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Summary: Are you held captive by the fear within your mind? Here’s hope when your heart condemns you!

Whenever?

I John 3:18-24

There once was an out of work actor named Daniel. He was so down and out that he’s ready to accept any acting part that came along. One day he saw an advertisement in the paper: ACTOR NEEDED TO PLAY A GORILLA. "I could do that," Daniel thought.

Daniel arranged an interview. The employer turned out to be the local zoo. The zoo had spent too much money renovating the grounds and improving the habitat that they can’t afford the gorilla. So, until they can get more funding, they’ve decided to use an actor in a gorilla suit. Needing the money, Daniel took the job.

At first, he felt not only dishonest by fooling the customers but also undignified in the ape suit. But after a few days on the job, he begins to be amused by all the attention and started to put on a show for the spectators—hanging upside-down from the branches, swinging on vines, climbing up cage walls and roaring beating his chest. Soon, Daniel is drawing a sizable crowd.

One day, when Daniel was swinging on a vine to show off to some children, his hand slips and he goes flying over the wall into the lion’s den. He panicked. There was a huge lion not twenty feet away, and it looked very hungry. So the man in the gorilla suit started jumping up and down, screaming and yelling, "Help, help! Get me out of here! I’m not really a gorilla! I’m a man in a gorilla suit! Heeellp!"

The lion quickly pounced on the man, held him down and said, "Will you SHUT UP! You’re going to get both of us fired!!!"

There is a difference

between what is real

and what is perceived.

In the book “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”, Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey write:

Amputees often experience some sensation of a phantom limb. Somewhere, locked in their brains, a memory lingers of the nonexistent hand or leg. Invisible toes curl, imaginary hands grasp things, a missing leg feels so sturdy a patient may try to stand on it.

For a few, the experience includes pain. Doctors watch helplessly, for the part of the body screaming for attention does not exist.

Dr. Brand goes on to talk about his medical school administrator, Mr. Barwick, who had a serious and painful circulation problem in his leg but refused to allow the recommended amputation.

He says: As the pain grew worse, Barwick grew bitter. Finally Barwick told his doctor, “I can’t stand it anymore. I’m through with that leg! Take it off!” Surgery was scheduled immediately.

Before the operation, Barwick asked the doctor, “What do you do with legs after they’re removed?”

“We may take a biopsy or explore them a bit, but afterwards we incinerate them,” the doctor replied.

Barwick proceeded with a bizarre request. “I would like you to preserve my leg in a pickling jar. I will install it on my mantle shelf. Then, as I sit in my chair, I will taunt that leg, ‘Hah! You can’t hurt me anymore!’”

Ultimately he got his wish. Bu the despised leg had the last laugh.

Barwick suffered from phantom limb pain of the worst degree. The wound healed, but he could feel the torturous pressure of the swelling, as muscles cramped, and he had no prospect of relief. He hated the leg with such intensity that the pain had unaccountably lodged permanently in his brain.

Christians can be obsessed by the memory of some sin committed years ago. It never leaves them, crippling their ministry, their devotional life, their relationships with others. They live in fear that someone will discover their past. They work overtime trying to prove to God they’re truly repentant. Some even build barrier against the enveloping, loving grace of God.

I John 3:18-24

18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue

but with actions and in truth.

19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth,

and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence

20 whenever our hearts condemn us.

For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us,

we have confidence before God

22 and receive from him anything we ask,

because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.

23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son,

Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them.

And this is how we know that he lives in us:

We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

(NIV)

How do you know what is real and what is phantom?

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