Scores of our favorite Bible stories have found their way into the hearts of Christians and non-Christians alike.The Good Samaritan parable is one which stands as having universal renown.It transcends the boundaries of race, culture, religion, ethnicity and economics.
Jesus said that a traveler, probably Jewish, was attacked by a gang of thieves on his way to Jericho.Left to die on the side of the road, a priest and Levite, two religious leaders of the day, passed him by.With hope fading, a Samaritan man approached.Years of prejudice against citizens of Samaria would lead us to expect that he, too, would ignore the situation.Instead, he stepped down into the ditch, tended the broken body of a man who despised him, and made arrangements for his care and recuperation.
One theologian stated it like this:
The robbers said, “What is yours is mine and I will take it.”
The priest and Levite said, “What is mine is mine and I will keep it.”
The Samaritan said, “What is mine is yours and you may have it.”
All this was in response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?”
GospeLines Prayer:God of all creation, deliver me from mistreating people who are not just like me.Expand my understanding of neighborhood to include everyone, even those whom the world would attack and religion would disdain.Amen and amen.
During His time on earth, a concept that many of us struggle to understand,Jesus Christ was 100% human and 100% God simultaneously.However, this very fact allows us to relate to the Son, even when we think we can’t.
Consider that, while incarnate, Christ knew what it was to be unpopular.Christ was rejected by His people, much like many of us were rejected in high school as teenagers.Our Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ, knew what it meant to be mocked, ridiculed and threatened.
Christ also knew what it was to mourn the death of someone, as seen inJohn 11.Our reigning king and sacrifice knew how it felt to lose someone near to us, something that everyone experiences at one point in life.
Finally, Christ knew what it was to be tired, as seen inMark 4.Christ knew how it felt to be tired, and need sleep, much like everyone today.We will all sleep at some point either today or tonight, because we are tired.However, even when Christ was inevitably tired on the way to Calvary, He did not stop.Christ carried His cross to Calvary, and completed the work set before Him, and then rested.
So the next time that you feel as if God does not understand your circumstances, just remember: He’s been there, and then some.
GospeLines Prayer: “Father, thank you for giving us an example that we can relate to.We thank you that Christ limited Himself, and felt all of the things that we feel every day as humans, and that we know that He understands what we gothrough. We thank you that your Son, while on earth to pay the ultimate price, was fully human, fully God.”Amen and amen.
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, March 23, 2011
"Bigger Than Life"
Sixteen year old Ashley Mulroy collects water!After reading about antibiotics creeping into the rivers of Europe, she collected and tested 350 samples from the Ohio River near her home.Her scientific curiosity has amassed her some $70,000 in prize money from science fairs.She became interested in nature as a child while taking walks in the woods with her mother.
"Day-to-day stuff, how water comes through the faucet, fascinates me.Science is not this dead thing.It's happening all around us," she said.
Knowing God is like that.His handiwork isn't the exclusive property of theologians in seminaries, and discovery of the daily miracles of the Holy Spirit aren't limited to preachers, bishops and deacons.He is seen in the drop of rain on the window sill, the blade of grass pushing through the crack in the concrete, and the diligent little ant laboring with a load which is, to him, larger than life.In all these things spiritual lessons can be learned.Oh, to be childlike again, to wonder about stuff as we did back then.Where does rain come from and where does it go after it falls?How do blades of grass and ants have the strength to lift impossible burdens and grow where there is so little nourishment?What a magnificent God we serve!
GospeLines Prayer:"Father, if I could not see, I would FEEL your handiwork; if I could not touch, I would HEAR your creation; if I could not hear, I would SMELL what you have made.Your sweet aroma is everywhere; You are in, on, above, below and around all that there is.You are bigger than life itself.How do people miss Your presence?"Amen and amen
“Don’t be too quick to take “Conclusion” off the shelf…”
Do you turn to the last chapter of a new book and read it first?Do you ask how a movie ends before you see it?Many people go into new situations or approach new information with a preconceived answer already in their minds.If “Conclusion” were a book, they’d read it first.
When we approach any situation or set of data with an answer already in mind, we frequently look only for information that supports our point of view and dismiss any information that may point in another direction.Sometimes we do this because we accept what we already understand as the correct (and only correct) answer.Sometimes we hang to our preconceived opinions because we heard that opinion from someone we consider an “expert” (and of course, they couldn’t possibly be wrong…).
Most of the time, we read “Conclusion” first because the real name of that book is “Tradition.”That’s the way I’ve always believed; that’s the way many I consider experts believe; or, that’s the way I was taught; so, it must be correct.Right?
Remember, those same “experts” once told us that the world was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth.
How does this apply to the Christian?Before we answer that, let’s consider what it means to be a Christian.
A Christian isn’t someone who holds to a particular theology (They may; but, that’s not what makes them a Christian).A Christian is someone who is seeking every day to know God better (They don’t seek to know about God, but really know God the way a person would know their spouse or their best friend).How do we do this?The Christian knows God by knowing and understanding His Word.
Can we really know another person by hearing about them from another person?Maybe we hear from their parent or a sibling.Maybe we hear from a historian who has studied that person.But, to really know someone, to have an intimate and personal relationship with that person, you have to interact directly with that person.You have to talk to and hear from the person themselves.To really know God, we have to hear from God through His word.
God will reveal Himself to you personally as you read and study His Word.Sometimes, God may chose to give you insight and understanding that is different from the traditions you have learned.Do not be afraid; do not lean on your own understanding.Trust God and the Holy Spirit to guide you as you study His Word.Open your heart and mind to His perfect Word and leave “Conclusion” on the shelf.He will replace it with “Truth.”
Be made new in the attitude of your minds and have the same attitude, purpose and humble mind that was in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 2:4-7)
My life is way past the half-way mark and I guess it’s about time I own up to something I’ve been fighting for a long, long while.
Not many days go by that I don’t recall some of the little morsels of wisdom handed down from my parents when I was a kid and trying to make sense out of my little world. Sometimes they bless me and sometimes those sayings set my mind spinning again, just like when I heard them for the first time. I was thinking about one of those tidbits of truth today.
Back then, parents liked reminding us to “Finish what you start.”
In my school, nobody liked a quitter. If you didn’t finish the game you wouldn’t be picked to play on one of the teams during recess. A reputation as a quitter marked you as someone with no intestinal fortitude. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” So I spent my life finishing things that weren’t worth doing because I had made a bad choice to begin in the first place. But let me tell you what I have learned recently.
There are some things which you are going to work on until Jesus calls you home but you are not ever going to be finished with them in this lifetime. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of your effort, it just means that God didn’t appoint you to finish the task. That’s one of the great agonies of life: we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable.
I’m reading about the construction of the magnificent Milan Cathedral in Bill Shore’s book, The Cathedral Within. It took more than 500 years to build, from 1386 to 1887, and is the second largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Workers came from everywhere, spent their fortunes to build it, and then many stayed to help with the construction knowing that they would never enjoy seeing its completion.
There was a man after God’s heart, who desired to build a temple for Jehovah. But it was not David’s house to finish; that job belonged to his son, Solomon. “My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a temple for my Name, you did well to have this in your heart.’ “ I Kings 8:17-18
Beloved, hear the word of the Lord today. Through the years you have been faithful. Your lifetime has been spent building upon a dream given you by Jehovah. You cannot see an end in sight but there is progress! The voice cries out to you in the night, “Do not give up. Your labor is not in vain. It is WELL that you are trying, that this dream is in your heart. It is good that you wish to see it become reality. It’s WELL that it is in your heart to do it.”
About a month before he died, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where his family had attended for three generations. On that morning, from the pulpit where he preached his first sermon and where he would preach his last, he delivered a message entitled “Unfulfilled Dreams.”. He said, “So many of us in life start out building temples: temples of character, temples of justice and temples of peace. And so often we don’t finish them, because life is like Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.”
Whether you complete the task or not, it is well that you have begun the service of the Lord. Your life is one of an ever-building crescendo toward heaven. As long as you continue in the direction of the Lord, it doesn’t matter who lays the last brick or who drives the last nail. It only matters that you remain faithful to His task until the end.