Exploring God's Amazing Word
18 Bible Studies on Positive Living in Christ.
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One Saw Mud,
The Other Saw Stars
by Peter Wade
The most common view of life that people express to me is the view that we humans here on earth just have to make the best of it. It is often said that life is a struggle but we'll get there in the end and then look forward to a great retirement.
When such a pessimistic view of life is questioned, the answer usually comes back, "Well, what can a person do? I've got the government fighting me, the neighbours are mad at me, my boss doesn't want to give me an increase, so what can I do?"
There is a better way, and it is to found in applying the positive principles of God's Word. The life that God has planned for His children is one of activity, energy and potential -- the kind of life that has excitement and purpose in it. This dynamic life does not come by accident or as a free gift, but because people apply principles. A principle is a law which has universal application. We talk about the law of gravity. I can fight against it or I can co-operate with it, and my action determines the result I get. Fortunately the law of gravity never ceases to work, for we have learnt many ways in which to apply the law. When I drive my car I am applying laws. The car stays on the ground because of the law of gravity, and this enables the law of friction to work. As the tyres grip the roadway and the engine turns the axle, I am able to make progress along the road.
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Now the reason some people are living successful, dynamic lives is not because they were born with a silver spoon in their mouths, or because they are good at wheeling and dealing, or because they have prayed long and hard. The reason is simply that such people have applied God's positive principles of living and they are enjoying the results of their actions. God's positive principles of living have universal application for all the members of His family, just as the principle or law of gravity has universal application for all the members of the human family. If one person can apply the principles and get good results, then every person can do the same.|
Raise Your Sights!
The first positive principle of living with which we should get acquainted is the principle of vision. Put simply, the highest good is available to you, but to enjoy it you must raise your sights. "Two men looked through prison bars, one saw mud and the other saw stars!" Once the pessimistic people, who think life is a mere existence, discover the principle of vision, they can change their world for the better. I believe every person has an inbuilt desire to better themselves, to maximize their potential. You will never accomplish that goal unless you recognize and get a vision that the best is available to you.
An Olympic speed ice skater was being interviewed before the race, and was asked the question, "What do you do just before competition?" He replied that the first thing he did was to get in the right frame of mind. To him that was more important than putting on his uniform. In the same way, it is most important for you to recognize that the highest good is available to you. You must raise your sights and get a vision of the best life for you. Good is available, the best is within your grasp. The power of steam has always been available to man, but it took a James Watt to sit in his kitchen one day and watch the kettle boil to get a vision of a new energy source that eventually produced the railway locomotive. The power of electricity has always been available, but it took a Benjamin Franklin to be out flying a kite on a stormy day and watch the lightning strike his kite to get a vision of harnessing another source of energy.
In the athletic world, the major problem in setting a new world record is not the physical challenge but the mental. An athlete has to be first convinced that the record can be broken and then it becomes possible. Pole vaulters now sit in their room and visualize themselves going over the bar with room to spare. Golfers visualize their putt running perfectly across the green and into the cup. The principle of vision enables you to see that the best is available to you and to be convinced of its possibility.
God is a God of principle. It was He who set up the operation of the universe on a set of principles, and it was He who created man and laid down for him positive principles of living. God has declared Himself to be the great unchanging One. "I the Lord do not change" (Malachi 3:6). God is One who does not operate capriciously but only in line with His declared principles. We will go to His positive Word, the Bible, and discover in its pages His great principle of vision from several verses that use the Greek word for "good".
God Gives Good Things
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11). Most of us have had the joy of buying children something they really wanted, and have watched the excitement in their eyes as they removed the wrapping and revealed the gift. This verse says that since we know how to do that, we should understand how much more joy God receives in giving good things to us. Good things are available -- we need to ask or "demand" them, as the word implies. What would be a "good thing" for you right now?
"He [God] has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:53). Hunger is a sign in the human body that there is a need for sustenance, a recognition that some good things are required to enable the body to function perfectly. However, rich people feel they have all they require and until they admit they have a need God is unable to give them anything. God is in the business of filling hungry people with good things.
This truth is expanded further in James 1:17, "Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." God can only give that which He is, and that is good. "There is nothing but goodness in him" (Psalm 92:15 Living Bible). "You are good, and what you do is good" (Psalm 119:68). God cannot give you bad things, for God is not bad. God gives good gifts, perfect gifts, and God does not change. There is no change for He is a God of principle not capriciousness. He is not affected by your begging, your pleading. God does not change; we are the ones who change! What a tremendous thrill to know that God remains constantly the same, always ready to give good things, to fill the hungry with good things, to give good and perfect gifts!
Goodness is Within
"I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another" (Romans 15:14). The Christians in Rome were full of goodness and so are you. Accept what God says about you. Believe His positive Word; lift your vision to see yourself as God sees you -- "full of goodness". So goodness is not something you have to strain after, way out there somewhere, but goodness is something that God has placed within every believer. There is no stress, no strain to get what you already have. Goodness is endogenous, that is, it grows and develops from within. Apply the principle of vision and allow your resident goodness to develop, to flow out. How can you make that happen? Romans 12:2 says, "... be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will." God's will for your life is good. So renew your mind to it, change your thinking concerning yourself, and "test" God's will in your life. Take an action on the basis of your goodness within and enjoy the more than abundant life that Jesus came to provide (John 10:10).
Here is another usage of the word "good": "I pray that you may be active in sharing of your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ" (Philemon 6). The King James Version says, "... may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." You need to acknowledge that since you are a Christian, you are "in Christ Jesus". Since He is good, then in you is every good thing. When I became a child of God, I received a spiritual gift called eternal life and wrapped up in that gift is "every good thing". You are not "only a sinner saved by grace", but one who has Christ within and has every good thing. Lift your vision and look at yourself from God's viewpoint
Putting the Principle to Work
There are 102 usages of this word for "good" in the New Testament and I have quoted only a selection to illustrate the principle of vision, that the best is obtainable and desirable and is God's will for you. Two final verses will help us to see more clearly how to put the principle in practice. "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light" (Matthew 6:22). Moffatt translates it, "So if your eye is generous..." It is the eye that sees only good and therefore the whole body is filled with light, with understanding. Lift your vision so that you see with this "good eye" that God has only the best for you -- wealth, health and happiness -- and that is good!
God's viewpoint is that good is within you, and He wants you to understand that this is so. "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Colossians 1:9). I love J.B. Phillips translation of this verse, "We are asking God that you may see things, as it were, from his point of view." Filling our minds with the concepts of the society in which we live will not help us see the good in us from God's point of view. We must read God's positive Word in order to look at life from His viewpoint.
Read the book of Ephesians twenty-one times in twenty-one days and see what a difference it will make in your life. Fill your mind with "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable... " (Philippians 4:8) and you will start to see the viewpoint of the God Who is good and does good -- the God Who has provided the best for you.
Copyright © 1989 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated,is from the New International Version (NIV), Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. This article appears on the site: http://www.peterwade.com/.
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