Five Minute Messages
From the Central church of Christ (Nashville, TN) bulletin, 5 Feb 2006:
There is a story of three doctors who all died suddenly. They met all met Saint Peter at the gates of heaven. He made them an unusual promise: he would make sure that whatever they wanted said about them at their funerals would be said.
The first doctor said that he wanted it said that he was the best doctor in the world. In fact, were it not for his untimely death, he certainly would have found the cure for cancer. And it was said.
The second doctor wanted it said that he was the best husband and father in the world. That's exactly what was said.
The third doctor said he wanted those standing near the casket to say, "Hey, I think I just saw him moving!"
From the Central church of Christ (Nashville, TN) bulletin, 1 Jan 2006:
The following story illustrates how one perspective makes a difference in the way he or she interprets the events that occur. It also illustrates that the Lord works in unusual ways.
There was a little old lady, who every morning stepped onto her front porch, raised her arms to the sky, and shouted: "PRAISE THE LORD!" One day an atheist moved into the house next door. He became irritated at the little old lady. Every morning he'd step onto his front porch after her and yell: "THERE IS NO LORD!"
Time passed with the two of them carrying on this way every day.
One morning, in the middle of winter, the little old lady stepped onto her front porch and shouted: "PRAISE THE LORD! Please Lord, I have no food and I am starving, provide for me, oh Lord! The next morning she stepped onto her porch and there were two huge bags of groceries sitting there. PRAISE THE LORD!" she cried out. "HE HAS PROVIDED GROCERIES FOR ME!"
The atheist neighbor jumped out of the hedges and shouted: "THERE IS NO LORD. I BOUGHT THOSE GROCERIES!!" The little old lady threw her arms into the air and shouted: "PRAISE THE LORD! HE HAS PROVIDED ME WITH GROCERIES AND MADE THE DEVIL PAY FOR THEM!
Listening to Psalm 85 recently, the title phrase to this post jumped out at me as a beautiful metaphor for a time when God and his people are in a state of harmony:
8 I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying,
for he speaks peace to his faithful people.
But let them not return to their foolish ways.
9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
so our land will be filled with his glory.
10 Unfailing love and truth have met together.
Righteousness and peace have kissed!
11 Truth springs up from the earth,
and righteousness smiles down from heaven.
12 Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings.
Our land will yield its bountiful harvest.
13 Righteousness goes as a herald before him,
preparing the way for his steps.
(New Living Translation)
The other day I reading the following in Matthew 25:
31 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35' For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39' When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' 41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' 44 "Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' 45 "Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' 46 "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Reflecting on these verses, I asked myself the question: "How often in the recent past have I done any of these things...fed the hungry and thirsty, took in a stranger, clothed the naked? How often in my life? Of course, I've done these things, but is my life characterized by such? No. Are these the things I'm teaching my kids to do? No.
I need to change.
Today I was listening to part of 1 Corinthians 7 and heard this:
3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.
4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
What struck me was that Paul included this exception, it the midst of giving this advice regarding sex in marriage, for a time of devotion to prayer...a time when a couple would be so devoted to prayer that there isn't even time to spare for a bit of marital intimacy. Do you have that kind of prayer life? I don't. Makes me realize that I might be missing something.
I came across this story recently in James Montgomery Boice's The Minor Prophets. It reminded me how Dave Keim used to tell it every year to the college students at Laurel in Knoxville. Wonder if he still does.
In the 19th century there was an acrobat (Jean Francois Gravelet) who was known by the stage name Blondin because of his fair coloring. Blondin gained a reputation for himself in Europe before coming to America, and once here he gained even greater fame by walking across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Thereafter he was associated in everyone's mind with the Falls. He did numerous stunts on his crossings. On one occasion he pushed a wheelbarrow across. On another he paused to eat an omelet. Once or twice he carried his manager on his back. On one of these latter occasions, after he had reached the edge again, he is said to have turned to a man in the crowd and to have asked him, "Do you believe I could do that with you?"
"Of course," answered the man. "I've just seen you do it."
"Well, then, hop on," invited the acrobat. "I'll carry you across."
"Not on your life!" replied the spectator.
There was clearly a form of belief in the man's first response, but it did not result in action. What is called for spiritually is a belief that will fully commit itself to Jesus, thereby allowing Him to carry the believing one over the troubled waters of this life.