FOM I think you would really like this sermon. If you can find the time to listen or watch it’s really wonderful.
The Sudden Appearing of Christ by Carter Conlon
FOM I think you would really like this sermon. If you can find the time to listen or watch it’s really wonderful.
The Sudden Appearing of Christ by Carter Conlon
Hey guys and gals. Just a quick note to let you all know I am going to take a brief hiatus from the blogging. I need some time to sleep, rest and be alone with just me and God. I may post a few things on my other blog, I have a big article I have been researching and I need to work on that. But I trust you can all hold down the fort while I am gone. So be good, be safe and much love and prayers to you all!
But first you must read this. Photo of John’s bike at the top.
Love you all so very much!
John Breaux: Confounding the Wise of This World
from the February 17, 2009 eNews issue
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; -1 Corinthians 1:27
John Breaux was known in the northern Denver area as the guy who rode around on his bicycle picking up trash. People often thought he was homeless because of his worn out shoes, shaggy beard and missing teeth, but he always gave away what people handed him. Those who knew John loved him. He earned the nickname “Jesus” partially because of his long beard, but mostly because of his warm generosity and kindness to everybody he met.
The communities of Lafayette and Louisville, Colorado were shocked by news of John Breaux’s death on January 30. Breaux was hit and killed by a car driven by a woman with dementia. A makeshift memorial was set up at the spot of his death, and jars were placed in restaurants and stores all around town to collect money in order to help Breaux’s family with his burial expenses. Stories of Breaux’s acts of kindness sprouted from people who talked about how he’d touched them by his selfless life. His big, welcoming smile cheered the daily lives of many. He’d carried groceries for people, and sometimes he bought food for them using the money he’d collected from recycling aluminum cans.
“I’ve never seen the eyes of an angel, but I bet they look like that,” said Rev. Jim Burgen, while looking at a picture of Breaux. “We will not be the same, because he changed us forever.”
An estimated 2000 people attended Breaux’s memorial service. “You just don’t know the impact that one life can have on the community,” said Rick Williamson, an Erie resident who knew Breaux from church. If a man’s wealth were measured by his friends, Williamson said, “I’d say John died pretty wealthy — wealthier than I’ll ever be.”
According to his aunt, Breaux loved bike-riding, bowling, and Jesus. Breaux had been diagnosed with schizophrenia early in life. When his parents died, he moved with his brother to Colorado, where he completely gave up all his medications. From that point on, his brother said, he just “blossomed.” Perhaps he was healed. Perhaps he was misdiagnosed, or had a mild case. Whatever the case, Breaux lived with his brother’s family and spent his days loving his neighbors.
According to columnist Dylan Otto Krider:
“Everyone mentioned his big smile… The truth is, he was everywhere, and never seemed to sleep. Then when he died, literally the entire community got the wind knocked out of them. A good number of the people I interviewed broke down crying. All of them had a story about some good dead Breaux did, and when I went to his memorial, thousands showed up to pay respect to the man.”
In our world, the most “successful” people are those featured in People or Fortune magazines. They have money; they have looks; they have hot careers. Yet, many of the rich and famous have tragic personal lives filled with drugs and adultery and misery. If more humans were able to look into the peaceful, cheerful life of a man with grungy shoes and see the love of Jesus moving through him to other people, people in the world might change their definition of success.
Until his death, few people outside of Colorado had heard of John Breaux. Yet, he now serves as an inspiration to all of us. We don’t have to win the Lottery to be a blessing to the people around us; we merely need to take what has already been given us, and make the most of it with a heart open to the Spirit’s leading.
Who was John Breaux? One community member answered, “Just a guy who spent his day making Louisville and Lafayette a better place. Seriously.”
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14, 16
When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying…
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
As I read John Piper’s book Finally Alive I came across a lot of godly wisdom. But there was one quote that, more than the others, jumped out at me. I thought I’d share it with you today…
This is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. (1 John 3:11-14)
Now this specific form of love in verse 12 may seem to you to be totally unneeded. “Don’t be like Cain who murdered his brother.” Am I really concerned that there will be a spate of murders among Christians? No. And I don’t think John feared that either, though it does happen. He doesn’t focus on the murder. He asks in verse 12, “And why did he murder him?” That’s John’s concern. There is something about Cain’s motive that he thinks will be relevant to the way believers love each other.
He answers at the end of verse 12: “Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.” What John is saying here is not merely that love doesn’t kill a brother, but that love doesn’t feel resentful when a brother is superior in some spiritual or moral way. Cain didn’t kill Abel simply because Cain was evil. He killed him because the contrast between Abel’s goodness and Cain’s evil made Cain angry. It made him feel guilty. Abel didn’t have to say anything; Abel’s goodness was a constant reminder to Cain that he was evil. And instead of dealing with his own evil by repentance and change, he got rid of Abel. If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, shoot the mirror.
So what would it be like for any of us to be like Cain? It would mean that anytime some weakness or bad habit in our lives is exposed by contrast to someone else’s goodness, instead of dealing with the weakness or the bad habit, we keep away from those whose lives make us feel defective. We don’t kill them. We avoid them. Or worse, we find ways to criticize them so as to neutralize the part of their lives that was making us feel convicted. We feel like the best way to nullify someone’s good point is to draw attention to their bad point. And so we protect ourselves from whatever good they might be or us.
But John’s point is: Love doesn’t act like that. Love is glad when our brothers and sisters are making progress in good habits or good attitudes or good behavior. Love rejoices in this growth. And if it happens to be faster than our own growth, then love is humble and rejoices with those who rejoice.
So the lesson for us is: Everywhere you see some growth, some virtue, some, spiritual discipline, some good habit, or good attitude, rejoice in it. Give thanks for it. Compliment it. Don’t resent it. Don’t be like Cain. Respond the opposite from Cain. Be inspired by other people’s goodness.
Love is humble. Love delights in other people’s good. Love doesn’t protect its own flaws. Love takes steps to change them. What a beautiful fellowship where everyone is rejoicing in each other’s strengths, not resenting them! This is what the love of God looks like when the new birth gives it life in the people of God.
This is for you Kit, I wrote this last summer sometime and Bucket had it on her old blog but I am posting it again here for you guys to read.
Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
What are you seeking?
Are you seeking prosperity, good health, a lucrative career, signs and wonders, manifestations? I believe that whatever a person seeks that is what he will find, so what are you seeking? In Matthew 7:7 Jesus tells us to ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened. We need to ask ourselves what should we actually be seeking? Isaiah 55:6 says “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.”
This all makes me think of my 15 year who sometimes makes me feel like his personal customer service department instead of his mother. These are some common things he might ask me, what’s for dinner, did you wash my favorite shirt, can you take me to the movies, can I have some money, where’s the peanut butter, I need some medicine for my cough. If any of my answers don’t please him, he might roll his eyes and go to his room and slam the door. I also remember when my children were babies I would go in to get them out of the crib in the morning and they would be waiting for me with their sweet faces all lit up with smiles, giggles and coos, they would be so joyful at the site of their mommy. When they learned to talk and I would leave them at grandpa’s house and I would come back to get them they would run up and throw their arms around me and tell me how much they missed me and shower me with hugs and kisses and tell me all about what they did while they were at papaw’s house . When my children were little they depended on me for everything, I was the center of their world and as they grow older they depend less and less on me and their interests and friends are now the center of their world.
I am left to wonder is my relationship with Jesus like that of a teenager or like that of a small child. Am I seeking Him or am I seeking what he can do for me. Am I seeking His hands or His face? Am I showering Him with childlike love or constantly begging Him to give me something, fix something or take me someplace? Am I sullen and distant from God when He doesn’t give me what I have asked for when I should be thanking Him for all that He has already done. Am I simply satisfied with just Him or do I have to continually beg for more and more and more. All He wants from us is to seek Him, our #1 priority in life should be simply to know HIM! We can’t know Him if we aren’t seeking Him and we aren’t seeking Him if we are constantly asking or begging for Him to do something for us or give us something. God crucified His only son to atone for our sin, He was perfect and sinless but yet that just isn’t enough to satisfy us. We have to keep begging God for more. We should be begging God to give us a heart that loves Him, a heart that loves Him so much that nothing else matters. There may come a day when you will have to lay down your life for Him, can you say that you love Him enough to do that? You see if you seek Him you will find Him.
2 Chronicles 7:14 says “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land
Lucy (Dana Baker)
Is there anything you could give to someone else, a sacrifice to show your love? Discuss with God.
‘So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.’
Abram and Lot Separate
1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.
5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”
10 Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.
14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”
18 So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD.
What do you want?
We have examined the practical issues involved in following Christ, ranging from vocation to sexuality, from food to the priorities we have.
In this Old Testament reading we see Abram and Lot struggling to cope with the material and physical demands of their household and livestock, eventually deciding to part company.
Abram as the older man ought to have taken precedence in any decision about dividing the resources of the land. And yet we see a countercultural humility in him as he allows his nephew Lot to choose which direction he would like to go in.
Lot chooses the way that looks better at face value – he selfishly opts for the greener, better, more prosperous land and effectively leaves his uncle high and dry. But Abram is following the God who can be trusted, so although it appears as if he will be materially disadvantaged, this does not turn out to be the case.
In fact, chasing after wealth and putting himself first lands Lot in all sorts of trouble. In contrast God blesses Abram and he is able to find contentment and peace.
What we do with what we own matters to God. Bring your practical cares and concerns to God. Ask him to help you to put him first and to trust him.
Amy Orr-Ewing (adapted from Daily Bread JM09)
Paul made some hard choices and sacrifices in order to follow God’s way. Abraham found himself in a similar position. He had every right to make the choice and have Lot live with the consequences, but his gracious response to the tense situation was to allow Lot to choose.
Our normal human inclination is to insist on our rights. The fit and the strong survive, while the weak go to the wall.
Abraham is more interested in harmony than in possessions or an easy life. Jesus promised a blessing for peacemakers (see Matthew 5:9).
Peacemaking and insisting on our rights are rarely compatible. Following the example of Jesus, we put the needs and interests of o the rs above our own (see Philippians 2:3,4).
Willingness to sacrifice
Paul’s teaching about the weaker bro the r suggests that we should always be looking out for the welfare of o the rs. Abraham does not insist on what will benefit him but offers Lot the choice. Ironically it led to spiritual disaster for Lot .
We cannot know the outcome of our decisions, or be held responsible for what o the rs do with the m. But that doesn’t stop us putting the ir interests first.
Abraham does not lose out. God’s purposes for him are not affected by his sacrifice. Selfish decisions stem from disobedience to God and damage our relationship with him. The way of blessing may often be the hard way.
How do you make your decisions? What factors matter most to you?
This was posted by FOM
A woman had just returned to her home from an evening of church
services , when she was startled by an intruder. She caught the man in the
act of robbing her home of its valuables and yelled: ‘Stop! Acts 2:38!’
(Repent and be Baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ , so that your sins
may be forgiven.)
The burglar stopped in his tracks. The woman calmly called the police and
explained what she had done.
As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar: ‘Why
did you just stand there? All the old lady did was yell a scripture to
‘Scripture?’ replied the burglar. ‘She said she had an Ax and Two
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Before the Lord God made man upon the earth He first prepared for him by creating a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In the Genesis account of the creation these are called simply `things.’ They were made for man’s uses, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. Within him was God; without, a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him.
But sin has introduced complications and has made those very gifts of God a potential source of ruin to the soul.
Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and `things’ were allowed to enter. Within the human heart `things’ have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne.
This is not a mere metaphor, but an accurate analysis of our real spiritual trouble. There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets `things’ with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns `my’ and `mine’ look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.
Our Lord referred to this tyranny of things when He said to His disciples, `If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.’ (Matt. 16:24-25).
Breaking this truth into fragments for our better understanding, it would seem that there is within each of us an enemy which we tolerate at our peril. Jesus called it `life’ and `self,’ or as we would say, the self-life. Its chief characteristic is its possessiveness: the words `gain’ and `profit’ suggest this. To allow this enemy to live is in the end to lose everything. To repudiate it and give up all for Christ’s sake is to lose nothing at last, but to preserve everything unto life eternal. And possibly also a hint is given here as to the only effective way to destroy this foe: it is by the Cross: `Let him take up his cross and follow me.’
The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely valleys of soul poverty and abnegation of all things. The blessed ones who possess the Kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing. They are `poor in spirit.’ They have reached an inward state paralleling the outward circumstances of the common beggar in the streets of Jerusalem; that is what the word `poor’ as Christ used it actually means. These blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. They have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting but by surrendering. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. `Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’
Let me exhort you to take this seriously. It is not to be understood as mere Bible teaching to be stored away in the mind along with an inert mass of other doctrines. It is a marker on the road to greener pastures, a path chiseled against the steep sides of the mount of God. We dare not try to by-pass it if we would follow on in this holy pursuit. We must ascend a step at a time. If we refuse one step we bring our progress to an end.
As is frequently true, this New Testament principle of spiritual life finds its best illustration in the Old Testament. In the story of Abraham and Isaac we have a dramatic picture of the surrendered life as well as an excellent commentary on the first Beatitude.
Abraham was old when Isaac was born, old enough indeed to have been his grandfather, and the child became at once the delight and idol of his heart. From that moment when he first stooped to take the tiny form awkwardly in his arms he was an eager love slave of his son. God went out of His way to comment on the strength of this affection. And it is not hard to understand. The baby represented everything sacred to his father’s heart: the promises of God, the covenants, the hopes of the years and the long messianic dream. As he watched him grow from babyhood to young manhood the heart of the old man was knit closer and closer with the life of his son, till at last the relationship bordered upon the perilous. It was then that God stepped in to save both father and son from the consequences of an uncleansed love.
`Take now thy son,’ said God to Abraham, `thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.’ (Gen 22:2) The sacred writer spares us a close-up of the agony that night on the slopes near Beersheba when the aged man had it out with his God, but respectful imagination may view in awe the bent form and convulsive wrestling alone under the stars. Possibly not again until a Greater than Abraham wrestled in the Garden of Gethsemane did such mortal pain visit a human soul. If only the man himself might have been allowed to die. That would have been easier a thousand times, for he was old now, and to die would have been no great ordeal for one who had walked so long with God. Besides, it would have been a last sweet pleasure to let his dimming vision rest upon the figure of his stalwart son who would live to carry on the Abrahamic line and fulfill in himself the promises of God made long before in Ur of the Chaldees.
How should he slay the lad! Even if he could get the consent of his wounded and protesting heart, how could he reconcile the act with the promise, `In Isaac shall thy seed be called’? This was Abraham’s trial by fire, and he did not fail in the crucible. While the stars still shone like sharp white points above the tent where the sleeping Isaac lay, and long before the gray dawn had begun to lighten the east, the old saint had made up his mind. He would offer his son as God had directed him to do, and then trust God to raise him from the dead. This, says the writer to the Hebrews, was the solution his aching heart found sometime in the dark night, and he rose `early in the morning’ to carry out the plan. It is beautiful to see that, while he erred as to God’s method, he had correctly sensed the secret of His great heart. And the solution accords well with the New Testament Scripture, `Whosoever will lose… for my sake shall find…’
God let the suffering old man go through with it up to the point where He knew there would be no retreat, and then forbade him to lay a hand upon the boy. To the wondering patriarch He now says in effect, `It’s all right, Abraham. I never intended that you should actually slay the lad. I only wanted to remove him from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there. I wanted to correct the perversion that existed in your love. Now you may have the boy, sound and well. Take him and go back to your tent. Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing
that thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.’
Then heaven opened and a voice was heard saying to him, `By myself I have sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.’
The old man of God lifted his head to respond to the Voice, and stood there on the mount strong and pure and grand, a man marked out by the Lord for special treatment, a friend and favorite of the Most High. Now he was a man wholly surrendered, a man utterly obedient, a man who possessed nothing. He had concentrated his all in the person of his dear son, and God had taken it from him. God could have begun out on the margin of Abraham’s life and worked inward to the center; He chose rather to cut quickly to the heart and have it over in one sharp act of separation. In dealing thus He practiced an economy of means and time. It hurt cruelly, but it was effective.
I have said that Abraham possessed nothing. Yet was not this poor man rich? Everything he had owned before was still his to enjoy: sheep, camels, herds, and goods of every sort. He had also his wife and his friends, and best of all he had his son Isaac safe by his side. He had everything, but he possessed nothing. There is the spiritual secret. There is the sweet theology of the heart which can be learned only in the school of renunciation. The books on systematic theology overlook this, but the wise will understand.
After that bitter and blessed experience I think the words `my’ and `mine’ never had again the same meaning for Abraham. The sense of possession which they connote was gone from his heart. things had been cast out forever.They had now become external to the man. His inner heart was free from them. The world said, `Abraham is rich,’ but the aged patriarch only smiled. He could not explain it to them, but he knew that he owned nothing, that his real treasures were inward and eternal.
There can be no doubt that this possessive clinging to things is one of the most harmful habits in the life. Because it is so natural it is rarely recognized for the evil that it is; but its outworkings are tragic. We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety; this is especially true when those treasures are loved relatives and friends. But we need have no such fears. Our Lord came not to destroy but to save. Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.
Our gifts and talents should also be turned over to Him. They should be recognized for what they are, God’s loan to us, and should never be considered in any sense our own. We have no more right to claim credit for special abilities than for blue eyes or strong muscles. `For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?’
The Christian who is alive enough to know himself even slightly will recognize the symptoms of this possession malady, and will grieve to find them in his own heart. If the longing after God is strong enough within him he will want to do something about the matter. Now, what should he do?
First of all he should put away all defense and make no attempt to excuse himself either in his own eyes or before the Lord. Whoever defends himself will have himself for his defense, and he will have no other; but let him come defenseless before the Lord and he will have for his defender no less than God Himself. Let the inquiring Christian trample under foot every slippery trick of his deceitful heart and insist upon frank and open relations with the Lord.
Then he should remember that this is holy business. No careless or casual dealings will suffice. Let him come to God in full determination to be heard. Let him insist that God accept his all, that He take things out of his heart and Himself reign there in power. It may be he will need to become specific, to name things and people by their names one by one. If he will become drastic enough he can shorten the time of his travail from years to minutes and enter the good land long before his slower brethren who coddle their feelings and insist upon caution in their dealings with God.
Let us never forget that such a truth as this cannot be learned by rote as one would learn the facts of physical science. They must be experienced before we can really know them. We must in our hearts live through Abraham’s harsh and bitter experiences if we would know the blessedness which follows them. The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough old miser within us will not lie down and die obedient to our command. He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil; he must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw. He must be expelled from our soul by violence as Christ expelled the money changers from the temple. And we shall need to steel ourselves against his piteous begging, and to recognize it as springing out of self-pity, one of the most reprehensible sins of the human heart.
If we would indeed know God in growing intimacy we must go this way of renunciation. And if we are set upon the pursuit of God He will sooner or later bring us to this test. Abraham’s testing was, at the time, not known to him as such, yet if he had taken some course other than the one he did, the whole history of the Old Testament would have been different. God would have found His man, no doubt, but the loss to Abraham would have been tragic beyond the telling. So we will be brought one by one to the testing place, and we may never know when we are there. At that testing place there will be no dozen possible choices for us; just one and an alternative, but our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make.
What Has God Done For Me Lately?
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5 (NIV)
Is the glass half full or half empty? Is it partly sunny or partly cloudy? Perspective makes all the difference.
Even for strong Christians who are grounded in their faith, discouragement can easily sneak its way into hearts and minds as life deals us chaos. As we struggle with the challenges and difficulties of everyday life, or things that happened to us that were unfair or unwarranted, it is easy to get pulled into a habitual mindset of negativity. Just like that old song from the ’80s says , we may find ourselves asking God, “What have you done for me lately?”
Our answer to that question will depend entirely upon our perspective. God does more for us each and every day than we deserve, but it’s so easy to lose sight of the good, because we are caught up in the reality of the bad. How do we combat this perfectly human attitude?
Resolve to have an attitude like Christ.
Take inventory of our every blessing.
Life. Your every breath. Your every heart beat. A spouse or loved one. Children. Clothes that need to be washed because God gave you clothes to wear, and a way to wash those clothes. Good health to help those whose health is failing. Trusted and educated doctors to treat you when you are facing health challenges. A house that needs cleaning. A car to drive. The ability to purchase gas for the car. A job to go to. The ability to be a stay at home mom or wife. Healthy kids who can play music or sports. Friends. Family. Freedom. Jesus. Eternal life.
What is on your inventory list today? If you were honest with yourself, would you say you have been looking for the positive aspects of the situations in your life? Are you considering how God could be using those things to draw you closer to Him? Or have you been primarily focused on the negative?
During times of negativity, we actually become our own enemy. We wage a battle in our mind because we look at our situation from our own perspective, instead of what God may be doing through our situation. So in order to change our minds, we have to choose to change the way we think — our perspective. Attitude is a choice.
Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” What do you usually see?
To quote an old cliché, today is the first day of the rest of your life , and it is never too late to become an optimist! I have heard it takes 21 days of doing something for it to become a new habit. The more you practice challenging your thought patterns, the more automatic it will become. Changes may not take place immediately, but over time, the challenge gets easier, and optimism becomes the norm instead of the exception.
Are you willing to take the challenge to become an optimist today? The rewards of looking for God’s goodness in every situation will be a healthier and happier heart.
Dear Lord, help me with my human tendency to be critical or look for the negative in situations. Forgive me for a lack of gratitude for all You have given me. Thank You for Your patience with me as I strive to be a Godly example. Guide my heart to recognize You at work, instead of seeing things from an earthly perspective. Lead me into a closer relationship with You by helping me remember to count my blessings every day. I n Jesus’ Name, Amen .
1 Peter 1:1-3, ” Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.”
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
In chapter 47 of Ezekiel, the prophet was being shown the following: In the very last days, the church of Jesus Christ will be more glorious, more victorious, than in its entire history. The Lord’s true body isn’t going to weaken and sputter. It’s not going to dwindle in numbers, or decrease in power or spiritual authority. No, his church will go out in a blaze of power and glory. And it will enjoy the fullest revelation of Jesus that anyone has ever known.
Ezekiel writes, “The fish of the great sea [shall be] exceeding many” (Ezekiel 47:10). There is coming forth a body of believers who will swim in the rising waters of the Lord’s presence.
This is what God is showing us in Ezekiel’s vision of the rising waters (see Ezekiel 47:3–4).
Ezekiel is speaking here of an increase of the Holy Spirit. In the latter days, there will be an increase of God’s presence among his people.
The very spring and foundation of this river is the cross. We see a literal image of this in the following verse; “One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34).
This growing flow of water is the image of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost was given to the disciples. Along with this gift of the Spirit, Christ’s followers were given a promise that he would be a river of life springing up within them. And that river would flow out into all the world (see John 7:38–39).
The river of life will crest just prior to the Lord’s coming. This is foretold in the vision given to Ezekiel. God took the prophet on an amazing trip. Carrying a measuring rod, the Lord paced off 1,000 cubits, about one-third of a mile. At that distance, the Lord and Ezekiel began walking in the water which at this point was ankle high.
Ezekiel testifies, “He brought me through the waters” (Ezekiel 47:3). And the Lord just kept urging the prophet onward, deeper and farther into the water. After another 1,000 cubits, the water came up to their knees. And it was still rising.
Do you see what was happening here? Ezekiel was walking into the future, right into our time. Christians today live in the final 1,000 cubits of the river in this vision. We’re in the very last measurement of water. And Ezekiel says that when he stepped to the edge of this measure, the water was too deep for him, too overwhelming. “I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in” (47:5).
I can only imagine this man’s wonder as the Lord asked him, “Ezekiel, what is this sea that has risen? If this river is all about life and resurrection power, who are the ones who’ll be so blessed to swim in such glory?” He could only envision what we now enjoy.
Maybe you’ve experienced the presence of Jesus abundantly. You may be thrilled by your present revelation of him. Yet, I tell you, you haven’t seen anything in comparison to the increase that’s coming to the righteous. Christ is going to open our eyes and wonderfully appear in our midst. He’ll reveal himself to us, pouring out on us as much of his life as we can possibly stand without already being in glorified bodies.
Posted by David Wilkerson on 2/10/2009