When The Obvious ‘Ain’t’ Right

Q-Tee

© 2017  Bill Murphy

Have you ever found yourself in a hole, and doing the obvious thing to dig yourself out has only gotten you in deeper?  I have.

Here’s a classic example, from when I was first learning to fly radio controlled model airplanes:

When a model plane is flying towards you, and you wish to turn right, you steer left instead. Right is right only if you’re facing in the same direction in which the plane is flying. Duh.

That lesson was easy compared to the next one.

Aircraft, model or the real McCoy, can have a tendency to ‘spin.’  This happens when the plane is somehow ‘over-controlled,’  causing it to loose lift and fall, spiraling to the earth. This happened to me a couple of times, requiring extensive repair to my crashed Q-Tee model plane.

Then an experience flyer told me the ‘trick’ to spin recovery.  As the model is spinning out of control and down to the earth – the obvious thing to do is command it to go back up. Not so! Instead, as it spirals downward, give it the command to go DOWN!

Are you crazy? It’s already going down!

I soon had reason to put this impossible theory to the test. High overhead, I inadvertently got my cutie into another spin! It took everything within me to send the control to go down to an already falling model. But I did. Instantly, she flipped out of the spin and back into calm and serene, controllable, level flight!

Living a Christ-like life is similar. Jesus taught us that the first will be last, and the last – first. He told us that we will find new life when we allow our old nature to die. He taught us that we will have – when we give. I could go on and on.

God is a God of the paradox. I know it’s difficult to do good to those who do evil against us, and to pray for those who ‘obviously’ should be cursed.

Remember: The world tells is what is obvious, obvious to the world’s standards. But the obvious ain’t always right.

Follow His Word, His leading, His teachings, His way!  Just as the obvious ain’t always right – doing the opposite ain’t always either!

 

 

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When Bad Things Happen To Good People

© 2017 Bill Murphy

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Among the first I want to meet when we get to Heaven is Joseph, the fellow with the coat of many colors, the poster child for ‘When bad things happen to good people.’

Joseph was the favorite of his father’s 12 sons, and his older brothers hated him because of this. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Joseph dreamed that his brothers bowed down to him, which made them hate him even more. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

His brothers threw him into a deep pit without food or water. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

When Ishmeelite merchants passed by, they sold Joseph to them. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

These merchants took Joseph far away, all the way to Egypt. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Joseph was sold into slavery to a wealthy Potiphar. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Potiphar had Joseph thrown into prison. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

While in prison, Joseph interpreted dreams for Pharaoh’s Chief Baker and Chief Butler who were also in prison, but they forgot him and neglected to secure help for Joseph’s release. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Joseph remained in prison for 2 more years! Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

You know the rest of the story.

After Pharaoh had a dream which no one could interpret, the Chief Butler finally told Pharaoh about Joseph. Pharaoh was so impressed by Joseph and his interpretation (of the impending famine), that Joseph was made 2nd in command of all of Egypt – and ultimately saved all of Egypt, and his own family back in Israel, from starvation. Now that’s a really GOOD thing!

Joseph didn’t just ‘stick it out’ throughout his years of ‘trials and tribulations,’ he always kept his head high, and his eyes firmly focused upon the dream. The pit and the prison were only bumps in the road, stepping stones which lead to the glorious conclusion of his story. If one were to ‘save’ Joseph from any one of these ‘bad’ steps, it would only rob Joseph of his ultimate goal.

Joseph’s long laundry list of ‘bad things,’ in the grand scheme of things, weren’t so bad after all! In truth, they turned out to be GOOD THINGS which led to the happy ending of the story. Wow!

 

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FORGIVE AND FORGET

ForgiveThe Divine and Human Side of Forgiveness

©2017 Bill Murphy

I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.       Isaiah 43:25

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32

It’s said that we should forgive and forget. True, we should. But the forgetting part is what we find most difficult, and rightly so. There’s a vast difference between Divinity and Humanity. Mankind simply was not wired for selective forgetfulness.

Few of us come to God at His first call. Often there’s a period of intense conviction when our heart is being prepared for surrender. If we were endued with the ability to willingly blot out (forget) those early guilt-pangs of conviction, it would greatly enhance our efforts to reject God’s calling! So, in God’s great mercy, He’s thankfully not wired our hearts and minds with the ability of selective forgetfulness! Praise God! (This works to HIS and OUR advantage!)

However, we do forget. We just find it next to impossible to selectively forget!

From my understanding of true forgiveness (Godly forgiveness) – the iniquity is forgiven and forgotten. (See Isaiah 43:25 above). It’s just as if the iniquity had never happened. Therefore, from the Divine standpoint, remembrance serves no purpose what so ever. Think about it.

However, from humanity’s standpoint, remembrance does serve an important purpose. Remembrance serves a useful purpose in the righteousness ledger – such as remembering the goodness and mercies of God. It also serves a righteous purpose on the unrighteous side of the ledger! Isn’t that just like God to use the ‘bad’ for His good!

When we say we truly forgive, our forgiveness is not always genuine. We may sincerely believe it is, but deep down, in the remote recesses of our spirit, tiny vestiges of hurt and disappointment sometimes remain. Remembrance is the rain which waters these tiny seeds, allowing them to bloom into full grown un-forgiveness. We need to be made aware of this all-to-human shortcoming – so that we might correct it!

I believe that remembrance is an internal barometer which highlights the truth (or not) of true forgiveness.

Important truth – Remembrance has absolutely no effect on true forgiveness. But remembrance can have an adverse effect upon unforgiveness.

Remembrance helps us to be aware of our own short-comings. When we want to forgive and when we think that we’ve forgiven, but remembrance stirs up something that ought not to be – remembrance us a spiritual warning to get our heart back in order!

So don’t be discouraged when you can’t forget – and sincerely want to. God made us that way!

 

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DOWN BUT NOT OUT

© 2017 Bill MurphySprouts

Nature will teach us, even preach to us, if only we’ll listen. Nature demonstrated a valuable lesson to me just the other day.

Recently we’ve had a very old and very large oak tree removed. It was in the early stages of death. The thing was so huge, so wide spread,  it was presenting a danger to our home – and the neighbors. It came down.

The problem was, the trunk was so great that it was next to impossible to simply haul it off in one piece. Instead, it was sawed into pieces, many of which still lay in the back yard. As I was mowing and weed-eating, I was amazed to see fresh, bright green GROWTH sprouting from not one, but several chunks of severed tree trunk! It was as if the old tree, now only in parts and pieces, was refusing to die! Instead, it was proclaiming that this is not the end!

How often have we come to a place in life when people, or life itself, takes a saw to us – chopping us up like just so much firewood – and tossing us aside to rot. Hear the anguish in the voice of the psalmist –

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends –  those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten as though I were dead;  I have become like broken pottery. For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life. Psalm 31: 9-13 (NIV)

Take heart. Lift up your eyes. Learn a life-lesson from nature. Life – and those around you who buffet your life – may have made you stagger – and may have made you fall. Yes, you may be ‘down,’ but you do NOT have to be OUT! Those amazing, tender branches of new growth, were NOT connected to the ground – where they should be finding nourishment and water. No – they were growing from PIECES of the former tree, now cast onto the ground as just so much debris!

Take heart my friend. And take notice that the above scripture from Psalms does not end in despair! For the following verse, verse 14 says: “But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God.”

He said – “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV.

Way to GROW my friend!

 

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FORGIVE AND FORGET

The Divine and Human Side of Forgiveness  ©2017 Bill Murphy

 

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I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Isaiah 43:25

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

 

It’s said that we should forgive and forget. True, we should. But the forgetting part is what we find most difficult, and rightly so.

There’s a vast difference between Divinity and Humanity. Mankind simply was not wired for selective forgetfulness. Few of us come to God at His first call. Often there’s a period of intense conviction when our heart is being prepared for surrender. If we were endued with the ability to willingly blot out (forget) those early pangs of conviction, it would greatly enhance our efforts to reject God’s calling! So, in God’s great mercy, He’s thankfully not wired our hearts and minds with the ability of selective forgetfulness! Praise God! (It works to HIS advantage!)

However, we do forget. We just find it next to impossible to selectively forget!

From my understanding of true forgiveness (Godly forgiveness), that would mean that the iniquity has been forgiven and forgotten. It’s just as if the iniquity had never happened. Therefore, from the Divine standpoint, remembrance serves no purpose what so ever. Think about it.

However, from humanity’s standpoint, remembrance does serve a very useful purpose. In the righteousness side of the ledger – remembering the goodness and mercies of God!

It also serves a useful (and righteous purpose) on the unrighteous side of the ledger! Isn’t that just like God to use the ‘bad’ for His good!

When we say we truly forgive, our forgiveness is not always genuine. We may sincerely think it is, but deep down, in the remote recesses of our spirit, sometimes tiny vestiges of hurt and disappointment remain. Remembrance is the rain which waters these tiny seeds, allowing them to bloom into full grown un-forgiveness. I believe that remembrance is an internal barometer which highlights the truth (or not) of true forgiveness.

Remembrance has absolutely no effect on true forgiveness. But remembrance can have an adverse effect upon un-forgiveness. Remembrance helps us to be aware of our own short-comings. When we want to forgive and when we think that we’ve forgiven, but remembrance stirs up something that ought not to be – that gives us a spiritual warning to get our heart in order!

So don’t be discouraged that you can’t forget. God made us that way!

 

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The Banana Principle

Bananas copy

PLAN B – The Banana Principle © 2017 Bill Murphy

I’m sure you’ve shopped for bananas at the grocery store only to find two types remaining: those so green and crisp you’d need a steak knife to cut ‘em, and those so mushy and brown you could eat ‘em with a spoon! What’s happened to the good ones?

The Banana Principle, that’s what happened!

The first Banana Principle is: when given our choice, we want our pick of the best.

The second Banana Principle is: We usually don’t truly understand what really is best.

The third Banana Principle: I’ll cover that later.

The First Banana Principle When given our choice, we normally to want the best for ourselves. Go ahead, admit it. We all think like this, don’t we? Is this a really BIG sin? I mean, BANANAS?

Whether we’re shopping for bananas or considering the will of God, we’re influenced by two concepts: perception and reality. With banana shopping it’s really no big deal. But when considering the will of God, it’s a very big deal!

Perception is how we perceive things to be – how we think and believe they are. Perception is purely INTERPRETATION.

Reality however, is just that: reality is what is REAL, what is factual, what is actual, what is true.

A perception may be the same as the reality, it may be altogether different (even opposite) or it may contain portions of a reality. But, our lives are so strongly influenced by perceptions that we’re fooled into believing that our perceptions ARE reality! And this causes us untold heart-ache, grief and endless trouble!

Wanting the best bananas is obvious. But wanting the best from God is something else altogether!

Fact: God wants only the very BEST for us!

Fact: If we want what God wants, then we (by default) want what is best for us also!

Yes, it’s true that God only wants for us what is BEST for us! So how can I convince you of this fact? Chances are that I can’t! Satan is the best salesman ever – he’s had millennia perfecting his sales pitch. Satan can sell refrigerators to Eskimos. And he sold mankind the outright LIE that God’s will is not in our best interest. If I cannot convince you that God wants the best for you – scripture can!

Jesus tells us –“… what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Matthew 7: 9-11

This refers to asking things of Him. But we don’t even have to ask to receive ‘good things’ of Him. I like the way The New International Version says it:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

If that’s not enough to convince you, consider this:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:14-17

Remember the THIRD Banana Principle I mentioned?

This Third Banana Principle is that we have a CHOICE! We have the God-given ability to pick and chose which bananas we want.

This ability to pick and choose is our WILL. Just as God has a will, He created us with a will also! “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27

When God created us like Himself (in His image) He created us with a will also. That’s because God never intended us to be ‘little robots.’ He wanted us to have a parent/child relationship with Himself. He wanted us to have the ability to choose to love Him and to trust in Him. He wanted us to have the ability to choose His plan for us, PLAN A. He wants us to use this ability to choose – to choose His will over our own! Why, because He wants us to have that which is BEST!

And this is where Satan steps in. He’s learned to MANIPULATE our personal will through distorting and changing our PERCEPTION of God’s reality. Satan has convinced us that God’s will is difficult, hurtful, and altogether UNDESIRABLE!

Fact: God’s will is NOT a burden! God’s will often doesn’t coincide with our own will, but God’s will is ALWAYS in our best interest!

So what IS God’s will? God’s will is Plan A. God’s will is the First Choice. God’s will is the BEST plan.

 

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DISAPPOINTED WITH HEAVEN

clipart-of-ornate-gold-front-gates-of-heaven-z6GY3U-clipart

© 2017 Bill Murphy

This is NOT some great revelation, hardly. And I’m not attempting to rock your doctrine. I’m just relaying the thought which bounced around in my brain/spirit this morning.

It all began as I was mulling over the idea of a story of someone who suddenly ‘wakes up’ to find themselves in Heaven. Then my spirit immediately went in this direction:

We think of Heaven as a destination, a place somewhere (above) in a location that God alone knows. We also think, at least most of us, of Heaven as being a place like – well – HEAVEN! We think of it as place which brings us untold joy and happiness and pleasure. I remember that as a young boy, thinking of it as a place where I could build amazing model airplane for all of eternity, each would be perfect, and all would fly like angels – WITH the angels! You get my point.

Now my ‘big boy’ understanding is that Heaven is where God dwells. “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” Matthew 6:9

I also understand that Jesus has prepared a place for us in Heaven, where we are to dwell with Him forever. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2-3

But – has the average/general understanding of Heaven become so carnal that we think Heaven is to be ‘OUR’ home? Do we think of Heaven as some fantastic Eternal Resort where our ‘eternal reward’ is to be pampered forever? Hollywood certainly would have us believe this!

Those who believe Hollywood’s vision of Heaven are in for a huge shock!

Remember, Heaven is ‘God’s Place,’ His home, His Kingdom, where He lives.

Yes, Jesus has prepared a place for us there – a place there in God’s place of abode.

Heaven belongs to God. He wants us there with Him – but it’s still His Place.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

So what does this mean for you and for me?

I hardly think I’ll be building model airplanes in Heaven! And I hardly think that I’ll be the center of attention. Yes, I know I will be oh so thankful, thrilled, over-joyed, etc. to be there – but I also understand that Heaven will not be ‘about me.’

I can’t believe that Heaven will be about self. Self must be left at the gate, like a pair of muddy boots left at the back door.

Heaven will be about HIM – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We won’t be bringing anything to the table – except for praise and thanksgiving to and for Him – and – our will.  He will present the feast – just as He has always been the giver of all things good and wonderful.

Heaven is reserved for those who have humbled themselves and freely given their hope, heart, and lives to Him. Heaven is for those who have willingly sold out to Him – lock, stock and barrel. We sing, ‘I surrender all.’ But we must also mean it, and do it!

This is possible.

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43

 

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