I heard about a patient in a mental hospital who was holding his ear close to the wall, listening intently. The attendant finally approached. "Shh!" whispered the patient, beckoning him over. The attendant pressed his ear to the wall for a long time. "I can't hear a thing," he said. "I know," replied the patient, "it's been like that all day!"
Have you ever worried so much about things going wrong that you begin to worry when everything goes right? Worry probably does more than anything else to keep us from having peace of mind.
Psychologists (with nothing better to do) have come up with some statistics about our worries. They say that 40% of the things we worry about never happen, 30% of the things we worry about have already happened (and thus can't be changed), 12% of our worries focus on health concerns, and 10% of our worries are over insignificant things.
That means that over 80% of our worries are about things which are unimportant, or that we have absolutely no control over.
So, what have you been worrying about lately? The scriptures tell us, "Don't be anxious, don't worry about anything, but trust in God with everything. He will give you his peace about every situation you face."
"Be anxious for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
Don't be anxious. Stop worrying. Have a great day!
While two visitors were visiting Annapolis, they noticed several students on their hands and knees assessing the courtyard with pencils and clipboards in hand. "What are they doing?" one of them asked their tour guide.
"Each year," he replied with a grin, "The upperclassmen ask the freshmen how many bricks it took to finish paving this courtyard."
"So what's the answer?" one of the visitors asked the tour guide when they were out of earshot of the freshmen.
The guide replied, "One."
That brings up an interesting theological question. How many sacrifices did it take to finish paying for our sins? The Jews would have needed lots of pencils and clipboards to make the calculation. "Let's see, let's take all
the sin offerings, all the guilt offerings, the bulls, the goats, the lambs, the turtledoves......"
So what's the answer? How many sacrifices did it take to finish paying for our sins? Only one.
"And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered the sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God."
After thousands and thousands of sacrificial animals had been sacrificed, Jesus Christ gave his own life on the cross. Only then could it be said, "It is finished." (John 19:30).
"Thought For the Day"
The Browns were shown into the dentist's office, where Mr. Brown made it clear he was in a big hurry. "No fancy stuff, Doctor," he ordered, "No gas or needles or any of that stuff. Just pull the tooth and get it over with."
"I wish more of my patients were as stoic as you," said the dentist admiringly. "Now, which tooth is it?"
Mr. Brown turned to his wife... "Show him, honey."
It's easy to be brave when someone else is the one experiencing the pain! I wonder as I write and speak about facing trials with a positive attitude if I could be so upbeat if I actually suffer the loss of everything I own in a hurricane or tornado. It's easy to be brave when someone else is experiencing the pain!
It's also easy to believe that someone else is the only one needing treatment. "Don't look at me, doctor. Take care of her!" As you sat listening to (or delivering) a sermon Sunday, did you find yourself saying, "I sure hope so-and-so is listening, because this is something he really needs to work on!"
Listen to these words of James:
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:23-25)
James does not say that the word of God is a magnifying glass or a telescope to look at others. Rather, it is a mirror. And a mirror is only used to look at yourself.
I pray that you will take the opportunity today to use the word of God as a mirror, and may your life be changed by it.
The story is told about a woman who called her husband on his car phone
as he was on his way home from work and she said, “Honey, you need to be
careful. I just saw on the news that there’s some nut driving the wrong
way on the Interstate.” Her husband said, “There’s not just one nut,
there’s hundreds of them!”
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like trying to do God’s
will makes you go the wrong way down the road? All the traffic’s coming
the other way. Have you ever thought, “If everybody’s going this way,
it’s so hard to go against the flow. Would God really mind if I just
turned around for a little while?”
An article in The London Times a couple of years ago reported that there
are currently about 200 million Christians in over 60 countries who are
being persecuted for their faith. Because we have freedom in the United
States to worship God, those of us who live here sometimes forget just
how many people in this world live under oppression – by Communist
authorities or Muslim authorities, or authorities who simply oppose God
and the people who follow God.
And even if you don’t face governmental oppression, there are no doubt
many of you who live with oppression – in your home, in your workplace
or at your school – oppressed by a family member or boss or teacher who
makes it difficult on you as a Christian. More and more, we all are
living in an anti-God culture. We live in an environment that makes it
difficult at times for us to stand up for God.
We must remember the words of Paul: “Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what
is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
No matter which way the crowd around you is flowing, may you have the
courage to travel the direction that God would have you to travel.
My grandfather worked in a blacksmith shop when he was a boy, and he used to tell me, when I was a little boy myself, how he had toughened himself up so he could stand the rigors of blacksmithing.
One story was how he had developed his arm and shoulder muscles. He said he would stand outside behind the house and, with a 5-pound potato sack in each hand, extend his arms straight out to his sides and hold them there as long as he could.
After a while he tried 10-pound potato sacks, then 50-pound potato sacks and finally he got to where he could lift a 100-pound potato sack in each hand and hold his arms straight out for more than a full minute!
Next, he started putting potatoes in the sacks..............
I suspect we're all like that at times. We understand (intellectually, at least) the value of trials. We understand that the testing of our faith produces patience (James 1:3). We understand that the fiery trials serve to purify our faith (I Peter 1:7). And we are quite content to hold the potato sacks -- as long as God doesn't put any potatoes in them!
It's much harder to see the benefit of trials when they are so overwhelming as to seem to be crushing. As Job said, "For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me." (Job 3:25)
But empty potato sacks will never build muscles. And light trials will never develop the kind of qualities that God seeks to develop in our lives.
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-4)
May the trials you are going through today serve the strengthen the muscles of your spiritual life.
Have a great day!