Everybody throughout their lives deals with a thing. It’s there. You can’t always see it, but you can feel it. It never really goes away. You can try to put it on the top shelf, hide it under the bed, throw it in the back of the closet, and yet this thing never seems to disappear. Why is it so hard to move on? Why does it feel like an impossible mountain to climb? Are we destined to be stuck in these recurring nightmares forever? Let’s unpack this together. Let’s find a way forward. What’s your thing?
Well, good morning to everybody, and good morning, also, to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We’re glad to have everybody. We’re in the middle of a series called “The Thing.” One of the things I like to do is to make sure that we sort of recap and summarize what we’ve been doing, because if you’re new or maybe you’ve missed a few weeks or whatever it may be, it’s always good to remember what we’re doing.
So, in this particular series, what I’m trying to do, and do the best that I can do here, is to help us all in living out the life that God wants us to live. I am just convinced, as a pastor, the more I read Scripture, the more I really feel like God wants us to live lives that are influential, that shine like lights, the people see what’s going on in our lives and want to know what’s going on and ultimately want to know who Jesus is, the Jesus that lives within you and me. One of the things I’ve found as a pastor, just in talking with people and being involved in small groups and just being a Christian for the years that I’ve been a Christian, is so many people have an area in their life — it’s this one thing, or maybe a couple of things — that just seems to keep tripping them up over and over and over again.
Sometimes, if they’re vulnerable, they’ll share it. But, then, what happens is, “How do I overcome this thing?”
Basically, what I’ve been trying to teach in this series, is oftentimes the thing that we’re focused on, whatever that is, whatever that thing is that’s driving us nuts, many times is a symptom of a cause. If we’re focusing on the symptom, we might not be getting any better at all because we’re not focusing on the cause. So, the big idea was this: The thing that we think is the thing is usually not the thing.
In other words, we’re shooting at things in our lives that are symptomatic of a root cause. In other words, we’re focused on fruits and not the root. And I believe, with all of my heart, in understanding that dynamic and seeing how often in Scripture that is taught, where there’s something behind something that we need to deal with, that’s one of the great ways you and me can get victory. Because, if we’re not dealing with what we need to deal with, we’re not going to get any better.
So, last week, I talked about what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11 about discerning the body. He says, “Here’s the symptoms: Many are weak, many are ill, some have died, but that’s not the thing. The thing is not discerning the body.”
The week before, we talked about unforgiveness, and we talked about how the symptoms of unforgiveness are huge in our lives and have so many consequences. But, the thing that needs to be dealt with are not the symptoms, but that root cause of unforgiveness.
This week, we’re going to deal with something that I believe every single one of us will go, “Man, amen. That is definitely a thing behind the thing.”
But, before I do that, I want to get your attention. I want to get your buy-in here. I want to talk to you a little bit about the law of the jar. I felt, also, this is a great opportunity for me to talk about God’s team, the UK Wildcats. No. But, I want you to assume that this is a jar. There’s no water in this jar, but I want you to assume with me that there is water in this jar and I put the top on, and now I’m going to start shaking this jar. Okay? As I shake this, eventually water starts flowing out and going on the floor and baptizing the front row and all of those good things as I do this.
Then, if I were to say, “Okay. Now what I want to do is I want to ask you why did the jar leak?”
Well, many of you would say, “Well, it’s pretty easy. You were shaking the jar. If you wouldn’t have been shaking the jar, then the water wouldn’t have come out.”
Many of you would say that’s the answer. Some of you would say, “No. The answer is gravity. You’re right that you shaking it did, but what really created that problem — because, if you were in space, the water wouldn’t have gone down. It would’ve just sort of gone out into the air and just sort of floated. So, gravity is the reason why it’s leaking all over the place.”
Some of you would say, “No. The lid was loose. That’s the problem.”
If I were to then say, “Okay. Separate off into your different groups,” and you separate off into your different groups, some of you would be more passionate about it than others. But, here’s the reality of the law of this jar: The reason this would have leaked, the reason the jar leaked, is because there was water inside. See, if there was no water inside, nothing would’ve happened. It wouldn’t make a difference how much I shook it. It wouldn’t make a difference if the lid was off. It wouldn’t make a difference about gravity. Nothing. The reason this jar was able to leak was because there was water inside.
What I would like to suggest to you and I is that what is on the inside of you and me will leak to the outside of you and me. Do you know what we’re dealing with? Our attitudes. And let me just tell you right now: I got to preach this two times. This is the third time. Some of you all noticed that they decided, for whatever reason, to start doing some pressure washing on half of our parking lot this morning. So, I got to go ahead and experience the attitude sermon that I’d been preaching by trying to have a positive attitude. I’m doing the best I can.
You know? Our attitudes matter. In fact, I’ve said this before, and some of you who have heard this are going to laugh again, some of you who haven’t heard it are going to laugh even harder, but this shows you how powerful our attitudes are. They took this young boy, who was eight years old, and everything that came out of his mouth was negative. I mean, he was just always negative. And they put him into this room where they had Xbox, PlayStation, 20 different ice creams, 19 different cookies, and 5 different candy bars. And he walked in and he said, “There’s not this game, there’s not this ice cream, there’s not this cookie, and there’s not this candy bar.”
They’re like, “Man, how could someone be so negative on everything?”
Then they took this other eight-year-old boy, who was always positive, and they put him in an 8x8 room, and it was filled with 2.5 feet of horse manure. He jumped up in the air, head first, and started swimming in the room. They reached in, grabbed him and picked him up. They said, “Son, what is the matter with you?”
He said, “Man, there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere.”
You know? So, it’s the truth. It’s the absolute truth. Our attitudes matter. So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to look a little bit at how our attitudes affect us. We’re going to look at a passage of Scripture. We’re going to chew on a few things from that passage of Scripture. And then, what we’re going to do is I’m going to give you three things at the very end that I think will make a tremendous impact on your life and those watching via the mobile app and the internet. It will make an absolute difference in your life and you’ll walk out of here with a completely different attitude than when you came in.
So, let me just summarize here. When attitude is the thing behind the thing — in this particular attitude, we’re going to say it’s a misaligned attitude or a bad attitude — it can create stress in our life, it can create depression in our life, it can create a critical spirit in our life and it can create the inability to cope in life. Bad attitudes are hugely affective in our lives, as are good attitudes. So, oftentimes, the things we’re dealing with, the thing is not the thing. The thing is this. It’s our attitude. In fact, bad attitudes and misaligned attitudes has destroyed more families, more marriages, more witnesses to the Lord and more relationships than just about anything else. So, it’s huge that we figure out how to handle our attitude.
So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to take a passage of Scripture that many of you all are familiar with. It’s one of the great attitude passages of Scripture in all the Bible. It comes out of Philippians 4. If you remember, the Philippian church was founded when Paul had been put in prison after he had been beaten with rods. He got put in the Philippians prison, and he started singing in the midnight hour. Paul and Silas are singing and they’re praising God and worshiping God. And everybody in the prison cells are like, “What’s going on? These people are rejoicing, and they just got beaten with rods?”
And, all of a sudden, all the prison doors open, and they don’t even run. They don’t even leave. They’re like, “Wow.”
Well, the Philippians Jailer runs in. He’s getting ready to kill himself because he’s figured some of them have left, and he knows if they’ve left then the Romans will kill him. And Paul’s like, “Dude, they’re all here.”
He’s like, “Well, tell me what I’ve got to do, then, to get in on this.”
And he says, “Hey, you can believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved in your household.”
What’s beautiful is the Philippian church is birthed with prisoners in a prison ward. That’s the start of the Philippian church. So, when Paul writes back to them and he starts talking about rejoicing and loving God, they know first-hand that they saw that in Paul’s life. And when Paul writes them, he’s in prison again. And he writes such a positive letter even though he’s in prison. He’s like, “Hey, man. What God started in you...” — you can read it in Philippians 1:6 — “...He’s going to continue until the day that Jesus comes back. It doesn’t make a difference whether I live or die. Man, I’m going to glorify God, because for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
He’s having the same attitude in Philippians 2 that Jesus had. I mean, this is a positive book. So, what we’re going to do is look at Philippians 4, but I’m going to read out of a different translation. I normally read out of the English Standard Version. Sometimes I use the New American Standard Version. But, I’m going to read out of what I call the “Renegade Translation” today. It’s called “The Message.” It’s by Eugene Peterson. Sometimes, Eugene Peterson, I read it and I’m like, “I don’t know, Eugene. I think you took a lot of liberties there, brother, on that particular one. But, other times I look at it and go, “Man, I think you nailed it.”
I think this one he nails. I’m so excited about reading you this passage of Scripture, I believe I could read this passage of Scripture and we could go home. In fact, we may need to so the next group can park. But, the reality is that it’s such a beautiful Scripture. Then what we’re going to do is we’re going to stop and we’re going to chew on a couple of those things that we read out of that passage of Scripture. And then what we’re going to do is we’re going to leave with three things that I think will absolutely change your life and your attitude forever.
So, let’s get to work here. In Philippians 4:4, Paul says, “Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!”
Now, many of you all know your Bibles and you know Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord; and again, I say, rejoice.”
Well, here’s what Eugene has written: “Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!”
I mean, just celebrate God for the things He’s done for you and me. Just enjoy God for the stuff. The fact that we’ve been transferred out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. The fact that we’ve been called His sons and daughters. The fact that our sins have been cast as far as the east is to the west. The fact that we can read the end of the book and know that He wins, and because He wins, so do we. Celebrate God all day, every day. Revel in him. Now, this is great:
“Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.”
Can you imagine if everybody in the world truly worked with each other as human beings, and gave them dignity and worth, how much a better place we would have? Right? Can you imagine if just Christians were to do that stuff? He doesn’t say that you’re on their side for positions and things they say. He says that you’re on their side as human beings, that you love them and support them.
See, let me tell you something. I’m going to tell you trick here. This is an absolute trick. You cannot celebrate God, you can’t put God first, and not love others. It doesn’t work that way. This is the way it works: If you love God, you love others. He says, “Celebrate God.”
Okay. We’re going to learn here. This is a hand clap. Come on. I sometimes preach better than you all let on. So, anyway, I’ll start “amening” myself.
Anyway, he says, “Listen: Celebrate God, love God, revel in Him, and make it as clear to everyone you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them, that you love them.”
And here’s why. He says, “Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!”
Man, Jesus could come back. He could show up. Man, we’re going to love God. We’re going to treat others like we’re on their side, and we’re going to help them to see that, man, Jesus could arrive at any moment. He could show up at any moment.
And he says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.”
You don’t have to raise your hands, but oftentimes, instead of praying, we worry. He says, “Don’t fret or worry. Guys, listen: Celebrate God. Love God. Revel in Him. Love others. If you’ve got any concerns or any worries about something, don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.”
And listen to how beautiful this is. This is just beautiful. Listen to what he says here: “Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.”
Man, that’s beautiful. I mean, think about that. He’s saying, “Listen: Stop for a moment here and let your petitions and your praises, because you’re celebrating God, let it shape those worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.”
“Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.”
Isn’t that great? Isn’t that just a beautiful word? I mean, who doesn’t want that? Who doesn’t want that in their life? He’s like, “Listen: Celebrate God. Love others. Take whatever concerns you have and give them to God. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness will come and settle you down.”
He says, “It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
That’s true, isn’t it? Absolutely true. Let’s continue. This is good stuff here.
“Summing it all up,” — going back, guys. He’s telling a story.
“Celebrate God. Love God. Revel in Him all day. Pour into others. You’re on their side. You’re working with them, because Jesus could show up at any time. You’re telling them the Master could show up. Any problems that you’ve got or any concerns that you’ve got, take it to God. Do those things and God will settle you down. So, what I want to do now is I want to sum it all up here. I want to make sure we’re all on the same page.
He says, “I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable,” — because, see, what goes in the jar is going to come out of the jar.
He’s like, “Guys, you want to celebrate God, right? You want to revel in Him, right? You want to take your prayers to God. You want that sense of wholeness? I’m going to sum it up for you, guys. Make sure, with your attitudes, with your minds, that what you’re doing is you are filling your minds and meditating on things that are true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious.
“The best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”
So, let’s think about that for a minute. How often are our minds filled with so much junk in the world today? You can’t read anything on the internet or watch anything on the news that’s not half negative all the time. If we’re filling our minds with that garbage, what’s going to leak out is that garbage. So, when we’re filling our minds with the things that are true, noble, reputable — the things that are the best, not the worst; the things that are beautiful, not ugly; the things to praise, not things to curse, what happens is Paul says, “I’m going to sum all of this up for you. You start doing those things and things are going to change in your life.”
He says, “Put into practice what you learned from me.”
“You saw me. You saw my life. You saw that even when I got beat, I still worshipped God. You saw that no matter what was going on, I had a positive attitude.”
He says, “Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
Isn’t that great? That’s a beautiful passage of Scripture. Now, here’s what I want to do. I want to take a moment here and I want to chew on a few quick things here that I see in this passage. I’m going to do something that we don’t normally do. I’m going to ask you, if you’re watching via the internet and mobile app, to do this, too. I’m asking everybody in here, if you would, to just pause for a minute. I want to say a prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father, I believe with all of my heart that our attitudes are so important. Lord, I’m asking, right now, for Your glory and for Your honor, that we would resist the temptation to put up a wall and not to want to listen to this, that we would resist the temptation to want to try to listen to this sermon for our spouse rather than us, that we would tear down the resistance that we have to try to maybe listen to this for a friend or a son. Lord, let us listen to this message for us. Lord, we truly need to have positive attitudes, because it makes a huge difference in our lives and in the people that we love and the people that we know and the people that we meet.
So, Lord, I’m asking, in Jesus’ name, for Your glory, that You would tear down all the walls that we might put up, all the defenses that we might put up, and let us just simply hear these things to chew on for Your glory and for Your honor, so that we’ll leave differently than when we came in. In the name of Jesus, we pray, and everybody said, “Amen.”
If you take notes, here’s the first one: Our attitudes are ours to own. You and I own our attitudes. I want you to think about that for a minute, because so many of us don’t want to own our attitude. So many of us don’t want to own the things that we think about and the things that we do. We own our attitudes. Bottom line. We own them. Here’s what Paul says:
“Summing it up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable.”
In other words, “Guys, girls, Church at Philippi, Grace Community Church, here’s what you need to do: Fill your minds and meditate on these things, authentic, compelling, gracious — the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”
In other words, you and I have the ability to choose our attitude. We choose what we put into our lives. We choose what we talk about. We choose what we say. And here’s the greatest truth you can learn about an attitude: God did not give us control of our circumstances. You and I didn’t have any control over where we were born, have control over our parents. You know we can’t control the world. You know we can’t even control our family half the time. I’ve got six kids. I can’t control them at all. I can put one of them in time out and go to try to find them and they’re gone and they’re in the neighbor’s yard. It’s like, “What happened to that?”
It’s like they’ve got Star Trek transporter beams in their room.
“Grace, could you beam me over to the neighbor’s yard?”
Seriously. We can’t. We want to control. And, then thing is, do you know where most of our worry, anxiety and negativity comes from? Trying to control our circumstances, because we can’t. But, here’s what we do have control over: He gave us the ability to choose how we respond to them. You and I get to choose how we respond. Now, I’ve got something here that everybody has loved up to this point, and I think it makes the greatest example here of what I mean by having a positive attitude and choosing it.
This is called the “Dog’s Diary.” Enjoy this, because you’ll smile.
“8 a.m. Dog food! My favorite thing! 9:30 a.m. A car ride! My favorite thing! 9:40 a.m. A walk in the park! My favorite thing! 10:30 a.m. I got petted! It’s my favorite thing! 12 p.m. Milk bones! My favorite thing. 1 p.m. I played in the yard! My favorite thing! 3 p.m. I wagged my tail! My favorite thing! 5 p.m. Dinner! My favorite thing! 8 p.m. Wow! I got to watch TV with the humans! My favorite thing! 11 p.m. Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!”
See, all of you all are smiling. You understand attitudes make a difference. Let me read you the cat’s diary.
“Day 983 of my captivity. My captors continue to torment me with bizarre, little, dangling objects. They dine on good food while the other inmates and I are fed some sort of dry nuggets. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomited on the carpet. Today, I decapitated a mouse and dropped his headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since this clearly demonstrates my capabilities. Today, I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I’m going to do this again tomorrow at the top of the stairs. I’m convinced that the other prisoners around here are flunkies and snitches. The dog? He gets special privileges. He’s regularly released, and he seems to be more than willing to return. He’s obviously delusional. The bird is an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I’m certain he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him because he’s in an elevated cell, so he’s safe — for now.”
See the difference? See? Yep. Are you going to be a dog or are you going to be a cat? Come on, now. You know? Some of you are like, “I like cats.”
I’m not ripping on animals. I’m just making a point here. Do y’all remember the scenes where the guys would be up on the skyscrapers on the iron bar and they’d be looking down over the skyline? They’d all be sitting there with their legs dangling and they had their lunchboxes out and their hard hats on? You know? Well, one day, they were all out there and the guy sort of in the middle was sitting there. He opens up his lunch pail and he goes, “Oh, man! A bologna sandwich. I hate bologna sandwiches. I hate them. Four days in a row, a bologna sandwich. I hate bologna sandwiches.”
Well, his friend was next to him. He’s like, “Man, I️ didn’t know you hated bologna sandwiches.”
He said, “I hate them! I hate bologna sandwiches.”
He goes, “Well, how about tonight, when you’re at home, why don’t you suggest to your wife...”
He’s like, “Leave my wife out of this! I pack my own lunches.”
Right? Get ready here. Most of the bologna in our lives, we packed. And all God’s people said, “Amen,” right? So, we own our attitudes. Listen to what John Maxwell says:
“Our attitude is the librarian of our past, the speaker of our present, and the prophet of our future.”
We own our attitudes. Are we going to try to disown them or are we going to own them? We own our attitude. Let me tell you another thing to chew on. This is really something to think about. One of the greatest attitude predictors is teachability. See, the more you are rigid in what you think and believe, the more likely you’re going to be angry and nasty toward someone who sees it differently than you. Are we teachable? Paul thought his group was teachable. He said, “Put into practice what you learned from me.”
See, he realizes that church is teachable. He says, “Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
Are you teachable? You know, one of the things I do is teach systematic theology. That’s one of the more rigorous courses in a biblical education. One of the things that I do at the beginning of class is I say, “Class, I want you to understand something. Probably up to a third of what I believe is wrong, but the problem is I don’t know what that third is or I would change it.”
And they’re like, “Why?”
Because I’ve lived life long enough to know that the more rigid I get on something, the more somebody comes along and blows that thing away, almost all the time. So, are we teachable? When God’s Word says something to us, will we put it into action or do we try to reframe it the way we want it to be? Are we teachable?
Here’s the big takeaway on this one here: Who do you have in your life that can get all up in your business and be honest with you about your attitude? Who do you have? Are you teachable? Can you learn? Can someone say something to you and speak into your life and talk about your attitude? Because teachability is one of the greatest predictors of a good or bad attitude. Someone who’s not teachable — just think about it. Think about your kids when they’re growing up. The ones that you can’t tell anything to do, they won’t listen to anything that you say, they’re the ones that cry all the time and are always upset and everything’s an injustice. The ones that are eager to learn and eager to become better in life and to learn skills and to help me do this and show me how to do this, they’re the ones that have the most positive attitude.
So, think about it here: Teachability is a huge predictor of our attitude. Are we teachable?
Number three: Godly attitudes work themselves outwardly into others. The converse is true. Bad attitudes lead themselves outwardly into others. But we’re talking about attitude here. We’re trying to be positive. So, I want to focus on this here: Godly attitudes work themselves outwardly into others.
Here’s what happens: Celebrate God. Celebrate God. Rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord. And what happens is you make it as clear as you can to all that you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Can I give you a great biblical truth? I want us all to realize this. Bad attitudes lead to selfishness. That’s where they always lead.
“Oh, I can’t believe they did that. I can’t believe that’s happening to me. I can’t believe this went on. I can’t believe you did that. This is the way I feel.”
It always leads back to you. A bad attitude will never solve any problem in the world, because you and I can’t solve the problems in the world by being selfish. But positive attitudes, what they do is they add to others. When you’re positive, it adds to your spouse, it adds to your kids, it adds to the people at work. When you’re positive, you’re pouring into others. You can’t help it. That’s just what positive attitudes do.
And here’s the secret: When you and I are positive and pouring into others, that’s when God does the work in our life that we’re looking for. See, that’s what Jesus is always saying. Love God. Love others. We go, “Well, I’ve got to get myself...”
No. Love God. Love others. He goes, “All these things you’re looking for? Put me first and my kingdom and my righteousness first, and all the things that you’re looking for will be added to you.”
The reality is godly attitudes flow into other people. Think about this for a second. Does anybody really like being around people with a negativity attitude? Not long. Unless they’re in misery with you. Like, when you’re negative and they’re negative with you, then it’s great. You can form a small group and meet every week, you know? It’s like, “Hey, we’re the Negative Nancies. We meet every Tuesday night. Or every Friday night.”
Whatever. We see it all the time. But, see, bad attitudes will lead to selfishness. That’s just where they go. There’s just no way around it. A positive attitude adds to others. People that smile and are happy, you want to be around them. Why? Because it adds to your life. And guess what happens? When it adds to your life, you let them know. You go, “Man, thanks for being so cool. Thanks for being so nice.”
And guess what happens? Because you are flowing into them, all of a sudden people are speaking stuff into you and it’s changing your life because positive attitudes add to others. And when you add to others, God blesses you and me. That’s the way it works. That’s the way He does it. Nothing — and I’m not trying to be negative here, I’m just trying to be honest. Nothing destroys our witness in the Lord quite like our attitudes.
We’re supposed to shine like lights. We’re supposed to be people that people look at and want what we have. You know, I’ve asked, as a pastor — and I’m sure it’s not always the case. But, I’ve asked several places that I’ve gone, “When do you get the best and worst tips?”
Almost invariably, they say, “The worst tips are usually people from church on Sunday afternoon.”
And it’s like, “Seriously? Man, we’ve got to get better than that.”
Listen: Don’t give them a track. Give them a tip. Amen? I mean, if you want to give them a track, that’s fine. Make sure you give them some money. I mean, goodness gracious. We’ve got to have a better attitude about things. And that’s what Paul is saying. He’s like, “Summing it up, guys. This is what you need to be doing. Add these things in.”
Because the one thing you and I can control is our attitude. We have absolute control over it. You don’t believe that at all? Remember: The pizza man, when you’re fighting with your wife and they show up, you’re like, “Hi! How are you?”
So, you can change that attitude. I don’t care how bad off you are. Somebody knocks on your door and goes, “Aunt Mable just left you three million dollars,” you’d be like, “Wow!”
It doesn’t matter how bad your fight is, because, see, you can control your attitude. You can control those things.
Fourth: Maybe that fulfillment we are seeking in life is on the other side of a prayer, gratitude and attitude adjustment. All of us are looking for fulfillment in life. All of us are looking to live out a godly life. All of us are looking for the blessings of the Lord and the abundant life. Maybe that’s on the other side of a prayer, gratitude and attitude adjustment. That’s why I call that, because I think Paul says, “We’ve got to learn to pray.”
You move prayer out, and that doesn’t work. You’ve got to have a gratitude. You’ve got to thank God for the things that He’s given you. And then attitude, which means we start putting in the things that are positive rather than the things that are negative. And, all of a sudden, we get an adjustment in our lives and things change. Maybe that fulfillment we’re looking for is on the other side of that.
So, here’s what I want to do in conclusion. I want to give you three things that I feel you can walk out of here, absolutely, today, and change your life forever with your attitude — if you decide that you want to do them. If you decide you don’t want to do them, that’s fine with you. But, you get to choose these things. God gave you a choice and you can choose.
The first thing I would tell you is to celebrate God. Learn to celebrate God in life. Learn to thank God for all the things that we have.
“God, I️ thank You that we get to meet in a church with air conditioning. There’s so many Christians — millions — that don’t even have a place to meet. God, we are so fortunate. We are so blessed. God, we just celebrate You. God, forget all the things that I’ve got. Let’s just talk about You for a second. You removed me from the kingdom of darkness. You took me from someone who was in sin, was red as crimson, and, Lord, You made me white as snow. Lord, I was not a son or daughter and now I’m a son or daughter. Lord, You have moved in my life. You put Your Holy Spirit in me. You’ve done all of these great things, Lord. I just want to celebrate You for the God that You are, and thank You for all of the great things that You do.”
Rather than flipping on TV and watching something negative, turn on a praise song, open up the Bible, call somebody and say, “Hey, man. Let’s talk about how good God is.”
You start celebrating God in your life and I’m telling you something, your attitude will change. Because what happens is you start to do the “I️ get to” rather than the “I have to.”
“Oh, God. I have to love this wife that You’ve given to me. Lord, I have to love these kids.”
No, no, no, no. When you start celebrating God, what happens is you say, “God, thank You so much I get to love this person that You put in my life. Lord, I get to pour into these kids that You’ve given to me. Lord, I get to go to work here when people don’t even have a job. Lord, even though I may be working around some people that have some challenges, Lord, I get to be a light there at work. Lord, I get to eat on a regular basis when people all around the world are starving to death. Lord, I get to do the things that I do. I get to come to church. I even have four different services that I can come to. Lord, I get to do all of these things.”
And, all of a sudden, things change. You become infectious. What happens is you’re focusing on Him, not the circumstances. I could go on and on and on and on and on about focusing on Jesus or focusing on stuff. The bottom line is when Peter looked at Jesus and he didn’t look at the waves and the wind, he walked on water. When he decided to look at the waves and the wind, he sunk.
Celebrate God. Talk about how great God is. He’s a wonderful God. Start talking about God. Read some of the passages of Scripture. Read them out loud. They’ll get you happy. Change your life. Celebrate God. What we do is we don’t like to celebrate God. We like to celebrate all the problems. Celebrate God. Okay?
Second: Turn negativity into prayer. Listen: You’re going to have negativity in your life. I’m going to have negativity. There’s negativity everywhere. We’ve got to choose what we do with it. Typically, what we do with negativity is we go tell somebody about it. See, what we do is we talk to others, not God. I’d like to have you turn that around. Talk to God, not others. In other words, take the negativity and, rather than finding a group of people that you can go, “Ah, let me tell you all of these negative things that are going on,” — because most people like that negativity.
“Oh, yeah! I’ve got it, too!”
You know? I mean, have you ever noticed? I mean, I’ve got lower back pains. All I’ve got to do is find a group of people and go, “Man, my back hurts.”
“So does mine! It’s terrible!”
“Oh, yeah. I couldn’t get out of bed for a week.”
Next thing you know, everybody’s depressed and we’re all in counseling. You know? Talk to God. Take your petitions and your prayers and let it shape your worries into those prayers. I like what Joyce Meyer says. She goes, “Don’t get on the phone. Go to the throne.”
I like that. That’s good stuff. Talk to God, not others. I’ll tell you another one when you’re praying. Ask God to show us when negativity is actually coming from our life. Look: I’m 47. I’m beyond, at this point, what people think. I want you to like me, but I’m really pretty blunt at this point in my life. I can tell you and be vulnerable here: A lot of times, when I get frustrated at things, I’m frustrated because it’s something that’s going on in me.
You ever notice that you get hostile towards people when you’re driving when you run late? Did you know something? Your lack of planning did not constitute an emergency for them. Right? Follow me on that one? See, sometimes — y’all are getting it now. We’re an hour behind. We’re like, “Yeah! I️ got it now. Oh, yeah. That was me last Tuesday.”
Some of the people on staff go, “That’s why we don’t put a Grace bumper sticker on our car.”
You take your negativity, turn it into prayer, and let God start speaking to you. You’ll find He will do some things. And the last thing here is remember the Lord’s victory. It’s not our victory. It’s His victory. He’s already won. You know what? No matter what you’re going through, no matter how bad it is, He has promised you and me that He will resurrect us, and we will spend eternity with Him, which means we can’t lose. Which means we can fall down seven times, but He’ll pick us up seven times, because He’s already won. And, because He’s won and we’re on His team, we win, too.
It’s like watching a prerecorded game. You already know the result, but you watch it and you know where the result’s going. It’s a lot better to watch a close game when you already know your team won, right? Okay? Some of y’all are in close games. You won. Okay? You already won. And remember that: Walk in Him, not your circumstances. Walk in Him. Get ahold of Jesus. Walk in Him. And don’t allow anyone to rob you of His joy. Don’t let anybody take that from you, because it’s His victory.
I believe with all of my heart that if we put these things into place, this is what happens: Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. Let’s understand that one of the big things behind the thing is our attitude. Let’s be people that have a positive attitude and choose to exhibit that attitude for the glory of God.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for everybody here. Thank You for this church. Thank You for all the incredible things that are going on in this community because of Your people. Lord, I pray right now that all of us would leave out of here making a commitment that we’re going to own our attitude, we’re going to put in our mind and meditate on the things that are true, noble and reputable; the best, not the worst; the good, not the bad.
Help us, Lord, to walk out of here and forever realize that the thing that is behind many of our things is simply our attitude. Help us, Lord, to choose to have the attitude that You can give to us. Lord, we love You and thank You for that.
So, Lord, as we leave, we pray that You would continue to lead, guide and direct us; continue to help us be that church that You’ve called us to be, which is to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. And help us, Lord, to reflect Christ in our attitudes for Your glory and for Your honor. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.”
Give the Lord a big hand clap. God bless everybody. Have a great day.