A Seriously Bad Attitude

 
 

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” James 1:2 A couple years ago, I found myself struggling with a serious case of a bad attitude. In fact, I adopted the saying, “If I didn’t have bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” Bah humbug, all year long. Problems abounded in every area of my life. Important relationships had fallen apart, dreams were crushed, finances were tight, I missed deadlines, and even ministry efforts brought me disappointment and frustration. A broken refrigerator and multiple minor car accidents seemed to plague my family. The day came when I honestly didn’t know how much more I could take. That’s when God led me to today’s key verse, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” The last thing I felt like doing was considering all of my troubles “an opportunity for great joy. Seriously, God? How is that even possible? But instead of rolling my eyes and closing my Bible in frustration, I felt a stirring in my spirit to take a deep breath and keep reading. God had beautiful encouragement in store, just when I needed it most. By itself, this verse seems impossible to put into practice. Yet if we read it in context, it takes on an entirely new perspective and seems a little less unrealistic. The Christians of James’ time allowed life’s frustrations and annoyances to steal their optimism and joy. But in their defense, these believers had serious and justifiable reasons to have a bad attitude and feel consumed with negative thoughts. They’d been greatly persecuted, facing endless trials and sufferings. They experienced difficult injustices, from murder to imprisonment, from Saul, an unrelenting zealot who sought to destroy the church and anyone associated with Christianity. As a result, these Christians juggled an array of emotions — fear, mourning, confusion, loneliness and even hopelessness. Some fled their homes in fear of their lives, causing them to live in poverty and scrounge for every meal and penny. Some were sick, and everyone was exhausted. They had every right to be negative and pessimistic. I can only imagine they felt as if they were sinking under the weight of seemingly insurmountable problems and fears, and that their faith might have begun sinking, too. James gently acknowledged their suffering but wanted to give them hope and encouragement. He wanted them to know that inner joy and optimism could still be theirs, despite their adversities, if they deliberately chose to take control of their thoughts and change their attitudes. He invited them to pause and refocus on their faith, even though life was tough. We may not experience religious persecution as the early Jewish believers did, but let’s face it: Life can often make us feel persecuted. People hurt us, the past haunts us, co-workers mistreat us, parents don’t love us, friends don’t consider us, spouses leave us, children don’t appreciate or respect us, finances fail us, and our health doesn’t sustain us. And when life gets hard, it’s difficult to avoid letting our negative thoughts result in a serious case of bad attitude. An attitude which robs us of joy and peace.


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The Power of the Tongue

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. – Proverbs 13:3 The words we use have tremendous power. The Bible says that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). I believe that our prayers will have more power and a greater anointing when our everyday life is filled with words that uplift and bring grace to others (Ephesians 4:29). It is important for all of us who want to have an effective prayer life to carefully watch our speech. A person can speak many words a minute and several thousand in an hour. You can imagine how many words an average person speaks in a day! We could fill a library in a lifetime! If we did, what would the titles of those books be? The tongue has a powerful influence on others. God is looking for a holy life, and one of the key areas that we must guard with all diligence is our tongue.


Read more...

A Seriously Bad Attitude

 
 

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” James 1:2 A couple years ago, I found myself struggling with a serious case of a bad attitude. In fact, I adopted the saying, “If I didn’t have bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” Bah humbug, all year long. Problems abounded in every area of my life. Important relationships had fallen apart, dreams were crushed, finances were tight, I missed deadlines, and even ministry efforts brought me disappointment and frustration. A broken refrigerator and multiple minor car accidents seemed to plague my family. The day came when I honestly didn’t know how much more I could take. That’s when God led me to today’s key verse, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” The last thing I felt like doing was considering all of my troubles “an opportunity for great joy. Seriously, God? How is that even possible? But instead of rolling my eyes and closing my Bible in frustration, I felt a stirring in my spirit to take a deep breath and keep reading. God had beautiful encouragement in store, just when I needed it most. By itself, this verse seems impossible to put into practice. Yet if we read it in context, it takes on an entirely new perspective and seems a little less unrealistic. The Christians of James’ time allowed life’s frustrations and annoyances to steal their optimism and joy. But in their defense, these believers had serious and justifiable reasons to have a bad attitude and feel consumed with negative thoughts. They’d been greatly persecuted, facing endless trials and sufferings. They experienced difficult injustices, from murder to imprisonment, from Saul, an unrelenting zealot who sought to destroy the church and anyone associated with Christianity. As a result, these Christians juggled an array of emotions — fear, mourning, confusion, loneliness and even hopelessness. Some fled their homes in fear of their lives, causing them to live in poverty and scrounge for every meal and penny. Some were sick, and everyone was exhausted. They had every right to be negative and pessimistic. I can only imagine they felt as if they were sinking under the weight of seemingly insurmountable problems and fears, and that their faith might have begun sinking, too. James gently acknowledged their suffering but wanted to give them hope and encouragement. He wanted them to know that inner joy and optimism could still be theirs, despite their adversities, if they deliberately chose to take control of their thoughts and change their attitudes. He invited them to pause and refocus on their faith, even though life was tough. We may not experience religious persecution as the early Jewish believers did, but let’s face it: Life can often make us feel persecuted. People hurt us, the past haunts us, co-workers mistreat us, parents don’t love us, friends don’t consider us, spouses leave us, children don’t appreciate or respect us, finances fail us, and our health doesn’t sustain us. And when life gets hard, it’s difficult to avoid letting our negative thoughts result in a serious case of bad attitude. An attitude which robs us of joy and peace.


Read more...

The Power of the Tongue

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. – Proverbs 13:3 The words we use have tremendous power. The Bible says that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). I believe that our prayers will have more power and a greater anointing when our everyday life is filled with words that uplift and bring grace to others (Ephesians 4:29). It is important for all of us who want to have an effective prayer life to carefully watch our speech. A person can speak many words a minute and several thousand in an hour. You can imagine how many words an average person speaks in a day! We could fill a library in a lifetime! If we did, what would the titles of those books be? The tongue has a powerful influence on others. God is looking for a holy life, and one of the key areas that we must guard with all diligence is our tongue.


Read more...