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Hostile natives surrounded his missions headquarters one night, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them. John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see that, unaccountably, the attackers had left.
A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Jesus Christ, and Mr. Paton, remembering what had happened, asked the chief what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men you had with you there?” The missionary answered, “There were no men there; just my wife and I.” The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard - hundreds of men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack. Only then did Mr. Paton realize that God had sent his angels to protect them. The chief agreed that there was no other explanation.
Source: John G. Paton in New Hebrides Islands in So. Pacific (Billy Graham, “Angels”)
SUSAN BOYLE: BEAUTY ON THE INSIDE
When Susan Boyle stepped out on the stage of "Britain’s Got Talent," people laughed at her...like the scoffers in this Psalm. They made fun of her because her outward appearance wasn’t the glitz and glamour they’d come to expect. Members of the audience could be seen rolling their eyes.
But when she began to sing, her voice was like that of the angels. People’s initial attitudes about her were changed. She had an amazing voice that was perfection to their ears. The rolling eyes changed to looks of shock at the incredible talent this woman had to offer.
The resounding applause proved she had what it took to be a star.
But her talent was on the inside.
God looks at what we’re all about; by what’s on the inside.
God doesn’t care if we have lustrous hair that shines or dingy grey, or no hair at all. God loves us just the way we are.
God doesn’t care if our eye lashes are long and full of volume.
God loves us just the way we are.
God doesn’t care if we own a limousine and driver to go with it or if we walk to church or take the bus.
God loves us just the way we are with the resources we have on the inside. And our biggest resource is our heart. It’s a heart that has a right relationship with God. It’s a heart that desires to live by God’s standards, not human beings. That is where true happiness is found.
It’s no secret formula that comes in a bottle or that you have to purchase in an exclusive limited time TV offer. No! The price has already been paid for you to be in a right relationship with God. Jesus Christ paid the price...with His life...for you! Amen!
“Passing Through The Shadows!” 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 Key verse(s): 26:“‘For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’.”
“Smile and the world smiles with you! Cry and you cry alone.” Walking through life with a smile on our faces is something to hope for, isn’t it? Life it far too short to be all gloom and sadness. Like the old song says, if you smile you draw crowds. When you cry you draw isolation and loneliness.
From an early age on we are taught not be be gloomy. There’s something about being around a person who is sad that simply repels us. Most of us will resort to nothing less than our best efforts to either avoid the gloom or change it somehow. Recently I returned home from a long day at the office dragging pretty much everything that I had encountered that day behind me. As I slipped in through the garage door into the entry way, so slipped in the meeting that had not gone well, the invoice that turned out to be more than I had planned, and the angry telephone call I had taken. Plop, they landed on the floor right beside my briefcase. Somehow I knew they were still there because even when I tried to refocus my thoughts on home and family, all I could think of was the office. I guess it was pretty evident on my face as I walked into the kitchen, shuffling across the floor in my slippers, mostly looking past my children and wife. They could see it written all over my face. “Had a bad day, huh?” “Yeah, the worst!” And I plunged into a lengthy dissertation on the woes of the day; moving back and forth between diatribe and regret. They had had a great day but now, as they listened to my woes, somehow their days had not been as good as they had thought. In fact, it wasn’t long before they were able to match woe for woe with the “king of woes”. My sorrow had magically become their sorrow. My sorrow like a drop of black ink in water slowly spread its inky murk throughout their clear and sunny day. “Gloom and doom, meet happy and promising!” Like that bothersome gab that grabs your hand and makes it serve as a sort of freeway for their emotions, gloom and doom simply won’t let go until they have poured themselves into you completely.
Carry our sorrow and laying it on others is not a very good idea. Yet, how can one be happy all the time? Isn’t there ever a place for sorrow, at least to balance out the brilliance of the light from time to time? In northern Chile, between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, lies a narrow strip of land where the sun shines every day! Clouds gather so seldom over the valley that one can say, “It almost never rains here!” Morning after morning the sun rises brilliantly over the tall mountains to the east. Each noon it shines brightly overhead, and every evening it brings a picturesque sunset. Although storms are often seen rising high in the mountains, and heavy fog banks hand their gray curtains far over the sea, Old Sol continues to shed his warming rays upon this “favored” and protected strip of territory. One might imagine this area to be an earthly paradise, but is far from that! It is a sterile and desolate wilderness! There are no streams of water, and nothing grows there.
We often long for total sunshine and continuous joy in life, and we desire to avoid the heartache that bring tears to our eyes. Like that sunny, unfertile part of Chile, however, life without clouds and even an occasional downpour would not be productive or challenging. But though showers do come, they will also end, and the sun will shine again. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). (Our Daily Bread.)
Total sunshine in life? Let’s face it. That is never going to happen. In fact, there will always be a proper place for sorrow in life. I’m not talking about the impertinent spreading of your own personal gloom on people. Nobody needs that. No, I’m talking about the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and forgiveness of sins. When Jesus passed the cup to his disciples and broke the bread between his fingers at that last communing supper together, His soul was filled with a kind of sorrow that was truly appropriate and necessary for the moment. His soul was, as Martin Luther put it, “empty, single, and hungry”. His soul was prepared for the task ahead and He was demonstrating to His disciples how that sorrow could and would turn into joy. But first it must pass through the shadows and dwell in the darkness of sin. Here the soul must weep and by that invisible cleansing be able to behold more clearly the land of sweet light and happiness that awaits it if only it can endure the sorrow for but a short time longer. Yes, there is a time for sorrow when we rightly park our joy and walk some distance away from the light toward the shadowland where we find the source of that nagging that is constantly beating upon the doors of our souls. Here we too shall find the emptiness that makes preparation for being filled.
A LITTLE GIRL’S PRAYER
One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do she died, leaving us with a tiny premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator) and no special feeding facilities.
Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst. Rubber perishes easily in tropical climates. "And it is our last hot water bottle!" she exclaimed.
As in the West it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways.
"All right," I said, "Put the baby as near the fire as you safely can; sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm."
The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died.
During the prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. "Please, God," she prayed, "send us a water bottle. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby’ll be dead, so please send it this afternoon."
While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added by way of corollary, "And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she’ll know You really love her?"
As often with children’s prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say, "Amen"? I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything. The Bible says so. But there are limits, aren’t there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever, received a parcel from home; anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!
Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses’ training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the veranda, was a large twenty-two pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box.
From the top, I lifted out brightly colored, knitted jerseys; eyes sparkled as I pulled them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas --- that would make a nice batch of buns for the week...
“[16 year old] Nathan Johnson dreamed of starting a revolution for Christ. [He wrote in his diary, “God’s] will for me is to radically impact my school for Him." But before he could see the revolution become a reality, Johnson’s life was cut short by an automobile accident [after] striking a cement truck almost head-on.” 1
Romans 8:28 says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.”
Question: How can Paul write these verses in light of tragedy to good people?
Perhaps you have asked a similar question about your situation.
How can anything good come from my death?
How can anything good come from my sickness?
How can anything good come from rape?
How can anything good come from a drunk driver killing an entire family?
Allow me to finish this true story published in the September 6th edition of the Baptist Press:
“Despite his early death, friends and family say that God is using the tragedy to make [Nathan] Johnson’s dream a reality. Nearly 300 people have professed faith in Christ in the aftermath of Johnson’s accident, including more than 30 at his funeral [and 16 more] two nights following the funeral at the Wednesday night youth gathering…
One of Johnson’s gifts was his football ability, which he displayed as a kicker and punter for Beech [High School]. Johnson […] consistently [kicked] field goals of 45-50 yards. But [he] saw his athletic ability as a tool to win teammates to Christ […] In his journal, Nathan had written, "God has given me the gift of kicking so that I can start by winning my teammates on the football team to Christ." During his freshman year, he led two players to faith in Christ during football camp and later led a senior to faith.
Inside the front cover of this year’s team program, which is sold at every game, is a picture of Johnson in his football uniform with a message dedicating the season to him. At the top of the page is the Apostle Paul’s declaration from Philippians 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.” At the bottom of the page is Jesus’ command from Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.”
The final page in the program has another photo of Johnson in his uniform with the quote from his journal about impacting his school for Christ. At the bottom of the page is a quote from Johnson’s grave marker: ‘Dude, Heaven is sweet. See you there ...’
In the aftermath of Johnson’s funeral, professions of faith have continued, and several local churches report that they baptize people weekly who say they were saved at the funeral [and] teenagers at [Johnson’s church] have been saved at several programs since the funeral.” 1
The bottom line is that God allowed something bad to happen temporarily to a great young man in order to bring much good eternally for many.
1 Roach, David. “One godly teen dies; hundreds find new life.” Baptist Press. 6 Sep. 2006. 7 Sep. 2006.
Many people find beetles and bugs somewhat creepy, but if here’s one beetle in the world that could turn you into a beetle lover - the jewel scarab.
Jewel scarabs live in the jungles of Honduras and have the shape of your regular Christmas beetle. But their colours are so dazzling and beautiful that they can sell for up to $500 a beetle.
Beautiful flaming reds, bright golds, silvers that resemble bright, shiny chrome. Even the beetle hater finds jewel scarabs dazzling and beautiful!
But the jewel scarab’s beauty doesn’t come automatically. Every scarab has modest, even ugly beginnings.
The scarab starts life as a soft, mushy, grey-white grub growing inside a rotting tree stump.
They spend their life like this for around a year, until finally, when the rainy season arrives, the adult scarabs emerge soft bodied and pale.
Then within hours, their bodies harden and their splendid colours show.
They only live for another three months, but what a glorious existence it is.
People are just like scarabs. We may not feel terribly beautiful and attractive. In fact there may be parts of you that feel distinctly ugly – and I’m not talking just about your body, but about your spirit, your mind, your thought life, your character, your home.
But it’s the work of the Spirit of God to make us beautiful.
It may seem to take a lifetime, but as the Spirit works on us, we will emerge as beautiful, dazzling, shining creatures gloriously bearing the image of our Creator.
I read of a Norwegian missionary, Marie Monsen, who served in China in the 1950s. She testified to the intervention of angels when Christians were in great danger. They had taken refuge in the mission compound only to be surrounded by looting soldiers and they were astonished to find that they were left in peace. A few days later the hostile men explained that they were ready to break down the flimsy wall when they noticed tall soldiers with shining faces on a high roof in the compound. Marie Monsen wrote, "The heathen saw them, it was a testimony to them, but they were invisible to us.
I DIDN'T GO AND SEE
The story is about shepherd who was a youth on that first Christmas night. And now he is old and as his grandson sits on his knee he recalls that night, "A long, long time ago, when I was a little more than a boy, I was out on the Judean hills one night with some other shepherds, keeping watch over the flock. And an angel of the Lord came upon us and the glory of the Lord shone roundabout us. And we were very afraid. But the angel said, "fear not... for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord... you shall find the baby in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
When he had said this the old man’s lips quivered and ceased to move and there was silence. Then the grandson turns and looks with wide, puzzled eyes into his grandfathers face and says, " But, grandfather is that all? What did you do when you heard the good news? Was what the angel said really true? Was the Chr...
THE INDESCRIBABLE GIFT--COMMUNION MEDITATION
A few years ago, on "Good Morning, America," Joan Lunden featured some extraordinary gifts you might want to include on your Christmas gift list.
One of them was a Jaguar automobile, the Jaguar 220. If you care to order one of these, go to your Jaguar dealer and put down your $80,000 deposit. Then when the automobile is delivered, you are expected to pay the balance of $507,000. The Jaguar 220 is a $587,000 automobile, and they only make 250 of them a year.
Joan Lunden mentioned that if you were to purchase such an automobile, you might also be interested in a new car wax that promises to give it the ultimate shine. It retails for $3,400 for an 8 ounce can. I guess if you can afford a $587,000 automobile, why not spend $3,400 for car wax?
A third item she mentioned was a $300,000 gold and silver toilet seat inlaid with precious stones. Of course, there were cheaper gifts for those who have everything: an $18,000 frisbee, a $10,000 yoyo, a $12,000 mousetrap, and even a $27,000 pair of sunglasses.
And for the proud grandparent who is wondering what to buy the new grandbaby, how about a $28,000 pacifier?
Such gifts stagger our imagination, don’t they? But they are not indescribable. Only God can give gifts beyond description, and priceless besides. His greatest was the gift of Christ Jesus. At communion, we remember our most precious gift-- the forgiveness that came through the sacrifice of Jesus. "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"
SOURCE: Melvin Newland, edited by SermonCentral Staff. Citation: 2 Corinthians 9:15.
It’s very bright in the middle of the day, but no matter how bright the day is, night eventually comes and the light fades away. However, it is possible - in theory at least - to live our entire lives in the light of the sun, if we were simply to keep journeying westward fast enough to keep up with the sun. But because we don’t make that journey west, the day fades into night; light changes to darkness. The journey would be too difficult, it would cost too much, it would be too tiring. It’s easier just to be satisfied with where we are. That’s not a bad analogy for faith. Walking in the light of Christ - continually - is a difficult journey. It carries with it certain costs. It can at times be tiring and discouraging. But it has one great reward: it is a journey that we take with Jesus constantly at our sides, urging us on, lifting us and carrying us when we weary, providing for us when we think we just can’t give any more. There is a great source of strength to see us through this difficult journey of faith - the source of strength is the light of Christ, and it never fades, as long as we continue in faith and continue to trust, and continue to act on what we believe. If we do those things, the light of Christ will continue to shine within us and through us.