Archive for October, 2014

My life. Your Life. His Life. Her life. That’s how we sound. We talk about life like we own it. “It’s MY life and I will live it as I please”.   Really? I hate to wreck your day but, you own nothing. We arrive on this earth with zilch and on our departure, no checked baggage. Do you want to experience true freedom? Try self denial.

Hello?  Anyone left in the room?  Best to avoid this subject. After all, it’s more fun to sin. Why do you think we do it so much?

We arrive on this earth with zilch and on our departure, no checked baggage

For those of you still with me, Jesus put it this way,

23 “If anyone wants to follow me, he must give up himself and his own desires. He must take up his cross every day and follow me.” Luke 9:23 New Living Translation

The New Testament writer Paul also shared a few thoughts on this subject as well,

1 “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him” Romans 12:1 New Living Translation

19 “Do you not know that your body is a house of God where the Holy Spirit lives? God gave you His Holy Spirit. Now you belong to God. You do not belong to yourselves. 20 God bought you with a great price. So honor God with your body. You belong to Him.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 New Life Version

Interesting.  True worship is becoming a living sacrifice. I am to yield myself to God. But why? Because he purchased us and we belong to Him. God sent Jesus to earth to “seek and save” his lost creation. It’s called the plan of redemption which included the sacrificial death of Jesus by crucifixion and His subsequent bodily resurrection. Death was the price He paid to get us back. But death could not hold Him and He arose from the grave as our immortal leader. His death satisfied the claims of eternal justice and opened an entry point to everlasting life in the spiritual dimension which the Bible refers to as Heaven.   Sounds like a movie plot. But this is no fantasy.   Turning once again to the Bible, Paul wrote to the Galatians,

20 ”My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 New Living Translation

Old self? Yes, that stumbling, fumbling, mumbling, bungling wretch of a person that we all once were (and, in some respects, still are) was vicariously put to death with Jesus on that ancient cross. The Spirit of Christ now lives in us. Christ in me is my hope. Christ at work thru me is my new life.   The paradox is that while my life is no longer my own, I still make choices every day that affect how I live it. This is where we need to proceed with caution; living daily with a sense of amazement and accountability. Think about it, God gave us a “do-over” through redemption. We now have an opportunity to respect God by obedience to His will. Look what Paul wrote to the Philippians,

12 “Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:12-13 New Living Translation

  Living with the “attitude of gratitude”

Demonstrating the “result of our salvation”, as Paul put it, can be seen in the way we behave. Some refer to the Christian life as living with the “attitude of gratitude”. God saved me from the damnation I deserve, set aside the penalty for all of my failures and covered me in His own blamelessness. In return, out of an attitude of gratitude, I happily surrender my own egocentric and self-serving motivations to Him. I will still struggle with wanting to exercise my own will every day. Selfishness doesn’t magically disappear. Admittedly, I have some good days and then there’s the rest of the time.   But God is at work within me. If you are a Christian, He is working in you too. God is helping you obey Him by giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose.

Living uninhibited in the will of God is very hard. That is why we are admonished to work out our recovery one day at a time. There will be costs. We will face many difficult choices. And yes, there will also be losses. But God is within us. He is working out all of the details – for our good! Never forget the promise that Jesus Himself made to all of his followers:

29-31 “I promise you, nobody leaves a home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property for my sake and the Gospel’s without getting back a hundred times over, now in this present life, homes and brothers and sisters, mothers and children and land—though not without persecution—and in the next world eternal life. But many who are first now will then be last, and the last now will then be first.” Mark 10:29-31 J.B. Phillips Translation

Bountiful blessings from your Under Construction brother…

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author, broadcaster, and popular Bible teacher. 
© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

12 “Hopes deferred make the heart sick; but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy” (alt: “it is a tree of life.”) Proverbs 13:12 (The Living Bible)

Unfulfilled hopes make us feel sick inside. You could interpret Proverbs 13:12 as “Hope deferred is spiritual heart disease.” On the other hand, when our hopes become a reality we are full of joy. A dream come true fuels the life force within us.

Our Faith is inadequate without Hope. Hope is like a high-wire. Faith walks the high-wire of hope, bridging the gap between the unseen world of the spirit and the world which we can see.

1”Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. 3By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:1, 3 (Amplified Bible)

Faith can only reassure us of “the things we Hope for.” It serves as proof of what we cannot see. By our faith we recognize as real fact what is not yet revealed to the senses. For example, faith enables our minds to accept as an absolute fact that the whole structure of time and space (the world which we can see) was set in motion by God through principles which are invisible to us. Wow!

Hope for the Hopeless

There is no shortage of hurts, sicknesses, troubles, financial woes, family problems, catastrophic issues and geopolitical concerns in our world today. People everywhere are losing hope and trust.

It is my opinion that our society suffers greatly as a result of misplaced trust and hopelessness.

Lost hope is frequently accompanied by a feeling of being on your own. When someone feels that they are all alone, it is difficult (if not often impossible) for them to find the way out of challenging situation. This leads to a flood of helplessness.

So what exactly is hope?  HOPE is looking forward to a desire with confidence.  When we have hope, we have an expectation that the things we hope for (and dream of) will one day be a reality.  Hope enables us to find purpose and meaning in life. And when we add faith to our hopes (by putting our trust in God) our hopes gain substance.

Trusting in God is more than just asking blindly.  Because we have hope, we place our faith in God expecting an answer from Him.  Look at what happened to a miserable crippled man as recorded in the New Testament Book of Acts,

1-4”One afternoon Peter and John were on their way to the Temple for the three o’clock hour of prayer. A man who had been lame from birth was being carried along in the crowd, for it was the daily practice to put him down at what was known as the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, so that he could beg from the people as they went in. As this man saw Peter and John just about to enter he asked them to give him something. Peter looked intently at the man and so did John. Then Peter said, “Look straight at us!” The man looked at them expectantly, hoping that they would give him something. “If you are expecting silver or gold,” Peter said to him, “I have neither, but what I have I will certainly give you; In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” 7-11 Then he took him by the right hand and helped him up. At once his feet and ankle bones were strengthened, and he positively jumped to his feet, stood, and then walked. Then he went with them into the Temple, where he walked about, leaping and thanking God.” (Acts 3:1-11 Phillips)

Peter and John had supernatural ability working through them. They believed in the power of Almighty God without question. They also knew that His authority was with them.

Peter made sure that the lame man was paying attention. He said, “Look straight at us!” For his part, the lame man did two things. First, “he asked them to give him something.” Second, he looked at them “expectantly.”

It’s amazing what can happen when we look in the right place and ask with expectation! Clearly the lame man was imagining he’d get a few coins. But God doesn’t offer momentary relief for our sufferings. He remedies them!

The bible also records details about the extraordinary life of a man named David. Throughout many difficulties and adversities, David would often remind himself not to lose hope.

Here are a few of David’s prayers to God:

  • “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39: 7 NIV)
  • “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42: 11 NIV)
  • “Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” (Psalm 25: 4, 5 NLT)
  • “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame,” Psalm 33: 18 NIV
  • “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,” (Psalm 25: 3 NIV)
  • “Remember your promise to me, for it is my only hope.” (Psalm 119: 49 NLT)

Israel’s legendary King David expected God to keep His promises. That hope is what empowered him to trust God completely. Today, our hope is built upon the trust that we have in the one who came to reveal the truth about God and His plan of Salvation for mankind. He is called Jesus.

Knowing who Jesus really was when he visited this little water world – and who He is today – brings hope into your life and it keeps hope alive. Don’t go by your feelings. Your emotional state changes like the weather. People who live by their emotions are more prone to instability. No matter how miserable your existence may seem, there is hope. You may not be able to see or feel anything that causes you to believe this right now, but hope is there for you notwithstanding. “Hope is the anchor of your soul” (Hebrews 6:19)

God really wants you to be acquainted with Jesus – not as a religious figure – as a person. Jesus knows the way to God because He IS the way. He will show you truth and give you an amazing life! A life filled with HOPE!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29: 11 NLT)

What do you really need right now? Whatever it is, talk to God about it. You have direct access to Him because of and in the Name of Jesus.

Here is my prayer for you,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author,
broadcaster, popular Bible teacher, and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian
Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  – Ephesians. 2:10

I was sitting around a table at an outdoor restaurant with a group of acquaintances. There was this one guy in particular who frequently made negative comments about himself. I knew him to be compassionate and helpful. He had a good reputation and everyone liked him. But in listening to his numerous self-abasing remarks, what I heard was a man who seemed to be obsessed with his own shortcomings and failures.

When he finally said something about God being let down by all of his screw-ups, I could not contain myself any further. I looked at him and said, “Every human being starts out in this life as a copy of God’s master blueprint. God doesn’t make junk!” Sin is what has tainted us.

Have you ever felt like this man. Stuck in a funk of disappoint. Look, I have made plenty of mistakes. Regrets? I’ve had a few. Missed opportunities? You bet! But I decided that wallowing in self-pity was not pleasing to God at all. When I mess up, I ask Him to forgive me. I gather my wits, take a deep breath and I move on.

And why not? Look at what the bible says about us:

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
the days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day. – Psalm 139:14 (The Message)

As we grow older, it’s easy to look at our cumulative mistakes and think that we’ve diminished our usefulness to God. But no life is so messed up, so broken, so imperfect that He can’t fix it.

The next time that you look at someone and think, “they seem to have it all together”, remember this: we all struggle with our own brokenness, mistakes, and hurts.  There is not one person on this planet who isn’t struggling in some way.

God loves each and every one of His children the same. He may hate our sin but he loves the sinner. He may allow the consequences of sin to manifest, but he still loves the sinner. He may even have to allow eternal damnation to one day lay claim to everyone who refuses the gift of His grace, but he still loves the sinner notwithstanding.

There are several examples of broken people in the Bible for whom God had a plan – even when they seemed to be “hopeless cases.”

Esther was an orphan girl living with her cousin.  In the culture of her day, she had two things working against her; she was a women and an orphan girl. Hopeless?  God used Esther to save the Jewish nation.

Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery.  Later he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into jail.  At that moment, his life sure seemed hopeless and useless.  God eventually used him to save the people from a 7 year-long famine.

Job lost his children and all of his wealth.  His body became covered with boils and oozing soars. His wife walked out on him when he needed her the most.  Hopeless?  Sounds like a lost cause to me. But without knowing it, Job was proving the accusations Satan made about him to God were wrong.  Eventually Job was restored and blessed abundantly.  His life and actions have provided comfort and encouragement to people who are struggling, even to this day.

The Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well was a real piece of work.  She had been married 5 times and then didn’t bother to marry the 6th man in her life.  She was a social outcast and appeared to be a hopeless loser.  Jesus spoke with her, exposed her true condition and offered her His living water. As a result, God used her to bring the Samaritans the Gospel and many in her town were converted.

Peter denied Jesus three times.  The shame he felt must have been overwhelming.  When Jesus saw Peter after the resurrection, He didn’t scold him.  He asked Peter to spread the Good News of salvation to others.  Jesus knew the real Peter.

Paul had a reputation for killing people that followed Christ. He actually thought he was doing God a favor. So, Jesus confronted him as “an extraordinary light” on the road to Damascus. The incident left him shaken and temporarily blind. Paul later became a hand-picked convert and was responsible for setting up the early churches. His writings make up nearly two thirds of the New Testament.

Every one of us has a purpose. God formed us; He knows every hair on our head (Luke 12:7). Our faces and personalities are well-known to Him.  It doesn’t matter how far away we wander, He never forgets who we are.  His love for us reaches to the far corners of this earth and to the depths of the ocean.  He does all He can to bring us back home to Himself whenever we go astray.  And if we ask for His forgiveness, He doesn’t keep a record of our failures.   In His great mercy He sees the beautiful person He created.   God doesn’t see the mess we’ve made; He sees the potential for good in our restored righteous state.

“I alone am the one who is going to wipe away your rebellious actions for my own sake. I will not remember your sins anymore.” Isaiah 43:25 (God’s Word translation)

Broken lives and broken bodies are not junk to God.  Whatever the circumstance, God loves us.  He sees the value in each of us.  He knows the gifts he has placed within us.  As His workmanship, we are shaped into a new and a beautiful design.  We are His children, created in His image, by His hands.

 “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God!” 1John 3:2

GOD DOES NOT MAKE JUNK…

© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author,
broadcaster, popular Bible teacher, and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian
Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.

 

What? God let you down?

Some of you just got so uptight. Performing intellectual cartwheels through all of your theological platitudes.

“Why dear brother, God can never let us down.” “God’s ways are simply not our ways.” “We must never question God.” “Just keep believing.” “God always answers prayer.” Miracles are just around the corner, etc., etc.”

Well done. You’ve memorized some good Biblical principles. Line upon line they have been written upon the tablets of your human spirit. And for the record, I agree.   27 “…Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27b)

But tell me, what happens when you meet someone who says,

I love God. I go to church and I practice tithing. I talk to the Lord regularly about the things that weigh heavy on me. In my prayers, I ask… I seek… I knock. Then I wait and wait and wait some more. In the end, God remains silent. He takes no action that I can see. Instead, the awful often happens. I am hurt and angry. I don’t understand why he chooses not do things that seem so clearly right to me. Why doesn’t God keep His word like the preacher said He would? What happened to all those exceeding great and precious promises that I read about in His book?” I’m confused and empty inside. God has let me down.

This person is clearly dejected. And there are many more just like him.

“Why did I pray so intently for a healing… and that person died?”

“Why did I ask God for a child for twenty years… but I never conceived?”

“Why didn’t the Lord help me raise the money to save my home?

“If God is so good, why is His world so miserable and unhappy?”

There are no easy answers for these questions. But this is certainly not the time to start quoting all of those well-ordered one liners from the promise box.

The raw concerns of real life are painful to confront. It’s easier to carry the burden of pretending everything is going to be just fine. So we tell ourselves, “God is going to make all this crummy stuff disappear one day soon and everything will be much better”.

What happens when “someday soon” never seems to come?

Hiding your hurt, anger, and disappointment behind facades of God-speak and mechanical Christianity is poison to the soul. Your spirit slowly fills with a contagion that destroys your faith in God.

If perception is your reality, then I might as well just say it; from where some of you sit right now, it sure appears that God has let you down.

But here is what I believe; it’s your expectations that have been dashed upon the rocks of disappointment. And now, it’s hard to navigate the waves of this life with a faith that has run aground.

Inadvertently, we absorbed many erroneous and unconfirmed “facts” about God in the course of a lifetime. We read books about what He has promised to do for us when we pray. All of the sermons, seminars and a million casual conversations have molded our interpretation of what we can expect from Him. Some of these expectations are spot-on. Some are not. The trouble begins when things don’t go the way we expect. We begin to feel deceived. And over time, our faith grows weaker.

Unfulfilled expectations are worse than low expectations.  It is okay if you sometimes feel like God has grown silent and even turned away. In reality, He has not. I know this because He plainly said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).

But that is not how you feel right now.

Take a deep breath. Cry if it helps. But please, do me this favor, listen carefully as I retell some important spiritual realities.

  • Prayer isn’t an extraordinary process for getting things to go your way.
  • Prayer isn’t a guarantee of satisfaction.
  • Pain and struggle cannot be removed with simple requests.
  • As a rule, God doesn’t wave supernatural wands and instantly change things.
  • God exists outside of our time dimension and, because we are chained to the ticking of the clock, He will often seem to move agonizingly slow.
  • Life isn’t fair and you cannot change that.

Welcome to the Ragamuffins. We are the waifs and strays who follow that marvelous incarnate man from heaven who once visited this planet by way of the Galilee. Daily we struggle to “work out the salvation that God has given us with a proper sense of awe and responsibility” (Philippians 2:12). As one among us, it will always be safe for you to share your individual fears, disappointments and pressing concerns. We will laugh and cry with you as we patiently await His return. And I promise you, one day all will be understood.

© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author,
broadcaster, popular Bible teacher, and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian
Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.

 

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  So is a lot.

– Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) –

Perhaps Albert Einstein was right. Some say that ignorance is bliss. The less you know, the less you are responsible for. And I suppose there is some truth to this philosophy. But stupidity an absolution does not make. Try telling a law enforcement officer that you did not know you were supposed to stop at that intersection. He or she might be sympathetic but most often their sympathy will be followed by this reminder, “ignorance of the law is no excuse”.

But Albert Einstein also suggests that possessing mass amounts of knowledge is also dangerous. Now this begs the question “is it possible to be too smart?” Can someone be “too clever for their own good?” And what does that mean?

Glad you asked. Too much knowledge can lead to overconfidence. Cockiness can harm you or at least work against you. Worse is when you believe that you know something you really don’t. That will get you in trouble. I suppose we have all met someone that we thought was just a bit “too big for his/her britches”. Don’t you fall prey to thinking more highly of yourself than you should. It has its own way of catching up with you.

John Bertram Phillips or, J. B. Phillips was an English Bible scholar, translator, author and clergyman. He is most noted for his version of The New Testament in Modern English. Dr. Phillips sheds keen insight on a passage in the New Testament book of Romans:

3-8 “As your spiritual teacher I give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all.  (Romans 12:3)

It seems so many could use a dose of the good doctor J.B. Phillips medicine these days. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is to develop a correct understanding of who God is, what he does for us and how he has uniquely gifted us. Having the right kind of knowledge is essential.

Knowledge is power. – Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) –

 

There is no disputing the fact that knowledge is power. But what happens when we have too much power? The historian and moralist John Lord Acton (1834–1902), expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

I am glad Lord Acton didn’t say great men are always bad. He did say ALMOST always. And if world history is any indication, he was right. Knowledge and its accompanying power have produced some very maniacal people. Only God can handle an absolute. Unrestricted power when held by one whom also possesses complete truth, justice, love, etc. (i.e. God) will work out just fine.

In the first official English edition of the Bible (the King James Version), Proverbs 24:5 is translated, A wise man is strong, a man of knowledge increases strength”.   In other words a wise man, because he is a man of knowledge, is a powerful man.

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

– Socrates (469 – 399 BC) –

Ponder that. Actually, the point here is simple; we don’t know every answer to every question and there is so much that we still don’t understand. Only God is all knowing. He is absolute truth and His word is the truth revealed for mankind. When we humbly accept these facts, we are ready to learn and, we are on our way to true wisdom.

10 “The fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.   All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom”. – (Psalm 110:10)

And the book of Job gives this insight:

20 “From where then does Wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? 28 …to man He said, behold, the reverential and worshipful fear of the Lord—that is Wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding”. (Job 28:20, 28 Amplified Bible)

Reverence means respect. It also means worship and devotion. In the bible, the word fear is often used to express reverence and devotion to God. True wisdom begins when we are in awe of the God who made us and then, because we hold Him in the highest regard, we obey the things he teaches us.

No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding.

– Plato (427 – 347 BC) –

So, having the right knowledge is essential because knowledge is power. Not our power; the power of God within us. Once you know that you really don’t know as much as you think you know and you turn to God in reverence – that is the beginning of wisdom. But you can’t progress from wisdom to true knowledge without understanding.

7 “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding”.  (Proverbs 4:7 NKJ)

You might be thinking, “Understanding of what?” How about the purposes of life or, of our relationship to God who is our Father? Not to mention all of the other divinely inspired principles found in the Bible. Get it? There is so much to understand.

I once read that the first diamond found in South Africa was picked up off the ground by a farm boy who took it home for his sisters to play with. He had no idea what it was. To him it was just another stone.

I wonder how many people are just like that little boy. Holding a treasure in their hands (God’s Word) yet not knowing its value due to a lack of understanding.

12 “But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? 13 Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living. (Job 28:12-13).

As believers we need to pursue understanding. We need to look at the Scriptures with an eye on understanding them and especially understanding how they apply to our lives. We must rise above a perfunctory practice of religion so that we can live a life of obedience to His perfect will. Remember, “In all your getting, get understanding

Let’s pray, Lord, “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; Cause me to understand wherein I have erred” (Job 6:24) and Lord, “Give me understanding, and I shall live” (Psalm 119:144).

© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author,
broadcaster, popular Bible teacher, and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian
Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.

 

Zig Ziglar was a motivational teacher and trainer who traveled the world delivering a messages of humor, hope, and encouragement. As a talented author and speaker, he had a unique delivery style and powerful messages that earned him many honors. Ten of his twenty-eight books topped bestseller lists. Zig was a committed family man, an enthusiastic patriot, and an active Christian. He passed away from pneumonia on November 28th, 2012 at the age of 86. Here is a quote from Mr. Ziglar:

Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude – Zig Ziglar

 

I totally agree.

Your accomplishments in life (altitude) are determined more by your desire to succeed (attitude) than by your natural talents (aptitude). Attitude is a choice. Nothing – person, place or thing – can force you to have a bad attitude. Yes, our environment and daily circumstances can influence our attitude but in the end, attitude is still your choice. So, choose wisely.

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. – Thomas Jefferson

I think Mr. Jefferson can speak with some authority on this subject. He was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and the third President of the United States (1801–1809). Jefferson believed (in so many words) that your attitude will make or break you. The right attitude moves you forward toward achieving your purpose in life (goals) and a bad attitude renders you helpless.

An Old Testament Proverb says, For as he thinks in his heart, so is he… – Proverbs 23:7a (Amp)

Just as our food intake affects our physical health (you are what you eat); our thoughts affect our mental and spiritual health (you are what you think and believe). Dwelling on undesirable thoughts will never result in a good and positive attitude (being around negative people doesn’t help either, but we’ll save that for another lesson).

Here are three things I want you to remember:

  • Thoughts Determine Attitude
  • Attitude Determines Behavior
  • Behavior Determines Outcome

When your mind is focused on negative things, you will develop a bad attitude. As a result of a bad attitude you will behave accordingly. And your behavior (actions) will determine the results you achieve in your life.

Paul, the New Testament writer and apostolic minister, knew the profound impact that our thoughts have upon our attitude. He wrote,

 8 “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”. – Philippians 4:8 (New Living Translation)

Peace of mind comes from the right kind of thinking. Spiritual peace comes from God, when we pray. Paul knew this also and he told the Christian community at ancient Philippi (a city in eastern Macedonia in the southern Balkans),

6Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 (New Living Translation)

The Bible is an awesome book because it contains everything our creator wants us to know about this life and the life beyond. Keep your mind fixed on the promises of God. His assurances (as found in your Bible) are THE TRUTH. That is why we look to it for “… what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.”

Chuck Swindoll is an evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher. His radio program, Insight for Living, airs on more than 2,000 stations around the world in 15 languages. He is currently the senior pastor at Stonebriar Community Church, in Frisco, Texas. Here is his take on Attitude:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it.  And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.” – Chuck Swindoll

What could I possibly add to that?

© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author,
broadcaster, popular Bible teacher, and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian
Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.