The Bible Doesn’t Say That

Have you ever heard the saying, God won’t give you more than you can handle? Some people claim that this is in the Bible, but the truth is it’s not in there. No where in scripture does it say, God won’t give you more than you can handle. However, the Bible does tell us that God won’t give you more than He can handle.

In 2 Corinthians 1:8 Paul mentions a troubling experience that his team had faced in the province of Asia. He says, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” That in itself sounds like great trauma that the team was facing.

How many times do we get stuck in a situation or we go through a trauma and we try to figure everything out on our own. We think that we can just work more and make more money. Or we think that if we just talk to someone we can work out the situation. Or we can do something better than what we previously did. The truth is none of us are able to overcome all troubles or all sufferings. Remember, even Superman had kryptonite.

All of us have weaknesses. Paul talks about a weakness of his in 2 Corinthians 12:7-8. He says, “in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.”

None of us like being weak. We want to do everything on our own. Paul says in verse 9 that God responded to him. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul continues by saying, “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

When Jesus is the Lord of your life, you are trusting Him enough to hand over control of everything. You no longer rely on your strength to get through difficult times. God does the heavy lifting.

I mentioned earlier about Paul’s team facing trauma in the Province of Asia. Paul continues in verse 9 saying, “Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” Paul was able to endure the trauma so that he could learn to rely on God.

That is why it is important for us to see our weakness as an opportunity for God to come through for us and we can learn to depend on Him.

Giving an Undistorted View of God

Ever since Peter Stuyvesant visited the Palace of Versailles the world has had a distorted view of itself.

Peter was the governor of New Amsterdam—later to be renamed New York City—beginning in 1647. He was visiting France to discuss colonial land agreements. While at Versailles he was awed by the Hall of Mirrors.

Peter was determined to bring a similarly amazing showcase to his city. In 1651 he founded the Peter Stuyvesant’s House of Mirrors. He charged one Dutch gulden for admission.

This house of mirrors eventually morphed into what we know as a Fun House of Mirrors seen at many carnivals. For a few tickets the fun begins by walking into a maze of mirrors, both convex and concave. We amuse ourselves by looking at distorted images of our figure.

Today you don’t even have to go to the carnival for this experience. A laptop with a webcam and a silly photo feature will allow you to take a picture of yourself that you can manipulate to look odd.

It’s all fun. But sometimes distorted pictures can cause trouble. It did in Israel during the time of the prophet Samuel. One of the major distortions was found at the Tabernacle, that portable place of praise for God’s people.

It was parked at Shiloh and was meant to be a clear picture of God’s holiness and grace. A system of sacrifices had been established that foreshadowed the coming sacrifice of the Messiah. Yet anything but holiness was found there.

Eli the priest had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who dishonored God in their treatment of the sacrifices and also engaged in immoral sexual activity with women at the Tabernacle (1 Samuel 2:16, 22). Because the picture of God they were giving was distorted, these two were killed in battle against the Philistines. When news of their death reached Eli, he fell over in his chair, broke his neck, and also died.

Many people often ask the question, “What does God look like?” The question we all need to ask ourselves is do people see God in us.

Just like Eli and his sons we are representatives of God.  We represent Jesus to others.  You may have heard it said that you may be the only Bible those around you will ever ‘read.’  The question is, “Are you giving a clear or distorted picture of the One True God?”

Join us this Sunday at 10:30 am as we continue “The Story”.

Trading in Your Dreams for Another’s

People nearing mid-life often crash into some startling and unexpected observations. For instance, we all dreamed big dreams when we were younger. But as we move at a break-neck pace through our twenties, thirties, and forties, we eventually slam head on into the realization that some of our dreams will never be realized.

That observation throws some people into a mid-life crisis. Some don’t make it that far with their aspirations, having already given them up somewhere along the way. Some run into conflict that makes them weary and they settle for less. Still others make bold decisions to trade one dream in for another.

That’s what Joseph did. Talk about dreams! He had some big ones. At seventeen he dreamed his ten older brothers would bow down to him. It’s enough he dreamed that dream. What makes it worse is that he told his brothers about it.

The older brothers already had issues with the younger son. Their father favored Joseph. He had even given him a valuable, multi-colored coat. That’s the modern-day equivalent of a parent of four teenagers giving one an iPhone and the other three a stack of quarters each for a pay phone (assuming they could find one on their travels). The brothers banded together and tossed the dreamer in a ditch, eventually selling him into slavery at the first opportunity. The next thing Joseph knew he was waking up in Egypt.

From there his life was a rollercoaster thrill ride. One minute a slave. The next in charge of an Egyptian official’s house. The next in prison. The next in charge of the prison. Then he found himself in front of Pharaoh, called upon to interpret the leader’s dreams. With God’s help he was able to warn Pharaoh he would have seven years of abundant crops that he should be put in storehouses in anticipation of seven years of famine. Recognizing his wisdom, Pharaoh put Joseph second in command of all of Egypt.

And because of God’s personal involvement in his life, he was able to save his family. The same family that God was building into a nation. Joseph was in position to bring his family to Egypt and give them the most fertile land to work. And it was definitely fertile. In the time they were there they were “fruitful and increased greatly” (Exodus 1:7).

Joseph could have lost his life getting caught up in the details of his life, chasing his dreams and desires. Instead, he chose a better story. God’s story.

You can do the same. If your life’s dream has stalled, look to God. If your dream now realized is not all you thought it would be, look to God. He can give you another dream. A better one, not according to the world’s standard but God’s. Just like Joseph’s. Then you’ll have a story to tell.

Join us this Sunday as we continue with “The Story” at 10:30 am.

When the Last in Line Gets Chosen for the Team

The casting agent enters the room with her top picks for the show’s leading man and lady. The new series will follow the spellbinding story of a clan that builds a powerful, world-impacting family tree. This is the pilot, and it is crucial to make the right call on the individuals who will fall in love and launch this Kennedy-like family of influence and fame.

Producers and writers alike have waited breathlessly for this moment, the moment when who they have envisioned as the leading characters will be finally realized in an actor and actress. But when they turn to see who has been tapped for these most special of roles, the thud of their collective jaws hitting the majestic mahogany conference table muffles their mutual groans.

There before their wide eyes, instead of the expected vibrant, young couple with gleaming white teeth and tanned and toned bodies, stand a 75-year-old man and a 65-year-old woman. Not what they had pictured for their production.

And yet, this is what God has chosen. His screenplay called for a couple to launch a new nation, one that would impact the entire world. As he would say, a nation through whom “all the nations of the earth would be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

Abram and Sarai stand there, adorned perhaps by dusty old robes and crowned with wispy white hair and loosely fitting skin and as befuddled as anyone else. God chose them to begin a nation. An unlikely pair, especially after factoring in the fact that Sarai was barren. How could God expect to start a nation with a woman who could not bear children?

To complicate the story line, it will be 25 more years before they actually have their child of promise. By that time Abram and Sarai will be 100 years old and 90 years old, respectively (and their names will be changed to Abraham and Sarah). Perhaps Social Security checks will help this special couple decorate the baby’s tent and they’ll be able take naps when the baby does. And the rest, as they say, is history. His story.

God picks people you and I wouldn’t necessarily select to take part in his story. In fact sometimes we are shocked who plays the starring roles in his stories. Unlike the way we do business, he taps people, not merely because of their abilities, but for their availability. God searches for people who are open to be used by him. Since he uses only those who are willing to be used for his purposes, there is no doubt that it is he who is doing the wonder-working. Let there be no doubt, throughout history he is the one making things happen.

That’s good news, isn’t it? In the business world, you may not have a great pedigree. In academics, you may not be a Rhodes Scholar. You may not have a lot of money and you may have average looks. But you may be sitting in a pretty good position to be a top pick for God’s work.

Join us this week as we continue “The Story”. Service starts at 10:30 am.

Writing Your Life Chapter into The Story of Life

If you think Genesis is just a band from the ‘80’s . . .

If you think it was Dr. Dolittle who took two of each animal into a big boat . . .

If you think an epistle is a woman married to an apostle . . .

. . . you may need to know more of The Story.

You may be a bit intimidated by the Bible. You’re not alone; many people are.  And no wonder, its pages mention odd names like Jehoshaphat and Nebuchadnezzar. It contains accounts from places you probably never heard of, like Sinai and Samaria. And it seems to be made up of a lot of different, seemingly unrelated stories. But it really is one big, exciting story.

You can see it easily if you open your Bible to the beginning and then flip all the way to the end.

The first words found in Genesis 1:1 read: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  Then, if you turn all the way to the back of the book,  Revelation 21:1, you find, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away . . .”

Join us this Sunday as we begin the incredible journey through The Story.

Psalms 23 Part 6

Read Psalm 23:1-6

  1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
  3. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
  4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
  5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

David finishes this chapter with, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Notice how David sums up this chapter. After all that he has done to describe the Lord as the Shepherd he says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” In other words, if I truly believe that the Lord is my Shepherd and all the ways that I described Him as a Shepherd, then goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The truth is we have to make a decision. Is the Lord your Shepherd? If you make a decision to follow the Lord and accept Him as your Shepherd, then you choose to follow Him wherever He leads.

Choosing Christ takes Faith. Faith means that even though you may not see God you believe that He exists. We can look around and see the effects of God. We can look all around us and find things that we may not see, but because of their functions we believe they exist.

Faith is what has brought many individuals through difficult times.

  • Noah had faith when he built an ark to save his family from a flood that would come from rain that he had not yet heard of.
  • Abraham had faith believing that God would provide the sacrifice to replace his son that God had told him to take and sacrifice.
  • Moses had faith to believe that God would part the waters when he stretched his staff over the Red Sea.
  • Joshua had faith to believe that the walls of Jericho would fall down when they marched around the wall.
  • Gideon had faith that he could conquer the Midian army with just the 300 men that God left him with.
  • Samson had faith that God would give him one more chance to strike down the Philistines when he stood between the pillars that held the building up.
  • Esther had faith when she stood before the king that God would save her people.
  • Nehemiah had faith when he went to rebuild the wall that God would bring the people together to help him do it.
  • Mary had faith when she accepted the calling of being the mother of God.
  • Joseph had faith when he took Mary as his wife.
  • We can see the faith of the believers. Even when they could not see how their circumstances would turn, they had faith that God would see them through their situation.

God will take care of us. He will get us through everything that we are faced with. We just have to have faith and believe that he will do it.

How often do we truly have faith? Do we truly lay our life in his hands? How hard do we try to hang on to it on our own? We can look at different people and see that when they tried to take their life in their own hands, that is when they got themselves in trouble.

  • Remember Adam, when he decided to listen to the woman and not to God, that is when he was kicked out of the garden.
  • Remember Abraham, when he decided to take Sarah’s maidservant Hagar as his wife and not wait on the promise from God is when he got in trouble and Hagar and Ishmael were banished.
  • Remember David, when he decided to stay home from battle is when he slept with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah killed.
  • Remember Jonah, when he decided to not go to Ninevah is when God had a fish swallow him up to get his attention.

The truth is God has a great plan for us, but when we decide to do things our way is when we get out of God’s will and our life falls a part. We need to choose faith and believe that God has our best interest in mind. I don’t know about you, but I choose faith. I choose the Lord to be my shepherd. I know that what David wrote is true.

The Lord is MY shepherd, I shall not want. He makes to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake. Thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. His rod and His staff they comfort me. He prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, He anoints my head with oil, my cup runs over. And since I have accepted the Lord as my Shepherd, then goodness and mercy will follow me the rest of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalms 23 Part 4

Read Psalm 23:1-6

  1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
  3. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
  4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
  5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Now, let’s look closer at verse 4. It says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Think about this for a moment. The Lord, our shepherd, feeds us in the pasture, He leads us on the trail, and accompanies us into the dark ravine where unknown danger lurks. After He has made us to lie down in green pastures and He has quenched our thirst with streams of water and He has restored us and led us in the paths of righteousness for Him. Remember we represent Him. Also know this, we are going to go through some dark times in our life.

We might get bad news about a loved one. We might get bad news about our health. We might get bad news about our job. We are going to feel like we are in a dark place. David says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” He walks with us through the valley.

Think about this, the longest shadows are cast in the late afternoon even as the heaviest tests often come at life’s sunset—it is during that time that we must go through “the valley of the shadow of death”. If you are a wise person by that time you will have chosen your Shepherd.

On the narrow trail, the shepherd “led,” but in the most difficult hour of all He is alongside: “you are with me.” In trials, friends and family can only accompany us so far… and then we are alone. But He will never leave us.

Look at Hebrews 13:5. It says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I can remember times when I felt so alone that no one understood what I was going through. God reminded me that He was with me. I can remember some dark times in my life when there seemed to be no one to cry out to, but God was there to hear my cry.

When we are walking through the valley He is there with His rod to protect us from attack, and His shepherd’s staff reaches out and pulls us near when fears come our way. And when we make it through the valley He is there as well, waiting.

Think about all the saints in the Bible that faced trials in their life. How did they make it through those trials? It was with God walking by their side. Think of the Old Testament heroes… Abraham when he went to sacrifice his only son, it was God that provided the sacrifice. What about Jacob when he went to meet his brother for the first time after he had stolen his birthright, it was God that brought forgiveness between the two brothers. What about Joseph when he was thrown in the pit by his brothers and later sold to slavery, it was God that placed him in the palace as governor of Egypt. What about Daniel when he was placed in the lion’s den, it was God that closed the mouth of the lions. What about the three Hebrew Children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace, it was God that kept them from burning up in the fire.

Think about all the times that Peter, Paul, Silas, Timothy, Luke, Mark, John, and all the other disciples spent in jail because they preached Jesus, it was God that brought them through those valleys. We are going to face valley’s, but it is God that will take us through those valleys.

David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”