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. 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.
B. Now we think that this is solely a verse about prayer.
C. 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.
ii. We see God’s love for us in creation.
iii. We see God’s love for us in pages of the Bible.
iv. But the place we see God’s love the clearest is in the absolute ugliest place of all and that is Calvary!
v. But another place we see and experience God’s love is through answered prayer.
APPLICATION: THE LOVE OF GOD AS IT IS REVEALED TO US ON A DAILY BASIS SHOULD CAUSE US TO CEASE TO BE NEGATIVE!
2. SECOND, IF YOU WANT TO BE POSITIVE IN A NEGATIVE WORLD YOU MUST REPROGRAM YOUR WAY OF THINKING
A. 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.
B. We are constantly bombarded with negative messages.
C. While we brag about being in “real time” in this age of instant communications there is a significant downside.
i. It means we are constantly aware of the world’s problems instantly.
ii. It means all of the violent acts of our world are instantly reported.
D. There are 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.
E. By the same token there is tremendous significance to the positive.
i. To be around people who are positive always makes the day better.
ii. To be around those who are positive are always more productive.
iii. To be around those who are positive means we come home and are able to interact positively in family relationships.
F. The road to being positive is built with the bricks of having a regular faith building input in your life.
i. Developing a devotional life.
ii. Daily Bible reading and prayer.
iii. Starting every day thankful.
iv. Expecting God to come through.
G. The word “think” here in verse 8 is a significant word.
i. It is a word that literally means to meditate.
ii. It means we are 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.
iii. Where do your thoughts take you during your “slack” time?
iv. What is it that your mind tends to focus on when it is not actively engaged?
APPLICATION: YOU ARE NOT ONLY WHAT YOU EAT BUT WHAT YOU THINK. THINK ABOUT THIS!
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. There are no perfect people.
ii. There are no perfect churches.
iii. You will undoubtedly be shocked at this but there are no perfect pastors either!
C. But as imperfect as people can sometimes be there are positive things about them.
i. There are certainly some that are true, honest and just.
ii. There are some that are well reported of by friends.
iii. In fact, there are even some that do praiseworthy things.
D. When Paul paused to remember the people at Philippi he had this to say:
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
i. How could Paul say this?
ii. I mean after all, these too were imperfect people.
iii. He made a deliberate choice to only remember the positive things about them.
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. 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.
B. You see, it is imperative that you and I look out onto the fields that are white unto harvest rather than the faults of others.
C. Paul pleaded with the people of Philippi to do the very same thing he was doing.
i. You see, Paul was always reaching out to the lost.
ii. Paul willingly loved lost souls and longed for their salvation.
D. Winning people to faith, winning people to Christ is the one thing that will always bring positive joy into your life.
i. 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.