Faithlife Sermons

Staying Positive in Negative Times

Rock Steady After the Storm  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Attitude is Everything

Attitude is everything.
Staying positive when things are negative is so important.
You know how much I hate exercise. Why would I do that to myself on purpose?
Negative feelings, pain, exhaustion.
How do you stay positive 10 minutes into a 30 minute workout?
By focusing on what will be, not what is.
What will be is a healthier heart, less weight, lower BP.
Like dieting. Staying positive is important to the success of the diet.
Negative feelings of hunger, missing bread, pizza, butter, ice cream; things that make you fat.
If all you do is focus on what is and how much you miss it you’re bound to fall off the wagon.
When I diet I can’t focus on what is. I have to focus on what will be. A leaner, meaner me.
It can be like going to work, earning money, and saving some.
Even if you enjoy your job there are days or seasons when it’s hard to get up and go.
Then, once you’ve worked hard and earned the money how tempting is it to spend even more getting what you think you want as a reward for the hard work.
Regret is not being able to get what you want b/c you got what you wanted.
Negative feelings of the daily grind and sacrificing what you want now so you can.
What motivates us to keep going to work, spending less than we make, not buying everything we want, saving for the future?
We have to work for 45 years, maybe more.
A positive attitude, focusing on what will come when we can retire, have a cabin in MP or a condo in the valley, a side by side to join the Rough Riders, cruises when the ships sail again, and vacations when the planes fly again.
Focus on what will be and not on what is.
We have t/b able to see how much better it will be and there has t/b a real good possibility that it really will be.
Childbirth. I am amazed at the pain Sara was able to deal with and deliver 3 healthy babies.
What keeps a mom from quitting? If she quits mid-labor it’s life-threatening for her and the baby.
The only way to keep going is focus on what is coming.
When she’s done, she’ll have a baby.
This works for just about every situation that hurts, that’s hard, and is a struggle.
Don’t focus on what is, but focus on what will be.
But, we have to be able to see something good about what’s coming.
If there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, i’ll quit exercising, start eating, I’ll spend all my money and go into debt. At the time, I may be less miserable but for much longer.
How can you thru chemo and radiation?
How can you get thru the loss of someone you love?
What keeps us from folding up our tents and calling it a life?
Stay positive in negative times, when you’re losing something. Losing some stuff, losing your health, losing ppl close to you, losing money, losing your social life, losing what had become your normal regular routine.
Like now. For all of us.
We’ve all lost money. Either in our retirements savings or in salary.
We’ve lost stuff. Less toilet paper in my bathroom cabinet.
Some have lost their health. We know ppl who got sick.
Some have lost their life.
We’ve lost our social lives, church activities, and school.
This has been a negative like no other time in my life. We’re coming out, it’s getting better, getting some things back. But there is the real risk of shutting things down again.
I talked to someone who’s daughter works at FMC and said they are preparing for a reappearance of the virus in October.
Preparing for the worst, hoping for the best.
Maybe it will maybe it won’t.
We’re trying to stay positive. But we don’t know what the fall will be like. So, how do we focus on what will be in the all, or next year.
This may be not so temporary.
This is similar, though not as bad, as the situation the church was in when Peter wrote this letter to them.
This is a letter to encourage them to stand strong, remain rock steady in a significant storm.
How do you stand firm in such a violent storm? How can anyone be rock steady in and after such a negative time when so much is lost?
It begins w/ an attitude. A positive attitude in negative times.
And, that’s where Peter starts this letter by reminding them to focus on what will be not what is to stay positive.
And, in this case, as in ours, what will be started a while ago so it can be found now. We just need to know where to look.
The future elicits an emotional response today that was predicted in the past.
They were struggling. Nero went nuts on the Christians.
Persecution broke out and it was cruel and unusual.
It wasn’t safe for Christians to remain and be seen in public in Rome or Jerusalem. Certainly not to get caught worshiping or praying together.
Rumor has it there is a house in MP where the residents had just sat down for breakfast one morning and they got a call that a contract hit had been put out on them and they needed to leave immediately.
Supposedly, they grabbed what clothes they could, left their food on the table, and hightailed it out of here. The remnants of their breakfast are still there on the table.
I don’t know how true that is, but it makes a fun story.
What if that was you. You had to run for your life immediately, if you were found you’d be killed, your family, too.
Think about what you would leave behind and what you’d miss the most.
House? Church? Agee’s? PWCC? Friends? Job? Money? Security?
If you used a credit card or w/drew money out of you account they could trace you and find you.
This is the negative time Peter’s readers were having.
So, he had to start out by focusing them on what the future held, on what will come. That’s what will keep their attitude positive and enable them to remain rock steady in this storm.
They’ll be rich.

Future Wealth

1 Peter 1:3–5 NIV
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
This is the source of hope in hard times.
We will be rich beyond our wildest dreams. There will be nothing that we won’t be able to have or do that will satisfy us at our deepest.
And, we don’t deserve it one bit.
Mercy for sinners. The first time we mess up God is perfectly justified to squish us like the bugs finding their way into our houses right now.
I used to grab some TP to squish the bugs and flush them. Now I used a paper towel and throw it in the trash.
God has high standards. One time is all it takes.
But, He is merciful. He does not punish us in the way we deserve.
We have hope b/c He’s given us new life when we deserved to die.
What was a hopeless situation is now filled w/ hope.
The Greek word is ‘anagennesas’ . That means God caused us t/b born again. Not only did we not deserve it, we couldn’t do it if our life depended on it. And, it does. But He does if for us.
Peter refers here to 2 episodes when he was personally there to witness what Jesus was doing.
First, the convo w/ Nicodemus when Jesus told him he had t/b born again. But, now, as Peter describes it, this isn’t something we muster up on our own, it’s done to us.
The second episode is the transfiguration. He was there.
We have been born again into a living hope based on the fact that Jesus is still living.
If Jesus wasn’t still alive what hope do we have?
How does Peter know Jesus is still alive?
He was there to see Moses and Elijah when they met w/ Jesus in the Garden. How long had they been gone, yet they are still alive.
Our hope is not manufactured or a product of positive thinking. It’s based on fact and reality. It is alive and well. All we have to do is grasp it and use it.
And the inheritance, yes we will be rich, but everyone will be rich. So, nobody will be rich. We’ll all be in the presence of God in heaven.
This is just like the land promised to Israel. Given as a gift from God. It’s theirs, permanently.
The only times they are not allowed in it is when they have been punished. Punishment does not nullify ownership.
When they end up there in the future, do you expect their Muslim neighbors to simply step aside and let them in.
God will have to do it just like He did it the first time.
The land is still there and Israel is waiting for their return.
Heaven is there and we are waiting our arrival. No one can take it away from us.
In fact, God is guarding it and us. It won’t fade or spoil.
And He is shielding us. A military term like an army guarding a city from w/ in.
God is protecting us from the inside. So an enemy may get close, but will never be able to take us away and prevent us from what God has promised to do for us.
No matter what happens. No matter how dark things may be now, the light will come on.
Stay focused on the light.
That will produce an emotional response.
The struggle is real. But, when you sell out completely, surrender everything to grab onto the hope that Jesus offers, you will feel something that may not make sense.
The certainty of future wealth produces a present joy.

Present Joy

1 Peter 1:6–9 NIV
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
It’s real. Not something we have to manufacture.
It requires more than knowledge. We can know something in our heads but for it to produce this kind of emotional response it had to get deeper into our heart.
When it does that we will have freedom from fear in the face of hard times.
God is sovereign. Nobody rules Him, overrules Him, or forces Him to do anything. He does what He wants.
And, He wants to save us.
Knowing He is sovereign and has a plan for us still requires a response from us. Faith. Believe in it the plan.
Faith turns sound belief into sound behavior. Make sure what you believe is true and behave like it is.
Then, what’s the worst that can happen?
Philippians 1:21 NIV
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
To sell out to this truth will produce an emotional response of joy even when life is hard.
Trials and loss cannot diminish our deep abiding joy based on the hope we have.
Even hard times are a cause for joy b/c of what they produce in us.
James 1:2–3 NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Peter says we will suffer grief in these trials.
We grieve anytime we lose something.
We think of grief when someone dies.
But we’ll grieve if we lose our keys.
Denial
Anger
Bargaining (guilt)
Depression
Acceptance
In negative times, when we suffer loss, loss of social contact, loss of live sports on TV.
I don’t mean to trivialize this. But, grief is real and denial is the first stage.
Peter used that word on purpose. They grieved all they lost. There was pain in their persecution, but their sense of loss overwhelmed their physical pain.
But, in these situations God is refining and proving our faith.
This passage is filled w/ certainty, not wishful thinking.
God would never put us in a situation where failure is the only option. He will place us where we’re forced to look beyond our own abilities.
That’s where faith works.
And, he is refining us like gold and silver.
They are purified by turning the heat up so high it burns off the impurities.
Burns hurt.
You know the metal is pure when you can see your image in it like a mirror.
God is purifying us and our faith. We are pure when God can see His image in us.
Peter saw Jesus, we didn’t but we believe anyway.
That produces joy b/c we are receiving what God has promised us.
By focusing on what will be we will see that it has already been given to us so we can experience some of it now.
Our hope is alive based on reality. It works. Faith works and produces positive emotions in negative times.
And it was predicted hundreds of years ago to work just like it is.

Past Predictions

1 Peter 1:10–12 NIV
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
We just came out of a study on the last 3 prophets; Zechariah, Haggai, and Malachi.
Zech has more to say about what was going to happen when Jesus arrived than any other book.
They were writing for us. They didn’t fully understand it. They just wrote what God directed them to write down.
We get it much better now than they did.
In all, there are over 400 prophecies about Jesus in the OT. Every one has come true except the ones that are about his second coming.
Peter is writing to a group of ppl who are struggling more than they ever had in their lives. Probably more than the previous generations.
So, they could easily become focused on themselves and what they’ve lost.
So, he wanted to get them to see that there is a rich history of faith and failure. Prophets wrote during painful times, worse than what they were suffering at the time.
But, they promised a coming Messiah. In fact, a Messiah who would come not once, but twice and establish His kingdom for all who believe.
We look back and know about the first time He came.
We look forward to the second.
Until then we will face times of blessing and times of hardship.
Whether good or bad, the only way to stand firm, rock steady, is by focusing on what will come.
It’s a certainty. Hope in the bible is based on certainty. The only question is when.
So, w/ everything we’ve lost now, whether temporary or permanent, we can look beyond and see what awaits us.
We don’t get too high when we’ve got it and we don’t get too low when we lose it.
Remember, this is Peter. Who learned experientially, not to look at the waves or the wind but to focus on Jesus and where He will take him.
He was able to stay positive when he was about to lose his life.
We can stay positive in negative times by focusing what will come and not what is.

Applications

Mercy

I never like to emphasize the negative. But, for this one time, think about how much worse it could be.
We could have run out of TP for months.
There might be a meat shortage, but we have meat and lots of vegetables still to eat.
The virus has not made a big appearance in MP. It could have devastated us like NY. it didn’t.
God has a restrainer in place limiting how bad anything can get. In the end He removes Him.
But, for now, what can you thank God for that you have less of but still have some of?
What are you thankful for that has replaced something you lost but you realize what you have is pretty good?
Be thankful. It could be worse.

Joy

Do you have joy?
Would this be a word those around you would use to describe you?
If not, then very likely you are focusing too much of your energy and attention on what you’ve lost or are afraid you will.
Find joy.
Joy is a fruit. You don’t plant a joy seed and immediately get a fruit.
W/ apples, you plants a seed, you get a sprout, in about 5 years you get the first fruit which is distasteful.
Fruit is the result of cultivating the soil and the tree.
Cultivate the soil and tree and in time harvest joy.
Focus on what’s coming. Not what’s here now.

Faith

This is all based on faith.
Knowledge won’t save you. Satan and his demons know Jesus is the Savior and the son of God and they aren’t saved.
Do you believe? Have you recieved?
This is perfect time to say you don’t need to walk the aisle, raise your hand so I can see, or do anything.
Right where you are now, privately, choose Jesus.
Tell Him you’ve chosen Him. You’re done trying on your own to manufacture hope, positive thinking, or any other reason to have joy.
The only reason that lasts is the living hope that a living Savior provides.
Faith in Who He is to do what He Says He will.
How do you stand firm in such a violent storm? How can anyone be rock steady in and after such a negative time when so much is lost?
It begins w/ an attitude. A positive attitude in negative times.
And, that’s where Peter starts this letter by reminding them to focus on what will be not what is to stay positive.
And, in this case, as in ours, what will be started a while ago so it can be found now. We just need to know where to look.
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