Sunday, December 11, 2011


The Absolutely Positively Proper Perspective

Philippians 2:5-11

Having the proper perspective is truly one of the most important things we can have in life. Another way of saying this is: Having a positive attitude is essential if we are to ever have joy in our lives.

The growth of a church depends solely upon the people’s willingness to trust God completely, to do as His Word instructs and give Him ALL the glory He deserves, no matter how things might appear to us.

I believe having the proper perspective of things determines our attitude, and perhaps that works backwards as well, if we have the proper attitude it will give us the proper perspective.

It is always easy to find the negative aspects of any given situation. It is easy to feel the trials and pains of any growing experience, it is always much easier to whine and complain about life, then it is to find the praise that God so richly deserves.

And yet, the scripture is quite clear about what our attitude and our perspective should be, it should always be POSITIVE.

The story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, "This is good!"


One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, "This is good!"

To which the king replied, "No, this is not good!" and proceeded to send his friend to jail. About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of.
Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake.

As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way.

As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. "You were right," he said, "it was good that my thumb was blown off."

And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this."

"No," his friend replied, "This is good!" "What do you mean, ’This is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?"

"If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you."

Attitude is the minds paintbrush. It can color a situation gloomy and gray, or it can paint it cheerful. Attitudes are more important than facts.

The Bible is clear about what our attitude should be, in his letter to the church at Phillipi ,Paul tells us what our attitude should be.

If you have your Bible with you this morning, turn with me to Phillipians, chapter 2 starting in verse 5. Here Paul will explain what our attitude should be like and explain the benefits of having such an attitude.

Phil 2:5-11 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I. OUR ATTITUDE SHOULD BE LIKE JESUS’

We should have the same attitude as Christ, Paul explains himself very clearly here.

Jesus, who in His very nature is God, didn’t worry about who He was, or how important He is.

He didn’t say, “you know what, I am God and because of that I should not have to die on a cross for all these sinners on earth.”

He had every right to say so, BUT instead He gave us a great example of how we can have the ABSOLUTE POSITIVE PROPER PERSPECTIVE, the right attitude.

He became a servant, he took on the nature of a servant and became a man, and HUMBLED Himself.

If you only take one thing away from the sermon this morning let it be this, OUR ATTITUDE SHOULD BE THAT OF HUMILITY.

If everyone here this morning started looking at others as more important then themselves, our world, our country, our community, and our church would change and be what God wants them to be.

The reason that churches have problems growing and keeping the growth going, is because PRIDE enters the picture and things are done in ways that God does not approve of.

Pride can be the downfall of a church and believe me I have seen first hand how it can take a church apart. If anyone had reason to be prideful it is Jesus, yet He humbled himself and became a servant for us.

In the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters below. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident.

It wasn’t a technology problem like radar malfunction--or even thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship’s presence nearby.

Both could have steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late.

Many people do not like the idea of being a servant to others because they feel that they are too good or they do not want to do the dirty work of the Kingdom.

But I will tell you that without the humble servant’s attitude that Christ showed, we run a great risk. Jesus is our perfect example of a humble servant.

Paul tells us the reward of such an attitude, “Therefore, God EXALTED Him.”

If our attitude is one of serving others, one that places the needs of others before our own, and one that pushes pride to the side, we will be exalted by God.

I. OUR ATTITUDE SHOULD BE LIKE JESUS’

II. A POSITIVE ATTITUDE GIVES GOD ROOM TO WORK

So many churches wonder why God is not moving in their midst.

Without the right attitude, God has no room to work. If we think we have all the answers, and we know how church should be done, what need do we have of God? 

If we want God size results, we need to have God size dreams. BUT, so many times when a church begins to have a God size vision, people come along with a negative attitude, “that can’t be done” or “ we must be realistic here.” then God has no room to work in our lives.

Imagine for a moment if Joseph, of the Bible, decided to just give up once he was thrown in jail, for a crime he did not commit.

Would God have been able to work through him?  However, even though he had reason to quit, he kept a good attitude.

Gen 39:19-23 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, "This is how your slave treated me," he burned with anger. 20 Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Joseph could have just given up, after all he was doing the right thing and ended up in jail for it. REALITY would be, that jail was not a good place, but you see, God knows what He is doing and He will do what is best, even if we are blind to seeing the success God provides.

REALITY is not what we think is real, BUT is rather what God knows is real. We might not be able to see how God can do all the things He does.  We must keep in mind always that through God all things are possible.

I. OUR ATTITUDE SHOULD BE LIKE JESUS’

II. A POSITIVE ATTITUDE GIVES GOD ROOM TO WORK

End of part 1.



The Absolutely Positively Proper Perspective (part 2)

Last week we talked about:

Having the proper perspective is truly one of the most important things we can have in life. Another way of saying this is: Having a positive attitude is essential if we are to ever have joy in our lives.

The growth of a church depends solely upon the people’s willingness to trust God completely, to do as His Word instructs and give Him ALL the glory He deserves, no matter how things might appear to us.

I believe having the proper perspective of things determines our attitude, and perhaps that works backwards as well, if we have the proper attitude it will give us the proper perspective.

Phil 2:5-11 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I. OUR ATTITUDE SHOULD BE LIKE JESUS’

II. A POSITIVE ATTITUDE GIVES GOD ROOM TO WORK

REALITY is not what we think is real, BUT is rather what God knows is real. We might not be able to see how God can do all the things He does.  We must keep in mind always that through God all things are possible.  

This greatly impacts how we view those around us.  God can use anyone!

Imagine for a moment that Jesus needed to use the people of the world, while He was running His ministry. He would have received a MEMORANDUM like this:

To: Jesus, Son of Joseph, Woodcrafter Carpenter Shop, Nazareth;
From: Jordan Management Consultants, Jerusalem....

Dear Sir:
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational-aptitude consultant.

It is the staff's opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education, and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue searching for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no leadership qualities. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty.

Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau.

James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus definitely have radical leanings, and both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man.

We wish you every success in your new venture.
Sincerely Yours, Jordan Management Consultants

How can we have the attitude that we know more than God does? And yet, so many people, do not give God room to work, because they have an attitude, that basically says, they know more than God does.

Keeping a positive attitude, allows God room to work in our lives and in our church.

James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

We will each face trials, the Bible does not say if you face trials, it says whenever you face trials, so we will. 

The absolutely positively proper attitude is to accept them with joy in our heart. It means we are headed in the right direction.

Why does anyone think that the right perspective, or the right attitude is to serve God, on their own terms?

Someone once called a preacher to say he wanted to become a church member.

But, he went on to explain that he did not want to:
worship every week, study the Bible, visit the sick, or serve as a leader or teacher.

The minister commended him for his desire to be a church member, but told him the church he was looking for was located in another part of town. The man wrote down the address and hung up. When he arrived at that address, the man came face to face with the result of his own attitude of not wanting to be involved.... There stood an abandoned church building, boarded up and ready for demolition.

That is what happens to the church if we are not willing to give God  room to work. I know I have personally allowed pride to get in the way of letting God work too many times.

I am simply showing what God’s Word says, about allowing the proper attitude into our lives to give God room to work in His church.

I. OUR ATTITUDE SHOULD BE LIKE JESUS’
II. A POSITIVE ATTITUDE GIVES GOD ROOM TO WORK
III. POSITIVE ATTITUDES CAN INFLUENCE OTHERS

A positive attitude will influence others. Having a can-do spirit will allow others to accept that through God all things are possible. Take the example of Moses, when things looked bleak, see what Moses said. 

Moses was taking them out of slavery, they are headed in the right direction, and the first obstacle comes up and the people are ready to be slaves again:

Ex 14:11-14, “Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!" 13 Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."

Instead, we need to be like the 84 year old grandmother who fiercely maintained her independence and lived alone in the old family home. Her 4 children lived in the same town, but she rarely called them except in emergencies. It was with some apprehension, therefore, that one of her sons drove to her house one morning in answer to her phone call.

When he arrived she said she suspected that there was a burglar in her bedroom closet, since she had heard noises in there the night before.
“Why didn’t you call me last night?” he exclaimed.
“Well,” she replied, it was late and I hated to bother you, so I just nailed the closet shut and went to bed.”

That’s the kind of attitude a Christian can have when faced with the impossible. Nail the door of fear shut and go to bed in calm assurance.

So many people panic in the face of trials. The scripture we read this morning, from the book of James, says that “the testing of our faith develops perseverance, ” and that is what makes us mature and complete.  We will face fear, but with God on our side we cannot go wrong.

So many times churches and Christians alike, fail, because they are unwilling to step out in faith. They see the “reality” of a financial situation, or a lack of leadership. They see, through worldly eyes, the lack of giving, the small attendance and think it is the end.

That kind of attitude has an influence on others; just as a positive attitude can have an positive influence.

A young girl became a Christian in an exciting revival at her church and was baptized the closing Sunday morning. That afternoon she ran through the house singing and dancing.

Her grandfather rebuked her with these words, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself. You just joined the church and you’re singing and dancing on the Lord’s Day!”

Crushed by her grandfather’s attitude, the little girl went out to the barn, climbed up on the corral fence, and observed an old mule standing there with a sad, droopy face and bleary eyes.

As she reached over and patted the mule sympathetically, she said, “Don’t cry, ole mule. I guess you’ve got the same kind of religion that Grandpa has!”

Our attitude really has an influence on others, it will be what allows us to be a growing, vibrant, God blessed church, or what keeps us inside the box that we have made for ourselves.

Attitude is everything! We are called to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus, who even though He is God, He did not worry about His own importance, but, instead humbled himself and became a servant.

That’s the attitude we need to model.

Attitude is everything! We give God room to work in our lives, and in our church, then we have the proper perspective about trials. When we see things through the eyes of God, trials are just a testing of how big our faith is.

It is when we endure these trials that God has room to work in our lives and in our church. Saying that things CANNOT be done, is basically dreaming human size dreams, and they will result in only human size results.

Attitude is everything! A positive attitude will have a positive influence on others. It is when we display faith, that others will come to have more faith. When we have a positive attitude, we influence others to have a positive attitude.

This morning, let me leave you with this:

Attitude Is Everything. There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. "Well," she said, "I think I’ll braid my hair today."

So she did and she had a wonderful day. The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. "H-m-m, " she said, "I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today."

So she did and she had a grand day. The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. "Well," she said, "today I’m going to wear my hair in a pony tail." So she did and she had a fun, fun day. The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head. "YEAH" she exclaimed, "I don’t have to fix my hair today"

Attitude is everything.

This morning, we need to examine our hearts and see what our attitude is.  Do I have the attitude of a servant, or do I think it is time that others served me?

Do I have pride in my life, or is my attitude one that is humbled and fixed on the needs of others? Am I giving God room to work in my life?

Let’s not allow a negative attitude to keep God from having the room He needs to work in our life. God wants to work in your life this morning, He wants to work in this church, in Florence, this state, nation…the world.

This morning, I open the front for those that would like to come and just pray for an attitude adjustment to happen in their lives or even in that of our church body.

If you need to come and have someone pray for you, please come forward. If you are ready to accept Jesus, come forward. If you have already accepted Jesus and you want to make a commitment to this church body, you come forward.

DON’T LET PRIDE GET IN THE WAY!

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