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Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe. Philippians 2:14-15

 Saturday Night Live introduced us to a person named Debbie Downer. Debbie had a knack for making any situation dark. While the rest of the crowd was celebrating Debbie would douse the positive feelings with statements that drained the joy from everyone within earshot. In her world nothing was right.

While Debbie is a fictional character, we all know people like her who seem to be able to find something negative to say about anyone and anything. They point out the faults of everything from dress and hairstyles to political opinion. We are surrounded by a culture that seems obsessed by finding the negative in things.

Negative reactions are like one drop of black ink in a gallon of clear water. They can turn an otherwise joyful or good day bad. One negative comment, whether intentional or not, can destroy an entire day, or even a relationship.

Negative reactions imply, intentionally or otherwise, that God isn’t ‘doing His job’. If we truly believe that God is sovereign, and that He loves us then our attitude should show all those around us that He is a good God who can be trusted in the worst of circumstances.

King David states, in Psalm 139 that God has ordained or planned every one of our days from the time of conception until the time of our death. He is involved in every second of our existence. Our Father doesn’t ‘make bad things happen’ randomly to annoy us. He doesn’t bring ornery and mean people into our lives because He is vindictive and enjoys seeing us suffer.

We can say we love Jesus and our desire is to show the world His love but how does that play out when we are cut off in traffic? How do we show Jesus’ love when the server at the restraint gives us lousy service and doesn’t seem to care? How is ‘Grace’ shown when a co-worker accuses us or leaves us a bunch of work because they ‘weren’t doing their job.’?

Paul tells us that as Christ-followers we can make a huge statement by how we react to adversity. Adversity is inevitable. Finances, health issues, natural disasters, politics can seem to stack up against us. People are mean, selfish and demanding. All sorts of things can keep us in ‘Debbie Downer’ mode.

Paul’s words encourage us as Christ-followers to shine as lights of positive thinking in a world of ‘Debbie Downers’. As Christ-followers we don’t deny the fact that adversity exists. We don’t downplay the pain of physical, natural or relational disaster. But we do maintain a thought process that tells the world that in spite of the bad things happening around us we are encouraged because we know there are better days ahead because of Jesus’ love for us.

A proper view of God’s love defeats negative thinking every time. Negative thinking says, “While I believe in God, He’s proven to me that He is either unable to help in time of need or my needs are too small to be important to Him.”

Positive thinking doesn’t say: “Because I believe in God everything will be good and happy, Positive thinking says: “My faith in God will enable me to weather every storm that attacks me because I know that He is love and He will care for me regardless of what happens.

PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you today realizing that all too often I find myself either in ‘Debbie Downer’ mode or surrounded by others who are. I ask that you would empower me by Your Holy Spirit to live about the negative influences in my life. Help me to be a light shining in the darkness. A light that shows the positive aspects of Christ’s love living through me. Amen.

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

It isn’t good for us to be alone. Even at creation God saw that all was good except for the fact that man was alone. He needed a companion that he could share the good and the bad with. So God created woman to stand at his side as his equal partner in life.

Today the one thing each of us still craves is relationship. We want to belong to something, to someone. We seek a cause that we can believe in and pursue because it makes us feel important. Our self worth gives us identity. It could be through a church, a relationship, a job anything that makes us feel worthy.

Jesus tells us we are to be the salt of the earth. For salt to be useful it must be in contact with the item to be salted. It intermingles, adds flavor and preserves. But salt is always salt. It doesn’t take on the quality of the item salted but enhances the positive aspects of the item salted.

Jesus also warns that salt can lose its ‘saltiness’ and become useless. It breaks down and loses its identity. Rather than maintaining its saltiness it takes on the attributes of the substance surrounding it. The salt no longer enhances the flavor or preserves as it once did.

As Christ-followers we need to be careful when we are in the world. It is too easy to get drawn into the negative attitudes about other people or those who are different than us. In an effort to reach out to those struggling with sin it seems right to downplay the sin in an effort to win the sinner.

Paul tells us in Galatians 6:1 that when we catch someone in sin we are to restore them gently, but the second part of that verse is a warning. We ourselves are in danger of sinning when we put ourselves in situations where temptations to judge, have a critical spirit or allowing pride to overtake us.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church he warned them that constant affiliation with those who were negative, judgmental or lax in their spiritual drive could pull us down. Are we to avoid such people? NO! We need to temper the negative with a strong drive to draw close to Jesus through our personal Bible Study and Prayer and by building a wall of positive influence around us made up of small group and corporate worship and prayer.

When we allow negative thoughts and negative attitudes to influence the way we act or think it robs us of our self esteem, our self identity and the dreams we have. Jesus’ ways are built on love and compassion not on critical spirits and verbal and emotional attacks. As a Christ-follower we are called to built up not tear down, to encourage not berate, to seek the positive in every situation and not dwell on the negative.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I get so frustrated by seeing the way in which people abuse each other and seem to take advantage of your love and Forgiveness. To make matters worse I have found my own attitude has become negative and angry with people I disagree with. As a result I am guilty of the very thing that I detest. Forgive me for my judgmental attitude, my critical spirit and my hatred. Empower me with your Spirit to love unconditionally and forgive freely. Help to continue to build a close relationship with you and other believers so that I can live in the freedom you have given me and accomplish all you have in store for my life. Amen.

On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. Isaiah 25:6

Have you ever noticed how strong one negative comment can be? If 100 people compliment you on a job well done and one person comes along and criticizes your work it can spoil your whole day. Rather than enjoying the encouragement of the 100 you dwell on the negative comment of one person.

Negative comments and thoughts can cripple you and keep you from moving forward in life. Like a thorn in your foot negative comments and attitudes completely halt your progress. People who continue to be negative will hinder your own attitudes about yourself, others and even God! They can take the hope right out of you if you listen.

The prophet Isaiah describes a huge feast that will be held for us who are Christ-followers. It will be a feast with the best of wine and meat. If God is putting on the party you can count on it being a huge party, the best ever. But the blessings we receive from God aren’t just for later. God’s blessings are both present and future.

Don’t let the negative words and attitudes of others pull you down. Stop allowing the worries of the economy, political upheaval and natural disaster keep you from remembering all the good things God is doing around you. Our Father can use even the worst of times for His glory. Even though things in the world seem to be getting worse, for the Christ-follower the best is yet to come!

Enjoy God’s blessings now while you look ahead to the greater blessings He has in store for you. Our Father is preparing a huge party right now and YOU are the guest of honor!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, Creator of the universe and sustainer of all things. I thank you for the fact that you see all that is going on around me. There are plenty of negative events, attitudes and people around me who are intent on taking away the joy I have in You. I ask that you would empower me by your Spirit to rise above the negative attacks. Keep me from being affected by those who criticize me and those who preach gloom and doom. Keep reminding me throughout the day of the great things You are doing now and the fantastic party You are preparing for me. I praise you for your greatness and power. You are a good God and all good things come from you. Amen.

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