Good morning. Welcome to week number four of Stay Positive. We’ve been talking about staying positive in a world filled with negativity. We’ve talked about always seeking good, being thankful, always encouraging, and today as we wrap up this series I want to share with you some insight from God’s Word so that you may always be bursting with enthusiasm. This is good, because enthusiasm is the kind of attitude that influences not just each one of us, but the mood of those around you. As we stay positive, as you and I are bursting with enthusiasm, we set the tone of our environment.
Today as we look at enthusiasm we are going to discover that enthusiasm is actually the product or fruit of our relationship with God. Therefore, as those who Jesus said, are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we who are the church, the body of Christ, are those who let our enthusiasm influence the mood of those around us (Matthew 5:13-14). As we stay positive we must determine not to allow our enthusiasm to be misdirected so as to get caught up in chasing after the temporal things of life, because true enthusiasm is born out of intimacy with God. It’s not just a mood but it’s the result of our relationship with God.
However, you may have noticed, in our culture today much of our enthusiasm is misdirected as we pursue our favorite hobby, sports team, athlete, or celebrity. Even when it comes to work and a career we seem to swing between two extremes. On one hand, we obsess about our work, defining ourselves by what we do and how much we make. And then on the other hand, there are many of us who hate our jobs, who hate showing up for work each day, and who wish we could do anything other than what we’re doing right now. And then there are those of us who fall into both categories, hating our jobs, but still giving ourselves to it completely; body, soul, and spirit.
Recently the world mourned the loss of Glenn Frey, the founding member of the rock band, the Eagles, who alongside of Don Henley, sang songs like “Take it easy”, “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, “Already Gone”, and “Heartache Tonight”. Don Henley in his song “The Heart of the Matter” wrote, “Pride and self-assurance cannot fill these empty arms and the work in between us… it doesn’t keep me warm. I’m learning to live without you now…” And he speaks of an obsession for work, failed relationships, and an enthusiasm that has been misdirected. It’s just as C.S. Lewis said, “Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while it is really finding its place in him.” However, as followers of Christ, we march to a different drummer, we work enthusiastically, but we work for the Lord. We stay positive, because we know that nothing we do for the Lord is ever useless.
This is what our theme passage of Scripture tells us in Colossians chapter 3. Reading at verse 22, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:22-24, NIV).
In other words, employees, spouses, and children, work at it enthusiastically as if working for the Lord, because having the right perspective transforms that which may be mundane into something that is meaningful. So whatever you do, whether you’re shoveling snow, waiting on tables, teaching your children, or a CEO, whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, because enthusiasm is not so much a product of our environment as it is the condition of our hearts. So we can get up and go out each morning saying, “I’m going to stay positive, I’m bursting with enthusiasm, because I’m doing this for the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Today I want to share with you a story from the life of David so that we can learn how to stay positive when faced with monumental challenges. You see, David was one whom God testified concerning him, “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart…” (Acts 13:22). And so David was one who had great enthusiasm. When the people around him were grumbling, fearful, and anxious, young David was bursting with enthusiasm. You probably remember the story when the Army of Israel was at war with the Philistines and the great giant Goliath had challenged any Israelite to fight him, but no one had the courage, that is, no one except for the young David.
The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel chapter 17 at verse 40 that David, “Took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and with his sling in his hand approached the Philistine.”
Now I just love his enthusiasm don’t you? It’s contagious isn’t it? We love to cheer on the underdog, so whether it’s Indiana Jones taking on the Nazis, David standing up to Goliath, or whatever; we love to see the little guy win. We love the enthusiasm of those who overcome great obstacles, when it seems as if there’s no way to beat the odds, when the challenges are too great, the opposition is too strong, the resources are too limited, and it seems as if there is no way to win. That was David!
Continuing in verse 41, it tells us, “The Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, "Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. "Come here," he said, "and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!" (1 Samuel 17:41-44).
Now notice that the opposition came cursing. Have you ever notice that? Whatever giant, mountain, or obstacle that you have faced or you’re facing today has nothing good and nothing true to say about you. And that’s always how problems speak to us. That’s how addiction speaks to us. It says, “Your mine.” Your problems try to intimidate you saying, “You can’t lose weight, your marriage won’t get better, and you’ll never be happy.” Whatever mountain stands before you today it’s telling you what can’t be done, it’s impossible, you’re not worthy, and they’re wrong. So the important thing when facing the giants in our lives is to remember to speak to them from a place of authority and not to listen to them.
Look at David’s response in verse 45, “David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands" (1 Samuel 17:45-47).
This is the same enthusiasm with which we need to take on our problems. “In the name of Jesus, you don’t own me, you’re just a temporary inconvenience, and you’re about to be put in your place.” You see, we don’t have to be intimidated by our problems, because we’re not in this alone. The battle is the Lord’s and that is why David said confidently, “He will give all of you into our hands.” But notice that his courage and enthusiasm didn’t come from his own strength or his own ability, but from his confidence in God. He put things in the proper perspective understanding that Goliath was nothing compared to the power of the living God.
And today I want you to think of the greatest challenge you’re facing. Maybe an addiction? A financial struggle? Or a health problem? The question is not whether you can conquer it, but can God overcome this problem? And of course with enthusiasm the answer is absolutely! Nothing is impossible with God.
And so David’s enthusiasm was born from his confidence in God which was nurtured by his relationship with God. Listen to what David told King Saul before he faced Goliath. David said in verse 34, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine" (1 Samuel 17:34-37).
David trusted God, he walked with God, and he believed based on past history that his God was a faithful God and what he did once he’ll do again. His faith, passion, and enthusiasm were the result of spiritual intimacy with God and therefore he could say, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me” (Psalms 23:4).
So David’s enthusiasm was the result of his relationship with God. And some of you are bursting with enthusiasm like that, you have confidence like that, because you’re walking with God, your trusting God, and you’ve encountered the presence of God in worship this morning. You came here with the anticipation; and as we gathered there was a spirit of expectation, and it’s not based on something that happened years ago or something that you read about, you’re enthusiastic because you’re trusting God today, you’re walking intimately with him, and you’re moved by the presence of God.
This morning it’s contagious and we’re bursting with enthusiasm as David faced Goliath. It was a dramatic moment and verse 48 tells us, “As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead and he fell face down on the ground” (1 Samuel 17:48-49).
David confidently ran toward that giant with a stone in his sling putting his life on the line for the glory of God. His enthusiasm was much deeper than just a name it and claim it theology. He faced this giant knowing that if he wanted God to stand behind his words that he needed to be prepared to stand behind his words as well. You see there is a connection between the faith in your heart and the words that you speak, but there also must be a connection between the words that you speak and the actions that you take. Today when you speak to that giant, that problem, or difficulty, you must reach into your bag for a rock to experience the fullness of God’s blessings.
For the remaining time we have together I want to talk about those who are struggling with a lack of confidence, those of you who don’t have the confidence of David, because honestly the reality is that most of us are uncertain about our ability to fulfill certain tasks in our lives. Many of us feel insecure and are unsure about our future. Maybe if you’re like me, you feel like you’re not a good enough speaker, not a good enough dad, and you’ll ever measure up to what your parents expected or even what you expect of yourself. I mean let’s be honest, all of us have some part of ourselves, maybe multiple parts, where if we could change these 43 things we’d be happy. And so all of us deal with a lack of confidence in different ways.
There are many of you here today that aren’t living the life that God created you to live, because your confidence is not in the person that you should have confidence. And so you’re letting feelings of insecurity keep you from walking in the calling that God has for your life. Some of you right now are not interviewing for that job, because you think they’d never hire you. Some of you are not going back to school, because you feel like you’re too old. Some of you feel led to start a ministry, but you thought that nobody would come. It’s sad when we don’t even try to lose weight or get into shape because we’re afraid that we’ll fail. We don’t even attempt something for God because we don’t have the confidence.
And so as we’re wrapping up this series about staying positive I want to remind you that our enthusiasm comes from God. And there’s a principal found in first Corinthians chapter 10 that we all need to embrace. This morning we’ve seen the confidence of David facing the giant Goliath and when you and I are facing the giants in our lives we don’t need self-confidence but what we need is to nurture our confidence in God. The Bible tells us this in chapter 10, verse 12, "Forget about self-confidence; it's useless. Cultivate God-confidence” (The Message). Forget about self-confidence and instead ask God to develop within us a faith in God like David’s that’s based on confidence in God. As we close we’re going to look at three things to nurture God confidence, that will have us bursting with enthusiasm, and emboldening us step out onto the battlefield, to confront the giants in our lives, and to walk away victoriously.
First thing is that we need to recognize that our God is always for us. The apostle Paul says this in Romans chapter 8, at verse 31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Today we need to recognize, to remember, and to receive the truth that our God is for us. When you step up to bat and you know that your Heavenly Father loves you whether you hit it out of the park or whether you strike out and that changes everything. You’ll find that you’ll swing that bat with confidence, you’re going to connect, because you’re not swinging to please God, but you’re swinging for the one who’s already pleased with you. You see, you are acceptable to God not based on what you do or don’t do, but based on what Jesus did and therefore God is for you.
The second thing we need to recognize is that we can be confident because our God always helps us. We need to understand that God cares for us and he is here to help us. The Bible tells us this in Hebrews chapter 13, verse five, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.” And for this reason we can step out with confidence because the Lord is our helper. We have this deep spiritual confidence in God that removes all fear. And not only that, but the presence of God’s Holy Spirit gives you a comfort and peace that goes beyond our ability to understand.
This is the confidence that David had, this is the reason why he was so full of enthusiasm, because he knew that he wasn’t on his own. He knew that just as God was with him back then, that God was with him now. Psalms chapter 46, verse one reminds us, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble…” He’s always present, he’s with you now, and even those of you who are dealing with some stuff right now, he is helping you. And so we cultivate a God confidence because God is for you and God helps you.
The third thing that we need to recognize, is that our God is still working in us. God is still working in me, he is still working in you, and the Bible gives us this word of encouragement in the letter to the Philippians. Chapter 1, at verse six says, and here’s that word again, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” You see, God is still working and maybe you did something wrong this week, you’re still feeling the guilt and shame, but you need to understand that God is still working in you. You need to understand that God is not finished yet, God is still working, and maybe you’re still stuck in that same old sin, maybe by this time you feel as if you should’ve been more holy, and maybe you’ve walked away and you haven’t been intimate with God. I want you to know that God brought you here for this moment, because our God is not finished with you yet, he’s still working in you.
As we close today, I want you to think about what a little enthusiasm could do for your life. And I want you to consider whether you’ve let your environment affect your enthusiasm or if you through your enthusiasm affect your environment? Whatever it is that you’re facing today, whatever it is you’re going through, I hope you understand that you can be confident that our God who began a good work in you is faithful to carry it out to completion. Our God is for you and if Jesus Christ gave his whole life for you at the age of 30 something, if he died for our sins, then our only reasonable response is to give our lives back to him. That’s why we do whatever we do, wherever we are, no matter what’s happening enthusiastically and for the Lord. With all of our heart we glorify God so that our enthusiasm will influence our environment as salt and light in the world; not based upon how we feel, but as the result of our heart knowing who God is, and born out of intimacy with God. As we close in prayer and worship can we do so with some enthusiasm? God bless you!
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
January 31, 2016