Good morning. We are taking a break from our usual studies today and we are going to focus our minds on positive thinking. I have entitled my sermon Be a Positive Thinker. Before we start to really deal with the subject, though, let me address myself to all of you who want to have some more children someday. You know, as future parents, it is time to begin thinking about a few things. One of these is the name you will give your child. Now the older couples, here, who’ve already had a family, can tell you how, sometimes, it is difficult to come up with the right name. You spend days trying to come up with names. Can I live with Henry Frérot or Abraham Frérot or Lyncoln Frérot or Harvey Frérot? It’s not always easy.
But I have a suggestion for you if you want a future name. Let me offer a few: You could call your child Shammua, Shaphat or Igal. How about Palti, Gaddiel or Gaddi? You might want to take a pen to remember these when the time comes. There is also Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi or Geuel. Now how do you like these? Maybe Greg could suggest them at the next birth he assists. They are all Bible names, by the way! Go to Numbers 13. I’ll show you. Here is what we read from verse 1 to 20. “….” Now did you remember who these men were before I took you there? Why not? Do you remember the name of Caleb and Joshua? So why not the other 10? I tell you we don’t because they were all negative thinkers. They were the ten spies who later said, “It can’t be done!” Look at verse 30. “…” You see, these men were negative thinkers and, because of it, they became failures. They kept Israel from possessing the promised land and spent forty years attending funerals.
I tell you, today, negative thinkers are never successful and never remembered for long. No one in the long run wants to be identified with them. They may win over the crowds at first, but sooner or later, people get tired of their attitude. And so that brings me to an important question. Would you qualify yourself as a negative thinker or a positive thinker? Which category do you fit in? You may put yourself on the positive side, but what would your mate say? What would your children or your co-workers say?
I. Negative thinking.
Do you know why it is so difficult to be a positive thinker? It is because we live in a negative world. The world has somehow started to believe that life is supposed to be perfect; that you should be able to get whatever you want; that you should never hurt or be lacking in anything. And when the world’s idealistic views hit reality, the clash drowns people in a sea of negativity. They whine, complain and totally overlook the silver lining in the dark clouds. They retaliate and devise some dark means to get what they want. And honestly, many times, we have been influenced by their thinking. It is tough to swim against the flow.
As we start, though, let me say this. Satan is, and always has been, the sponsor of negative thinking. In Rev. 12:10, we are given a description of the Devil. It says, “…” You see, the Devil was defeated at the death of Christ. He was defeated because he was the accuser. Now I don’t know of a more negative thing than spending day and night accusing the children of God. I think just with this verse, we could show Satan is the chief instigator of negative thinking. Think. Who was it who also entered Judas to suggest the evil scheme of betraying Jesus? In Luke 22:3-6 we read, “…..” You see, Satan sponsors negative thinking. He sponsored Judas’ thinking. He sponsored Herod’s thinking when he tried to kill all the babies to destroy Jesus. He sponsored Pharaoh’s thinking when he tried to kill Moses. It was evil that sponsored eating of the prohibited fruit; that sponsored pride and deception in Adam and Eve’s hearts; that sponsored the answer of the ten spies when they said, “It can’t be done!” And today, when we start thinking negatively in the church, it is still the Devil who sponsors this kind of thinking.
Now the voice of Satan comes in many forms. At times, the negative voice of Satan causes man to say, “There is no God!” You hear it all around you; but, I tell you, it is tragic when the young people, of our fellowship, leave home and start rejecting all faith in God that has been instilled in them. Satan is hard at work and he is very convincing. Sometimes, his voice says, “There is no God.” Sometimes, his voice says “It can’t be done.” How many times in the church have we failed to reach out, to do mission work, to sponsor missionaries or to do a good thing in the community because of these phrases: “It can’t be done. The enemy is too strong! We are too small. We lack resources. We lack numbers. We lack the energy.” And the list goes on and on!
Sometimes, also, the voice of Satan comes like this. “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Or, “You are just a carpenter’s son.” “You are nothing special.” “You’re from Nazareth.” Maybe you haven’t heard that many times. But saying to someone, “You will never amount to anything!” is just the same. It is in different words, but it has the same meaning.
And how many times do we discourage our children with these words! “You are no good. How could you say or do that! You’ll never amount to anything!” And we destroy their self-esteem with our negative thinking.
And then, finally, sometimes the devil’s voice comes like this. “Curse God and die!” That was the wife of Job’s words when he faced trials. Now we know from the story who was at the origin. It was the Devil who wanted to see Job fall. He said, “Give up!” through Job’s wife. “Give up. It’s not worth it!” How many times in the face of discouragement, have you heard that? I thank God that he blessed me with a wife who is not a negative thinker. I wish you knew all the times, in the past, that I’ve wanted to quit preaching because of the difficulty of the job. And you know what my wife has told me every time? “Stay in there. God knows. He’ll help. Anyway, you wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. That’s where He’s wanted you to be all along – in the shoes of a preacher.” I don’t always believe it; but she does. That has gotten me over the phases of discouragement. But I wonder how many have a spouse like mine? How many say, “Hang in there” instead of, “Curse God and die”. How many of us have quit great works through the years because of the Devil’s sponsored negative criticism or discouragement? You see, evil seeks to destroy godliness, families, the Bible and the Church with negative thinking and, too often, it succeeds. If we listen to negative thinkers, we will never step out in faith and follow God’s leading. We’ll never reach our potentials; we’ll never win souls; we’ll never be happy!
It reminds me of the story of the two frogs who once were hopping along a road. One took a wrong step and fell into a deep rut in the road. His friend said, “Oh no! You’ll never get out!” And sure enough, he couldn’t. The friend waited for a while and finally gave up and went away saying to the other frog, “See you in heaven!” The next day, the negative frog walked the same road and met his friend again. Only now, the frog was out of the rut. So the negative one said, “How in the world did you ever get out?” The first frog said, “A semi-truck was coming. When I saw his wheel coming for me, I jumped higher than I ever thought I could!” You see, getting out of a rut takes positive motivation, not negative discouragement.
I love what Proverbs 23:7 says. “….” You see, you are shaped by what you think. Your actions will reflect your thinking. If you think negatively, you’ll never reach your potentials. It’s like when you’re on the diving board. If you are afraid, and think you’ll hurt yourself when you jump, you won’t jump. But you know what it takes, sometimes, to overcome negative thinking – a little encouragement.
A farmer, once, was chased by a bull. Now the only tree he could hide in was one with the first limb 12 feet above the ground. At first he thought, “I’ll never jump that high.” Then he heard the bull snort and he leaped for the branch. He missed it completely. Only one thing saved him. He managed to grab the branch on his way down! A little encouragement – throw away the negative thinking and it’s amazing the potential you’ll reach.
II. Positive thinking
What do you think when you think positively? You have God’s thinking. You see, God sponsors positive thinking. Look what is said in Numbers 14:24. “….” You see, Caleb and Joshua had a different spirit in them. They were not negatively sponsored by the Devil, but positively sponsored by God. For this, they were rewarded. They said, “We can take the land!” And indeed, they did, even in their old age. I think Caleb was 85 when he conquered his mountain. Because of it, note that today, their names are still remembered and popular. Little babies are named after them!
Who else was positive in their thinking? How about David? Didn’t people tell him he couldn’t prevail against Goliath? “He’s too big for you to go against!” But all he could think was, “Yeah, he is big. But he is so big, I can’t miss him!” And God sponsored his thinking. Who else could we talk about? Noah! Noah built an ark on dry ground in the midst of negative thinkers. Columbus, years later, became great because he set sail for the Indies through the West, though negative thinkers said, “The world is flat. You’ll fail.”
Jesus was also a positive thinker. He gave his life for men when the Devil tried to convince Him they were not worth it. Paul said in Phil. 4:13, “….” Was that negative thinking? John says in I John 5:4, “….” You see, when you are born of God, you overcome the trials of this world. You overcome the obstacles and the mountains in front of you. When you are born of God, you have the strength to overcome the negative thinking of this world.
III. Areas where positive thinking is needed
A. Be positive about God and his faithfulness. A little boy told his mother he was
going out to play catch with God. She said, “how can you play catch with God?”
He said, “It’s easy. I just throw the ball up and he throws it back every time!” You see,
we need this kind of faith towards God. We need to be positive in trusting what he does.
We can depend on God’s law of gravity, right? Then in the same way, we can depend on all
His laws. Why do you think the prodigal could, in the mud of his sin, say, “I will arise
and go to my father!”? It was because God is good and faithful. Don’t let Satan make
you negative in regard to God and his faithfulness.
B. Be positive towards Jesus and his church. You see the church is the most
important possession of Christ and it should be the most important possession of my life.
It is the vehicle of our salvation. I know so many people, who all they do is criticize
it. “This could be better and that could be better and this can use change. If only we
were more …..” And the criticisms go on and on. Are you that type of person? Do you
only see the wrong in His church? Do you ever spend the same amount of energy on thinking
and speaking positively as you do about being negative? Granted, the church is not perfect.
It can always use improvement. But you’ll never get a perfect church. If you do, you
don’t need Christ anymore! Or, if you do, you are not growing in the community and getting
new immature souls. Or, if you do, you don’t have man in the church anymore because we are
all imperfect. You know, sometimes, the reason why church elders, deacons, preachers and
teachers can’t satisfy us anymore is because our negative mind set prevents us from seeing
their work and abilities. Don’t be like that. Put the church first in your life and be
positive about it.
C. Be positive about your service to God.
D. Finally, be positive about your family, your friends and your job. See the good in
others, not their limitations. Let your words give life, not death. Paul says in Eph. 4:29,
“…..” Isn’t that about being positive in our words? Build up one another. So often, we
are like the man in the story of the hunting dog. You see, once, a man bought a new bird
dog. When he went to the lake and shot a bird for the first time with his dog, the dog
ran across the top of the water and brought the bird back. He did this several times.
The man was absolutely astonished. He went home and invited his neighbor to come to the
lake to see his amazing dog. So the next day, they went to the lake together and he shot
a bird again. The dog did the same thing. He ran across the water, came back and dropped
the bird right before the neighbor’s feet. Now the man was so excited, he said, “What do
you think of my dog!” Do you know what the neighbor answered? “I bet he can’t swim, can he?” You see,
so often it’s the way we are. We think negatively and we destroy others, instead of
building them up. Don’t be like that.
Be a positive thinker. Today, if you know you haven’t been a positive thinker, why don’t you start glorifying God?