In “Attitude – Part 1” we talked about how the Israelites were punished by God for not serving Him with joyfulness of heart and for their ingratitude regarding the miraculous things He had done for them (Deut. 28:47-48). He caused them to wander around in the wilderness; their lives were spent in futility and trouble. Yet, a land of abundance was only a short journey ahead.
Our Father wants us to live in that abundantly blessed place.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
The Promised Land (Canaan) was a blessed place which I believe is a foreshadowing of the abundant life that Jesus promised to all who would follow Him. It was a land of joy, fruitfulness, purpose, hope, and peace beyond anything this world has to offer.
However, it doesn’t mean that we will not have problems or pain. We have not been promised a perfect world without problems, but don’t despair….we may experience ‘the blessed life’ in spite of them – and THAT is where our attitude makes all the difference.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me (in Christ) ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Jesus said, you will have tribulations in this life, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. In other words, when life brings disappointment and pain, He urges us to keep a good attitude and maintain our joy in spite of it. We have a choice or Jesus would not have told us to do something that we do not have the ability to do. Notice He says in John 16:33 that IN ME you can have peace. We may not be able to do this on our own, but in Him we can do all things (Phil. 4:13).
When our circumstances are not what we want them to be, it is not natural for us to feel joy and peace, but to worry and fear – however, we may draw on His power (that is in us because He is in us) and call His victory ours.
After all, He did not come into this world to live and die for Himself, but to live, die, and to triumph over Satan and sin for us. And He has made it possible for us to claim His success as our own! We may trade our defeat for His victory…our sadness for His joy…our worry for His peace…our guilt for His righteousness, and on and on.
Jesus also told us:
John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled…
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
How could Jesus ask us to do this if it were not possible?
Let’s look at how Paul and Silas handled being beaten and imprisoned:
Acts 16:22-26 Then the multitude rose up together against them (Paul and Silas); and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.
Paul and Silas had been beaten severely and thrown in jail (they were in much pain, naked, cold, and in the worst area of the prison), yet they sang hymns and praised God.
It is no surprise that it was Paul who wrote:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
It is not wrong to be tempted by worry, fear, despair, or any other negative emotion, but the problem lies in allowing these things to dominate and control us. Temptations come knocking, but don’t invite them in. As Christians, we are commanded to have faith in God. And even while circumstances are still undesirable, we can by faith begin to draw on the peace, joy, and power of Jesus.
I’m sure that when Paul and Silas were in that dark prison, hurting and bleeding, they did not FEEL like singing. In my mind, I think it went sort of like this:
- Out of sheer self-willed obedience, they started praying;
- Then they remembered the scripture Paul had written about ‘thanking God in all things’ (Eph. 5:20) and they began to thank Him through clenched teeth while wiping blood from crimson stained brows;
- The Holy Spirit’s unquenchable joy began to rise up on the inside of them;
- Hope showed up to conquer their fears;
- Peace began gently flooding their faltering souls;
- Soon, in that cold, dark dungeon, in spite of it all, Jesus placed a song in their hearts that they could not help but sing;
- And sing it, they did! And God (knowing their pain) heard their prayers and praise and was so pleased that He shook the foundation of that prison to set them free from their bondage.
Satan wants to imprison us in dark despair, fetters of fear, chains of discouragement, in jails of joylessness and dungeons of depression. And it’s so easy to think that God has left us and forsaken us in our dark places. But, I challenge you… don’t STAY there.
The Promised Land is a place where we hold on so tightly to the promises of God that even before the jail cells are unlocked and the doors creak open, our minds and our hearts have already escaped Satan’s oppression and we are living in the glorious freedom Jesus died to give us.
However, if we choose to complain and remain in that joyless place of ingratitude, we may find ourselves (like the Israelites) wandering aimlessly and futility through life – physically free, but mentally and spiritually bound by our unchecked emotions.
It does not have to be that way. You can choose.
- Choose to pray at all times about everything;
- Choose to believe God’s promises more than your circumstances (find appropriate verses that address your issue and make them your own by rehearsing and speaking them out loud with thanksgiving);
- Choose to trust that God hears and that He cares and is working in your life;
- Choose to praise Him in spite of the problem;
- Choose to sing even though you feel like sighing;
- Choose to thank Him when your heart is crying;
- Choose to believe that He’s faithful when you feel forsaken;
- And you CAN choose to walk (by faith) in the joy and peace that He has placed on the inside of you (through His Holy Spirit Who lives IN you).
You see, we have it so much better than the Israelites did in the Old Testament – we have Jesus on the inside of us (if we have accepted Him as Lord). Jesus had not yet died and had not come to live on the inside of them like He has the New Testament saints. But, like Paul and Silas who tapped into that power living within themselves as they chose to pray and praise, we too can have the victory over our circumstances and our emotions. There’s something about praise and thanksgiving that sets us free.
Make Steps 1 – 8 above a daily practice. I believe that as we do this, God will rock and rattle the foundations of Hell to release His children from Satan’s grip.
God bless you abundantly my friends!
Copyright © 2017 (Sandra J. Briggs) All rights reserved.