Let’s Be Positive Christians

April 29, 2007

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

Psalm 23

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Our title and our topic for today is, “Let’s Be Positive Christians.” Let’s be positive-thinking Christians, positive-acting Christians. My dear friends, I believe that the decision to be a positive person, the decision to be a positive Christian isn’t something that we can make once and for all. It’s a decision that we have to make every day. Maybe we have to make it even more often than every day. Sometimes we have to decide to be positive every five minutes or so, depending on what life is throwing at us at the time. But my invitation to you, and my challenge to us both, is that we be positive-thinking Christians. Let’s decide to look at life from the highest point of view. Let’s be positive about things.

 

You know, my friends, we are not positive people because life is perfect. We are not positive people because everything is just right. We are positive people because we decide to be, because we want life to be abundant, the way that God would have it be for us. In the scripture, Jesus says this in John 16:33, a most important scripture: “In this world, you have tribulation” – in other words, in this world, not maybe you’ll have tribulation, not sometimes, some people have tribulation. Jesus is saying, “I understand, in this world you have tribulation.” “But,” says the Lord, “but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

 

Those are our marching orders. Friends, I invite us this week, no matter what life throws at us, to decide that we are going to be positive people, that we’re going to decide to be positive Christians. I base this solidly on scripture that we’ve heard this morning. The beloved 23rd Psalm is one that many of us love. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Why do we all love that psalm? In short, I believe it is this: the 23rd Psalm is a powerhouse of scripture, packed with positive words one after the other. Let’s take a look at it.

 

“The Lord is my shepherd.” Not ‘I think’ or ‘maybe’ the Lord is my shepherd or ‘on good days’ the Lord is my shepherd. No. “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” Those are positive, powerful affirmations. “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” He brings me to the good places. “He leads me beside still waters. He restores…He leads me in right paths…I fear no evil…You are with me…Your rod and your staff comfort me…You do prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…goodness and mercy follow me all the days…I shall dwell in the house of the Lord.” One affirmation after another.

 

No wonder we love this scripture! We are attracted to this scripture like magnet to metal, because there is something in our soul that knows that the positive thought is the good thought. And the 23rd Psalm is filled with positive thoughts. Oh friend, this week, won’t you make the decision to be a positive thinking Christian?

 

I’d like to talk with you today about just one little phrase, the first verse of the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” There are three affirmations that I’d like to extrapolate from this, three positive thoughts I’d like you to take with you into the week. First of all, I have everything I need. Second, I am enough. Third, the Lord is my shepherd. I have everything I need; I am enough; the Lord is my shepherd. Those are three positive thoughts I’d like you to take with you into the week.

 

Now, you may have hopes and dreams for greater things in your life, for more abundance, for the fulfillment of some plans. I invite you to think with me today about this idea that I have everything I need. God has provided me with whatever I need for the living of this day. I’m not going to enter this day thinking “I don’t have enough of this” or “I don’t have enough of that resource.” I have what I need. I’d like you to think, “God is sending special blessings my way.” They may not be expected blessings; they may be unexpected blessings. But whenever they occur, I’m going to thank God for them. God is sending beautiful and unexpected blessings your way this week, and when they happen, when they occur, when something good happens for you, say, “God, I thank you for this wonderful thing that I didn’t expect, for the sight of a robin on the branch of a tree, for the sight of yellow daffodils and purple flowers growing near my lawn.” It’s an unexpected blessing, but it’s a symbol that God is giving us what we need for the living of this day.

 

[Pastor Tony singing as he plays the piano]

Every time it rains it rains
Pennies from heaven.
Don't you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven.
You'll find your fortune falling
All over town.
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down.
Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers.
If you want the things you love
You must have showers.
So if you hear it thunder
Don't run under a tree.
There'll be pennies from heaven for you and me.

 

You know, you may have hopes and wishes, and they may come true this week. But if they don’t, I invite you to look for the things that God is sending your way and say in your heart, “I have what I need.”

 

I wonder how many of you have had the experience of walking along a parking lot or along a sidewalk and finding a penny. Have you done that? I invite you to think of that as a symbol of God’s providing for you. And as you go into the week, say, “I have just what I need, because of the generosity of God.” Pick up that penny if you find one and say, “Thank you, God, for this symbol of your providence and your blessing. I have what I need.”

 

The second positive thought I’d like to take into the week with you is this: I am enough. I’ll bet many of you who walk into situations trembling, as I often do, saying “I wonder if I’m equal to this task. I wonder if I have what it takes.” Well, I invite you to remember the 23rd Psalm – “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” I am enough. I have what it takes for this situation, whatever the situation that you’re going into this week.

 

I was riding in the car with my godson, Dylan, and we were listening to the radio. There was an advertisement for a doctor. The ad was saying what a great doctor this particular person was; he does this procedure pain-free and that procedure and on and on. And then the ad mentioned the doctor’s name and I gasped. Dylan turned to me and said, “Why did you do that?”

 

I said, “Well, because I happened to go to that doctor once, and I had a very bad experience.” Listen to what Dylan said – he said, “Well, maybe he’s better now.” Isn’t that good? Isn’t that wonderful? I do not know whether this doctor is better now. Maybe he is. But I thank God for a child who had the insight to think that, because if that’s a possible thought, then maybe God thinks that of me. Maybe God thinks, “I had trouble with him back there, but maybe he’s better now.” I’d like to hope that. And I’d like to hope that because God is my king, I can be better, and I can be enough, and I can rise to the task that God has put before me.

 

You are enough. Take that with you. I don’t know where you’re going to need that this week.  But you may need to say just those words, “Because God is my shepherd, I am enough.”

 

It was this past Good Friday night and my phone rang late at night. It was a young woman who is studying for the ministry, and with whom I’ve been working along the path. She said, “Do you have a word of encouragement for me?”

 

I said, “What’s the matter?”

 

She said, “I’m on my way to the hospital. I want to talk with a friend who is very sad. I don’t know how to treat her – as a minister? As her friend? I don’t know what to do. I feel so inadequate.”

 

I said, “My friend, just go and be her friend. Just be with her, and know that your very presence is sacramental. You are enough.”

 

She said thank you, and that is just what she did. And that’s what I’m saying to you, my friend. In a situation where you wonder about yourself, you wonder about your worth, say, “I am enough.”

 

And third, remember the Lord is your shepherd. God will provide. No matter what the situation, the Lord will provide. Haven’t you been through situations that looked so impossible, perhaps financial ones, and all of a sudden things came together, and there were funds from unexpected sources, and there was prosperity where you didn’t think there would be prosperity? Things came together. God provides. God will provide.

 

Let there be a positive thought in your mind. Let there be a positive affirmation, and you will be opening the door for God’s rich blessings to come into your life. Hold in mind that you have what it takes, that you are enough, and that God will provide. And the way will be opened for God’s prosperity, for greater prosperity, to come to you as well, because God loves you. I do, too. Have a wonderful week. Amen.

 

© 2007 Anthony J. Godlefski