Staying Positive in a Negative World
TEXT: PHILIPPIANS 4:6-9
TITLE: STAYING POSITIVE IN A NEGATIVE WORLD
ILLUSTRATION: ARE YOU UNDER OR ABOVE YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES
v Make no mistake about it, you and I live in a NEGATIVE world and the circumstances we encounter lead to being either positive or negative.
Ø This should NOT take any of us by surprise. Jesus gave us a “heads up” long ago. Listen to John 16:33.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Ø Two valuable truths surface instantly in this verse.
§ First, peace can be found BUT it is found only in Jesus.
§ Second, the only thing you can be sure the world will give you is tribulation and problems.
Ø It is a sad fact that you and I live in a negative world and that means you and I are in a world with many problems.
§ We are confronted with the evidence of this daily!
Ø That also means you and I are affected by the world’s troubles.
§ Violence, war and crime.
§ Alcohol, abortion and the breakup of homes.
§ Hospitals, cemeteries, prisons.
v We are NOT to be negative people.
Ø There is nothing worse in this world than a negative Christian!
Ø In fact, Paul says we are to be a rejoicing people. Listen to what he wrote in Philippians 3:1.
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
Ø The process of becoming a rejoicing people and the process of becoming a positive influence in our world means we focus on positive thoughts and praise.
§ We need to focus on things that are true, honest and just.
§ We are to focus on the things that are pure, lovely and of good report.
§ We are to focus only on those things that have virtue and are worthy of praise.
Ø Sadly I must report that NOT all Christians positive.
§ Today you don’t have to go far to find negative Christians.
§ You don’t have to go far to find believers that grumble and complain.
§ For some strange reason there is nothing anyone can do to make them happy.
Ø OK. So how do we keep ourselves from becoming negative? How is it we can stay positive in this negative world?
1. FIRST, IF YOU WANT TO BE POSITIVE IN A NEGATIVE WORLD YOU MUST RESPOND TO GOD’S LOVE
A. God’s love for us is seen in the blessings He bestows and the blessings He bestows should get a response from those blessed!
ILLUSTRATION: GOD’S BLESSINGS
B. Look at our text in Philippians 4:6-7.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
C. Now many of us think that this verse is solely about prayer.
D. Well, it is certainly that but it is so much more because in this verse we can see many of the things that reveal God’s love to us.
i. You see, we see God’s love for us in spite of the circumstances.
1). You see, God sticks with us through adversity even when friends flee.
ii. We see God’s love for us in creation.
1). All that God has made in creation was made specifically to sustain your life and make you happy.
2). Why is it so many are not happy? They have failed to recognize that the cards they have been dealt have been dealt by God and He makes NO mistakes!
iii. We see God’s love for us in pages of the Bible.
1). Time after time and verse after verse God has given instructions that will help us be the best we can be.
2). Listen to Romans 15:4.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
iv. But the place where we see God’s love the clearest is in the ugliest place of al.
1). You see, God’s love shown the brightest at Calvary!
2). Hard to imagine that God would use the ugliest man had to offer to demonstrate the best He had to offer but He did!
v. We also see and experience God’s love through answered prayer.
1). If God didn’t love why would he want us to pray?
2). If God didn’t love why would He answer those prayers?
APPLICATION: TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT GOD’S LOVE BY LOOKING AT THE BLESSINGS HE BESTOWS AND IT WILL LIFT YOU OUT OF THE PIT OF BEING NEGATIVE AND PLACE YOU SECURELY ON THE ROCK OF POSITIVENSS!
2. SECOND, IF YOU WANT TO BE POSITIVE IN A NEGATIVE WORLD YOU MUST REPROGRAM YOUR WAY OF THINKING
A. Thinking is not something most are noted for anymore. Thinking fits in along glass blowing, it is a forgotten art.
i. It has been said that if you are a thinker you are a minority.
ii. You see, 5% think that they think and 85% would rather die than think. That leaves only 10% who are real thinkers.
B. But verse 8 not only encourages us to think but helps us to know what we should think. Look at verse 8 in Philippians 4.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
C. We are constantly bombarded with negative messages.
D. We brag about “real time” in this age of instant communications but there is a significant downside to being in “real time”.
i. It means we are instantly and constantly aware of the world’s problems.
ii. It means all of the violent acts of our world are instantly reported.
1). This week alone we witnessed many horrible acts in the news media.
E. There is documented evidence of the psychological dangers of being exposed to constant negative input.
i. If you ever had to work around a negative person for a while you will know exactly what I mean.
ii. Imagine going through life with a perpetual cloud of negativity hanging over your head every day!
F. But by the same token there is tremendous significance and influence to things that are positive.
i. For instance, to be around people on a daily basis who are positive always makes the day better even when circumstances do not cooperate!
ii. To be around those who are positive almost always ensures that you will have a day that is more productive.
iii. To be around those who are positive means we come home and interact in a more positive nature in family relationships.
G. But the road to being positive is built with the bricks of having things in your life that build your faith.
i. Developing a devotional life. (whispering sweet things to Jesus)
ii. Daily Bible reading and prayer. (Jesus talking to you)
iii. Starting every day thankful. (sacrifice of praise)
iv. Expecting God to come through.
H. The word “think” in verse 8 is a significant word.
i. It is NOT a word depicting a thought that merely passes through your mind. It is much more than that.
ii. It is a word that literally means to meditate.
iii. To mediate means to “chew” on things that are:
1). True, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable.
2). Excellent and praiseworthy things are the things we MUST focus our thoughts on.
iv. Where do your thoughts take you during your “slack” time?
v. What is it that your mind tends to focus on when it is not actively engaged?
APPLICATION: THE TRUTH IS, YOU ARE NOT ONLY WHAT YOU EAT BUT WHAT YOU THINK. THE THOUGHT IS THE DADDY OF ALL OF YOUR ACTIONS. THINK ABOUT THAT ONE!
3. THIRD, IF YOU WANT TO BE POSITIVE IN A NEGATIVE WORLD YOU MUST RECOGNIZE THE BEST IN OTHERS
A. This thought is nestled within verse 8 also.
B. The simple truth is ALL people are imperfect by nature.
i. Paul, quoting from Psalm 14 and Psalm 53 said in Romans 3:12 that there is NONE good.
ii. Simply stated, there are no perfect people.
iii. There are no perfect churches.
iv. There are no perfect pastors either!
C. But as imperfect as people can sometimes be there are positive things about them and we owe it to them and we owe it to God to find those things!
i. Some are true, honest and just.
ii. There are some that have great reputations and are well reported of by friends and acquaintances.
iii. In fact, there are even some that do praiseworthy things. Not only are they doing praiseworthy things but oftentimes they go out of their way to do them.
D. It is interesting to note that something special happened to Paul as he wrote this letter to the saints at Philippi.
i. You see, when Paul began to write and paused to remember the people at Philippi he had this to say:
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
ii. How could Paul say this?
iii. I mean after all, these too were imperfect people.
iv. These people had all the same problems you and I experience.
v. Paul was able to say he thanked God for them because he made a deliberate choice.
1). Paul chose to only remember the positive things about them.
2). There had to have been negative things he could have dwelt on.
3). There had to be negative things he could have spread about them.
4). But instead he chose to talk about the positive things.
APPLICATION: THE THINGS WE REMEMBER ABOUT OTHERS AND THE THINGS WE PASS ON ABOUT OTHERS STEM FROM OUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THEM. THINK POSITIVE THINGS OF THEM AND YOU WILL SPEAK POSITIVE THINGS OF THEM.
4. FINALLY, IN ORDER TO BE POSITIVE IN A NEGATIVE WORLD WE MUST REACH OUT TO LOST AND HURTING PEOPLE
A. Folks this verse speaks to us of compassion.
The dictionary defines compassion as: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it
B. Listen to verse 9 of Philippians 4.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
C. You see, it is imperative that you and I look out onto the fields that are white unto harvest rather than looking out onto the fields to find the faults of others.
D. Paul pleaded with the people of Philippi to do the very same thing he was doing.
E. He encouraged them to imitate him.
i. You see, Paul was always reaching out to the lost.
ii. Paul willingly loved lost souls and longed for their salvation.
F. Winning people to faith is paramount.
i. Winning people to Christ is the one thing that will always bring out the positive in you.
ii. It is what will bring joy into your life.
iii. Listen to Psalm 126:6.
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
v It is faith in Christ that enables us to be positive in a negative world.
v And you can be sure of this it is a positive testimony that will bring others to Christ.
v What are your thoughts today?
v Does your thought process need help?
v Come to Christ today for salvation.
v Come to Christ today for a “makeover” of our thought process.