Perception Or Reality?

Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing? —Mark 4:38

We often hear it said, “Perception is reality.” That idea for Americans may have dawned on September 26, 1960—the date of the first televised debate between two presidential candidates. In front of the cameras, John Kennedy appeared composed; Richard Nixon appeared nervous. The perception was that Kennedy would be a stronger leader. The debate not only turned that election, but it also changed the way politics is done in the US. Politics by perception became the rule of the day.

Sometimes perception is reality. But not always—especially our perceptions about God. When Jesus and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a small fishing vessel, a sudden storm threatened to sink the boat. With Jesus asleep and the disciples on the verge of panic, they began to stir Him, asking, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).

Their question sounds similar to questions I’ve asked. At times I perceive God’s apparent inactivity as a lack of care. But His care for me goes well beyond what I can see or measure. Our God is deeply concerned for what concerns us. He urges us to place all our care upon Him, “for He cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7). That is true reality. By Bill Crowder

O yes, He cares; I know He cares!
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares. —Graeff

Even when we don’t sense God’s presence, His loving care is all around us.

The Parable of the Senator’s Choice

heavenhell
November 3, 2014 Dr. Mark Creech

A senator’s soul arrived in heaven and was met by St. Peter at the entrance. “Welcome to heaven,” said St. Peter. “Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we’re not sure what to do with you.”

“No problem, just let me in,” said the senator. “We’ll I’d like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we’ll do is have you spend one day in hell and one day in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity,” said St. Peter. “Really, I’ve already made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,” said the senator. “I’m sorry, but we have our rules,” St. Peter insisted. And with that, St. Peter escorted him to the elevator and he went down, down, down, down to hell.

When the doors to the elevator opened, however, the senator found himself in the middle of a beautiful green golf course. In the distance was a clubhouse and standing in front of it were all his friends and politicians who had worked with him. Everyone was very happy and in formal attire.

They all rushed to greet him, shook his hand, and reminisced about the good ol’days they had shared together, often at the expense of the people they were supposed to serve. They played a friendly game of golf and then dined on lobster, caviar, and champagne.

Also present was Lucifer, the devil himself, who really was an incredibly likeable fellow that was the life of the party. Everyone was having such a good time that before the senator realized it; the moment had come for him to leave.

Everyone gave him a hearty farewell and waved while the elevator rose. It went up, up, up, and the door reopened in heaven where St. Peter was found waiting. “Now it’s time to visit heaven,” said St. Peter. So, twenty-four hours passed with the senator joining a group of contented souls, praising God, singing hymns, with fellowship of the deepest and purest kind. The experience was truly meaningful and, before he realized it, the twenty-four hours had gone by and St. Peter returned.

“Well, now, you’ve spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity,” instructed St. Peter. The senator reflected for a moment, then answered, “You know, I would have never believed that I would have said this before, heaven has been nice, but I think I would really be better off in hell.”

So, St. Peter escorted him to the elevator and he went down, down, down to hell. The doors of the elevator opened and he found himself in the middle of a barren land with a dark, ominous and foreboding sky. The heat was exceedingly oppressive. He saw all his friends dressed in rags, some naked and unclean, many pulling around the chains of their former vices in life.

The devil came over to the man and put his arm around his shoulder. “I don’t…I don’t…I don’t understand,” stammered the senator. “Only yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a clubhouse, and we ate lobster caviar, and drank champagne. It was tremendous. We were living the high life. Now there’s just this wasteland, wasted lives, and miserable associations. What happened!?”

The devil looked at him, smiled, and said, “Yesterday we were campaigning. Today you voted.”

The irony of hell is that it is the culmination of everything we ever really wanted and the just deserts of our actions. It is the harvest we sowed on earth. The message of judgment is that in the end, none of us ever gets away with anything.

No one, however, has to go to hell. Christ died to redeem us from the threat of eternal punishment. He suffered hell for us on the cross – taking our punishment on Himself. But we have to make a choice. We have to vote.

We have to choose between Him and our sin. We can trust Him and be changed and given a new heart for what God wants for us, or we can reject Christ and go on in our own way. Every person faces this choice in their lifetime. This decision determines where we ultimately spend eternity.

How will you choose? Vote Christ! Decide for Him.

Dr. Mark Creech is executive director of the Raleigh-based Christian Action League of North Carolina. He served as pastor for six churches over a twenty year tenure before taking his current position, which he has held since 1999. As a registered lobbyist for the Christian Action League, Dr. Creech represents conservative evangelical churches in the North Carolina General Assembly from 16 denominations. He served as president of the national organization, the American Council on Alcohol Problems from 2012-2014.

http://barbwire.com/2014/11/03/parable-senators-choice/

Fear Not

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)

The second verse of the hymn “How Firm a Foundation” follows quite closely to the words of our text.

Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

The Christian should hold no illusions regarding his possible circumstances. Our Savior does not promise a life of ease or wealth or even worldly acceptance. He does promise that He will be with us no matter what and that He is just and powerful, able to deal rightly with any difficulty, and that we will be ultimately victorious with His help: “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:13).

The New Testament authors reflected this theme in many other passages as well. Paul prayed for the believers at Colosse, that they would be “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:11). Christ promised: “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

We have no cause for fear, for our Savior subjected Himself to far greater difficulties: “Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:3). He is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). His victory is complete, and He is with us. JDM

As bond-servants [margin] of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart

As bond-servants [margin] of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.—Ephesians 6:6 (R. V.).

LORD JESUS, turn us from the noise
Of endless strivings and empty joys,
To find forever Thy one true peace,
Rest from sorrow, from sin release!
HARRIET MCEWEN KIMBALL.

CAN He not enable you to do that will from your heart, in your surroundings? Are you sorely tried by those surround-Are they, in themselves, humiliating to you, or exasperating to you? Are they full of acute heart-pangs, or heavy with a chronic heartache? Not one of these things is forgotten before your Lord. Your slightest pain finds response in His sympathy. But let that thought be but the stepping-stone to this, that for you as for the slave-saint of Ephesus there lies open in that same Lord the blessed secret of a life which shall move amidst these same unwelcome surroundings as a life free, and at leisure, and at peace, full of love and rest, blessed and blessing; a life hid with Christ in God; a life in which everything, from your rising up to your lying down, the smallest cross and the largest, is seen in the light of the holy, the beloved, will of God, and so is met not with a sigh, or a murmur, but “from the soul.” HANLEY C. G. MOULE.

The Prince of Peace

The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. — Glory to God … on earth peace, good will toward men.

Through the tender mercy of our God; … the dayspring from on high hath visited us. To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace; —peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all).

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. — Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you. — The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Psalm 72:2-7. Luke. 2:14. Luke. 1:78,79. Acts 10:36. John 16:33. John 14:27. Philippians 4:7.

Now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations

Now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations. 1 Peter 1:6

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. — The exhortation … speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him. — Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

We have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. — For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. — God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.

1 Peter 4:12,13. Hebrews 12:5. Hebrews 12:11. Hebrews 4:15. Hebrews 2:18. 1 Corinthians 10:13.