Daily Devotions

Say "No" to Negativity's Grip

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You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

God made our lives for joy. Joy is more than fun. Joy can be fun, but it is more so. Joy can be happiness, but it is more than happiness. Joy is an expression of meaning. A life without meaning is fatalistic. The challenge is that most of us live our lives on the ragged edge of survival most of the time.

Thomas Oppong, in his article If You Are Not Enjoying Your Life, You Are Doing Something Wrong, says, “Enjoying life starts with shifting our mindset, seeing things in a new way, because our brains are wired to heavily focus on the negative.” Oppong rightly points out that the human mind naturally focuses on the negative around us. The negative is like a parasite that weaves its way into our minds, taking small discomforts and makes them bigger. Soon, any little negative is weighed with more power than fifty times as much joy. Too often, we are killing our own joy.

Oppong reminds us of the great Eckhardt Tolle quote, “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.” God lives with us in the present. We can learn about how God worked with others in the past. We can celebrate the Divine hope in a future under God’s ultimate control, but God is only with us in the present moment.

The way we bring joy into our lives, and to say “no” to the negative attitudes within, is to celebrate God’s promise to be present with us in the here and now. Joy isn’t about something that will happen in the future, it is occurring every moment. Even in our suffering moments, we can find joy in recognizing God’s hand in our midst. Today, make a commitment to break negativity’s grip, and find joy in experiencing God in the present. Tolle is correct. Anxiety, tension, stress, worry, will melt away as we remember God is present with us every minute, in every situation. En-joy God around and within you every minute of every day.

Responding to the Rude and Insensitive!

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Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander(1 Peter 2:1)

It is so easy to become bitter in the world we live in today. Using cell phones while driving turns otherwise good drivers into a horrible danger to those around them. People are working more hours, making them tired and cranky. It has caused many of us to misjudge other people’s intentions. Writer Gustavo Razzetti, in his article, “The World Is Not Out to Get You,” reminds us, “Never attribute to malice which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” The next time someone cuts you off in traffic remember, they are not out to stick it to you, they are just driving in a “stupid” manner.

The poet Goethe wrote, “Misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent.” Goethe is correct. Most people have increased their rude behavior not because they’ve become malevolent, but because our society has become more distracted and less aware of their surroundings. Now, the responsibility for a faithful response lies with us. Even when someone does something rude, we are required to temper our response until we are able to evaluate their motivation. Even then, we are called to forgive small slights.

Today, reflect on the most recent slights you’ve had to endure. How did they interrupt your life? Was it a slight, or simply distracted behavior? Was the person rude when they realized the situation upset you? You and I can have a legitimate complaint, and even a reason to make a fuss, and still be wrong. Their rudeness becomes a double whammy, hurting us twice, when we overreact and sin in return. Today, ask God to give you the patience and humility to not react to rude behavior until you are able to determine one’s motivation. Then, seek to respond in a way that honors God. Finally, remember to do as I say, and not as I do!

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