This message transcript records a message by Wayne Cordeiro. For more New Hope sermon transcriptions download them from the online store
Family feuds are a part of life. They involve people who were once amiable, but who are now somewhat antagonistic and miles apart. These feuds are sometimes caused by major breakdowns, but more often times, they are caused by cuts and scrapes that become infected.
The Power of Trivial Problems
During a flight to Los Angeles , a successful CEO of a large corporation occupied the seat next to me. Within a few minutes into our conversation, I discovered that he survived several physical and financial obstacles while building a successful company.
When he found out that I was a pastor, I asked him what church he attended. Surprisingly, I discovered that he stopped going to church because someone did not allow him to have the parking space he wanted near the sanctuary. He said that he got so mad that he drove off and never came back to church. This man, who overcame huge obstacles to build his company, could not overcome the insignificant problem that stood between him and eternal life.
This trivial problem controlled whether or not this successful businessman attended church. It also prevented him from becoming closer to God. This minor obstacle became a problem that he could not conquer. Some trivial problems, like the parking problem the man experienced, have the potential of becoming more powerful than they ought to be. They can affect our behavior and permanently transform the way we live each day.
Trivial problems can also be fatal.
Never Underestimate Minor Tribulations
While conducting a study about survivors, I realized how we should never overlook the minor obstacles that we face. Sometimes these small problems are the very ones that destroy our lives.
In 1912, when the Titanic hit an iceberg and sunk, many precious lives were lost. However, James Crutch was one of the few survivors of this horrific tragedy who escaped on one of the lifeboats. While in the Navy three years later, he was aboard the USS Lusitania when a German submarine fired a torpedo at it. He escaped death for a second time in the middle of the ocean. He was a man who survived huge obstacles. One day, however, he slipped in the creek next to his house, hit his head, and drowned in one foot of water.
James Berkley, a hunter of man-eating tigers and lions, did not die from the claws of a dangerous animal during a safari. No. He died after being scratched by his barnyard cat in the backyard. He developed blood poisoning from the incident and died one year later.
The third survivor I studied was a man named Charles Blondin who was a famous tight ropewalker that scaled the Niagara Falls . He traveled from Canada to the United States with a wheelbarrow filled with sand, just to show people he could walk across that tightrope. This courageous man succeeded in walking on the tightrope over extraordinary heights and never died from falling off. Do you know what he died from? He tripped on his doormat at home and fractured his leg. Complications developed from the fracture and he died a year and a half later.
It’s amazing how people can overcome the largest problems and trip over minor tribulations. Although these problems are small in size, they have the potential to do great harm. We need to pay more attention to these minor problems and never underestimate the damage they can cause. In relationships, these minor tribulations can shatter lives.
How many relationships have been broken because of a minor, and often foolish, problem?
An untrue rumor, a miscommunication, a misperception, and someone’s immaturity are minor problems that have the potential to destroy our relationships. We are all immature to one level or another. But ironically, we can overcome the biggest battle, but die climbing the smallest hill.
“Lord, please teach us how to deal with the cuts and scrapes because they are a part of life.”
Turning Mistakes into Miracles
“Therefore, we do not lose heart…For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Momentary life afflictions will produce a glorious change in us far beyond our comprehension. If we learn how to correctly handle cuts and bruises, we will develop valuable character qualities we need in life.
My daughter Abby once needed help with her homework assignment that included 35 math problems.
She said, “Dad, can you help me figure this one out?”
Since I was pretty good at math, I replied, “Okay, in order to solve this problem, you need to do this and then this. And then, there’s the answer.”
She said “Wow! That’s great. So how would the second one be figured out?”
I would work on the second math problem and then exclaim, “Well, here it is! There’s the answer.”
She said, “Dad, that is so good! Try this third one. Let’s see how you do on this third one.”
Now I’m Portuguese, but I’m not that stupid. By the time she wanted me to solve the third problem, I caught on and I said, “Wait a minute! You have to do it.”
She said, “But Dad, it’s so painful and it’s so hard to do. It’s going to take me ten times longer than you! If you do it, it’ll be done!”
I said, “Honey, you know dad can do your homework for you and you might get A’s and B’s, but you won’t learn anything. Dad loves you too much to do it for you or take it away from you. Even though it’s painful and kind of tough, you’ll learn how to solve it too, but it’ll take some time. Mom and I will help and teach you, but we can’t do it for you because it’ll be bad for you.”
This can also be applied to cuts and bruises.
“What a wonderful life it would be if we didn’t have to go through the difficult problems that we experience. Lord, would you just figure it out for me and get rid of it?”
But the Lord says, “I love you too much to do your homework for you because in the midst of how you work it out, you will build wisdom.”
Learning how to change mistakes into miracles can affect our entire life. We need to realize how to take care of our cuts and bruises by ourselves because we cannot gain wisdom by allowing someone else to do our homework for us. If we do, we are shortchanging ourselves and undermining what God has planned for us to experience,
Sources of Cuts and Bruises
• Words and actions that are intentional
This occurs when someone purposely wants to cut you. They call you names and try to find a way to harm you. Retaliation is also classified under this category.
• Words and actions that are unintentional
These types of cuts and bruises occur when someone would say something with no intentions to hurt you, but you still feel the pain and are offended by the comment. This happens a lot in our relationships.
Self-inflicted cuts and bruises are the worst and most dangerous types. A self-inflicted cut is when someone says something and you add a meaning to it that wasn’t intended for the comment to have.
For example, someone says, “Hey, you need driving lessons.”
And you say, “What did you say that for? Are you saying that because you hate me? You’ve been bothering me for years. You know, your heart is really evil.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
“No, you’re not sorry. You have a bad heart. You just want to criticize people, don’t you?”
“No, it’s not …”
“Yes, it is!”
Sometimes we take what someone else has said to us and add a mutated, perverted heart and intention to it. We make it appear as a monster and it begins to take on a life of its own. It was never intended to have these connotations, but somehow we become victims who are injured by the monster we created.
We fall victim to creating cuts and bruises to ourselves. We blame someone else, but we must realize that we are creating our own wounds.
Everyone will have cuts and bruises, no matter how or who causes them.
How do we rise above these cuts and bruises so they don’t become destructive? What’s God’s remedy?
“Therefore, we do not lose heart ” (2 Corinthians 4: 16)
1. Guard your heart .
“Above all else, guard your heart , for it affects everything you do” (Proverbs 4:23).
The condition of your heart is incredibly important because it will affect everything you do. The Bible says your heart is an eternal dictionary from which you will hold definitions. It determines how you define every event. You are constantly building your eternal dictionary with how you define the circumstance and how you define your setback. Everything is affected by this dictionary because your perspective is based on the definitions that appear in this book.
Basically, there are three ways of viewing a situation.
The first type of perception causes the individual to blame others for what happened. The person defines the situation in a critical, negative way and believes that he/she is the victim.
In the second type of perception, the individual acknowledges that the goal was not achieved, but believes that it didn’t happen because it wasn’t a part of God’s plan.
The third type of perception is based on a completely different definition. When the setback occurs, this individual can perceive the situation from one extreme to another. The person can see it as though he or she has come to the end of the road, or view it as a new beginning in life.
In each example, the person is faced with the same situation. The only difference is how they chose to define the situation and which definitions they chose to use.
You program and build your heart. You develop and place the definitions into this dictionary. That’s why God tells you that the most important thing about you is your heart and not your performance. If God can obtain your heart, then it’ll affect everything else in your life. If you allow God to correct and adjust your heart, it will affect the way you see, speak, act, and respond in this world.
God says, “Give me your heart and I’ll change it.”
God is more concerned about your heart than anything else.
Building Good Treasure
The New Testament says to build good treasure in your heart.
“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart will bring forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart” (Luke 6:45).
You get to choose what kind of treasure you’re going to build and what kind of definitions you will place in your eternal dictionary. Will it be filled with good or evil? The choice is up to you.
The Scripture says, “Guard your heart.”
This means that you should place a sentry over the lid of your heart. Watch over it because you’ll be responsible for what goes into this eternal dictionary. Don’t open the lid to your heart for anything. If it’s not right and it’s not something God would say, don’t open your heart. But if it’s good, allow it to enter your heart.
The following message is especially important to the sisters. Many sisters constantly feel that they must show others that they’re open and gracious. They leave the lid to their heart open all the time. It sounds nice, but it’s unbiblical. That’s why many sisters walk around with a wounded and broken heart. Since their lids are open, whatever someone says goes straight into their heart. They’re at the mercy of everybody’s character deficiency. For example, if someone is immature or retaliatory, what he or she tells you will enter right into your heart. If you do that, you’ll walk around with a confused, wounded or broken heart, but God is saying, “Don’t do that. Watch over your heart with all diligence for out of it flows the issues of life and just build good treasure in it.”
“How do I repair my heart after I’ve allowed some bad things in? I have a wounded heart, but that’s not how I want it to be. What can I do about this?”
• Let Jesus wash you immediately.
Would you let Jesus wash you immediately?
“Lord, I’m so sorry. I let what someone say affect me deeply and it wasn’t You Lord. I discern it now but it’s a little too late. But I know it wasn’t You and it’s not Your Word. It didn’t come from Your heart, but I let it affect me deeply. Lord, I need You to wash me from the inside out.”
And He will.
Jesus did this with the disciples in a physical way. In John 13, He girded himself about with a towel, took a basin, and He began to wash the disciples’ feet. He tells the disciples that they must continue to allow Jesus to wash them. Now, Jesus comes to Peter and says, “Peter I’m going to wash you.”
“He came to Simon Peter who said to him, ‘Lord are you going to wash my feet?’… ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me’” (John 13:6, 8).
If we don’t let allow Jesus to wash us, we cannot be close to Him. There will always be the pain, the cut, or the infection that stands between us. When we have a bad experience and allow some toxin into our heart, we need to let Jesus wash us immediately. This may be a daily occurrence, but we must remember that we need Him to cleanse us from these toxins.
When I was sleeping, I got up at about one o’clock in the morning because my eye was really itchy. I guess I must have rubbed my eye with a dirty hand, but I was too tired so I didn’t wash it immediately. I thought, “I’m going to bed. It’ll go away.” At about three o’clock, I got up and now my eye was really sore. I thought, “I have to wash my eye in the morning . ” And I went back to sleep. I got up at about six o’clock and I couldn’t open my eye at all. It was swollen shut and I had to go to the doctor to get some medication for it. I thought, “I should have washed it immediately.”
This is same thing that happens with our hearts. But we often go to God only when it’s infected. By that time, we need a major course of action.
Guard your heart. One of the ways to do that is let God wash it immediately.
• Refuse to be offended .
You have a choice to refuse to be offended. If there is anybody that had an opportunity to be offended, it was Jesus. When the Pharisees and Sadducees were coming to slander Him or when they were looking to murder Him, He could have been offended because He was righteous in all things.
“ He will not be disheartened or crushed , until He has established justice in the earth” (Isaiah 42:4).
This was a choice that Jesus made until He accomplished what God had asked Him to accomplish. Of course He had the opportunity to be crushed and disheartened, but He refused to be offended. This is the choice that you and I will have to make too; otherwise, we will be a victim to everybody and their mistakes, words, comments, and their brash sayings or reactions.
We have to choose to be either a victim or a person who will keep a heart that is buoyant enough so we will find victory.
Don’t choose to be a victim.
“Okay, it’s your fault. You said that to me and because of that, I’m disqualified. I’m valueless. I don’t feel good about myself. It’s your fault.”
No one can make that choice but you. Everyone will have flaws, but we have to choose whether or not we will be offended. We can choose not to become a victim and not display the characteristics of a victim.
If we choose to be a victim, then we can blame somebody else for what happens. It feels good because if we can place the blame on another person, then it justifies what we do and how we act. It gives us a reason to be bitter, to feel like we’ve been defeated, and the reason to never try any more. To blame someone else is the lazy way out, but sometimes it feels so good to be able to blame someone else because we’re exonerated for our defeat.
The Lord tells us not to make the choice to be a victim and become offended. Sometimes, even if God has miracles in store for us, and promises to bring us victory, we choose to take the posture of a victim. When we do that, we will not receive any miracles.
“I can’t do it. I can’t finish it and it’s your fault.”
As soon as we say that and choose to be a victim, we have disqualified ourselves from a miracle. Why should the Lord perform miracles when we don’t want it, don’t see it, and don’t accept it?
We already made our choice of what we’ll be: a victor or victim. I chose victim and it’s your fault.
The miracles stop happening because we’re unavailable to a miracle. We’ve postured ourselves out of that opportunity.
God is saying, “Guard your heart. Keep your heart because once you lose it, it’ll affect everything in your life.”
This happened one day when Jesus came back to the synagogue and began teaching.
“And they took offense at Him… And He could not do any miracle there…” (Mark 6:3, 5).
Some people looked at Jesus and said, “Who’s this guy teaching and telling us about healing and holiness? Isn’t He Mary and Joseph’s son? Isn’t this the carpenter?”
The Bible said, “they were offended.” Because of the offense, God withheld any miracles. They chose to be offended and when they made that decision, God did not perform any miracles. Even though they are there, they made themselves unavailable to these miracles. They disqualified themselves from that great opportunity.
We must refuse to be offended.
The most dangerous thing about choosing to be offended is that you have allowed someone else’s mistake to control your destiny. You’ve allowed someone else to determine what your countenance will be for that particular day. You’ve allowed them to control whether your day will be a failure or success, whether your future will be filled with hope or hopelessness, and whether you will be bitter or better. The other person’s action, mistake, immaturity, and wickedness will determine your destiny and that’s just demonic.
When the Bible says that Jesus is Lord, do you know what Lord is? Your Lord is the one who will determine your destiny. Your Lord will determine your account and your disposition. Whoever your Lord is, is the one who will determine the fruitfulness and hopefulness of your future, or the lack of fruitfulness, the barrenness, and the hopelessness of your future. The Lord is whoever you give permission to control all of these things.
If you allow someone else’s mistake to control your destiny and disposition in your life, you have allowed that person to be your lord. You’re giving lordship to people and that’s very offensive. The reason why you are so depressed and disheartened is because you’re serving the wrong lord. There’s only one Lord and one God, and His name is Jesus. He will never fail you, nor forsake you. But sometimes in order to bring you to that realization, He has to allow some cuts and bruises to happen.
• Return to what’s basic .
Cuts and bruises will remind you to return to what’s basic because the pain is there and you’re driven to make a choice.
“Am I going to give in to that person’s mistake, immaturity, or wickedness? Or am I going to let this drive me back to who I know is my Lord, Jesus?”
Sometimes God has to give us cuts and bruises in order to stop us from looking and depending on people as our source of value. This causes us to rethink about the person who is creating the pain. It reminds us to stop depending on that person as a source of our value and self-esteem. There’s only one that we should depend on and that’s the Lord. The cuts and bruises remind us to turn back to God and stop us from depending on people. It’s painful but it’s so important.
Someone said to me, “ Wayne , never despise anything that takes you to your knees.”
Never despise anything that takes you to your knees because it takes you back to what’s basic. Sometimes I don’t realize that Jesus is all I need, until Jesus is all I have. . He tries to correct us back to Him because He will never change. Everything else will change, but He won’t.
“He Himself said, ‘I will never desert you nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid…’” (Hebrews 13:5, 6).
He will bring us home, so never despise anything that takes you to your knees.
We will all have cuts and bruises. Now I understand God is working on the choice of my heart and He is. He is working on the inclination of our heart.
“Will you fall to victim or will you choose to be a victor?”
Guard your heart so that God can bring a miracle.
It’s like that wonderful poem that says:
“One ship sails east and the other west while the same breezes blow. But it’s the set of the sail, not the winds that will determine where it goes. And each day that passes, as we journey on through life, it is the set of your heart that determines your destiny, not the storms or strife.”
God is working on our heart, the eternal dictionary through which we define everything in life. Guard it, and build good treasure.
“Sometimes I come to these intersections of life when someone does something to me and I don’t know what to do. I need some instruction as to how to navigate through this situation. How can I get some help?
2. Ask for and apply wisdom.
“I could use a little more wisdom in my life.”
“If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him – and He will gladly tell you” (James 1:5 LB).
Remember, the Scripture doesn’t say that He’ll do our homework for us. He’ll instruct us, but we have to ask for it and apply wisdom.
What’s wisdom? It’s really simple. When we come to an intersection in our life, there will be choices we have to make. Wisdom is when God shows and helps us to see things the way He sees them. God will reveal to us how He would respond and how He would speak if He was in the same situation.
Now it’s still a choice we have to make. He’ll show us how He sees and how He would define the situation, but we will still have to make a choice whether we will agree with wisdom or choose to reject it.
If we choose to agree with wisdom, we have to correct our hearts and change our perspective. Instead of saying what we would like to say, we will correct our words and say what Jesus would say.
“Will your flesh like it?”
Not on our life! It will scream against us. We will go through a battle . Some of the greatest battles we will fight and win will be right here in our heart.
When we choose wisdom and apply it, we will become someone who will be growing in wisdom. We will start to see things the way God sees it. We will define things the way Gods defines it. We will start to do things as the Lord would do it. We will have the same perspective as He would have.
Do you know what He’s doing?
He’s changing our heart.
Our definitions are changing and we begin to see things from God’s perspective. We will be defining events the way God would have us define them. We’ll be making a choice to not do it in the flesh but to do it in the Spirit. He’s changing our heart.
Ask God and apply wisdom.
Now, I will tell you a little story about how I try to develop wisdom in my life. It might seem a little childish, but it will give you an example about asking for wisdom.
When I come to a problem, I see it almost as a contest or a sport as it were. I think , Arrrgh , I’d like to sure give him a piece of my mind . I just immediately kind of change channels and I see it as a contest where the Lord is the judge. It’s almost like a sport because I love sports. It’s like the Lord is saying, “Hey, Wayne , there’s the challenge. There’s the contest.”
Now, the object of this contest is that I must find the wisest way through this problem and through this situation. I have to figure it out and come through it with the wisest answer, the wisest solution. I have to speak with the greatest wisdom.
Here are the rules of the game. I can ask for help in this game. I can ask for advice. But remember I could get bad advice, as well as good advice. I can get counsel and advice, and maybe the more recommendations I get, the better it is. But I have to make sure that I carefully choose the counselors and advisors, because if they give me wrong advice and I apply it, I could lose the contest.
God is the judge and He says, “There’s the problem. It’ll be in your family, it’ll be in your relationship, or it’ll be at church. Here it is! Your car gets scraped.”
You are now in the contest.
“You’re waiting in the congestion outside because New Hope doesn’t have enough parking.”
You’re in the contest and God will say, “Let’s see how you do. You can get advice, but go ahead, figure it out.”
“What’s the best way to handle myself? What should I say? What kind of disposition should I have? I know my flesh is really going to push me one way, but what’s the best solution I have to make sure that I do it right so the judge, the Lord, will say ‘Well done.’”
I want to win.
In fact Corinthians say, “Run in such a way that you win.”
“Isn’t it childish to build wisdom that way?”
“Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool; and so is wisdom to a man of understanding” (Proverbs 10:23).
Foolish people take wickedness to its furthest extreme and they treat it almost like a sport. They think of the most perverted thing that they can do and put it on television or in a movie. “Let’s get even more perverted. Let’s get more of this and more of that. Let’s make it worse and worse so it’s more like a sport.”
Do you know what the people of understanding do? They take wisdom and they make it the best contest. They win every time and this will build a man of great understanding.
Ask God for and apply wisdom and you’ll begin to see the cuts and bruises as something that becomes a classroom of character rather than a torturer that would cause misery . It can be the beginning of a miracle rather than the end of it if you choose not to be offended.
How do we keep our heart afloat when the currents come against us? How do we keep it floating rather than having it submerged under wate
3. Fix your sights on what’s eternal.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen , but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
In order to keep your heart buoyant, you have to see not the cuts and bruises and not what he said or she said.
“Ouch! That bruised my soul. But Lord, what are you building in me? How can I let go of old flesh and old ways of reacting? What are you doing in me?”
Once we focus our eyes on what God is doing, we will begin to look more like the person God intended us to become. However, if we fix our eyes on the problem, we will become more like the problem.
For example, I was taking a motorcycle safety course and a police officer was teaching us how to make turns with the motorcycle that are really steep.
The instructor said to me, “Wayne, when you take a sharp turn, don’t look at the guardrail.”
I asked him, “Why not?”
He said, “Because whatever you focus on, you will become one with shortly.”
“So where do I look?”
“You do not look into the turn. You look out of the turn, as far as you can see. It’s like a gyro in you and actually, you and your bike will follow. You can be one inch away from the guardrail but there will be no fear that will cause you to panic because you will be looking out of the turn. If you look at the guardrail and you see it coming closer to you, you’re going to panic, freeze up and you’re going to crash. Look out of the turn every time.”
This applies to motorcycles, but it also applies to life. How often do we look into the turn? How often do we look at how dumb we are? Or how dumb this is? How stupid this is and we become one with it as dumb as stupid. We retaliate and we become just as bad as the other person.
The Lord is telling us to look out of the turn. When that happens, then we won’t fall prey to the cuts and bruises.
What’s More Important Than Cuts and Bruises?
Let’s imagine that Anna and I are hiking and her hat flies off and down the mountain.
She says, “Honey, would you go back down the hill and get my hat?”
“I’m not going anywhere for that stupid hat.”
“But, honey, that’s my hat that I bought at Ross’s. Would you get that for me?”
“Honey, do you know how many bushes I had to pull away from me and all those branches that hit me on the face on the way up here? I had to make my way through that and your hat is down there?”
But she said, “If you love me …”
So I go back down and I go around every branch and underbrush because I don’t want it to scrape or scratch me. I do what she wants me to do, but with a bad, grumbling heart.
Imagine the same scenario, but this time my wife, Anna, falls down instead of her hat. She’s at the edge of the cliff. In an instant, I would run down the mountain to save her. I wouldn’t mind the scratches from the branches because she is worth much more than the cuts and bruises. The bushes and branches will cut and scrape me, but I could care less because something much more important is at stake than the cuts and the bruises.
When you get caught up in the cuts and bruises, it may be God’s way of reminding us that our eyes have been focused too much on the temporal objects in life. We look not on the seen, but that which is unseen. For that which is seen is passing. That which is unseen is your destiny. Amen.