Positive minds produce positive lives. Negative minds produce negative lives. Positive thoughts are always full of faith and hope. Negative thoughts are always full of fear and doubt. 5 …it shall be done for you as you have believed…. MATTHEW 8:13 Some people are afraid to hope because they have been hurt so much in life. They have had so many disappointments, they don’t think they can face the pain of another one. Therefore, they refuse to hope so they won’t be disappointed. This avoidance of hope is a type of protection against being hurt. Disappointment hurts! So rather than be hurt again, many people simply refuse to hope or to believe that anything good will ever happen to them. This type of behavior sets up a negative lifestyle. Everything becomes negative because the thoughts are negative. Remember Proverbs 23:7: For as he (a person) thinks in his heart, so is he…. Many years ago, I was extremely negative. I always say that if I thought two positive thoughts in a row my mind would get in a cramp. My whole philosophy was this: “If you don’t expect anything good to happen, then you won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t.” I had encountered so many disappointments in life—so many devastating things had happened to me—that I was afraid to believe that anything good might happen. I had a terribly negative outlook on everything. Since my thoughts were all negative, so was my mouth; therefore, so was my life. When I really began to study the Word and to trust God to restore me, one of the first things I realized was that the negativism had to go. In Matthew 8:13 Jesus tells us that it will be done for us as we have believed. The King James Version says, …as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee…. Everything I believed was negative, so naturally many negative things happened to me. This doesn’t mean that you and I can get anything we want by just thinking about it. God has a perfect plan for each of us, and we can’t control Him with our thoughts and words. But, we must think and speak in agreement with His will and plan for us. If you don’t have any idea what God’s will is for you at this point, at least begin by thinking, “Well, I don’t know God’s plan, but I know He loves me. Whatever He does will be good, and I’ll be blessed.” Begin to think positively about your life. Practice being positive in each situation that arises. Even if whatever is taking place in your life at the moment is not so good, expect God to bring good out of it, as He has promised in His Word. A LL T HINGS W ORK FOR G OOD We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. Romans 8:28 This Scripture does not say that all things are good, but it does say that all things work together for good. Let’s say you’re planning to go shopping. You get in the car, and it won’t start. There are two ways you can look at this situation. You can say, “I knew it! It never fails. Every time I want to do something, it gets all messed up. I figured this shopping trip would end up a flop; my plans always do.” Or you can say, “Well, I wanted to go shopping, but it looks like I can’t go right now. I’ll go later when the car is fixed. In the meantime, I believe this change in plans is going to work out for my good. There is probably some reason I need to be at home today, so I’m going to enjoy my time there.” In Romans 12:16 the Apostle Paul tells us to readily adjust ourselves to people and things. The idea is that we must learn to become the kind of person who plans things but who doesn’t fall apart if that plan doesn’t work out. Recently I had an excellent opportunity to practice this principle. Dave and I were in Lake Worth, Florida. We had been ministering there for three days, and we were packing and getting ready to go to the airport to go home. I had planned to wear slacks and a blouse with flat shoes, so I could be comfortable during the return trip. I started getting dressed and couldn’t find my slacks. We looked all over the place and finally found them in the bottom of the closet. They had slipped off the hanger and were terribly wrinkled. We take a portable clothes steamer with us, and I tried to steam out the wrinkles. I put on the outfit and saw that it was just not going to look right. My only other choice was a dress and high heels. I could feel my emotions getting upset with the situation. You see, any time we don’t get what we want, our feelings will rise up and try to get us into self-pity and a negative attitude. I recognized immediately that I had a choice to make. I could be irritable because things hadn’t worked out the way I wanted them to, or I could adjust myself to the situation and go ahead and enjoy the trip home. Even a person who is really positive won’t have everything work out the way he would like it to all the time. But the positive person can go ahead and decide to enjoy himself no matter what happens. The negative person never enjoys anything. A negative person is no fun to be with. He brings a gloomy overcast to every project. There is a “heaviness” about him. He is a complainer, a murmurer and a faultfinder. No matter how many good things are going on, he always seems to spot the one thing that could be a potential problem. When I was in my days of extreme negativism, I could walk into someone’s home that had been newly decorated, and rather than seeing and commenting on all the lovely surroundings, I would spot a corner of wallpaper that was loose or a smudge on the window. I am so glad Jesus has set me free to enjoy the good things in life! I am free to believe that with faith and hope in Him, the bad things can be turned around for good. If you are a negative person, don’t feel condemned! Condemnation is negative. I’m sharing these things so you can recognize your problem with being negative and begin to trust God to restore you, not to get you to become negative about your negativism. The pathway to freedom begins when we face the problem withoout making excuses for it. I’m sure that if you are a negative person there is a reason for it—there always is. But remember, as a Christian, according to the Bible, you are a new person now. A N EW D AY! Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 As “a new creation,” you don’t have to allow the old things that happened to you to keep affecting your new life in Christ. You’re a new creature with a new life in Christ. You can have your mind renewed according to the Word of God. Good things are going to happen to you. Rejoice! It’s a new day! T HE W ORK OF THE H OLY S PIRIT However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. And when He comes, He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment. John 16:7,8 The hardest part of being set free from negativism is facing the truth and saying, “I’m a negative person, and I want to change. I can’t change myself, but I believe God will change me as I trust Him. I know it will take time, and I’m not going to get discouraged with myself. God has begun a good work in me, and He is well able to bring it to full completion.” (Philippians 1:6.) Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you each time you start to get negative. That is part of His job. John 16:7,8 teaches us that the Holy Spirit will convict us of sin and convince us of righteousness. When the conviction comes, ask God to help you. Don’t think you can handle this yourself. Lean on Him. Even though I was extremely negative, God let me know that if I would trust Him, He would cause me to be very positive. I was having a hard time trying to keep my mind in a positive pattern. Now, I can’t stand negativism. It’s like a person who smokes. Many times, a smoker who has quit smoking has no tolerance for cigarettes. I’m that way. I smoked for many years, but after I quit, I couldn’t even stand the smell of smoke. I’m the same way about being negative. I was a very negative person. Now, I can’t stand negativism at all; it is almost offensive to me. I guess I’ve seen so many good changes in my life since I’ve been delivered from a negative mind that now I’m opposed to anything negative. I face reality, and I encourage you to do the same. If you are sick, don’t say, “I’m not sick,” because that’s just not true; but you can say, “I believe God is healing me.” You don’t have to say, “I’ll probably get worse and end up in the hospital”; instead, you can say, “God’s healing power is working in me right now; I believe I’ll be all right.” Everything must be balanced. That doesn’t mean tempering your positivism with a little negativism, but it does mean having a “ready mind” to deal with whatever happens to you, whether it is positive or negative. A R EADY M IND These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11 KJV The Bible says that we are to have a ready mind. That means that we are to have minds that are open to the will of God for us, whatever that will may be. For example, recently a young lady whom I know experienced the sorrow of a broken engagement. She and the young man were praying 43 about whether or not the Lord would have them continue dating, even though they had decided not to get married at that time. The young lady wanted the relationship to continue and was thinking, hoping and believing that her former fiance would call and feel the same way. I advised her to have a “ready mind” in case things didn’t work out that way. She said, “Well, isn’t that being negative?” No, it isn’t! Negativism would be to think, “My life is over; no one will ever want me. I have failed, so now I’ll be miserable forever!” Being positive would be to say: “I’m really sad this thing has happened, but I’m going to trust God. I hope my boyfriend and I can still date. I’m going to ask and believe for our relationship to be restored; but more than anything, I want God’s perfect will. If things don’t turn out the way I want them to, I’ll survive, because Jesus lives in me. It may be hard for a while, but I trust the Lord. I believe that in the end everything will work out for the best.” This is facing facts, having a ready mind and still being positive. This is balance. T HE F ORCE OF H OPE [For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, hoped in faith that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been promised, So [numberless] shall your descendants be. He did not weaken in faith when he considered the [utter] impotence of his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or [when he considered] the barrenness of Sarah’s [deadened] womb. No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God. Romans 4:18-20 Dave and I believe that our ministry in the Body of Christ will grow each year. We always want to help more people. But we also realize that if God has a different plan, and if we end up at the end of a year with no growth (everything the same as when we started), we cannot let that situation control our joy. We believe for many things, but beyond them all, we believe in Someone. That Someone is Jesus. We don’t always know what is going to happen. We just know it will always work out for our good! The more positive you and I become, the more we will be in the flow of God. God is certainly positive, and to flow with Him, we must also be positive. You may have really adverse circumstances. You may be thinking, “Joyce, if you knew my situation, you wouldn’t even expect me to be positive.” I encourage you to reread Romans 4:18-20 in which it is reported that Abraham, after sizing up his situation (he didn’t ignore the facts), considered (thought about briefly) the utter impotence of his own body and the barrenness of Sarah’s dead womb. Although all human reason for hope was gone, he hoped in faith. Abraham was very positive about a very negative situation! Hebrews 6:19 tells us that hope is the anchor of the soul. Hope is the force that keeps us steady in a time of trial. Don’t ever stop hoping. If you do, you’re going to have a miserable life. If you are already having a miserable life because you have no hope, start hoping. Don’t be afraid. I can’t promise you that things will always turn out exactly the way you want them to. I can’t promise you that you’ll never be disappointed. But, even in disappointing times, if they do come, you can hope and be positive. Put yourself in God’s miracle-working realm. Expect a miracle in your life. Expect good things! EXPECT TO RECEIVE! TO RECEIVE, EXPECT! And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]! Isaiah 30:18 This passage has become one of my favorite Scriptures. If you will meditate on it, it will begin to bring great hope. In it, God is saying that He is looking for someone to be gracious (good) to, but it cannot be someone with a sour attitude and a negative mind. It must be someone who is expecting (looking and longing for God to be good to him or her). E VIL What are “evil forebodings”? F OREBODINGS Shortly after I began to study God’s Word, I was combing my hair one morning in the bathroom when I realized that in the atmosphere around me was a vague, threatening feeling that something bad was going to happen. I became aware that I had actually had that feeling with me most of the time. I asked the Lord, “What is this feeling I always have?” “Evil forebodings,” He answered. I did not know what that meant, nor had I ever heard of it. Shortly thereafter, I found the phrase in Proverbs 15:15: All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]. I realized at that time that most of my life had been made miserable by evil thoughts and forebodings. Yes, I had circumstances that were very difficult, but even when I didn’t, I was still miserable because my thoughts were poisoning my outlook and robbing me of ability to enjoy life and see good days. K EEP Y OUR T ONGUE F ROM E VIL! For let him who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good whether apparent or not] keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit). 1 Peter 3:10 This verse plainly tells us that enjoying life and seeing good days, and having a positive mind and mouth, are linked together. No matter how negative you are or how long you have been that way, I know you can change because I did. It took time and “heaping helpings” of the Holy Spirit, but it was worth it. It will be worth it to you too. Whatever happens, trust in the Lord—and be positive!