MTL Christmas - Page 71

my faith Acting on the Right Perspective We can control our thoughts and attitudes. They’re not foreign invaders against which we are helpless. Paul said, “Fix your thoughts on what is true. . . . Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8, NLT). This doesn’t happen automatically. But once we develop the habit and experience its rewards, we instinctively turn our minds to what makes us happy in Christ. Of course, we should never flippantly say, “Happiness is a choice.” It’s not always easy to choose happiness in Christ. Embracing happiness is not merely working harder to pull up our minds and moods, as we would our bootstraps. Rather, it’s gratefully receiving God’s grace and happiness. Cultivating Christ-Centered Holiday Happiness Happiness comes naturally in the same sense that fruit comes naturally from a tree. If the tree gets sufficient sunshine and water, if the ground is nutrient-rich, then yes, it “naturally” produces fruit. Yet the joy spoken of in Galatians 5:22 is also the supernatural fruit of the Spirit who indwells God’s children. We must plant ourselves in the rich soil of God’s Word, soak in the living water of God and His people, and bask in the radiant sunlight of His grace. Then happiness will come (super)naturally— happiness made possible by our God who became a man, who suffered, died and rose again so we could experience substantial happiness now, as well as ultimate and unending happiness in our eternal home. God provides everything we need to be happy and empowers us, through His Spirit, to believe in Him and obey. At the same time, He leaves it to us to adopt a right perspective and make the choices that result in happiness. He also calls upon us to genuinely cooperate with Him, which requires our effort as we draw on His strength and grace (Philippians 2:12-13). Happiness from Gratitude Coupled with Humble Service When life is viewed with a spirit of thankfulness, we’ll see the reasons for happiness that surround us. God gives us hundreds of reasons to be grateful every hour—ask Him to open your eyes to them, especially during what should be a joyful season of celebrating Christ’s birth! Developing the discipline of gratitude brings greater praise to God and greater happiness for ourselves. When life’s tough, we can still be grateful that God is with us and that He’s using it for our good. When �ife’s toug�, we can still be grateful that God is wit� us and that He’s using it for our good No matter your circumstances this Christmas, there’s happiness to be found in being grateful for God’s provision and seeking to serve and help others. “In humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Related Products: Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering Timothy Keller, $16.00 You’ll Get Through This Max Lucado, $16.99 When God Doesn’t Fix It Laura Story, $16.99 www.mtlmagazine.com