Why to think positive and avoid negative thoughts | Gig Harbor | Chapel Hill Online
Thinking happy thoughts seems like a trite way to deal with life, but focusing on positive instead of negative thoughts not only makes a difference in your thought life. In this sermon by Pastor Mark Toone, he teaches us what Paul teaches us about focusing on positive thoughts instead of negative thoughts, and how that can impact your life.
Discussion Questions July 4
Read Phil 4:8-9. Write it out. Say it aloud. Memorize this passage! With your family or LifeGroup, take it in turns naming one item for each part of the list.
When in your life have you seen the power of choosing to focus on the positive? What difference does rehearsing the good things God has done for you make to your outlook on life and your faith?
What’s the difference between positive thinking and placing our hope in Christ despite the circumstances? How could “taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5) impact the present circumstances you find yourself in?
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Ten years ago last week, Pastor Jeremy Vaccaro and I stood in the parking lot of a Hope Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee. Session decided to leave our former denomination and we had to determine if the EPC could be a new home for us. By the end of the day, we knew it would. We also knew that we were starting over. A new church, new pastors in a new denomination…we would not have the standing and influence we formerly enjoyed. We would be nobodies in a wonderful new denomination…but it was worth it.
Well…I was half right. It has been a wonderful denomination for us. But I was very wrong about the part we might play in our new church home. Last week, we traveled BACK to Memphis…ten years later…and voted to elect Chapel Hill elder, Rosemary Lukens as the new Moderator of the entire denomination. The highest elected office in the EPC. AND, by the way…the very first woman ever elected to that position!
I would have been content to take our place in the EPC; to settle quietly into a denomination that affirms the essentials we hold dear. But ten years later, God, in his kindness, called little old Chapel Hill Church from a fished-out fishing village in the corner of the country…to play an unexpected role of leadership in our denomination. I am grateful…humbled…and, if possible at the same time, very proud of our sister Rosemary. Hold her up in your prayers; she will need them!
We are drawing near the end of our journey through Paul’s letter to the Philippians. As a reminder, even though Paul was writing this letter from prison—on trial for his life—it is the most joy-filled book in the Bible. But as Paul makes clear, sometimes you have to fight to hold onto your joy. Last week my mom went to visit my godmother down in California. She’s in hospice. It’s a sad goodbye. A hard time to find joy. But in the midst of that, Mom prayed with the daughter to recommit her life to Christ. Even in hard, frightening moments, Paul teaches…we can experience the joy of the Lord. If we are willing to fight for it.
And the number one arena for that battle…is right here. The old noggin’. What goes on in the six inches between your ears has more to do with living a triumphant, joy-filled life than any other thing. And today, Paul wants to talk to us about our thought life. Phil 4: 8-9.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4: 4-9…is to me one of the most powerful, practical passages of scripture in the Bible. If I could persuade you to memorize a little chunk of the Bible…this would be the one. It is my GO-TO passage when I am stressed or unsettled in some way. I have recited this passage hundreds…maybe thousands of times. As we heard from Pastor Ellis last week in his powerful message, it starts with “Rejoice in the Lord always!…” and continues “Do NOT be anxious about ANYTHING!” Instead, we are to pray diligently…with thanksgiving… no matter what difficult situation we find ourselves in.
But sometimes…dare I say this…praying is not enough. Sometimes…when we pray about the same thing over and over again, it can even feel counter-productive. I want to be careful about this; I doubt anyone here is praying too much. I certainly am not. But if you have a hard, stressful, discouraging thing in your life…and ALL you do is pray about it, it can actually become an unhealthy fixation.
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