The Scorpion and the Frog
"Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil."1
You've no doubt read the old fable about the scorpion and the frog. It illustrates how man's nature is much more devious and controlling than is his logic.
The fable says how, "One day a scorpion arrived at the bank of a river he wanted to cross, but there was no bridge. He asked a frog that was sitting nearby if he would take him across the river on his back. The frog refused and said, 'I will not, because you will sting me.'
"The scorpion replied, 'It would be foolish for me to sting you because then we would both drown.'
"The frog saw the logic in the scorpion's words, and agreed to carry the scorpion across. But when they were halfway across the river the scorpion stung the frog. The stunned frog asked, 'Why did you sting me? Now we will both die!'
"The scorpion replied, 'Because I'm a scorpion … and that's what scorpions do.'"
Have you ever noticed that God is not concerned about being "politically correct?" Sad to say some people today are more concerned about being "politically correct" than they are about being "biblically correct." They change the name of sins to justify people's sinful behavior. They do this because they are more concerned about the approval of man than they are about the approval of God. To God, sin—all sin—is sin by whatever name we call it, and all sin is ultimately self-destructive regardless of how we seek to justify it.
Furthermore, God's Word reminds us that no matter how good, how noble, how educated, how refined, or how sophisticated we may be, we are all sinners.2 Like the leopard that cannot change its spots neither can we change our nature. We are not sinners because we sin, but rather, we sin because we are sinners. That's our nature and that's why we need God's salvation to save us from the eternal consequences of our sin—which is eternal separation from God for all eternity in the place the Bible calls hell.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for providing a way of escape from the eternal consequences of my sinful nature in that you gave your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross in my place to pay the punishment for all my sins. Help me to be certain that I am a true Christian, and that I have received your gift of forgiveness and eternal life. And dear Jesus, because you died for me, please help me to live for you always in all ways. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
For help be sure to read the article, "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian without having to be religious" online at: http://tinyurl.com/real-christian.
1. Jeremiah 13:23 (NIV).
2. See Romans 3:23.
<:))))>< Friday, August 24, 2012 Excuses, Excuses, Excuses "When all was ready, he sent his servant around to notify the guests that it was time for them to come. But they all began making excuses. One said he had just bought a field and wanted to inspect it, so he asked to be excused. Another said he had just bought five pair of oxen and wanted to try them out"1 "Douglas Bernstein, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois, recently asked faculty members for the 'most unusual, bizarre and amazing student excuses' they had ever heard. He got dozens." Following are a few: "An old favorite, but one professor's class established some sort of record when 14 out of 250 students reported their grandmothers' deaths just before final exams. In another class a student reported that he could not take the mid-term because his grandmother had died. When the instructor expressed condolences a week later, the student replied, 'Oh, don't worry. She was terminal, but she's feeling much better now.' "I had an accident, the police impounded the car, and my paper is in the glove compartment." "I can't be at the exam because my cat is having kittens, and I'm her coach." "I need to take the final early because the husband of the woman I'm seeing is threatening to kill me."2 Excuses go all the way back to Adam and Eve who said when they blew it, "The devil made me do it." Yeah. Right! Sir Walter Scott put it realistically when he wrote, "Oh, what tangled webs we weave / When first we practice to deceive." Of one thing we can be sure. God sees all and knows all. We can never deceive him. There will be no excuses when we stand before him on our final examination day, "As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment."3 To make sure you are prepared for your final exam be sure to read, "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" online at: http://tinyurl.com/real-christian. Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please deliver me from the self-deception of excuses. Help me always to tell the truth and accept responsibility for my foul-ups. And above all, help me to admit and confess to you all my failures and sins and seek your forgiveness. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen." 1. Luke 14:17-19 (NLT). 2. Dynamic Illustrations, Mar/Apr 1995. Cited in a sermon by Rev. Dr. David E. Leininger. 3. Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV). <:))))>< Thursday, August 23, 2012 Things That Bug Us
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."1
As the ditty goes, "It's the little things that bother us and put us on the rack, you can sit upon a mountain but you can't sit on a tack."
And isn't that the truth? It's the little annoyances in life that get us tied in a knot. A slight criticism, a driver who cuts us off on the freeway, a green light that turns red before we get to it, a friend running late, and so on.
Let us realize, however, that somebody's negative reaction may have more to do with them than us. A criticism may be somebody projecting their unresolved issues onto us. Somebody failing to thank us may indicate that they are having a "bad hair" day, and somebody cutting us off on the freeway may be an indication of their impatience—as well as a reflection of ours!
What somebody else does to me may or may not be a problem. How I react, though, is always my issue, and when I overreact, that is always my problem. What the other person does is their issue. How I act, react, or overreact is always my issue and my responsibility.
If we'd remember that "whatever others think of me is none of my business," I would at least learn to cope much better with many of life's little annoyances. I know it's easier said than done, but it is a goal to work towards. Furthermore, the more mature and whole I become, the less life's little annoyances will bother me. I'm still working on this issue.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, as it is your purpose for me, please help me to grow through the circumstances of life that 'push my hot buttons' and so become more and more like Jesus in every way. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV).
<:))))>< Tuesday, August 21, 2012 Hello, Lord
"Pray without ceasing."1
Ivor Bailey prayed: "I enjoy talking to you every night, Lord. I tell you what's on my mind—the things that bug me, the people I meet, the challenges I face, questions I can't answer.
"Because you're my friend, I don't feel I have to dress up or use out-dated language. I can relax with you.
"Isn't that what prayer is all about, Lord? You and I sharing things we think are important. Thank you, Lord."
Besides the Lord's Prayer this is another excellent way to approach prayer—just share with God what's on your heart, what's on your mind, what you are feeling, your joys, sorrows, and so on.
Sharing feelings is what intimacy, communication and connection are all about—not only with people, but also with God. We can do this not only at night but anytime, anywhere.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to be open, honest, and real with you. You desire truth in the innermost being. Help me to share my inner truth with you—the good, the bad, the indifferent—share it all, God, no matter what. Thank you for hearing, accepting all my feelings, and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
<:))))>< Wednesday, August 22, 2012 Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
"What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me."1
If I fear that I will get sick, dwell on it, and believe it, chances are more than likely that I will get sick. If I fear that I am going to be rejected and believe it, I will act in such a way to set myself up to be rejected and, like Job, the thing I fear will happen to me.
If because of a fear of failure, criticism, of not being perfect, and so on, I never step outside my comfort zone and take risks to achieve what God envisioned for me to do, I will never discover what I could achieve with my life.
Personally speaking, if I feel strongly about a project and sense God is leading me to do this, I would rather try, put it to the test, and even fail rather than through fear of failure never step out to follow my God-given life purpose and dream. I appreciate the words of the unknown poet who wrote:
I would rather stumble a thousand times
Attempting to reach a goal,
Than to sit in a crowd
In my weather-proof shroud
A shriveled and self-satisfied soul.
I would rather be doing and daring
All of my error filled days,
Than watching, and waiting, and dying
Smug in my perfect ways.
I would rather wonder and blunder,
Stumbling blindly ahead,
Than for safety's sake
Lest I make a mistake
Be sure, be safe, be dead.
As I suggested to a friend recently, let your decisions about what to do be based on love for serving God and others, and never on your fears.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, I admit my fears and I bring them all to you. Grant that all of my decisions will be based on direction from and love for serving you, and never on my fears. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Job 3:25 (NIV).