Everyday in every way, Jesus amazed His followers. He could see the divine handiwork of His Father in almost any situation. And He seldom missed an opportunity to find a miracle in things which went practically unnoticed by the crowd.
One day He noticed a beggar in the streets, blind from birth. Using his own spittle and a little dirt, He made a mud ointment and used it to cover the useless eyes of the man. Though repulsive and unsanitary today, spittle was quite commonplace as a medicine in that day, especially from a person of renown. Afterward, the man was sent to the pool of Siloam, a common landmark in the city, to wash his eyes.
Jesus didn't ask much of the man. And he did what the patient might expect a local doctor to do. Then he sent him to a convenient place nearby to wash away the mud, and the man's eyes were opened.
Our Lord doesn't ask much of us. We are asked to worship one day a week, not seven. He asks from us a tenth, not ninety percent. And he asks our participation in the miracles around us, not our penance. It isn't like we must travel to some faraway, foreign place to gain the ear of God. He is right here with us and can be seen in the most mundane activities of the day. O, that our eyes would be opened to see the mighty work of God around us!
GospeLines Prayer: "Holy Father, thank you that I can see your power and glory everyday without traveling to some exotic hideaway. Thank you that you live and work nearby; the excitement of your presence is mine to cherish in the most common, everyday activities." Amen and amen.
Reverend Bill Hinson preached his last sermon Sunday, June 3, 2001, as pastor of the 12,500 member First United Methodist Church of Houston, TX, which was established in 1839. His visionary leadership directed the congregation to maintain its downtown ministry while building a large second campus in the suburbs. No one preaches like Pastor Bill. He was a shepherd of love to his flock and ministered faithfully for eighteen years. At age 65, He and his wife will retire to a new home in Huntsville, Alabama. He will be missed by his church family and the thousands of Houstonians who watched him on television every week.
"I got here too soon," Hinson said. "I don't feel 65; I don't think 65. It just snuck up on me." Wow! What a blessed way to live, so wrapped up in serving the Lord that time is irrelevant. Now that's the way the Christian life ought to be. Regardless of age or circumstances we will never grow old in our thinking or our witness because every day is a fresh new experience in our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Adapted from the Houston Chronicle, Sat., June 2, 2001)
GospeLines Prayer: Father, sometimes I get so involved in making a living that I forget how to live! Renew my spirit, revive my joy; let me find the good in every day and not live so much for tomorrow. Lord, make my heart sensitive, my eyes clear and my mind fixed on your present greatness so that when I am 65 I will not think like I am 85. Amen and amen.
"...but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble." (Proverbs 28:14)
If you refer to someone as a "bleeding heart," you are criticizing them for being too sympathetic. When someone "breaks your heart," they make you feel extremely sad and unhappy. If you describe something as "close to your heart," you mean that it is very important to you. When you say "cross my heart" you want us to know that you're telling the truth. And, if you say something from the "bottom of your heart," you're implying that you mean it very sincerely. But what does it mean to "harden your heart"?
If your heart hardens against someone, you become unfriendly or unsympathetic towards that person. This could happen because of something that person said or did. But, it could also happen because of what we call "extenuating circumstances." These may include things like:
» The person to "too successful" and we don't think it's fair.
» The person has power or authority that we don't think is appropriate.
» We've had all kinds of problems and we're just fed up.
As our hearts grow hard, we easily forget God's words:
"The world is unprincipled. It's dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn't fight fair. But we don't live or fight our battles that way - never have and never will." (2nd Corinthians 10:3 - The Message)
"There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." (Romans 13:1 - NIV)
"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 - NIV)
What happens when we harden our heart toward God? Hardening our heart toward God is the exact opposite of opening your heart to God and listening to His voice. If you listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit you cannot be hardening your heart. If you shut out or deny His voice, then your heart will become hard. You cannot listen to the Holy Spirit and have a hard heart toward God, His commands or His people. The two are mutually exclusive.
The key to protecting your heart from growing hard is humility. Recognize that the evil one will try to lead you into a hard heart through the bait of offense. If he can get you to take offense at someone or something, he can easily lead you down the path toward a hard heart. Recognize how easily we can take offense and don’t place yourself in a situation where you can be tempted.
"Abstain from all appearance of evil." (1st Thessalonians 5:22 - KJV) "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." (Hebrews 3:12-13 - NIV)
Keep your mind set on the things of God and not of this world. Keep the Holy Spirit alive in your heart and it will always be open to His word. Remember, you can't be a beacon (for God) if your light (your heart) doesn't shine for Him.
The humble will listen to their Lord and not stubbornly turn their backs and plug their ears. When the proud and offended make their hearts as hard as flint and refuse to listen to scripture or to the words the Lord sends by his Spirit, the Lord Almighty becomes angry. "When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen," says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 7:11-13)
The proud and the hard of heart fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah: "...You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear." (Matthew 13:14-16; Isaiah 6:9-10)
Do not live like godless people with their minds in the dark, stubbornly missing out on the life from God that could be theirs. The godless no longer listen to the Spirit concerning what is right, but allow their pride and greed to lead them to all kinds of indecent things because of their hard hearts.
But you know about Jesus Christ; you know He is the truth, the way and the life. You know that your worldly desires will destroy you and that you desperately need to give up your old way of life and accept the one He planned for you before the beginning of time. Let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, so work to please Him and be truly holy.
Speak only truth to each other - His truth. Don't get so angry that you sin. Don't go to bed angry with anyone; don't give the devil a chance.
Be honest; work hard; give to people in need. Stop all your dirty talk; say the right thing at the right time and help others by what you say.
Stop allowing your circumstances to keep you bitter, angry and mad. Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgives you because of Christ Jesus. (Paraphrased from Ephesians 4:17-32 - CEV)
Today, if you hear His voice, answer with an open heart and soften your hearts.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 2:5
Seldom does a broken chair make the news. "A man sat on a chair and broke it in three places," the newspaper stated. This chair was special. It was from the 16th century Ming Dynasty collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Fine Arts, valued in the six figures. It will be sent to London to be restored by a person who previously worked on it.
Broken things… broken hearts, broken spirits, broken homes, broken marriages, broken lives… these things aren't news anymore. Maybe you have experienced some of these in your life. If so, I've got good news for you! There is One who is an artist at restoring the broken things of life. Take your burdens to Jesus and let Him heal you.
GospeLines Prayer: "Great Physician, heal our brokenness. Mend those things which we destroy by our sinful nature and restore us to blessed fellowship with You." Amen and amen.
Say "Hello!" to Carla; she's a GospeLines Prayer Warrior and (just maybe) a new GospeLines writer. We're all thrilled that she has written this devotional for us and we want to encourage her "keep that keyboard busy!"
"The Bigger Picture"
As we approach this Memorial Day, I am proud to salute those men and women who have been put in harm's way to defend our freedoms around the world. I also salute those who have gone before us and paid the ultimate sacrifice.
I don't pretend to understand the reason we're in the battle sometimes, but I know that God sees the bigger picture. And, I really can't fathom how someone handles the loss of a precious loved one as he or she defends this nation against our enemy and protects our rights… especially the right to worship our God without fear of persecution.
But, I delight in the fact that God understands and protects us daily as we go through the battles on this path called life. His Son, our Lord and Savior, paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and when we walk with Him, protects us against our enemy as well. Sometimes, that enemy is within.
Prayer: Father, I thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. I thank you for being you and for walking with each and every one of your children in the midst of the battle. I ask that you protect our service men and women who are on the front lines. As we remember those who've gone on to Glory on this Memorial Day, let us not forget all who have served and those who continue to know and serve you.