By Pastor Timothy Neptune
Every year around this time the old classic Christmas movies start coming on television. It is easy to start a conversation at work by simply asking, “So, what’s your favorite Christmas movie?” Mine is Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life.
Some of you might be able to relate to George Bailey this holiday season—lost, confused, stressed out,
or at the end of your rope. Perhaps you are even thinking that it would be much easier to die than to go on living as you are.
Perhaps for you life isn’t a joy right now. Maybe the debts are high and funds are low. It might even by difficult for you to even enjoy your family as you know you should. You may be wondering, “Is it really possible to live a wonderful life?”
I think the idea of a wonderful life is not that you can attain a wonderful life, but that it is an attitude that results from having certain issues settled in your life.
Truthfully, no one’s life is wonderful—even Christ’s life was filled with pain, hurt, loneliness, rejection, and sorrow. It is your attitude that determines how you “feel” about your life. You are the one responsible for settling the issues in your life and having an attitude of wonderment. So, what are the issues that need to be settled?
The first issue is to determine what you are going to love. To have a wonderful life, you start by having an attitude of love toward God and others. I say this first because where you choose to direct your love is going to affect every other area of your life. Love is a decision we make to place a high value on someone or something.
God loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die for us. Jesus died to prove how much He loved us. God desires more than anything else to have a loving relationship with His creation. We were created to love God and other people. Maybe this Christmas it would be good for you to find a person or family in need and help them by buying some food or gifts. If you want to feel loved… start by loving others.
The second issue to settle is… how am I going to live? To have a wonderful life, you need an attitude of joy. This attitude deals with how you look at life. Are you a positive person or a negative person? If you are a person with joy, it simply means that you are cheerful. Over 350 times the Bible talks about us having a spirit of joy or rejoicing.
Joy isn’t a feeling that is produced only when good things happen. Joy is the attitude by which we look at the things that happen to us and then respond in a way that lets everyone know we are trusting in God’s grace in spite of our circumstances. Remember the disciples in the Bible… they had many negative things happen to them, yet in spite of it all, they had joy.
I’ve heard it said that you don’t feel your way into an action but rather act your way into a feeling. If you want to be a joyful person… start acting joyful around others and you will most likely begin to genuinely feel joyful.
The third issue to settle is…who are you going to help? If you want to have a wonderful life, you’ve got to get beyond serving yourself, and start serving others. Isn’t that the lesson that George Bailey learned? His life was wonderful because of all the people he was able to help in his lifetime.
When Clarence showed him what life would have
been like had he never been born he realized that he really was making a difference in the world! His life did have purpose! Mr. Potter only cared about making money. Violet only cared about pleasure. But George understood a greater truth: life is better when you are working to make other people’s lives better.
Understanding these things can make all the difference in the world. You are not here to fall in love with money and things—you’re here to love God. You’re not here to point out all the things that are wrong with the world—you’re here to spread the joy that God has placed in your heart. You’re not here to serve yourself—you’re here to serve God and others—thus making a huge difference in the world.
Tim Neptune is the lead pastor of Venture Church Naples, a new church located on the campus of Florida South Western State College in Naples, Fl. For church times and other information, visit www.venturenaples.com or call (239) 775-5323.