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 told a story from his childhood, He said “When I was a child, I often had a toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother, she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother--at least not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this: I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist the next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from my pain; but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists; I knew they would start fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache. Our Lord is like the dentists. Dozens of people go to him to be cured of some particular sin. Well, he will cure it all right, but he will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if you once call him in, he will give you the full treatment.”
Matthew 25:14-30, “For it is as when a man, going into another country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey. Straightway he that received the five talents went and traded with them, and made other five talents. In like manner he also that received the two gained other two. But he that received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. Now after a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and maketh a reckoning with them. And he that received the five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: lo, I have gained other five talents. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. And he also that received the two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: lo, I have gained other two talents. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. And he also that had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou didst not scatter; and I was afraid, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast thine own. But his lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I did not scatter; thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back mine own with interest. Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away. And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.”
Have you ever hear of the marshmallow test? They take a child from the ages of 5 to 10 years old, and put them into a room. The room is bare, with just a table, chair, and a plate on the table. The child is led to the chair and sits at the table, then one marshmallow in placed on the plate. They are told “I will be back, you can eat the marshmallow in front of you, or if you wait I’ll be back and give you two marshmallows.” The adult leaves the room and the child is left with a choice. This of course is comical, but at the same time very awesome to watch. Most of the time the children wouldn’t work through the temptation in order to receive their prize of double the reward. We have this same question asked to us each day. Do we control ourselves and wait for the better prize promised to us for doing the right thing? Or do we take instant satisfaction in our choices, and lose out on the prize we would have received? The response is up to us to make.
Romans 2:1-6, “Wherefore thou art without excuse, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judges another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest dost practise the same things. And we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against them that practise such things. And reckonest thou this, O man, who judgest them that practise such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works:”
Something we tell our children is that, “God is always watching,” and it’s true he is. Nevertheless, so many times we forget that little fact ourselves. How different would our lives be if we had a physical form of God constantly looking at us? Would you do the same things you did yesterday? Would you do the same things you did this morning? We would truly be more aware of every action we take. This is the same way when we are driving down the road, and then a police car pulls behind us. Suddenly we become the perfect driver until he pulls away. The truth, unlike the police car, is that God is always with us, and he is always watching. The fact that a visual presence is not there should not give us any reason to live like we shouldn’t. As you are going about the day just know God is watching you, but the real question is: are you going to please him or hurt him today?
Hebrews 10:22-27, “let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water, let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for he is faithful that promised: and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries.”
We often fail to consider the gradual, cumulative effect of sin in our lives. In Saint Louis in 1984, an unemployed cleaning woman noticed a few bees buzzing around the attic of her home. Since there were only a few, she made no effort to deal with them. Over the summer the bees continued to fly in and out the attic vent while the woman remained unconcerned, unaware of the growing city of bees. The whole attic became a hive, and the ceiling of the second- floor bedroom finally caved in under the weight of hundreds of pounds of honey and thousands of angry bees. While the woman escaped serious injury, she was unable to repair the damage of her accumulated neglect. One way to way to make sure we don’t have something building into a disaster in our lives, is to have good friends surrounding us. People who are willing to show you your faults even when you don’t want to see them. We are good at rationalizing anything into our lives, and sometimes we need some outside eye to see clearly.
Romans 7:14-21, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practise; but what I hate, that I do. But if what I would not, that I do, I consent unto the law that it is good. So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not. For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practise. But if what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me. I find then the law, that, to me who would do good, evil is present.”
Migratory birds in the U.S. were tagged by the Department of the Interior with metal strips reading "Wash. Biol. Surv."--for Washington Biological Survey. The code was changed, so the story goes, after a farmer from Arkansas wrote to the department: "Dear Sirs, I shot one of your crows, my wife followed the cooking instructions attached--she washed it, boiled it and served it. It was the worst thing we ever ate." When we read and study Gods word, sometimes it can be confusing. We need to always read it in the spirit and with an open heart. The Holy Spirit can reveal things to you in marvelous ways. Never take the Bible as a book, but always remember it is Gods’ living words to us. It is a tool to understand more of God, and is here to build a better relationship with Him. When we study it means to devote time into it, and to truly know what it says, so slow down and dig in deep.
Proverbs 6:12-19, “A worthless person, a man of iniquity, Is he that walketh with a perverse mouth; That winketh with his eyes, that speaketh with his feet, That maketh signs with his fingers; In whose heart is perverseness, Who deviseth evil continually, Who soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; On a sudden shall he be broken, and that without remedy. There are six things which Jehovah hateth; Yea, seven which are an abomination unto him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood; A heart that deviseth wicked purposes, Feet that are swift in running to mischief, A false witness that uttereth lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren.”
If you don't say it, they can't repeat it. Yiddish folklore offers a telling tale about gossip-makers. One such man had told so many malicious untruths about the local rabbi that, overcome by remorse, he begged the rabbi to forgive him. "And, Rabbi, tell me how I can make amends." The rabbi sighed, "Take two pillows, go to the public square and there cut the pillows open. Wave them in the air. Then come back." The rumormonger quickly went home, got two pillows and a knife, hastened to the square, cut the pillows open, waved them in the air and hastened back to the rabbi's chambers. "I did just what you said, Rabbi!" "Good." The rabbi smiled. "Now, to realize how much harm is done by gossip, go back to the square..." "And?" "And collect all your feathers." Many sins hurt those around us, but gossip may be one of the most dangerous. In our tongues hold the power to build or destroy, so choose your words wisely and respect those around you.
1 Peter 3:3-4, “Let your beauty be not just the outward adorning of braiding the hair, and of wearing jewels of gold, or of putting on fine clothing; but in the hidden person of the heart, in the incorruptible adornment of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God very precious.”
Dr. George Sweetings told a story of how sin can trap us because it takes our eyes off the dangers ahead. “Several years ago our family visited Niagara Falls. It was spring, and ice was rushing down the river. As I viewed the large blocks of ice flowing toward the falls, I could see that there were carcasses of dead fish embedded in the ice. Gulls by the score were riding down the river feeding on the fish. As they came to the brink of the falls, their wings would go out, and they would escape from the falls.I watched one gull which seemed to delay and wondered when it would leave. It was engrossed in the carcass of a fish, and when it finally came to the brink of the falls, out went its powerful wings. The bird flapped and flapped and even lifted the ice out of the water, and I thought it would escape. But it had delayed too long so that its claws had frozen into the ice. The weight of the ice was too great, and the gull plunged into the abyss.The material possessions of this world can entrap us if we become too attached to them. They will take us to our destruction if we cannot give them up. And as Sweeting observed, ‘Oh, the danger of delay!’”
1 Peter 5:6-10 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you. Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, whom withstand stedfast in your faith, knowing that the same sufferings are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world. And the God of all grace, who called you unto his eternal glory in Christ, after that ye have suffered a little while, shall himself perfect, establish, strengthen you.”
It is said of one of the famous composers that he had a rebellious son who used to come in late at night after his father and mother had gone to bed. And before going to his own room, he would go to his father's piano and slowly, as well as loudly, play a simple scale, all but the final note. Then leaving the scale uncompleted, he would retire to his room. Meanwhile the father, hearing the scale minus the final note, would writhe on his bed, his mind unable to relax because the scale was unresolved. Finally, in consternation, he would stumble down the stairs and hit the previously unstruck note. Only then would his mind surrender to sleep once again. Life can be frustrating, but it is only because we are missing the peace that can calm down our situation, and the truth is in our lives we need less not more. A Christian’s life is to be simple, yet anxiety builds because of the garbage we store up within ourselves. God is, among so many things a trash man. Taking our garbage, and throwing away, and no matter how much we hoard in our lives, God can clean it.
Genesis 15:13-14, “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.”
Exodus 3:21-22, “And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty. But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall despoil the Egyptians.”
Have you ever thought about time travel? Knowing that if you change one thing in the past that the future would be different. That would give the person the ability to change history and mold it into whatever he see fit. Now God is not a time traveler, but rather exists in all time, at the same time (Mind blown right). And He because He knows the future he can make whatever happen that needs to happen in order for His good will to become our reality. In our passage God tells Abraham, before his son is even born, about the people coming out of slavery in Egypt. That’s about 430 years of planning and molding everything in order for his good will to take place. In our lives, we have a choice to put our faith in our ability to reach our final destination and goals, or we trust in God’s power and plan for our life. God knows how to take care of us, and this is one reason we put our trust in our All-knowing God.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, And will be to you a Father, And ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
Be separate, as the passage talks about is a big part of us living a sanctified life to the Lord. Think about this, there is coming a day, years from now, when you will meet an older man or women. This older person, who you will meet, can be a gentle, humble, yet a powerful Christian. Someone that people want to be around, so they will have lots of friends. They are a role model to the youth, and a wise steward for the Lord, who people want to learn from. On the other hand, one day instead of meeting this gentle soul, you meet a hateful person who is rude, and ugly to the people they meet. They have no friends because they’re so unpleasant to be around. They are poor in spirit and lack any trust in God, because they never learned how to use their faith. You will meet one of these people in the distant future, because, it is you. We have the choice every day to get to who we are going to be. Every day is wasted or fulfilled with the actions we make. Then one day you will look in the mirror to see the result of the choices you have made.
Now the Bible tells us in Zechariah 13:9, “And I will bring the third part into the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, Jehovah is my God.” Those that God wants as his people, are to be refined so that all the impurities are worked out. However, the refining process is not an easy one.
A story was told about a middle aged man named Mike. He and his wife were at an outdoor street fair when he spotted a mechanical bull that tries to buck people off. The guy operating the bull said, "Watching it isn't nearly as fun as riding." So Mike told the bull operator that he wanted to ride. He took one look at his middle-aged body and asked, "Are you sure?" That guaranteed that he would not back down.
He explained to Mike that the bull has 12 levels of difficulty. "It might not be easy," he said, "but the key is this, you have to stay centered on the bull. You have to follow the bull. You have to shift your center of gravity as the bull moves."
So Mike got on the bull and it started slow, and then it started moving faster and jostling around, and he was holding on real tight. Then he remembered the operator’s advice, so he loosened up, and it kept moving faster and swinging and bucking and jumping. Mike was hanging on sideways. His arms were flailing around all over the place. He looked like a balloon man in front of a car deal, but Mike just barley hung on and finally the bull slowed down and it stopped, but to his amazement he was still on the bull. It wasn't pretty but he made it. He imagined how surprised the operator of the bull would be that he had triumphed. So mike looked over at him, and he looked over at mike. Shaking his head, he smiled and said, "Nice job. That was level one."
When God allows us to go through trials, it is a time of strengthen, but it sure does not feel like it at the time. He cleans out the stuff he doesn’t want in our lives in order to fill the holes in with His Spirit. This is the part that God does for us. However, this process is not one sided, we have work to do. We need to evaluate our life ourselves, and when something in our lives is reviled to be ungodly, it is our duty to separate ourselves from it. All in all, this is to our benefit, because it saves us from more of that refining fire when we do it ourselves.
In light there can be no darkness, God does not share us with the devil. Also, no portion of our lives as a believer can have communion with an unbeliever. We need to surround ourselves with holy living and Godly people. We are like sponges, whether it be right out of the wrapper or the old one sitting on the counter. We all soak up everything around us. This is eventually what shapes us into our older selves. And what will be printed into your heart.
So look at your life at a distance, and pinpoint the things that need to be cut off in order to live a holy Godly life for the one who calls you His sons and daughters.
James 1:13-18, “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. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”
Benjamin Franklin once said, “For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy; and for want of care about a horseshoe nail.” It is the little things in life that add up to big moments. Like eating too much salt at each meal, and having a heart attack within 20 years of making this small choice. Many times we think that little things don’t matter, but over time they turn into our big decisions. Each and every day we are faced with life changing choices. These choices are small and simple things, but they also mold us each time we make them. Make each choice count, and let it always glorify God.
Matthew 6:25-34, “Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Returning home one afternoon with her two daughters, one age two, and the other six months, she pulled into her driveway then stopped to check the mailbox. But when she returned to the car, she found her two year old had pushed the locks down on both doors and she had left the key in the ignition. For an hour she tried to explain to her daughter how to pull up the door handle. She was on the verge of tears. Her husband wasn't home, and since they lived in the country, there were no neighbors to help. Finally her daughter stood up and softly tapped on the window. As the mother looked down at her, she said, "Mommy, do you want me to roll down the window?" Some things in life, have very simple solutions, but we tend to complicate them because we put ourselves into frenzies. God wants us to have a good life, this includes simplicity. Just trust in God that he will be your provider.
Matthew 6:25-34, “Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek;
for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
For several years a woman had been having trouble getting to sleep at night because she feared burglars. One night her husband heard a noise in the house, so he went downstairs to investigate. When he got there, he did find a burglar. "Good evening," said the man of the house. "I am pleased to see you. Come upstairs and meet my wife. She has been waiting 10 years to meet you."
For every sinful action there is a holy counterpart. Something that we can do in order to turn what the devil wants for evil, into something that can Glorify God. Worrying is a problem a lot of people deal with. But there is a counter measure we can use to fix it. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “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.” So talking to God (prayer) and making Ernest request (supplication), we can tell God about what we think about. When something is going to make us worry, then God tells us that He will give us peace. Not just any peace, but a peace that the world will not understand. A peace that defies our situation, when the world wonders why we can be peaceful and happy in hard times, it’s because we have this peace. After the peace has come then instead of worry we will have thanksgiving because we can know that the Lord is in charge.
Walter Kelly describes it as, “Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster and belief in defeat...worry is wasting today's time to clutter up tomorrow's opportunities with yesterday's troubles.” Worry can’t change anything, so why do it? We stress ourselves out over things that cannot be changed or things that may not ever happen, that's common advice in Scotland. For worriers, the Scots have a proverb: "What may be, may not be."
We rely on the hand of God to be the support we need in our troubles and time of need. It’s the same hand that formed the earth and the sun, so it’s a good hand to trust in. His success rate is 100%, doing the right thing at the right time, even if we cannot see why. Bad things will happen, but we have a father that is bigger than any problem we will ever face. 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you.”
Proverbs 28:25, “He that is of a greedy spirit stirreth up strife; But he that putteth his trust in Jehovah shall be made fat.”
Colossians 3:23-25, “whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ. For he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”
Ephesians 6:5-7, “Servants, be obedient unto them that according to the flesh are your masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not in the way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as unto the Lord, and not unto men:”
Consider this story told by Bernard L. Brown, Jr., president of the Kennestone Regional Health Care System in the state of Georgia. Brown once worked in a hospital where a patient knocked over a cup of water, which spilled on the floor beside the patient's bed. The patient was afraid he might slip on the water if he got out of the bed, so he asked a nurse's aide to mop it up. The patient didn't know it, but the hospital policy said that small spills were the responsibility of the nurse's aides while large spills were to be mopped up by the hospital's housekeeping group. The nurse's aide decided the spill was a large one and she called the housekeeping department. A housekeeper arrived and declared the spill a small one. An argument followed. "It's not my responsibility," said the nurse's aide, "because it's a large puddle." The housekeeper did not agree. "Well, it's not mine," she said, "the puddle is too small." The exasperated patient listened for a time, then took a pitcher of water from his night table and poured the whole thing on the floor. "Is that a big enough puddle now for you two to decide?" he asked. It was, and that was the end of the argument. As Christian we should be the hardest working people at our job. Not because we want to show off, but because all we do is in dedication to the Lord. If we keep this in mind it will make our jobs simpler and worth the work load, no matter how heavy it may be.
Ephesians 4:1-4, “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling;”
Years ago, Frank Lloyd Wright was given the impossible task of building the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. No comparable construction job ever before had been undertaken. With patience he laid plans for the immense building in this land of earth-quakes and terrible tremors. After carefully reviewing the situation, he found that eight feet below the surface of the ground lay a sixty-foot bed of soft mud. Why not float the great structure on this and in some way make it absorb the shock of the earthquake? After four years of work, amid ridicule and jeers of skeptical onlookers, this most difficult building in the world was completed, and soon arrived the day which tested it completely. The worst earthquake in fifty-two years caused houses and buildings all around to tumble and fall in ruins. But the Imperial Hotel stood, because it was able to adjust itself to the tremors of the earth. With any group, wither religious or not, it is hard to keep everyone happy and working together. There are many times we as individuals need to be flexible to those around us. Putting diligence into getting along, even when we disagree. However if we chose to we can do just that.
1 Peter 2:1-25, "away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation; if ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious: unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious, ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ……. Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evil-doers and for praise to them that do well. For so is the will of God, that by well-doing ye should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. Servants, be in subjection to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is acceptable, if for conscience toward God a man endureth griefs, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye sin, and are buffeted for it, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye shall take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were going astray like sheep; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."
C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is. If there are rats in a cellar, you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me ill-tempered; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.” If you play church, or live in sin secretly then sooner or later your sins will be reviled.
Philippians 2:1-7, “If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men;”
Douglas Maurer, 15, of Creve Coeur, Missouri, had been feeling bad for several days. His temperature was ranging between 103 and 105 degrees, and he was suffering from severe flu-like symptoms. Finally, his mother took him to the hospital in St. Louis. Douglas Maurer was diagnosed as having leukemia. The doctors told him in frank terms about his disease. They said that for the next three years, he would have to undergo chemotherapy. They didn't sugarcoat the side effects. They told Douglas he would go bald and that his body would most likely bloat. Upon learning this, he went into a deep depression. His aunt called a floral shop to send Douglas an arrangement of flowers. She told the clerk that it was for her teenage nephew who has leukemia. When the flowers arrived at the hospital, they were beautiful. Douglas read the card from his aunt. Then he saw a second card. It said: "Douglas--I took your order. I work at Brix florist. I had leukemia when I was 7 years old. I'm 22 years old now. Good luck. My heart goes out to you. Sincerely, Laura Bradley." His face lit up. He said, "Oh!" - It's funny: Douglas Maurer was in a hospital filled with millions of dollars of the most sophisticated medical equipment. He was being treated by expert doctors and nurses with medical training totaling in the hundreds of years. But it was a salesclerk in a flower shop, a woman making $170 a week, who--by taking the time to care, and by being willing to go with what her heart told her to do--gave Douglas hope and the will to carry on. Love each other with compassion, respect, and a willing heart, and so fulfill the love of Christ, then help in bearing one another's burdens, and achieve the law of Christ.
Luke 22:54-60, “And they seized him, and led him away, and brought him into the high priest's house. But Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the court, and had sat down together, Peter sat in the midst of them. And a certain maid seeing him as he sat in the light of the fire, and looking stedfastly upon him, said, This man also was with him. But he denied, saying, Woman, I know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou also art one of them. But Peter said, Man, I am not. And after the space of about one hour another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this man also was with him; for he is a Galilaean. But Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.”
Pastor Glen Davidson, of Dalkena Community Church, felt God's call to the ministry while working as a successful businessman. He began taking Bible courses at night, and eventually obtained his Bible school degree. Prior to graduation, he informed his boss that he'd be leaving shortly to work as a pastor in a rural church. Neither the owner of the company or the boss believed it, and they neglected to obtain a replacement for Glen. Eventually Glen told the boss that he really was leaving and they needed to locate a replacement as soon as possible. The owner of the company still doubting Glen's sincerity, instructed Glen's boss, "Offer him a $500.00 raise, and if he takes it, fire him on the spot!" The world is watching us every day, and they are waiting for us be what we say we are. There will be many tests in life, with many eyes on you. Nevertheless know this, if you live each day as you ought to, then they will see the Jesus in you that they should be seeing.
Matthew 6:19-21, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.”
Morris Siegel was a street person in Los Angeles. He lived like most street people--roaming about in back alleys, sleeping out-of-doors, carrying everything he owned in an old shopping cart. He was found in an alley, dead of natural causes, perhaps heart trouble. The interesting thing about Morris is that he had $207,421 in the bank at the time of his death. It seems that Morris' father died and left him the money ten years earlier. When Morris did not claim it, the Division of Unclaimed Property tracked him down, and his family forced him to accept it. He took only enough of the money to buy an old car, where he slept in bad weather. Relatives rented an apartment for him, but he never went there. He died December 14, 1989, with three dollars in his pocket and an untouched fortune in the bank. This is so much like the spiritual condition of so many people today. God is giving us so much, and offers us spiritual riches each and every day. Yet, we leave them untouched, there is no reason for it, only that we chose not to accept it and apply it to our lives. You may have been thinking, why would someone do that, live poorly when riches are in the bank waiting for them. However examine yourself too and ask yourself if you are living in spiritual homelessness as well? If you are, know that there are riches awaiting you.
Romans 12:1-5, “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. For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members have not the same office: so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another.”
When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes (and no lunch) he arrived at a church barbecue. It was late afternoon and Herter was famished. As Herter moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line.
"Excuse me," Governor Herter said, "do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?"
"Sorry," the woman told him. "I'm supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person."
"But I'm starved," the governor said.
"Sorry," the woman said again. "Only one to a customer."
Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around. "Do you know who I am?" he said. "I am the governor of this state."
"Do you know who I am?" the woman said. "I'm the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister."
Remember that no matter your title, rank, and years of duty, that God is in control. He has ways to lift us up, and ways to bring us down, as he see fit to do. So no matter what you do, or who you are, treat those around you with love and respect.
1 Timothy 1:5-11, “But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned: from which things some having swerved have turned aside unto vain talking; desiring to be teachers of the law, though they understand neither what they say, nor whereof they confidently affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully, as knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for abusers of themselves with men, for menstealers, for liars, for false swearers, and if there be any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine; according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”
Alexander de Seversky, U.S. aviator and engineer, was once visiting a fellow flyer in the hospital. The young man had just lost his leg. De Seversky, who had had an artificial leg for some time, tried to cheer him up. "The loss of a leg is not so great a calamity," he said. "If you get hit on a wooden leg, it doesn't hurt a bit! Try it!" The patient raised his walking stick and brought it down hard on de Seversky's leg. "You see," he said cheerfully. "If you hit an ordinary man like that, he'd be in bed for five days!" With that he left his friend and limped into the corridor, where he collapsed in excruciating pain. It seems the young man had struck de Seversky on his good leg! Sometimes in life, things don’t go the way we hoped them to go. However, God is one who judges the heart, if you truly intend to do well, then we will please God. Even if what we do falls into pieces. God truly loves the heart of people to be willing vessels above all else.
John 13:31-35, “When therefore he was gone out, Jesus saith, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him; and God shall glorify him in himself, and straightway shall he glorify him. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say unto you. A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Marguerite Bro tells of a minister who took his little child to a circus. She writes, "The clowns were particularly good and the last one of them was a little fellow wearing a very wonderful high hat. While he was bowing elaborately to a dignified woman, his hat fell off and an elephant sat on it. "The clown gestured wildly at the elephant, but the beast sat still. He waved and shouted again and again, but the elephant never budged. Angrily the clown stepped behind the elephant and kicked with all his strength, and hopped away with a sore foot in his hands. "Then, frantic with anger, the little clown turned back to the elephant and tried to lift him off the hat. Defeated and in complete despair, the clown sat down and started to eat peanuts. The elephant was interested in peanuts and got up, ambled over, and begged for one!"
That was a powerful illustration for that minister. He realized that he'd just witnessed a spiritual object lesson: You can't accomplish anything for God by demanding, yelling, and kicking at the world. You have to get them to see that you have something they want and need. Then they will come to you, or rather the Lord, and want a taste of what they have seen.
1 Corinthians 10:23-33, “All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful; but not all things edify. Let no man seek his own, but each his neighbor's good. ………Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give no occasions of stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the church of God: even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved."
A few years ago, the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, MO made public 1,300 recently discovered letters that the late President wrote to his wife, Bess, over the course of a half-century. Mr. Truman had a lifelong rule of writing to his wife every day they were apart. He followed this rule whenever he was away on official business or whenever Bess left Washington to visit her beloved Independence. Scholars are examining the letters for any new light they may throw on political and diplomatic history. For our part, we were most impressed by the simple fact that every day he was away, the President of the United States took time out from his dealing with the world's most powerful leaders to sit down and write a letter to his wife. Priorities matter, the best way to tell what your top priorities are in your life is to see what you make time for. Because, in all honesty we make time for the things we find most important. Can you say that each day you are making time for God? If the answer is no, then he is not a priority at all is he? We need to make sure God has our attention each and every day. The easiest way to do this is laid out in out passage, Do all things unto the Lord, when we do this it will revolutionize our priorities, and change our life forever.
1 Corinthians 15:53-58, “ For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: 57 but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord.””
Praise the Lord, this verse is so exciting! All the struggles, all the defeat, all the corruption in this world will one day all come to a stop and the victory of the Lord will take over. This is our promise from the Lord that the devil is defeated and the outcome of the end is already decided. He has given us the power of His Spirit and Name. James 4:7 tells us “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. The devil has no power over you to make you follow after him, all we have to do is make the choice of following Jesus.
One thing we know about Jesus is that He loved to tell stories. He would take a regular life situation and relate it to something spiritual. These stories called parables, help us understand spiritual truths. So let me tell you about a story of a loving father.
Now, you have to try to get a picture in your head of what I’m about to tell you. Think about the mid 60’s driving in a car, no air conditioning, about the middle of summer. They’re driving down the road with the windows down, and the vent wide open. It is just the two of them in the car, the father in the front, and the daughter in the back. As they are driving down the road they hear something buzzing, and pretty soon they see a bee flying around in the car. This girl is deathly allergic to bee stings, and she understands what it would mean to be stung by the big bee that is now in the car with them. So once she sees the bee she begins to scream, “Daddy, daddy there’s a bee,” and she goes into panic mode. The dad having nowhere to stop does the only thing he can do. The bee goes to the front of the car and lands on the front windshield. The father puts his hand out and covers the bee. The bee ends up stinging his hand and the father removes his hand. The bee then continues to fly around the car. The girl seeing this begins to panic again, “Daddy, daddy the bees going to get me” The dad gets her attention in the review mirror and says, “no he can’t, look at my hand.” With the stinger in his palm, he says, “the bee can no longer hurt you, all he can do is fly around and annoy you, but his power to hurt you is gone.”
Jesus took so much more than a bee sting for us. He is standing in heaven and holding out his hands saying, “Look I have taken the sting of death for you, the devil can no longer hurt you. You are my child I will protect you.
Psalms 139:13-16, “For thou didst form my inward parts: Thou didst cover me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks unto thee;
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
Wonderful are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well.
My frame was not hidden from thee, When I was made in secret, And curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance; And in thy book they were all written, Even the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was none of them.”
Have you ever made something, like truly made a complicated object? For example, look at the picture I uploaded today (think about the sixteenth chapel painting). Really think about what it would take to create that. Michelangelo took 4 years to paint it. Contrary to popular belief he did stand and paint the whole thing, one paint brush stroke at a time. He wrote about how much he hated doing it, and how difficult of a task it really was. Now I doubt that anyone of us will ever take on such a job in our lifetime, but we have all been creative in some form or fashion in our lives. So we can relate to how much effort and care it takes to do a complicated job right.
Now I want you to think about what God did when he formed you. The complexity of the human body is mind blowing. Even Charles Darwin in his book From the Origin of Species, CHAPTER VI--DIFFICULTIES OF THE THEORY said this; “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” There have been so many scientist come to know that God exist through the study of the body.
Let’s look at one more part of ourselves. Here is just a bit of science fact for you today. An adult's brain only weighs about three pounds, but it's made up of about 100 billion microscopic neurons. Each of those neurons look like a tiny branching tree, whose limbs reach out and touch other neurons. In fact, each neuron can make between 5,000 and 10,000 connections with other neurons—sometimes even more. That's more than 500 trillion connections, that’s >500,000,000,000,000! A memory is essentially a pattern of connections between neurons.
Every sensation that you remember, every thought that you think, transforms your brain by altering the connections within that vast network. By the time you get to the end of this sentence, you will have created a new memory, which means your brain will have physically changed. Is God not an amazing creator!
This is just one way to show us just how much God cares for us. He has not thrown us together, but rather made us intensely, and taken into account the smallest detail. To make us into the most beautiful creature. We are His masterpiece, not just on the physical level, but in the spirit too. In Eph. 2:10 it says, “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
He has done all this, to give us life, and life more abundantly. He wants the best for us, which involves us taking care of his temple, which is our bodies. Also our spirit in devotion unto Him. We are to work hard to not let this masterpiece that He has created, go to waste, but be a shining light into the world so that they can see what our God can do.
Luke 16:10-13 “He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?
No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Can you be trusted? No one can judge you right now because as you read this it’s just you and God, so be honest with yourself, can you be trusted? This is our question today, and one to think about as you go about on your daily routines. When we ask Jesus to come into our lives, we as His followers also agree to give everything up to Him; time, money, relationships, possessions, etc. We agree that none of it is ours, but it all belongs to the Lord. This is the same thing that happened in the upper room in Acts 4:32 “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and soul: and not one of them said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common”.
So if we don’t truly own anything, and put our faith in God that He will provide for our needs, why is it so hard to give things up? I guess you can call it a lack in faith, since it’s our dwindling faith that tells us not to give God what is His. To give Him His tithes, with literally means 1/10 of our increase, is to fulfill our duties as Christians. Let’s look at seven reasons why we tithe:
God commands it - Malachi 3:8-12
God will rebuke the devourer - Malachi 3:11
Tithing proves God's Word is true - Proverbs 11:24
Tithing teaches us to put God first - 1 Timothy 6:10 / Matthew 6:21
Jesus recognized tithing - Matthew 23:23
Tithing is essential to spiritual growth - Luke 16:10-13
You cannot "out-give" God - Luke 6:38
So what is it we are to tithe? Most would say money, but I can’t really answer that because there are no limits on what to tithe with in the Bible. We can tithes anything and everything. One of the only things we can’t tithe on is our walk with Him. We can’t just give 10%, we must give 100%. Tithing started before there were ever any law put into effect to do it. It is a thing of worship unto the Lord just as we praise Him with our mouth. So give with open hands and a willing heart of thanks. Don’t be expecting results like an interest payment, but be sure to thank Him when they come.
1 Timothy 6:17-18: “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,”
James 2:5-6: “Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?”
1 Timothy 6:9-10: “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
How is it that you measure your wealth? Do you look at your bank account and say “I have it made,” or “I feel like I have nothing?” Do you look at what you own in comparison to your friends and family? We look to the sinful and see their riches and become jealous. Then we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ and we want what they have, and ask; “why not me too?” Or some have and look down upon those who do not. Why are we like this when the Bible tells us clearly how we should see ourselves? Are we so lost in how we want to be viewed in society that we put that aside.
One thing we need to realize is said perfectly in Proverbs 30:8-9: “Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God”. If we are living and Godly life and we have or have not, then we are where God wants us to be, this could change for sure but we should be happy in wealth or poverty. God blesses in both, and knows what is best for us in our lives. We need to except that and praise the Lord for whichever situation we are in.
Listen to this story: There was once a boy, whose family was very wealthy. One day his father took him on a trip to the country, where he wanted to show his son how poor people lived. So they arrived at a farm of a very small poor county family. They spent several days there, then on their return, the father asked his son, did he like the trip.
“Oh, it was great, dad,” the boy replied. “Did you notice, how poor people live?“ “Yeah, I did,“ said the boy. The father asked his son to tell in more details about what he had seen on their trip“.
“Well, we have only one dog, and they have four of them. In our garden there is a pool, while they have a river that has no end. We‘ve got expensive lanterns, but they have stars above their heads at night. We have the patio, and they have the whole horizon. We have only a small piece of land, while they have the endless fields. We buy food, but they grow it. We have high fence for protection of our property, and they don‘t need it, as their friends protect them”.
The father was stunned, he could not say a word.
Then the boy added, “Thank you, dad, for letting me see how poor we are.”
God blesses us in so many ways, and believe it when I tell you it is for our best. God’s ways are not our way, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He is far wiser then us, so let’s have Jesus guide our lives in the way that He sees fit, and believe on Him that He will always care for us.
Sometimes we as Christians need to stop along life's road and look back. Although it might have been winding and steep, we can see how God directed us by His faithfulness. Here's how F.E. Marsh described what the Christian can see when he looks back:
The deliverances the Lord has wrought (Deuteronomy 5:15, “And thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and Jehovah thy God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm: therefore Jehovah thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day”.).
The way He has led (Deuteronomy 8:2, “And thou shalt remember all the way which Jehovah thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble thee, to prove thee, to know what was in thy heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or not.”)
The blessings He has bestowed (Deuteronomy 32:7-12, “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations: Ask thy father, and he will show thee; Thine elders, and they will tell thee. When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, When he separated the children of men, He set the bounds of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel. For Jehovah's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, And in the waste howling wilderness; He compassed him about, he cared for him, He kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle that stirreth up her nest, That fluttereth over her young, He spread abroad his wings, he took them, He bare them on his pinions. Jehovah alone did lead him, And there was no foreign god with him”.).
The victories He has won (Deuteronomy 11:2-7, “And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children that have not known, and that have not seen the chastisement of Jehovah your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his outstretched arm, and his signs, and his works, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land; and what he did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red Sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how Jehovah hath destroyed them unto this day; and what he did unto you in the wilderness, until ye came unto this place; and what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben; how the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and every living thing that followed them, in the midst of all Israel: but your eyes have seen all the great work of Jehovah which he did.”).
The encouragements He has given (Joshua 23:14, “And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which Jehovah your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, not one thing hath failed thereof.”).
When we face difficulties, we sometimes forget God's past faithfulness. We see only the detours and the dangerous path. But look back and you will also see the joy of victory, the challenge of the climb, and the presence of your traveling Companion who has promised never to leave you nor forsake you.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ”Therefore we don't faint, but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is for the moment, works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we don't look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Why do we have faith in God and hold firm to the Bible as truth? Because God is always reliable, HE never gives up, fails, and shuts us out. When talking about why we believe in anything at all C.S. Lewis once wrote; “Believing things 'on authority' only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think is trustworthy. Ninety-nine percent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there is such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary person believes in the solar system, atoms, and the circulation of the blood on authority--because the scientists say so. Every historical statement is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Spanish Armada. But we believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them; in fact, on authority. A person who balked at authority in other things, as some people do in religion, would have to be content to know nothing all his life.”
Hebrews 12:1-11, “Therefore let us also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don't grow weary, fainting in your souls. You have not yet resisted to blood, striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which reasons with you as with children, "My son, don't take lightly the chastening of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by him; For whom the Lord loves, he chastens, And scourges every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you endure. God deals with you as with children, for what son is there whom his father doesn't discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have been made partakers, then are you illegitimate, and not children. Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? For they indeed, for a few days, punished us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. All chastening seems for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised thereby.”
When we read this passage we get the understanding of God’s role in our lives. He is our father, and he wants to see us succeed, but that means that when we do something wrong He will correct us. It likens it to our earthly fathers, both want to see us to be successful, but parents know that without correction children will wonder off to the path, to the one that seems most pleasant. When I was a kid it seems like all the fun stuff to do, was also the things that would get me in trouble. When we were growing up we may have had fights with our parents for not always letting us do what we wanted, but as we got older we realize just how right they were, most of the time. To God we are children and babies, even the oldest of us. We always need to remember that while we are here in the flesh the things of the world are going to try and draw us in. Nevertheless, know that God is there to guide us. We may not like discipline and correction, but we will see it was for our benefit later on in life. The beginning of this passage talks about “witnesses,” this is the people who have fought the good fight and won, and if they can do it, we can to.
Proverbs 10:9, "He that walketh in integrity walketh securely; but he that perverteth his ways shall be known."
Proverbs 11:1-3, "A false balance is an abomination to Jehovah; but a just weight is his delight. When pride cometh, then cometh shame; but with the lowly is wisdom. The integrity of the upright guideth them; but the crookedness of the unfaithful destroyeth them."
Bill Hybels related a story of integrity in Leadership Magazine. It illustrates proper humility in a leader. One evening I stopped by the church just to encourage those who were there rehearsing for the spring musical. I didn't intent to stay long, so I parked my car next to the entrance. After a few minutes, I ran back to my car and drove home. The next morning I found a note in my office mailbox. It read: A small thing, but Tuesday night when you came to rehearsal, you parked in the "No Parking" area. A reaction from one of my crew (who did not recognize you after you got out of your car) was, "There's another jerk in the 'No Parking' area!" We try hard not to allow people -- even workers -- to park anywhere other than the parking lots. I would appreciate your cooperation, too. It was signed by a member of our maintenance staff. This man's stock went up in my book because he had the courage to write to me about what could have been a slippage in my character. And he was right on the mark. As I drove up that night, I had thought, I shouldn't park here, but after all, I am the pastor. That translates: "I'm an exception to the rules." But that employee wouldn't allow me to sneak down the road labeled "I'm an exception." I'm not the exception to church rules or any of God's rules. Exemplary conduct means encouraging others to imitate us, even in the small matters.