“If he would learn how to treat me better, then we could get along just fine.”
“If I just made more money or got a different job, then I could be happy.”
“If I did not have this health problem, then I could serve in my church.”
“If he/she had a better attitude, then I could have one too.”
“If I wasn’t so depressed, I would try to have more faith”.
“If only I could (xxxxx), then everything would be okay.”
Have you ever found yourself saying these types of things?
Have you ever been pulled into a game of mental chatter that convinces you that your happiness, joy, contentment and enthusiasm for life hinges on everything going your way, material items coming into your possession, and/or major changes taking place in your life and the people in it?
Have you ever found yourself putting God to the test – if He answers your prayers just right, then you will love Him more?
Most of us have lots of “ifs, ands, and buts” for why all of our problems are someone elses fault, why our negativity and pessimism are justified, why our faith is lacking, and why we have every right to continue living in a perpetual poor-me pity party.
Unfortunately, this type of attitude only digs our hole a little deeper, and further separates us from God. So why do we keep doing it? The only logical reason I can come up with, is because people either simply do not know how to change, or do not believe that they can change.
Great news! God gave us an amazing gift – the gift of free will….not just free will in our actions, but also in our thoughts. We may not have the power to change our circumstances or the people in our lives, but we ALWAYS have the power to change our own attitudes.
My mom always reminds me of the serenity prayer when I start grumbling about something that is outside of my power to change. It says, “Lord, help me to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” That always helps me keep things in perspective.For the sake of today’s challenge, I’d like to put a different spin on that prayer. What if it went something like this, “Lord, help me to accept the people I cannot change, to change the ones I can, and to know that one is ME.”
No matter how many great things may happen in our lives, there will always be something that can steal our joy, whether it be people or circumstances. Trust me friend, the devil will make sure of it. That ol devil is the master of self-condemnation, ridicule, shame, guilt, blame, finger pointing, rudeness, bitterness, discontent, discouragement, and joylessness. He spends a great deal of time and effort trying to win us over to his way of thinking.
The devil is not after our wealth, health, family, security or homes – he is after our attitude. After all, when we have a bad attitude, we are no longer a threat. If we live in a state of bitterness, he no longer needs to worry about us sharing Gods love with others, reaching out to those in need, and building God’s kingdom. Yep, he can move on to some other poor soul who is teetering on the edge of discouragement and separation from God.
Let’s face it:
-It is so much easier to be mean to a person who has been mean to you, than it is to pray for them, forgive them, and maintain a smile and joyful heart.
-It is much easier to fall into the unethical practices of the corporate world, than it is to stand up for what is right despite the costs.
-It is much easier to join in the gossip session, than make it known that you want no part of it.
-It is much easier to criticize your husband and hold a well tallied list of all of his flaws, than to forgive him.
-It is much easier to yell at your kids, than exercise patience and respond in love.
-It is much easier to resent the mother who has seven kids, when you cant even have one baby, than it is to thank God for blessing her with a family.
-It is so much easier to be bitter, than it is to choose joy despite our circumstances.
Do we really want the easy way? Is it truly easier? If we constantly travel the easy road – what is setting us apart from the rest of the world? I dare say – nothing at all.
Our outward attitude is a reflection of our inward heart. Our outward actions are a reflection of our inward beliefs. Our life is a reflection of our spiritual heartbeat.
A heartbeat that beats for God, is one fueled by unbreakable, unshakable joy. The type of joy that is unaffected by circumstances. A positive state of mind. A deep joy, fueled by contentment, confidence and hope.
Spending time with Christ builds a desire in us to be more like Him. Having an attitude of joy, gratefulness, faith and hope – despite and regardless of our circumstances – prepares our hearts to really begin hearing Him speak.
Move over sister, God still needs a little more room today.
Challenge #2: Let God’s light shine brightly through you today – even if someone licks the red off of your sucker. Be kind to those who are unkind. Be giving to those who dont give. Look for the positive in every situation you encounter.
1 Peter 1:13-16 So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.” (The Message)
Prayer For Today:
Dear Jesus, this is a hard challenge! I try to be positive, but things happen in my life that steal the joy right out from under me. You know the situations I am dealing with; you know the pain in my heart; you know the battles that I am facing, and the ones to come that I am unaware of. I pray that you will be with me Lord every step of the way, today and every day, to help me break the bondage of negativity in my heart and seek out joy and hope in you. I am so desperate for the type of joy that you tell us about in your Word. I seek out that joy and ask that you pour your love into my heart so that thoughts of you and wisdom of your sovereignty will control my actions throughout each day. Prepare my heart Lord, for a mighty work.
In Jesus name, Amen.