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Sermon of the Week 
Friday, March 20 2020

Since my message title has an animal in it, Did you know that A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.

All Polar bears are left-handed. 

The flea can jump 350 times its body length. That's like a human jumping the length of a football field.

Did you know that Butterflies taste with their feet.

Elephants are the only animals that can't jump.

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain. 

Starfish don't have brains. 

I found it interesting that this Corona-virus looks like it has porcupine quills coming out from all around it.(check out a picture) Perhaps it should have been called the porcupine virus….

A national survey was done and it asked people what question they'd ask if they could only ask God one thing. The number one response was: "Why is there suffering in the world?"                           Praise God, someday we'll see it all with great clarity, but for now *…..things are foggy. We can't understand everything from our finite perspective and at times we may feel we’re walking in a fog, trying to make some since of it all.

*……A woman was lost in a blinding blizzard. She couldn’t see a thing so she pulled to the side of the road just as a snow plow was coming up behind her and she decided to follow it. When the plow turned left, she turned. When the plow turned right, she turned. One hour later, the plow stopped and the guys got out of the truck to leave. She asked them why they were leaving and they told her they were done plowing the parking lot. 

If we follow the light, of God’s word, when we are surrounded by these porcupine experiences and people, that light will lead us toward some conclusions that I believe can help satisfy our hearts and souls.

I’m sorry to have to tell you folks, but God’s perfect plan for all of our lives, includes some dances with porcupinepeople and experiences. These dances are part of every Christian’s growth and development.

When my daughter was little, she had a doll with a string in the back, and when you pulled it the doll said, "I love you." Did that doll love my daughter? Of course not. It was programmed to say those words. But even though Porcupine people may say they love you, they’re not in your life for love, they are there to grow you and develop you. When you learn the lesson, their reason for being in your life is done and it’s time for you to move on…..

You may have had a rough start but you don’t have to have a rough finish.                                           

It’s not always easy to get beyond all the porcupines. But believe me, the pain of letting go is much less difficult than the pain of missing your destiny by not learning the lesson.

Scripture tells us to be imitators of Christ. That means we will have to deal with some porcupines.

The Corona virus is like a porcupine that wants to shoot it’s quills of fear into you. Hey friend, you don’t carry an umbrella to stop the rain from falling, but you carry it to keep the rain from falling on you! Fear and panic can be all around you but it doesn’t have to get on you!

We’ll have to walk through a garden of Gethsemane; times of abandonment, and times of dealing withporcupine Judas who will betray you.

Jesus knew His porcupine was going to betray him but He still called him friend (He was necessary to fulfilling his mission). He was saying “I’ve already gotten beyond what is trying to bring me under it’s power, I’ve already moved on to the next step in this upward journey…. In the end I’ll wear the victor’s crown”.

Like Joseph you’ll come out elevated by what wanted to eliminate you. Joseph went thru one porcupine experience after another. Betrayed, falsely accused and imprisoned, isolated and rejected.

He could have come up with excuse after excuse to camp out in where he was and he would have lived covered with porcupine quills.

But he didn’t have an excuse mentality. He kept shaking off the quills of disappointment, the quills of shattered dreams, the quills of injustice and being used and abused .

Psalm 30:11 “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing: You have put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; You have turned my sorrow into joyful dancing. No longer am I sad and wearing sackcloth. You have changed my sadness into a joyful dance; you have taken away my sorrow and surrounded me with joy”.

Joseph stopped dancing with the porcupines and got a new dance…. He came out vindicated, promoted, and in a place of honor.

Don’t get stuck huddling with porcupines…—Reliving the negative, picking at the wounds of misfortune, and allowing infection to spread in the wounds.

Keep moving forward. God will get you where you’re supposed to be and He will have the final say. .

Who do you turn to when you run into a porcupine?                                                          From the depths of a Nazi death camp, Corrie ten Boom wrote these words: "No matter how deep our darkness, he is deeper still." Before every tear we shed, He has shed it first.”

The same suffering that causes one person to turn bitter, to reject God and to become hard and angry and sullen, can cause another person to turn to God, to become more gentle and more loving and more tender, willing to reach out with compassion to help other people who are in pain. 

Some who lose a child to a drunk driver turn inward in chronic rage and never-ending despair, while anotherturns outward to help others by founding Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

When you make the choice to run into his arms, here's what you're going to discover: you'll find peace to deal with the present, and you'll find courage to deal with your future.

We are always making the choice to either run away from God       or to run to Him.                                        

Jesus said in John 16:33 "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. But be courageous! I have overcome the world."

Because of his own suffering and death, Jesus has deprived this world of its ultimate power over you. Suffering doesn't have the last word anymore. Death doesn't have the last word anymore. All the porcupines don’t have the last word anymore….God has the last word!

As a wise man once said, "God's ultimate answer to suffering isn't an explanation; it's the incarnation." God took our place, so that we could be more than conquerors through Him!

Before you were broken, He was broken for us. Before you were despised? He was despised and rejected of men for you. Before you cried out that you couldn’t take any more? He went the extra mile for you. Before you were betrayed, He was sold out for 30 pieces of silver. Before your friends or spouse turned away and deserted you, he was abandoned by his own disciples and was beaten, tortured and crucified alone, for you.

Oh, there is such power for us in Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed”.

Receive your healing beginning today. Draw upon His finished work!!! 

Embrace the gifts and avoid the quills.  We all have some quills…. And we have to be enough like Jesus, to recognize the gifts we have, for they are able to overwhelmthe quills….

It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold.

The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. This way they covered & protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded all those who had gotten close for warmth.

After a while, they decided to distance themselves from one another & they began to die, alone & frozen. So they had to choose.. Either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the face of the Earth.                                                                                         Wisely, they decided to go back to being together and they survived. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the warmth & heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.

God can use any situation you’re in, no matter how negative or toxic it is, to bring about something good.

In Romans 8:28 God has promised us, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

*……Listen, He wouldn’t have allowed it, if there wasn’t something in it which was for your ultimate good!                                                                                                                 Do you really believe 1 John 4: 4 “You, are from God and have overcome them, because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. v5 They are of the world. That is why they speak from the world’s perspective…”                                                                                             He has made a solemn pledge that he will take that porcupine situation and cause it to work out to a good outcome for your growth and development and His glory!

Let me share with you a true story….Six-year-old Tess went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jar from its hiding place in the closet. She poured the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times. Then she made her way six blocks to the drug store. She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention. But the pharmacist was busy talking to a well-dressed man.Finally he said. “And what do you want?”

“I want to talk to you about my brother, Andrew” Tess answered “He's really, really sick, and I want to buy a miracle.”

He has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So how much does a miracle cost?” “We don't sell miracles here, little girl. I'm sorry but I can't help you,” 

The well dressed man who had been talking with the pharmacist stooped down to Tess’ eye level and asked. “What kind of a miracle does your brother need?”

“I don't know, she said with tears. “I just know he's really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But my Daddy can't pay for it, so I want to use my money.”

“How much do you have?” asked the man. “One dollar and eleven cents,” Tess said in a tiny voice. “It's all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to.”

“Well, what a coincidence,” smiled the man. “A dollar and eleven cents – is the exact price of a miracle for little brothers.”

He took her money from Tess. “Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the miracle you need.”

That well dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a neurosurgeon. The operation was completed free of charge and it wasn't long until Andrew was home again and doing well. “That surgery,” her Mom whispered. “was a real miracle. I can’t imagine how much it would have cost?” Tess smiled, because She knew. One dollar and eleven cents – plus the faith of a child.

Sometimes we want it and we want it now, but He wants to set up some win/win situations and use you to make it happen. I want it now, but He says I have something greater, if you’ll let me do it my way and in my time….

Let me give you an example of how waiting can put money in your pocket. If you wait until age 70 to begin receiving your Social Security benefits. Your monthly payment will be 32% higher than if you begin receiving benefits at age 65. 

Example.. if you would get 800.00 a month, if you wait it will be 1,056.00…. if you would get 1200.00 a month, if you wait it will be 1584.00 a month! I would say in dollars and cents, that’s worth the wait!

Now while you’re waiting, for your porcupines to finish with you , a good principal to follow is ..

Let God turn your porcupines into portraits of purpose…. 

Corinthians 12:8 “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. v9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in your weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. 10That is why, for the sake of Christ, I will delight in weaknesses, worship in the insults, give praise in the hardships, check my attitude in persecutions, and thrive in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”.…

Remember these words were written by the apostle Paul, who suffered through beatings and stonings and shipwrecks and imprisonments and rejection and hunger and thirst and homelessness—far more pain that most of us will ever have to endure, and as a result, Rome got the gospel, Corinth got the gospel, areas of the world that were in darkness, saw the light of the gospel. I would say that’s a win/win situation, and we are still inspired by the words of Paul to this day. He let God turn his porcupines into portraits of purpose…..

In order to see God’s higher purpose when you run into porcupine *…..people……Ask God to help you to see people through His eyes. (He loves them as much as he loves you) It’s hard to hate someone you pray for every day…

*…..Have you walked a mile in their shoes, and tried to see things from their perspective?

*…..If you have been offended, and it just sticks in your craw, it might be that you must forgive before there can be a breakthrough….

*…..We can set boundaries and still love someone. Loving someone doesn’t mean you have to be that person’s best friend. We can love even the most difficult people by being kind, meeting their needs, and showing them respect.Jesus was only close to 12 people.

Let's say that on the first day of 2020, you had an awful day. You had an emergency root canal at the dentist—and then ran out of pain-killers. You crashed your car, and had no insurance. Your stocks took a nosedive. Your spouse got sick. A friend betrayed you. From start to finish, it could have been the title of a book that you might name “My Porcupine Day”.

But then the rest of the year was just incredibly terrific. Your relationship with God was close and real and intimate. A friend won the lottery and gives you $100 thousand dollars because you were always there for them. You get promoted at work to your dream job." You have twins, a boy and girl and they are healthy and strong. Your marriage is perfect, your health is fabulous, and you have a six week vacation in Hawaii .  Then at the beginning of the next New Year someone asks, "So, how was your 2020?" You'd probably say, "It was great; it was wonderful!" You'd still remember that first bad day, no denying it. It was difficult at the time. But when you look at the year as a whole, when you put everything in context, one bad day could not compare with 364 great days . Maybe you're suffering from a physical ailment or heartache, or rejection and betrayal…. But after 350,000 days of pure bliss in heaven—and with an eternity still ahead—if someone asked, "So, how has your life been?", you'd instantly react by saying, "It has been absolutely wonderful! Words can't describe the joy and the delight and the fulfillment which I have found in the Lord!                                                                                                                  That’s what Paul is talking about in… Romans 8:18 where we read: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us."

Posted by: AT 02:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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