Michael Caine is one of the most accomplished actors of this generation. In a recent interview, when he was asked to describe what acting really is, he said, "Some actors hold up a picture and say look at me. I hold up a mirror and say look at you."
Those teachers in my life who influenced me were not always the most intelligent or the ones with the most wit. My life has been molded by those gifted people who taught me to look at myself. They didn't berate me with rules I couldn't follow, or demands which I might learn to despise. What they did was hold up a mirror to show me my life as others saw it, and allow me to see the desperate need I had to become more than I was.
Your greatest hour will come when you enable someone to grow by using a mirror instead of a rod of discipline. This takes superior grace and wisdom. It is precisely the method of teaching Jesus used in the parables, helping his audience to SEE and FEEL who they really were.
GospeLines Prayer:Heavenly Father, make me less apt to lecture and more prone to love my neighbor as myself; less critical and more Christ-like; less haughty about my elevated spiritual stature and more humble in my witness. Amen and amen.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea.It collected every kind of fish, and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but threw out the worthless ones.So it will be at the end of the age.The angels will go out, separate the evil people from the righteous, and throw them into the blazing furnace.In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
On this occasion, Christ is relating to the final days in terms of fishermen.The net will collect every kind of fish (or all the peoples of Earth), and they will be brought ashore, or before the throne.
The good fish, or those who have received salvation through faith in Christ by the grace of God, will be stored in containers.In other words, they will ascend to heaven.
But the worthless fish, those who live in sin and self outside of God’s salvation, will be thrown out.Much like the weeds in our parallel, the lost, who have rejected their opportunity for salvation, will be cast into the blazing furnace; in thisLakeof Fire there will be weeping and gnashing (grinding) of teeth to show the anguish of eternal punishment.
“Anyone who has ears should listen!”
Amen and Amen!
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, May 11, 2011
"It's Time To Get Serious About Prayer"
When you are growing up in a small Gulf Coast town in Texas, there’s not a lot for a kid to do if he doesn’t go to church. I was one who went every time the doors were open and sometimes when they weren’t.
Just for fun I would sometimes sneak in, stand behind the pulpit and make believe that I was preaching to a full house, take the offering, and sing choruses (loudly!) I would even pretend to play the piano, and practice baptizing the converts at the end. “How long should I hold them under?” I wondered. “Would it be ok if I baptized them with my left hand?” These deep theological questions concerned me for a few years until I realized that some things don’t matter as much as others.
Playing church kept my vivid imagination in check most of the time. People around my little town thought I was a pretty good boy, and I guess I was, all things considered. Funny thing, in all that time, I never played around with prayer. Maybe I thought it was just too personal or too serious. Or, maybe I just didn’t know how to pray back then. I still don’t know as much about it as I should.
As a teenager, the other kids sort of looked to me for leadership at church. We had an awesome youth group which had the usual activities, fellowships, church camp, youth choir, Vacation Bible School and Training Union on Sunday nights. I was lucky enough to sing in the adult choir on Sunday morning, which meant rehearsal on Wednesday night. That’s where I learned about the seriousness of prayer.
Brother Lloyd led the singing and directed the choirs. He was a fulltime high school coach and helped out as our Minister of Music. But it wasn’t his singing I remember as much as it was his heart for prayer. He asked me one day, “Tommy, will you pray for me? I need the prayer support from you.” I said I would and really meant it, but I guess it wasn’t very high on my list of church things to do. In fact, I forgot all about that commitment I made to him until a few weeks later.
After church one Sunday morning, Brother Lloyd called me over and asked me, “Tommy, have you been praying for me?” My heart fell to the floor. Here I was in the church building and the next thing I heard these lying lips say was, “YESSIR, I sure have!” I thought he would just pat me on the back and thank me. It would at least give me a chance to make good on a promise I forgot about. Instead, he put both hands on my shoulders, looked me square in the eyes and said, “I just don’t feel your prayers, Tommy.” Busted!
I wanted to run away and get lost in the crowd but he had me nailed to the corner with those powerful hands and piercing eyes. I didn’t know what to say. Thankfully, he let me off the hook and said, “Just keep on praying, Tommy. Just keep on praying.”
When you know someone has a need that only God can handle, what do you say to them? “Let’s just pray about it,” or “We need to give that to God,” or the one I hear the most, “I’ll be prayin’ for ya!” Beloved, don’t say it unless you mean it. Praying for someone else is serious business. In fact, it’s the highest type of prayers you can take to God’s throne. When you pray for someone else, unselfishly, God’s ears perk up and you’ve got His undivided attention.
GospeLines Prayer: Father, in times like these we need people who will pray up or shut up! Boldly I come to you to ask that you separate the prayer warriors from the prayer pretenders. Replace our haphazard, halfway, henpecked praying with energized, sanctified, 24/7 petitions which will storm the gates of heaven. When I am timid, make me like Stephen; if I lose my way, give me the spirit of Joshua; if my heart grows cold, remind me of David. And when I do get around to praying, give me the heart of a champion so that I will never give in, never give in, never, never, never! Amen and amen!
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into 50 pounds of flour until it spread through all of it.”
Through this short parable there is a good bit of information to learn.There are two views concerning the meaning of it which we will consider.
The first: The expansion of the kingdom.
This parable describes a scenario in which a woman has taken yeast and placed it into a large dose of bread meal, possibly representing either preparation for the feeding of a large group or a righteous occasion, such as the parallel ofGenesis 18:1-6in which Abraham asks Sarah to make bread from three measures of meal to feed three angels that have appeared to him.However, when the woman places the leaven in the flour, it spreads throughout all 50 pounds (three measures) until the whole has grown in size.Once the leaven was added, the end result could not be avoided…The leaven can’t be removed, just like now that Christ was in the world, He cannot be removed. Likewise, His kingdom will spread until it reaches the full extent of Earth.
The second viewpoint of this parable: Corruption.
In many other instances throughout the Scriptures, leaven/yeast is used negatively to represent corruption and evil.Some see this parable as a foreshadowing of the evil that will corrupt churches, like our seven example churches in Revelation.The woman in the parable depicts Satan, who has hidden corruption in the church, and has spread corruption throughout.Fortunately, with the aid of Christ, we are able to slow the leavening process!Though we will not have a sin-free life, because we are not perfect as Christ was, we are able to resist him and cause Satan to flee from us, as we are told in James 4:7.
However you decide to interpret this parable for yourself, just remember:
“Anyone who has ears should listen!”
Amen and Amen!
≈ Devotional for Friday, May 13, 2011
"Hate is a Strong Word"
Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-21)
The secular historians of John’s day called Christians a race of men who belonged to a new and evil superstition. Rome hated them because they were disloyal to the emperor and refused to participate in Caesar worship.
Once a year every loyal inhabitant of the Roman Empire would burn a pinch of incense to the godhead of Caesar, pronounce publicly, “Caesar isLord,” and go their way to freely worship any deity they pleased. But not the Christians. Their refusal to conform caused the government to look upon them suspiciously and regarded them as dangerous and disloyal.
Persecution came to the early Christians because they put Christ first. Persecution always comes to the man or woman who does that.
We all have a need to be liked by others. No one wants to be the subject of gossip or the brunt of a religious joke. But the Christian faith is all about the Good News penetrating into the workplace, education, government and everyplace we go. To that end, we have a job to do. Let us not be so busy trying to keep our jobs that we forget to do our real job.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, give me a heart big enough to love You more than popularity, a head that doesn’t swell when the world praises me, and eyes which remain determinedly focused on the important issues in life. Amen and amen.