Sunday, November 30, 2014

Putting God in the Equation

I read where the late Dr. Lee Scarborough was preaching on the story of Jonah and the whale. When he got home his son said to him, “Do you believe that a fish could swallow a man and him stay alive for three days and three nights? What about the lack of oxygen and the hydrochloric acid?”  Scarborough sat his son down and replied: “Son, if God could make a man out of absolutely nothing to begin with, and if God could create the first fishes from nothing, surely He has the power to make a fish swallow a man—and still keep him alive for three days and three nights if He wants to.” The little fellow then said, “Well, if you’re going to bring God into it, that’s different!” Israel thought it was over when approaching the Red Sea and then God got into the arrangements. The same could be said of Daniel, the three Hebrew children, Lazarus and a host of others.  Miraculous things—supernatural things—amazing things happen when we invite God into our situation.  Sceptics and critics working on behalf of the enemy would encourage us to be suspicious and disbelieving when discussing the Creator’s intervention.   But the temptation to disbelieve is the test Satan uses when he knows faith changes things. Whatever challenge you find yourself facing bring God into it; by doing so you will find Him doing the impossible—just like He did when he kept a man alive for three days in the belly of a fish.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Reason to Give Thanks

Several years ago there was a Charlie Brown cartoon about Thanksgiving in the paper. The cartoon pictured Charlie Brown bringing out Snoopy’s dinner on Thanksgiving Day. But it was just his usual dog food in a bowl. Snoopy took one look at the dog food and said, "This isn’t fair. The rest of the world today is eating turkey with all the trimmings and all I get is dog food. Because I’m a dog," he said, "all I get is dog food." He stood there and stared at his dog food for a moment and said, "I guess it could be worse. I could be a turkey." This cartoon reminded me of a survey my 12 year old granddaughter conducted this past week.  One of the questions asked was, “How many good things have happened to you today?” I hate to admit that it took me a moment to give the answer. Why? I think it’s so easy for humans to focus upon the negative when we have so much good God has blessed us with to be thankful for. While there should have been a host of things to be given as an answer, I simply overlooked them.  Here is a list that someone else gave. I am Thankful for the taxes I pay because it means I’m employed; the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat; my shadow who watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine; a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home; the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking; my huge heating bill because it means I am warm; all the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech; the lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear; the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby; the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I’m alive. Although not a complete list, the person gave far more than enough reasons to be thankful. It certainly made me stop and think what about you?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rags to Riches

Ruth Bell Graham in a devotional once told the story of some fisherman in the highlands of Scotland who came into a little Scottish inn late one afternoon for a cup of tea.  As one was describing “the one that got away” to his friends, he flung out his hands in the typical fisherman’s gesture. He did so just as the waitress was setting down his cup of tea. The resulting collision left a huge tea stain spreading on the whitewashed wall. The fisherman apologized profusely. Another gentleman seated nearby said, “Never mind.” Rising, he took a crayon from his pocket and began to sketch around the ugly brown stain. Slowly there emerged the head of a magnificent royal stag with antlers spread. The man was Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, England’s foremost painter of animals. Graham continues, “Now if an artist can do that with an ugly brown stain, what can God do with my sins and mistakes if I but give them to him?” In Isaiah 1:18 we find the answer. "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Here we are told about the divine exchange; God’s ability to turn every ugly mess into a masterpiece. And the truth of the matter is nothing pleases Him more. That’s why we see Him depicted in scripture as the potter, sculptor, painter the priest. I’m sure with every one of us a mere reflection of our past would reveal multitudes of sin splatters and stains that could be held against us.  However, while their existence may remain etched in our memory, they cannot be found in God’s. He long ago with the brush of grace turned our rags into riches. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

He Looked for Me

A few days ago my daughter had a good friend who was also a tenant of her farmhouse killed in an automobile accident. Upon hearing the news she was struck with remorse and after a few minutes asked, “Where is Bill?” Her husband responded by asking “Who is that?” Stacy answered, “Bill is our friend’s Boston Terrier bulldog. He never went anywhere without that dog.” A thorough search of the rental house and crash site left them empty handed; there was no sign of the canine. After this a call was made to the police officers who worked the wreck. They knew nothing of the dog’s whereabouts but called the wrecker company that towed in the vehicle. This prompted the employees to search the car again and amazingly there they found Bill.  The impact of the crash had thrown him into the floor and collapsed the dashboard leaving him pinned under it. What an incredible rescue!  The beloved pet was shaken up but without injury. After telling the story, my daughter made the statement, “What would have happened if no one had taken the time to look for Bill?” Being a pet lover, that was a thought hard to entertain.  Even more disconcerting is the thought, “What would have happened if God had not looked for us?” We would have remained pinned beneath the load of sin without the hope of rescue. However, that was not the case. God the Father asked our whereabouts; the Holy Spirit went on the search to find us, which resulted in Jesus saving us. As one sheep to another, I know you will agree when I say, “Thank God, He looked for me.”    

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Giving Up

Do you find yourself being tempted to give up before you should? I have to confess I do. Saturday was one of those times. With the Tennessee Volunteers down two touchdowns and having only a couple of minutes to go in the game, I said “it’s over, I’m giving up.” However, I thought “I’ve watched the game this far I might as well stay with it to the end regardless of the outcome.”  But no sooner had those thoughts crossed my mind when the unbelievable happened. Our team scored twice and wound up beating South Carolina by a field-goal in overtime.  It would have been a major disappointment had I changed the channel. Others would have told me about the outcome when I could have seen it with my own eyes.  I’m so glad I didn’t give up. When you think about it, how many times do we lose out because we give up prematurely?  This happens in the natural but also in the spiritual realm. Can you imagine what would have happened if those at the Wedding in Cana had given up too soon; and the loss that would have been incurred if the mother at Nain as well as Mary and Martha had given up before Jesus arrived on the scene? Even more so, what about the paralytic that kept coming to the pool for thirty-eight years? The writer of Hebrews knew the devastation with such a move and admonished his readers to hang in there by saying, “Do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.” He was simply saying, “Hang in there. Don’t give up by surrendering your confidence in God who has the ability to change your situation.  The score may not be in your favor but stay with the game. Even though it might require over-time the timing is not important, winning is-- so don’t give up!