Sermon Transcript — November 8, 2003
Are You an Optimist or a Pessimist?
by Mr. Camilo Reyes
Well, it's good to be here with you this afternoon. My wife and I, with some friends, had a very
pleasant drive from Bakersfield this morning and things always turn out very, very well. We
always leave a little early to make sure that, you know, little things that happen...I think Mr.
Josifek was saying something about old age and so forth and I was just sitting there...those of
you that know me quite well, or that know me maybe better than others, know that I have had a
few problems in the past.
I am a diabetic. I have been a diabetic for about 20 years, but if you know anything about
diabetes it can sometimes be very well kept and other times it can go, as they say, "out of
whack." Well, mine has been kind of out of whack a little bit. In fact, I had to sneak out a little
bit. I don't know who brought those wonderful desserts! I think, I hope, they were ours because I
just opened up a box in the other room there to give me a little bit of a lift because my sugar was
down quite a bit. So anyway, that's just something I've had to struggle with. And then, here
recently, I had a gall bladder surgery and they took out, I don't know, it looked like about a ton
and a-half of rocks from in there. I don't want to sound gross about it. Then, they found out that I
have what is called discoid lupus. It's a little unique, something like, oh, a type of a small cancer.
I mean nothing serious; at least, that is what they keep telling me.
Of course, all the pains and all the hurts...the knees and backs and elbows...from doing some of
those idiotic things that so many of us did when we thought we were, you know, invulnerable I
guess, when we were young, playing football and standing there and letting someone hit you.
"Now it's my turn!" "Now I'll see if I can push the guy from the fifth line on the football field
there to the 25th line!" Of course, any of you that have been involved in that in your younger
years, though you may think like I did, that you were...what? You know, the last thing in health
and everything else; then, when you get to be 65 like I am now, you begin to say, "Oh, if I just
would have...just taken it easy a little bit and not tried to impress all the girls and all the coaches,
and all the rest of that!"
I don't know what it was that Mr. Josifek was talking about when he said something about the
"golden years." I thought he said something like, "it's for the birds," but I said that in Bakersfield
not too long ago because I was feeling kind of under the weather. I said, "All this thing, you
know, about looking forward to the "golden years," let me tell you, brethren, those of you
younger ones: that is a lot of bunk! You know, all the older people are saying, "Yeah, you know,
that's true." You know, their aches and their pains and so forth.
You know it's something how we can get so involved in some of the negative things in life. It
really is. It's very human to be that way. And yet, those of us here in God's church, you know,
have some insight that God has given us. Not because of who we are or what we are, but because
God has called us out of this world and He has chosen to work with us, to give us His Holy
Spirit, to guide us and direct us, and to give us some insight of some incredible, some incredible,
things that God has in store for us. And yet, we live in a world today that all you have to do is
pick up the newspaper, look at some news on the television, or listen to something on the radio,
and it is a very negative world. It is a pessimistic world out there, even though the market may
begin to pick up and, you know, things begin to, you know, the well...just the economy, in one
sense picking up. The fires are over now, thankfully. We are very thankful for the Registers and
for any of the rest of you who may have been affected by it. None of us, at least as far as we
know, were affected but still there was a lot of damage.
People can look at those things and be very negative, very pessimistic about those types of things
and, yet, underneath it does seem like things are a little better. But, are they really? Well,
regardless of what this world may look like outside, or out there, as pessimistic as it may be, you
and I have been called today to a very special, a very special affair, very special situation.
You and I are here this afternoon because it is special from the standpoint that it is the Sabbath. It
is the day unto the Eternal, the Sabbath unto the Eternal. It is a very beautiful day, not only the
day in and of itself, but what it means, what it represents, not only for you, for all of mankind.
And yet, the world can walk around out there today on a Saturday, or on a Sabbath as we refer to
it, and not know why you and I are here, you know, as a congregation on the Sabbath, or maybe
not even care. Maybe even further beyond that, say, "Well, you know, these people are kind of
odd, they go to church on Saturday." "Isn't that odd!"
The message that God gives you and me is a very positive one, even in the midst of all the
negativism that is out there in the world. God is a very optimistic God. He is extremely
optimistic and, yet, we live in a generally pessimistic society that can easily have its affect, its
influence on us through a variety of different ways, a variety of different means. And yet, you
and I have some insight that God has given us that is really just mind-boggling.
Though this world can be very pessimistic at times, it sometimes does give a little bit of insight
to some things that are good, if followed. I'd like to kind of touch on that this afternoon as I go
through this particular subject. And I would like to ask us this afternoon: Are you an optimist or
are you a pessimist?
Now, we have God's insight that God has given us, which obviously could give us that incredible
optimism, you know, of what is in the future regardless of how bad things may look right now.
But, when we look at the world and when we rub shoulders with the world, it becomes a very
pessimistic approach; and, sometimes we can go from being that optimistic individual, because
of the knowledge that God has given us, to a pessimist. So I ask you again: What are you? Are
you an optimist or are you a pessimist? Let me give you Webster's Dictionary on those two
words. An optimist. An optimist is one who believes that things happen for the best. One who
looks on the brighter side of things. I think that most of us would fall under that category, but we
can easily slip into the pessimist side of it. Again, the definition for a pessimist is one who
considers life evil, who looks on the worst side of things, always finding fault. Now, I am sure all
of us know people in that category. Maybe even someone that you may be working with, or
I would at least like to give the two sides of this particular subject, the optimist and the pessimist,
by a joke that you have probably heard because it has been around for quite awhile. They say
that several doctors, PhD's, LLD's, "BVD's," and several other doctors got together and they put
two boys in a room. There was nothing in the room. The only thing that was in the room was a
big pile of horse manure. They put one little boy in there and the little boy goes in and, oh! The
smell, the stench! Then he started crying, he cowered down, and he got into a corner, you know,
"Let me get out of here!" Really making a fuss. Of course, that was one approach. We know that
that would obviously be a pessimist side of things. They took him out after they examined him
through the one-way mirror and so forth and then they put a second little boy in there. The little
boy looked at this big mound of horse manure and began to look at it and began to have wide
eyes, then he began to throw this manure left and right, and they heard him over the intercom,
"There's got to be a pony here someplace!"
That's the difference between an optimist and a pessimist! That there's got to be a pony in this
society based on all the bad things that we see. So which are you? Are you the optimist or are
you the pessimist? The one thing that we always, of course, can fall back on, very thankfully, is
that God is not a negative God. He is a very uplifting God. Are you like the little boy that cried
when he was put into this room or are you like the other one that was looking for a pony? Which
of the two are you? God's Word gives us some very encouraging words we can read as an
example. In Philippians 4:8 Paul tells us:
Phil. 4:8 — "...Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are
just, whatsoever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good
report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."
We can go back historically and we can certainly read and come to understand that during the
time that Paul and several of the other apostles and people in general at that particular
time—things weren't any better then than they are now—I mean, they still had earthquakes, they
still had fires, they still had floods, they still had famines and everything. People still died and
there were still diseases and a variety of different things that you and I are confronted with on a
daily basis here and now. But God looks on things, regardless of how negative they may look out
there, in a very positive way and He wants us to look at it in the same way. God is, God is
Paul reminds us on that particular subject, or that particular point, on how optimistic God is in I
Timothy 2:3-4. Notice what God says.
V. 3 — "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,"
V. 4 — "Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
What an incredibly optimistic approach! That God's desire is that everyone, yes, even Blue Eyes,
Old Blue Eyes, as we heard that beautiful rendition by Mr. Leslie a few moments ago. God is
going to give him an opportunity. God desires, yes, that even he come to the point that he
embraces God's way of life and lives by it. God is a very positive God.
We're also told in II Peter 3:9 - "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count
slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should
come to repentance." Again, what an incredible outlook God has, that He doesn't want anyone to
end up on the wrong side of the ledger, if we can put it in those terms.
This Sabbath day represents a time of rest that is yet to come for everyone. It is an incredible
story; it is an incredible understanding, when we come to realize what the Sabbath represents.
When you come into a city, sometimes into a small town in a community, you often will see not
only the entrance to the little city you will come into, but in many instances, you see the
population, anywhere from three hundred to three million to whatever the case may be; but
somewhere along the line you will probably also see other signs of different groups that are
represented in that community, or that town, or that city. I am sure that you have seen them all.
You've seen the Lions Club logo, you've seen the Kiwanis, you've seen the Elks, you've seen the
Moose. You also probably have seen the Optimists Club. What it is, the Optimists Club, it is a
registered club just like all of the others: the Lions, the Kiwanis, the Elks and the Moose. The
Optimists teach a creed of ten points; very good ten points, very positive ten points. That doesn't
mean that they live by them, but obviously if they adhere to them, you know, they are very good
points. They are very positive, they are very uplifting, they are very applicable, not only as they
try to do it, and to you and to me they are extremely applicable, as we strive, as we would strive
anyway, to live a very positive life.
What I would like to do this afternoon is take you through those ten points, very quickly, and
apply them from God's vantage point. Because I am here to tell you that these ten points that the
Optimists Club lives by, or at least strives for, are very, very applicable. Very, very appropriate.
It is interesting that they all start with the same words. They start out number one by saying:
"Promise yourself, promise yourself, to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of
mind." As a Christian, isn't that something that you want, isn't that something that you probably
even pray for, maybe not only for yourself, but for your loved ones, for your friends, for other
people? Peace of mind. Wouldn't you say that this world needs peace of mind? The only reason
that you and I have peace of mind is...not only to dwell on our own things, but when we dwell on
God's way of doing things, even in all of the pessimistic things we see out in this world...promise
yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
Look what Paul tells us in Romans 8:38-39.
V. 38 — "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor
powers, nor things present nor things to come,"
V. 39 — "nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the
love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." How is that for being positive?
Of course, we could go through some of the things that Paul went through. We won't take the
time, but he was a man of the world. I mean he was, you know, versed not only in writings and
the right of things, as he was educated at the feet of Gamaliel, but he was also a man whom God
allowed to go through a lot of things: a lot of hurts, a lot of pain, a lot of suffering.
"Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind." The first point by
Let's look at the second one. Let's see how it applies. "Promise yourself to talk health,
happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet." Isn't it interesting? I got up here and
some of the first things that I did was to lay before you some of the problems that I have. I am
just as human as all the rest of you. But, you get together with someone and, you know,
especially after services you say, "How are you doing?" "Oh, oh, well, I'll tell you, you know...."
Sometimes we don't even vocalize or verbalize a word, we just kind of say, "Uh-h, uh-h, you
know, I've got this pain over here, and you know this, or the job, or the car, or the kids, or the
family, or my job is kind of...." You know, we begin to unload, not positive things, but negative
things, negative things. But, notice this second point. "Promise yourself to talk health, happiness,
and prosperity to every person you meet." The Optimist Club strives to live by this. How much
more should you and I strive to live by this point?
We read, as an example, in Ephesians 5:19-20 and are admonished by Paul, as it says:
V. 19 — "...speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and
making melody in your heart to the Lord,"
V. 20 — "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus
That goes right along with that second point, doesn't it? "Promise yourself to talk health,
happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet."
God goes on and He tells us in Colossians 3:16-17, where we read:
V. 16 — "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing
one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the
V. 17 — "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving
thanks to God the Father through Him."
Very positive, isn't it? Very positive and, obviously, God knew the kind of a society we were
going to live in, especially as we get closer to the end. And yet, even in spite of all the pessimism
that exists, God requires of us to be optimistic; that regardless of how bad things may look, the
moral is: tomorrow is going to be a better day. There may be, in the meantime, some suffering
and other things, but we know, we know, what the end result is. Are we an inspiration to people
or are we desperation to people?
Based upon how you and I might approach someone, do they see you coming, they kind of,
maybe, oh well, we better go this way! It's not nice to do, but, hey, let's face it. We're human.
We've all done it. And, I'm not here to tell you that that's right. No, that's wrong! But, well, you
know, I just don't feel like hearing, because Mr. So and So, or Mrs. So and So, they're always
talking about negative things and even the look on his face, I can even tell by the way he is
walking, he's got something on his mind that's not too positive. Sometimes we have the tendency
to maybe not say the right thing at the right time to the right individual.
Let's look at this third point because I said I would be moving through these relatively fast. The
third point that the Optimists bring out is: "Promise yourself to make all your friends feel that
there is something good in them." Is that something you and I strive for? You would want to
bring out the best in your friends. "Oh, wow, you look so nice today." "Oh, look!" "A new
outfit?" "Oh, you've lost weight!" Well, that is always worth at least five bucks, you know, to
somebody! "Oh, you've lost ten pounds?" Well, that's maybe worth ten bucks, maybe. But again,
to always say something positive. "Promise to make all your friends feel that there is something
good in them." How does God approach that particular subject? In Philippians 2:3-5 He says (or
we are told rather):
V. 3 — "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let
each esteem others better than himself."
V. 4 — "Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also, for the interests of
others." And then, look how beautifully it's put together in verse five.
V. 5 — "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." Because, Jesus Christ is
Aren't you glad, aren't you glad, that God saw some tremendous potential in you as an individual
to bring you to the point that you are, that you find yourself in right now? To understand things
that kings and priests, and governors and presidents and people of high regard in the rest of the
world don't understand. And yet, you and I understand. You know, when we see what God has in
His plan, as we were told earlier in the sermonette, about the incredible feelings and good
"vibes," I guess we could say, that we got at the Feast this year, that's not only from Escondido,
that's pretty much throughout. It was a very good Feast, a very good Feast. It was very positive.
But, aren't you glad that God saw some tremendous potential in you? Each one of us might look
at ourselves and say, "What potential do I have?" "I only had a third grade education." "I can't
speak well." "I can't do this." Whatever the case may be. But God, Who sits on the highest throne
in heaven, looked down on this earth and He saw you as an individual, man, woman, young
person, young adult, whomever, and He said to Jesus Christ, "I want that person to have an
opportunity to be in My kingdom." Out of how many millions of the rest of the people on the
face of the earth: it's pretty hard sometimes to come up with all of those numbers, but we are few
in numbers aren't we? Compared to the rest of the world.
Paul tells us in Romans 15:1-3:
V. 1 — "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please
V. 2 — "Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification."
V. 3 — "For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, ÔThe reproaches of those
who reproached You fell on Me.'"
We all know, as we come up to the Passover, that Jesus Christ willingly took Himself, drained
Himself of all His divinity to come down to this world, to this earth, ultimately to die for your
sins and mine. He was, as the Scripture brings out, I mean, He was kind of, as a comparison, a
Man versus a worm, as David says in the Psalms, you know, that he was a worm in comparison.
God, in draining Himself of all His divinity, of everything from the God realm, coming to this
world, coming to this earth to be born as a Child, to live through it and then to be absolutely
maltreated, to be crucified as He was for humanity. To go through, probably, the most pain that
anyone could ever begin to imagine for you, for me, for all of us as individuals. That's the kind
of attitude that God wants from each and every one of us, in an optimist way. Even when we
look at the world, as pessimistic as it may be.
Another point, number four: "Promise yourself to look at the sunny side of everything and
make your optimism come true." It just doesn't happen. It just doesn't happen. Like someone
looking for a job and saying, "Well, here I am God, get me a job, get me a taxi cab." Whatever
the case may be. No! We have to put some effort into it, don't we? We have to do our part.
You know you are supposed to pray, study, fast, and you just say, "Okay, God, I want to study so
bring the Bible to me; I want to fast, I want to meditate." No, we have to devote ourselves to that
particular time in our schedules. Either make the time or whatever the case may be, in order to do
it. It is like exercising, isn't it? Everybody wants to exercise. Everybody knows that exercise is
the number one thing for everyone. You know that it helps mental, physical, emotional, every
way that you can think of...but how many people, how many of us run, you know, run out to
maybe jog a mile and one-half or two miles every morning? Oh, uh-h-h, no, hand me another,
another croissant there with a little bit more butter, and another half a cup of coffee, and I'll
take...never mind, oh, you don't have that? Do you still have that little donut? Three days old?
Oh, I'll take a three-day old donut, that's fine too.
You know, there's just something within us that we don't, certain things that we don't want to do,
but when you begin to do them it begins to make you feel so much better because the effort that
is required is something that is needful. And we begin to see the results, we begin to see the
benefits of it. We see then here, this fourth point to, "Promise yourself to look at the sunny side
of everything and make your optimism come true."
Notice what we read in Ecclesiastes 9:10. Again, a very well known scripture, one to put it in
our scriptural mental vocabulary, if we can put it that way, because it is very applicable. It says,
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or
knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going." That's a promise. That's a statement.
We are all headed there, aren't we? Our bodies are wearing down. The universe is wearing down.
God made us that way.
But, even though the universe is wearing down and our bodies are wearing down, we can still be
very optimistic about it. Because you know what? You know what? When I'm put someplace and
begin to push up daisies, I know that I am just going to be asleep, but then when I wake up, boy!
I mean am I going to have a body! Am I going to have power? Am I going to have glory? Am I
going to be able to do those things that God has promised me that I would be able to do? Yes.
Yes. But right now, when it is difficult to get from there to here, from here to there, wherever it
may be that you are going, you say, "What?" "You mean God is really going to make those
things come true?" Yes He is. Because God is a God Who does not lie and He is very, very
positive. He is very optimistic.
Paul tells us in Romans 12:9-12:
V. 9 - "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good."
V.10 — "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to
V. 11 — "not lagging (it says, or he tells us) in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;"
V. 12 — "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfast in prayer...."
All of those things that we sometimes find it, as a human, hard to do and, yet, the encouragement
is there because we know that the end results pay big dividends. We have everything going for
us. Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God cheering for us. I wonder how many times that
may take place? When you and I may come to the point of...you know, I really don't feel
like...you know, like fasting; which is something not too many of us enjoy but we still,
obviously, once we go through it, we see the benefits of it. Or when we go through a trial, a very
severe trial, and we really, with God's help, we really go through that trial with good end results.
Jesus Christ, as He sits at the right hand of God, must get excited because you see that example
back...that Paul talks about, about Stephen; prior to Stephen being stoned to death from
preaching God's way of life and convicting those that were hearing what he was saying. And if
you go back and you read that, it says that prior to Stephen being stoned, it says that Jesus Christ
stood, was "standing at the right hand of God," almost like a Big Brother encouraging a younger
brother, maybe, running a race or whatever. You would think, "Come on, Joey!" "Come on,
Joey!" "You can do it!" "Go, go, go!!" We have all been there. We've all seen somebody else,
maybe the underdog, maybe the short guy, or the one who can't run too fast or whatever. He
comes in. We cheer for him. Jesus Christ is the same way for you and for me. He stands at the
right hand of God and when you and I accomplish something, with God's help, there is
excitement; there is excitement at the throne of God.
Fifth point: "Promise yourself to think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to
expect only the best." To work only for the best and to expect only the best. Look what we read
in Luke 12:32. We are reminded here:
V. 32 — "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
That's a very short verse, but just take a little bit of time when you get the chance, the
opportunity, and think about the fact that God wants to give us, it is His good pleasure, He gets
excited, He gets really excited when He considers the fact that He is going to give you and me
the Kingdom in Heaven; that He is going to give us eternal life, even with all of the foibles that
we have with all of the problems, mental, physical, and other emotional things that we may be
finding ourselves going through. God is very positive. He is the sum total of optimism, isn't He?
And you and I need to inculcate that into our lives. We were not called to be on the sidelines, but
to get involved, to be part of this beautiful organism, this beautiful spiritual body.
In II Peter 1:5-10 we read:
V. 5-8 — "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue
knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to
godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love,"
For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the
knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." How positive God is! How incredibly positive He is.
It goes on in Verse 9 saying:
V. 9 — "For he who lacks these things is short-sighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that
he was purged from his old sins." Therefore, brethren (so the message is to you and to me), be
even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will
And often we may look at ourselves, you know, where we feel, oh, oh, I just about stumbled! I
just about fell short and I just about let it get away. God says, "No, you do your part and be
Point six: "Promise yourself to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are
about your own." Can you do that? Can we take these words that this group, this Optimist
organization puts out and can we apply the previous five and now this sixth one? "Promise
yourself to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own." We
may fall a little short but, again, it is something to shoot for, isn't it? It is something to reach out,
to get excited about. "Say, you got a better job!" "Oh, you bought a new house!" "Oh, this is
incredible!" "You got a new car!" "Oh, you won the lottery!" Now there, we know, we don't do
the lottery bit, but you know, "You got a raise, you got a bonus!" "How much?" "You got a five
thousand dollar bonus!" "Wow-w-w!!" "Well, I am so glad!" Or is it, "I work harder than that
guy, how come I didn't get that?" "How come I don't get a bonus?" "You know, I've been at the
same company for fifteen years and I think they gave me an old wrinkled up turkey, some five
years ago on Thanksgiving and that's all I've ever gotten."
Do we look at the negative things? No. Be as excited and enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about yourselves. Look at what Paul tells us in I Corinthians 12:25-27.
V. 25 — "...(See) that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have
the same care for one another."
V.26 — "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored,
all the members rejoice with it."
V. 27 — "Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually."
Yes, we are members individually, but we are members of this Body of Christ and we are here
today, excited, because it is the Sabbath, this day of rest; that the longer we are in God's church
we have to be careful not to take it for granted, because it means a lot to us. God has some
incredible promises for us through the Sabbath and to the rest of the world, but they don't know
as I said at the beginning and, much less, do they even care. But you and I have been called to it.
We've been given the understanding and therefore we've got to continue to look at the positive
side of things because it is very positive.
Paul goes on to tell us in Romans 12:15-16:
V. 15 — "Rejoice (we are told) with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."
V. 16 — "Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but
associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion."
Those are all beautiful additions, if we could add them, you know, to those particular points that
the Optimists bring out. Of course, we know that God's words stand sure and they are first and
foremost. In many instances, organizations or groups, or even people for that matter, take God's
Word and they inculcate their ideas, you know, that have a religious overtone to it. And there is
nothing wrong with that. The point is: maybe that is why they are called optimists because they
take the negative things in the world and, yet, if they strive to live by these ten points, they
honestly receive some benefit from it, as point number seven brings out.
"Promise yourself to forget the mistakes of the past." Ah-h-h. Wouldn't that be great? So
many of us still walk around with gashes in the cortex of our mind of things that we were
involved in, things that we did, mistakes, things that we said, and we just will not allow God, or
Jesus Christ, rather, through His blood to cleanse them. Yet, God tells us...(I'll get to the scripture
in a few moments)...but, the point here from the Optimists is: "Promise yourself to forget the
mistakes of the past" and press on to the great achievements of the future. That's talking to you.
That's talking to me.
Paul tells in Philippians 3:13-15.
V. 13 — "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended (or "understood" as it could be);
but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things
which are ahead,"
And again, I am sure that you, in studying Paul's life, know that Paul really created some havoc
for God's people. He was given a free hand by the Roman government to go out of his...out of a
certain jurisdiction into wherever he wanted...to find those people that were keeping God's law,
the Sabbath and all the other commandments of God and bring them back in chains. We read
some of those things in books, in historical books, of how they were treated, how they were fed
to lions, how gladiators used them as target practice, how they were cut in half; some of the
things we read about in Hebrews 11. How they were so maltreated and ultimately died, killed,
you know, pulled apart by horses, pulled apart by big animals, by elephants or whatever, in the
ugliest ways that humans can ever think of doing bad to someone else. Bad things. Paul was
involved in that.
So when Paul says here, "... forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to
those things which are ahead," he says:
V. 14 — "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
V. 15 — "Therefore let us, as many as are mature have this mind; and if in anything you think
otherwise (he says), God will reveal even this to you."
God will show you. God will instruct you one way or another; either in something that you read,
or in something that someone says, or some set of circumstances. If any of us fall in that
category, it should be brought to our attention. And it will be brought to our attention. These are
excellent points. These are excellent points that people strive to live by, but they are points that
you and I should not only strive to live by, but that we should be living by because they are very
Notice point number eight: "Promise yourself to wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and to give every living creature you meet a smile."
We have any sad pusses here? "How are you doing today?" "Uh-h-h...oh-h-h...I'm doing okay."
"How was your week?" "Uh-h-h...oh-h-h...u-h-h-h." Sometimes we don't even talk, do we? We
just kind of make grunts and groans and make a few signs and people say, "Uh, oh, it was a bad
week, bad week." But look, promise yourself to wear a cheerful countenance. Don't you find that
that picks you up, when somebody comes to you, maybe because you've had a bad week, but you
do everything you can to muster up a smile, you know, from the deepest recesses of your being,
and you see someone coming up to you and you say, "Hi!" "How are you doing?" Boy! Maybe
you even put your arm out and then they come back with a very encouraging, uplifting, "Hi!"
"Boy, it sure is good to see you!" "Boy, you know, I was thinking of you all this week!" "I'm
sorry I didn't call you." "I heard that you weren't feeling too well (or whatever)." "You feeling
okay?" "I'm so glad." "I'm glad to see you!" What does that do? All of a sudden you begin
to...your walk may begin to get a little bounce...you begin to feel better. It spreads. Just like
leaven, doesn't it? It spreads.
"Promise yourself to wear a cheerful countenance at all times and to give every living creature
(notice it says a creature) you meet a smile." You know the little dog that barks at six o'clock in
the morning in your house? Instead of saying, "Kick the...get the guy with a net to come after
that beast over there!" We've got a couple of, what my wife calls Taco Bell Chihuahuas, you
know, three of them in fact!! Every morning, I tell you, in the morning between five-thirty and
six o'clock the people let them out. We are not early risers, we don't have to be at a job at eight
o'clock, don't have to punch a clock or whatever. So, at five-thirty, six o'clock, like probably
many of you, we are trying to sleep, you know those restful things, but here's this yip, yip, yip!
After awhile, it gets to you. It's like when you get a chalkboard, you know, you put
your...scratch-h-h, scratch-h-h. Wow! But it says: "Promise yourself to wear a cheerful
countenance." That's hard to do at that early in the morning!
At all times, it says, to give every living creature you meet a smile. How about to one another?
How about among ourselves right here? How positive, how optimistic are we about the way this
world looks and the direction humanity is going? Like I said, we don't have to look too far before
we find fault, before we find negative things in this world, and before we, also, become
somewhat negative. And yet, God doesn't want us to be that way. Can we be positive? Can we be
optimistic, as Paul writes about after going through all that he went through?
Philippians 4, picking it up in verse 10. Notice what Paul and, again, I am sure that you have
studied enough about Paul's life that he created a lot of havoc, but God also allowed him to go
through a lot of personal, physical, mental pain in a variety of different ways. Until God brought
him to be converted, you know, He even had to blind him. Boy, tell me that that doesn't get
somebody's attention. All of a sudden, you don't see and God.... "Yes!" "Yes!" "Did you want
something?" "Yes!" "Where are you?" Then, God finally has a person's attention.
Notice what he says in Philippians 4, beginning in verse 10.
V. 10 — "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last (he says) your care for me has
That means, that at one time, that care didn't flourish in the people because, you know... can you
imagine Paul preaching to a congregation or in somebody's home and maybe seeing young adults
with their children there, years after Paul had gone out and taken their parents and taken them
into the arena, and they had been killed because Paul had dragged them from some part in the
Roman area there, in chains bringing them because of the Sabbath, the Holy Days, and a variety
of other things that denoted them as people of God. Can you imagine those people sitting in
those front rows thinking, "Boy, you know, this is the guy that had my dad and mom killed!" "In
fact, he killed my entire family!!" "My uncles and my aunts!" There must have been some
hurtful feelings from those individuals, and rightfully so, toward Paul. But because of Paul's
positive approach to things and his preaching and the kind of man that he was that God worked
with, Paul then, in essence right here, is telling them, and I'll read it again...he says:
V. 10 — "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now (he says) at last your care for me has
flourished again: though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity."
V. 11 — "Not that I speak in regard to need (he says), for I have learned in whatever state I am,
to be content."
V. 12 — "I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I
have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."
V. 13 — "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Obviously, we've never gone, and probably will never go, through anything like what Paul went
through on both sides of the spectrum, doing bad and again having to pay the consequences for it
as severely, maybe, as he may have. But, should we not, as it says in verse 13, acknowledge the
fact that we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us? Absolutely! Absolutely. And
again, when we come together on this Sabbath, on this beautiful time, on this holy time, the
Sabbath of the Eternal, to meet with one another, to hear God's Word expounded, to hear...or
maybe not expounded...but at least presented to you in whatever way it might be, and then for
the fellowship to continue, you know, the thoughts and the ideas, the presentations that are made
in Bible studies and the young people getting together and all the other extracurricular activities
that are a part of the Sabbath, we can apply Proverbs 27:17.
V. 17 — "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
It works both ways, doesn't it? That's why our fellowship is so important.
It picks one up who may be down for one reason or another and, maybe, rightfully so. There are
a lot of people out in that world right now that are down. What was it? Some 3,500, some
35,000, homes that were burned? How many acres, acres and acres, of some people losing
everything, everything, except maybe the clothes on their back that they were able to get out
with. You talk about a real loss.
Point number nine: "Promise yourself to give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others." Let me read that once again. "Promise yourself to
give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others." Did
God, did Jesus Christ, or the apostles say anything about that particular subject?
Notice in Matthew 7, Jesus Christ tells us in Matthew 7, beginning in verse 1:
V. 1 – "Judge not, that you be not judged."
V. 2 – "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you
use, it will be measured back to you."
V. 3 – "And why do you look at the speck (he says) in your brother's eye, but do not consider the
plank...." I always love this, this rendition, this version.
Yes, you know, we do that by, if not pointing out a fault to a brother or a sister or someone in
God's church in a small way, or rather in something that is small and, yet maybe, we've got a big
old blaring fault and, yet, here we are telling somebody, "You know, you really ought to change
that." "Maybe, you know, we ought to be a little more concerned, a little more cognizant about
that." And that's not wrong for that to be done. Because notice what it goes on to say:
V. 4 – "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck out of your eye'; and look,
a plank is in your own eye?"
V. 5 – "Hypocrite!" We are called, "hypocrites." Notice. Doing that is not wrong, providing that
verse 5 is applied first and foremost.
V. 5 – "First (it says), remove the plank from your own eye and then you will see clearly to
remove the speck out of your brother's eye."
Number nine that I just read...I will read it again. "Promise yourself to give so much time to the
improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others." There are several other
scriptures that go along with this particular point here, like I just read in Matthew 7. Many,
The admonition to strive for perfection, or Christian maturity as it could be, to see the good in all
the bad around us, is because God's hand is in it. The God that you and I serve, the God that calls
us His children, the God that you and I get down on our knees to at any given moment and say,
"Father! Abba!", either to present something to Him in a joyful way, or of a necessity, or just to
simply talk with Him. As I said at the Feast, that we present ourselves before the throne of
God...it's not just a throne, with God sitting in it, I mean there is incredible involvement in all of
this...in this opportunity that we have with God, and Jesus Christ sitting at His right hand, and the
sea of glass that we walk through, the twenty-four elders and the seraphim, the cherubim, the
thunder and the lightning, the rainbow, and all the beauty that is described in God's Word. There
is much there. The admonition is to strive for perfection and, again, that Christian maturity,
because Matthew 5:48 admonishes all of us:
V. 48 – "Therefore you shall be perfect (or become perfect), just as your Father in heaven is
So, we do have a ways to go, don't we? Even in our optimism.
The last point! Point number ten: "Promise yourself to be too large for worry, too noble for
anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble." That one is
kind of long. Let's go through it again. "Promise yourself to be too large for worry." Any of us
worry warts here? Sure. "Promise yourself to be too large for worry, too noble for anger." Any of
us get angry and at the wrong thing at the wrong time and say some dumb things at times? Yes.
And even the Optimists say, look, rise above that! Rise above that. "Promise yourself to be too
large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear." You have fear? It's a human tendency
but, again, through Christ, through God, we can do whatever it is that God wants us to do. "Too
strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble." Not that the trouble isn't going
to be there, but too happy to permit the presence of trouble. Is that what God is telling us in I
Peter 4:7-10? We read here where the admonition is:
V. 7 – "But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers."
V.8 – "And above all things (it says) have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a
multitude of sins.'"
V. 9 – "Be hospitable to one another without grumbling."
V. 10 – "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the
manifold grace (or blesses, as it could read) of God."
We should think of these ten points and apply the principles. Paul does, in essence, as he
summarizes our Christian approach in Ephesians 4:21-32.
If you were to go through these, you would probably, in this set of Scriptures, pick up all these
ten points, all of these ten points. So, even they are good points that the Optimists bring up, they
are not new. They are applicable. They are very real. They are very applicable, especially to you
and to me today, but it is not any different than what Paul tells us, as we see written in
Ephesians 4:21. It says:
V. 21-24 - "...if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in
Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt
according to the deceitful lust and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the
new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness."
V. 25 – "Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are
members of one another."
V. 26-27 – "'Be angry, and do not sin': do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place
to the devil."
V. 28 – "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what
is good, that he may have something to give him who has need."
V. 29 – "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for
necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers."
V. 30 – "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of
V. 31 – "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with
V. 32 – "And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ
also forgave you."
Those are beautiful, aren't they? We've read them. We could probably even quote them, you
know, verbatim, but do we live by them? Well, I am not here to tell you that the Optimists live
by their ten points, but they are good points. They are points that you and I should strive, through
the Bible, through God's way of life, through God's Holy Spirit in us, around us, helping us,
guiding us, directing us, to strive on an ongoing basis to live that way.
In looking to the rest that God promises us on this Sabbath day, to look to the rest that God
promises us in the meaning of this Sabbath day, a rest for us and for all humanity, for all
mankind, how optimistic should we be? Can we continue looking for that pony as I said at the
beginning, as I said in that somewhat of a joke? Can you, regardless of where you find yourself,
what your station in life is, can you continue looking for that pony, being positive, looking for
the positive things in a very negative world? We should be able to.
Or do we often find ourselves being pessimistic and only looking down on the bad things, or
looking at bad things, looking on the down side of things. Brethren, we've got too much that has
been presented to us, we've got too much of a promise, we have too many blessings, too many
encouraging words, we have too many promises that God has made for us, to ever come to that
point. Sure, we all get negative at times. We all get down. We all have blue days at times, but it's
not to stay there, is it? Because there's too much good, there's too much positive that God gives
God has called us to give us the knowledge of His plan and He wants us to look at the bright, the
uplifting, the positive, the optimistic side of things. He reveals to us through His Word some
tremendous truths. Brethren, God wants us to be optimistic to this pessimistic world and in this
pessimistic world and, brethren, we can be!!