Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”
Psalm 126:2, “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
Proverbs 15:13, “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.”
God wants us to be happy, just as any father wants to see his children enjoy life. One of the greatest witnesses to the lost is the happiness that a Christian can find when nothing in life goes right. Then again the opposite is also true, if we are sad and our spirits are crushed. Then what does that show a world about the joys that knowing God can bring. We have so many things to be grateful and happy about, that we should always have a smile on our face. Yes, sometimes life gets hard, but don’t let the devil have the satisfaction of you losing the smile and happiness that comes from being a child of the king. Below is just a funny letter written from a daughter to her mom, Just something to brighten your day and put a little laughter into your morning.
"I'm writing this slow 'cause I know you can't read fast. We don't live where we did when you left. My hubby read in the paper where the most accidents happened within twenty miles of home, so we moved. I won't know the address for awhile yet as the last Montana family that lived here took the numbers with them for their next house so they won't have to change their address. This place we're rentin' has a washin' machine. The first day I put four new shirts in it, pulled the chain, and I haven't seen 'em since. It only rained twice this week: three days the first time and four days the second time. The coat you wanted me to send that you forgot here was too heavy to send in the mail. So we cut off the big buttons and put them in the pockets.
I heard that Sis had a baby this morning but I haven't been over there yet to find out if it's a boy or a girl so I don't know if I'm and Aunt of an Uncle. Our neighbor up the road fell in the whisky vat. Some men tried to pull him out, but he fought them off playfully, so he drowned. We cremated him and he burned for three days. Three local kids from DeBorgia went off the bridge in a pick-up truck. The one that was driving rolled down the window and swam out. The two sitting in the back drowned. They couldn't get the tailgate down.
Not much to tell this time. Nothin' much happens 'round here.
Love, Your Daughter
Hebrews 5:12-14, “For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. For every one that partaketh of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But solid food is for fullgrown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.”
Complacency is a dangerous thing, it causes you to get into the state of being satisfied, when you should not satisfied. You give up on growing because what is unexceptional, is counted to be great. Your spirit’s energy gets drained, it makes your outlooks on life hazy, and causes a trench in the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are. The second is rejection of things as they might be, and Words such as "Good enough” becomes our catchphrase, and our standards diminish. Lastly, Complacency makes people fear the unknown, mistrust the untried, and dislike the new. Just like water, complacent people follow the easiest course downhill. They draw false strength from looking back, at what they will call past success. Looking back is good, but tomorrow should always be better. The Bible tells us we need to live in a way that we can say, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” If the only one gaining from your life is you, then maybe you have fallen into this complacency realm.
Romans 12:1-3, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith.”
If you knew something bad was going to happen to you in the near future, would you do all you could in order to stop the situation that was about to happen? Most of us would, but what about if the bad situation that was about to happen, had a big impact on someone we cared about. For example, if you were about to get into a bad car accident, where we would be seriously maimed for life, but you got into the wreck to stop the other car from hitting one of our children playing on the side of the road. Now knowing this, would you put yourself into that same bad situation? This is what Jesus did for us. He saw that there was a dreadful thing headed our way, and that we were powerless to stop it. So He stepped in the way and took that wreck onto His own body. Even though he knew how bad it was going to be, and what all he was going to have to suffer, He did it anyways through his love for us. Jesus has now finished his part in protecting us, and we no longer have to fear death, or the powers of darkness. So then my brothers and sisters in Christ now it is our job to sacrifice for him. To give to him our spiritual service and live for the one who died for us.
Deuteronomy 28:1-9, “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of Jehovah thy God, to observe to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that Jehovah thy God will set thee on high above all the nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come upon thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of Jehovah thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy beasts, the increase of thy cattle, and the young of thy flock. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy kneading-trough. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. Jehovah will cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thee: they shall come out against thee one way, and shall flee before thee seven ways. Jehovah will command the blessing upon thee in thy barns, and in all that thou puttest thy hand unto; and he will bless thee in the land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee. Jehovah will establish thee for a holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee; if thou shalt keep the commandments of Jehovah thy God, and walk in his ways.”
In the Bible God tells us he wants our obedience more than any sacrifice, and the worst place you can put yourself is in a place of disobedience. In your lives you may be facing changes, hard changes that will reshape your life. In this situation it is important to remember that God has made promises to us about listening to His Word and voice. God will bless those who follow his commands so much that they will overtake you, and you won’t even know what to do with yourself. This is what God says will happen if you only obey Him, and trust that he will work out all things. Even if there is rough waters, if He is the captain of the boat, you will always make your destination, and be blessed.
Isaiah 43:1-19, " But now thus saith Jehovah that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am Jehovah thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour; I have given Egypt as thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in thy stead……….I am Jehovah, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King. Thus saith Jehovah, who maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;…… Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now shall it spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert."
Two hunters came across a bear so big that they dropped their rifles and ran for cover. One man climbed a tree while the other hid in a nearby cave. The bear was in no hurry to eat, so he sat down between the tree and the cave to reflect upon his good fortune. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, the hunter in the cave came rushing out, almost ran into the waiting bear, hesitated, and then dashed back in again. The same thing happened a second time. When he emerged for the third time, his companion in the tree frantically called out, "Woody, are you crazy? Stay in the cave till he leaves!" "Can't," panted Woody, "there's another bear in there." Sometimes in life we get into problems where we can’t see any good way out. This is when we have to fully rely on God that he will provide our way, and trust in him. The Bible never uses the exact words “God will make a way, where there seems to be no way”. Rather it is something you learn by trusting him.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-25, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward. Quench not the Spirit; despise not prophesyings; prove all things; hold fast that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it. Brethren, pray for us.”
Lancelot Andrewes one of the people on the team that translated the KJV 1611 Bible Wrote a prayer that still rings so true today. He prayed:
Be Thou within me, to strengthen me;
Without me, to keep me;
Above me, to protect me;
Beneath me, to uphold me;
Before me, to direct me;
Behind me, to keep me from straying;
Round about me, to defend me.
Blessed be Thou, O Lord, our Father,
for ever and ever.
Basically it is saying Lord be everywhere in my life, and take control. Get me out of the way so that You can be first. This should still be our prayer today.
Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
In the Philippines I heard a local pastor use the following parable to illustrate Christ's offer of rest (Matt. ll:28) and the response of people who won't trust Him completely: The driver of a carabao wagon was on his way to market when he overtook an old man carrying a heavy load. Taking compassion on him, the driver invited the old man to ride in the wagon. Gratefully the old man accepted. After a few minutes, the driver turned to see how the man was doing. To his surprise, he found him still straining under the heavy weight, for he had not taken the burden off his shoulders. Sometimes we hold on to our heavy loads in life, even when we do not have to. Jesus tells us hand your worries, your pains, your heart aches in life, that we may live free. Yet, we cling to them. It time to say good bye to your troubles of the past, and say hello to our freedom of the yet to come.
Matthew 7:15-20, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
Many times, while in church services, we have amazing experiences. However once we walk out the church doors, and into the real world these experiences with God fade into noting. M. Cocoris wrote about this very thing in his book, saying; “The sure test of the quality of any supposed change of heart will be found in its permanent effects. 'By their fruits you shall know them' is as applicable to the right method of judging ourselves as of judging others. Whatever, therefore, may have been our inward experience, whatever joy or sorrow we may have felt, unless we bring forth fruits meet for repentance, our experience will profit us nothing. Repentance is incomplete unless it leads to confession and restitution in cases of injury; unless it causes us to forsake not merely outward sins, which others notice, but those which lie concealed in the heart; unless it makes us choose the service of God and live not for ourselves but for Him. There is no duty which is either more obvious in itself, or more frequently asserted in the Word of God, than that of repentance.” We can let the touches of God truly change us, if only we are willing to be changed, to fulfill his will and calling.
Psalms 39:1-6, “said, I will take heed to my ways, That I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, While the wicked is before me. I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; And my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me; While I was musing the fire burned: Then spake I with my tongue: Jehovah, make me to know mine end, And the measure of my days, what it is; Let me know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as handbreadths; And my life-time is as nothing before thee: Surely every man at his best estate is altogether vanity. Selah Surely every man walketh in a vain show; Surely they are disquieted in vain: He heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.”
How would you like to spend 2 years making phone calls to people who aren't home? Sound absurd? According to one time management study, that's how much time the average person spends trying to return calls to people who never seem to be in. Not only that, we spend 6 months waiting for the traffic light to turn green, and another 8 months reading junk mail. These unusual statistics should cause us to do time-use evaluation. Once we recognize that simple "life maintenance" can chip away at our time in such huge blocks, we will see how vital it is that we don't busy ourselves in “vain”. Psalm 39 gives us some perspective. to an eternal God our time on earth is brief. And He doesn't want us to waste it. When we do, we throw away one of the most precious commodities He gives us. Each minute is an irretrievable gift--and unredeemable slice of eternity. Sure, we have to make the phone calls, and we must wait at the light. But what about the rest of our time? Are we using it to advance the cause of Christ and to enhance our relationship with Him? Is our time well spent?
Galatians 6:7-10, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.”
Jim Byrne, in Cairns, Australia, was in the fight of his life with a giant marlin he'd hooked. The fish leapt, splashed and fought, but was firmly hooked. Byrne worked him to the boat and landed him. The fish, however, had not finished the fight. While thrashing around on deck, he speared Byrne in the chest. His sword missed Byrne's lungs and heart by a fraction of an inch. Withdrawing his weapon, the fish causally flipped overboard and swam away unharmed. No matter what the situation maybe, you are not beaten until you give up. A famous one liner I heard growing up was; pray until something happens (P.U.S.H). We need to push ourselves to reach our goals, and victories. Don’t let the devil discourage you, and get you down. If you will finish the fight God will be there with you every step of the way.
2 Kings 18:1-7, “Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem: and his mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places, and brake the pillars, and cut down the Asherah: and he brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made; for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it; and he called it Nehushtan. He trusted in Jehovah, the God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among them that were before him. For he clave to Jehovah; he departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which Jehovah commanded Moses. And Jehovah was with him; whithersoever he went forth he prospered: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.”
2 Chronicles 31:20-21, “And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah; and he wrought that which was good and right and faithful before Jehovah his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.”
Piety, the word, is only used one time in the Bible. 1 Timothy 5:4, “But if any widow hath children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety towards their own family, and to requite their parents: for this is acceptable in the sight of God.” Nevertheless, the whole Bible is an example of it. Piety in principle, is a compound of adoration or reverence of the Supreme Being, and love of His character, or honor accompanied with love. Piety in practice, is the exercise of these affections in obedience to His will and devotion to His service. So our piety to God is to love Him and act on that love. You can love and honor something, but without action, what good is the love. We can have piety towards anything like having reverence of parents or friends, accompanied with affection and devotion to their honor and happiness. This would include taking care of them when they are old, just as they have taken care of you when you were young. Honor, love respect with action.
Dennis Prager, a columnist once wrote about this in his book, Happiness is a serious problem. “I once asked a deeply religious man if he considered himself a truly pious person. He responded that while he aspired to be one, he felt that he fell short in two areas. One of those areas, he said, was his not being a happy enough person to be considered truly pious. His point was that unhappy religious people reflect poorly on their religion and on their Creator. He was right; in fact, unhappy religious people pose a real challenge to faith. If their faith is so impressive, why aren't these devoted adherents happy? There are only two possible reasons: either they are not practicing their faith correctly, or they are practicing their faith correctly and the religion itself is not conducive to happiness. Most outsiders assume the latter reason. Unhappy religious people should therefore think about how important being happy is—if not for themselves, then for the sake of their religion. Unhappy, let alone angry, religious people provide more persuasive arguments for atheism and secularism than do all the arguments of atheists.”
In our passage today, we see a small part of the story of King Hezekiah. Hezekiah was one of the few kings that truly followed after God. He didn’t allow people to worship other gods, but follow the only true God. He went as far as to destroy the serpent statue that Moses built. God commanded Moses to build it, and it was used to heal the people of God. However, they started to worship it. So Hezekiah, even though it had history, it had lots of “tradition,” and came from God, it was used for evil and Hezekiah put a stop to it. He overcame history, tradition, the norm, and what the people around him wanted, all to follow God. Hezekiah honored God in his heart and his actions showed it. He was a very pious man and king.
Can we say we are a pious people? Do our actions show that we honor and respect God? It’s time to look into the mirror and see if the person looking back is truly who we say we are and who we want to be. Just like the Bible, piety is not a word we use a lot, or ever. Nevertheless, it is something we should be living by every day.
Matthew 11:12 “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and men of violence take it by force.”
This is probably my favorite verse in the whole Bible. Too often we think of Christians as gentle, quiet, and easily walked on. We label ourselves, and do not get aggressive in many situations because we think that’s is the Godly thing to do. However; the Bible is very clear on this point. Jesus was not like this. He was the one to turn the world upside down. He spoke truth boldly, no matter what the situation was. He carried out actions that would label him as an extremist. Yes, Jesus was also gentle, kind, and loving in every way. Yes, we are called to be all these things too. Although, one of the biggest reasons that America has turned into the heathen country it is today is because Christians where too timid to stand up for the truth when it needed to be done.
Who are the ones that comes to know Christ as their Savior? Who where you before you knew Christ as your Savior? We were the liars, backstabbers, cheater, haters, murderers, thieves, and etc.. Look at Paul’s life, he was Saul, a murderer of the Christians and henchmen of Satan, but when he turned to God, he kept his zeal and his work ethic. He did not turn timid, but became a bold warrior for the gospel. He preached until they stoned him, then he preached some more. He was an escaped convict, living for the spreading of the good news.
John the Baptist was the type of man to say, forget the way people think is right, I’m going to live for Christ alone. Separated himself with comfortable living conditions and worldly attachments. He put the people in charge in their place with the truth, and never backed down. Yet in all of this he was able to remain humble, to the point where he said he was not worthy to unbuckle Jesus’ shoe.
Ephesians 6:12 “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” As a Christian if we are in a war with the powers of evil we need to be bold. Have you ever seen a lazy and timid army go into battle, or even a sports team take the field without the will to fight. We know what the outcome of these things would be. This is the same outcome we have in America today because we have been quiet for so long.
The people in our lives need to see that being a Christian is a stand for what is right, holy, and Godly. We are the mouth, hands, feet, and heart to those around us. What is the example of a Christian that you are showing off?
Isaiah 55:8-12, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands.”
A lesson from a Q-tip;
Have you ever been getting ready in the morning and grab a Q-tip, put it in your ear (exactly how the box says not to do it), and immediately get a sharp pain. You remove the Q-tip to find the cotton missing, and that the sharp plastic stick has scratched the inside of your ear? This led me to two thoughts, one is that they really need better quality control at the Q-tip factory, and second that we assume too much in life. I assumed that what I was putting in my ear was safe, and never checked the facts that were present. How many times do we assume things about God, and our lives, without stopping to see if that is God’s will for us? How many times do we get frustrated and mad that God is not going in the same direction as us? When he never wanted us to go in that direction in the first place. Do we expect that if we want to go left that God should just follow, and help us, or do we stop and see which way God is going to go, and let Him lead us? Only one person can lead at a time, if we are expecting and assuming that things are going the way we choose and expect, are we really following God?
1 Corinthians 13:1-13, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known. But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
The world will say that actions are the most important thing about what we do, and that our actions define who we are. However God does not see it that way. Sigmund Freud died at the age of 83, a bitter and disillusioned man. Tragically, this Viennese physician, one of the most influential thinkers of our time, had little compassion for the common person. Freud wrote in 1918, "I have found little that is good about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all" (Veritas Reconsidered, p. 36). Freud died friendless. It is well-known that he had broken with each of his followers. The end was bitter. God’s words hold true, no matter how much good we do, if we don’t love, we have nothing.
Proverbs 3:1-7 My son, forget not my law; But let thy heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and years of life, And peace, will they add to thee. Let not kindness and truth forsake thee: Bind them about thy neck; Write them upon the tablet of thy heart: So shalt thou find favor and good understanding In the sight of God and man. Trust in Jehovah with all thy heart, And lean not upon thine own understanding: In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he will direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; Fear Jehovah, and depart from evil:
C.S. Lewis once said, “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?” Talk is cheap, it is through the tough times of serving the Lord that we find out what we are truly made of. No matter how desperate, hard, impossible, or hopeless life may get, know that God is the healer, helper, redeemer, muscle, and conquer of all. If you put your full trust in God, then you are trusting the one person in all the universe that can truly ever make a difference. No matter what the situation, God is the rode that keep hold you up, always.
Philippians 1:21-24, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will bring fruit from my work; yet I don't make known what I will choose. But I am in a dilemma between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Yet, to remain in the flesh is more needful for your sake.”
We know that Paul suffered at death, but he was truly looking forward to it. This may seem gloomy to some, but the truth is death is the only way that we finally will get to go and meet the Lord, face to face. We are on this earth for a short time. The bible calls it a vapor, or a puff of air. After that we get to actually start living. While we are here we have a mission, which is a great thing. We get to try and win souls for the kingdom of God, and help those we can live a better life. Then when that is all over, we get to receive the best gift in the universe. Now there are many ways to die. Some quick, and some not so much. Some painless and other not so lucky. Nonetheless, death for a Christian should never be a sad thing. Yes we mourn, it is a person we love, and we will not get to see them anymore for a while. Although, in reality it is a graduation into true happiness and peace. We will miss them for a short time, but once we are in heaven all those times will seem as nothing. Death is not a scary thing, at least for those whom come to know Christ. I for one am looking forward to those days in glory.
Philippians 4:4-8, “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice. Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
There are two ways of handling pressure. One is illustrated by a bathysphere, the miniature submarine used to explore the ocean in places so deep that the water pressure would crush a conventional submarine like an aluminum can. Bathyspheres compensate with plate steel several inches thick, which keeps the water out but also makes them heavy and hard to maneuver. Inside they're not alone. When their lights are turned on and you look through the tiny, thick plate-glass windows, what do you see? Fish! These fish cope with extreme pressure in an entirely different way. They don't build thick skins; they remain flexible and free. They compensate for the outside pressure through equal and opposite pressure inside themselves. Christians, likewise, don't have to be hard and thick-skinned--as long as they accept God's power within to equal the pressure without. In order to deal with a strong world, and in order to deal with the pressures put on you. Your mind and soul need to have the strength within in order to cope with it. And not only survive but thrive. The other way is to give into the pressure and be crushed by the weight. So choose wisely
1 Corinthians 12:1-31, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that when ye were Gentiles ye were led away unto those dumb idols, howsoever ye might led. Wherefore I make known unto you, that no man speaking in the Spirit of God saith, Jesus is anathema; and no man can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal. For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: to another faith, in the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, in the one Spirit; and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discernings of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as he will…….”
In the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery, asking to be accepted as a contemplative and spend the rest of his life in the monastery. "Your Majesty," said Prior Richard, "do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king." "I understand," said Henry. "The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you." "Then I will tell you what to do," said Prior Richard. "Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you." When King Henry died, a statement was written: "The King learned to rule by being obedient." When we tire of our roles and responsibilities, it helps to remember God has planted us in a certain place and told us to be a good accountant or teacher or mother or father. Christ expects us to be faithful where he puts us, and when he returns, we'll rule together with him.
Matthew 14:22-33 And straightway he constrained the disciples to enter into the boat, and to go before him unto the other side, till he should send the multitudes away. And after he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain apart to pray: and when even was come, he was there alone. But the boat was now in the midst of the sea, distressed by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night he came unto them, walking upon the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a ghost; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto the upon the waters. And he said, Come. And Peter went down from the boat, and walked upon the waters to come to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and took hold of him, and saith unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were gone up into the boat, the wind ceased. And they that were in the boat worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
There is a story involving Yogi Berra, the well-known catcher for the New York Yankees, and Hank Aaron, who at that time was the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves. The teams were playing in the World Series, and as usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter, intended to pep up his teammates on the one hand, and distract the Milwaukee batters on the other. As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying, "Henry, you're holding the bat wrong. You're supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark." Aaron didn't say anything, but when the next pitch came he hit it into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and tagging up at home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi Berra and said, "I didn't come up here to read." As Pastor Gary often says, if the devil can’t trip you up, he will distract you. We need to keep our eyes on the ball, and stay focused on God.
2 Timothy 2:19-26, “Howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his: and, Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness. Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some unto honor, and some unto dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the master's use, prepared unto every good work. after righteousness, faith, love, pace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and ignorant questionings refuse, knowing that they gender strifes. And the Lord's servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all, apt to teach, forbearing, in meekness correcting them that oppose themselves; if peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him unto his will.”
Richard Dunagin once told a story of life lesson he once had. “At their school carnival, our kids won four free goldfish (lucky us!), so out I went Saturday morning to find an aquarium. The first few I priced ranged from $40 to $70. Then I spotted it--right in the aisle: a discarded 10-gallon display tank, complete with gravel and filter--for a mere five bucks. Sold! Of course, it was nasty dirty, but the savings made the two hours of clean-up a breeze. Those four new fish looked great in their new home, at least for the first day. But by Sunday one had died. Too bad, but three remained. Monday morning revealed a second casualty, and by Monday night a third goldfish had gone belly up. We called in an expert, a member of our church who has a 30-gallon tank. It didn't take him long to discover the problem: I had washed the tank with soap, an absolute no-no. My uninformed efforts had destroyed the very lives I was trying to protect.” Sometimes in our zeal to clean up our own lives or the lives of others, we unfortunately use "killer soaps" being it condemnation, criticism, nagging, fits of temper. We think we're doing right, but our harsh, self-righteous treatment is more than they can bear.
Joshua 1:1-5, "Now it came to pass after the death of Moses the servant of Jehovah, that Jehovah spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, to you have I given it, as I spake unto Moses. From the wilderness, and this Lebanon, even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your border. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life. as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."
Though many of us have seen pictures of a huge eagle's nest high in the branches of a tree or in the crag of a cliff, few of us have gotten a glimpse inside. When a mother eagle builds her nest she starts with thorns, broken branches, sharp rocks, and a number of other items that seem entirely unsuitable for the project. But then she lines the nest with a thick padding of wool, feathers, and fur from animals she has killed, making it soft and comfortable for the eggs. By the time the growing birds reach flying age, the comfort of the nest and the luxury of free meals make them quite reluctant to leave. That's when the mother eagle begins "stirring up the nest." With her strong talons she begins pulling up the thick carpet of fur and feathers, bringing the sharp rocks and branches to the surface. As more of the bedding gets plucked up, the nest becomes more uncomfortable for the young eagles. Eventually, this and other urgings prompt the growing eagles to leave their once-comfortable abode and move on to more mature behavior. Sometimes life get uncomfortable because God wants us to move, and if we don’t move it will only get more uncomfortable. We are the only ones who can move the kingdom forward, so God does not want us to sit still.
Galatians 6:1-7, “Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man thinketh himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let each man prove his own work, and then shall he have his glorying in regard of himself alone, and not of his neighbor. For each man shall bear his own burden. But let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
This is a very interesting passage, in verse 2 it says; to help others bear there burdens, but in 3 verses later it says everyone must bear their own burden. As I was reading this passage, God gave me the picture of an ant hill. You see ants are remarkable creatures, and the colonies they can create are amazing. So much so that there is a professional artist who takes liquid metal, and pours it into ant holes. The metal seeps into each hole and when it’s cooled and undug makes splendid pieces of art. Each ant works hard in order to build these colonies, everyday working, and toiling to expand their home. However, one ant cannot build it by himself. It takes hundreds and thousands of them working together. Each of us has a job to do, but it takes the whole body of Christ to make the kingdom work. We are to have the work ethics of the ant, but there is a big difference between us and ants, and that is if an ant falls down hurt, the other ants finish it off and use it for food, we on the other hand, have the call of, “No man left behind.” If someone falls we need to help pick them up, put some of their load on to ourselves and help them until they can care for themselves once again. Christian life is not a simple one, but when done right, it is something to make a master piece with.
1 Samuel 15:23-31; “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim. Because thou hast rejected the word of Jehovah, he hath also rejected thee from being king. And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of Jehovah, and thy words, because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship Jehovah. And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee; for thou hast rejected the word of Jehovah, and Jehovah hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. And as Samuel turned about to go away, Saul laid hold upon the skirt of his robe, and it rent. And Samuel said unto him, Jehovah hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbor of thine, that is better than thou. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent; for he is not a man, that he should repent. Then he said, I have sinned: yet honor me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship Jehovah thy God. So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped Jehovah.”
Can we mess up so bad that we lose out on the Lord’s blessings? Yes, as sad as it is. If God is calling you to something, and you refuse, disobey, or reject Him, then at some point He can reject you for His calling. Before we read Saul’s story, we see God’s judgment on Israel’s priests because they started to disobey God’s calling. In 1 Samuel 2:30 we read, “Therefore Jehovah, the God of Israel, saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me forever: but now Jehovah saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” The house of Eli and his sons lost their place in the Lord’s plan, almost every promise we have from God, depends upon our actions. We choose to let God use us in His plan, or walk away, and live for our own plans. In the passage Saul had basically decided to be politically correct. He listen to what the people wanted, and turned away from God’s commands. Saul, if he feared the Lord, should have listened more to God and less to his people. Are we in this situation? Are we listening to our friends and family about how we need to live our life? Is it pulling you closer or farther away from the Lord? The Lord has a plan for your life, and the people around you are either going to help you grow in Christ or pull you farther away. With this in mind, if we choose to walk away from the Lord, He will at some point pull His blessing from you.
At the end of the passage we see that he asks, (paraphrased) “even though I lost God’s blessing as king, let me still worship God with you.” This of course this is the way God works. Until we draw our final breath, God always allows us to come back to Him. He may have taken away that which was once ours. Our ministries, positions, money, etc., but he never denies a person their request for repentance. Saul not only fell away from the Lord, but with his actions, he led a nation astray as their king. Still God allowed repentance. However; Saul’s repentance was short lived, but God still received it with open arms. Could Saul, even though he repented, go back to his ministry as King? No, at that point God had already started getting David ready to take his place. It didn’t matter how much Saul wanted to hold on to it, whatever God’s plans are for our life is, it will happen. In Job 1:21 we read, “….. Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah.” We should bless the Lord for what we have, and live for Him, this will always end in a blessed life.
Luke 9:23-26, “And he said unto all, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose or forfeit his own self? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He cometh in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels.”
A tale is told about a small town that had historically been "dry," but then a local businessman decided to build a tavern. A group of Christians from a local church were concerned and planned an all-night prayer meeting to ask God to intervene. It just so happened that shortly thereafter lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground. The owner of the bar sued the church, claiming that the prayers of the congregation were responsible, but the church hired a lawyer to argue in court that they were not responsible. The presiding judge, after his initial review of the case, stated that "no matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear. The tavern owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not." No matter what happens in life, be it the good the bad or the ugly, we have to stand by Christ and for Christ.
1 John 2:14-17, “I have written unto you, fathers, because ye know him who is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the evil one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
Eli Black was a brilliant businessman best known for two events in his life: He masterminded the multimillion dollar takeover of the United Fruit conglomerate, and he jumped to his death from the 42nd floor of the Pan Am building in New York City. In the book An American Company, an executive described a business lunch he had with Eli Black. When the waitress brought a plate of cheese and crackers as an appetizer, Black reached out and took them, placed them on the table, blocked them with his arms, and continued talking. The executive hadn't eaten for hours and hinted that he would like a cracker. But Black acted as though he hadn't heard him and went on with the business meeting. After a while, Black placed a cracker and cheese on the tips of his fingers and continued to talk. Several moments later, Black placed the cracker on the executive's plate and then blocked the rest as before. It was clear that Black was in charge, manipulating others as he pleased. When you play "follow the leader," check to see who is at the head of the line. Eli Black, for all his power, ended up in suicide. Jesus Christ, in all His humility, ended up the Savior of the world. God knew what was important in life, and he did not keep it a secret.
2 Timothy 2:19-21 Howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his: and, Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness. Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some unto honor, and some unto dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the master's use, prepared unto every good work.
C.S. Lewis once wrote, “We can rest contentedly in our sins and in our stupidities, and everyone who has watched gluttons shoveling down the most exquisite foods as if they did not know what they were eating, will admit that we can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Many time God’s last resort is for us to go through pain in order for us to listen to him. That is a sad thing to say when the world is so full of it. Think about it this way, in my line of work, which is constantly working with children, you come into contact with many germs and illnesses. It is my job in to keep myself, and the children, clean and sanitized, so we don’t go through the pain of sickness. If for some reason I choose not to care about the consequence of be unsanitary, then I’ll go through the pain of sickness. I know what needs to be done to stay healthy, but my actions is what keeps the doctors away. Likewise, you also know what needs to be done in order to be spiritually healthy and clean, but your actions will be what God judges.
James 1:12-16, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man: but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death. Be not deceived, my beloved brethren.”
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness.
5. (Tie) Sexual lust.
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God (81 percent) and when they were physically tired (57 percent). Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent). Notice one thing about overcoming temptation, it always takes work, and action. You are going to step into the fight or cowardly accept defeat. There are many ways to overcome temptations, but each start with Jesus.
2 Timothy 4:1-8, “I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables. But be thou sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing.”
Mark Twain expressed his thoughts about life in view of man's inevitable death. Shortly before his death, he wrote, "A myriad of men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle;...they squabble and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other; age creeps upon them; infirmities follow; ...those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. It (the release) comes at last--the only unpoisoned gift earth ever had for them-- and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence,...a world which will lament them a day and forget them forever." Twains thoughts compared to Paul’s are quite different, even though Paul was about to be martyred. The reason is because Paul found what life is worth living for. So, if you were asked today, why you exist, what would your answer be?
John 6:48-58; “I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
This is the bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
I am the living bread which came down out of heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: yea and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.
The Jews therefore strove one with another, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he that eateth me, he also shall live because of me.This is the bread which came down out of heaven: not as the fathers ate, and died; he that eateth this bread shall live forever.”
Jesus made a bold statement that people did not understand at the time. He told them they would have to be his flesh and drink his blood in order to live. We today can fully understand what He was talking about, and that he was relating to two different things at the same time:
That He would become the manna for the new covenant
His death on the cross the communion to remember it
The manna – The world will never forget the story of Moses and the Israelites being freed from bondage, and led into the wilderness by God. How God used plagues and death to punish the Egyptian’s for holding God’s people. Then how God split the red sea for them to cross and, then closing it behind them, putting an end to pharaoh’s army. That is where the story ends for most children’s movies, and story tellers. But that was just the beginning of their trip to the promise land. They spent 40 years in the desert, and God provided for them. He did miracle after miracle; their clothes never wore out, water from rocks, a miraculous fire pillar guide, etc. One of the things God provided them was a way to eat. Every morning God gave them manna Exodus 16:4-5 “Then said Jehovah unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or not. And it shall come to pass on the sixth day, that they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Now this is an important note that God gave each person what they needed for the day. He did not give them so much that they would get out of gather it for the next day, except for preparing for the Sabbath. Exodus 16:17-21 “And the children of Israel did so, and gathered some more, some less. And when they measured it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. And Moses said unto them, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and became foul: and Moses was wroth with them. And they gathered it morning by morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.” When we look at this in comparison to our passage today it becomes clear why God chose to compare His sacrifice to the manna that rain from heaven. The Lord wants a daily walk with us, he wants us to partake of him each and every day. We can never get so much of God that we can ignore him the next, or when we go to Him he doesn’t give us too little and keep us in want. God gives us enough of himself each day in order to sustain us till the next. Then he will be waiting for us to reach out and collect more of him again the next day.
Death / communion – Most of the passage was taking about what we now call communion. Jesus took the Seder (Passover) meal, or rather a piece from it, and changed the symbolic meaning. Matthew 26:26-29 “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it; and he gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins. But I say unto you, I shall not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” Now we have to combine the two passages of what he did during the last supper, and our passage in John 6:48-58. When we do this we see the importance communion has, and why Christ gave us the command to do it. He says it boldly if we do partake of communion then we do not have him living inside of us. That is a serious thing! Sometimes communion is taken so lightly, but Jesus put such weighty commands to do it, there seems to be an unbalance if doing it seem mundane. Jesus make this statement in the passage “For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” He is telling us, this is my ultimate goal, the alpha plan. That his body was made to be our sacrifice. We take communion for many reasons, but the number one reason is the remembrance of what our savior has done for us.