On Sunday my Pastor Al Ray preached a great message in which the past few days I have been sharing his main points with you and adding my own commentary (Yes, I received permission.)
He related a story of a woman traveling on business. Her cab ran late due to driver inability to go the correct direction. She ran into the airport to check in and found that her flight has been delayed. She then purchases a “Kit Kat” bar and sits down with her stuff stacked on the table next to her. She turns away and turns back to find a rather large, rough looking man eating her “Kit Kat” bar. She is so angered that she reaches over and grabs a piece of it. The man breaks off another piece. This plays out until it is gone. The man goes and gets another. As he begins to enjoy it, the lady grabs another piece as she is thinking, “We ate mine. Now we can eat yours.” The entire scenario plays out again. The woman’s flight arrives and as she is gathering her belongings to board the plane she spots her “Kit Kat” in her purse. She never said a word.
I shared this lengthy story because I want to look at God’s provision. We need to trust in His presence, His provision, His promises, and His person. That is the four days all rolled up into one.
Having been near the bottom of the barrel many times over the past twenty years I understand about God’s provision. There have been times that it seemed that the end was not just near; but, upon us. Then God in His miraculous way came through again to provide.
Our problem is that we have no idea the difference between our wants and our needs. We need daily food to live. We need oxygen to live. I want an eight thousand dollar digital camera. I want a five bedroom house in a steady climate of sixty-eight degrees every day of the year. See the difference.
Some people want something to eat. Some people want a warm bed to sleep in. What are your wants and what are your needs? Do you know the difference? Jesus knows our deepest needs and wants to provide them for us. He will provide our needs and He can transform our wants to be His wants. There is the “pay dirt”. God make my wants Your wants!
In John 14 and the last part of verse two He puts it this way: John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” That is the provision of God and we can bank on it!
On Sunday morning our Pastor shared a great message that I have turned into the past three posts including today’s offering. I hope you have been encouraged by them.
If you live very long you will be betrayed by someone close to you. Jesus was betrayed by Judas. I have betrayed people that I know and love. I don’t like that I did it; but, it is a fact that I did. I like to think that I am trustworthy. I am sure that you want to think you are trustworthy also.
There is One person that is the epitome of trustworthy. His name is Jesus. He is so trustworthy that you can trust Him with your eternal soul. People don’t like to think about that; but, one day we will all step out into eternity and then it will be too late to put your trust in Jesus Christ. I urge you to do that now before it is eternally too late.
We can trust in Jesus’ person because He proved Himself to be who He says He is. Look at John 14:4-6, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Have you trusted Him yet?
You know how I fell a few weeks ago and broke my camera and lens. Now that I can look back at it with minimal pain I realized something. The fall I took on that black ice covered hill was a picture of how life can be for us at times. We are walking along and everything seems to be fine. Suddenly, “Bang!” and we are flat on our back writhing in pain from a fall. We did not see it and we certainly did not expect it.
We have to ask a question here. “How can I keep going?” It is simple to state the answer to that; but, it is much tougher to put it into practice. It comes down to one word. That word is trust. We have to trust the promises of God that they will be for me. In our hearts we see Him do it for others; but, will He do it for me? Quit sittin’ on the premises and start standing on the promises.
Look at what Jesus promised in John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Trust in His promises because His promises are never broken promises.
On my calender is a reminder for January 28th that on this date in 1984 the Shuttle Challenger burned up killing all seven occupants. I remember this and I am sure that the news people will share stories about this tragic event.
Yesterday our Pastor had a fantastic message about what can we do when things go from bad to worse. It was right on target. As he was preaching I thought of Psalm 11:3, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Bad things happen in life. Our response to these events can make all the difference in the world.
Pastor Ray shared with us John 14:1, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” He shared with us that we need to trust in God’s presence. He is here with us and walks with us who are His children.
Gerald Crabb wrote a great song titled, “Through The Fire”. In the song he says, “He never promised that the cross would not get heavy and the hill would not be hard to climb…” Life is tough some times; but, it is not impossible. We need to draw so close to God that we are in His presence. Gerald Crabb has been through the fire and he knows from personal experience. His song never ceases to minister to me. How about you? As you are experiencing trials are you just going through them or do you have the presence of God to surround you and keep you?
I received the following in an e-mail, ‘A group of self-proclaimed Satanists on Friday praised Florida Gov. Rick Scott for signing a bill into law last year that lets Florida school boards permit student-initiated prayer and other “inspirational messages.”‘
When I read this I almost cried. This was just the tip of the iceberg so to speak in this e-mail. How does one respond to such correspondence? It should drive us to prayer. We need to pray for these “self-proclaimed Satanists”. The article went on to make light of different things. I just made me want to weep.
Yet, it is my uneducated guess that most Christians will read this and chuckle about it’s content and go on down the road. This is a tragedy of monumental proportion!
When was the last time that you carried a burden in your heart so heavy that you could barely think of anything else? Too long would be my guess as I think about my own life.
Look at Exodus 28:12, “And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial.” God set it up so that Aaron would carry the names of the tribes of Israel on his shoulders. He bare them with him in the temple. There was a constant reminder for him to pray for his brothers and sisters.
How about you my friend? Do you carry a burden for others? These in the article quoted need someone to carry them as a burden and pray for them. Catch a burden from God.
Why is it that when we feel that we have been “wronged” by someone that we think we have to get back at them? Revenge is a powerful motivator. Yet, I think it goes deeper than revenge. I think it goes so deep as bitterness.
Bitterness will do damage to a person’s health and well-being. Bitterness holds people in such bondage. And yet, if we want freedom from it we must relinquish our right and forgive the person that we are bitter at.
Unfortunately, I am a person; like you, who struggles with this. I am better than I used to be; but, I am nowhere near where I need to be. Instead of getting back at someone that we are bitter against we need to treat them as Jesus would treat them. Remember, it was our sin that put Him on the cross and the only retribution He seeks is the salvation of people’s souls. Our response should be like Proverbs 25:21-22, “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.”
Moses put it this way in Exodus 23:4, ‘If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.” We need to return good for evil. We need to show people the example of Jesus.
A story has circulated the internet for some time of a man addressing a school fundraiser where his special needs son is a student. The story goes that Shay and his father were walking past a park where some boys are playing baseball. The father approaches on of the boys and asks if his son could join the game. The boy said that they were loosing miserable so he guesses he could be on their team. Shay takes his place on the bench wearing a team shirt. It comes down to the ninth inning and the loosing team is now within one point of their rivals and it is Shay’s turn to bat, if they let him. They do. The pitcher on the opposing team sees that Shay cannot hold the bat correctly and he discerns the boy’s special needs. He moves in a little and makes his first pitch. Shay misses. The pitcher moves up more. Somehow Shay makes contact with the ball and dribbles it right back to the pitcher. He throws it over the first baseman’s head. He in turn throws it past the second baseman and then the ball is thrown again out of the reach of the last player. Shay makes the winning hit and brings in himself and two other runners already on base. He is an instant hero.
I know that this is a long story and may not really be true; but, the moral of the story is loud and clear. If you were “Shay”, how would you want to be treated? We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect no matter if you have a disability or not. Some people forfeit these things; but, people still deserve it.
How do you treat people that are different than you? I see people all the time move away from people in wheelchairs or who appear to be “different” and to be honest it angers me. They are human beings who communicate differently, look differently, act differently and even sound differently; but they are still God’s creations and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
I think Jesus in a parable gave a good example of one man ignoring the difference of someone else in deep need. Look at Luke 10:33, “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,” Will you demonstrate the compassion of Christ to others no matter their disability? I hope you will.
My dear friend Dr. Larry Lilly wrote yesterday on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, It was very moving to me. Let me share some quotes from his daily blog:
‘”You have granted me many blessings; let me also accept what is hard from your hand.” Prayers from Prison”I know in my life that I don’t like the hard things of life. I love the saying that Dr. Lilly and his people say at the conclusion of their services: “With Christ, I am tougher than the tough things of life!” This is a great reminder.The children of Israel, like the disciples and yours truly have had problems getting a grasp on the truth of when Christ commands us to go somewhere or do something that He will make the way for us. He does not promise the path will be smooth, though.Sometimes we have to press forward in spite of the situation we face. This is easy to say; but, harder to do. This can be difficult. If we can yield ourselves to Christ it makes the path a little smoother.
Instead of turning back we have to keep pressing on just like in Exodus 14:15, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:” We must go forward!
My father was an over the road truck driver for a long time. He always gives me grief about my lack of ability to navigate in unfamiliar places. This is a guy that you could blindfold and drop somewhere in the United States and he would just drive home.
I was telling him that the G.P.S. I have had sent me into a corn field recently. Well, that brought on another round of gouging me for not knowing where I am going apart from that thing. Such is life.
In our lives we can take wrong turns too. We can not listen to God and be led astray easily. Many have compared the Scriptures to a “spiritual road map”. That would be accurate.
Imagine the Children of Israel after leaving Egypt and having the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian army pursuing behind them. God tells Moses to “go forward”. What? Into the Red Sea? Look at Exodus 14:14-15, “The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:”
It is an issue of trust. Do we trust God enough to “go forward” even when we cannot see a clear path? It is easily written about in a blog such as this; but, to put it into practice, I know is a horse of a different color. We need to pour ourselves into doing it God’s way and just “go forward”.
Sometimes in life there are events that come and we describe them as “life altering” events. I am sure that you have experienced this as I have. Sometimes it is a real joy and other times it is no joy at all.
When these times of trials come how do you and I respond? Some just sit down and quit. This is the wrong answer. No matter how many times we get knocked down we have to get back up and keep fighting on in life.
Look at Mark 15:21, “And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.” Simon had no choice here. The word “compel” means literally to press into public service. Simon was a bystander so to speak and he was thrust into public service and to carry a cross that did not belong to him. Yet, as a follower of Jesus we are called to carry His cross so to speak. When God puts a burden on you to do something we need to immediately pick up that cross and carry it on for His glory.
This is what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” It is time to get motivated.