6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Through out his life Paul accentuated the positive. He practiced the praise principle. Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again, rejoice!”

Serve the Lord with Enthusiasm

Romans 12:11 “Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, and serve the Lord with enthusiasm.”

Jesus taught that we are to love the Lord with all our heart, our soul, our might and our neighbor as ourselves. In Romans 12:11 Apostle Paul admonishes us to serve the Lord with enthusiasm. Through out his life Paul accentuated the positive. He practiced the praise principle. Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again, rejoice!”

Today which of these four songs reveal your attitude toward life?

1. “Make the World Go Away”

2. “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head”

3. “I did it my way”

4. “ Oh, what a beautiful morning.”

This morning when you woke up I hope you sang out, “Oh, what a beautiful morning.”

The Apostle Paul practiced the joy of the Lord even when confined to a prison. He looked beyond his confinement, beyond lonely nights, and beyond hardships.

He said to the Philippian Christians praying for him: “ Don’t feel sad for me. Praise the Lord because what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. The Roman guards have heard the good news of the Gospel. Jesus is changing lives.” Philippians 1:12-14

I. Serve the Lord with Optimism and Faith

Because Jesus has risen from the dead and is in control of the universe we live with optimism and faith. We commit ourselves to serve the Lord with enthusiasm. Romans 12:11, “Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, and serve the Lord with enthusiasm.”

I know some people who are so pessimistic they won’t even buy green bananas.

I like what Browning says in the poem, “Rabbi Ben Ezra”,

Grow old along with me,

The best is yet to be.

A lady of 83 was asked what she thought of Browning’s statement. She said, I keep five different medical specialists busy. When I think of that statement – maybe Browning overstated it a little. Old age is not for sissies.” With a twinkle in her eye she said, “I’ll tell you one thing, I’d rather spend these years with a man who said “Come grow old with me, the best is yet to be; than with some old crotchety old fellow who can only sit by the window and curse his fate.”

2. Focus on the Positive

You can serve the Lord with enthusiasm as you focus on the positive things in life. The Apostle Paul shouted out in Philippians 4:8, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think on these things. “

By an act of our will we can choose to focus on the positive rather than the negative. We tend to become what we spend our time thinking and dreaming about. If we allow negative thinking to dominate our minds we have a limited perspective on life.

Once a cranky grandpa lay down to take a nap. To have a little fun, his grandson put some Limburger cheese on his mustache under his nose. Grandpa woke up with a snort, charged out of the bedroom and said, “This room stinks.” On through the house he marched: “The whole house stinks.” He charged outside: “The whole world stinks.” The problem all the while was under his nose.

David Augsburger once wrote: “The thoughts: “The thoughts I think, the words I speak, the actions I take, the emotions I feel – they are mine, for them I am fully responsible.”

An elderly man who was very near-sighted thought of himself as an expert in evaluating art. One day he visited a museum with some friends. He had forgotten his glasses and couldn’t see the pictures clearly, but that didn’t stop him from airing his strong opinions. As soon as they walked into the gallery, he began critiquing the various paintings.

Stopping before what he thought was a full-length portrait, he began to criticize it. With an air of superiority he began. “The frame is altogether out of keeping with the picture. The man is too homely and shabbily dressed. In fact, it was a great mistake for the artist to select such a shoddy subject for his portrait.”

The old fellow was babbling on and on when his wife finally managed to get him and pull him aside. She whispered to him, “My dear you are looking in a mirror.”

3. Practice Biblical Thinking

In order to live and serve the Lord with enthusiasm we need to focus on Biblical thinking. Whatsoever is true, noble, right, admirable, pure, lovely, excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Jesus in His darkest hour looked beyond the pain, and sorrow to God’s purpose and victory.

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