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Dr. Rick Mandl - August 16, 2020

How To Be More Positive

Sermon Manuscript: Stay Positive  Message 1- How To Be More Positive
Sermon preached by Dr. Rick Mandl, Eagle Rock Baptist Church , August 15 & 16, 2020

 

Hey church family it’s great to welcome you as we kick off a new series this weekend. And as we kick off this new series, the last thing I want to do is sound negative… But let me ask you... Is it just me or is everyone else getting sick and tired, of all the bad news in the world today? Can anybody out there say “AMEN” to that? If you feel the same way, just say “AMEN” in the chat box right now would you? “Say Amen” - - I’ll wait... It’s like everywhere that you look… Almost all the time...

 

Anytime you turn on the tv, there is just a lot of really bad news. People are getting sick... People dying... Jobs are vanishing... The economy is struggling... The nation is divided. And it seems like the message we’re hearing over and over and over again is that... This is the end of the world as we know it.

 

It does not take much to get sucked into the negativity, and the fear, and the anxiety that seems to overwhelm so many people today. And I’ll be honest with you... There have been many times in these recent days when I have found myself more emotionally on edge, than I was before this whole “Safer at home” thing started. I find that it’s easier for me to get angry. Almost to the point where I feel like it’s good that we’re social-distancing, because it doesn't take much to set me off. I feel like it’s easier for me to get discouraged. I find myself asking “How long is this going to last?” And are we ever going to get back to normal? And I have to keep asking God to help me to see the good, in the middle of all the bad. And to keep a perspective of faith, and a positive attitude. Why is this so important? I’ll tell you why… It’s so important because... A negative outlook never leads to a positive life and so today... What I want to say is... Enough of the Bad News! What I want to share with you is, why I am… And why I think you ought to be... Unshakably optimistic about the future. And as I say that, I want to explain it, because I know that optimism gets a bad rap. So let’s talk about optimism.

 

And first off I want to tell you what optimism is not… So that I can then explain what it is... First of all... Optimism is not a denial of reality. Optimism is not putting our heads in the sand and acting like everything's okay, when we know that it’s not. Optimism is not saying that nothing's wrong, in the world around us, when we know there are lots of things wrong. Optimism doesn’t deny reality, because the reality is that we are facing some very significant challenges all over the world. Optimism is not denial of reality.

 

Secondly, Optimism is not blind faith. It’s not some sort of wishful thinking that everything's gonna work out, even if we don't do anything about it. So - - - It's not denial of reality. It's not blind faith. What optimism is, is... Optimism is confidence about the future. Confidence about the future. Optimism is the unwavering expectation that God is working every situation for our good and his glory. Let me say that again... Optimism is the unwavering expectation, that our loving God is working in every situation, for our future good, and His ultimate glory. It's the unwavering expectation... It’s an assurance deep within our souls... That our loving God, is involved, and active, and at work in every situation for our future good.

 

So let me ask you... Based on that definition... Are you an optimistic person? Do you believe that God is at work, for our good and his glory. This is what the Apostle Paul said in Romans chapter 8 and verse 28. It’s our MEMORY VERSE for this week. He said... “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God, and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28). In other words, even A negative situation… Still holds the potential to produce a positive purpose. Why? Because we have a loving God, who has the ability to work in, and through every situation for our good and His glory. Every negative situation, still holds the potential to produce a positive purpose. If you believe that it will change the way you look at the present, and it will change the way you look at the future. So let me just ask you for a moment, to focus on that promise from Romans 8. And if you have never memorized that promise, I’m going to ask you to commit it to memory. And the reason I want you to commit it to memory, is because if you commit it to memory, you can bring it to mind. You can think about it. And if you think about that promise, it can change your perspective on things. It can help you to look for the good, in the middle of the bad. Let me ask you as question...

 

And the question is... How often do you think about what you think about? Believe it or not it’s an important question because.. What consumes your mind, controls your life. What do I mean? What I mean is... Think for a moment about the way that you view the future. How do you see the future? How do you envision the future, in your thought life? Because if your mind is filled with negativity, and fear, and worry, and anxiety, that's not good. Because what consumes your mind, tends to control your life. Whatever you think about, tends to direct your life.

 

Proverbs tells us, that as a person thinks in his heart, so he or she becomes. Your life is generally moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. And so if you tend to think the world is always in trouble, and you can't trust anyone, And you hate your circumstances, You're probably not gonna get to the end of your day and say, "Wow, this was the best day ever." What consumes your thoughts, controls your life. And that's why The quality of your life, will never exceed the quality of your thoughts. This is one of the big problems with pessimism.

 

Here’s what we need to recognize. Being content, being satisfied, being optimistic, It is not a state-of-affairs. It is a state-of-mind. What CONSUMES your mind CONTROLS your life So ask yourself... Are your thoughts, more about... Faith in God… And optimism... And belief in his power... And in his goodness... Or, are they more often about the negative... “The world is bad...” “It’s falling apart...” If you tend to drift toward the negative, here’s what you need to DO...

 

And you could call this the BIG IDEA. And the BIG IDEA is this... FEED MY FAITH; STARVE MY FEARS. Why? Because whatever you feed tends to grow. And whatever you starve tends to die. You need to starve the WRONG VOICES -the voices that rob you of potential joy. And you FEED the things that help you grow in faith. Two things you can do to help this to happen...

 

Number One - Limit your consumption of bad news. Number Two - Limit your consumption of bad friends. Why???? It’s hard to soar on eagles wings, if you hang around with a bunch of turkeys. Please don’t misunderstand me... Turkeys are good. They are good for Thanksgiving. They are good for low-fat meat. But they’re not good, if they are constantly feeding you negativity, and bringing you down. Proverbs 13 tells us... “Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.” I am so thankful that God has blessed me with a few really good friends... Some within our church, others outside the church.

 

I was sharing with a friend this week about a struggle I was going through... And he is a very compassionate friend so he sent me a card in the mail... A sympathy card... In fact he sent me something better than a sympathy card... He sent me a box with 12 sympathy cards... So that I could encourage others. Because he knows that that is what, most encourages me. I wonder, do you have friends like that? Friends who know you well enough to know the things that encourage you? Again, FEED YOUR FAITH; STARVE YOUR FEARS.

 

How do you feed your starve your fears? One way is to LIMIT your consumption of bad news. And for me, what I have to do, is I don't watch the news 24 hours a day. Because if I did, I’d want to give up... If I watched the news all day... I’d want to climb into the bathtub, and take a toaster with me. I’d want to end it all... So let me give you... Something To Think About. And the something I want you to think about has to do with what it is you’re putting into your mind. Let me ask you... Have any of you put on any weight during this whole stay at home thing? Any of you carrying around any extra COVID Weight? If you want to be PHYSICALLY HEALTHY, you ought to spend some time thinking about what you put into your body. In a similar way if you want to be mentally healthy, emotionally healthy, and spiritually healthy, you need to think about what you put into your mind. So let me give you something to think about.

 

And that something is this... If, on a daily basis... If I have more input from Mainstream Media  than the Word of God, Then you know what? Then any discouragement that I’m feeling is Self-Inflicted. If each day, I’m getting more input from the Mainstream Media, than from God’s Word, and I’m finding myself feeling discouraged... They my discouragement is Self-Inflicted. And so, what I do is, I watch the news every single day. 30 minutes max, once a day. Why? Because, I want to know what's going on in the world. But you know what? I can find out what’s going on in the world in 30 minutes and then I’m done. Any more than that, and I’m FEEDING my FEARS. And I don’t want to do that. I want to STARVE my FEARS. I want to FEED my FAITH. How do I do that? By getting into God’s Word, so that God’s Word gets into me. One way to do that is to take a portion of scripture, and don’t just READ through it... You focus on it... You meditate on it. You memorize it... So that it renews your mind.

 

Let me give you an example. Our memory verse for the week - Romans 8:28. Romans 8:28 is about the power of God that works in all things. You focus on it, and you think about it. You try to learn about the context. Do you know who wrote the letter to the Romans? It was written by the Apostle Paul. Who was it written to? It was written to a group of Christians, that Paul had never met, living in a city that Paul had never been to, but very much longed to visit. Romans is the longest of any of the letters that Paul wrote. And it’s kind of his biggest treatise on theology. It’s rich, it’s meaty, it’s weighty, there’s a lot of theology in the book of Romans. But in the midst of this book he also shares some personal insights.

 

What’s going on before this verse? What’s going on before Romans 8:28. You think about that and you’ll realize that Romans 8 comes after Romans 7 So you think about Romans 7 And I would encourage you to read through Romans 7, And here’s the reason why. If you read Romans 7, you will feel better about yourself. Do you know why? It’s because if you read Romans 7, you’ll discover that Paul was a mess. A total mess. Like I said, if you read Romans 7 it will make you feel better about yourself. When I read about someone who was a spiritual giant... Someone who wrote about 1/3 or the N.T... And I find out that there was a point in his life when he was losing it. I feel better about myself, when I’m losing it. In Romans 7 Paul kind of goes on this rant... He says, “I don’t understand the things I do” He says, “The things that I wanna do, I don't do,” And things like I swear I’m not going to do, "I end up doing those things, anyway. He says “I'm such a mess."

 

But then he gets to Romans 8 and he shifts gears And he’s sharing some truths. He shifts from his negativity, from focusing on himself... To reminding himself of those things that he knows to be true. He begins Romans 8 by telling us that There is no condemnation "for those who are in Christ Jesus." He says  - - -If you're in Christ, you are not going to condemned. You’re not going to be judged for your sins. If you’re in Christ - - - Your sins have been forgiven. And he makes this sharp turn, as he starts to renew his mind. He talks about the mind that's set on the flesh, and how it lives for the flesh. But the mind that's set on the spirit lives for the things of the spirit. He says if you're led by the spirit, you're children of God. If you're focusing on the spirit, your mind will be at peace.

 

And then just looking at one part of Romans 8. In Romans 8:18, this is what Paul says. He says that, "I consider that our present sufferings "are not worth comparing to the glory "that will be revealed in us." And you could stop there, and you could ponder that He says... "I consider that our PRESENT sufferings… All these things that we hate… All these things we're enduring, that are so incredibly painful… He says "Our present sufferings are not worth comparing "with the glory that will be revealed in us." So I remind myself, "Okay, we’re going through sufferings today. The apostle Paul went through sufferings.

 

"How did he suffer?" Well, he was imprisoned multiple times, And when I think about that I realize... That might even be worse than what I'm going through right now. He describes his sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11. He says... five different times he was beaten with 39 lashes. He says, three times he was beaten with rods, He says he was “Stoned.” And he was not referring to the recreational variety, He means he had rocks thrown at him. He tells us that three times he was shipwrecked. He says he spent a night and a day adrift in the sea. Just hanging on to some driftwood or something. He says he’s been hungry and thirsty. Shivering in the cold without enough clothing to keep him warm. He’s been betrayed and beaten. And yet he is the one who is saying to us... “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing, to the glory that is to come.” I think about that, and I let that feed my faith.

 

Our present sufferings aren't worth comparing to the glory that is to come. Where are you suffering right now? Where are you hurting right now? What have you lost? Some of you are experiencing hardships that deeply grieve your soul. I know that so many of you, you're facing a job loss right now. And that's real suffering. Some of you are worried that get sick. Some of you are sick, or you have relatives who are sick. Some of you are battling diseases like cancer. Some of you have challenges in your relationships right now. Some of you have challenges in your marriage, or with your kids, Or you're just trying to figure out how you are going to manage distance learning for your kids when school starts up? What you need to keep remembering is that the struggle you are going through... Although it’s real, and although it’s painful... It’s still not worth comparing, to God's future blessings and the glory that will be revealed in us.

 

So you starve your fears, and you feed your faith. You let God’s Word begin to renew your mind, Because your life is always moving in the directions of your strongest thoughts. So you read on, further in Romans 8 And you get to Romans 8:26 and you see that Paul says... "In the same way, the Spirit helps us "in our weaknesses."  Romans 8:26. And that’s good news for me, and it should be good news for some of you right now. Because I'm feeling incredibly incapable. I feel unsure a lot of  the time. As a pastor I’ve never had to lead through a time like this. How do I preach the right message, at the right time, for the right spiritual response? I find myself second guessing myself because they never taught me this in seminary. I don’t feel like I was trained for this at all. It’s then I remind myself, “He will never leave me. He will never forsake me,” "His spirit helps me when I'm weak,” His spirit - "The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead, "Dwells within me." And I feed my faith.

 

For those of you who are feeling weak… Who are feeling overwhelmed… Who are feeling discouraged. You feel like you can't take anymore at all… People will tell you, "Well, God helps those who help themseves." TIME OUT. Bible doesn't say that. Ben Franklin said it. Bible says, "God helps those who have given up on trying to help themselves." He helps those who are weak, He helps those who are broken, He helps those who cry out to him, asking him for help.

 

So if you're hurting right now, you’re in the perfect place to receive his help. If you’re hurting - He is your comforter. If you're confused - He is your guide. If you find yourself discouraged - He's your hope. If you're anxious - He's your peace. If you are weak - our God is your strength. So I feed my faith, I starve my fears. Then I go to Romans 8:28 and I let it sink in. "We know that in all things," In all things, In all things, God works for the good "of those who love Him… Of those who've been called "according to His purpose."

 

Many people feel like the key to happiness is - - LOW EXPECTATIONS. You want to be happy? Just "Lower your expectations. "Don't expect anything good. That way you're never gonna be disappointed. "If you just lower your expectations "and believe only bad things are gonna happen, "then you won’t be crushed when they do.” As followers of Christ, we ought not to lower our expectations. We ought to raise our expectations. Our expectations in the goodness, the faithfulness, the power of our God. So many people say, "I just want life to get back to normal." I want life to get back to what it was like 5 months ago. What we’re forgetting is that we were complaining about our life about 5 months ago. We were whining about all that we had to do, And now we wanna go back to that? I've got faith in God, that we can go back to something better than normal. That He can do something in us. I may not like what I'm going through, but I can appreciate what God will produce out of this present pain. God is working in all things, to bring about good. I believe by faith, that God can do exceedingly, and abundantly more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power. I believe that going through this, there are some of you, you're gonna come out on the other side, and your marriage is going to be stronger. I am optimistic that some of you, your families will be closer, Your love is going to be deeper for one another, Your generosity is going to become greater, I believe that through this there are Christians who are going to become bolder in their faith, that the light of the church will shine brighter, and that the harvest is going to be bigger because we lift up the name of Jesus.

 

I am optimistic in the goodness, and the faithfulness of God. Because His word is always true. He will never ever leave us, or forsake us. And so I feed my faith and I starve my fears, and Do you know how this eighth chapter of Romans ends? Here’s what it says... “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Do you know what that tells me? It tells me that no matter where I go, God is there. No matter what I do, God loves me. No matter what happens to me, God is for me. May we have the unwavering expectation that our God is working in every situation for our future good, and his ultimate glory. And let’s FEED OUR FAITH and STARVE OUR FEARS. Let’s pray...

 

 

Father I pray that you would help us to claim the promise that you will work everything together for good, for those of us who love you and are called according to your purpose. Father, right now, for whoever is watching this. I ask right now that you would meet them where they are. If you’re watching right now, and you’ve never said yes to Jesus. You’ve never said, “I choose to follow You. I pray that this day would be your day. That you would say, “I believe that you lived, you died, and you rose again.” Tell him that you’re a sinner. Tell him that you need his forgiveness. Invite him to come into your life and begin to follow Him. And he will lead you forward on an adventure of faith. Father, many of us have been following you for some time, and we still struggle with not being consumed by all the bad news around us. I pray you’d help us to FEED our FAITH. To STARVE our FEARS. And to remember that you can bring something amazingly good, even out of something incredibly bad. You did at the cross. And you continue to do it again and again for all who trust in you. I pray that we’d be found among that number. In Jesus' name - - Amen.

 

 

Scripture References: Romans 8:28, Romans 8:18, Romans 8:26, Romans 8:38-39

From Series: "Stay Positive"

You can discover a whole lot to smile about if you know where to look. And we can help you find it! Don’t let life get you down. Stay joyful. Stay hopeful. And Stay Positive! Cynicism and negativity may be the easy choice, but they're not the best choice. If you seek what’s good, you’ll see what's good. Let's embrace the way we're created to think and Stay Positive. This six-week series will help your attenders learn to be thankful and excited in spite of all the negativity we experience in this world. Weekly topics include optimism, gratefulness, encouragement, generosity, enthusiasm, and confidence.

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