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Sunday, May 17, 2015 am                                    Perfection 2015 Index

 

GOING ON TO PERFECTION (16)
Spiritual Growth 3
Optimism – 1

 

We have been addressing various descriptions and attitudes associated with developing into the Christian God would have us to be.  This month we have addressed the need for spiritual growth.  We have defined it and last week we addressed reaching your full potential.  In this lesson and our next one we want to address having a positive mindset.  It is crucial that we believe we can grow if we are to do it.  And such attitudes are essential when we begin making practical application to various aspects of the life of a Christian.  So today let’s talk about optimism in the life of a Christian.

 I.                    What is optimism?

a.        Optimism – “a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.”[1]   THIS needs to be the disposition or tendency of the Christian. 

b.       We are NOT discussing blind optimism.  That is, we are NOT implying that one should ignore the negative in one’s life.

                                                   i.      If you have a disease, ignoring it will not make it go away. If you are living in sin, the last thing you need is some slick spiritual salesman telling you that you are fine the way you are, that you don’t need to repent.

                                                  ii.      Paul was blunt in warning Timothy about such teachers and their followers - 2 Tim. 4:2-4.
When needed, reproof, rebuke and exposure are necessary. 
BUT realize that such is needed only because things are NOT as they ought to be!

                                                iii.      The scriptures are also strongly address those who ignore their spiritual depravity -
Rom. 11:22 – speaks of both the goodness and severity of God
2 Cor. 5:11 – knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men
Heb. 10:31 – it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God

c.        BUT, at the same time, we need to believe we can change for the better and that we can do what God asks of us.  We need to believe that we can overcome our weaknesses, obstacles and even our sins.  This mindset is crucial to going on to perfection.

d.       Pessimism is a tool of Satan.

                                                   i.      One that he uses well to convince us we are failures and cannot overcome our weaknesses, sins and obstacles.  He will do what he can to put you down and to keep you down.  That is why we NEED an optimistic attitude.

                                                  ii.      The problem with spiritual pessimism and cynicism – in God’s word, pessimism is never viewed in a positive light.  The cynic who always finds fault and sees the potential for failure and impure motives in everything.   

                                                iii.      Far too many projects fail to be completed or even started because people have a negative mindset.  It kills churches and the zeal in the lives of Christians.

                                                iv.      In 2 weeks, we will address this attitude in more detail as we notice some negative attitudes that hinder growth. 

e.       But today we want to notice that God wants us to be optimistic and in general to have a positive mindset. 

 II.                  Biblical passages that describe optimism

a.        Jesus emphasized optimism in His teaching

                                                   i.      Matthew 7:7-8,Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Jesus calls for us to go to God believing we will receive what we need. 
James 1:6-7 warns of the one who doubts when he asks.
-  Also, Jesus also tells us to seek and knock noting that we have to do our part anticipating that we will find success

                                                 ii.      John 16:33, speaking to His apostles He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”   

                                                iii.      As He sent out both the 12 and the 70, I am convinced, His purpose was to instill optimism in them that God was with them (Luke 9:1-5, 10, Luke 10:1-23).

                                                iv.      Matthew 17:20, after failure by some of His disciples, as Jesus was explaining why He said to them, “…I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you…”

b.       Philippians 4:8, Paul emphasizes the types of things we are to “meditate” or “think” or “dwell” on.  Notice the list is qualities that are good and uplifting.  Especially notice, whatever things are of good report and things that are lovely – that which cause one to be pleased or delighted.

c.        1 Cor. 13:7, in summarizing what Christian love (agape) is like Paul says it, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”   This describes a mindset that is looking for the best outcome in a given situation.

d.       Romans 12:3,  For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.  The word used in this text addresses arrogance which describes one who has an inflated opinion of himself.  It is NOT saying that we should not think highly of ourselves, instead we should not think MORE highly of ourselves than we are. 

e.        2 Cor. 12:10, – “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  This is in the context where Paul has asked the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh some 3 times.  Rather than being bitter, Paul makes the best of his situation.  Here is your positive mindset at work.

f.         1 Cor. 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.  This verse tells us we CAN handle whatever comes our way.

g.         Philippians 4:13,I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Again, Paul’s attitude is not defeat, but victory.  Be reminded this letter was written while in prison in Rome. 

h.       Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  While addressing how God will accomplish His purpose, you see reason for optimism. 

i.         Examples in scripture:

                                                   i.       Joshua and Caleb – As spies return from Canaan the majority gives a negative report (we can’t win, the people are too big, etc.) we read, “Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”” (Numbers 13:30)   In Num. 14:8, as Joshua and Caleb plead with the people to obey and go they say, “If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’  We CAN do this was their plea.

                                                  ii.      Joshua – after Joshua becomes their leader that LORD appears him and builds him up (Josh. 1:1-9).  In vs. 9 we read, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

                                                iii.      David facing Goliath – 1 Samuel 17 records how the Philistines were tormenting Israel through Goliath.  None would stand against him (lack of faith) until David, a young, shepherd boy comes.  He demonstrates confidence throughout this chapter – as he offers to fight the giant he notes how God has been with him and his past success in defending his sheep.  In vs. 37 he says, “Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”” (1 Samuel 17:37)   Moreover, when facing Goliath who mocks him and God we read, “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45)

                                                iv.      Elijah facing the prophets of Baal – 1 Kings 18 during a morally dark period in Israel’s history records Elijah challenging Baal and his priests with a challenge.  As the false prophets plead with their non-god, Elijah mock them and their supposed deity, “And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.”” (1 Kings 18:27) .  Then he prepares his sacrifice in such a way there is no question the LORD is the ONE true God.   Again you see great confidence. 

                                                  v.      Hebrews 11:13-16 – these all died in faith…

                                                vi.      Barnabas – throughout his life he demonstrates encouragement toward others.  He sees potential and is optimistic.  One example of this is when Paul seeks to join the church at Jerusalem and they are hesitant.  Barnabas stands up for Paul in Acts 9:27.

                                               vii.      Paul and Silas singing in prison - Acts 16:25.  Having been arrested, rather than complaining, they are praising God in song.  It turns into an opportunity to convert the jailer and his family.

                                             viii.      Jesus as He tells Peter he will be sifted by Satan, “And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”” (Luke 22:31–32)   Notice it is not IF, but WHEN!

                                                ix.      Jesus and His resurrection – Matt. 16:21, 17:23, 20:19 – Jesus often reminded His disciples that while He would be killed, on the third day He would rise.

j.         Thus we can see numerous passages and examples in scripture that demonstrate our need for a positive attitude as we serve Him.  There are many reasons for this. 

 

In our next lesson, we will continue this study by noting some words in scripture that demonstrate the type of disposition we need to possess as Christians.  We will also notice some things we can do to develop this mindset. 



[1] "optimism." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 16 May. 2015. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/optimism>.