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A MOTHER'S MARRED HANDS
There was a teenager who didnít want to be seen in public with her mother, because her motherís arms were terribly disfigured. One day when her mother took her shopping and reached out her hand, a clerk looked horrified. Later, crying, the girl told her how embarrassed she was.
Understandably hurt, the mother waited an hour before going to her daughterís room to tell her, for the first time, what happened.
"When you were a baby, I woke up to a burning house. Your room was an inferno. Flames were everywhere. I could have gotten out the front door, but I decided Iíd rather die with you than leave you to die alone. I ran through the fire and wrapped my arms around you. Then I went back through the flames, my arms on fire. When I got outside on the lawn, the pain was agonizing but when I looked at you, all I could do was rejoice that the flames hadnít touched you."
Stunned, the girl looked at her mother through new eyes. Weeping in shame and gratitude, she kissed her motherís marred hands and arms.
(Source: Randy Alcorn. From a sermon by Billy Ricks, Suffering, 2/27/2011)
LOOKING THROUGH CLEAN WINDOWS
A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside.
'That laundry is not very clean', she said. 'She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap'
Her husband looked on, but remained silent. Everytime her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.
About one month later, the woman was surprised to see nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband: 'Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?'
The husband said, 'I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.'
And so it is with life. What we see when watching others, depends on the purity of the window through which we look.
GOD JUST NEEDS A VOICE
John Stott, a well-known British pastor and theologian, was invited to preach at the University of Sydney in Australia; but after he got there, he lost his voice. He describes his experience as follows:
"What can you do with a missionary who has no voice? We had come to the last night of the [evangelistic campaign]. The students had booked the big university hall. A group of students gathered around me, and I asked them to pray as Paul did, that this thorn in the flesh might be taken from me. But we went on to pray that if it pleased God to keep me in weakness, I would rejoice in my infirmities in order that the power of Christ might rest upon me.
"As it turned out, I had to get within one inch of the microphone just to croak the gospel. I was unable to use any inflection of voice to express my personality. It was just a croak in a monotone, and all the time we were crying to God that his power would be demonstrated in human weakness. Well, I can honestly say that there was a far greater response that night than any other night. Iíve been back to Australia ten times now, and on every occasion somebody has come up to me and said, "Do you remember that night when you lost your voice? I was converted that night."
God doesnít need eloquence to reach people. He just needs a voice, your voice, with a living, vital connection to Him in prayer.
I like the way Luci Swindoll once put it. She writes: "A friend of mine was caught in an elevator during a power failure. At first, there was momentary panic as all seven strangers talked at once. Then my friend remembered the tiny flashlight he had in his pocket. When he turned it on, the fear dissipated. During the 45 minutes they were stuck together they told jokes, laughed, and even sang. [The Bible] says we are that flashlight. Just as the flashlight draws power from its batteries, we draw power from Jesus. As light, we dissipate fear, bring relief, and lift spirits. We donít even have to be big to be effective. We just have to be íon.í"
(Source: Student Leadership, Spring 1993, p. 32. Luci Swindoll, "Heart to Heart," Todayís Christian Woman. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, "The Power of His Presence" 7/10/2009)
For more from Chuck, visit http://www.insight.org
On Feb. 27, 1991, it was the height of the Desert Storm War. A woman by the name of Ruth Dillow received the worst news that a mom could ever receive. Her son, Clayton Carpenter, Private, First Class, had stepped on a land mine in the Persian Gulf and he was . For the next three days she grieved the loss of her son, and although people tried to comfort her, there just isnít any comfort that can comfort the grieving mom Ė no words that can be whispered. Three days after the notification of the of her son, the phone rang. She picked up the phone, and on the other end of the line there was a voice that said, ďMom, itís me. Iím alive.Ē She didnít believe it. She thought it was some kind of cruel joke and as he continued to speak, she recognized his voice. Her son was aliv...
70 FUNERALS IN ONE DAY
During a forty-year ministry, I would guess that many pastors do seventy or more burials. But this wasn't over the full span of his ministry. In fact, it wasn't even a full year. In one day, Pastor Rinkart did burial rites for up to seventy people and did the same the next day and the next.
The year was 1637. He was the only pastor left in Eilenburg, Germany. This was the height of the Thirty-Years War that had start in 1618. By 1637 one army after another had pillaged the fields of Germany for nearly twenty years. Refugees fled to walled cities such as Eilenburg. Famine and plague ran rampant. In 1637 Pastor Rinkart buried nearly 4,500 people including many of his coworkers and his own dear wife.
Yet during this war that would bring such devastation, this same Pastor, Martin Rinkart, in the year 1630 wrote the words: "Nun danket alle Gott Mit Herzen, Mund und H√§nden." What an example of the Apostle's words, "[W]e also rejoice in our sufferings" (Romans 5:3 NIV).
Now granted, the worst of the war came after he wrote those words, and I don't now how often he would have sung them during that dreadful year of 1637. And yet his faithful service throughout that year and onward certainly confesses a faith that was able to rejoice in suffering. How can we imitate that faith as we put into practice the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5?
A Candymaker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would help us remember who Christmas is really about. So he made a Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. White to symbolize the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus. Hard candy to symbolize the solid rock, the foundation of the Church, and firmness of the promises of God. The candymaker made the candy in the form of a "J" to represent the name of Jesus. It also represented the staff of the "Good Shepherd". The candymaker then included red stripes. He used three small stripes and a large red stripe to represent the suffering Christ endured at the end of his life. The candy became known as a Candy Cane -- a decoration seen at Christmas time. The meaning has faded, but still gives joy to children young and old, whom Jesus loves and treasures.
In his book The Counselor, A.W. Tozer said, "Spell this out in capital letters: THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON. He is not enthusiasm. He is not courage. He is not energy. He is not the personification of all good qualities, like Jack Frost is the personification of cold weather. Actually, the Holy Spirit is not the personification of anything...... He has individuality. He is one being and not another. He has will and intelligence. He has hearing. He has knowledge and sympathy and ability to love and see and think. He can hear, speak, desire, grieve and rejoice. He is a Person."
In a recent NCAA cross-country championship held in Riverside, California, 123 of the 128 runners missed a turn. One competitor, Mike Delcavo, stayed on the 10,000 meter course and began waving for fellow runners to follow him. Delcavo was able to convince only four other runners to go with him. Asked what his competitors thought of his mid-race decision not to follow the crowd, Delcavo responded, "They thought it was funny that I went the right way." Delcavo was one who ran correctly. In the same way, our goal is to run correctly; to finish the race marked out for us by Christ. We can rejoice over those who have courage to follow, ign...
Let me give you an example to what I’m saying by sharing with you a story that I recently read in one of the history books in my library. I read how on July 3l, 1838 on the Island of Jamaica, a man named William Knibbs, gathered 10,000 slaves for a great praise gathering. They were celebrating the New Emancipation Proclamation Act that would abolish slavery on the island. They had built an immense coffin and into it were placed whips, branding irons, chains, fetters of all kinds, slave garments and all the things that represented the terrible slavery system that was now coming to a welcome end.
At the first stroke of the midnight bell, Knibbs shouted out, "The monster is dying." At each stroke of the bell that followed this cry was repeated and the great crowd began to join in the cry. At the twelfth stoke 10,000 voices cried out, "The monster is dead, the monster is dead, let us bury him." They then screwed the coffin lid down and lowered it into a huge grave and covered it up. That night, every heart rejoiced and 10,000 voices grew hoarse, shouting and crying with joy. Once they were in bondage to slavery, but now they were free.
There is a tragic side to this story. While many rejoiced in their new liberty and freedom, there were some slaves, that lived in remote areas of the island, that did not know they had legally been set free. Because they didn’t know, for many years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been made a law, they still continued to serve their slave masters. Their former masters successfully kept the news from them as long as they could. By law they had been declared free men and did not have to live as slaves any longer. However, ignorance of the truth kept them in bondage.
Now let me tell you an even sadder story. Today, if we’d hear a story of something like that happening, we’d be shocked, sympathetic and even angry. But the truth is, the same type of thing is happening in our day. Jesus Christ, because of his victory against sin on the cross, has issued an Emancipation Proclamation of liberty and freedom from sin to everyone on this earth. But like some of the Jamaicans were, there are those today that just don’t understand that they no longer have to live as slaves to sin any longer, and the devil is trying to keep them in that mind set.
The message of the cross is this: Satan has been defeated and sin’s penalty has been paid. We no longer have to surrender to sin or be controlled by Satan. We can belong to Jesus and live to please God.
Too often our gratitude is dependent upon the circumstances of life. A beautiful hymn was written by Martin Rinkart during the thirty-year war to help us look beyond our circumstances and see the hand of God. Rinkart was a pastor in Saxony, Germany as the turbulent years of the war dragged on. For a time he was the only pastor in his town. His pastoral duties caused him to preside at nearly 4500 burials in 1637 alone. In the context of this sad situation and these unfavorable circumstances he penned the words to Now Thank We All Our God. It is a hymn of unconditional gratitude to God.
Now thank we all our God
With Heart, hands, and voices
Who wondrous things has done
In whom his world rejoices
Thankful people don’t have to have everything going their way to rejoice.