Summary: How do you encourage yourself when times get tough? You remember the blessings.
REMEMBERING THE BLESSINGS
Those of you who know me know that I love fishing. I do not however like hunting. For some reason the thought of shooting an animal is just not appealing to me. That does not mean I do not know how to shoot. When I was a kid I was in a gun club. I competed in target shooting and got my picture in the newspaper because I was a good shot. One day a friend suggested we take our guns and go out hunting. We went out in the woods near the house and it wasn’t long before we saw a rabbit. My friend shot and missed. The rabbit was running away and I took aim and fired – hitting it right in the neck. We ran over to it and saw it was suffering. Something in me just broke when I saw that terribly wounded animal. I was so upset by it that I took my gun and threw it into a pond on the way home. I haven’t picked up one since. I went home and told my brother what I had done, expecting he would understand my guilt. He asked where I had shot it and then went and found the rabbit, cut off it’s feet and hung them from the rear view mirror of his car. Every morning for the next 5 years going to and from school I had to look at those feet and remember what I had done and revisit my guilt.
Anybody here ever felt like that? You made a mistake in the past and to this day you are constantly being reminded of it and feeling guilty? How do you deal with those feelings of shame and guilt? The first step is repentance. The next step is remembering the blessings of God and moving forward.
Psalm 103:1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-- 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
David is speaking here to his own soul. Notice the wording. He is talking to everything that is IN HIM. He is speaking to his inner being in the second person form. David is talking to himself. Today I want to talk about what God wants you to say when you talk to yourself!
There was a time when David had made a mistake. He had led his men into battle, and left the women and children behind defenseless. When they returned, they found that their homes had been destroyed and their families carried away into captivity. They all wept at the tragedy. The men began to blame David and point their fingers at him…
1 Sam 30:6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God.
There is not one of us here this morning that has not made some grave mistakes in our lives. I am sure we all have regrets. Regrets are natural. When you think of it – regret and guilt is a very good thing. What if you did not feel regret? It is sort of like pain. We tend to look at pain as a negative thing, but really it is not. Pain is our friend. Pain tells us that something is wrong. It is pain that gets our attention and drives us to change.
I have one finger that has no real feeling on the end. It was crushed when I was young. Now it is like a poker. I can open a pop can with this thing just by poking it. However, not having pain is a problem.
In 1999 Dr Paul Brand and Philip Yancey co-wrote a book called Pain: the Gift Nobody Wants. Dr Brand was born in India to missionary parents, and has spent most of his life caring for people with leprosy. One of Dr Brand’s greatest discoveries was that people with leprosy do not have "bad flesh" that just rots away. Actually, their flesh is as healthy as yours, or mine.
The problem is that blood flow is restricted to certain parts of their body, and their nerve endings die. With this death of their nerve endings comes the inability to sense danger to their bodies. Lepers live totally pain free.
Don’t you wish you could live pain free? Not when you realize that this absence of pain is the greatest enemy of the leper. Again and again they harm their bodies, without even knowing it. Dr Brand knew that lepers often went blind. Why? Because they didn’t blink. They didn’t blink because they didn’t feel the pain that we feel when our eyes dry out. Dr Brand solved this problem by surgically attaching the chewing muscle to their eyelid – and then teaching them to chew gum.