Summary: This is a sermon on how we preceive things. Are we optimistic or pessimistic?
INTRO: ILLUS: Here you see a glass (use a glass as a visual). Is it half empty, or is it half full? It all depends on your perspective, on how you see the glass.
ILLUS: Two shoe salesman were sent to Africa. One sent a telegram home that said: “Get me home, nobody here wears shoes.” The other salesman’s telegram said: “Send me all of the shoes you can, nobody here wears shoes.”
All kinds of things happen in life. The uncertainties and the challenges make it very difficult. Attitude or perspective can make a positive difference. The congregation that has the right perspective can experience church growth God’s way.
I. PROPER PERSPECTIVE SEES PROBLEMS AS POSSIBILITIES.
The apostle Paul saw problems at the church at Philippi (Euodia and Syntyche were quarreling, v. 2). The problem was so severe that Paul named names. Problems are normal in life. Someone said, “Life is not a bowl of cherries.” but we need to thank God for the kinds of problems that are on the cutting edge of church growth. Chuck Swindoll stated, “We all are faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” can we see the possibilities?
The key to dealing with our problems is perspective or, as some would say, attitude. When the Israelite soldiers saw Goliath, they thought, He is so big we can never kill him. When David saw Goliath, he thought, He is so big I can’t miss him.
Churches have problems. What do they do? Growing churches across America have a special attitude—it is a “can do” attitude. Although these churches are not without problems; they make adjustments where they are needed; they work for positive solutions. They see problems as possibilities, because they have the proper perspective. No problem is going to arise that our church and Christ can’t handle together.
II. PROPER PERSPECTIVE SEES PEOPLE IN RELATION TO THEIR POTENTIAL.
The Philippian Christians were dear to Paul. They had helped him on many occasions. Paul wrote to them: “I thank God every time I remember you” (1:3, NIV). He gave them a pep talk in Philippians 4:4-7. How do you see people? Do you see them in relation to their potential? Jesus always saw people that way. He encouraged them to become the persons God created them to be.
Proper perspective means viewing people in the right way. How we relate to people and how we seek to encourage them makes a difference in the kingdom of God. People will not join a church if it’s cold, stuffy, indifferent, and resistant to change. They will become a part of a church that sees people through the eyes of Christ and seeks to develop their potential.
III. PROPER PERSPECTIVE SEES THE PRESENT IN RELATION TO GOD’S PROMISE.
If you’re not careful, you can get stuck in the present. Paul could have been stuck in jail with a “jailhouse attitude” to go with it. The apostle wrote to the Philippians from jail. Rather than self-pity, the theme of the Philippian letter is joy. Paul was pressing on toward the goal. Is your mind fixed on things above or things below? William James said: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind.” The thoughts in your mind are more important than the things in your life.
We cannot do anything about the situation of life, but we can do something about our attitudes to meet them. What happens IN me is more important than what happens TO me. We must see the present in relation to the future, which is in God’s hands.
The most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than what happened yesterday; more important than my bills, my successes, my failures, my pain; more important than what people think about me, my situation, or my position. Attitude is that “single string” that can keep me going, or it can make me decide to quit. Attitude can fuel my fire or destroy my hope.
When my attitudes are right, no mountain is too high, no valley too deep, and no challenge too great that I can’t face it with the Lord’s strength. Let the promises of God speak to your heart. Pray that God will give you the perspective that real growth can happen in our church.