Monday, July 12, 2010

Developing Christian Optimism

Last week we looked at Post Millennial optimism which was the norm among Christians up to 60 to 70 years ago. People like Matthew Henry, Johnathon Edwards, John Wesley, etc. were all staunch post millennialists. Therefore, they had a mindset of post-millennial optimism.

Hymns such as Onward Christian Soldiers and Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus were written in this optimistic frame.
Contrast the majority of early Christians were POST millennial and therefore optimistic as to the direction the church and country was going to take
With the majority of contemporary American Christians who hold a PRE-millennial viewpoint and therefore are pessimistic as to the direction the church and the country are going to take.

Post Millennial viewpoint is that things are going to get better and better and THEN Christ will return.
On the other hand, the Pre-Millennial viewpoint is that things are going to get worse and worse before Christ returns.

NOTE: Which end times scenario is true remains to be seen!!
We do have good reason(s) for concern (pessimism)
However, there are many reasons to be optimistic as well!!

The sermon last week gave Reasons for Optimism (concerning the nation)

This week: we're looking at Developing Christian Optimism.
The focus is not national but personal.
The focus is not the end, but is in the meantime!!

So: 1. should we be more optimistic?
if so, 2. how can we develop and optimistic spirit??

#1. Recognize the reasons for optimism
(this is last week's message. The number one reason for optimism is that
God is greater than ___________.
(anything you put in the blank.)

#2. Recognize reasons for concern.
Because, Christian optimism equals realism!! Isaiah 6:8-12
BUT, realism is not alarmism!

#3. Factor in God. He is all powerful, knowing, loving at work, And personally interested in you!! Psalm 139:1-10, 13-18 (a)
However, there is no Biblical optimism in the end for people who have rejected Christ. They have plenty of reason to be pessimistic.

#4. Review His Promises (read the history, review the promises given)
Question: if you spent equal time in God's Word as with the media, would your outlook change?

#5. Look back. (at what He's done. for you!!! What He's carried you through, and carried you to!!) Deut. 8:2-5 - "remember" - used 16 times in Deuteronomy, 166 times in scripture.

#6. Reaffirm your confidence. (in Him, His promises, etc) - rededicate, recommit.
On one hand, there's time to lament, but on then the lament should end with confidence in Him.
Psalm 13:1-6
Psalm 42:1-6 a
Psalm 42:9-11
Hab. 3:17-18

#7. Seek His will (direction, plan, guidance, etc.
"in His general will is not necessarily a safe, comfortable place. Example: the cross. Christ was definitely not in a safe, comfortable place, but He was right in the center of God's will for Him.
Thus, it will turn out all right!
Example: Dan. 3:15-18 This was NOT foolish, empty optimism, but confidence in God and His will.

#8. Act Accordingly. Find God's word, find God's will, then: react with obedience, response, human effort. Often that is a catalyst for miracles! Example: feeding the 5000.
Point: if you do right, you are more apt to get right which leads to feel right.
Example: Moses - was he optimistic about the Exodus?
Gideon - was he optimistic about deliverance?
BUT - they received orders, promises, obeyed, saw the outcome, changed their attitude.
Ex. 3:10-12 (a) Judges 6:14-16 (a)

#9. Reject (refuse) a pessimistic spirit.
2 Tim. 1:7
For Christians, feelings are NOT Lord!!!

#10. Give Thanks.
Compare and contrast:
Psalm 37:1, 7, 8 - "do not fret"
with Phil. 4:6-8

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