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Again, there’s a great deal of Internet research and revisionist thinking going on about these characters in the Christmas story. Some of have suggested that things would have been considerably different if these wise men had actually instead been wise women. And things sure would have been different. If it had been ‘Wise Women’ instead of ‘Wise Men’, they would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts from Baby’s-R-Us, including diapers, wipes, bibs and formula. But that’s an entirely different story…
HELL FREEZES OVER
A rough and gruff man from Massachusetts who didn’t live a very good life died and went to hell. The devil really wanted to punish him, so he put him to work breaking up rocks with a sledgehammer. To make it worse he cranked up the temperature and the humidity.
After a couple of days the Devil checked in on the man to see if he was suffering adequately. The Devil was aghast as he looked at the man from Massachusetts happily swinging his hammer and whistling a happy tune.
The Devil walked up to him and said, “I don’t understand this. I’ve turned the heat way up, it’s humid, you’re crushing rocks and sweating. Why are you so happy?” The man smiled, looked at the Devil and said, “This is great, it reminds me of the hot humid August days back in Massachusetts. This is fantastic! It’s just like home”
The Devil decided to change things a bit. He dropped the temperature, sent down driving rain and torrential wind. Soon, hell was a wet, muddy mess. The man from Massachusetts was happily slogging through the mud pushing a wheelbarrow full of crushed rocks.
Again, the Devil asked how this man could be so happy in such conditions. The man replied, “This is great. Just like April back in Massachusetts. It reminds me of working out in the fields doing the spring planting!
The Devil was completely baffled. In desperation, he tried one last ditch effort. He made the temperature plummet. Hell was blanketed in snow and ice. Confident that this has done it, the Devil checked in on the man. He couldn’t believe his eyes as he saw the man dancing, singing, and twirling his sledgehammer in glee. “How can you be so happy. Don’t you realize its 40 below zero!?” screamed the Devil.
“Hell’s frozen over!” replied the man from Massachusetts, “The Patriots have won the Superbowl!”
Some time ago a man was staying in a chalet in the Swiss Alps. Early one morning he heard what sounded like an earthquake. Hurriedly he got out of bed and ran to the front desk and asked if there was something wrong, if the mountains were breaking up? He was scared. The man at the front desk explained, “Sir, we are on the west side of the mountain. As the sun comes up in the east, and the snow and ice expand ...
2 Samuel 12:1-12:15
1 Thessalonians 1:1-1:10
Can you imagine what it was like for the church in Smyrna as they watched their beloved and aged pastor burn at the stake? Polycarp was his name. he was a disciple of Jesus’ disciple, the Apostle John. One could tell it immediately because he possessed the same tenderness and compassion as his mentor.
Polycarp was Bishop of the church at Smyrna (present day Turkey). Persecution broke out in Smyrna and many Christians were fed to the wild beasts in the arena. The godless and bloodthirsty crowd called for the carcass of the leader – Polycarp.
The authorities sent a search party to find him. He had been taken into hiding for some Christians but the Romans tortured two young believers until they finally disclosed his location. When the authorities arrival was announced there was still time to whisk Polycarp away but he refused to go saying, “God’s will be done.”
In one of the most touching instances of Christian grace imaginable Polycarp welcome his captors as if they were friends. He talked with them and insisted they eat a meal. Ha made only one request before being taken away – he asked for one hour to pray. The Roman soldiers listened to his prayer. Their hearts melted and they gave him 2 hours to pray. They had second thoughts as well and were overheard asking each other why they were sent to arrest him?
Other authorities also experienced a warmed heart when Polycarp arrived. The Proconsul tried to find a way to release him too. “curse God and I will let you go!” he pleaded.
Polycarp’s reply was: “For eighty-six years I have served him. He has never done me wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King was has saved me?”
The Proconsul again looked for a way out. “The do this old man, just swear by the spirit of the emperor and that will be sufficient.’
Polycarp’s reply was: “If you imagine for a moment that I would do that, then I think you pretend that you don’t know who I am. Hear it plainly. I am a Christian.”
More entreaties by the Proconsul
Polycarp stood firm.
The proconsul threatened with the wild beasts.
Polycarp’s reply was: “Bring them forth. I would...
Can't Wait Until Morning
Dr. W. A Criswell, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas Texas, said on one occasion on an airplane flight he found himself seated beside a well-known theologian. He desperately wanted to start a conversation and they did get to talk. The man told Dr. Criswell about how he had recently lost his little boy through death. Dr. Criswell listened as he told his story:
He said he had come home from school with a fever and we thought it was just one of those childhood things, but it was a very virulent form of meningitis. The doctor said we cannot save your little boy. He'll die.
And so this seminary professor, loving his son as he did, sat by the bedside to watch this death vigil. It was the middle of the day, and the little boy whose strength was going from him and whose vision and brain was getting clouded said, "Daddy, it's getting dark isn't it?" The professor said to his son, "Yes son it is getting dark, very dark." Of course it was very dark for him. He said, "Daddy, I guess it's time for me to go to sleep isn't it?"
He said, "Yes, son, it's time for you to go to sleep."
The professor said the little fellow had a way of fixing his pillow just so, and putting his head on his hands when he slept and he fixed his pillow like that and laid his head on his hands and said, "Good night Daddy. I will see you in the morning." He then closed his eyes in death and stepped over int...