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As we focus

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. …
— Proverbs 23:7 (AMPC)

Years ago, I learned a priceless lesson: Whatever we focus on, we become. That simple statement taught me a great deal. Wherever we put our energy or attention, those things will develop. Another way I like to say it is, “Where the mind goes, the man follows!”

If I begin to think about ice cream, I will soon find myself in my car pursuing ice cream. My thought will stir my desires and emotions, and I’ll make the decision to follow them.

As another example, if we focus only on the negative things in our lives, we become negative people. Everything, including our conversation, becomes negative. Before long, we lose our joy and end up living miserable lives—and it all started with our own thinking.

You might be experiencing some problems in life, not realizing that you’re creating some of them by what you’re choosing to think about. That’s why I want to challenge you to think about what you’re thinking about!

You might be discouraged, or even depressed without knowing why. One thing that can help is taking an inventory of your thoughts. If you’ll examine your thought life, you’ll find that you are feeding the negative emotions you are feeling by focusing on negative things. Negative thoughts are fuel for discouragement, depression, and many other unpleasant emotions.

We should choose our thoughts carefully. We can think about what’s wrong with our lives or about what’s right with them. We can think about what is wrong with all the people we’re in relationship with, or we can choose to focus on the good in them. The Bible teaches us to always believe the best. When we do that, it makes our own lives happier and more peaceful.

I have a great life, with a loving husband and children, and I am privileged to be used by God to bless millions of people around the world through the wonderful ministry He has given me. But even now, life isn’t perfect, and if I’d allowed the devil to fill my mind with negative thoughts—as he did years ago—I would have been defeated.

That’s why I want to focus on God’s grace and give thanks for all the good things in my life. I don’t want to focus on what I don’t have.

An old friend used to quote this saying: “As you wander on through life, brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole.” Too many people focus on what’s not there and what’s not right (the hole) instead of the blessings that they do have (the donut). Let’s be the kind of people who keep our eyes on the donut!

All of this is to say that our thoughts largely determine our destiny, and our happiness. Proverbs 23:7 (today’s verse) is one of my favorites, because it reminds us that thoughts are powerful. They’re not just words that flow through our heads, so it’s very important for us to decide on purpose what we’ll allow to rest inside our minds. We have to remember that the mind is a battlefield, and our enemy will use it in any way he possibly can to trap us.

I’m reminded of a man who came to one of our meetings several years ago—we’ll call him John. John wanted to be free from pornography. He said that one time he had seen something online after accidentally logging on to a site that was filled with explicitly sexual pictures. The next day he laughed about it to one of his coworkers. “Who wants to watch that stuff?” he asked.

Read Also: Choosing approval from God

The next night John was back on the site again. And many nights after that. He started purchasing more pornographic material, and always had it sent to his office, keeping the stash hidden from his family. “What’s a little thing like that going to hurt?” he reasoned.

John confessed that the more he saw the images, the more he thought of women as objects—objects for his pleasure. One day his wife said, “I don’t know what’s happened to you, but you can either deal with your attitude or I’m leaving.”

His life was rapidly going downhill before he asked for prayer. “I never thought just watching a couple of porno sites like that could be so addictive,” John said.

To put it another way, we can’t have a positive life and a negative mind. Because our focus is what determines where we end up, shifting our thoughts to positive, godly things will help us dramatically as we’re learning to change the direction of our lives.

If you’re struggling with an addiction (or any kind of negative mindset), know that changing the direction of your thoughts is the first step to getting free, and Jesus is ready and waiting to help you. He wants you to be free, and for your mind to be filled with positive, true, beautiful, and healthy thoughts (see Philippians 4:8). The more you focus on those things, the more readily you’ll be able to defeat Satan’s attacks.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me today. I want my thoughts to be true, healthy and beautiful, and free of negativity, and I know You do, too. Thank You for giving me the wisdom I need to recognize unhealthy thoughts and the strength to replace them with truth. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

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