Sunday, November 22, 2009

November 22,2009

Is it just me or does it seem like there is a lot more bad news in the media than there is good news?

Does anyone want to guess what the ratio is of bad news to good news in the newspaper?

Bad news stories outnumber good news stories 69% to 31%. They rationalize that by saying that bad news sells.

Oh, really?

I did some research this week and when you check the best sellers – books, movies, dvd rentals – you name it, the majority of those books, movies or dvd’s are about positive or feel-good themes.

People instinctively know that we need good news in a bad news world. That is why I have chosen this subject for this month.

“Good News! God Is At Work!”
“Good News! It’s Your Serve!”
“Good New! You Are Blessed!”

Here Are Two More Reasons You Are Blessed Beyond Your Stress:

I. You Are Blessed With HARDSHIPS, Vv. 5-7

An organization in Montana once offered a bounty of five thousand dollars for every wolf captured alive. Two hunters named Sam and Jed decided to head for the hills and make some money capturing wolves. Day and night they scoured the mountains and forests searching for their valuable prey. Exhausted after three days of hunting without any success, they both fell asleep. During the night, Sam suddenly woke up to find that he and Jed were surrounded by a pack of fifty wolves, with flaming red eyes and bared teeth, snarling at the two hunters and preparing to pounce. Sam nudged Jed and said, "Hey, wake up! We’re gonna be rich!"

THE EFFICIENT USE OF PAIN God does not waste an ounce of our pain or a drop of our tears; suffering doesn’t come our way for no reason, and He seems especially efficient at using what we endure to mold our character. If we are malleable, He takes our bumps and bruises and shapes them into something beautiful.”

God’s POWER In Hardships, V. 5
One writer (Warren Wiersbe) wrote a book called “Victorious Christian” about a woman named Fanny Crosby. Crosby was the author of over 8000 songs including several that we sang today. In fact she wrote so many that she had to write under pseudonymns just so she could get more of her songs into the hymnbooks. At 6 weeks of age Fanny Crosby developed a minor eye inflammation and was taken to a local doctor for treatment. However, the doctor who treated her used the wrong medicine on her eyes and she became totally and permanently blind because of his carelessness. Interviewed years later, Fanny Crosby said she harbored no bitterness against the physician. In fact, she once said, "If I could meet him now, I would say thank you, over and over again for making me blind." She felt that her blindness was a gift from God to help her write the hymns that flowed from her pen. How could Fanny Crosby, blinded by a tragic failure of a careless doctor –still be filled with such joy and power in her songs? Because she kept her heart focused on God. She looked up toward God rather than around at her disability and weaknesses. As with Paul, she was convinced that she could do all things through Christ who gave her strength.

God’s PLAN In Hardships, V. 6

In 1809, Simon Renee Braille and his wife Monique welcomed their fourth child into the world-- a lively boy named Louis. They lived in a small stone house near Paris where Braille was the local harness maker. Leather working tools are dangerous, so the toddler had been instructed not to go into his father's shop alone. But when Louis was still small, he slipped into the shop, and with curiosity started to handle all the fascinating tools. As Louis was inspecting an awl, the sharp tool used to punch holes in leather, he slipped and punctured a part of his eye with the tool. The injured eye became infected. The little boy could not keep his hands from rubbing and scratching the wound, and soon the infection spread to his other eye as well. When Louis was only 4, he became completely blind. Louis was fortunate enough to study at the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris. He excelled as an organist, and at twelve years old began asking the question “How can the blind read?” Over his summer break at home, Louis was determined to find the answer. As He moved and groped around his father’s shop in search of the right tool for his task, the awl presented itself as perfect for the job. The awl would make the raised dots he had seen in the French military system of “night writing.” And with the very instrument that had blinded him, Louis worked and worked until he had created a system of dots whereby the blind could read and write, work math problems and compose music.

What is your awl--The hardship you face, either by your own doing like young Louis, or someone else’s? Is it a divorce, the death of someone you love, a lost career? Let God take it, and use it in your life for good—to reshape you or comfort others

God’s PROOF In Hardship, V. 7

The story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, "This is good!" One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, "This is good!" To which the king replied, "No, this is not good!" and proceeded to send his friend to jail. About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way. As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. "You were right," he said, "it was good that my thumb was blown off." And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this." "No," his friend replied, "This is good!" "What do you mean, ’This is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?" "If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you."

Parnell Bailey visited an orange grove where an irrigation pump had broken down. The season was unusually dry and some of the trees were beginning to die for lack of water. The man giving the tour then took Bailey to his own orchard where irrigation was used sparingly. "These trees could go without rain for another 2 weeks," he said. "You see, when they were young, I frequently kept water from them. This hardship caused them to send their roots deeper into the soil in search of moisture. Now mine are the deepest-rooted trees in the area. While others are being scorched by the sun, these are finding moisture at a greater depth."

That is how God wants to use hardships in your life!

II. You Are Blessed With HAPPINESS, Vv. 8-9

A little girl, on the way home from church, turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, the preacher’s sermon this morning confused me.” The mother said, “Oh! Why is that?” The girl replied, “Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?” “Yes, that’s true,” the Mother replied. “He also said that God lives in us. Is that true, too?” Again the mother replied, “Yes.” “Well,” said the little girl. “If God is bigger than us and he lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”

The optimist says, the cup is half full. The pessimist says, the cup is half empty. The child of God says; My cup runneth over.

True Happiness Is:

True LOVE - Loving Without Seeing
Isn't it incredible how much we can love God even though we have never seen Him? We HAVE seen Him work through our hardships - His power and His plan proving Himself to us!

True FAITH - Believing Is Believing

I like that story about the boy and his father who were planning a fishing trip for the next day. That evening as the father was putting his son to bed, the boy hugged his father’s neck and said, "Daddy, thank you for tomorrow."

True REJOICING - Rejoicing Greatly

Billy Sunday said, “if you have no joy, there’s a leak in your Christianity.”

True SALVATION - Receiving Salvation

“Joy in Christ requires a commitment to working at the Christian lifestyle. Salvation comes as a gift, but the joy of salvation demands disciplined action. Most Christians I know have just enough of the Gospel to make them miserable, but not enough to make them joyful. They know enough about the biblical message to keep them form doing the things which the world tempts them to do; but they do not have enough of a commitment to God to do those things through which they might experience the fullness of his joy.” (Tony Campolo.)
Lost and Found ad - Lost dog, brown fur, some missing due to mange, blind in one eye, three legs, slightly arthritic, goes by name of Lucky.

I distinctly remember the first time we ever went out to eat after I had accepted Christ. I found myself wanting somehow to share Jesus with the waitress who was serving us. Then an idea came to me. If I didn't order a meal, I could take that money and leave it as an extra-generous tip along with an evangelistic tract. Maybe the tip would encourage her to read the tract and come to know the Lord. So that's what we did. Before we left, we said a few words to her about how much God cared about her.

About a month later, we were back in that restaurant for our monthly "splurge." Through the month, I had prayed that God would bless us with enough extra money to be able to leave an even bigger tip along with another tract.

Just as I had asked, our faithful God had allowed us to accumulate an extra $50 that we could leave along with a booklet about salvation. That night we requested the same waitress and left her a $50 tip on a $10 meal.

We returned to the restaurant one month later, very eager to see if that waitress was still working there. She was, indeed.

When she saw us, she said, "I read that little booklet you left last time you were here." We tried not to show how excited we were to hear that. She continued, "And I prayed that prayer to receive Christ at the end of it." Of course, we were thrilled to hear that. But she wasn't finished. "Then I called my husband on the phone and read the whole booklet to him, and he prayed that prayer, too."

At that point, I said, "That's wonderful! But what do you mean, you called your husband? Does he travel for a living?"

Looking embarrassed, she said, "No, my husband is in prison. He will get out in two or three years. We both want to thank you for leaving me that booklet and being so generous. Money has been pretty scarce since he went to prison."

Over the next few years, my wife and I discipled this sweet waitress and saw great spiritual growth. We also began to mentor her husband in prison. When he was released, he joined the church with his wife, and they were baptized together. I had the privilege of knowing that the lives and eternal destinies of this couple had been changed because I gave.
And I gave because Christ changed my life.