Encouraging those struggling to make sense of their life, J.John discusses the need to gain perspective, persist in prayer, acknowledge your God-given potential, embrace a positive attitude and recognize God's provision.
J.John: When David saw Goliath, there were two possible reactions. The first reaction was, “He’s really big. Oh, no! I better run away!” The second reaction...
...the second reaction, “He’s really big; how can I miss?!”
(LAUGHTER and APPLAUSE)
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: Well that is a great perspective: “How can I miss?” Ya especially need to keep that in mind if you’re facing a big challenge. Now, we’re gonna hear more unique advice from our guest on Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus President Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, today’s guest is an outstanding speaker and he really has the gift of encouragement, as you’re gonna hear in a moment. His name is J. John and he lives near London, England with his wife Killy - they have three grown sons and one daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.
John: Here now is J. John, speaking at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia on today’s episode of Focus on the Family.
J.John: Thank you very much. Good morning.
(Audience reaction and APPLAUSE)
J.John: It is absolutely wonderful to be here. I think Liberty University is an incredible place and I’m delighted to be here. Now, I’m gonna just share a few little random reflections that I kind of picked up over my life being a follower of Jesus and in being in ministry.
There was a workman and at the end of a working day, he’s leaving his factory. And he’s pushing out his wheelbarrow. Inside the wheelbarrow is a small box. He’s stopped by a security guard. The guard says, “What have you got in your wheelbarrow?” He says, “Well, I’ve got a small box.” He says, “I know you’ve got a small box. What is in the box?” He says, “Well, you know the sawdust that’s on the floor? At the end of a working day, it’s swept up and it’s thrown away. Well, I needed some, so I put it in the box and I’m gonna take it home.” The guard said, “Open the box.” He opens the box - sawdust. He said, “Out you get.”
Next day, same thing; third day, same thing; fourth day, same thing. Fifth day, he’s pushing out his wheelbarrow. Inside there’s a small box. It’s the same security guard. The guard says, “It’s you again. What d’ya you got in your wheelbarrow?” He says, “I’ve got a box of sawdust.” He says, “Open it.” Opens it; it’s sawdust. The guard says, “I’ve got this feeling that you are up to something. I’ve just got this feeling.” He says, “I think you’re actually stealing something. Look, why don’t you tell me what you’re stealing and I promise I won’t report you.” And the man said, “All right then. I’m stealing wheelbarrows.”
Isn’t life a little bit like that? Sometimes we can get so distracted by one little thing that we miss the big picture. Sometimes we get a little bit like a little stone in our shoe and we’re kind of distracted and we’re preoccupied ‘cause we’ve got a little something. And then because of the distraction, we miss the big picture. Make sure you don’t get so distracted over the minor that you miss the major. It - perspective is so, so important.
There was um, a family. They just acquired a kitten. And they were in the garden. They were playing with this little kitten, and they put the kitten up on a tree and it ran up the tree, but then it slipped off this really big branch. And it was clinging on to the branch, but it didn’t have the body strength to flick itself back up onto the branch.
So, they tried to get to the little kitten, but they couldn’t get to it because of the tree, the branches. Now the father, he was a pastor, and he always came up with great ideas. He says, “I know what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna get my car. I’m gonna get a rope. I’m gonna tie the rope round the tree. I’m gonna tie onto the car. I’ll get in the car. I’ll drive a bit. That’ll bring down the big branch. We’ll be able to maneuver around and we’ll be able to get the little kitten down. Everyone said, “Daddy to the rescue.”
Daddy gets his car, gets the rope. Ties the rope round the tree; ties it onto the car. He gets in the car, begins to drive slowly, slowly. The tree’s bending, bending. The car’s moving; the tree’s bending, the rope (snaps fingers) snapped.
As the rope snapped, the tree flung back and the little kitten went “Poof!”
Flying out in the opposite direction. That’s the end of the story.
Well, look, look. Not every story has a happy ending.
Two weeks later, the pastor was visiting a member of his congregation. She opened the door. She said, “Pastor, come in.” He walked into the house. There in the house, in the hallway was his little kitten. He - it was unmistakable.
Now, he didn’t want to say, “That’s my kitten.” So he said, “That’s a lovely little kitten you’ve got.”
“Have you had her long?” She said, “You’re not gonna believe this, Pastor, but it was two weeks ago and I was in my garden with my little daughter, Annie. And Annie said, ‘Mummy, mummy, please can we have a kitten?’“
“I said, ‘No. We’ve had this conversation before; we’re not gonna have a kitten. Don’t ask me again.’ But she pestered and pestered me. The only thing I could think of doing was to say, ‘Annie, I tell you what. Let’s kneel down here in the garden...’“
“‘...and we’ll pray to the Lord Jesus. And if the Lord Jesus wants you to have a kitten, He’ll send you a kitten.’“
“Pastor, you are not gonna believe this...”
When we pray, coincidences happen, and when we don’t, they don’t. Repeat after me, “When we pray -” after me.
“When we pray, coincidences happen.”
Audience: When we pray, coincidences happen.
J.John: And when we don’t, they don’t.
Audience: And when we don’t, they don’t.
J.John: So, my philosophy is push: P-U-S-H. “Pray Until Something Happens.”
Pray until something happens. And so, I want to encourage you: have that philosophy of gaining God’s perspective, of being someone that is constantly a person of prayer, who keeps on pushing and praying until something happens.
Perspective is important. Prayer is important - so important. Now each of us has huge potential - huge potential. The Japanese fish, koi, if you took that koi Japanese fish and put it in a small fish bowl, it grows to 2 inches. If you took it out of the fish bowl and you put it into a big fish tank, it grows to 8 inches. If you took it out of the fish tank and you put it into a large pond, it grows to 18 inches. If you took it out of the pond and you put it into a big lake, it grows to 42 inches.
The koi fish always has the potential to be 42 inches. But sometimes it can be restricted because of its environment. And sometimes we can restrict ourselves because there are some people who would rather be a big fish in a small pond, rather than be a small fish in a big lake.
Listen, every one of us has huge potential, we have huge capacity. We want to reach the capacity that God has for us.
There was a factory, an ice factory, that caught fire.
And the ice factory had to call the fire brigade to come and put the fire out, even though the ice factory had all the H2O that it needed to put the fire out. The problem was all its assets were frozen.
The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives in us. My word. The same power that raised Jesus from the - lives in us? If that same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, surely someone should notice. If that power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, we have huge potential. We have huge capacity. Get the big perspective. Be prayerful. Realize that God in you has huge, huge potential. Be positive. So many people today, they seem just to be so very negative. You know, you might ask somebody, “How are you?” And they - I don’t mean you don’t be honest, but sometimes people’s vocabulary, sometimes their attitude, sometimes their perspective is so kind of negative. So, “How are you?” And someone might say, “Well, you know, I’m so-and-so under the circumstances.” Well, what are you doing under the circumstances?
Circumstances, they’re like a mattress. If you lie on top, it’s nice and comfortable. If you lie underneath, you suffocate.
So, you say to somebody, “How are you?” And they say, “Well, I’m all right under the mattress. I can’t breathe, but I’m all right.”
Let’s stop being negative. Be positive. When David saw Goliath, there were two possible reactions. The first reaction was, “He’s really big. Oh, no! I better run away!” The second reaction...
...the second reaction, “He’s really big; how can I miss!?!”
Keep that perspective. Be very prayerful. Realize that there is huge potential in you. Be incredibly positive.
John: Some great insights and advice from British evangelist, J. John, on today’s episode of Focus on the Family. We’ve got a CD of this program that we’d be happy to send to you. Just make a generous contribution of any amount today when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY - 800-232-6459 - or donate and request that CD at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Let’s return now to more from J. John.
End of Program Note
J.John: There was a man at an airport and he wanted to buy a bag of donuts, the small donuts and a coffee. So, he buys his donuts, he buys his coffee, and he’s looking for somewhere to sit, but all the tables, they’re all taken. There’s one table where there’s one man sitting. So, he thinks to himself, “I know what I’ll do. I’ll go and sit opposite him.” So, he goes to the table. He puts his coffee down. He puts his bags down. He takes his coat off, puts it on the chair; he sits in the chair. Ah!
He opens his coffee; he has a sip. He picks up the bag of donuts. He takes out one of the donuts; he starts eating it. He puts the bag down. The man opposite stretches over, picks up the bag of donuts, takes out a donut, starts eating it, puts the bag down, and smiles.
The other man cannot believe what he has just seen. What is the world coming to? I mean, this is unbelievable. He gives him one of these looks, “if looks could kill” looks. He picks up the bag of donuts. He takes out a donut. He leaves the bag at the edge of the table. He turns sideways - body language resistance - eats his donut. The man opposite stretches over, picks up the bag of donuts, takes out a donut, puts it down, and he smiles again.
And the man thinks, “Well, he’s obviously not quite there, is he?” You know, he’s not, you know, the elevator isn’t really working. It’s not going to the top.
So, he thinks, “I better not say anything, you know, just in case the man’s a little bit violent.” You know, you just don’t know, do you? So, he didn’t say anything.
The man gets up to leave. So, the other man thought, “It’s about time you left, you donut thief.”
Off he goes. The man looks at his watch. “Oh, it’s time for me to go.” He gets up. He puts his coat on. He bends down to pick up his bag and sitting on top of his bag was his bag of donuts.
The man was complaining that the other man was stealing his donuts, when the truth was, the other man was sharing his donuts. Now listen to me. God owns all the donuts.
(LAUGHTER and APPLAUSE)
God owns all the donuts. You see, all the time that we have, all the talents that we have, all the treasure that we have - it’s God’s. It’s His. We are only stewards. We’re only guardians of the time He’s given to us, of the talents He’s given to us, and of the treasure that He’s given to us.
Wherever you go onto next, always remember the big perspective. Always be prayerful. Always realize the potential that God has put into you. And always realize that it’s all His. It’s all His. I’m only a steward. I’m only a guardian.
Columbus set off and he didn’t know where he was going. When he got there, he didn’t know where he was. And when he got back, he didn’t know where he’d been. And many, many people have a sense of confusion about life and about direction. The essence of Christianity is to know Christ and to make Him known.
It doesn’t matter what kind of work we’ll be doing. Doesn’t matter whether we’re a minister, whether we’re a teacher, whether we’re an athlete, whether we’re a doctor, whether we’re a nurse, whether we’re - whatever. Whatever we’re doing, we’re doing it in the context of these two bookends: knowing Christ, making Him known. It’s about being connected, connected to Christ.
Now, just a moment I want you - think of your life like a car, okay? Think of your life like a car. To be a Christian, to be a follower of Christ, is to have Christ in your car. And maybe some of you here today, you still haven’t connected with Christ. And if you haven’t connected with Christ, I urge you, I encourage you to connect with Christ, to connect with Him. And if He’s not in the car of your life, I encourage you to invite Him into the car of your life.
Now for the majority of us here, if I said to you, “Is Christ in the car of your life?” you would say, “Yes, He is.” Great, okay. Where is Christ in the car of your life? Do you drive your car to church, unlock the trunk, get Jesus out for religious happy hour, at the end of the service, “Get back in there!”
You know, there are a lot of people like that. There are a lot of people who call themselves Christians who kind of have Jesus, but He’s hidden. Nobody would know. They kinda let Him out once - once a week. Others of you are just going, “No, J. John, He’s not in the trunk; He’s in the car.” Well, where is He in the car? Is He on the backseat, a bit of a passenger?”
“No, He’s in the front.” What do you mean? “The front passenger seat.” So, He’s still a passenger, but a bit of a companion. Now you’re thinking, “I know where you’re going with this one, J. John.” You don’t actually.
But you’re thinking, “He’s now gonna say, ‘Is He in the driving seat of the car of your life?’“ I am actually.
Is He in the driving seat of the car of your life?
For everybody here that said “yes,” I have another question for you. Are you a backseat driver?
You get to a crossroads. Jesus turns left. “Where are You going?!”
“I’m going down the road of forgiveness.” “But I don’t want to forgive her.”
Did you ever see the movie,?
(CHEERS and APPLAUSE)
Yeah. Okay, I - I’m Greek. I’m Greek. When that movie came out, my friends said to me, “John, is it true? Is it true?” I said, “No, it’s not true; it’s worse.”
My mother is a travel agent for guilt trips.
(LAUGHTER and APPLAUSE)
But the Lord says to me, I need to forgive and I need to honor. You see, it’s very easy to say, “I’ve got Jesus in the driving seat of the car of my life.” But He gets to another crossroads, He turns right: “Where are You going?!” And, “I want to go down the road of generosity,” Jesus says. And it’s like, “I don’t want to go down that road.” It’s very easy to say, “He’s in the driving seat.”
Five questions to ask: “Is He FIRST in my life?” Is He FIRST in my life? Ask these five questions. The answers to these five questions will give you an indication of where He is in the car of your life.
F-I-R-S-T, “Is He first in my Finances?” I, “Is He first in my interests?” R, “Is He first in my relationships?” S, “Is He first in my schedule?” T, “Is He first in my troubles?” If you can say, “He’s first in my finances. He’s first in my interests. He’s first in my relationships. He’s first in my schedule. He’s first in my troubles,” then that’s a pretty good sign He’s first.
But if you can’t say that, then it might be that Christ is in your life, but He’s probably not positioned in the right place. I want to urge you and I want to encourage you this morning, step back. Get a bigger perspective. Be prayerful, always prayerful. Realize the potential that God has put into you is huge. Be positive. Realize it’s all God’s provision. I’m just a steward. And make sure - make sure that Jesus Christ is always in the driving seat of the car of your life.
John: With those words of wisdom, we’ve come to the end of a very insightful message from British evangelist J. John, given at Liberty University, on today’s Focus on the Family.
Jim: Because of our time limitations we’re having to end before J. John asked the students there at Liberty to stand up if they wanted to put Jesus Christ in the driver’s seat of their life, and then he led the crowd in a prayer of dedication, or recommitment, to the Lord. But we’ll include that in the CD that we’re offering today, so that you can share it with a friend or family member who needs to consider asking Jesus Christ to become their Lord and Savior.
John: Yeah, that’s an important conversation to have, and this CD will certainly be a great tool to pass along the encouraging message. We’ll send a CD to you when you make a generous donation of any amount today, just to help us cover some of the costs. And we’ll have customized closing comments on the CD just for listeners who haven’t yet made that all-important commitment to Jesus Christ.
Jim: We will, John. And for those of you who heard today’s message and agreed with J. John - that you need to put Jesus Christ in the driver’s seat of your life - would you pray with me right now? I don’t want to overlook anyone who has heard this powerful message - whether you’re a new believer or you’ve known the Lord for some time, let’s pray the prayer J. John said that day.
Jesus, I bow down before You, I come just as I am.
I know I have done many things wrong.
And I ask You to forgive and cleanse me.
I invite You into the “driver’s seat” of my life.
Come in by Your Holy Spirit.
Fill me with Your presence and Your power.
Help me to put You first in my finances and my interests.
Help me to put You first in my relationships and my schedule.
Help me to put You first in my trouble.
Dear Jesus, help me to validate my faith, in thought and word and deed.
Thank You for hearing my prayer.
And if you prayed that prayer with us, we would love to hear from you, especially if you asked Jesus into your heart for the first time. You have just made the biggest - and the best - decision in your life. And we can provide some follow up resources for you and help you with some important next steps, like finding a local church that teaches God’s truth and can mentor you in your faith. Well done, by the way! Welcome to the family of God.
John: And one of those things that we would point you to in your growth as a Christian is a little booklet that we’ve posted online. It’s called,. You’ll find that right now at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: You know, when we aired this message in 2015, we got some amazing feedback. One man said: “I’m so grateful for your program. I was almost in a serious car accident and you made me realize how important it is to put the Lord in the driver’s seat of my life!”
And a married couple sent us this note: “Thank you reminding us to always put God FIRST: first in our Finances, Interests, Relationships, Schedule and Trouble. Focus on the Family is such a blessing to us!”
Jim: So let me say thank you to those of you who donate regularly to Focus on the Family. You’re the reason that we are able to produce these programs and get them out to radio stations and all the streaming services that we utilize, literally around the world. We could not do this without you. So let me say, God bless you.
John: Mmm. And please let us know how this broadcast has impacted you today, and you can do that by giving us a call. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY - 800-232-6459 - or connect with us online and request that CD from J. John. You can also find thebooklet that was mentioned at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.
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J.John is an evangelist, minister, social activist and a popular public speaker who has addressed audiences in 69 countries on six continents. He has authored numerous books, of which there are more than a million copies in print in 13 languages. J.John lives near London, England. He and his wife, Killy, have three sons, one daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren. Learn more about J.John by visiting his website, www.canonjjohn.com, and following him on Twitter @canonjjohn.