A Must-Tell Story

Last Sunday when I was too fatigued to attend my church’s worship service, a young couple from our fellowship agreed to give my wife a ride to the services. On the way home from church my wife commented that Pastor Scott always has a message to challenge a believer to grow. They said, “Yes, his messages are the reason we are both Christians.” And they shared a story that must be told. A story that vividly illustrates God’s orchestrating his love behind the scene.

Three years ago they attended a wedding that was conducted by Pastor Scott.

When the ceremony was finished, the couple said to each other. “He is so humble and so interesting to listen to; let’s visit his church.” They were not followers of Christ, but his message had intrigued them.

The couple came to the church service and became interested in the message so they decided to attend for a few times to find out more. After a few weeks they made the decision to trust Christ as Jesus Messiah, Immanuel, began attending Sunday Bible class, putting their little ones in children’s classes, joined a Bible study group and have become active in the church. This coming Sunday they will be greeters at the main door.

What the pastor shared was a challenge to the young couple just beginning their married life together, but it also reached into the hearts of another young couple and eventually made a difference for eternity.

It is a must-tell story because it so vividly illustrates God’s sovereignty and direction in our lives, for “he [God] will instruct him in the way chosen for him” (Psalm 25:12).

Nothing New Under the Sun

My wife decided this year to read the Bible through again. Each time she makes new Bird in flightdiscoveries. It is exciting to hear her share these insights whenever she sees something that she thinks will be especially interesting to me.

And she is discovering that “there is nothing new under the sun.” How many times have we heard that. (Matthew 13:52b “. . . like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

Before air travel people didn’t know they could go across the ocean without ships. Before television we wondered how the gospel could be shared without missionaries moving to other countries.

Before we knew about “clouds” we lay on the green grass, looked at the sky, and talked about the beautiful formations the cumulus, nimbus, and cirrus clouds created. We knew nothing about information being stored in the “cloud.” What did these new words mean: Emails, Facebook, U-Tube, texting, drones, hacking, twitter, and tweets?

These words give meaning to Ecclesiastes 10:20: “Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words and a bird on the wing may report what you say!” Now we understand about those birds of the air and a bird on the wing. The Holy Spirit can be so creative.

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, had no idea what he was telling us but, inspired by God, he wrote about communication, and we are reminded that There Is Nothing New Under the Sun.

Makes you wonder what we are reading today in God’s Word, recorded through the inspired writers of the Scripture, about the discoveries that will be made by the generations to come? What an awesome thought.

 

Burden Bearing

Often we read a passage of Scripture and then one day as we read it again, the Lord gives us new insight into its meaning. This happened to me when I recently read, “Carry each other’s burdens. . . . (Galatians 6:2). I experienced a progression of carrying someone’s burden.

My dear brother in the Lord just had both his legs amputated below each knee. I just broke down and sobbed my heart out for him. I mailed a card filled with words of encouragement on it. I called to see how he was doing and assured him I was praying for him. And I went to visit him.

He was sleeping when I went into his room to visit him at the rehab. For awhile I just sat by his bedside, silently praying for him. His eyes opened and he gave a faint smile when he saw me. I read two Psalms to him and then prayed with him. He finally said, “Brother, just your presence cheers me up.” Was it possible that just being there had somehow helped to lift his burden? I pray that is so.

I gripped his hand and as I said goodbye, I rejoiced that the Lord had me experience the new meaning of bearing my dear brother’s burdens. An old hymn by Ira Sankey we used to sing was ringing in my heart, “Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Calvary, Calvary. Burdens are lifted at Calvary. Jesus is very near.”

Having recently been twice in the emergency room and then in the hospital I was the recipient of dear friends from two churches visiting me and helping to bear my burdens as they prayed with me. How deep is the Father’s love for each of us.

When we start looking for ways to lift our brother and sister’s burdens, then we’ll discover the energizing power of our resurrected Lord and the pleasure it brings to His heart when we help to lighten someone’s load.

The Joy of Family

From the physical standpoint, this week has been rather difficult. Twice in the emergency room and then admitted to the hospital. But God has bestowed on me great joy as I have had not only my wife beside me but my daughter and son with me. They didn’t come because I needed them right now. Their plans for several weeks were to be here this week to visit. We were going to do a lot of things together. The Scripture reminds us that “I know the plans I have for you.” My plans involved playing games, having a home movie night, taking them to a special restaurant. God’s plans were to have them here for encouragement and for help for Emily. The Scripture reminds me that “In his heart man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Instead we have had some wonderful times to talk, to be with each other, to pray together, and to reminisce. Lots of treasured memories!

And I remember Exodus 15:26, “I am the Lord who heals you.”

What a great God we serve!

A SPECTACULAR FIRE SHOW

As the fireworks began, the sky lit up with brilliant spinning white wheels, red hearts, fireworksand light water drops. We were seated on the east side of the Indian River and looking toward the shore line of Melbourne, the horizon was peppered also with smaller displays from homes and groups of people expressing their excitement over the 4th of July holiday.

But what makes it special to us each year is the fact that we are free to celebrate our country’s independence as a nation and free to worship as we feel without fear of reprisal. We have always had this freedom so we cannot begin to understand how someone living in the bonds of fear and cruelty must be in constant dread of persecution.

And we ask, “Why God, do we have this freedom? And why do we sometimes see these freedoms slipping away from us Americans?” Could it be that we have forgotten to thank God daily for our very lives? We have forgotten those who gave their lives that we might be free, all the way back to the Minute Men. God says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

I thought about this as I watched the fireworks. The sky was especially dark that night, with lots of cumulus clouds, no moon, no stars. As the sky lit up with brilliant colors in front of the clouds, behind them were flashes of lightning above. Dark clouds with lightning (but no thunder) as though God was framing in man’s man-made brilliance. “He unleashes his lightning [around] the whole heaven, and sends it to the end of the earth” (Job 37:3, 4a). He was replying with, “You think your show is great? Look what I can do.” We sat there speechless.

Today I went in to Computer Experts to pick up my computer after having it serviced and my wife told the young man about the spectacular 4th of July fireworks show we had. He replied, “I have never seen lightning behind the fireworks before. It must have been beautiful.”

“Yes, Harry, it was.” God was showing us that whatever man can produce, God can make it more spectacular.

A Modern Day Elijah

I woke up apprehensive Friday morning. I had a dental appointment for a filling, a routine procedure . Drills and needles don’t scare me , but I have always been fearful with my body completely horizontal. (I sleep with three pillows at night.) This morning I was filled with fear.

As I got ready to leave, my wife and I held hands, and she prayed, “Lord, you control Leon’s fear this morning.”

As I sat down in the dental chair I gripped the arms so hard I believe I left indentations on them. When the dental assistant came in and pushed the button to lower the chair, and I began to recline, I felt a sensation as if I had been touched by an angel, my whole body went as limp as Raggedy Andy, the rag doll. I was so relaxed that I felt I didn’t have a care in the world.

It was a long procedure, at least an hour and a half, and I never once had to sit up. I can’t remember feeling such an immediate answer to prayer as I did that morning in the dentist chair.

I ran as all of the clouds dumped a heavy downpour and I was drenched when I reached the car. As I did, I thought of Elijah and rain.

The Apostle James promises that “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (5:16b).

A few months ago my youngest son asked me to write a devotional to answer the question, ‘Who is a righteous man?’

“Well, son,” I can say, “Meet your mother. A modern day Elijah. When she prays, things happen.”

I looked out the window. It was still raining. Reminding me He hears us.

Have you experienced a miraculous response to prayer as I experienced that day?

DON’T GIVE IN TO WEARINESS

It has been seven years since I started visiting with James, now 95 years old, at the nursing home. Even though we have had Bible studies and he asks me to talk with him about specific verses that seem to confuse him, there has been no obvious desire on his part to show any growth. When his eye sight was better, he would read his Bible and even let me help him work through study guides. He has been interested in what certain verses mean, but has never seemed to grasp the eternal significance of them.

Sunday I once again went with the church’s group to the monthly afternoon service we held at the nursing home. James was on the phone when I went to his room to get him, so we came late into the service. He heard most of Charlie’s message and then Charlie began to pray.

I felt lead to ask him bluntly, “James, do you know for certain that Jesus is your Savior?

His response was, “I get confused whether I am or not.”

I asked him, “Would you like to settle it once and for all right now?”He nodded his head and said “Yes.” “Then tell Jesus that you know you are a sinner, and you want him to forgive your sins and be your Savior.” Right there, while Charlie was still praying, James prayed out loud to receive God’s gift of eternal life.

When the service was finished, my wife came over. I asked James to tell her what he just did. “I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my life “ She put her arm around him, gave him a hug, and said “Now we are going to be in heaven together for all eternity.” Charlie and others came over to him and each time I asked him to tell them what he just did. Every time he seemed a little more excited about sharing. And he smiled when they rejoiced over his decision.

So dear friends, let’s remember the Lord’s message to us in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Suppose I had said, “James doesn’t really seem to be interested in making the Scriptures a part of his life. You know, Emily, I have been witnessing to James for seven years, I’m very tired and even a little weak today. I think I will stay home. One day won’t matter.”

But it was God’s timing, and there was a harvest that I will be able to share in for all eternity. Praise the Lord. To encourage us all to share our faith, Daniel 12:3 is priceless, “Those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars for ever and ever.”