VIDEO Work Clothes, Our Benefits Package

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. Romans 5:3, NLT

Swiss engineer George de Mestral grew frustrated with a recurring problem. Whenever he went hiking, his clothes and his dog would get covered with burrs. The little pods were hard to pry out of his socks and nearly impossible to get out of his dog’s hair. De Mestral decided to study his problem under a microscope. He was amazed at the tiny hooks in the burrs. The experience led him to invent Velcro.

Writing in Inc. Magazine, Jayson Demers says successful entrepreneurs all have one thing in common. “Rather than seeing problems as burdensome forces of opposition, they see problems as opportunities—opportunities to learn, grow, improve, or adjust in a way that leaves them better off than before the problem existed.” It takes time to develop this mindset, says Demers, but if we train our minds to view our problems as opportunities, we’ll become more adept at handling them with less stress and more success.[1]

Think of a problem you’re facing right now. It may actually be a great opportunity to serve the Lord. He will use that difficulty for good if you’ll just stick with Him through it!

Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.

Henry J. Kaiser

[1]Jayson Demers,” How to Change Your Mindset to See Problems as Opportunities,” Inc., July 1, 2015.


Our Benefits Package – Romans 5:1-5 – Skip Heitzig

Not Forgotten

I will not forget you! Isaiah 49:15

“Uncle Arthur, do you remember the day you took me to the barbershop and the supermarket? I was wearing tan khakis, a blue-plaid oxford shirt, a navy-blue cardigan, brown socks, and brown Rockport shoes. The date was Thursday, October 20, 2016.” My nephew Jared’s autism-related challenges are offset by his phenomenal memory that can recall details like days and dates and the clothes he was wearing years after an event took place.

Because of the way he’s wired, Jared possesses the kind of memory that reminds me of the all-knowing, loving God—the Keeper of time and eternity. He knows the facts and won’t forget His promises or His people. Have you had moments when you’ve questioned whether or not you’ve been forgotten by God? When others appear to be healthier or happier or more successful or otherwise better off? 

Ancient Israel’s less-than-ideal situation caused her to say, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me” (Isaiah 49:14). But that wasn’t the case. God’s compassion and care exceeded the natural bonds of affection that mothers have for their children (v. 15). Before embracing labels like “forsaken” or “forgotten,” think again of what God has done in and through His Son, Jesus. In the gospel that brings forgiveness, God has clearly said, “I will not forget you!” (v. 15).

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt alone, forsaken, and forgotten by God? How does processing the love of God expressed by sending Jesus to die for your sins help to counter feelings of being forgotten by Him?

Father, when I’m tempted to feel neglected, forgotten, and abandoned, help me to ponder again the love You demonstrated by sending Jesus to die for me.

The Danger of Spiritual Erosion

1 Samuel 10:17-25

When the Israelites demanded a royal leader just like all the other nations, God gave them King Saul. He was exactly what the nation wanted—an impressive man who stood head and shoulders above the rest. Saul probably started out with good intentions, but before long he veered off course, and his character began to erode because of his disobedience to God. 

Saul’s downhill slide began with rationalizing and excusing his rebellious actions (1 Sam. 13:6-14). Then he picked which parts of God’s commands to obey and which to neglect (1 Sam. 15:10-23). He claimed he’d obeyed fully, but after being confronted, he shifted the blame to his army. Eventually he became consumed with jealousy, rage, and fear, which led to many foolish decisions. Saul’s life stands as an example of what happens when sin creeps in and begins the destructive process of corruption.

Spiritual erosion is dangerous because it occurs so slowly that we’re often unaware anything is happening inside us. Don’t wait until nearing the end of your earthly existence before looking for evidence of erosion. Check your heart regularly to be sure your soul is clean from the nagging, destructive presence of sin.

The Lord God of Heaven

“Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.” (Ezra 1:2)

It is noteworthy that the words of this verse are almost the same as in the last verse of 2 Chronicles. This is an indication that Ezra the scribe (who wrote the book of Ezra) was also the compiler and editor of the two books of Chronicles.

Even more noteworthy is the fact that the great emperor Cyrus seemed to acknowledge that the God of Israel was not just a tribal god, as many have claimed, but the Lord God of heaven—that is, Jehovah Elohim—recognizing Him as both Creator and Redeemer of the world. The Persians were largely followers of Zoroaster, but his religious system did bear some resemblance to the true monotheism of Israel.

But Cyrus had been called, and even named, by God, long before he was born (Isaiah 44:28–45:6). When he conquered Babylon, the prophet Daniel was there (Daniel 6:28). The Jewish historian Josephus wrote that Daniel even became prime minister under Cyrus and was able to read Isaiah’s remarkable prophecy to him, thus influencing him to send the Jews back to Jerusalem.

There have also been other Gentile rulers who acknowledged God, even before Christ came. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, once hating God, finally was forced to confess that He was “the most High” and “King of heaven” (Daniel 4:34, 37). Another was the Queen of Sheba, who recognized “the LORD thy God” (again Jehovah Elohim, 1 Kings 10:9). Then there was the king of Nineveh and Assyria, who believed in God at the preaching of Jonah (Jonah 3:6-10). In fact, in the ages to come “the kings of the earth” will all “bring their glory and honour” to the Lord in the holy city (Revelation 21:24). HMM

The Increasing Christ

John 3:30

“I have long been impressed with the thirtieth verse of the third chapter of John. Some of the disciples of John the Baptist come to him, reporting that everybody has gone after Jesus; the Baptist has been eclipsed, his popularity has passed its peak. But the rugged old prophet graciously replies in part, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Nothing is more needed among Christians than the lesson of the decreasing self. It is an ego-centric age, a day of self-sufficiency. The world’s creed is “Glorify Yourself,” “Express Yourself.” And just as a penny held close to the eye will hide the sun, so does the penny of self shut out God.

Several years ago, walking along the rim of the Grand Canyon, I came upon a girl reading a novel! With such a masterpiece of God to look at, what a place to be reading a novel! Yet, how many of us miss the far-flung horizons of the life that is hid with Christ in God, absorbed with the pitiful things of self.

Someone has pointed out that the word “sin” revolves as upon a pivot around the central letter “i.” Verily, sin does revolve around I—self. That was the trouble with the Rich Fool: “This I will do: I will pull down my barns and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul,” etc.—notice the “I’s” and “my’s.” The Pharisee praying, in the parable of Jesus, was another of the same sort: “God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men.” Both had I-trouble; they were self-centered.

The business of the Christian is to express Christ. To do that, he must decrease and Christ must increase. As at Cana, it is only when the wine of our own self-sufficiency gives out that we get the better wine which Christ provides. There must be the emptying of self if there is to be His infilling. Paul speaks of “Having nothing, yet possessing all things.” One must come first to the first half of that phrase and realize his own nothingness before he truly can appropriate that other verse of Paul’s: “All things are yours.”

All of self and none of Thee!

Some of self and some of Thee!

Less of self and more of Thee!

None of self and all of Thee!

We ought to be careful how we endorse the world’s creed of self-glorification. Magazines are full of self-development propaganda. Inspirational speakers’ fads and isms tell us of our latent powers that can make giants of weaklings. Of course, there is a sense in which we must make the most of our personal capital as stewards of God, but one easily can drift here into self-sufficiency. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, and Paul said that when he was weak he was strong. This is distasteful doctrine to a humanistic age that feels no need of the supernatural. One is a good Christian in proportion as he reveals Jesus rather than himself. When one buys glass for a picture, he is not interested so much in the beauty of the glass as in how well it reveals the picture. The real test of a Christian is his spiritual transparency.

The world asks, “Are you growing bigger?” Christ asks, “Are you growing less?” Paul was a self-sufficient man on the Damascus road that morning. But with his conversion, a new process began: his en-Christment. The longer he lived, the less there was of Paul and the more there was of Christ, until he could say, “Not I, but Christ who liveth in me” and “To me to live is Christ.”

“He must increase; we must decrease.”

Inner Cohesion

He did what was right in the Lord’s sight but not wholeheartedly.—2 Chronicles 25:2

One scriptural example that illustrates the need for a proper correlation between heart and mind is the Old Testament character, Amaziah. Second Chronicles 25:2 tells us: “He did what was right in the Lord’s sight but not wholeheartedly.” His mind gave itself to doing right in the sight of the Lord, but his heart did not support his actions.

This lack of coordination proved to be his undoing: “After Amaziah came from the attack on the Edomites, he brought the gods of the Seirites and set them up as his gods. He worshiped before them and burned incense to them” (25:14). Now look at how the life of Amaziah ends: “From the time Amaziah turned from following the Lord, a conspiracy was formed against him … men were sent after him to Lachish, and they put him to death there.” (25:27). Notice the steps:

(1) He was outwardly correct but inwardly uncoordinated.

(2) His inner disunity showed itself in outer disloyalty.

(3) This disunity resulted in his failure and death.

At the beginning, Amaziah does not appear to be a particularly bad individual—he just failed to be wholehearted in his commitment. He did all the right things outwardly, but his heart was not in them—hence, his spiritual ruin. We could say he missed his step by inches, but his fall was one of the worst ever recorded. If we are not held together by a single-minded devotion, our spiritual life can quickly go to pieces. Commitment to God demands cohesion—the cohesion of heart and mind.

Prayer

O God my Father, help me to live a life of single purpose, with heart and mind moving together as one. Let me will the highest with all my being. In Jesus’ name I ask this. Amen.

Further Study

Jms 1:1-8; 4:8; Heb 13:9; Lk 11:17

What makes us unstable?

What was the Word of the Lord to the Hebrews?

Adaptability

Hebrews 13:6-7

I sat somewhat disinterestedly in my window seat on the airplane as it taxied down the congested runway at Los Angeles International Airport, only to be jolted from my lethargy by a paradoxical sight. There, among the enormous lanes with their pulsating jet blasts and their furor to give gravity another “in your face” demonstration, a hawk hovered over a narrow strip of brown grass. She was fixed solely on the job at hand—to find a hapless field mouse for dinner. Now there’s adaptability, I thought, for both the hawk and her prey. Such an inhospitable environment, but life must go on.

The hawk’s forebears played out the same deadly drama long before the first Spanish padre surveyed the valley that tumbles down to the restless Pacific—long before the first clipboard gang decided that this was a good place for an airport.

I bear no ill will toward technocrats, or those who go giddy over the prospect of covering every vacant piece of earth with bituminous concrete. But I secretly hope that someday the predictable cycle of life will revert to its original design for Ms. Hawk’s and Mr. Field Mouse’s progeny, if they are lucky enough to survive.

Armchair philosophers muse that change is the only certainty. We look in the mirror and tend to agree. But what happens when a firestorm rages within, triggered by changing circumstances beyond our control? Do we perish or do we adapt?

Our first inclination may be to roll over with our belly up. But there’s something fiercely noble about the other option—to persevere and even to prosper. That ability, I’m convinced, is borne from another realm. I’ve seen too many people of faith standing exultantly over their “Goliaths” to think otherwise.

The Christian commits not only his strength of character, but also his weakness and mortal fears to the preeminent figure of history. Christ sides with him and says, “I know all about it. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. Life goes on, and it even gets better.”

I believe I can adapt to that! Or to say it another way—because you believe, you can adapt to that!

David Atkins, The War Cry