Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mental Reference Points

First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It is God’s will for us to be a continually thankful people. How is it possible to do this? Thankfulness is an act of your will. I believe that having a “reference point” in your mind is the secret to being thankful. A reference point is a predicament that’s worse than what you are currently experiencing. You can become thankful in any situation if you will compare it with a worse set of circumstances. Here are three mental reference points:

Reference Point #1: Trading places with a less fortunate person.  
What if God made you swap places with a less fortunate person whenever you complained? Perhaps you’re complaining about your car that keeps breaking down. Now you get to swap places with a poor person in another country who would love to have your old clunker—and you get to ride a burro to your next destination. In your mind think about what it is like to be a person in a less fortunate situation and you’ll suddenly become thankful for your situation.

Reference Point #2: Memories of doing without
I know a man has always been thankful for his shoes. When I asked him why, he said, “When I was a boy during the Depression, my parents couldn’t afford to buy me new shoes. I put cardboard in my shoe bottoms whenever they got holes. When I walked through rain and snow, I had to keep replacing the cardboard. I’ve always been thankful for shoes because I’ve never forgotten wearing those shoes with holes in the bottom.” That’s a mental reference point.

Reference Point #3: Losing blessings and recovering them
Sometimes we don’t realize what we have until we lose it. My father had radiation treatments for throat cancer and lost his ability to taste food. His inability to enjoy a meal made eating a dreaded duty. After eating flavorless food for over a year, he sat down to eat dinner and was shocked that his taste had returned! It was the best meal he had ever eaten because he had a reference point—losing a blessing and then recovering it. You don’t have to actually lose the blessing if you’ll just grasp what it is like to be without it and then thank God for it.

Can you think of some reference points? Now try to remember them in every difficult situation and you will find yourself becoming more thankful.  
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Hands of Jesus

Many of the people in Nazareth were astonished by Jesus’ teaching and asked, “How are these miracles performed by His hands?” (Mark 6:2). Here are some of the miracles that came through His hands.

1. Provision through His hands. Have you ever wondered how Jesus turned 5 loaves and 2 fish into enough food to feed over 5,000 people? At some point in time the multiplication had to take place. Mark 6:41 gives us the answer: “He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them.” As the food was passing through His hands it multiplied!

2. Healing through His hands. He touched the leper with His hand and healed him (Matthew 8:3). He laid His hands on a blind man’s eyes and he could see everything clearly (Mark 8:25). He laid His hands on a woman who had been bent over double for 18 years and immediately she stood up straight (Luke 13:13). How was God’s healing power transferred to others to make them well? Through His hands.

3. Salvation through His hands. When the Romans crucified Jesus, they drove nails into His hands. As they did this, the blood He shed purchased salvation for all who will place their trust in Him (Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 1:18-19). After He rose from the dead, He showed Thomas the imprint of the nails in His hands and said, “Reach here your finger and see My hands” (John20:27). He will have the nail scars in His hands for all eternity to remind us of what He did to obtain our salvation.

Although Jesus is not physically on earth anymore, His hands can still touch you. He promised to be with us (in Spirit) even until the end of the world (Matt. 28:20). Do you need a touch from God? Call out to Him in faith and those same hands that fed the multitudes, healed the sick, and paid for your sins can still touch you.
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Listen to the song “One Pair of Hands

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Who will be #1 in Heaven? Part 2

Jesus said the way to become greatest in the next life is by being a humble servant to everyone during your time on earth. You'll view everyone in a higher position and you'll consider it a privilege to joyfully serve them. You'll never get offended when you aren’t appreciated. All glory and thanks goes to God alone. Just do this every moment of every day for the rest of your life and you might be a candidate for #1 in heaven. (I have a sneaking suspicion that the #1 position will go to someone we never heard of). Last week we listed 3 qualifications. Here are 3 more:

4. A “servant of all” is willing to do any job no matter how undignified it may be
E. Stanley Jones told a story about a man in India who became a Christian. The man was a Brahmin convert from the upper caste in India. Stanley asked him to clean the latrines, which he had never done before. The Indian man replied, "Brother Stanley, I'm converted, but not that far.” To be the servant of all we must be converted “that far.” No job is beneath you, including cleaning toilets, because you are serving God.

5. A “servant of all” doesn’t seek to be recognized. Many times we want others to compliment and recognize us for what we have done. Jesus said, “He (the master) does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded of you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done’” (Luke 17:9-10).

In case you’re wondering, it’s not wrong to be thanked for your service. If someone serves you, you should show your gratitude by thanking that person. And if you serve others and they thank you, you can humbly and graciously say, “I’m glad I was able to help you.” Keep in mind that we live to please the Lord and one day He will reward us for our service and “each man’s praise will come to him from God” (1 Cor. 4:5).

6. A “servant of all” sees everyone as more important. In God’s eyes the homeless man out on the streets is just as valuable as the most admired movie star who lives in a mansion (see Prov. 22:2). Philippians 2:3 says, “With humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” This does not mean that others are more important than we are, but that we are to regard them as more important. That means that the “servant of all” will not look down on anyone but will look up to those who are considered unimportant by this world’s standards.

Now you know what it means to be “the servant of all.” All that’s left is to put it into practice.

NEW BIBLE STUDY: Are all sins equal or are there degrees of sin? The answer might surprise you!

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Who will be #1 in Heaven? Part 1

How would you like to be the greatest person in heaven? Before you blurt out "No!" (due to your great humility), let's find the answer in Scripture. It’s not wrong to want to be great—but it needs to be in the next life. Jesus told us how to be #1 in eternity, “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all” (Mark 10:44-45).

If Jesus had told us how to great in this world—how to be a famous actor, a rock star, or a successful athlete—everyone would be scrambling to follow His instructions. But when He tells us the secret of being great forever, we don’t listen to His advice. We don’t care about what will happen in eternity because it seems too far away. But to those who wisely listen, the key to being promoted in the next life will be determined by how well we served in this life. Here are some qualifications for being a “servant of all.”

1. A servant of all has a heart of humility. Servanthood requires humility. Proud servants don’t exist in God’s kingdom. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). A humble person cannot be humiliated, no matter how undignified the job may be. Elisabeth Elliot said, “The best way to find out whether or not you really have a servant’s heart is to see what your reaction is when somebody treats you like one.”

2. A servant of all will cheerfully serve in every job. Being a servant of all doesn’t mean you have to quit your profession and take a minimum wage job. Some people serve in lowly positions but still have a proud heart, while others serve God in high positions with a humble servant’s heart. You can have a servant’s heart even if you are a CEO or President of the United States, but you will also cheerfully serve in menial tasks as well.

3. A servant of all always views God as the boss. The apostle Paul said, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather from men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Col. 3:23-24) If you are a servant of all, you will always do your work to please the Lord. God promises to reward you in the next life for your cheerful service.
To be continued…
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Listen to Song of the Month (with lyrics) "Sovereign Over Us"

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Real Story Behind Malchus's Ear

When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter overreacted and tried to fight off His attackers. “Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus” (John 18:10). Jesus picked up the ear and placed it back on Malchus’s head! (Luke 22:51). You probably know that, but do you see the story behind the story?

It was no accident that this happened to Malchus, who was “the high priest’s slave.” After He was arrested, Jesus stood on trial before Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year (Matt. 26:57). The Heavenly High Priest stood on trial before the earthly high priest, but Caiaphas didn’t recognize Him.

Although it is not recorded in Scripture, Malchus undoubtedly reported this incredible miracle to his boss, the high priest. Caiaphas had previously prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation (John 11:49-51) but now God was giving him another chance to repent. Would he believe Malchus's testimony and change his mind? Caiaphas chose to dismiss it, which sent Jesus to the cross.

On Judgment Day, the roles will be reversed. Caiaphas the earthly high priest will stand on trial before Jesus the Heavenly High Priest, and will give an account for his life. I’m sure that Malchus’s ear will come up in the conversation. Although we don’t know for sure if he ever repented, tradition tells us that Caiaphas later converted to Christianity. If that’s true, the miracle of the severed ear might have had something to do with it. And that’s how God can take mistakes like Peter’s over-reaction and use it for His purposes. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com


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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why did Jesus say, "TRULY I say to you"?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus said, “TRULY I say to you”? (KJV says “Verily”). He always told the truth and He even called Himself “the Truth” (John 14:6), so why would He need to say “Truly I say to you”? He said it because He wanted the listeners to grasp the significance of the statement they were about to hear. To paraphrase Him: “What I am about to tell you might be hard to believe, but it really is true!” Although He repeated the phrase “Truly I say to you” many times, here are three hard-to-believe statements that Jesus said were true.  

1. A mountain can be cast into the sea by speaking to it. Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him” (Mark 11:23). Jesus chose the most ridiculous example we could ever imagine to assure us that humanly impossible situations are possible with God.

2. A secret act of worship would be known around the world. (This would be done without the means of TV or the Internet.) After Mary poured costly perfume on Jesus’ head, He said, “Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her” (Matt. 26:13). Although this seemed impossible to everyone who heard Him say it, what she did is recorded in the Scriptures that have gone all over the world.

3. An offering of two copper coins was worth more than all the other contributions combined. After a poor widow put her last two coins into the treasury box, Jesus said, Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury” (Mark 12:43). This shows that our sacrificial offerings can be huge gifts from God's point of view, even if they appear insignificant in man’s eyes.

Faith is thinking like God thinks. Jesus had to keep repeating the phrase “Truly I say to you” because God sees things very differently than we do. Our faith must not rest upon human reasoning but on what God has revealed as truth, which requires us to think outside the box. Do you need to make any adjustments about what you believe? www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com  
www.makinglifecount.net (Over 200 printable Bible studies and sermons)

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Lessons from Cain, Balaam and Korah

Jude, who was the half-brother of Jesus, warned us about three ways that worship can be corrupted. He wrote, “Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah” (Jude 11).  

1. The Way of Cain (Worshiping apathetically)  Cain was the first religionist and didn’t understand how to worship God correctly. Cain went through the motions of worship but didn’t have true faith in God (Heb. 11:4). He didn’t live righteously like Abel but was evil in his behavior. First John 3:12 says, “…Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.” Cain represents the person who regularly attends church and goes through the motions of worship, but his heart isn’t right with God and lives an unholy life.

2. The Error of Balaam (Misusing authority for financial gain)  Balaam was a prophet who tried to use his prophetic gift for personal financial gain. He compromised his integrity because he “loved the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15). Balaam was so despicable to God that he is mentioned in eight different books of the Bible (Numbers 22, Deut. 23:4-5, Josh. 24:9-10, Neh. 13:2, Mic. 6:5, 2 Pet. 2:15, Jude 1:11, Rev. 2:14). Balaam represents deceptive pastors, evangelists, and ministers who use their positions of authority to manipulate their congregations to gain personal wealth. God will expose their motives on the Day of Judgment.

3. The Rebellion of Korah (Usurping godly authority)  Korah led a rebellion against God’s leader Moses, who was the most humble man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3). He wanted to overthrow Moses as leader because he refused to submit to godly authority (Numbers 16). Korah represents rebellious church members who try to overthrow godly pastors and force them out of the church. This is a very serious sin and will bring harsh punishment from God. 

Make sure that you stay away from these three traps and worship God in Spirit and truth (John 4:24). www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com  
www.makinglifecount.net (Over 200 printable Bible studies and sermons)

NEW SERMON--Jonah Part 4, “The Pity Party” by Kent Crockett 


Making Life Count Ministries
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