Jesus certainly understood the power of a negative environment. When He raised people from the dead, He always sought seclusion. He kicked all the unbelievers out because He knew their unbelief could affect the results. In the sixth chapter of Mark, we read that even Jesus could do no mighty works in His hometown because of their unbelief. Jesus always operated in faith.
So how do you stay positive in a negative world? Let me start by using these verses from Joshua.
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest” Joshua 1:5-7
Here the Lord was speaking to Joshua, who was taking over for Moses, a hard act to follow. The Lord told him, “Moses is dead. Now you go.” Then He told Joshua to be strong and of good courage and not to be afraid or dismayed. These are opposing forces. If you are afraid and dismayed, then you are not strong and of good courage. They counteract each other. So you’ve got to do two things and resist two things.
“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.” By emphasising this, God was promising Joshua that if he would be strong and of good courage, nothing would prevent His will from being accomplished through Joshua’s life.
The Lord doesn’t automatically do things for you – He flows through you, and if you get discouraged or dismayed, you stop the process.
It says in Ephesians 3:20,
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in usThe phrase “according to” means in proportion to, or to the degree of, the power that is working in us. God flows through us. If we become discouraged, we stop the flow of God’s power.
Here’s another example: In 1 Samuel we read the story of a terrible situation that David was facing. His father-in-law, Saul, was trying to kill him. He had been persecuted and running for his life every day for thirteen years. And now, all his possessions had been burned, his wives and all of the wives and children of his men had been taken, and his own men wanted to stone him. Not a great environment!
Yet 1 Samuel 30:6 says,
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.Things looked bleak, David was in a situation where everything in the natural said “be discouraged and be afraid,” but David encouraged himself in the Lord. Do you know how he did it? He took the Word and began to encourage himself, and it was only a matter of hours before what God had promised him came to pass and he became king. If he had have given in at that last minute, he would have lost.
I’m telling you, brothers and sisters, I see a lot of people today who stand for a period of time and then quit. It’s like there are limits on how long they’re going to believe God. You might be thinking, Well, how long am I supposed to stand? The answer is simple: You stand until it works, until you’re encouraged. You just don’t ever give up.
If you say “Here’s the line. I’m only going to go this far,” I can guarantee you that Satan is sharp enough to figure out where the line is and push you past that point. But when you say “I’m not quitting, ever. I’m never going to give up,” it makes a huge difference in the results you get. This is what God was telling Joshua: “Be strong and of good courage, no matter what.”
You need to recognize that Satan is using the evil and negative things of this world to discourage you, even if they are not affecting you personally. You can get discouraged watching politics, reading the newspaper, and listening to the news. If you don’t resist this, it will cause you to be discouraged and dismayed, and worst of all, your love for God will grow cold (Matt. 24:12). You have to choose to be encouraged – to encourage yourself in the Lord.
The Bible says in Isaiah 26:3 that the Lord will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed upon Him because they trust in Him. Our peace is linked directly to what we think upon. We are plugged into this world like no group of Christians has ever been – reading, listening, and watching the same ungodliness as the world and then wondering why we get the same results. It’s simple: Garbage in, garbage out.
The Scripture says to resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). The classic example of failure to do this is in Numbers 13. Moses sent his men to spy out the Promised Land. The land was so prosperous that one clump of grapes had to be put on a pole and carried between two men. The report came back that it was a land flowing with milk and honey, but that there were giants in the land.
Caleb and Joshua had a good report:“
And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” Numbers 13:30
But the other ten spies had a negative report:“
But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we” Numbers 13:31
Look at what happened later on, in Joshua, chapter two, after Moses had died, and the children of Israel were finally ready to enter the Promised Land. They sent two spies to Jericho to check out its defences. A harlot named Rahab took them into her home, and here’s what she said in Joshua 2:9 and 11,
“I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you…And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”
When Joshua and Caleb said in Numbers 14 “their defence is departed from them” (Num. 14:9), they were right; that’s exactly what Rahab confirmed. If the Israelites would have encouraged themselves in the Lord and obeyed God, they never would have spent forty years in the wilderness, and the generation that came out of the land of Egypt would not have died in the wilderness.
I’m telling you, unless you have a deliberate plan to encourage yourself in the Lord, you’re not going to be encouraged. It is not normal to be encouraged; it’s normal to be discouraged. It’s abnormal to be strong and of good courage, but it is certainly doable. God’s Word will tell you exactly how to do it. And praise God, I want to be a part of encouraging you and helping you be strong and of good courage today.
I have just taught a new series called How to Stay Positive in a Negative World. I can’t encourage you enough to order this new teaching. I was strengthened and encouraged as I taught it, and I know it will make a huge difference in your life as well. If there was ever a time that we need encouragement, it’s now!
I have made it available in audio CD and DVD, recorded live at a recent Gospel Truth Seminar. To order, go to our website: www.awme.net or call our Helpline: +44(0)1922 473300
Jamie and I want to thank all of you for helping us take the message of God’s love and grace to the world. You are a blessing to us and to those whose lives are being changed because of you.
We love you,
Andrew & Jamie
P.S. Thanks to those who have and will become Foundation Builders. Plans are progressing on the Cannock development for our future AWME Headquarters / Charis Bible College campus. If you would like to know more, please go to our website – www.awme.net – where you can read the “State of the Ministry” article, review the Foundation Builders brochure, and watch a video
How To Stay Positive In A Negative World
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