Monday, May 28, 2012

It's How You Look at It

While Timmy was playing in the yard a bee stung him on the hand. He ran to his mother, crying, "I hate bees! I wish God had never made them." His mom put some ointment on the sting and said, "Do you want some toast and honey to cheer you up?"

Timmy perked up. "Yeah, I love honey!"
“Did you know that it takes bees to make honey?" she asked.
He looked at the honey and said, "I never realized there was a good side to bees!"

Nearly everything in life has a good side and a bad side, and everyone gets to choose what they will focus on. It’s easy for us to always look for what’s wrong. It takes more effort to look for what’s good and positive in every situation.

Paul said, “Whatever is true…honorable…right…pure…good…anything worthy of praise let your mind dwell on these things” (Phil. 4:8). If you will discipline yourself to control your thoughts (and it will take discipline), you discover the secret of happiness. I challenge you to spend today finding the positive side of every situation and thanking God for each thing you see. Doing this every day will change your life.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Lest Something Worse Happens to You"

The Titanic telegraph operators ignored the numerous warnings they received about icebergs because they believed their ship was unsinkable. Other ships would sink when they hit icebergs, but not the Titanic. At least that’s what they believed. Of course, we now know they believed something that wasn't true. 

When Jesus healed a man at the pool of Bethesda who had been paralyzed for 38 years, He gave him this warning: “You have been made well, so stop sinning or something even worse may happen to you (John 5:14). Jesus was warning him about a potential danger that awaited him in the future that would be connected to a sin.

After the paralyzed man was healed, an entirely new life was ahead of him and he needed to understand that with his new freedom also came a new responsibility. With his ability to walk, he was now capable of sinning in ways that he hadn’t known before. So Jesus warned him to not give in to those temptations because the consequences would actually be worse than his thirty-eight years of being paralyzed!

What could be worse than being paralyzed for nearly four decades? I don’t know but whatever it was, Jesus saw the very real possibility of this happening. It was up to him to navigate around the icebergs.

Jesus gives the same warning to each one of us—turn away from temptations lest something worse happens to you. When a high school graduate goes off the college, there are new opportunities to sin like never before. When a person becomes successful and wealthy, there are new opportunities to sin that weren’t there before. Yielding to those temptations can also bring on something worse than before.

You are navigating your own ship through life. Are you staying away from the icebergs? 
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Freedom from Guilt

Peter was praying on a rooftop in Joppa when suddenly he saw a vision of a sheet descending from heaven, being lowered by its four corners. Inside the sheet were unclean animals that Jews were forbidden by the Old Testament Law to eat. The vision was repeated three times and a voice told him, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy" (Acts 10:15).

At that moment, three Gentiles came to the house looking for Peter. The purpose of the vision was to let Peter know that he was to accept the three "unclean" Gentiles, who had been sent to him by God (Acts 10:20). The Gospel was to be preached to the entire world and wasn't just for Jews.

But there is also another meaning of the vision. If God has cleansed you with His blood, you must not consider yourself unholy. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness, not just some. God has imputed His righteousness to you, so that you are completely clean in His eyes!

Did you do something bad in the past that's still bothering you?  If you have received Christ into your life, He has cleansed you. That means you must no longer consider yourself unholy. If God forgives you, you must forgive yourself. Don't just take my word for it. Take it from God. He said it, not me.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Seeing Isn't Believing

"Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus, for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. And he questioned Him at some length, but He answered him nothing." (Luke 23:8-9)

The enemies of Jesus had undoubtedly tried to dismiss Jesus' miraculous powers, but king Herod had received so many reports of people being supernaturally healed and raised from the dead that he had to find out the truth for himself. Perhaps if Jesus would perform a miracle before his very own eyes, he too might become a follower.

What a great opportunity for Jesus to share truth with the man holding the highest position in Israel!  Just think, if king Herod would get saved, then maybe all the leaders in Israel and all of Rome would take note, and they too would follow Jesus. All He would need to do was answer a few of Herod's questions and perform a miracle or two. Simple enough.

However, when Jesus stood before him, Herod kept asking Him questions but Jesus refused to respond. Not a single answer. Why would He do that? Didn't He realize that He was blowing a huge opportunity?

The reason Jesus didn't answer or perform a miracle was because He wanted Herod to believe in Him on His terms.  Herod wanted to first see and then believe.  Jesus wanted him to first believe and then later he would see.  Real faith doesn't have to see a miracle first.

After Jesus rose from the dead, He could have appeared to Herod and said, "Remember Me? Now do you believe?"  Instead, He didn't go to Herod, or the high priest, or the Pharisees, but only to those who already believed in Him.

Are you trusting in Jesus, even if He doesn't perform a miracle?  He wants you to see Him with your heart and not your eyes. Some things won't make sense to you until later.  Trust Him right now, whether He performs a miracle or not.  God makes this promise, "He who believes in Him will not be disappointed!" (1 Peter 2:6).

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