Archive for February, 2012

Is it Half Empty or Half Full?

Posted: February 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

   

      If an eight ounce glass  has four ounces of water in it is it half full or half empty?

      How do you treat someone when they mess up?  Do you put them down or do you pick them up, dust them off and get them going again?  It all depends whether you are predisposed to find the negative  or the positive in life and in people.  Do you look for the positive  or the negative in life and people? 

      It is amazing how our attention is drawn to the imperfections, mistakes or failures. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when somebody mentions the apostle Peter?  I imagine most of you might remember when Peter was walking on the water and he sank or  the time that Peter denied Christ.  Many people have a tendency to focus on the negative and not the positive.  You will find what you are looking for every time.

      Peter was the only person besides Jesus to walk on water  but what do we remember?  Peter sank.  Most remember the fact that Peter denied Jesus but do you remember in Acts 4 when Peter  was directed not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.  Do you remember that Peter said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to  you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”  Do you look for the positive or the negative? 

      Tom Watson, Sr., founder of I.B.M. had a junior executive who was involved in a risky venture for the company.  The venture ended up losing the company $10 million dollars.  Mr. Watson called the young executive into his office and before Mr. Watson could say anything the young executive blurted out “I guess you want my resignation?”  Watson said “You can’t be serious.  We’ve just spent $10 million dollars educating you!”  Tom Watson was looking for the positive in the situation. When we focus on the negative and not the positive, we miss all of the blessing and benefits that we do have. 

     It’s like the young lady that was always complaining to her boyfriend.  After listening to her complaints he finally said to her “If I gave you a doughnut all you could see would be the hole in the middle of the doughnut.”   So many go through life like that, focusing on the hole and not the doughnut and in so doing they miss all the benefits and blessings they do enjoy.  Look for the positive in life and people.

God’s Grace

Posted: February 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

“Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:8

This promise extends to every believer, but its context is one of severe difficulties, distresses, persecutions, and human weakness. Paul pours out his heart amid severe attacks on his character and ministry.  He had given so much to the Corinthians, and some of them were turning on him with a bitter animosity. His enemies had called his integrity into question.  They had questioned his loyalty and leadership abilities.  They had doubted and denied his love for believers.  To top it off, he was given a thorn in the flesh.  This was probably the greatest single barrage of abuse that Paul ever received in his life and apparently leaders within the church were fueling it.

The greatest pain he ever knew came from some of the people he loved the most.  Their rejection, betrayal, criticism, false accusations, and even hatred cut deep into his heart.  That makes Paul’s situation very practical to us, because the same pain that hit him can strike every believer.

Notice Paul doesn’t say, concerning this, “I went to my therapist, read a book, attended a seminar.”  Paul took a route many feel is too simplistic.  He entreated the Lord.  Three times he appealed to God to remove the thorn and three times God said “No”.

Paul was content with God’s answer, “no”  because God said to him, “My grace is sufficient.”  God answered Paul’s prayer by not granting his request, but by supplying sufficient grace for Paul to endure it.  Like Paul we might ask God to remove some thorn of pain or suffering, only to discover that God wants it to remain. Yielding to His will at such time is the cornerstone of Christian living.

This same suffering that reveals ours weaknesses reveal God’s strength.   When we are least effective in our human strength and have only God’s power to sustain us, then we are suitable channels through which his power flows. Paul didn’t love abuse, but he loved the grace and power that God manifested in him.

What a contrast to our society. Many people think that sheltering believers from all difficulties is the highest expression of God’s grace.  Most people are discontent because they wrongly equate satisfaction with positive circumstance and increased possessions.  This is a result of our self-centered, godless society.  Sin is defined how it affects man, not how it dishonors God.  The focus has shifted from God’s glory to man’s benefit. In a nutshell it says “Jesus is your ticket to avoiding all of life’s pain and experiencing all of life’s pleasures.”

God has always used suffering to perfect and purify His people and to demonstrate the sufficiency of His grace.  Christians today are consumed with the trials and troubles of life.  Caught up with difficulties and sorrows and anguish; desperately looking for some great new secret, some higher spiritual level, some more effective relief than they think they have in Christ.  There is no need for that.  God’s grace is sufficient.

Stand Out

Posted: February 2, 2012 in Uncategorized
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     In the third chapter of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold 90 feet high by 9 feet wide.  For the formal dedication of this great golden image, Nebuchadnezzar invited all of the officials of the kingdom.  What person in his right mind would refuse such an invitation?

     A herald moved through the crowd proclaiming the purpose of the meeting.  The king decreed, that when a musical signal was given, all people present were to fall down and worship the image. If one refused to bow down and pay homage, they would be cast into a furnace of fire.

      This may seem like a drastic measure, but it was not out of the norm for this king.  This is the king, that told the wise men, they would be torn limb from limb and their houses would be rubble, if they could not tell him what he had dreamed.  Earthly tyrants require absolute allegiance and virtual worship from their subjects.  Not even God coerces outward acts of submission to heavenly authority.

      Most who are present in the crowd that day, owe their position, prestige, and wealth to Nebuchadnezzar.  They were anxious to do anything to gain favor with the king no matter how eccentric the command may seem.  The instruments sounded and thousands fell in unison before the image.  Out of this vast crowd, three young men, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego stick out like a sore thumb.  They are the only ones standing in the crowd of people that are bowed.  They refuse to bow and pay homage to the image.

      Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego could have rationalized “the pressure is great, everybody else is doing it, what’s the harm”.  They did not attempt to rationalize.  In fact, they were going to do something very simple and counter cultural, they were going to stand up for their faith.  Many that call themselves Christian today, would have tried to blend into the crowd.  They would bow and reason in their mind  “everybody is doing it, we really don’t worship this image, but we want to stay on his good side”, not Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego.

      The excuse of the day is “everybody is doing it”.  The truth of the matter is that not everybody is doing it.  Everybody is not doing drugs, alcohol, illicit sex; everybody is not smoking, getting a divorce, going to the bars, lying and cheating to get ahead. Yes, you may have peer pressure but not everybody is doing it.  Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego made a decision not to compromise and they stood by that decision.  Social propriety meant nothing to them, peer pressure meant nothing to them, being God’s person meant everything to them.  Be like Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego; do not blend into the crowd, stand up and stand out.