Pastor Matthew is continuing in his series, "You Got Game" (Game is an acrostic for Generosity, Attitude, Ministry & Eternity) encouraging us to all "Get into the Game". Today's message was on Attitude. Let's face it, we all have one. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but at this very moment we have one on display for everyone to see.
It's about A.D. 61 and we find the Apostle Paul in a prison in Rome, chained to a Roman guard. He is writing a letter to the saints at Philippi to thank them for their help and encouragement. Can you just imagine what the days and nights would be like in that prison? If I were in his sandals and writing a letter, I imagine it would start something like this,
"Dear friends at Philippi church. Thank you for all of the kindness you have shown me through the years. I'm still here in this dark, dingy prison. It's cold and damp here. The food is lousy when they remember to feed me and the guard they have me chained to is no cup of tea. Woe is me!"
But not Paul, Here is how his letter begins,
"2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.What is it that makes the difference between Paul's letter and mine? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that my attitude in my letter is being driven by my circumstances - where I am, what I'm doing, who I'm with. Where is my focus? When things around me are good, my attitude is good. When things around me are bad, my attitude is bad. What a roller coaster when we allow our circumstances to be our driving force.
Not so with Paul. Paul determined a long time ago that there was nothing more important in his life than his relationship with Jesus Christ. He said, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." How can he be in such difficult circumstances and still extend grace and peace to others? How can his prayer life be filled with thanksgiving when it appears that he has nothing to be thankful for? How can his faith be so strong?
I think we find the answer in a little 3 letter word - joy. Happiness is circumstantial but joy is relationala dn true joy can only be found in a love relationship with Jesus Christ. It's the type of relationship that causes us to have "inner delight". To know that God loves me and when I'm walking in fellowship with Him, my circumstances don't matter at all. The joy that I'm talking about brings tremendous peace, no matter what life may throw at you. It's a quiet confidence that knows no matter what you may see with your eyes, the battle is God's, the victory is His and everything is under His control!
That's the type of contagious attitude that I want to have! That's definitely the type of contagious joy Jehoshaphat had in 2 Chronicles 20 (see Friday's post). Even Job never lost his joy in the midst of great trials. It's the type of joy that just can't be contained, it anchored deep within the heart of a believer. It is a fruit of the very Spirit that lives within us.
I challenge you to be intentional this week. Examine your relationship with God. Find out what is hindering your joy, hindering your relationship. Let there be nothing between you and God except the blood of Jesus forgiving you of sin, covering you by His grace. Get your joy back! This week we all need to have an attitude that is contagious and points others to Jesus!