Controlling The Direction Of Your Thoughts

And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT

Here’s a proven way to build character: learn to control the direction of your thoughts. Your thoughts, of course, are intensely powerful things. Your thoughts have the power to lift you up or drag you down; they have the power to energize you or deplete you, to inspire you to greater accomplishments or to make those accomplishments impossible.

How will you and your family members direct your thoughts today? Will you follow the instructions of Philippians 4:8 by dwelling upon those things that are honorable, true, and worthy of praise? Or will you allow your thoughts to be hijacked by the negativity that seems to dominate our troubled world?

Are you fearful, angry, bored, or worried? Are you so preoccupied with the concerns of this day that you fail to thank God for the promise of eternity? Are you confused, bitter, or pessimistic? If so, God wants to have a little talk with you.

It’s up to you and your loved ones to celebrate the life that God has given you by focusing your minds upon ‘whatever is commendable.’ So form the habit of spending more time thinking about your blessings and less time fretting about your hardships. Then, take time to thank the Giver of all things good for gifts that are, in truth, far too numerous to count.

The mind is like a clock that is constantly running down. It has to be wound up daily with good thoughts. Fulton J. Sheen

God’s cure for evil thinking is to fill our minds with that which is good. George Sweeting

If our minds are stayed upon God, His peace will rule the affairs entertained by our minds. If, on the other hand, we allow our minds to dwell on the cares of this world, God’s peace will be far from our thoughts. Woodroll Kroll

Character builder
Watch what you think. If your inner voice is, in reality, your inner critic, you need to tone down the criticism now. And while you’re at it, train yourself to begin thinking thoughts that are more rational, more accepting, and less judgmental.

Steve Arterburn


  1. Can you explain how someone that has been a Christian for many years and spends time in Gods word can have a sudden flash of doing something very evil and even imagining it visually? It seems so contrary and feels like an attack from Satan. It’s frightening and horrible. I can’t talk to anyone about it because its so horrible!

    • Hi Barb,
      I thought you might like to know that Martin Luther discussed this very thing. I actually read it in another book, but it’s quoted from Table Talk… To sum it up, he said at night he would be attacked by the devil and what came from that was… “all kinds of strange thoughts… solely to torment…”

      I would imagine there are plenty of Christians who experience what you are experiencing, but are also shy to talk about it.

      You must be a huge threat because of your devotion to Christ.
      I pray that the thoughts stop for you.

      • Barb, I am going through the same thing and know how you feel. But the Lord placed this verse Phil 4:8 in my heart while I was praying and then came across Steve’s email. I will pray with you too.

    • I was attending a Christian college and had been having very different thoughts that I also found attacking and disturbing. When I got the courage to ask one of my classmates who was a youth pastor if he had ever experienced that sort of thing, he answered “Of course, those are the fiery darts of the enemy!” I was so relieved to know that I was not the only one to experience this. I am not a pastor or an experienced counselor, but I do know the enemy finds you a threat enough to pester you! What I did was use the Word of God to remind my accuser that he is a defeated foe and a liar. I then pray that Jesus would be Lord of my mind and surrender any thoughts contrary to God to Christ. The battle for our mind is one of our enemy’s top priorities. Resist him, and PRAY.

    • Hi Barb, I have gotten lots of encouragement from the book The Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson in knowing my identity in Jesus. He discusses “taking every thot captive in obedience to Christ.” I think your sudden “flash” IS a shot from the enemy (who excells in lying, accusing and confusion). Stand firm and don’t be lured into any prolonged thinking about the evil thot–not you and not true! God will help you.

  2. This sounds like OCD to me.
    Sometimes people with obsessive compulsive disorder have thoughts get
    The cure involves increasing the amount of serotonin in your brain (people with OCD tend to have lower than normal amounts of this neurotransmitter) with a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor like Prozac, and then get a counselor who specializes in OCD to walk you through recovery.
    This happened to my son, he is getting so MUCH better.

    One thing that really helps is to realize that horrible thoughts can come into all of our minds, but for people who have OCD, the thought is LOUD and STUCK.

    Google: Scrupilosity OCD.

    • I have to agree with Kelly on this, but another point is if you are stressed or over tired your mind will fill up with negative thoughts and it will keep the cycle going over and over.

      I have OCD and you have to learn to make yourself walk away from the thought pattern because once it takes hold it doesn’t want you to think otherwise.

      I find that when I am very tired and stressed the past hurts can make my thoughts into something that I would not even imagine I could think as the person I truly am.

      I am a kind and loving person BUT even I am surprised by what I can think when I become so stressed out and tired. Just because we think it does not make it come true, it is just the flip side of the coin, I believe we all have a good side and bad side, it is up to us to decide what we deliver in deeds….

      Hope this helps you!

    • Our son suffered(s) from scrupulosity and has had immeasurable help from OCD/talk therapy in combination with the appropriate meds, from meditation twice daily, and from regular exercise. He also has found a book which he has found to be tremendously helpful entitled “Full Catastrophe Living.” He has commented that he believes he’ll have this challenge for his entire life, but that he is much better prepared to face the daily “mind swirls” when he uses these tools on a consistent basis. He has always been a regular reader of the scriptures, but even that became a place he could get “stuck,” increasing his scrupulosity.

      I wish you great success in tackling this persistent challenge.

  3. Southern Union Women’s Ministeries in Charleston, SC Sept. 5-8, 2013. Part 1 book had recipes in it for the flu and the other books I didn’t get because a person that was there had them and I would like to know where I can get them from. Please email me and let me know at the email above, thanks much

  4. I’m currently reading your book “Toxic Faith” which has dispelled so many religious myths. I’ve been diagnosed as Depressive, Bipolar, PTSD. I don’t know what I am. I’ve been on many medications. All I know that God has given me the courage thru His Word and your books to not be filled with so much guilt. I still have crying spells and I isolate because of ridicule and rejection in my past. But I still know whose I am! Thank you Dr. Arterburn. And God bless you. When I read your books and listen to you share your experiences I don’t feel like a freak ori feel that there’s someone out there that understands my pain. I still have issues but I have hope that God will help me resolve them.

  5. hello..i am currently experiencing depression and anxiety disorder..and as i was reading all your it has help me to find clarity on my condition..I just Prayed and surrendered everything to God..for i alone could not get thru this..Thanks Dr. Steve for all of this beautiful devotionals..God Bless

  6. Gerri Williamson says:

    I wanted to recommend the book by Neil Anderson, “Victory Over the Darkness”
    This book is simply amazing and helped me to realize the power of the enemy in our lives–even Christians–especially when the battle is in our minds. He writes that our victory comes from the Lord when we fully realize who we are in Christ..our identity is so important. Knowing this has helped me to conquer many difficult situations in my life.

  7. Betty Hight says:

    My spouse has bipolar depression anxiety really bad. Normally he gets down once a year for two months where he can’t hardly function. Its a chemicals imbalance, his reasoning gets off big time,fear that just stops him from functioning at a normal rate.but this time he has been out of work because of it from June through Jan. So far he was down three months even before that, but it was too long and stressful on him and he had a bad panic or anxietyattack while driving on interstate, and finally ended up going to ER thinking he was having a heart attack or something. He was even idled asking why he was there and he needed to lleave. They ran all kinds of test and they turned out good. He got so bad at work he was pacing the floors so we he took a leave in June and its Jan. and he is no better. Been seeing specialist and regular docter all this time. Now sick leave is running out will have to try to pay for cobra insurance I’m not working, he want drive so I’m taking him back and forth to docters. He seems to have trouble with taking a bath and shaving, I’ve had to just about do it for him at times . Don’t want to eat, says he is not hungry. Has lost weight till his skin is dropping. He is just bones. He looks like he has aged like someone more like 80 instead of 60 now. Sometimes I get so over whelmed when I’m alone I cry and ask God what do I need to do, or is there something I’m doing that I don’t need to do. If it wasn’t for my time with God Every day saying his words and trying to keep my focused on phillippians 4: 4-8 and 11 cor 10:3-6 and others I would be in worse shape my self. But I still get like James says in my thinking . Up then down like waves on an ocean. I start worriing bout what to do, then I cry and go spend time with God and start saying what his word tells me about who I am in Christ Jesus and the power that’s in me. But as time goes on I catch myself wavering again. I just wish We new what is wrong with my spouse. This is not the same man. Does any body know why and what can be done to help him help!!!!!!!!

    • Brenda Miller says:

      Is your husband a believer? I also was diagnosed in the past with multiple psychological/psychiatric disorders, and I was told that these illnesses were incurable and I would require treatment and medication for the rest of my life. The best “treatment” I ever received – and continue to take daily – is the Word of God. When a dear friend encouraged me to start reading the Bible every day and believing by faith what God says in His Word is absolute Truth, the symptoms of the disorders began to disappear one-by-one, and they have not returned. I had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, PTSD, and others. With the help of a Christian counsellor, who helped me to understand how to walk out my faith and understand the Word of God, as well as some excellent books, including Neil Anderson’s “Victory Over the Darkness” and “The Bondage Breaker,” I am both free of symptoms and free of medication. I give all the glory to God, and I am thankful for very encouraging websites like this one, as well as thosenby such ministers of the Word as Andrew Wommack and Joyce Meyer, both of whom have encouraged me more than I can say as I learned to walk daily with God. I pray you and your husband find the healing I know God desires for him. Also, I pray you have or find a good, Bible-believing church, as the more I stayed in and avoided what I feared, the more my fear grew. God promises us in His Word that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13), and He certainly demonstrated that His promises are true in my life. I will be praying the same promises are proven true for you and your husband as you place your trust in God and His Word of Truth. Amen.

      • Admit him to a hospital. You can bring him to the emergency room and explain things to the doctor. They should at least be able to put him in a short term stabilization facility. I would recommend calling around or even talking to a pastor to find a faith based facility or at least a highly recommended place. Some of these places are amazing. You could also maybe use short term disability or Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of some sort. I also think that it is good to ask to be included in a prayer chain. There is a power that comes from praying with another that can only come from God. You can call 211 to obtain some of the resources in your area, or try your local Salvation Army. I will include you in my prayers.

    • look up a orthomolecular psychiatrist. They prescribe meds if needed, AND vitamins/minerals. The goal is heal at the source – “the chemical imbalances” Alot of healing can be done with vitamins/minerals.

  8. I seem to be suffering from isolation, co-dependency, possibly depression, feeling stuck without vision and major trust issues. My jobs (3) take up most, if not all, of my time along with long commutes. So usually I go straight home after work. Lately I have been sleeping all of the time. There is a woman that I was dating and we are now friends, but I find my self obsessing over her. She clearly stated we are friends. We went from talking on the phone several times a day to hardly ever now. She still calls me more than I call her, but my thoughts are always on her. I prayed, and asked God for help, but it seems I keep making things worse, always wanting to know what she is doing. I cannot totally avoid her because we attend the same church and both are in the same ministry group. When I see her talking to other men, texting or on the phone I get jealous, even though I try to hide it. How do I let go and strengthen my core? I’ve tried going out and meeting people, but my mind is always on her even to the neglect of things I love. I have no family in the state I live in, divorced and not much time with kids other than every other weekend, not many friends….I need help. I’ve read so many books on depression and getting over people to building self confidence and mastering the internal game of attraction, etc…

Leave a Comment