Posts Tagged ‘Negativity’

Genesis 37:36 – DIARY OF AN OVERCOMER – Part 7 

Victim or Overcomer? © Image by Ross Cochrane

I imagine that this is the diary of Joseph, writing about the events of his new life in Egypt, extrapolated from the Biblical narrative, and with my personal reflections.  

Diary of Joseph: I am still alive. That’s something, I suppose. No amount of pleading, either with my brothers or my distant relatives, the Ismaelite and Midianite traders, would persuade them to let me go. We may have a common ancestor but obviously business is more important to them than blood ties. I am now twice sold.  

I have been sold to a man called Potiphar. He is some kind of high-ranking officer in this land called Egypt. I am picking up the language quickly. There is no means of escape and I am missing home and even my brothers more than I could have imagined.  

Egypt 

It seems as if my dream of leadership is on a journey in a strange land. God is all I have left in whom I can trust. What is He trying to teach me? What lessons of leadership and service am I to learn from these strange circumstances in which I am found? 

This place and culture is truly amazing. There are beautiful homes, great pyramids and a sophisticated form of government. Most Egyptians are farmers. They are not nomadic.  

Egyptian homes are constructed of mud-brick designed to remain cool in the heat of the day. The walls are painted white and covered with dyed linen wall hangings. The floors are covered with reed mats. It’s all very clean and ordered.  

I am expected to bath in the Nile river using a pasty soap, and to shave all hair from my body for cleanliness. Then I must use perfumes and ointments to cover any body odor. My clothes are very simple, bleached white material. Potiphar and his family wear wigs and jewelry and paint their faces.  

The food is good and varied, bread, vegetables, fruit, wine and meat. 

There is obviously a well-organized trade between Egypt and other lands. Egyptians depend upon merchants for many different kinds of supplies, including slave labor.  

Learning and intellectual pursuits are valued by the Egyptians but their religion binds them to continually think about death rather than life. I have never before seen such craftsmanship, carvings and idol worship. They have an idol for every sphere of life and a dark spiritual blindness that pervades their thinking. 

Victim or Overcomer? 

I think I have good reasons for feeling victimized, but I will not be ruled by such unhelpful emotions. Yes, I was obviously not liked by my brothers. Yes, they rejected my overseers role given to me by my father. Yes, they were negative and cruel and I was thrown into a pit. Yes, they sold me as a slave. Yes, I am miles from home with no way of getting back.  

I could become negative about my circumstances but I will not. I still have God, who loves and cares for me. I still have a God-given dream, and a bent towards leadership. I will seek to line up with the destiny God has chosen for me, not get depressed about what I don’t have. I will lift my thinking to the level of my belief and seek to serve Him and others around me rather than build my life around my problems or my past.  

So rather than continually trying to get free and asking why, I have chosen to live free and ask what God is saying.  

Lord, help me wage a war on my negative thoughts, the strongholds of my human reasoning that try to enslave me and to war against every obstacle that keeps me from trusting in the freedom I have in knowing You. Just as I have been captured physically, I pray that You would help me capture my rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey You. And after I have become fully obedient, I will truly live free inside. 

What will happen to me? I don’t know. Only God can answer that question so I will not be ruled by what may or may not happen. Today I decide to fix my thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. I will think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. I will not be conformed to this world in which I find myself, but I will be transformed by the renewing of my mind as God shows me each step of the way ahead. 

TO BE CONTINUED… 

Pastor Ross 

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Matthew 17:14-20, Mark 9:14-28: DOES GOD STILL HEAL PEOPLE TODAY?

Praying for Angie

Praying for Angie

She had battled with cancer and won. “No-one could help me. It was just me” she said, “No-one could go through it with me. I had to fight it all by myself. I’d like to have faith in God but I don’t have it and so I did it all alone.” Is it positive thinking that brings healing or how much I pray with faith? In Deuteronomy 32:39 (NLT) God says He is the only One who has the power over life and death and the power to wound and heal “I am the One who kills and gives life; I am the One who wounds and heals; no one can be rescued from My powerful hand” (see also 1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7). Does God still heal the sick today?

Jesus disciples were certainly involved in healing the sick. Back in Matthew 10:8 (NLT) Jesus “gave them AUTHORITY” to go out and Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons.” Seventy two of the wider circle of disciples including the twelve were sent out in Jesus’ Name (with healing ability and authority) and Luke 10:17 (NLT) says “When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to Him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use Your name!””

By Matthew 17:14, nine disciples have arrived at the bottom of a mountain, gather a crowd, and get involved in an argument with the religious leaders, the Scribes, and can’t cast a demon from a boy. They ask Jesus why they failed. He said “YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FAITH” (Matthew 17:20 NLT).

When the disciples were originally sent to heal the sick and cast out demons in Matthew 10:14 (NLT) it says “If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.” Notice, it doesn’t say to STAY AND ARGUE. Negativity is faith-depleting and limits the healing possibilities through faith in Christ. Negativity is doubt-building. Prayer is faith-building.

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus said. They didn’t have enough faith themselves because they were drawn into an argument with the Scribes (Mark 9:14). Bad attitudes kill faith. By the time they tried to heal this boy, a mountain of unbelief stood in the way. It seems they were meant to search for those who would listen and respond in faith to the message of God’s grace, not have their faith dragged down to the level of the arguments of men. Faith doesn’t mix well with scepticism and negativity.

When Jesus arrived, He was faced with a mountain of unbelief. He was looking for that which pleases God in the crowd. He didn’t find it in the Scribes. He didn’t find it in His disciples. He didn’t find it in the crowd. He found it in the mustard-seed-faith of a father and moved a mountain for his son. He wanted to have the faith of the boy’s father involved too. Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) says “…it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”

God doesn’t want lone-ranger-super-disciples trying to cast out demons. He wants a community inspired to believe for a miracle and in the only One who has come to save them from their sin. The prayer of faith that can remove demons is the kind of faith that can move a mountain of unbelief. Luke 9:43 (NLT) says “Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power. Everyone was marveling at everything He was doing”. One healing left a crowd of people in awe of what God could do.

Faith is contagious. Mustard seed faith in a Dad moved a range of mountainous difficulties for his son, but also removed the mountainous influence of unbelief. The way we relate to God is by faith. God not only looked for a spark of faith in the father of the boy when He couldn’t find it in the disciples but He invites you and me to have faith in Christ today.

“Does God still heal the sick today?” Wrong question. “Am I willing to trust in Christ, come under His authority, and pray for God’s healing mercy?” Much better.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 7:1 – NEGATIVITY VULTURES!

Negativity Vultures

FAULTFINDING is the “VENOM OF THE SOUL” (Ray Pritchard). It verbalises defeat. It destroys joy, and vulture-like rips away at our hope and potential.

The PHARISEES are the religious leaders and they continually gather, like vultures, to communicate negativity to Jesus. NEGATIVITY VULTURES are scavenging people of prey, Condors of criticism, feeding on the carcasses of the wrongs of others. These sad individuals thrive on all that is negative, on what they see as the mistakes and sins of their victims. They hover over the social environment, keeping a close eye out for the dead, rotting flesh of the failures of others. They are SCAVENGERS OF SCANDAL. These RUTHLESS RAPTORS can smell defilement from a mile away and with their derisive cries they gather to the hunt in ever diminishing circles of flight until they land to tear the flesh off anyone with a flaw.

A group of Pharisees are very much like a WAKE of vultures. A WAKE is a ceremony associated with death and they speak WORDS OF DEATH. The only friends of a negative person are other negativity vultures who gather for nit-picking the rotting flesh of lost potential.

And by the way, not all of them are bald-headed old world vultures. They are found in every generation. The faultfinder feeds on the flaws of others and then, as vultures do, they vomit it up for their young so that the next generation learns their negativity. Unfortunately they are not an endangered species.  

My Pastor, Brian Houston, says negativity magnifies anxiety and distorts truth. It makes harsh judgments and sweeping, unfair statements. It sabotages potential. It turns molehills into mountains.

No wonder that Jesus says “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. (Matthew 7:1 NLT). He’s not speaking against their discernment, but against their UNCONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM, and their inability to discern their own shortcomings. He is warning them that JUDGMENT BITES BACK.

Tom Attridge shot his own plane down in 1956 when the velocity and trajectory of the rounds he fired decayed, and ultimately crossed paths with the plane’s shallow dive forcing Attridge to crash-land the aircraft. Destructive Negativity inevitably catches up with us and we SHOOT OURSELVES DOWN.

What is the spirit behind and the motivation of my judgments? Jesus commands me not to be hypercritical and negative and faultfinding towards others. He is saying stop being so annoying, petty and trivial! Stop being so objectionable, obnoxious and critical! Stop being so disapproving and disparaging! Stop being so scathing and severe! There is a spiritual gift of encouragement but there is no such gift as the gift of negativity.

What disturbs me is that I hear this verse used as if it is advocating that I ACCEPT any kind of lifestyle and teaching no matter what God’s Word has to say about it, and if I don’t then I am “not being very Christian”. Our culture cries out with insistent declarations against followers of Christ – “Do not judge! Do not make moral evaluations! Do not condemn anything!” Wrong! That is not what Jesus is commanding. He is not trying to water down evil in the world. He is not trying to excuse our sin. That’s NOT the emphasis of this passage at all. In fact to read it that way misses the whole point of what Jesus is trying to say. UNCONDITIONAL LOVE FOR OTHERS DOESN’T MEAN UNCONDITIONAL APPROVAL OF OTHERS! You know the saying “Jesus loves me as a sinner but He doesn’t love my sin. He loves me too much to have me stay the way I am.” John 16:8 (NLT) says that the Holy Spirit comes to “…convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.”

Without Christ we are already condemned. The fact is that Jesus Christ is the only One who has come to save us from certain judgment. Conviction of sin, confession of our inability to save ourselves, commitment to Christ alone as Saviour = no condemnation. Jesus paid the price for me when He died for my sin. John 3:17-18 (NLT) says “God sent His Son into the world NOT TO JUDGE THE WORLD, but to SAVE the world through Him. There is NO JUDGMENT against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son…”

The invitation for us before diving in for the kill with our negative judgments of others is to ask “Am I being a NEGATIVITY VULTURE feeding on the faults of others or an INSTRUMENT OF GOD’S MERCY revealing God’s grace and patience? Is my aim to condemn or to express the love of Christ? Is my aim TO JUDGE OR TO SAVE.”

Pastor Ross