Winning In Troubled Times

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If it isn’t obvious that we’re living in the end-times. . .just read the headlines in your local newspaper or listen to your favorite broadcast, cable or internet news source.

There’s an old Ray Charles song entitled “Born to Lose.”  One refrain of the song says:  Born to lose, I've lived my life in vain; every dream has only brought me pain.”

The news media has adopted that philosophy and terminology that bad news sells a lot more than good news. The worse the news … the better in their opinion.  They produce a constant stream of bad news for you to wallow in.

We’re not minimizing the troubles in the world. . .they are plentiful. . .but we don’t need to get caught in despair over what’s happening around us and to us.

There’s still a lot to be thankful for … and a lot of very good people doing miraculous things to change people’s lives for the better.

Here are seven ways to overcome troubled times. 

1.     Don’t RSVP to the Pity Party


If there’s one party no one ever wants to attend or even be invited to. . .it’s a pity party.

Here are seven reasons to never attend a pity party.

First, the environment and most of the people are ugly.

Yes, I know some of the attendees may be physically attractive. . .but prolonged self-pity makes you look like our old friend Bob Harrington used to say … “you were weaned on a dill pickle.

Second, the prevailing attitudes of negativity at a pity party are contagious.  The “whoa is me” attitude will jump on you faster than a mosquito at a nudist colony.

Third, there’s no music. . .at least nothing you’d want to hear.  Ray Charles sang another song that’s lyrics went:  “If it wasn’t for bad luck, y’all, I’d have no luck at all.”

That’s not the way we want to live our lives.

Fourth, happiness at a pity party is as rare as common sense among politicians.  I don’t want to be anywhere I can’t be happy.  Even in the midst of trials and adversity . . . happiness helps pull us through.

Fifth, there is no entertainment value in hearing people commiserate among themselves about how bad things are.

Sixth, nobody will feel sorry for you at a pity party because they’re too busy feeling sorry for themselves.

Seventh, the people at a pity party will drain you of your energy quicker than Dracula can clean out a blood bank.

You may have the biggest pity party in the world. . .but God will never feel sorry for you.

God is not moved by your needs … only by your faith!

Matthew 9:29 says:

“Be it done according to your faith.”

Doesn’t say. . .it will be done according to your needs.

Doesn’t say. . .it will be done according to what you’re going through at the moment.

Doesn’t say. . .it will be done for the one with the most depressing story.

God enables and empowers us to turn things around by and through His Word.

Ethel Waters, the legendary gospel singer, was born to a 13-year-old girl who had been raped.

Ms. Waters had a beautiful voice and prior to becoming a Christian she was well-known for her rendition of the popular song “Stormy Weather.”

After her conversion she was often asked, yes, even by believers to sing “Stormy Weather.”  She would politely decline each such request.  When asked why Ms Waters said:

“No sir, I’ll never sing Stormy Weather again.  Since Jesus came into my heart, I’ve never had stormy weather like I had before I knew Him.”

But at dozens and dozens of Billy Graham crusades she sang “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.”  Her version of that song will bring tears to your eyes.

Ms. Waters was often quoted as saying: “Honey, God don’t make no junk.”

So here’s the bottom line on why you shouldn’t host or even attend a pity party. . . you know God has His eye on you.  Not only that, but He deeply values you and He don’t make junk. . .so we shouldn’t act like it.

Psalm 32:8 in the Classic Amplified Bible clearly says:

 “I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”

How do you overcome self-pity?  Look at the answers found in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-21 in the Amplified Bible which says:

“17 Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly];

18 Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].

19 Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit;

20 Do not spurn the gifts and utterances of the prophets [do not depreciate prophetic revelations nor despise inspired instruction or exhortation or warning].

21 But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast.”

Big surprise. . .there are seven keys in these verses to overcome self-pity.

2.     Have a heart-to-heart with yourself.

It’s been said that the biggest fool in town is the person who fools himself.

We tend to judge others by what they do and ourselves by what we intended to do.

In order to overcome troubled times, uncertainty or adversity. . .we need to have an honest assessment of why we are where we are.

1 Samuel 16:7 in The Living Bible says:

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by a man’s face or height, for this is not the one. I don’t make decisions the way you do! Men judge by outward appearance, but I look at a man’s thoughts and intentions.”

Even Godly men like the prophet Samuel are not immune from making mistakes.  He was sure he’d be anointing Eliab, David’s oldest brother, as the new King of Israel.

1 Samuel 16:6 in the Amplified Bible says:

“When they had come, he looked on Eliab [the eldest son] and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.”

Samuel honestly thought the new King would be Eliab. . .after all, the was the oldest and probably the strongest and he looked the part in the same way King Saul was head and shoulders above his peers.  But that was in looks only.

When making an important decision. . .it’s best not to go on what we think but what God thinks.  And know this … God wants us being honest with ourselves.

Psalm 51:6 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.”

There’s an old saying. . .no façade with God.  He already knows everything about you. . .including your future successes and the times you messed up. . .and He still loves you and is not disappointed in you.

The story is told of a newly elected Congressman who might have thought a little too highly of himself.

When he arrived at the Rayburn House Office Building he went straight to his office and found a desk, chair and a telephone.  He sat down in this overstuffed black leather executive swivel chair.

A man walked in and the new Congressman thinking he might be a reporter stopping by to write a story on his first day in Washington, D.C. . . .thought he pick up the phone and impress this reporter.

So the Congressman began a fictitious conversation with the President while this man was standing in the doorway.

“Yes, Mr. President.  The office is great. . .we just need to get everything set up.  Tonight, sorry, Mr. President, I can’t make dinner tonight. . .I’ve got an important piece of legislation I’m working on.  Maybe next time.”

The Congressman hung up the phone and asked, “Are you with the Washington Post or the Washington Times?”

The man replied, “Neither, I with the phone company and I’m here to hook up your new phone.”

If we’re not honest with ourselves. . .there’s a better than good chance we’ll embarrass ourselves.

3.     Changing your attitude changes your environment.

How do you change your attitude?

Ephesians 4:23 in the Amplified Bible says:

“And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude].”

The scripture gets very specific when discussing the kind of attitude you should have.

Philippians 2:5 in the New Living Translation says:

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”

The Contemporary English Version of Philippians 2:5 puts it this way:

“And think the same way that Christ Jesus thought.”

You may be thinking… “that sounds good but how do I receive or develop that kind of attitude.”

Seven words.

Read your Bible. . .do what it says.

If you’re having trouble in your marriage. . .you must get rid of your old attitudes about your spouse. . .or perhaps some baggage from a previous relationship before you can embrace a new mindset.

If you’re having trouble with your children. . .you must get rid of your old attitudes about how you were raised . . .before you can embrace a new mindset.

If you’re having trouble with your boss or job. . .you must get rid of your old attitudes . . . before you can embrace a new mindset.

You must change. . .renovate your thinking by replacing the old with the new.

Romans 12:2 in the King James Version says:

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

According to Strong’s Concordance the Greek word for renewing is anakainōsis (G342) which means:

“renewing, renovation.”

When you renovate a house. . .you may take out the old unsafe staircase and put in the new.  You pull out the old unfit flooring and add in the new flooring.  You are replacing what isn’t wanted and isn’t working well with what is.

When we renovate our minds with the Word of God. . .we are changing our environment from the inside out.

If you’re renewing your mind. . .you take out the old way of thinking and put in the new.  That’s why I love the New Living Translation of Romans 12:2 which says:

“. . .Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. . .”

You bring the change in your life. . .you determine your attitude and the kind of day you will have.

4.     An attitude of gratitude will take you through the storms of life.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says:

“Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].”

The King James Version says:  “In everything give thanks. . .”

The New Living Translation says:  “Be thankful in all circumstances. . .”

The Message Bible translation says:  “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. . .”

Years ago, Charles & Frances Hunter went around healing the sick in miraculous ways.  She wrote a great book called Praise the Lord Anyway.  

Merlin Carothers also wrote a number of books about using praise to change your life.

It’s obvious that no matter what we’re facing. . .we need to immediately and continually be praising God.

We encourage you to write down a list the times that God brought you out of trouble, turmoil and turbulence.

Psalm 34:1 says:

“I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”           

Your attitude of gratitude will get you through whatever you’re facing.

We need to heed the life-changing words of Psalm 35:28 in the Amplified Bible:

“And my tongue shall talk of Your righteousness, rightness, and justice, and of [my reasons for] Your praise all the day long.”

Without question, if you want to feel the presence, power and protection of the Lord, start praising Him.

Psalm 22:3 in the Amplified Bible says:

“But You are holy, O You Who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered].”

When we live in an attitude of gratitude. . .when we get out in front of the battles we’re facing, then God will move quickly. . .and things will be accomplished quickly.

5.     Determine to be happy.

President Abraham Lincoln once said

“Most people are about as happy as thy make up their minds to be” and he’s right. 

Happiness is a choice that we make.  I didn’t say it was easy… but it can make a great deal of difference in our ability to cope with any given situation.

There is only one place. . .one way to find real and lasting happiness during troubled and uncertain times.

2 Corinthians 7:16 in the New Living Translation says:

“I am very happy now because I have complete confidence in you.”

Our happiness should never hinge on a news report. . .a doctor’s report or anything else.

Over the years I’ve had many people ask me how I can always be so happy even in the midst of difficult circumstances.  It’s because I sow happiness.

Bottom line. . .if you want happiness in your life. . .then sow happiness into the lives of others.

Sadly, there are people who want happiness. . .but have never sown the first seed of happiness.

If we want to be happy. . .we must sow happy thoughts.

If you ever saw the movie “Hook” about Peter Pan. . .you will remember that Peter had trouble flying until Tinker Bell told him the key. . .”to think happy thoughts.”

I’m sure Tinker Bell meant to say “Rich Thoughts” but that’s another teaching.

The best way for you to calm yourself in pressure packed situations is to think and speak happy, rich thoughts. . .which come from the Word of God.

There are a couple of other great reasons to think happy positive rich thoughts.

Studies indicate that it takes seventy hours of overcome just one negative thought.  I’ve also read that negative, unhappy thoughts will shorten a person’s life.

The great news is this.  God can take all the negatives you’ve ever thought out of your mind and emotions in record time if you continually put your trust in Him.

If you want to live longer. . .be a happy, positive rich thinker.

6.     Ask God for help

James 1:5 in the Amplified Bible says:

“If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.”

James 1:5 in the Contemporary English Version says:

“If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God. . .”

Asking the right person for help will solve all the problems you have.

When adversity strikes. . .when personal storm clouds appear on the horizon. . .we don’t have to go looking for God. . .He’s already there.

There is not a gust of wind, a bolt of lightning or even a drop of rain that’s unfamiliar to God.  He knows everything about us. . .and He’s always ready for us to ask Him for His help.

Ephesians 6:18 in the New Century Version says:

“Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God's people.” 

7.     Visualize where you’re headed

Write this down. . .

I need to visualize where I’m headed.   I need to visualize my miracle.  I need to visualize my success.  I need to visualize myself. . .as a rich thinker.

God’s promise is so very important because every Bible hero has had to start by visualizing their miracle…folks like Abraham, Jacob & David just to name a few.  They had to look beyond where they were in life at that moment … to where they wanted to be headed based on God’s promises. 

He’s covenant of promises to us is even greater than theirs.

Abraham could not receive from God until he saw himself the way God intended him to be. God wanted him to be the father of many nations. However, Abraham saw himself childless. As long as this unscriptural vision of himself prevailed, no miracle child could come to Abraham.

Hear the unbelief that filled Abraham's imagination:

Genesis 15:2 says:

"...Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless."

Can you just imagine God saying:

"Abraham, I can't give you a child if you don't see yourself with a child. I want you to get a fresh, new vision of the countless generations I am going to give you."

Scripture tells us that everything changed as soon as Abraham began to see himself receiving from God.

Genesis 15:5 says:

“And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them, and he said unto him.  So shall thy seed be.”

Abraham visualized his generations of children every time he beheld the stars at night.

I’ll share with you one other example of visualizing your miracle.

Joshua 1:4 says:

"From the wilderness . . . even unto the great river Euphrates, all the land... shall be your coast."

Notice that God is always very specific about the vision He gives His people. He didn't say "....just go and pick out some land somewhere." He had a choice, handpicked piece of real estate in mind for them.

Use your memory.  Replay past victoriesUse your imagination to pre-play in your mind those miracles that your heart has desired from the Lord.

Visualize your miracles. . .visualize where you’re headed in life.

This will take you through troubled times & misery to the place God promised … a land of peace filled with His blessed assurance.