Good morning, I am excited to be starting a new year and a brand-new message series entitled “Stay Positive”. I need this, because like so many people it’s easy to find myself drifting into negativity. In our world today we’re surrounded with negativity, whether you’re watching the news or just talking to people in the community it’s like there is an epidemic of negativity. You know, you hear it all the time, “My life stinks. I can’t stand this anymore, the world is falling apart, the economy is doomed, the school system stinks, you can’t trust anybody, and on and on… So what better way to start the year then to look at five important positive biblical qualities and allow God’s word to transform us into people who are positive, people who shine like stars in the universe, because of what God is doing in our lives.
You see, while there are a whole lot of things going wrong in the world around us, as Jesus followers there are a whole lot of things that are going right, and King Solomon said this in Proverbs 11:27, “He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it” (NIV). And so we want to “Stay Positive” seeking and drawing out the good, because if you want to be negative and miserable, search for it and you will surely find it. But let me assure you, if you bear with me for little while, you will discover that my message is not some sort of no gospel, feel-good type of preaching, but it’s positive because it’s grounded on the Good News of Jesus Christ. It’s positive because of what God says, not by what I feel, but because of what God says.
So today, I want to share with you eight different reasons to be positive because of what God said in the book of Romans. We’re going to look at one chapter of the Bible and see 8 reasons why no matter what you’re facing, no matter what you’re hearing, that you can be optimistic. So whatever your situation, this message is going to breathe life and hope into it, point after point, eight reasons to be positive.
The first reason is this, my sins are forgiven and my eternity is secure. This is important to know, because no matter what you have done, God doesn’t hate you. As a matter of fact, He loves you! You see 2000 years ago Jesus took all the punishment, all the humiliation, all the pain, dying for you and me, and by his stripes we’re healed. He paid for all of your sins and mine when he died on the cross. No matter how bad or terrible the sin, we don’t need to live under the guilt and shame, because the Bible says in Romans chapter 8:1-2: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (NIV). All the wrath of God fell on Jesus and the moment we receive him as Lord we’re set free, we receive a full pardon, we’re made new in Christ, our sins are forgiven and our eternity is secure in him.
So maybe, you’ve committed terrible sexual sin, seriously injured somebody, or hurt your family, betrayed a friend, or whatever, confess it to God, nailing it to his cross, and bringing it under the powerful blood of Jesus. You see, there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” and I don’t know about you, but I’ve been forgiven a whole lot and that makes me incredibly positive. Today I want you to get that sin out of your life, to confess it, to bring it under Christ’s blood, and to receive his grace so that you know that he doesn’t have any condemnation for you either. You see, Jesus shed his blood so that we could be forgiven, he’s risen from the dead so that we could be made new, and that makes me positively optimistic.
The second reason I’m positive is because Jesus is at the right hand of God praying for me. Isn’t that absolutely amazing? To think that when we come to God and say, “Here’s my life, everything I’ve ever done wrong, all the mistakes, all the stupid things I’ve done, please forgive me because of what Jesus did for me” that Jesus throws his arm around us and looks at God the Father saying, “I’ve got this one covered.” In fact, Romans chapter 8, verse 34 says, “Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (NIV). And interceding is just a big word that means that he’s praying, pleading, and intervening for us. He is in deep prayer for us at the right hand of the Father and as God turns to his right, he looks to Jesus, he sees Jesus’ righteousness, he sees Jesus’ perfection, he sees Jesus’ holiness… and he doesn’t see our sin.
Now I don’t know about you, but I get excited when someone who’s spiritually powerful prays for me, you know someone who hears from God, someone who has faith to move mountains. And so now the Bible tells us that it’s not just John, Patty, or Rebecca praying for you, but that the Lord Jesus Christ is actually sitting at the right hand of God the Father praying for you. And he knows exactly what you’ve been through, because he’s lived on earth, he’s been tempted in every way just as you are, and he’s interceding, negotiating, and praying for you. And so I’m pumped up, positive, and totally optimistic, because right now at this moment Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God the Father praying for us.
Number three, I’m positive because my future victory is greater than my present pain. Now we know from history that life is uncertain, once great civilizations have fallen, impressive cities are ravaged by war, earthquake, or flood. On a more personal level, relationships, finances, health, and jobs can change in the blink of an eye. And I don’t know exactly what you’re dealing with right now, who’s in the middle of something extremely difficult, and I’m certainly not going to suggest that it’s not difficult, but the Bible says in verse 18, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (NIV). Now this statement was not meant to diminish what you’re facing, but to emphasize the goodness and the glory of God. Remember this was written by Paul who was whipped, imprisoned, shipwrecked, beaten and left for dead, once bitten by a poisonous snake, and over and over again was tortured for his profession of faith in Jesus. Speaking by the Spirit of God he says, from an eternal perspective, with his eyes on heaven, that nothing on earth is even worth comparing to the eternal glory of what our God, whose name is above every name, can do through your pain.
I’m positive because of how good my God is and knowing that my future victory is greater than my present pain. In other words, there’s a great big light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m not positive because of what I feel, I’m positive because of what God says. That’s why it’s so important to build our faith on the rock-solid foundation of our unshakable God. There is no one more loving, merciful, powerful, or just. He is the ultimate, infinite, absolute Sovereign in every aspect of his being. There is nothing or no one greater. And we know this because he’s revealed himself to us in the Bible, he’s allowed us a glimpse of who he is, and as Isaiah tells us “The word of our God stands forever” (40:8, NIV).
Number four, I’m positive because my mind is filled with the peace of God. Romans Chapter 8, verse six says, "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (NIV). Now remember that this was written by the apostle Paul, who wrote about his "troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger" (2 Corinthians 6:4-5, NIV). And he says, “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” In other words, I can be optimistic, because I don’t have to be dominated by my fleshly sinful nature. My mind has been renewed, I’ve been transformed by the Holy Spirit, and I’m able to see things from God’s perspective, because of his goodness, because of his strength, and because he can bring glory to his name even out of the worst of situations. And so even in the middle of the worst of times you can have a supernatural peace that goes beyond your human ability to understand.
And so Paul tells us, “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life…” (Romans 8:6). You see, you’re either going toward life or toward death and so you can be positive when your mind is filled with the peace of God. When you’ve turned to Jesus, approaching him for forgiveness, relying upon his help to keep you from that old pattern of self-defeated living, and then fixing your mind on the Spirit, he reminds you of Jesus righteousness, that Jesus is holy, that Jesus is without sin, and that Jesus died in our place for our sin, so that we can have life and peace. I’m positive, because I listen to what the Spirit says, my mind is controlled by the Spirit, and I interpret all of life in light of His Word.
The fifth reason I’m positive from Romans chapter 8 is because, if God is for me, who can be against me? I’m positive, because the majority of things that people worry about never happen. Therefore worry needlessly steals our time and our energy, and worry is a form of fear as Joyce Meyers once said, “Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.” Fear is the opposite of faith and therefore faith is the remedy to fear as John tells us, “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). And Romans Chapter 8 drives this point home reminding us that “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?” (Romans 8:31-33).
I’m optimistic, because God is for me. Therefore, I’m going to set God-sized goals, I’m going to pursue God ordained passions, and I’m going to go after dreams that are destined to fail without God stepping in. I’m going to stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. I’m going to stop criticizing and start creating. I’m going to stop playing it safe and start taking risks. I’m going to worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. I’m positive because if God is for us who can be against us? I’m positive because I believe God is for me, that he has plans to bless me and prosper me, not to harm me, but to give me a hope and a future.
Number six, I’m positive because God’s Spirit helps me in my weakness. As a matter of fact, when I’m weak his Spirit makes me strong. Paul asks this in Romans chapter 8, verse 24, “Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness…” (NIV). Therefore you and I can approach 2016 with optimism, because the Holy Spirit helps us. When we’re down the Holy Spirit holds us up, when we’re hurting the Holy Spirit is our comforter, when we’re alone the Holy Spirit is our friend, and when we’re weak the Holy Spirit is strong through us. And here’s what I’ve noticed over the years, that God’s presence in our lives and his powerful hand may not always be recognized at the moment, but God is there nonetheless. As we look back over the years and consider certain important moments of our lives we can see clearly that God has mysteriously guided us. Paul says, “Who hopes for what he already has?” And so we can be positive because we know that, we’re never alone, when we’re weak we can be strong, because his strength carries us. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness” and therefore I’m positive not just because of what I feel, but because of what God says.
The seventh reason I’m positive is because God is working everything in my life for good. In fact, as a follower of Christ, you should be the most optimistic person in your house and on your block, because that’s exactly what God said in Romans chapter 8, verse 28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). Those of us who love God and have been called according to his purpose should be positive because the word “all things” in the original Greek means “everything”. In other words, God is working everything for good including the bad things, the things you wished never happened, the thing that right now is driving you crazy, and there’s not a single thing that will happen in your life that God will not transform into something that will eventually bring his goodness and glory into your life or your circle of influence. And I’m positive, because I can testify, as I look back over my life, I see the faithfulness of God taking those things that I would never choose and would never want to experience, and yet he transforms them into something good, something of lasting value.
That’s the reality of the goodness of our God. You can be positive, even when you don’t feel him, even when you don’t see him, even when you don’t think he’s doing anything, because faith tells us that he’s there. Faith tells us that he knows the beginning from the end. And long before tomorrow starts he’s already been there. He knows how things will work out and he’s so good and so powerful that he’s working in all things. And I pray this morning that this speaks to somebody, because the very thing that’s crushing your heart right now, one day in that very thing you’ll see the faithfulness of God. You can be optimistic, because God is working in all things to bring about good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
And then number eight, I’m positive because nothing can separate me from the love of God that’s in Christ Jesus. It doesn’t matter where you go, God is there. It doesn’t matter what you do, God still loves you. It doesn’t matter what happens in your life, God is still there for you. You can’t out run his love, because he’ll never stop loving you. You can’t escape his presence, because he’ll chase you down. And maybe this morning you know that, you want to be negative, you don’t want to like it, but there’s something inside of you that wants to believe. And that’s the faith that God put inside of you that says, “There may be a lot of bad things going on, but I have a God who’s bigger, a Savior whose name is above every name.” And that’s what verse 38 tells us, “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).
I pray that there’s someone here that will feel this deep in their soul; knowing that there’s nothing in this world that can separate you from the love of God. That’s why I am so positive, not because of what I feel or what I see, but because of what God says. I’m positive because my sins are forgiven, my Savior Jesus is at the right hand of God praying for me, my present sufferings are not worth comparing to the future glory that will be revealed, my mind is filled with peace, because my God is for me, his Spirit is not only working in my weakness, but he’s working in all things to bring about good, and there’s nothing that can separate me from his love.
I’m positive that God’s word is going to speak to someone today. That when everyone else says that the world’s falling apart you’re not going to look at life like that, because your God is too good for that. There’s a whole lot of negativity, but you’re positive not because of what you feel, not because of what you see, but because of what your God says and because of who he is. Choose with me this morning to believe in the goodness of God when everybody else is negative we’re seeking the good, and we’re seeing the goodness of God everywhere, because God is that good. Amen?
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
January 03, 2016