Tag Archives: perspective

3 Keys to Maintain a Positive Attitude

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A family who had twin boys wanted to teach them a lesson about attitude. They took each boy and placed him in a room by himself. The room was full of horse manure. They told the boys they had to stay in their rooms for an hour, then they would come get them. When the family returned to the first boy’s room, he was sitting in the corner of the room just watching the clock, but when they returned to the second boy’s room, he was shoveling the manure out the window. “why are you doing that?” they asked. He replied, “With all this manure in here, there has to be a pony at the bottom of the pile.” The boys were in similar situations but took completely different approaches. 

Attitude determines how we approach life. Our attitude determines the approach we take to life. Paul, the writer of Philippians, gives three keys to help us take the right approach.

The first key is not to worry.

Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not worry about anything….” A scholar did a word study on “anything,” and discovered it really means, “anything.” Don’t worry, that sounds an awful lot like what Jesus says, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”

Jesus uses birds for an example; they do not go out and sow seed in the spring, and water the seed all summer so they can reap a harvest in the fall. They don’t do that, yet they still have food to eat. God provides for them, and if he will provide for birds, why wouldn’t he also provide for us?

When we worry, we are putting God into a box and slamming a lid on it. This problem is too big for me to handle, so it must be too big for God. We can’t go there; we can’t raise that much money. In all honesty, that is what we think sometimes. Yet, Ephesians 3:20 says God can do immeasurably more than we can imagine.

Think about that for just a moment. Immeasurably more than we can imagine; you can’t measure something that is immeasurable – it is impossible, and we can imagine some pretty big things. That means God can do immeasurably more than we can comprehend. When things come up that are too big for us, we should be asking, “How big is God?” The answer is, he can do immeasurably more than we can imagine. Jesus says if we seek after the Kingdom first, all our other needs will be met.

 Stop and think. There is not anyone who has added time to their life by worrying about it. Jesus says we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, because today has enough troubles of its own. Not worrying is the first key.

The second key is to pray about everything.

Instead of spending time worrying about tomorrow, Scripture suggests that time would be more wisely spent praying about it. Paul says the result of carrying everything to God in prayer is that his peace will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. A peace that we know no matter what comes our way, we’ll be able to get through it with the help of Jesus. We may not understand it or comprehend how this is possible, but we know that it is true. We should not worry about anything but carry everything to God in prayer through Christ. Praying about everything is the second key.

The third key is to have a positive outlook.

We should have a positive outlook. We are encouraged to dwell in the following territory: 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.

 Every adjective in this list points to something good, something positive. The opposite of things that are good and positive are bad and negative. The question is, which one are we going to concentrate on – the negative or the positive?

 Two men attended the same church service on the same Sunday morning. The first man noticed the organist missed a note during the prelude, the music was too loud, and the preacher had a slip of the tongue six times. The second man enjoyed the prelude because it was one of his favorite hymns, was deeply moved by the music, and listened intently to the sermon because it answered a question that had bothered him for a long time. The difference between these two men is what they concentrated on. The first man took a negative outlook, while the second man took a positive outlook. Which outlook in life are you taking?

The past year or so has served as a great reminder there will always be trouble in life. Lost jobs, economic hardships, and uncertainty will always be a part of our lives. And, I’m not saying if we get up in the morning and think it is going to be a beautiful day, that it will automatically become a beautiful day. We will experience trouble from time to time. We will face trials of many kinds, but how we respond to these trials is up to us. We can either sit around dwelling on the negative, or we can concentrate on the positive.

 We all have something to thank God for. Here are some stats.

  • If you were able to get up this morning in good health, you are better off than 2 million people around the world.
  • If you are not persecuted, you are better off than 3 billion others in the world.

Attitude determines a lot in life. Put yourself in the story of the twins. Which boy are you? Are you the one sitting in the corner absorbed by the smell and watching the clock? If so, consider putting these three keys into practice.

Appearing to the Doubter

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He is famous for his absence; his lack of presence is what left his watermark in history. We don’t know why he was absent. He may have been too fearful to leave his home, or he may have been so discouraged by current events and the political climate that he just stayed away. We don’t know why he wasn’t there, but many are glad he stayed away. Many are glad this man was absent on the evening of Jesus’ appearance.

Their gladness does not come because he missed Jesus. Their gladness comes in knowing when he heard about Jesus’ appearance, he had his doubts about a resurrected Savior. John 20 says, “One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

The disciples kept telling Thomas they had seen the risen Lord, but Thomas can’t wrap his mind around it. We don’t know why he doubted; a few weeks earlier he was ready to lead the disciples as Jesus went to raise Lazarus from the grave. In that moment his courage and boldness for the Lord shined brightly, but here, Thomas has some unanswered questions and doubts. This may sound familiar to you.

In fact, it might describe you. Your courage and boldness for the Lord may have shined brightly in the past, but now, you have a few questions and some doubts. So, your glad Thomas was absent. His absence helps us understand how the Lord will respond to our questions and our doubts.

Jesus does not leave Thomas hanging in the balance filled with doubt. Notice what happens starting in John 20:26, “Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” It’s as if Jesus was there when Thomas expressed his doubts to the other disciples, and comes saying, “Hey Thomas, here I am. Here’s my hands. Here’s my feet. Let me put your hand in my side.” Jesus does not leave Thomas sitting in his doubts. He comes offering an invitation of help.

Jesus comes offering us the same invitation of assistance. He does not leave us hanging in the balance filled with doubts. Jesus offers us the opportunity to look back at how he has helped us in the past. He offers us the historical evidence of an empty tomb. We can visit the tomb and find that it is empty.

Because of an empty tomb, you and I do not have to smother in moments of doubt. Jesus helps us renew our hope and our certainty through his resurrection. Doubts may come, but they will not cause Jesus to run. He responds to us with an invitation of help just like he gave Thomas. Jesus will not leave us alone in our doubts.

Peace in Uncertain Times

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They were afraid. The last hours and days have been anything but restful. Some in the group narrowly escaped fighting and arrest a few nights ago as an angry mob arrested their leader Jesus. They watched as the mob had him tortured and executed. They know his tomb is empty, but they are unsure of how or why. Thoughts of peace are replaced with a constant wondering about the next happening and how to get away from those who are against them. They do not know who is the next to be arrested or even worse, so they are gathered behind locked doors in a secret location plotting a path forward.

The disciples are consumed by fear and anxiety, but Jesus does not leave them alone. John 20:19 says, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

As the disciples are sitting in an anxious and fear-filled room, Jesus shows up to bring peace. The peace Jesus brings to the disciples is for the past, present, and future. They are surrounded by uncertainty, yet Jesus says they can have peace. And, the peace Jesus brings on this night is the same peace he offers to us.

We live in uncertain times. Some folks struggle with letting go of past mistakes, while others are fearful of the future. To all though, Jesus says, “Peace be with you.”

Jesus offers peace with God. Through his work on the cross, Jesus bridged the gulf between man and God.  Scripture helps us understand.

  • “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us,” points out Paul in Ephesians 2:18.
  • He writes in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”
  • And Romans 8:1 proclaims, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Because of Christ, we can have peace with God. Yesterday’s mistakes are forgiven and forgotten, so we don’t need to feel guilty any longer. Just look at what he did for Peter.

Peter boldly stated he would never deny Jesus; he would follow him to the very end, but when pressure mounted, Peter crumbled. He denied Jesus not once but three times, and after the third time, Mark says, “Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.” Peter knew he made a mistake. The Lord also knew Peter made a mistake, yet Jesus brought Peter peace. He was present when Jesus appeared to the disciples, and the Gospel writers tell us Jesus appeared to Peter earlier in the day, restoring their relationship. Peter did not have the power to make peace with God, so Jesus did it for him.

To spite his failures and all that Peter had done wrong, Jesus brings him peace with God. Can you imagine the relief Peter must have felt?

What about you? You know you’ve made mistakes; perhaps you remind yourself of it daily. The Lord also knows you’ve made mistakes, yet Jesus comes bearing the greeting, “Peace be with you.” You and I did not have the power to make peace with God, so Jesus did it for us. To spite the failures and mistakes of the past, Jesus gives us peace with God, and he freely gives it to us. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “I am leaving you a gift,” and that gift is peace with God.

It is in knowing the Lord is walking with us that we find peace for the future. Again, Scripture helps us understand.

  • “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus,” writes Paul in Philippians 4:7.
  • Notice again Jesus’ words in John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Because of an empty tomb, you and I can have peace even if it is a turbulent time. The world may be swirling around us, but no matter what happens, the victory is ours through Christ. Remember the promise of Romans 8:37, “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Jesus isn’t leaving us alone to struggle. He is coming along side us and saying, “Peace be with you!”

Appearing Amid Life’s Shattered Pieces

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It was about a seven-mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. A journey of this length gives you some time to talk, so the two disciples were discussing, and maybe at times debating, the events of the past few days. They had been in Jerusalem following Jesus, and a lot had taken place. A week earlier these disciples were filled with joy and great anticipation as Jesus entered Jerusalem, but those feelings quickly faded as the week unfolded. Today, these two men are down-and-out, and they are not sure what to make of everything that has happened.

“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him,” says Luke 24. “He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still; their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” 

Notice they hoped, which is past tense. They have given up at this point. Their desire was to be free from the Roman government, and they thought Jesus was going to be the one who overthrew the Romans. They had longed for this day, but it didn’t happen the way the disciples had it pictured. And confusion was added to their disappointment this morning, they found out Jesus’ body is missing from the tomb.

Continuing their conversation with Jesus, they said,

“And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” Not sure what to make of things, the two disciples decide to return to Emmaus.

I can relate to these guys, and perhaps you can as well. We have an idea of what life is going to look like; the picture we have in our mind is exactly what we desire, and it seems everything is moving in that direction. But suddenly, it changes. Suddenly, it shatters. It shattered by a phone call from a doctor saying we have cancer. It is tattered after months of financial struggle has left us nearly bankrupt. It is violently torn by a devastating heartbreak.  Our hope for life to unfold as it is pictured in our mind is gone. The picture seems to be only a distant memory. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we simply don’t know what to make of things, and we are perplexed by life’s shattered pieces lying around us.

It is in moments like this we can be grateful for what Jesus showed the disciples. As they traveled, he helped them understand the promises of the Lord are trustworthy.

Jesus says in Luke 24, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So, he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Suddenly, these two guys connect the dots and realize every word of Scripture is true. It turned out their picture of life was not a reality, but there was something even better happening. There was something even better coming. They realized they could fully hope in the promises of the Lord. His promises are trustworthy.

Because of an empty tomb, you and I know we can fully hope in the promises of the Lord. Psalm 145:13 says, “The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.”

Our mind’s picture of life may have been shattered, but we have hope of something better coming. “Trust in God; trust also in me,” Jesus encourages. We can fully hope in the trustworthy promise of something better coming. We have the faithful promise of eternal life in Heaven.

As for the disciples traveling to Emmaus, Luke says they returned to Jerusalem the same day. This means they walked 14 miles in one day, and I’ve often wondered if they had to buy a new pair of sandals the next day.

The Route

The shortest route between two places is a straight line; however, going straight from point A to point B does not always work. It is not always the best route; it sure wasn’t for the people of Israel.

The Lord delivered Israel from the Egyptian bondage they were suffering. He designed an exit strategy which had them leave in a hurry, but they did not go directly to the land of Canaan. Exodus 13:17 records:

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”

Israel did not go directly to their destination because it wasn’t what was best for them. Though it may have seemed the Lord had the people wondering aimlessly in the wilderness, he had their best interests in mind and was always accomplishing his purpose. The Lord knew a direct route was not best in this situation.

Charles Stanley has commented, “Our God is practical, and He deals with us according to our nature. He will always lead us in the way that is most appropriate for us.”

Sometimes, the Lord may not take our lives on a direct route. It may seem there are many twists and turns to get to where we are going, but we can rest assured the Lord knows what he is doing. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that the Lord knows the plans he has for us. Those twists in turns of life are in our best interest. It may not seem like it at the time, but the Lord knows the best route to our destination.

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Does God Care About Me?

Sometimes we feel insignificant as if we don’t even matter. In the vastness of the world, we are merely a face in the crowd or a number in the system, so we begin to wonder if we matter. Does anyone realize I’m here? Does anyone really care about my concerns and needs? Do I matter? Does God care about me?

The Bible teaches the answer is a resounding YES!

Jesus says in Luke 12:6-7:

“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins[b]? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

Think of Jesus’ words this way. Not one bird, though worth only a fraction of a penny, falls from the sky without the Lord knowing and caring, and our value is much higher. We do not have to fear the Lord does not care for us. He does! The Lord cares about us enough that he knows everything about us.

I don’t know how many hairs I have on my head, but the Lord does.

The Lord cares about us so much that he gave us the gift of grace. As you experience the vastness of the world today, remember, the Lord knows you and cares for you.

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Promises Kept

The Bible is filled with promises the Lord has made to you and me. He promises we will spend eternity in Heaven. He promises eternal life. He promises our needs will be met. He promises peace. He promises too always be with us. And, the Lord keeps all of his promises.

Along with the promises made to us, the Bible also shows us the Lord is faithful to keep his promises. Take the promise the Lord made to Abraham and Sarah for example. The Lord promised this couple they would have a son, which seemed impossible, but the Lord kept his promise. Abraham and Sarah had a son.

Genesis 21:1-3 records:

21 The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac. 

This is not the only time we see a promise being made and kept. On the night of Jesus’ birth, Luke’s Gospel teaches the angel made some promises to the shepherds as to what they would find. Luke says the shepherds found everything just as they had been told when they went to see Jesus.

The promises made to us will be kept; we too will find everything just as we’ve been told. The Lord is gracious, and he keeps his promises. How has the Lord kept a promise for you?

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That’s Impossible

Abraham and Sarah were well advanced in years. He has reached the century mark, and she is not far behind at 90. They had been promised a son, but the promise still hadn’t come true. Some visitors stopped by one day, and one of them brought a message to Abraham and Sarah.

The visitor told Abraham and Sarah he would return in a year and they would have a son. Funny, right? At least Sarah thought it was. She, who was well past child-bearing years, was going to have a son. Genesis 18 says she laughed to herself, and goes on:

13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Things which seem impossible to us are very easy for God. The Bible teaches there’s nothing impossible for God.

  • Matthew 19:26 says, 26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
  • Mark 10:27 says, 27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
  • Luke 1:37 says, 37 For the word of God will never fail.

Like Sarah, hearing of the seemingly impossible may cause us to laugh. Partially because we don’t see how it can be done, and maybe our laughter is a result of the slightest feeling of joy as we think of it happening. It has been said God smiles in these moments also. He smiles with joy as he goes about doing the work he does best – the impossible. How have you witnessed the Lord doing the impossible?

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Freedom

No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. For some, those mistakes can cause them to hold onto a lot of guilt. However, the Bible teaches we can be set free from our guilt.

One day the religious leaders tried to trap Jesus by presenting a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Assuming they were telling the truth, there is no doubt she is guilty. She was caught in the act. Jesus uses this as an opportunity to remind us that no one is perfect. Then, he shows us an illustration of grace. He sends the unnamed woman on her way giving her a fresh start.

A little later as Jesus is talking to the religious leaders, He tells them the truth of the Gospel can set us free. Jesus says in John 8:31-32:

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

It was through the work of the cross that Christ set us free.

  • Romans 5:10 says, 10 “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.”
  • Romans 6:23 says, 23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

It is in this freedom we take on a new identity in Christ.

  • 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

And, we are able to fulfill the purpose for our lives.

  • Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s handy work, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works which he has prepared in advance for us to do.

Knowing and accepting the truth of Jesus’ message brings freedom.

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Set Free

A crowd was gathered and Jesus was teaching. We are unaware of the topic; it could have been compassion or anxiety. We just don’t know. As he was talking, the door suddenly burst open and a group of men came running in pulling a slightly clothed woman behind them.

“We caught this woman in the act of adultery,” one of the men shouts. “The law says we should stone her. Jesus, what do you say?”

Jesus didn’t answer. John 8 tells us he began writing in the dust. He may have done this to illustrate the point he was getting ready to make or as an act of compassion toward the woman. For her, this could have been an embarrassing situation; she probably wasn’t wearing many clothes and there were several eyes staring directly at her. Perhaps Jesus put his finger in the dust to divert attention from her. Either way, the crowd demanded an answer, and Jesus gave them one.

In John 8:7, Jesus says, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 

Verses 9-10 continue, When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

One by one, everyone left until only Jesus and the woman were standing there. Jesus doesn’t condemn her. He doesn’t rebuke her for what has happened in the past or even for what happened that morning. Notice Jesus words in verse 11.

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Jesus set her free. In his grace he gave her a fresh start. Guilt she may have experienced was gone. Jesus set her free from her sin and the guilt it caused.

Likewise, we can be set free from guilt we may be experiencing. In his grace, Jesus can free us from the guilt of our past which may plague us.

  • Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • Galatians 5:1 says it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

The next time you feel guilty for something in the past, allow the Lord’s grace to replace your guilt with peace only he offers.

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