Title: Add It All Up
Theme: Realizing God Is Watching Over You
Introduction: For our honeymoon, Pennie and I took our mom out to Maine to stay with our sister. We rented a U-haul trailer, hauled our motorcycle from Norton, Ks. to Maine. While there we rode all around Maine, New Hampshire, for a little more than a week. The last week we biked all the way back to Norton, Kansas. We biked down the East Coast, riding through God's beautiful country, stopping to look at different sights, horse farms, entertainment centers and great food. Part of our preparation for the trip, I hung two little Christian bells on the bike, a litter reminder to us that God gave us each other, He was the One Who gave this opportunity to enjoy this trip and He was the One Who would watch over us.
We were five hours from the perfect honeymoon when just east of Augusts, Ks - we crossed a bridge traveling sixty-five miles per hour, the back tire deflated, rapidly. I tell you that was one wild ride by the time we got stopped. That incident took us from one side of the highway to the other, crossing in and out of traffic lanes. We were just along for the ride - there was no control upon our part. Literally, by God's grace, blessing the efforts I made when practicing some motorcycle skill drills, I was able to keep the bike up.
There we were, standing along the highway realizing that could have been a really bad deal. We could have been seriously hurt, and there was not even one scratch on the bike. As we stood there, Pennie was getting on the phone for help, my attention was drawn to those two Christian bells, hanging on the bike, praying in my heart, "Thanks Lord!"
While waiting for the phone to connect to the internet, Pennie said, "You know what is amazing, just before the incident, the traffic was congested, both East and West bound lanes were very heavy with traffic (two lane highway). Just before we crossed the bridge, from someone reason the traffic had thinned out. No vehicles behind us, no traffic coming toward us, clear traffic lanes." If the traffic had been congested, like it was before the back tire went flat, we would have likely ran into a vehicle or the vehicle behind could had ran over us. As soon as we got stopped, placing the bike on it's kick stand, the traffic returned to normal congested flow.
When we needed extra help, a police officer would come by, providing water, charging up Cel-phones and assistance with loading the bike on the trailer. We had a wonderful time on our honeymoon and we saw Satan do what he tries to do, discourage people who trying to live out what God has called them to do. So many disappointing things happened on the final journey home, it could had put a bummer attitude over the whole trip. When we added it all up, the ride was worth the taking. Those two little bells are still on our bike, when I see them hanging, I am reminded that God was with us, in the great moments, the dangerous time and even during the frustrating times.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "Give thanks in all circumstance, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Proposition: I would propose to you, a thankful attitude toward the Lord in everything we face, opens our spiritual eyes to see His loving Hands at work. Sometimes our circumstances are not the best, sometimes down right bad.
In Psalm 77 we read of a man of God who has become melancholy, he is sorrowful, he complains, the all night prayer he offered brought no comfort or deliverance' (Matthew Henry Commentary; Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible) He writes, "Will the Lord reject forever, will He never show His favor again? Has His unfailing love vanished forever? Has His promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has He in His anger withdrawn His compassion? (Psalm 77:7-9)
As we continue to read Psalm 77, we see the writer focused on real truth, God's goodness, past faithfulness, His ability to do miracles, deliver His people, even lead without being seen. (Psalm 77:10-20; Willmington's Bible Hand Book; Believer's Bible Commentary; Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary)
Interrogative Sentence: Just what are three truths to keeping our spiritual eyes open?
Transitional Sentence: The first truth is, we have it so good. 1 Timothy 6:17says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
I remember hearing a man run another family down, a family whose husband/father was enjoying a expensive hobby while the rest of the family was not enjoying anything in life. That man had a good income, enjoyed things, but now he is poor because of ill health. All his family has left him. While he had wealth and health he thought nothing of the Lord or His work.
While planting a church in a country that mocked and apposed God's work, I saw stores with shelves mostly empty. Here in America you can stand in just one store, Wal-mart, watch people just load up a couple of carts, drawing from shelves that are just loaded with stuff to purchase, the whole time saying, "I just don't how we are going to afford this stuff." In Norton, Ks there are storage units that are full and they are building new ones, just to have room to store people's stuff.
People who once live in abandon train cars are now living in nice homes valued over $100,000.00. We have it so good! I remember while people were driving nice cars, I was once driving a 1953 Pontiac push button automatic, it had no AC and the am radio did not work. Today, I have a great pickup and motorcycle.
When it gets tight, I find myself like Asaph, the writer of Psalm 77, the man who prayed all night and thought it was a waste time. I need only to look back and see what I had and praise the Lord for what I have now. I have it so good! When I get on my bike - I literally just praise the Lord.
When we add it all up - He never takes His hand from us nor is His goodness held from us.
Transitional Sentence: The second truth, we enjoy so much. James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows." God has given so much and Satan has effectively caused many to worship the gifts and forget the True Giver. We have modern medicine, modern communication, modern transportation. When God's gifts are used like they should be, is a huge blessing from the Lord. When used to feed the sin of self, cursed is everyone connected with it. When everything is used the way He intended it to be used, people have the income they need not only to survive, but to share with others. 1 Timothy 6:10 tells us that having money, or the things purchased with it is not wrong, it is the love of money, or the things purchased with is the root of all evil.
Pennie and I have purchased stuff off the internet, to buy good stuff for family members. Presents for Christmas, weddings, etc. Most of the time it is a blessing, once in a while we get burnt. They told us the gifts were sent - when they were out. They kept our money and made it very difficult to get in touch with them so we can communicate. They have discovered that distance and poor communications make it very difficult get issued resolved. There love for money surpasses any desire to have a satisfied customer.
However, when you added it all up. God has given modern medicine, modern transportation, and modern communication for our blessings. It is a blessing to get on Face-book to make a quick connection with our family members, to sell stuff, to keep up on what is going on with those we care about. You either let the bad circumstances or situations bring you down or you allow the Holy Spirit open your spiritual eyes to the positive things.
Transitional Sentence: The third truth, we can express appreciation. Psalm 3:8 says, "From the Lord comes deliverance. May Your blessings be on your people.
Many are the temptations, afflictions, and trials that have come and gone. But when you add it all up, God has been faithful. Those times when finances have been low, the temptations to do wrong was stopped with the opportunity to do extra work or have someone meet a real need. When it looked like an affliction would bring an end, God raised up a doctor, medicine or treatment. When a trial became to much for us to bear, the trial came to an end. Through it all, you had a choice, bitterness or become stronger in your faith.
I am not saying that life is fair, it is not. Take time to add it all up with gratitude, you will get a clear picture. Have you ever seen the cartoon Charlie Brown?
"Charlie Brown brought Snoopy his dinner on Thanksgiving Day. It was the usual dog food. Snoopy took one look and said, 'This is not fair. The rest of the world today is eating turkey with all the trimmings and all I get is dog food. Because I am a dog, I get dog food.'
Snoopy stood there and stared at his food for a moment and said, 'I guess it could be worse, I could be a turkey.'"
Have you shown appreciation for God's blessings?
In Closing: This thanksgiving we need to have a complete transformed view on everyday living - one changed from complaining to appreciation.
Just for fun - let us take this view:
• The income tax I pay means I made some money this year.
• These clothes that are now fitting a little tighter, means I had more than enough to eat.
• That yard that needed mowing, the flowers that needed water and the house repairs I made is proof that I have a home to live in.
• This heating bill means I have heat to keep warm.
• All those political adds on TV and radio, means I have the freedom to vote.
• That loud music coming from those car speakers, means I can hear.
• That alarms that goes off - means I have a place of importance to be at.
• These sore muscles, means I had a productive day.
Adding it all up protects us from the heart of the:
The young man who was feeling very proud of himself. As a brand new college graduate he had taken the C.P.A. Exams and passed with flying colors. Now he was a full-fledged Certified Public Accountant.
His father had been an immigrant to the U.S., and now owned his own little business. Filled with self-importance, the young man began to criticize his father’s way of keeping books. He said, 'Dad, you don’t even know how much profit you’ve made. Over here in this drawer are your accounts receivable. Over there are your receipts and you keep all your money in the cash register. You don’t have any idea how much money you’ve made.'
The father answered, 'Son, when I came to this country the only thing I owned was a pair of pants. Now, your brother is a doctor, your sister is an art teacher, and you are a C.P.A. Your mother and I own our home. We have a car and we own this little business. Now add that up, subtract the pants and all the rest is profit.'" (Message from Steve Shepherd, SermonCentral)
This Thanksgiving, add it all up and you will find that God is good all the time. Let us pray!