We choose our attitude every day. Jesus never had a bad attitude even though a lot of bad things happened to him.
Psalm 84:11…the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
God wants us to choose a right attitude no matter what happens. We choose whether we have an optimistic or pessimistic attitude. The optimistic thinks good will prevail over evil, God will prevail, and everything will turn out alright. A pessimist thinks nothing ever goes right, the sky is falling, or everyone is against me. We need to consider that “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” What God thinks is good and what we think is good may be 2 different things. God spoke to Ananias and said he would show Saul (Paul) what great things he would suffer for Jesus’ sake. Paul didn’t think the thorn in his flesh that he was suffering by was good. He prayed three times that God would remove it.
II Corinthians 12:7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake…
In God eyes the thorn was good so Paul wouldn’t get exalted or proud. There are things we suffer and don’t like but sometimes God has a greater purpose than we can see. God said his grace was sufficient for Paul and Paul’s attitude changed immediately and completely. There’ll be times when God corrects our attitude like he did Paul’s. We don’t have a perfect attitude always when we get saved. God sees and knows we need to change. Paul’s thorn in the flesh was good so he could stay on track. Whether like a thorn in our flesh or not, we need the attitude that God is in control and knows best. We have to remember that we don’t belong to ourselves. We belong to God and are to glorify God in our body and spirit – our attitude, our demeanor, in all we do.
I Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you…and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Paul was traveling from town to town when God told him that he was going to suffer bonds and afflictions. It didn’t matter to Paul what he faced because he didn’t count his life dear. He wanted to finish his course with joy and a right attitude. If we count our life dear to us, the joy will go and we’ll be complaining. We’ll be cast down, discouraged, and have a bad attitude. We’ve all been there but we choose what attitude we will have. There’s a difference between joy and happiness. Joy is from God – the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Happiness is circumstantial but the joy of the Lord is not based on our circumstances but is 24-7 or constant. Paul was shackled to a guard in house arrest at the palace for 2 years. He prayed and dictated letters that the guards listened to. He wasn’t feeling sorry for himself but had a positive attitude that he could still be heard and was spreading the gospel.
Acts 20:16-24 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus…for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. And…called the elders of the church. And when they were come…said unto them, Ye know… after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but…taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and…Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord…And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Trials are promised to us, “…ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Paul chose a good attitude because he saw the importance of spreading the gospel. His attitude when false brethren spoke against him was that in whatever way the gospel was preached, he would rejoice. He wasn’t concerned whether he lived or died, but about his attitude in serving God and proclaiming the gospel.
Philippians 1:12-18…ye should understand…things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel…manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many…waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention…supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel…whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice…in nothing I shall be ashamed, but…Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
We should be concerned about proclaiming the gospel with a right attitude in situations we face, not about protecting ourselves or our rights. Paul’s attitude was to rejoice. Not every situation is one we rejoice in. There are places of weeping, as the valley of Baca (weeping). We can make it a well that we draw out of with joy (Isaiah 12:3) in the valley of weeping. God doesn’t want us to lose the joy of the Lord. We all like to live on the mountain top but orchard trees with fruit are in the valleys. We go through a valley of weeping because God sees we need perfected in endurance and stedfastness.
Psalm 84:5-7 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee…Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well…
Satan told God that Job would curse God if he touched Job’s flesh (Job 2:4-5). Satan wanted to prove Job wouldn’t endure to the end. Job proved the devil wrong. He lost his children, his wealth, his cattle, and his health but never cursed God. His trials were good in God’s eyes. Job was true to God in his sufferings and encourages us in our valley of weeping if we feel lost in our way. Job was confident in God. He knew God knew where he was in his trial, even if he couldn’t see God working. God knows where we’re at in our lowest valley. We can know we’ll come forth as gold with our heart made soft.
Job 23:8-12 Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand…I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither…gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
Job 23:16 For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:
If you take yourself out of the fire, you’ll never be gold. It’s in the hot fire that gold is purified. In the valley of weeping all you can do sometimes is what you know to do: read your Bible and pray. Trials show if we have wheat or tares, cause us to endure or give up, to be faithful or unfaithful. After Job’s trial God gave him twice as much. We learn a lot in hard trials. We get more compassion, endurance, and faith. Job said he wasn’t giving up if God let him die. We need the same attitude.
Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
God gave all the fruit trees and abundant food in the garden of Eden. Eve got her eye on the one thing that God said don’t touch but they had everything they needed. If you get focused what God said “no” about, you will partake of it.
Genesis 1:29-31 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed…and every tree, in the which is the fruit …And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth…I have given every green herb for meat…God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good…
Be content with all God has given and don’t think he is depriving you. If God is withholding something, it’s not good for us.
Genesis 3:1-7 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast…And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said…We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said…Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know…the day ye eat…ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food…and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit…and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened…
What God gives is good for growth. On three index cards write: #1 your trial, what you’re going through; #2 your purpose in life – if you’re here for yourself or God’s purpose; #3 how this trial can advance God’s purpose (only with a right attitude). No good thing will God withhold. God gives trials to advance his purpose and to get rough spots off so we shine like Christ. Every trial is an opportunity to shine. Paul’s bonds didn’t matter to him. He wanted to be a witness for God so should we.
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)