There is something very special about families. God designed families. When He created Adam and Eve and put them in the Garden of Eden, He wanted them to live forever in happiness together. It was a very sad day when Adam and Eve had to leave their beautiful home because they had disobeyed God. Ever since then, living together happily has been a little difficult to do.
Why do you think it is hard? Do you have a best friend? You know, someone that you always like to be around? Well, do you ever fight with that friend? Sooner or later, it is bound to happen. Why? Because even though you and your friend like many of the same things, you do have some differences. You disagree. You misunderstand. Sometimes you just outright fight.
That happens in families too. Thankfully, God designed families to last. Even when things go terribly wrong, families can stay together because God puts them together with something stronger than the best glue that people have ever invented! Love.
A little over thirty-five years ago, NASA launched two spacecraft designed to travel to parts of our universe never before reached my any man-made craft. For thirty-five years Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have been powering through outer space, pushing toward the edge of what we know.
For thirty-five years, scientists have been listening to and looking at every scrap of information these two travellers have sent back. So much knowledge has been gained!
And so much perspective. Can you believe that humanity once believed planet Earth was the central point and largest mass of the universe? It seems like a ridiculous notion now.
But then, humanity has also often tended toward self-centeredness. Once, many years ago, a thirty-something-year-old Man who knew just how small Earth is compared to the rest of the Universe.
Yet He came. He came because God is bigger. Bigger than the universe. Bigger even than all the smallness in the universe.
That is how big God is.
Do you believe that any human being can be saved from the bondage of sin? Do you believe that Jesus’ blood covers a multitude of sins? Do you believe that even the vilest of offenders can be redeemed?
Are you sure? Sure enough to pray for those caught in the bondage of sin? Sure enough to try to lead someone to the cleansing blood? Sure enough to pray for the vile offenders?
Take some time with your answer. It has great implications.
Perhaps a historical look at the question will help.
In the first half of the last century there was a man who rose high in the political circles of a great country. He was proclaimed by Winston Churchill as a brilliant politician. He would restore the unity and pride of his nation. By the middle of the century, he was dead. Buried in the rubble of an empire he could not build.
His name was Adolph Hitler.
In the final half of that same century a brutal dictator made his way to a throne by very different methods. There was no bowing and scraping on his way to the top; it was a bloody path. For twenty-four years he ruled by destroying his real or alleged opposition. In 2006 he was sentenced to death by his own countrymen.
That was Saddam Hussein.
Imagine how history might have differed had their hearts been touched.
During the Nazi occupation of Poland, a bright young doctor was imprisoned for his Jewish ancestry. All liberty and dignity was stripped away. His family was destroyed. His education and experience suddenly meant nothing. Yet even in that horrific place, he discovered, “Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.” How? “Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.”
He found freedom even without liberty.
What a great measure of gratitude we own to those who have gained both for us!
Joshua led the people in circles around a powerful city for days on end.
Jonah was swallowed by a giant fish.
Peter had a habit of saying and doing anything that came to mind.
Saul was so well trained in religion that he hated Christians.
What was God thinking?
God gave Aaron the words to speak for Moses.
God made the walls fall down.
God took Jonah – still in the fish – to his destination.
God perfected Peter’s mind.
God changed Saul so much He even changed his name.
Well, what do you know? God seems to know what He is doing after all.
by Troy Moore
George A. Straley tells about the sexton of a big city church who was puzzled, for every week he had been finding a sheet of blue-lined book paper crumpled into a small wad lying in the corner of the same rear pew. He smoothed out one of the little wads of paper and saw it had several penciled words: “Clara ill, Lester, job, rent.”
After that the sexton began looking for the paper wads weekly and discovered they were always there after every Sunday morning service. He opened them all and then began to watch for the person who sat in that particular corner of the pew.
It was a woman, he discovered, middle-aged, plain but kind-faced and unassuming. She was always alone. The sexton told the pastor what he had observed and handed him the notes. The pastor read the cryptic text with furrowed brow.
The next Sunday he contrived to meet the woman at the church door as she was leaving and asked her kindly if she would wait for him a moment. He showed her the notes and enquired gently about their meaning.
Tears welled in the woman’s eyes. She hesitated then said softly, “You’ll think I am silly I guess, but I saw a sign among the advertising posters in a bus which said, ‘Take your worries to the church and leave them there.’ My worries are written on those pieces of paper. I write them down during the week, bring them on Sunday morning, and leave them. I feel God is taking care of them.”
“God is taking care of them,” the pastor said softly. “Please continue to bring your worries and troubles to the church and leave them there.”
So to be rid of your worries, simply take them to the Lord and leave them there.
– From an unpublished collection of illustrations by Troy Moore.
They did not like paying taxes. The government was foreign and oppressive. Money was not so plentiful they could happily give up part of what they had. What they wanted to hear was a religious excuse from taxes. What they got was a gentle reprimand.
According to Matthew 22:21 we are to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things which are God’s.” A country’s money most often bears the image of the nation’s leaders or former leaders. If this was Jesus’ way of telling the people to pay their taxes to the government who had issued the coins, couldn’t we assume it was also His way of reminding us to commit our lives to our Creator?
According to the Catholic Church, Saint Valentine is the patron saint of love, young people, and happy marriages. He was a priest imprisoned by the Romans for performing marriages even after the emporer outlawed them. Yet even in prison his ministry continued. Dozens of members of one guard’s families found salvation in Christ.
Valentine loved God and loved people so much that a world power could not stop him. That is real love worth celebrating.
— By Mark Avery, Editor, Herald and Banner Press, Overland Park, KS
Someone told of a group of Bible college students discussing the merits of various Bible translations. Each told which was his favorite and listed some reasons for his choice. Finally the last student spoke. “My favorite translation of the Bible is my mother’s translation.”
The other students were taken aback. “Your mother translated the Bible?” they wondered incredulously.
“Yes,” came the simple response. “She translated it into everyday living.” If the Bible is the Word of God, and we believe that it is, we should put every effort into practicing it in our lives.
Some simple steps can be taken to translate the Bible into everyday living. Reading the Bible is necessary to this translation. Some believers seem to think that they get enough of the Bible through preaching services and Sunday school classes. In reality, the Bible is the means God often uses to speak to us to conform us to His will. Daily contact with Him through His Word helps us develop a deep, intimate relationship with Him. We gain spiritual strength and stamina from the Word that enables us to live holy lives from day to day.
Praying is necessary to translating the Bible into life. Being a God-inspired book, the Bible becomes much easier for us to understand as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts. We talk to God in prayer, and He talks to us through His Word. A close communion develops as we communicate with each other.
Meditation is necessary to translating the Bible into life. Regardless of how many times a person has read the Bible, from time to time a verse or passage seems to “jump off the page” at us. Of course, that does not happen literally. Yet having read the Bible several times, I still discover “new” messages tucked away in its pages just for me. The written Word of God is still the living Word of God. It does not change, but it opens to us in various circumstances to help us know how to become more like Christ.
Have you ever noticed how often we use food in our spiritual word pictures? The need for food is universally understood, even though the sorts of things we will and will not eat varies wildly. Food, no matter what our preferences, must be consumed if we want to stay alive and healthy.
That is exactly why the Scripture calls Jesus the Bread of Life. In the Old Testament, the Garden of Eden had a tree which provided life-giving fruit. Adam and Eve had to stay close to the tree if they wanted to live. In the New Testament, we learn about a life giving Bread which not only sustains us but also is available wherever we may be. You may be physically present in a land with no Bible, but with Jesus in your heart, you will always be spiritually near His life-giving bread.