A positive, faith-filled outlook

“With thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Php 4:6 NIV         

It happens so easily, especially in the company of the wrong people. Before you know it, you’re criticizing and complaining, and the atmosphere becomes negative. That’s because words are like clouds or sunshine; they create a climate. You say, “But I only say these things because I’m so worried.” Then read this: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds” (Phil 4:6-7 NIV). You rise above anxiety by giving thanks, not by complaining. Never let your level of thanksgiving be determined by your situation, because God is greater than any situation you face.

So how can you overcome your inclination to be negative, and instead develop a positive, faith-filled outlook?

(1) Decide to. Abraham Lincoln told the truth when he said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their mind to be.” Refuse to spend another moment criticizing and complaining.

(2) Start now. Change doesn’t come easily, but unless you make a start it won’t come at all. Try to be more aware of what you say. Catch yourself in the act! When your first few sentences are negative, self-correct and steer the conversation back toward what’s positive. Resolve that from now on if you can’t say something helpful, you’ll refrain from saying anything at all.

(3) Look for what’s good. “Whatever is true…noble…right…pure…lovely…admirable… think about such things” (Php 4:8 NIV).

Make this your prayer: “Lord, give me a positive, faith-filled outlook.”

Vengeance is God’s job, not yours

“‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Ro 12:19 NKJV      

Vengeance is God’s job, not yours. He will repay—whether on the Day of Judgment or in this life. He can discipline your abusive boss, soften your angry parent, bring your ex to his knees or her senses.

Forgiveness doesn’t diminish justice; it entrusts it to God. He guarantees the right amount of retribution. We give too much or too little, but He has the precise prescription. And unlike us, He never gives up on a person. (And you should be glad about that). Long after we have moved on, God is still there probing the conscience, stirring conviction, orchestrating redemption. Fix your enemies? That’s God’s job. Forgive your enemies? Ah, that’s where you come in. Never pay back evil with evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to…God.

For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead…If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good” Author Max Lucado says: “Revenge builds a lonely, narrow house. Space enough for one person. The lives of its tenants are reduced to one goal: Make someone miserable. They do—themselves. No wonder God insists we ‘Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent’ (Heb 12:15 MSG).”

You are special

“I will praise You, for I am…wonderfully made.” Ps 139:14 NKJV

Did you know you started out as a single cell, and within that cell was enough DNA to hold the equivalent of 1,000 volumes of coded blueprints? Or that the DNA in that one cell determined the color of your hair and eyes, the shape of your nose, and the size of your ring finger?

Did you know nobody else has your fingerprints…the same sparkling eyes…the same laugh…or looks at things the way you do? You’re an original, and it didn’t happen by accident. God designed your DNA. He made you the way He wanted you to be. He gave you your voice, your smile, your freckles, your curly hair, all those things that make you who you are. And because God made you, you’re special to Him and to others…in fact, the world wouldn’t be complete without you.”

No wonder the psalmist said, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” Maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, but you don’t know the limitations I live with. And when it comes to my self-image, I struggle every day to feel like I measure up.”

I’ve talked with and prayed for many who are dealing with physical issues…disease, diabetes, cancers, struggles with weight, muscular and autoimmune disease. The limitations the human family deals with on a daily basis are endless. Yet Ephesians 2:10 says, ‘You are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.’ God knew exactly what He was doing when He made you. You’re unique in all the world. And that makes you special.

God showed His love

“God showed his great love…by sending Christ to die…while we were still sinners.”           Ro 5:8 NLT

Human love says, “I’ll love you as long as you meet my expectations, agree with my politics, attend my church, or fit into my social circle.” God isn’t like that. He didn’t wait for us to become worthy before making the first move. “God showed his great love… by sending Christ to die…while we were still sinners.” And when He did, He changed all the rules.

Jesus said, “Now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other…Just as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34 NLT); “Love others as much as you love yourself” (Mt 22:39 CEV); “Love…without hoping to get anything back” (Lk 6:35 NCV).

When we set about the task of loving others, we usually feel it will cost us three of our most precious commodities – our time, energy, and money. When we’re concerned about ourselves, we lose out on the blessing God has in store for us. But the blessing we receive in loving others is always greater than any perceived cost to ourselves. Love comes from God’ (1Jn 4:7 NIV), and it’s worth it, whatever the cost.

Show God’s love

“For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have?” Mt. 5:46 CSB  

You are no better than other people.

“Send picture and I’ll reply” – – – it’s a common message in personal ads and it makes sense in this day and age to exercise caution.  But when it comes to loving others, do you find yourself saying: Send picture first?

We all say it in different ways ‘I have to see if you’re good enough…I’m not sure you’re worthy of my love…You need to act the way I expect before I’ll love you.’” It’s time we stopped “evaluating people by what the world thinks” (2Co 5:16 CSB).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Your Father in heaven…causes the sun to rise on good people and…evil people…he sends rain to those who do right and…those who do wrong. If you love only the people who love you, you will get no reward. Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than other people. Even those who don’t know God do that; you must be perfect [mature] just as your Father in heaven is” (Mt 5:45-48 NCV).

God’s love toward us is “perfect” because it is unconditional, nonjudgmental, and comes with no strings attached. The Bible says when we were His enemies, “[He] showed his great love…by sending Christ to die for us” (Ro 5:8 NLT). So, is there someone in your life who hurt you and now you’re having a hard time loving them? If so, pray: “Father, I’m struggling to love [fill in the name]. Help me to let go of judging and blaming, and begin to love them the way You love me.”