So Christmas is over and the new year is just around the corner. Depending on your financial situation, you may not have had the kind of Christmas you had hoped for and the new year doesn’t look anymore promising. While it’s been a while since I’ve experienced that feeling, I do know that it can be debilitating and make you feel defeated. Circumstances in your life may in fact not be ideal, but perhaps your ideals about your life need refocusing. Let us look through the eyes of the Apostle Paul for a different perspective:
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:10-13)
Understand that the opportunity that finally occurred that allowed the Philippian church to meet Paul’s needs was his imprisonment. Paul is writing this letter from a Roman prison in AD 61 at the end of his life. The one word that screams out at me from the passage above is gratitude. Paul had an attitude of gratitude while in prison. Huh? Paul considered it a sacrifice of praise to acknowledge God’s goodness in all his circumstances:
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:15-16)
Some Biblical scholars are not convinced that Paul wrote the letter to the Hebrews, but I am quite convinced for reasons I won’t go into here. Nevertheless, the author of Hebrews gives sound advice on how to maintain an attitude of gratitude. But we are not just to have gratitude as an attitude; we are to have it as a lifestyle manifesting itself in generosity. The opposite of generosity is stinginess and a stingy Christian is an oxymoron; the two words should never be paired together.
So why is an attitude of gratitude strategically linked to our praises to God? The Apostle Peter lists four reasons:
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
As Christians, part of the family of God, we are chosen, royalty, holy, and God’s own special people. That is why we praise God! Beloved, we are not just like everyone else on this planet. We are not ordinary people; we are the extraordinary people of God. So much so that angels marvel and rejoice at our salvation:
“To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.” (1 Peter 1:12)
“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
Well Brother Dave, I understand that and I could even nod my head in agreement listening to this as a sermon or a Sunday school lesson, however it doesn’t change my circumstances. I know, I’m not talking about your circumstances changing. I’m talking about you changing your perspective of your circumstances. You need a new vision of abundance and riches. Again, the Apostle Paul from prison:
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
Paul looked at his spiritual abundance and knew it was from the riches of God’s grace. You see, he had a totally different perspective on his circumstance we would most likely have. Warren Wiersbe explains it this way:
“God has not promised to supply all our ‘greeds.’ When the child of God is in the will of God, then he will have every need met.”
Now do you understand why my signature verse is Psalm 37:4? I use it to hopefully be a constant reminder to myself:
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
You might just want to read all of Psalm 37 today; it provides a great attitude adjustment.
Right before Paul ends his letter from prison to the Philippian church, he follows verse 19 with this amazing statement of praise, especially in light of his circumstances:
“Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:20)
What’s so amazing about that statement Brother Dave? Can you say that and mean it in light of your current circumstances?
Do it even if you don’t feel like it. You’ll be taking the first step towards an attitude of gratitude.
I pray you have a blessed weekend and please remember to go to church on Sunday. Don’t wait to go as some New Years resolution; why not finish 2013 on a positive note.
Go to church!
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Copyright © 2013 David Jeffers
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