STOVER: Having faith is a great winning strategy

Published 10:04 pm Friday, July 21, 2017

By Larry Stover | Stover lives in Valley Grande and is pastor at Praise Park Ministries Church of the Nazarene.

From time to time we all need a fresh start. Sometimes the pressures of life weigh us down so much that we long for a chance to start all over again with a clean slate.

In those times, the Lord reminds us of scripture that gives us that new beginning and a breath of fresh air catapulting us to a brighter future. Philippians 4:12-13 are such verses of encouragement and refreshing hope. They give us a winning strategy for life and the future.  They read in part, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation … I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

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A winning strategy for the future involves having great faith. This is a faith that realizes that our strength comes from a daily relationship with Jesus Christ. Far too many people, including Christians, seek strength from a plethora of people and things while ignoring the strength that comes from God through Christ. An active faith drives us to the best possible relationship with Jesus Christ that we can potentially enjoy.

We can learn a lesson from the relationship between the Children of Israel and God. As long as the people served the Lord and followed his laws and principles, he blessed them beyond anything that they could imagine. When they sought after other gods and did what was evil in the sight of God, he allowed the consequences of their choices take them into a spiral of catastrophic self-destruction.

What we believe about God makes an incredible difference in what happens in our lives. Illustrations in the New Testament are replete with the relationship between faithfulness and obedience to the Lord and his blessings that follow. Developing a great faith grounded in this faithfulness and obedience will make any future brighter as we see the hand of God strengthen us and bless us on a daily basis.

A second aspect of a winning strategy for the future is having a great attitude. We all have a different “lot” in life. Past choices and events have a way of effecting our socio-economic status. Those crushing blows sometimes hit us broadside and the effects can be life changing beyond our ability to charter our futures at any given moment in time.  When the storms of life are raging, it’s a positive attitude that can make such a difference.

Attitudes are a foundation block of a strong Christian faith. God has given us all the power to choose. This is a daily matter for all of us.We choose between right and wrong, good and best, obedience and disobedience, etc.

Victor Frankl, in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” tells of his life in a German concentration camp where all kinds of despicable experiments were performed on his body. Along the way he realized that his captors were in charge of his body but he was in charge of how he responded to the torture. His faith in God brought him through it. We can’t always chose what happens to us but we are fully in charge of how we respond to the difficulties in our lives. One of my “Stoverisms,” as they are called is this, “We are free to make any choice that we so desire but we are not free to choose the consequences of those choices.” Good attitudes are all about making good decisions. No matter where you are in life and no matter what crushing circumstances are limiting your future at the moment, a great attitude can enable you, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to make life the best it can be until your future improves.

The foundation to this winning strategy involves your relationship with Jesus Christ. Are you content with what is happening spiritually in your life right now? The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians reminds us that this great missionary put all of his confidence in the daily relationship that he had with the Lord. It’s no wonder that he cherished that relationship more than life itself. A winning strategy for the future involves possessing a great faith in God, supported by attitudes that reflect the presence of Jesus Christ in your life, built on a foundation of a daily relationship with the Lord that is life changing.      When these attributes of you faith are in place life will be “Simply Beautiful.”