At the university commencement exercises, the School's President rose to address the graduates and confer their degreeson them. He began by explaining the meaning of the traditional Latin phrases used to rank their performances.
For example, if a student graduates "Cum Laude," it means "With Honors."
Next, he explained that "Magna Cum Laude" means they graduate with “High Honors”. And if a student graduates "Summa Cum Laude," they graduate with “Supreme Honors”.
Then he announced, “there is a new honor I plan to use in the future to be called ‘Magna Cum Pellidentium,’ which means ‘By the skin of your teeth.” Well everyone had a good laugh,
But, too many folks, who know the Lord, and quote scripture, are trying to get through PELLIDENTIUM, “by the skin of their teeth”…. They spend very little personal bible study time, or prayer time, and very little preparation in speaking what they believe to others who might ask, in a clear, concise way…. I Peter 3:15. “In your hearts set apart a central place for Christ as Lord; always be prepared to give an effective answer to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have”
Thinking of this, we might look at the story of Daniel, who along with his friends, the three Hebrew princes, were taken captive by the nation of Babylon, and who would not bow or bend to the Godless culture they found themselves in. Daniel was thrown into a pit with hungry lions in it, and we all call it the story of Daniel in the lion’s den… but what if we called it the story of “THE LIONS IN DANIEL’S DEN”
It gives it a totally different view point, because it places the authority with Daniel and not the lions! It completely shifts the center of power in the situation….
God had always intended for this incident to be the pivotal moment, where the king would know that God was with Daniel, and it would be the transitional event, that would elevate Daniel from a position of, getting by with the skin of his teeth, into graduating with supreme honors!
If you look at it the way God sees it, you are NOT in the Lion’s den, The lions are in YOUR DEN…. (six little words that make all the difference)
We need the God kind of view point to get the God kind of results.
Daniel could not be passive about His Godly convictions, even though the king’s word was law in the land…. Because Daniel served a higher power that superseded the King’s authority. The way he lived before he got to the den of lions, gave him favor when he was thrown into the den of lions….
Matthew 10:32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, (or lions) I will also confess him before My Father in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, (or lions) I will also deny him before My Father in heaven”.
Like Daniel, we can no longer remain passive as the world sinks further into darkness. We need to see it like God sees it and say it like God says it!!
When you see a house on fire, you take some kind of action…. When you see someone in harms way, you sound the alarm…. If there is action you can take, you are commissioned as a Christian to take it….
I heard the story of the couple who had been married for a few years. When arguments and disagreements became a constant thing in their relationship, they decided to seek counselling in hopes of saving the marriage. He was incredibly insensitive and dull, She was hyperactive and dominating… NOT A GOOD MIX.
When they arrived at their first counselling session, things did not start well…The husband slumped in the chair, while staring down at the carpet, and it was clear, he would rather be somewhere else!
The wife however launched into a 90mph conversion, describing all the wrongs within their marriage.
Every problem it seemed, could be traced back to him, his failures, his insensitivities, his failure to communicate, and she went on & on & on.
After 15 minutes of the wife talking non-stop, the counsellor stood up and without saying a word, walked around his desk and bent over in front of the wife. He stood her up by her shoulders, gave her a big hug, and kissed her long and passionately for several minutes on the lips. He then sat her down….Looked at the husband and said, “That is what your wife needs at least once a day”
The stunned husband thought for a minute, scratched his head and said;
“Well, what time would you like for me to bring her by for you”…..
Some folks are way too willing to just get through by the skin of their teeth, and let the chips fall where they may! They take no personal ownership about where they are headed, but leave it to the fickled hand of fate, where so many others have crashed and burned….
Moses would have preferred to just stay in the wilderness, with his wife and new family, off the Egyptian radar, and not do anything that would raise any red flags which would get the Pharaoh’s attention… They had a name for anyone who would dare stand up against the Pharaoh… and that word is DEAD!! They ended up dead!
You see, just like Daniel needed to see the situation with the lions, the way God saw it, Moses had to come to the place that he had to see Egypt as God saw it….The Hebrews weren’t just in Egypt, Egypt was just a player in their story, and their destiny…. JOHN 14:1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many places prepared. if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to secure a place for you. 3 And if I go and secure a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 I can show you the way to the place where I am going."
Since we’re talking about six little words…. I came up with a few six words summaries…. Here’s a six, six word declarations….Beginning with John 14:3 …“Where I am You can be” (powerful six words)
How about….”Destiny is a journey of transformation”.
And then I wrote down….“God has purchased everyone a ticket”.
“The price God paid was Himself”.
“Find God’s will everywhere in everything”.
“God still moves in the unexpected”. (There’s a message in a message) You get two for the price of one! With all the ups and downs, the in’s and out’s, the twists and turns, God saw the Jews, not as captives in Egypt, but in the land of Canaan, dwelling in their own houses and farming their own land, ….
The challenge was to get Moses to see, what God had in store, so he could show the people! Where we are at the moment, is not where we will be when God is finished with our story!
He is the God of where you’ve been, He’s the God of where you are, and He’s the God of where you’ve never been yet! You talk to a lot of folks and they spend all the time talking about where they’ve been… Then other folks spend all the time talking about where they are now… But not many folks will spend their time talking with you about where they’re going….
There is a tribe in Africa, that has a very traditional greeting for strangers… They ask “Where did you come from”…. “What are you doing here”… and “Where are you going when you leave here”…. Boy, that covers it all!
Have you seen what God sees about you….
Here’s the way Jesus put it….”Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven”…. That’s the lens through which we are to look at the past, the present and the future….Stop regretting your past, and moaning about your present situation…. We’re getting ready to cross the Jordan and enter the future He already prepared for us!
God gave Abraham a very graphic look at what his future was and while he had no children because Sarah was barren, yet he saw his future, and it looked fruitful and abundant…. Look at it…
Genesis 22:17 “I will surely bless you, and I will multiply your descendants like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore”. Guess who’s report Abraham believed… It says he hoped against hope… When he had nothing but God’s promise to base anything on, he chose to believe the promise….
In other words, God is looking for people who will see the things in earth as God sees them in heaven…. Will you be that person…?
Proverbs 29:18 in the New King James version… ‘‘Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint, and do their own thing.”
The difference is in having a Biblical world view, when most of our society has a secular world view which is often at odds with God’s view as He moves us forward, into the rest of His story for our lives.
(Look at someone and ask them….”What about His story in your story”…)
Let me put two faces in front of you…. the Apostle Paul, and Osama bin Laden…..
What do you think of when I mention the Apostle Paul?
His Conversion. His Missionary Journeys. That he wrote much of the New Testament. That he shared the gospel with the Gentileworld. That he planted many Churches.
OK what do you think of when I mention Osama bin Laden?
September 11, Terrorism, Hijacked planes, and Bombings..
So what do Osama bin Laden and the Apostle Paul have in common?
They are both responsible for killing Christians, they are both responsible for persecuting the church. But it was the end of their stories that sticks the most in our minds….Paul accepted God’s vision for his life, Osama bin Laden did not!
Everyone in this room has a past! We have all been places and done things that we regret! No one in this room can do anything about where they have been…Those tickets have been bought and that journey has been taken, the passport has already expired!
But just like the Apostle Paul we can sure do something about where we are going!
We don’t have to just plod along, getting through by the skin of our teeth, hoping we end up accidentally at some sweet destination!
John 14:6 Jesus said unto him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”.
The tickets to your God ordained destination, are very expensive. As a matter of fact, you can’t afford that ticket even if you were the richest person on the planet. But the God who brought you this far, has provided a ticket to get you to where He planned as your destination.
It’s time to switch tickets!
An executive of a certain company, had to go to Sydney Australia, for an urgent business meeting. He had to be in Sydney by five o’clock or the company he was president of for twenty years, was going to be taken over and he would lose everything he had invested in all those years. When He found this out it was one o’clock in the afternoon, His secretary rang up all the airlines but there were no seats available, all the flights were fully bookedbecause it was a long weekend. He told his secretary to put his name in for any cancellations. Finally, a phone call came in at 2:00, Qantas had a last minute cancellation on a flight departing at two thirty. He threw all he needed into his brief case and raced out of the office. He rushed in the airport door at twenty nineminutes past two and raced over to the check in counter. They were expecting him and gave him his boarding pass and told him to run down to gate twelve as the final boarding call had already been announced and the plane was about to depart. He ran for all he was worth, waving his boarding pass as he was ushered into the plane. As soon as he got in, the doors were shut and the flight attendant took him to his seat. Much to their surprise the seat was already taken, the seat had been sold twice. She apologized and took him to first class and gave him the last seat there. At last he could sit back and relax. Wow, it was all going to work out after all. He would get there just in time and he even scored a first classseat. The plane roared down the runway and into the air. It didn’t seem to long and the captain came over the loud speaker, “Good afternoon ladies and gentleman I am Captain Jones, on behalf of Qantas airlines I would like to welcome you aboard. We are on schedule and climbing to thirty five thousand feet, we should be landing at four o’clock. The weather for our arrival in Perth, Australia will be a fine with a temperature of fifteen degrees…..(He had boarded the wrong flight, in the wrong direction)….
If the captain gave the announcement right now, would you be on the right flight?
Are you on flight number seven, His will in heaven…. Or flight six, six, six and you’ve been tricked!
The Apostle Paul was on the wrong flight, but he switched planes and fulfilled his destiny and made a difference in the world…
Matthew 7:13 Jesus uses these words: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few will find it."
I like Phillip’s answer to the Lord…. He said “Lord show us the way” (A prayer we should all be praying every day)
He would not promise us that He is going ahead to secure a place for us (a life for us) if He wasn’t willing to show us the way…
But even more than showing us the way, He wants us to understand that HE IS THE WAY….
Jesus answer to Phillip is the same as His answer to each of us…. He said “I Am the way, the truth and the life”. You just can’t get there any other way….If we could do it, He would not have come, He would not have died a sacrificial death on the cross…
Praise the Lord, we are not in this alone. We can know that He is absolutely faithful in every step of the journey. It was never just up to us. He is always there assisting, encouraging, leading, comforting, giving direction, adjusting and disciplining us, as weneed it. What would you be able and willing to do beginning today, if you knew beyond a shadow of doubt that Jesus was doing it with you and through you?
Hebrews 12:2 says we are to “look (and keep on looking) unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”.
Oh Yeah, there’s another six little words that make a big difference. “He is the author and finisher”….
I find it interesting that God wants us to focus on how we make the journey, more that where or when we will arrive. If we will focus on the “how”, then He will take care of the where and when…That’s about walking in His will and walking in His way….
Look at it….Micah 6:8 tells us the “how” of our journey: "He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you? To do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God"
So we’re not only to give priority to the direction we are going, but how we live as we’re going and doing….
Also look at Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, trust in Him, and He will do it.”
That’s another six little words, that makes all the difference… “Commit your way unto the Lord”…
That word commit, simply means “keep giving it to Him, keep turning it over to him”…. Don’t get sucked in by it, don’t get miredup in it. Release it all to Him. When the Devil is knocking on your door, let Jesus answer the door!
It would be like getting on a bus, with heavy bags of groceries, and instead of setting all that down in the seat, you stand there struggling with the weight of it all.. No, you sit down, set the groceries in the seat, or the floor and let the bus carry the weight of you and the groceries…
That’s exactly what Paul said to the church of Ephesus….SITDOWN… Ephesians 2:6 “He has made us to sit down together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your weight on Him because He cares for you”.
Hey, there’s another six little words that make all the difference…. “Cast all your weight on Him”!!!
We load ourselves down with the cares of life and the amazing thing is, that when it comes to your God ordained destiny, you already have all you need to arrive where you need to be… Didn’t He say, “Before you call I will answer you, before you cry out, I will hear”….Six little words…
BEFORE YOU CALL I WILL ANSWER….
let me show you this in….
Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. 4 even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…”
Please don’t get me wrong, we should prepare and believe that God will prosper our efforts and our labors… BUT…
Everything in this world that is good, can easily become the cares of life, and push us out of the blessing of what God has provided for us.
Scripture tells us in Mark 4:19 “For the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things enters in, chokes out the word, and it (the promised blessings) becomesunfruitful”.
The answer is in the words which David gave us earlier… Commit your way unto the Lord… (six little words) followed by another powerful six words “HE WILL BRING IT TO PASS”…
So let’s review some six word statements that we need to remember…Let’s say them together….
See what God sees about you…..Keep on giving it to Him….Commit your way unto the Lord….He will bring it to pass…..Cast all your weight on Him… Before you call He will answer…. He is the author and finisher…. He will take care of you…. God still moves in the unexpected….
let’s stand together as we pray…
*……Lord Jesus, thank You for Your deep and constant love for me. Thank You for suffering on the cross for my sake, so that I could have forgiveness and eternal life. I desire to seek you first, and love you above all things and all people in my life. It is in loving you, that I am able to love myself and others more.
Lord, let me not look and rely upon anyone and anything else for what you alone can give. Help me to love as You love, asking nothing in return. I will no longer allow past hurts, failures, or injustices to rule my present reality. I cease from my struggles and I rest in your strength and the victory which you have already given me.
Lord, through the work of Your Spirit in me, I am clean, my mind is clear, and my heart is at peace. I give the enemy no place to effect me any longer, for I receive the truth that sets me free. Thank you for protection over my mind, body and Spirit, through the blood You shed for me.
Jesus, I commit my life to you, as I seek first Your will, and the things which You approve. You know the answers before I ask the questions, so give me an open and receptive Spirit, that I may lead my heart, submit my will always to You, and walk in Your ways, In Jesus Name….
The idea of prioritizing the things of our lives is simple…. Whatever is first, automatically pushes everything else further down on our “What’s Important to Me” list. There is no room for anything else if something is already FIRST!! That place is already taken…
Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mammon, is referring to riches, wealth and acquiring earthly things and putting that before our service and commitment to the Lord)
A TV hostess was interviewing Herman Edwards, a former NFL pro-football coach, and she simply asked him the question, ''So what do you think happened with Tiger Woods, at the peak of his career?'' Without hesitation he replied, ''Tiger simply had his priorities in the wrong place.'' The constructive power of proper priorities can take any ordinary life and turn it into an extraordinary adventure. The destructive power of misplaced priorities can take a gifted life and crush it into a million pieces.
As powerful as a horse is, he accomplishes very little until he is harnessed. Steam or gas never drives or pushes anything until it is compressed and properly channeled. Niagara with all of it’s force, is never going to turn it’s power into useful electricity that we all depend on, until it is hooked up to turbines. A computer may have a wealth of knowledge but until it’s plugged in, it’s just a box….Nolife ever reaches it’s full potential until it is properly focused, commited, and disciplined.
We must lead our heart, not follow it… If we live by what we feel, we will also fail by what we feel…What we feel must be attached to what we know is best “As many as are led by the Spirit, they are the sons of God”.
Paul admonished the church of Rome… Romans 6:19."I speak after the manner of men because of the weakness of your flesh, for as you have yielded your body as servants to uncleanness and to iniquity, even so now yield your body as servants of righteousness unto holiness."
We become what we yield ourselves to…. We may feel strongly about something, but is it wise….
He was surprised to see a coveted empty seat in the VIP box, atthe super bowl game, a diehard fan remarked about it to a man sitting nearby. Oh, yeah, it was my wife’s seat, the man explained, but she passed away “Oh! I’m very sorry to hear that,” said the man. “Yet I’m really surprised that another relative, or friend, didn’t jump at the chance to take the seat reserved for her.” “Beats me,” he said. “They all insisted on being at her funeral.”(You can’t have your cake and eat it too)
This great adventure called ''life'' places before every one of us hundreds, (and if you live long enough), thousands of possibilities. Some are bad, many are good, and there are a few that are the very best. Each one of us, as we make those choices and exercise those decisions, has to ask ultimately this question, ''What priorities take first place in my life?'' The sum total of our life will be determined by the priorities that we decide on, when we put “First Things First”…
Appreciate what you have now, don’t wait till you lose it to appreciate it. Perhaps this is the reason we fail to put many things first that should be first in our “Important to me” list.
We fail to put first things first as we begin to live our lives in the realms of “If only” and we start wielding the wand of “I wish” as we pitch our tents in the city of “Regret”…. No one just falls into a broken marriage, drug addiction, alcohol dependency, financial disaster, or many other things we could list….
But what brought them to the place of camping out in the graveyard of regret, was one wrong priority, one bad decision, one missed opportunity at a time, that led to another and another. I have experienced that the critical intersection at the point of where I was and where I needed to be, begins at an altar of “Here I am Lord, take me, break me, bless me and give me away.” Not my will but thy will be done…. I can’t do this, but if You’ll show me the way, I’ll take it…
A High School teacher wanted to make an important point, so he took a wide mouth jar and filled it with rocks. “Is the jar full?” he asked. “Yes,” came a reply. “Oh, really?” he said. Then he poured sand into the jar to fill the spaces between the rocks. “Is it full now?” “Yes,” said someone else. “OK, let’s see?” He then filled the remaining spaces between the rocks and stones with water. “Is it full now?” he asked. “Probably not,” said another student, who wasn’t sure at this point. Then he asked, “What’s the lessen we learn from this?”. A student replied, “No matter how full the jar is, there is always room for more.” That’s good, but not quite,” said the teacher. “The lesson is: to get everything in the jar, you must always put the big things in first, then everything else falls in place.” First things first!
I challenge you to make a list of the big dreams in your life and see them clearly once again. Don’t wait for a more convenient season, or when things look a little better…. Start a scrap book, a diary, or just begin to break it down in it’s various components in your mind…. But don’t put it off… start now… the journey of weight loss, the plans for that dream trip, meeting new friends, getting involved in some area of the church life… Whatever it is, take the baby steps that will become giant steps later on…
So many times we defeat our own selves…. The old folks used to say, “A watched pot never boils”…
One old fella, who was recovering from a heart attack, said that he had to deal with a lot of trouble in his life, and most of it never happened.
A doctor, who was paralyzed and bedridden, remained unusually cheerful and positive through it all. His smile was so brave and radiant that everyone forgot to feel sorry for him. His children were inspired by him, and when one of his boys was leaving home for college, the doctor gave him this advice: ’Johnny,’ he said, ‘…please remember the biggest troubles that you will have to face are the ones that never show up.’
Worry, about your kids, worry about your sagging skin, worry about your job…. I used to worry about losing my hair….I don’t worry anymore….
What a great tool Satan has loosed upon us, to let us just defeat ourselves with fear and worry….. about things that never happen!
But Jesus made it simple…. “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these THINGS, will be added unto you”. Maybe not everything I ever wished, but everything He knows I truly need and is best for me. God doesn’t always work in straight lines….
I know you’ve heard it, read it before, but look at it with me once more…
Matthew 6:25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. (and they’re always eating) Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you- you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the ungodly run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom (the will of God) and his righteousness (what God approves), and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”.
That’s always such good advice for all of us….This scripture tells us, If I put His will and what He approves first… My needs will be supplied… What a promise!!!
When I think about what the Lord has done in the past, how can I worry about the future…. We were bent but not broken…. we had pain, but we also had healing…. We were disappointed but not overwhelmed…. We saw lean times, but oh, hallelujah, we saw abundance… We got lost at times, but He brought us through safely…. When I think of what the Lord has done, Howcan I do anything but praise and worship Him!!
Did you notice that Jesus talked about the birds and the flowers OF THE FIELD, not greenhouse flowers and well kept birds in an Avery….They were things that literally LIVE BY THE LORD’S PROVISION, outside the realms of man’s help or assistance!
If we feed our spirit and mind on what God has done in the past, in our lives and the lives of others, then our heart and soul will not fall into fear and worry as we move ahead into the future!What He has done is transformed into faith for what He will do… Now I’m not advocating an experiential faith alone…. He said it, I believe it and that settles it…. Actually, He said it, that settles it whether I believe it or not….
But faith allows me to participate in the process!
The principle of first things, is not a spare tire that I take on the journey… it is the gas in the motor that drives the engine of God’s word and moves me forward….
Jesus taught that putting first things first is the solution to handling conflicts with one another. Matthew 5:23-24''Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and while still there, you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. FIRST be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.''
Jesus taught that putting first things first is the way to avoid hypocrisy in your life…. Matthew 7:5 “How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck out of your eye and not see that a plank is in your own eye... 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a 2x4 in your own eye”?…
Come on church, that sure cuts down on finger pointing!! Putting First things first, is the cure for fear and worry…. 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”.
This scripture tells us that if we live in fear and worry, then we don’t have a right mind…..Webster calls it “An unhealthy mental state”….Our country is in trouble because we are not putting first things first… our homes are in trouble because we’re not putting first things first… Democracy has been perverted because we are not putting first things first…. Dear Lord, where does itstop!
If I were to come by your house holding a foil covered dish. “Hey, how are you doing, A few days back Winnie made a strawberry cake. It was so good. It came out of the oven hot, moist, and sweet. I wish you could have tasted it. Today, as I was eating the last piece, I thought of you in the middle of the last bite. So, I put my fork down and thought, I’m taking the rest of this slice to my friend.”
Now, change the scene, and now I’m knocking at your door holding a hot pie plate with oven mitts. “Hey, how are you doing. Winnie pulled this out of the oven a few minutes ago. It’s still piping hot. No one has touched it. I got here as fast as I could. I want you to have the first piece. So, I want you to have the whole pie (although I did bring my fork in case you want to share).”
What a difference, not only in where I placed you in my priorities, but how it made you feel…. Now you’re not looking at me like someone that is not in their right mind, giving you the last bite of the last slice.
Perhaps that’s how God feels when we offer Him crumbs that are left over.
God is big on firsts…. If you check the Strong’s concordance you will find 7 columns of references about firsts in the bible….
Try this one…. I John. 4:19 “We love Him because he first loved us”
And I really like… Romans 8:31-34 "What can we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since God did not spare even His best, His first, His only Son, but gave Him up for us all, will He not also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own? Will God? No! He is the one who has given us right standing with Himself. Who then will condemn us? Will Christ Jesus? No, for He is the one who died for us and was raised to life for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor, interceding in our behalf."
When God’s people put Him first, His blessings began to floweverywhere.
Pete Richards was one of the loneliest men in town. He owned and operated a gift shop that had come down to him from his grandfather. Today, a little girl entered the store, She said, “Mister, could I look at that string of blue beads in the window?” Pete took the beads out of the window and spread them on the counter. "EWWWW, They’re just perfect," said the girl. "Could you wrap them up pretty for me, please?" Pete asked, "So, who are you buying these for, they must really be special!" "They’re for my big sister. She takes care of me now. This will be her first birthday since Momma died. Jean Grace wanted to buy the very best gift for her big sister. "How much money do you have?" asked Pete. She took a small paper sack out of her coat pocket and poured out the coins on the counter. "I emptied my piggy bank, It’s everything I have saved up"
Pete carefully pulled back the necklace. The price tag was visible to him… but not to her. "Just a minute," he said and went to the back of the store.From the back room he asked…. "What’s your name?" "Jean Grace", she replied. He placed the neckless, wrapped in red paper and tied with a pretty ribbon on the counter. She smiled big over her shoulder as she ran out the door.
Through the window Pete watched her go, Something about Jean Grace and her string of beads had stirred him to the depths of his being. Once upon a time, Pete had been in love with a girl with the same yellow hair, and large blue eyes. That necklace was supposed to be HER birthday present…. But on a rainy night—a truck had skidded on a slippery road—And her life was crushed out of his dream. Pete Richard’s world had become very empty and meaningless, until Jean Grace came through his door. When the last customer had come and gone, as Pete was closing shop, a young woman tapped on the glass door, Her hair was golden yellow and her eyes were blue. Without speaking, she took from her purse a package loosely unwrapped in its red paper and a bow of green ribbon with it. She opened the box and place the string of blue beads on the counter. "Did this come from your shop?" she asked. Pete answered softly: "Yes, it did." "Are the stones real?"…"Yes, they are"
"Can you remember who it was you sold them to?" Her name was Jean Grace and she bought them for her older sister’s Birthday present."
"But how did she pay for them?" "She paid the biggest price anyone can ever pay, She gave all she had." "But why did you do it?" He placed the gift in her hand. "It’s because she couldn’t give anything more valuable than all she had for you."
When God gives, He gives His all, and He gives to all –but not all receive the gift and not everyone appreciates the price that was paid so we could have it. Oh, what a precious gift!
He gave His best, let’s not give him the last piece of strawberry cake that is half eaten!!!
Of all the 7 churches of Revelation, it was Smyrna that received the blessing and commendation from the Lord….
Revelation 2:8 “These are the words of Him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
They were the gold nuggets in an evil time – no matter how much manure gets thrown on top of them, they remain pure gold. They didn’t let the garbage become their identity….They never lost sight of their first love.
Without that, we are just a social club, that spouts religious rhetoric… Having a form of Godliness but denying the power that is a part of it….
God can’t bless some folks as He would like to, because they have done nothing with what they already have. If He blessed them with more, there would just be greater neglect and a greater mess….
When folks lose sight of what is first, and most important, things just begin to pile up, until nothing makes any sense any longer…
When the order gets reversed, everything goes down hill!
But the solution is simple…. Put God first and everything else begins to line up….Matthew 22:37 “Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”…
I’m out of time…. So let’s pray…
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your deep and constant love for me. Thank You for suffering on the cross for my sake, so that I could have forgiveness and eternal life. I desire to seek you first, and love you above all things and all people in my life. It is in loving you, that I am able to love myself and others more.
Let me not look and rely upon anyone and anything else for what you alone can give. Help me to love as You love, asking nothing in return.
I will no longer allow past hurts, failures, or injustices to rule my present reality. I cease from my struggles and I rest in your strength and the victory which you have already given me.
Lord, through the work of Your Spirit in me, I am clean, my mind is clear, and my heart is at peace. I give the enemy no place to effect me any longer, for I receive the truth that sets me free.Thank you for protection over my mind, body and Spirit, through the blood You shed for me.
I commit my life to you, as I seek first Your will, and the things which You approve. You know the answers before I ask the questions, so give me an open and receptive Spirit, that I maylead my heart, submit my will always to You, and walk in Your ways, In Jesus Name….
After the church service, one woman shook the Pastor’s hand and said, “Today your sermon really made clear to me the peace and love of God!” The pastor was thrilled. “No-one has ever said anything like that about my preaching before. Tell me why.” “Well – it reminded me of the Peace of God because it passed all understanding and it was like the Love of God because it endured forever!” ”
I like the advice one guy gave…. When you hit the bottom, stop digging!
Is that deep or what!!?
Well, today my message title is “How To Stay Sane When Everything Is Falling Apart”
There is a very powerful verse which I want to lay as a foundation for the message today, in Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”.
Something very interesting happened to me on Monday as we were scurrying around getting everything ready for the storm to arrive early Tuesday morning. So, Winnie grabbed the recycling to drop off as we were going out. I had my briefcase with my computer, which I was going to drop off to get fixed, and something in my other hand. We went down in the elevator and I took the bag from her, to empty in the recycling bin and set my briefcase down while I did it. We then went shopping and when we were finished I was going to take the computer in to see about fixing it…. but it wasn’t in the car… I had left it setting by the recycling… (PANIC TIME) When I look back, I laugh at myself, but I wasn’t laughing then!
We rushed back only to find it gone… I called the manager to inform him so he could check with the staff, or if someone had turned it in, and before I had a chance to go to the worst casescenario in my mind… (in the natural that’s what we do) The Holy Spirit said to me…. “The story Jesus shared about the lost son, the lost sheep and the lost coin, was not about the loss, but about the recovery!.. Say it with me… “It wasn’t about the loss, it was about the recovery”….. TOTAL PEACE CAME INTO MY SPIRIT… The manager, called and said he would check the video surveillance… to see who had taken it, and within an hour there was a knock on our door by one of the staff, with the briefcase in his hand!
When God spoke to me, I’ve got to tell you…. I couldn’t get panicky if I tried…. There was such peace that entered into me….Ihad received a transformed mind, by the mind of Christ…..God will give you such peace that you can’t get upset if you tried!!!
Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus”.
We have a guardian and a watchman, who stands ready to transform our minds and give us the mind of Christ… our peace isn’t a philosophy or a mental discipline…. Our Peace is a person!
Staying sane in an insane world is about aligning ourselves with the Prince of Peace Himself ….Let Go of Things You Can’t Control, so you can focus on things you can do to bring about the best outcome that God wants for you…He’s right there making His peace available!!
Years ago, when the kids were small, we decided to go to Canada. The idea of driving to a foreign country got everyone excited. It was a great time and we got to lunch time and picked a restaurant. I parked the car, we went in, ate and came out to find that someone had vandalized our car. Along with other things, they took all of our 8 track tapes. (back then cars had 8 track players) They were all our favorites! As I begin to launch into a tirade, Holy Spirit said “Give it to them”…. I said, I can’t, they stole them… “No, give them to them, and bless them”… WHAT!!! “Do it” Holy Spirit said again….. So I stood there and said I give them the stuff, and I (choke, choke) bless them with it”…Let the message on them bring them to Christ…. Immediately, my anger ceased, my spirit calmed, and peace came! One of the kids said, “Great, Maybe we can listen to our music now”…. (Don’t push it, I’m at peace, not brain dead)
But God let me know that I was not to allow something I could no longer control, begin to control me and ruin the rest of my trip! LET THE PEACE OF GOD GUARD YOUR MIND AND HEART!
Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
We are called to peace, as agents of peace, to be ruled by peace… Isaiah 9:6 “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." -- Jesus is referred to as the “Prince of Peace”…. Seven centuries before the birth of Christ, God pulled back the curtain on the future. He told Isaiah about the coming Messiah, the One He would send to save his people from their sins, the One whose birth forms the tipping point of all history. All of history would be recorded as occurring before or after the birth of this “Prince of Peace”… BC and AD….
And then you realize that everywhere Jesus and His followers have been and it’s still true today…. Conflict and controversy, accusations and violence have followed….
We know that Herod began to kill all Jewish babies up to 2 years old….trying to destroy this “Prince of Peace”…. His followers were murdered, Christianity has been the thing of wars and even genocide… The slaughter of the Jewish people by Hitler, was really just another attempt by Satan to silence the Prince of Peace once more….
Yet with all the persecution, the attacks and attempts to silence…. Our distinguishing characteristic is to be that we are a people of peace…. Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves, therefore be as wise as serpents and as peaceful as doves”. It’s important to have the qualities of peace in our lives…. It doesn’t say do this, it says BE THIS!!
Peace is a quiet conscience….Peace is a restful mind
Peace is a surrendered will….Peace is a hopeful heart
Peace is caring and understanding… Peace is our position in God
Peace is the gift of God….Peace is proof that Jesus is Lord
This Peace which the bible speaks of is not just something we do or the way we do something. It is about the fact that we are constantly living out, who is the Lord of our lives.
Peace at any price is not peace, it is surrender…. If our peace comes at the price of compromising our values and principles, then the Prince of Peace, no longer rules our hearts. That’s why our Lord said, “where your treasure is, there your heart is also” Peace is never worth sacrificing the truth to attain it. Truth, presented in love, is a priceless treasure….
One of the former presidents of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences along with historians from England, Egypt, Germany, and India have come up with some startling information: Since 3600 B.C. the world has known only 292 years of peace! During this period there have been 14,351 wars, large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed. The value of the property destroyed would pay for a band of solid gold that could wrap around the world, 97.2 miles wide and 33 feet thick!
The theologian Matthew Henry wrote…. "Our safety consists not in the absence of danger but in the presence of God. Peace that Jesus gives is not the absence of trouble, but it is rather the confidence that He is there with us always. Peace is such a precious jewel, that we should be willing to give anything for it, unless it cost us the truth”.
We are built for battle, and we are fashioned for conflict…Paul said it well Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”. This wrestling is about who will rule, and we must actively fight that battle!
Ships were not built for the harbor, but for the wind and waves, the currents and the dangers of the open ocean…. Airplanes were not built to park at the airport, but to be launched into the storms and jet streams, and thin air of the heights of the open heavens. We were not built to live a passive existence, but we were fashioned for battle against powers and principalities who wish to rule the hearts and minds of mankind!
A famous painter announced a contest in which artist would present their ideas of what peace looked like. It finally came down to two artists.
The paintings were covered over until a winner was decided. One had painted a tranquil lake that reflected the trees along its banks. There were sheep grazing on the rolling meadow, as azure skies with cotton clouds hung overhead. Surely this was a picture of peace…. But the last painting to be unveiled was a stark contrast… it had dark, ominous colors which revealed a storm with streaks of lightening. A rocky cliff with rushing dark and dangerous torrents rushing down. And there, growing out of a crack in the cliff, was a twisted tree that grew out over the water fall. But in it’s straggly branch a little bird had built a nest and was nestled there on its little hatchlings, safe and secure in the midst of all the dangers and turmoil…. A declaration of peace!!
Judges 18:6 “He said to them, “Go in peace, the way in which you are going has the Lord’s approval.”
It’s not about the comfort or lack of it, It’s not about how easy or how difficult, and it’s not about what you pictured it aught to be and if it is or isn’t like you pictured…. It’s about the Lord’s approval!!!
OH YES, THAT’S SHALOME! You are familiar with that word for peace… but did you know it also means “fulness and completeness in mind, body and circumstance”. It also means “well-being, wellness and prosperity”. This is spoken as “Shalom Lehkhem”..(Say it to someone)…
So many folks today are looking for peace in all the wrong places. Jesus said “My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives”…. He was letting us know that the kind of peace we’re all looking for, does not find its source in this world or the things of this world…. A fellow found a solid gold turkey wishbone. Engraved on it was the instructions for the finder, that they would be given 3 wishes. For his first wish, heasked for money, SHAZZAM, he got millions… For his secondwish, he asked for world peace, POOF, all politicians around the world disappeared. For his third wish, he asked for his family to be happy together and just get along, The genie scratched his head and asked the guy if he was sure…. He said that he was very sure, and ZAAP, the guy immediately disappeared! Now his family can have peace….
How often do we think that if God would just change everyone else, we could have peace. If this or that would change… if my mother or father had been different, I would be better off…. If I had better kids, a different boss or job…. On and on and on…..
David had it right…. Psalm 51:10 “Create in ME a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from Your presence; take not Your Holy Spirit from me”.…
It’s me, it’s me, it’s me Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer…..
2 Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to righteousness without regret, but worldly sorrow leads todestruction”.
Let me say it like this… Repentance leads to God’s approval!
Every time I run my debit card at the store and the scanner says “You’re approved”…. I tell the cashier…. “Yeaaaa, I’m approved”, and I have a little celebration…. They don’t understand, but I just went way beyond a debit card approval…..I’m celebrating God’s approval…
Repentance leads to Righteousness which brings God’s approval!!
We can stay sane when everything is falling apart if we know we have God’s approval on our lives!!
We need to be careful about whose approval we see as important in our lives. Jesus caused a lot of conflict because He only sought the Father’s approval in His time on earth….To Him, the Father’s will, was more important than comfort, money, fame, or Face book friends…..
There was a brilliant genius who invented a computer whose artificial intelligence surpassed any that had ever been created…. It’s creator claimed it could solve any problem…. The leaders of the world asked it, how to solve the problem of poverty… It factored in vast amounts of information and produced a paper which it submitted to the UN, and in a few months, everyone was living a better life…Impressed, they asked it, How can we achieve world peace?... The computer produced a paper which they followed exactly, and Walla, in a few months, wars and conflict ceased and the world was filled with love…. Next, they asked the computer, “Is there a God?” … The calculations were made and the answer was… “Insufficient information”…So they gathered all the scientist and engineers and gave the information to the computer. Again it said there wasn’t enough information…. So they went out and gathered all the theologians of every religion and belief system, and they gave THAT information to the computer and It responded…. They awaited breathlessly…To the question, “Is There A God”…. The conclusion is… “THERE IS ONE NOW!”….
God is whoever you give power and tribute to…. So the question still remains for all of us to answer…. “Who Is God to us”?
Elijah challenged the nation with the question “Choose you this day whom you will serve, if Jehovah is God then serve Him, if Baal is God, then serve Him…. Elijah knew that if folks would just make the choice, then God would prove Himself time and again… The trick is to find people who will make that commitment and refuse to be distracted….
One Teen ager, said “Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money. – Bill, Age 13.. (Well, we know that money is Bill’s God)What’s your God…
Oh, here’s one….My young brother asked me what happens after we die. I told him we get buried under a bunch of dirt and worms eat our bodies. I guess I should have told him the truth--that most people go to hell and burn eternally --but I didn't want to upset him. –Jimmie, Age 10 (We can see that Jimmie’s God is people’s favor, and pleasing people) What’s your God…
One more…. Often, when I am reading a good book, and oh, I love reading, I like to stop and thank my teacher. That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number. –Lisa, Age 15 (Lisa’s God is knowledge, and she can’t get enough of it) What’s your God…
On one occasion, God told the people, “You shall have no other Gods before Me….
God told Moses to tell the people in Deuteronomy 10:12
“What does the LORD require of you, but to hold the LORD yourGod in the highest esteem, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD God with all your heart and with all your soul, and all that is in you.”
That’s the Peace of a quiet conscience…. The Peace of a restful mind….
The Peace of a surrendered will….The Peace of a hopeful heart…It’s the peace of honest self-examination….It’s the peace of God’s approval… It’s the peace of a clean heart and a right spirit… And it’s the peace that comes from the confidence that God is with you….
May God give us Transferrable Peace, Jesus said “When you enter a home, declare peace upon that home…. (the Shalom Lehkhem) is a deliberate transfer….. Remember it means “fulness and completeness in mind, body and circumstance”. It also means “well-being, wellness and prosperity”. Let’s start a peace pandemic…. This is also a generational peace…. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever…. If you commit to walk in it, the next generation will see and receive His favor, and His blessing and walk in it too… I’m not talking big money, big homes, luxury cars, fancy clothes, etc…. You can have all that and not have peace! You can be in a crowd and be alone…. A house is not a home, You can have money and be poor in spirit….You can be at the party and be depressed and lost, because you’ve lost your way…..
You can start right where you are…. Whatever has happened, wherever you’ve been…. This is the first day for the rest of your life….Everything starts from here…. This is your new beginning….
Let it all go, leave it all behind, the hurts, the failures, the condemnation, the injustice, and the pain of the past….and decide to walk in His Peace.
MY Peace I give unto you…. Hear Him today….That’s the Alpha and Omega speaking, the beginning and the ending, the author and finisher….
Now, take your place with Him above it all, in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus our Lord…..You are above not beneath, You are over it not under it.