“Thanks, I Needed That!”

This morning Peter and I pulled up behind the resale shop downtown to unload some items. As we carried in the boxes, a man who had been working in the alley informed me, “Your front tire is low.”

I thanked him, and a few minutes later we had the inflater connected and the pressure back to normal.

That stranger did me a real favor. Otherwise, I might have ruined the tire.

Another example

If I ask others to proofread my writing, should I hope they won’t find any errors, even if there are some?

If there’s a mistake, I want to know it.

Other more objective eyes could see what mine had overlooked.

But what if it starts getting personal?

Would I be just as grateful to someone for pointing out a serious shortcoming in my life that needs correcting?

Even when correction is gently given (Galatians 6:1-2), why do we humans so often get defensive and feel resentful when we could really benefit from constructive criticism?

It is no time to lash back with, “Judge not that ye be not judged.”

Is our pride showing?

What if the apostle Peter had taken offense when Jesus or Paul had to correct him?

Instead he grew.

David had the humility to admit, “I have sinned against the LORD” when the prophet Nathan rebuked him for his sins (2 Samuel 12:13).

Instead of resenting he repented.

On another occasion David wrote, “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon the head; do not let my head refuse it . . .” (Psalm 145:5).

This old head needs a dose of oil occasionally.

How about yours?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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When the Rains Come Down–and In

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Since our backyard slopes downward toward the house, when heavy rains come, the accumulation sometimes invites itself right into our kitchen without even knocking.

The efforts we’ve made so far to divert the rainwater away from our house haven’t worked too well, so next we’ll try an outdoor sump pump.

This week the rains have really been coming down—and in. The first night of flooding I didn’t get a full night’s sleep, getting out of bed periodically to deal with the problem.

The wet/dry vac we borrowed from our neighbor has been a tremendous help in keeping the inflow manageable.

So what helps put situations like this into perspective?

It could be a whole lot worse.

A family we knew in Pennsylvania had floodwaters fill their basement and their first floor, and up into the second floor a foot or more. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d rank that a 10—and ours only a 1, if even that.

It’s only temporary.

It helps to remember that 99.9% of the time our house is dry. Floods always subside and the sun will shine again.

If we are faithful in Christ, even the very worst of our troubles in this life cannot pursue us into the next.

It’s an ideal opportunity for growth.

Though the apostle Paul experienced many severe hardships, he could still say,  “. . . we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope . . .” (Romans 5:3-4).

Many believers have discovered from their own experience that hardship can actually turn out to be a very positive thing (Psalm 119:67, 71; Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10; 12:7-10).

We can either let trials embitter us, or we can be open to the lessons they can teach us.

There’s so much to learn!

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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When It Doesn’t Make Sense

Should we obey God? Before we answer too quickly: What if we bump up against a command in the Bible that makes no apparent sense to us, or perhaps rubs us the wrong way?

Let’s consider the following interchange between Jesus and Simon Peter.

Peter’s challenge

“And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.”

What Jesus asked Peter to do here was easy. It didn’t require much effort, and it made perfect sense.

But notice what happens next: “When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered and said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.’”

Initially he states the facts: worked hard, all night, caught nothing.

“. . . but I will do as You say and let down the nets.”

After a night of hard work with only empty nets to show for it, fishing was probably the last thing Peter wanted to do at the moment. Who could blame him?

But good ole Peter! Overcoming his natural reluctance, he obeys—and is amply rewarded.

“. . . they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break.” Peter and his partners “filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink” (Luke 5:1-11).

The nets that came up empty the night before are now torn by the weight of the catch!

In response to the facts Peter cited—worked hard, all night, caught nothing—Jesus provided a new set of facts—great quantity of fish, nets breaking, boats sinking.

Jesus positive facts far outweighed Peter’s negative facts.

Peter’s growth

This wouldn’t be the last time Peter would find what Jesus said extremely difficult to accept. As time went on, Peter realized increasingly that Jesus is never wrong.

To his credit, Peter moved past his initial objections: “. . . but I will do as You say . . . .”

If Peter had known all along what was about to happen, would he have objected? But since he didn’t know, he had to trust.

He was learning to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

What was Peter’s reward that day? A big catch? Something far better: a strengthened faith and a clearer understanding of just how powerful Jesus is.

What if Peter had refused to obey?

And what if we?

Christ’s power + our obedience → great results.

Makes sense.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Wisdom & Foolishness: A Contrast

Taking the long view

The book of Proverbs shows how a sensible person avoids such self-destructive traps as evil companions, pride, sexual immorality, drunkenness, and laziness.

Proverbs teaches us how to bring ultimate, lasting good to ourselves by making wise choices.

Open to instruction

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (12:15).

The fool’s mind is closed to advice and correction (15:12).

He fails to grow because he thinks he’s OK as he is. But the wise man welcomes correction because he realizes he has room to improve (9:8).

Proverbs has much more to say on the subject. Evidently God thought it worth emphasizing.

And we’d be wise to listen.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Like Them

How He loved them!

They were so slow to get it!

Yet Jesus “loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

What did He see in these disciples?

First, they were willing to leave all to follow Him (Matthew 19:27). Not everyone was.

Second, when others deserted, they stayed. “Lord, to whom shall we go? . . . . We have believed . . . that You are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).

Third, they obeyed. When Jesus sent them out to preach, they went.

Fourth, they grew bold to the point they were glad to be “considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).

Like them, let’s follow Him, stay with Him, obey Him, suffer for Him.

The key to their growth is the key to ours.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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“Do You Not Care?”

In the hour of crisis

As the waves spilled into their boat, the panicky disciples awakened Jesus, fast asleep in the stern. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).

On another occasion, Martha was getting super-frustrated as she prepared a meal for Jesus. While Mary was hanging on Jesus’ words, Martha interrupted, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?” (Luke 10:40).

Have you ever felt like this? How easily our perceptions can be skewed by fear or frustration!

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A better perspective

As we read the rest of the story, we see how Jesus redirected their focus away from the crisis of the moment to a greater appreciation of the One who truly does care.

Is this a lesson we too need to learn?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Best Kind of Growth

Measuring progress

For years, we kept a tattered chart inside our pantry door for marking our children’s height at different ages.

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“Well-rounded” certainly describes the childhood growth of Jesus. “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).

Of these four, what’s most important? What’s often most neglected?

Progress of what kind?

Paul commended Timothy for his “sincere faith,” which he also found in Timothy’s mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5).

And how did Timothy develop that faith? “. . . from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (3:15).

So, parents, what will it take for our children to grow like that?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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