Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:4-8

Choosing to Look on the Positive Side

The devil likes to paint a gloomy picture when things don't go as we've planned. When this happens, we need to take them to the Lord in prayer. Letting things discourage us is very easy. If we aren't careful, we can get a bad attitude about different circumstances that happen and let those things depress us. Most have heard the saying, "Every cloud has a silver lining." We need to look at the positive side of things rather than the negative side. The devil would have us to look at the negative side of things.

The Word of God says to be thankful for the little things. We need to look for the positive in every situation we face. We shouldn't sit around and feel sorry for yourselves; then we'll become depressed. Let's look at all the good things we have. When we start thinking about the good things God's done, it gets our mind off the negative and on the positive.

The attitudes we take in situations of life have a great bearing on whether or not we'll make it to Heaven. Often we have no control over many situations we face in life, but we do have complete control over how we react to situations. If we have the right attitude and live right, the Lord will work things out. We can spend all day looking at the negative side of things or we can choose to look at the positive.

One songwriter wrote, "Little is much when God is in it." We may have little, but it's much when we give it to God to use. He'd rather have quality than quantity. God would rather have perfect unity among the saints of God than to have strife and division working. God loves His church so much that He allowed His only Son to come and shed His blood. Let's not think He doesn't care when people work division and strife. He knows, and He's concerned. The Bible says that few are going to make it through; therefore, we shouldn't be surprised if few are willing to press on. I thank God for those who are willing to keep pressing on.

God is going to bless His people. Habakkuk 3:17-18 says: "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: [That sounds bad, doesn't it? But what does the next verse say?] Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."

We can't control what people do around us or when people work against us, but we can control how we react. We can say, "No matter what happens around me or what others choose to do, I'll rejoice in the Lord." Too many times, people look at the negative side of life. God wants us to look on the positive side.

If our heart's not right, we can't uphold the standard of God's Word. We may try in the flesh, but if we don't have the Word and the Spirit working together, though you have understanding, we can't uphold it. It'll quickly fade away. I thank God for men who preach the Truth, and I thank God for the Truth. Also, I thank God that we each can have a pure heart. If we keep our heart pure, God will honor that.

Friend, none of us knows how much time we have left on this earth before the Lord comes again. The way things are looking causes us to think it won't be long. However, we can't just sit around and wait for the Lord to come back. We need to continue to work for God.

I once read a story about a king and his kingdom. The king called in two servants. He told the first servant, "I want you to go throughout the kingdom and gather weeds of all different varieties and bring them back to me." Then the king told the other servant, "I want you to go around the kingdom and gather flowers of all different kinds and bring them back to me." He told them that they each had one week, and then the two servants went out. The first servant came back after a week with armfuls of all different kinds of weeds. He said, "I never knew there were so many weeds. I'm convinced that all we have in this kingdom is weeds."

Soon the other servant returned and said, "Look at all these flowers. I didn't realize we had so many flowers. We have flowers of every variety imaginable. The way I see it, all we have in this kingdom is flowers." One servant saw only weeds; the other one saw only flowers. Why was that? That was what they were looking for. The man who was looking for weeds found weeds, and the man who was looking for flowers found flowers.

Likewise, if we look for negative things, that's what we're going to see. On the other hand, if we look for positive things and look to help others, we'll be lifted. We find what we look for. God is faithful to His people. If we seek Him for help and divine direction, He'll give us what we need.

When I first joined the Army, people told me, "It's going to be rough. Those drill sergeants are going to scream and yell at you and break you down." So I prepared my mind. I determined that I was going to be ready. It pays to prepare ourselves. Sometimes we know what to expect, and we can't let those things get us down. We should look for positive things and be thankful.

"Be Careful for Nothing"

Paul said in our Scripture text in Philippians 4:4-6: "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Paul said, "Be careful for nothing." We need to pray about everything. It's easier to pray about big things, such as a house, a new car, a good job, or the right companion. Most people pray about those things, but how about the little things? Sometimes people forget to pray about the little things.

The Bible tells us in Song of Solomon 2:15, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes." We must be careful to take care of the little things. Paul said, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." He said "in every thing" so that your heart and mind might be kept.

The Word of God says to be prayerful in everything, with thanksgiving. We need to be very careful. Instead of saying, "Oh, that's so bad," we should praise the Lord. For example, we wouldn't say, "Praise the Lord, I have a flat tire," but you could say, "Thank the Lord, I have a jack and a spare and can change it." The Lord tells us to pray with thanksgiving. So, we could look at a situation and say, "Lord, help me to keep my spirit right and to be thankful." We need to be careful of how we view things. Remember, circumstances could be worse. Also, we need to remember that people are watching how we react, and so is God. When adversity comes, how is our attitude? Do we look on the bright side?

I invite you to read a little story called The Fence.

There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him to hammer a nail in the back fence every time he lost his temper. The first day the boy drove thirty-seven nails into the fence, and then it gradually dwindled down.

He discovered that it was easier to control his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally, the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it, and his father suggested that he now pull out one nail for each day that he controlled his temper. The days passed, and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that the nails were all gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You've done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When we say things in anger, those words leave a scar, just as those nails have. We can put a knife in a man and draw it out, but no matter how many times we said "I'm sorry," the wound would still be there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one."

Maintaining a Good Attitude

People are watching how we react to adversity. A successful person is one who can adapt in adversity. In the military they take the men who go through basic training and are the most easily adaptable to harsh conditions and make them elite soldiers, such as the Navy Seals. The most successful people are those who react to adversity in the proper way.

Let's not think on the negative things in life. We need to think on the positive. If we react in the wrong way, there are consequences. People are watching our life. If we allow our temper to get out of control, people will see. If we're sad and depressed all the time, people notice that, and it'll leave a mark on their lives. The little boy who pounded the nails in the fence pulled them out, but they still left marks. Friend, we can go back and tell people, "I'm sorry that I lost my temper," and they can forgive you, but it'll leave a mark. Some people will hold us for the things we do. Thank God, we can get right with God, and He does forget, but our reactions still leave marks on people's lives.

Again, We can go back and apologize for losing our temper or for being grumpy or sad all the time, but the scar will still be there. That'll make it difficult for people to get help in their souls. We could go to work and witness to people day after day, but if we were to lose our temper because we couldn't have the next Friday off, we'd leave a bad impression on those who saw us. Then, the next time we ask, "Will you come to church with me?" they'd probably say, "No, definitely not. I don't want what you have."

Our attitude is very important. At times it takes much effort to maintain a good attitude. I work very hard to remain upbeat on the job. My goal is to smile and think on good things. We might have a really bad day and have to work late, but think on the positive side and keep an upbeat attitude. Often people have asked me, "Why do you smile all the time?" What an opportunity to let them know that it is because I have the Lord. On the other hand, if someone were to ask us, "Why are you so sad all the time?" that person wouldn't want what we have.

The attitude that we show in our daily living is a witness to others. We can slowly plant seeds in people's lives. I try to enjoy life and enjoy my job. Even when things aren't going well, if we keep the joy of the Lord in our life, we'll show people something that they'll want.

Think on Good Things

The Apostle Paul didn't say, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are false, whatsoever things are a lie, whatsoever things are unfair, whatsoever things are despicable, whatsoever things are of a negative report; think on these things." This's the attitude that many people take. They only think about the lies that people have told about them. They think about all the times they've been wronged, all the times people haven't acted lovely to them, and all the negative reports. What about the positive reports?

Paul said in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true [if something is not true, don't think about it], whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Many people are so quick to look at the negative side of everything. We live in a very critical world. People are more critical of the church than they've ever been.

Certainly at times we have a legitimate reason to be upset about things. Undoubtedly there'll be times when someone will do us wrong or when someone will cheat us. Those things happen. Someone may do something against Truth or against us; someone may lie about us. Nevertheless, we have no right to hold them for it. The Word of God says in Hebrews 13:1, "Let brotherly love continue." Many people aren't willing to do that. They think on the negative things, but that's not what God has commanded us to do.

Even during the times when we feel that we have a legitimate reason to be upset, we shouldn't think on those things. If we catch ourselves thinking on those things, let's remember what God's Word says. It has a list of good things to think on, and none of those things is negative or bad. God wants us to think on godly, holy, pure, honest things.

A wrong or a negative attitude will drain us emotionally and spiritually. If we think on negative things all week, we'll go to church on Sunday spiritually drained. Remember, the attitudes that we have, go a long way in determining whether or not we'll make it to Heaven.

Shining Forth in Adversity

Acts 16:19-24 reads: "And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks."

That wasn't a good day for Paul and Silas. It was a horrible day. If anyone had reason to complain, they did. They could've said, "Let's think about what has happened to us. Those people told lies about us and whipped us for nothing. That's unfair! What about the despicable way they ripped off our clothes in public and beat us? That was so unfair of them to cast us into prison and put our feet in stocks." However, Paul and Silas didn't do that. They didn't think on their negative circumstances.

What did Paul and Silas do? Verses 25-28 tell us: "And at midnight [at the darkest hour] Paul and Silas [they did not complain and grumble] prayed, and sang praises unto God [no doubt people were watching them, wondering how they were going to react]: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here." All the prisoners were right there; no one had escaped.

The Bible says at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, sang songs, and praised the Lord, and all the prisoners heard them. What happened next? There was a great earthquake, the prison doors were opened, and everyone's shackles fell off. You'd have thought that most of them would have gotten up and said, "This's our chance to escape! Let's get out of here!" However, that's not what they did. They wanted to see who Paul and Silas were. They weren't worried about getting free from prison. No doubt, they wanted to see what Paul and Silas had to offer. Christian friend, people are watching our lives.

Verses 28-30 say: "But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" How we react in adversity and the attitudes we take have a great impact on winning souls for God. Paul and Silas could've sat in that prison and felt sorry for themselves, cried over their open wounds, and complained about how they'd been wrongly imprisoned and unjustly beaten. Yet, they chose to praise God, and it reaped great rewards.

Friend, as people watch our life, are they drawn to Christ or pushed away because of how we react in adversity? The men in the prison were drawn to Paul and Silas, and the jailer asked, "What must I do to be saved?" Life's not always fair, and the sooner we realize it, the better we can cope with adversity. People are going to wrong us and do things against us. Some may try to do everything they can to destroy us. We might as well be ready to look on the positive side. People may tell lies about us, cheat us, and bring negative reports about us. Nevertheless, we shouldn't dwell on those things. Life may not seem fair, but we must think on good things. Let's take the trial or the persecution that we're going through and turn it around for the betterment of souls.

Paul and Silas suffered persecution. If we've spent any time in the Word of God, we know that the righteous suffer persecution. Therefore, we need to prepare yourselves to be ready to react in a positive way, just as Paul and Silas did. Paul and Silas didn't see their trial as a place to become discouraged. They saw it as an opportunity to reach out to souls. Are we reacting in a way that draws souls to Christ? Friend, attitude is everything. People can't see what's in our heart, but they can see how we react to things. They can see whether we're really happy in the life that we're living.

The Two Choices

I have a story that I'd like to share with you. It's a good illustration of how one's attitude affects self and others.

Jerry was the kind of guy some people just didn't like. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone asked him how he was doing, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins." He was a unique manager because he had several waiters that followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was due to his positive attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry told the employee how to look for the positive side of the situation.

Seeing his style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it. You can't be a positive person all the time. How do you do it?"

Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, 'Jerry, you have two choices today: you can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.

"Yes, it is," Jerry said. "Life's all about choices. When we cut away all the junk, every situation's a choice. We choose how we react to situations. We choose how people will affect our mood. We choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood. The bottom line is, it's our choice how we live our life."

I reflected on what Jerry said, and soon afterward, I left the restaurant business to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him, and I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later I heard that Jerry did something that you're never supposed to do in the restaurant business. He left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Fortunately, Jerry was found quickly and rushed to a local trauma center. After eighteen hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullet still in his body.

I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins." Then, he said, "Do you wanna see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place.

"The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door. Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die, and I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.

Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room, I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and the nurses, and I got really scared. In their eyes I read, 'He's a dead man; He's not going to make it.' So I knew that I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked.

He said, "Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me. And she asked if I was allergic to anything." 'Yes,' I replied, and the doctors and nurses all stopped working and waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and said, 'Bullets.' Over their laughter, I told them, 'I'm choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.' " Jerry lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

Friend, we have a choice concerning how we live each day. We can choose to be a happy Christian or we can choose to be depressed. Many people walk around feeling as though they're being cheated out of life because they're Christians. They need to walk closer to God. We can't control some circumstances in life, but thank God, we can control how we react to each situation.

The man named Jerry in the story chose to live, and his positive attitude allowed him to do that. The same applies to us. The attitude we take in everything will determine whether we live or die spiritually. Thank God, the Word of God can lift us and help us to maintain the right attitude necessary to press on. We may be going through a time in life where we feel depressed, but the Word of God can encourage us.

Looking to God's Word for Encouragement

We may think, "This situation is impossible," but we can look to the Bible. Jesus said in Luke 18:27, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." We may say, "I'm too tired." Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." We may say, "No one really loves me," but we can read in John, Chapter 3, that God loves us. We may say, "I can't go on," but 2 Corinthians 12:9 states, 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." We may say, "I can't do it," but Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

We may say, "I'm not able," but 2 Corinthians 9:8 says "God is able." We may say, "I can't forgive myself," but in 1 John 1:9 God says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." We may say, "I can't manage," but God says in Philippians 4:19, "God shall supply all your need." We can say, "I am afraid," but 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "God hath not given us the spirit of fear." We may say, "I am always worried and frustrated," but God says in 1 Peter 5:7 "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." We may say, "I don't have enough faith," but Romans 12:3 says, "God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." We may say, "I'm not smart enough," but in James 1:5 God says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." We may say, "I feel all alone," but in Hebrews 13:5 God says, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

We can think of many negatives, but God wants us to look on the positive side. Notice that all those negatives weren't found in the Bible; however, to find the positive side of all those things, all we have to do is look to God's Word. He has a silver lining to every dark cloud we face. In everything we go through in life, when we feel that we can't make it or when we feel that we don't understand, remember that God has a silver lining.

God wants us to lean heavily upon Him and look to His Word. He wants us to look to Him to see what to do and how to react. Sometimes we may not know what to do and all we can do is say, "Help me, Lord." Often when we read the Bible, the Lord will direct us to the promise we need to help us make it through the situation. God has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Again, our text says in verse 8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." [ The End ]

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