Friends

Being a person who loves history, I love reading biographies of people who have helped change the world we live in.  I am amazed from where they start to where they end up.  Each time I have engaged in a serious study of someone, I always brace myself for surprises.  What I have learned is that the greater the life the more shocking the surprises.  You can always count on it, the circumstances and events that led to greatness in that person took place in the early, hidden years, when few were looking and no one cared.

I have read at least one biography of every president of the United States.  Most would assume the office of President would be a fitting climax to an already prestigious life.  After all, anyone who becomes president surely grew up with some sort of a silver spoon background, emerging naturally into the limelight before beginning an easy slide into the role of president. 

This could not be further from the truth for America’s sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln.  He grew up in a primitive log cabin in Kentucky.  His father was an illiterate, wandering laborer, his mother a frail sickly woman.  His mother passed away when he was 9 years old. 

Abraham Lincoln started his first business in 1831 and it failed miserably.  A year later he ran for state legislature unsuccessfully.  That same year he lost his job and applied for law school but was laughed out of consideration because of his miserable qualifications.   Years later he borrowed money form a friend to start another business, it failed.  Lincoln claimed bankruptcy and spent the next 17 years paying off debts.

Believe it or not, his story gets worse! In 1835, he fell deeply in love with Ann Rutledge only to have his heart broken when she died soon after their engagement.  The following year he had a nervous breakdown and spent 6 months in bed recovering.

But wait! There’s MORE! (talk about a life of Job!!):

•1838 he sought to become speaker of the state legislature and was defeated

• 1840 he sought to become elector of the state and was defeated

•1843 he ran for Congress and lost

•1846 he ran again for Congress and won

•1848 he lost reelection.

•1849 he sought the job of land officer in his home state but was rejected

1854 he ran for Senate of the United States, he lost

1856 he ran for Vice President from his party, he lost very badly

1858 he ran for the U.S. Senate again, lost again

•Finally, in 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected to the presidency of the United States and soon after endured the most devastating war our country has ever experienced.  He was re-elected for a second term.  On the April 14th, 1865, he was assassinated.  He was only 60 years old.

Through all the disappointment in his life he never gave up!   Please remember God used Abraham Lincoln to change the course of history, and he was faithful no matter what came his way.  He wants to use you too!  He wants to change the world through you. 

The greatest joy in life – nothing compares to the thrill of this – is the thrill of being used by God for a purpose greater than yourself.  Nothing else comes close.  If you have never actually had the feeling that you were being used by God, in the moment, for the particular purpose that He put you here for, then I feel sad for you.  You are missing out.  Literally nothing else compares to this feeling; when you know that you are being obedient, and DOING what God designed you to do. Even when in the moment you feel like you can’t, it’s too big, too much, too scary, too (insert excuse here), but you finally understand, and just obey!  This is why you are alive. This is your identity.  This is your niche.  You finally KNOW why you were made!

You were made for far more than just living for yourself.  If you just live for yourself you are going to live a very frustrated life, a very unfulfilled life, and eventually a very bored life because you’re not a big enough cause to live for.  You need something bigger than yourself that pulls you out of yourself, that makes you bigger than yourself, greater than yourself.  Wherever you go, you will know this is what you were made for.

The Bible says in Philippians 2:4 TEV “Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own.”   

That is such a counter-culture verse.  Everything in our culture conditions us to think first of ourselves.  We don’t think about other people naturally.  That is something we have to learn to do.  We naturally think about our needs, our desires, our goals, and our ambitions.  As a result, we have millions of people disconnected because they are only thinking of themselves and not anyone else’s needs.

During a two-hour period of down time, (I know you won’t believe I actually do try to get some of that when I can). I was watching TV, and I saw three commercials with the same by-line: “You deserve it.” “Buy this shampoo!  You deserve it.” “Buy this expensive car, because you deserve it!”  We are taught that we are the supreme value in life.

Let me teach you two very basic truths about life.  First, the world does not revolve around you.  You are very special in God’s eyes, and you were created for a purpose—but the world does not revolve around you. If you want to know how much you’d be missed, stick your hand in a bucket of water and pull it out, and see what kind of hole you leave.  It fills back up pretty quickly doesn’t it!

The second truth is this: God has promised that when you focus on meeting the needs of other people, He will meet your needs.  Why?  Because He wants you to learn to be unselfish. He wants you to learn to be loving and generous like He is.  Part of being considerate of other people’s needs is making allowances for their faults and not expecting them to be perfect (Colossians 3:13 NIV).  You are not perfect, so why should you demand it of anybody else?  God wants to use everybody, so team up with everybody and change the world for Jesus.

Make Every Day Count!

Barry

Come this Sunday and learn, every Saint has a past and every Sinner has a future