase, “if anything is worthy of praise,” or “if there is anything praiseworthy.”
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, 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 NASB).
What Does Deserving Praise Mean?
If anything is praiseworthy is in a passive form which is tricky to define. Let’s make it in a more assertive form. If anything is worthy of praise. (What is the adjective form of praise? Praiseworthy.) Now we can better define terms.
- Worthy of praise definition – honoring God, worshiping or praising God.
Worthy of Praise Meaning
If worthy of praise means honoring God, how do we apply it to our thought life to be sure our thoughts are praiseworthy?
As with all the other phrases, we have to take our thoughts through a test. Ask yourself:
Does this thought honor God?
Does this thought lead me toward worship or praising God?
I can’t remember ever asking those things outside of church before. Then a pastor on the radio challenged me (yes it felt very personal) to allow praise to bring peace of mind even if I struggle with anxiety (which I do).
I was all like – game on – I’ll try anything to get relief from anxiety! Why? Anxiety can be a controlling force in life. You are not alone in this struggle if you feel that way.
The radio preacher shared this challenge while teaching through this last phrase of Philippians 4:8. It may be the most challenging one of all eight ways to think.
What is worthy of praise? God is worthy of praise.
Why God is Worthy of Praise
Just for clarity, I was almost finished writing when I realized you might not all be tracking with me.
The question is, “What is worthy of praise?”. The good little Christian girl’s answer is that God is worthy of praise. And sometimes I forget, you might not believe that. You might be here asking real questions, trying to understand these hard truths.
So let’s answer this one. Why is God worthy of praise?
God In My Life: Unconditional Love
I grew up in a church that was all about rules. They loved to add rules to their already impossible set of rules to follow. Breaking those rules brought great shame and constant fear of an eternity in Hell with unquenchable fire, torture, pain, devils, and worms eating you up.
It was hard work being a good little Christian girl… on Sunday morning… in front of all those perfect people. It was even harder, living in an abusive home, unloved and unwanted by the people who were supposed to protect and provide for me.
But through all the hard, God stepped in and reached out His hand to me. He invited me into His family of love, unconditional love (Romans 5:8), grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and forgiveness (1 John 1:9), and mercy (Hebrews 4:16).
God didn’t have to love me, He didn’t have to send His Only Son to make a way for a real relationship with me. I am nobody. But I am somebody special to Jesus.
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Creativity and Compassion
Just think about it for a moment. The same God who created the Cosmos, designed every flower and animal, and estimated the distance between each planet and its sun, loves me. He loves us. Breathe that in.
God loves you. Jesus loves you.
Not only did He love you enough to make a way for this relationship, to invite you into His forever family, but He also got creative to invite you in.
How did you first learn about God’s love and this perfect, free gift He offers to all who will believe?
For me, He gave some deacons the idea to start a bus ministry. Then He sent a country preacher, 10 miles out of his way to knock on my front door. He also gave that same preacher the idea to offer to take me and my brother without our parents. Creative.
God loves you so much He will get creative in His compassionate pursuit of your heart.
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Something else that convinces me God is worthy of praise is His patience.
We see in Scripture, how the Israelites continually did this sort of yo-yo faith thing with Him. They loved Him and served Him for a while, then got comfortable and content and turned away from Him. He sent consequences to get their attention, so they turned back to Him for a little while, only falling back away after a while. Over and over again.
Well, if I look closely at my own life I see the same patterns. I love the Lord, I get fired up about serving Him and doing life His way. Then I get lazy, or busy or drawn into something too tempting and I fall into sin. He does something or allows something that bets my attention and I repent and get it back together… until the next time I fall away.
Who else has that kind of loving patience? Talk about something that is praiseworthy or worthy of praise!
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Faithfulness and Consistency
Then I have to look at all the times Jesus has bailed me out of a mess.
There were several times when bills were due and there was no money, then unexplainably the bill was paid or money came.
Once, we prayed for a specific type of bed for our daughter – she requested it be a princess bed – only to have a phone call the next day with someone donating it to us.
Another time we needed a van but only had $2000. Everyone said we were crazy, we would never find something that cheap that would last. We are still driving it today!
There was a time Bud really wanted a certain job that only accepted high school graduates. There was some weird initiative waiving that requirement for 30 days and he got the job. Crazy!
All throughout my life God has faithfully shown up. Life has been hard, and nothing has come easily, but He has been consistent. He has been faithful. That is worthy of praise! God is worthy of praise!
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What is Your Story?
Are you a Believer? If so, you have a story. Look back over it and see where God has moved.
Do you know a Christian? Ask them their story. There is nothing that helps us move from questioning to believing like hearing first-hand accounts of the Word of God in people’s lives.
Not what you expected? I know, I know. The Bible is FULL of examples of reasons to praise the Lord, and I’ll link to some of those, but man, personal stories are like gold here.
“Great is the Lord and worthy of praise,
his greatness no one can fathom.” (Psalm 145:3 NIV)
Can My Thoughts Worship or Praise God?
What comes to mind when you think about praise?
I think of music, singing, prayer, Scripture being read, and testimonies being shared as praise or praiseworthy.
There are times my thoughts are praiseworthy. There are times:
- Praise songs play through my mind.
- My thoughts are prayers.
- Scripture naturally springs to mind.
- I am thinking through my devotional or the sermon.
- Someone’s story of God moving is playing back through my thoughts.
Worship Music is Praiseworthy
Do you enjoy worship music? Over the years it has taken so many forms. The entire book of Psalms is actually a book of songs to worship the Lord.
When I was younger there was great controversy over instruments being added to traditional hymns. Then there was a huge debate about praise songs sounding too much like secular music. Today, you can find Christian music in any genre you enjoy.
There are tons of songs that even use the phrase worthy of praise. Just search these out:
- He is high and exalted and worthy of praise
- Great is the lord and most worthy of praise
- Worthy of worship worthy of praise lyrics
- Great is the lord and most worthy of praise lyrics
- Worthy of praise lyrics
Prayers are Thoughts That Praise the Lord
Prayer is talking to God. You would be hard-pressed to talk to God and not praise Him, honor Him or worship Him. Seriously, think about it.
- Thanking God honors Him.
- Bringing my needs to the Lord honors Him.
- Talking through sin worships Him because He brings restoration.
- Interceding for others praises Jesus for being the God who answers and cares.
- Even complaining to Him about hard things often turns to praising Him for helping us through them in the end.
Yep, hard-pressed to pray and not praise.
Scripture is Praiseworthy
Since Scripture is God’s very words, everything about the Bible is praiseworthy. So, whether you are thinking about a point in the pastor’s sermon or remembering part of a verse, that is a thought that will praise the Lord!
Testimonies are Worthy of Praise
I love hearing how people came to know the Lord. The story of their first meeting is always a passionate testimony that inspires me. However, there is nothing like hearing a seasoned Christian, share how God is working in their lives right now.
You see, God didn’t just save us and leave us here waiting for heaven. Nope, as we pursue Him, He continues to move in our lives. Those stories are incredibly powerful!
I especially like to think back at the times He has moved in my life. There are some big moments where the LORD stepped in with the power to move. But there are also daily moments where I see His hand, guiding and transforming.
What was the last big thing God did in your life?
Spending time remembering that, telling that story to others and just thinking about it with thanksgiving is a thought worthy of praise.
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Can Task-Driven Thoughts be Worthy of Praise?
Throughout this series, we’ve seen ways to turn many types of thoughts toward things that honor and obey the Lord. One type of thought that hasn’t come up is task-driven thought.
Honestly, many of my thoughts are task driven. Do task-driven thoughts worship God?
‘I need to wash the clothes.’
‘The dishes are piling up.’
‘Is the blue shirt still in my drawer?’
To turn these types of thoughts toward worship or praise we have to have a perspective shift.
- A sacrifice
- Honest prayer
- Give thanks
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2 NASB)
Romans 12 describes presenting my body as a living sacrifice to God as an act of daily worship. So, even my task-driven thoughts, which are a daily part of my life, could somehow be an act of worship.
Notice that it is a sacrifice. A sacrifice requires time, it requires preparation. A sacrifice doesn’t just happen. You have to make an effort. So directing my task-driven thoughts toward worship will cost me something…
How do you direct those to-do list kinds of thoughts toward worship?
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing;in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB
Scripture tells us we can rejoice or praise God always. It then instructs us to pray without ceasing. I believe those two pieces were paired together for a reason. Sometimes you can’t rejoice about a thing, but you can still pray and that is worshiping God so it still fits.
Let me just stay here for a moment more. I am the mom of an amazing Special Needs child. I love her and am so glad to be her mom. But there are some hard days in our life. Hard days where I can’t see the good and all I can do is pray.
As a homeschool mom, I always have a list to get through. Some of the things on that list are tough to accomplish if she is having a bad day. So some days all I can do is bring my list to the Holy Spirit and leave it therein in prayer. It won’t get done without Him and I need Him to help me be okay with that.
Honest prayer honors God.
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Okay, back to the passage. After the instruction to pray always, we are told to give thanks in everything. One way to rejoice is to give thanks.
So, another way to think about whatever is praiseworthy is to infuse an element of thankfulness into your task-driven thoughts. And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s tough to be thankful for some of the things on that list. That’s why I want to give you examples below!
How to Shift Your Task-Driven Thoughts To Praiseworthy Thoughts
Okay, so the challenge is to shift our thoughts toward worship, prayer, and gratitude when the task-driven thought patterns do not praise Him naturally. What is the perspective shift?
- Sacrifice something to shift our thoughts.
- Be honest
- Identify bad thinking
- Capture and replace bad thoughts
- Shift the thoughts
- Distract yourself
Shifting my thoughts requires a sacrifice. It takes time to capture thoughts that do not honor God. As I took the time to do just that I found that I obsess over the things I need to do. I go through my list so many times it makes me frustrated.
What about you?
The busier my day gets or the longer my list on certain days, the more that frustration comes out toward those I love. So I have to make the time to shift my thoughts.
Let me give you some examples:
- If my thoughts are a list of housework I can be thankful I have a home to clean.
- While thinking through what I should wear to a meeting, I can be thankful I have clean clothes, and an event to plan for.
Notice I am not lying to myself. I am not trying to convince myself I love housework. LOL, I do not! In fact, if I tried to convince myself it’s fine, or that it will be rewarding or satisfying or any other type of half-truth, the process will be lost. My mind will call me out as a liar and shame will follow.
Instead, I am just shifting the focus of my thoughts toward what I can honestly be thankful for in this situation. It takes practice, but is so rewarding!
Personally, I hate folding clothes and yet I spend hours each week doing just that. After taking my thoughts captive I found myself not honoring God at that time. My thoughts were…
- Critical about the number of socks.
- Fount finding about the number of stains and tears.
- Irrationally angry about the number of towels 6 people can use in 2 days.
Identify Thoughts that Lead Away From Praising God
Thoughts that complain about my tasks are the opposite of praise. Complaining darkens the thankful heart God instructs me to cultivate. And boy do I have a lot of those thoughts and words! Can you relate?
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world..” (Philippians 2:14-15 NASB)
Angry thoughts that list my family’s every fault are the opposite of the forgiveness God instructs me to show.
“…bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Colossians 3:13 NASB)
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Capture and Replace
If a thought leads dead opposite of God, His Will, and His word, I need to stop it in its tracks or it will eventually come out of my mouth!
“Let the Words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 NASB)
These complaining, fault-tallying kinds of thoughts are in line with our human/sinful nature. But remember that we are being challenged in this passage to think differently.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says we have “weapons of warfare” that can be used to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”. We can capture those un-praiseworthy thoughts and replace them with praiseworthy thoughts.
Shift the Thought
That brings us back to this place. I hate the laundry. It has to be done. While I am working through the massive pile of towels I am rattling through my to-do list.
Towels… why can’t they just hang their wet towels to dry. There is no need for so many… Stop.
Lord, thank you that we have enough towels. Thank you that we have a washer and dryer. I remember when I had to sit for hours and the laundry matt. Thank you for this family who can’t remember to be less wasteful.
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Socks… gee whiz that girl has holes in every other pair of socks. Bud is missing the mates to those again… Stop.
Holy Spirit, thank you for a healthy family that plays hard and wears out their clothes. Thank you for these children who doctors said we could never have. Help me remember that this season will be over in a blink and I need to not sweat the small things… like socks!
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Then there are days I just can’t swap my thoughts. I can’t get out of my own head space… and the longer it goes on, the worse my attitude gets. The worse my attitude gets, the worse the attitudes of everyone around me becomes. Can you relate?
As I begin to sort out the girls’ clothes and I hear that familiar sinful spiral of to-do list mixed with negative thinking I have a choice. Give up and give in to the attack or fight back.
I you can’t swap your thoughts in the moment, why not just drown them out? That’s right, drown them out. Stop thinking. How?
On my worst days, when I am falling into the trap of the enemy I turn up the praise music loud enough that it just drowns Him out. Then I sing at the top of my lungs. It is hard to think sinfully while singing praises to the Lord!
6 Ways Any Thoughts Can Be Praiseworthy: Worthy of Praise
As we near the end of our study I hope you are noticing a theme. Any thought can be shifted to something worthy of praise. Any thought.
Today we saw how task-driven thoughts can be turned into thankful thoughts that are praiseworthy. Even complaining and angry thoughts can be taken captive and replaced with Scripture or music to begin praising God instead.
What is one area of your to-do list that repeatedly leads to thoughts that don’t praise the Lord? Will you commit to sacrificing your time and making a plan to shift your thoughts there?
Tiffany of Hope Joy in Christ inspires Christian Women to grow in faith, live out Biblical Marriage Principles and raise Godly Children. Join the Wives Only Facebook Group here or keep up with her through Pinterest.
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