During the 15th century, near Nuremberg, there lived a family with eighteen children. Two of the sons, Albert and Albrecht Durer, were especially gifted artists and both wanted to further their education and pursue a career in their specialty. They knew that their father would never be able to send either of them away to study, so they devised a plan. One would stay and work in the mines while paying for the other to go away to school. After four years, the graduate would then provide the resources to send the other.
So they tossed a coin, and Albrecht went away to Nuremberg to study and Albert supported him by working in the mines. Albrecht was an immediate success, creating works of art more beautiful than most of his professors. Four years later, at his graduation party among family and friends he announced that now it was Albert's turn to go to art school.
"No, no, no!" Albert protested. "It is too late for me." Holding up his hands he showed fingers which had all been smashed at least once in the mines, and an arthritic condition so severe that he could hardly hold a glass. The sacrifice he made for his brother had cost him a promising career.
The paintings and etchings of Albrecht hang in museums all over the world, but no work is more famous than the one he created in honor of his brother. With painstaking skill, he painted his brother's hands, palms together with thin fingers pointed skyward. He called the powerful painting simply "Hands," but we know the masterpiece today as "Praying Hands."
Next time you see this painting by Albrecht Durer, remember that no one can make it alone! We are a relational people, we need each other. You are the "hands" for someone in need. And there will be a time when others will reach out to you. Embrace the love of your fellow-Christians. It is God's way of providing the nurture we need.
Everyone who has been in church knows the answer to this Bible question, "Who denied Jesus three times during His mock trial and pending crucifixion?" The answer, of course, is Peter.
No disciple has ever been treated so unjustly by preachers and commentaries. We always seem to stress Peter's failure and shame and fail to recall the rest of the story.
Where were the other disciples during Jesus' hour of need? Except for Peter and John, they had all fled the scene. Peter was there because he was courageous. True, he failed, not because he was a coward but because he was brave. Peter the Failure was not the real Peter. The real Peter was there because he loved Jesus so much; the real Peter could not leave Jesus alone in this hour of need; it was the real Peter who drew his sword to protect his Lord. Jesus understands. He loves us not for our failures but for what we have it in us to be. He sees who we really are, even when we are defeated.
How often do you hear yourself mutter, "I can't," when asked to perform a task that causes you to stretch, or when your church presents a challenging ministry opportunity to you?
We learned much from the heroes of Flight 93. Todd Beamer has become a household name in America and his words, "Let's roll," have a patriotic meaning which have memorialized the actions of a group of passengers who refused to believe they couldn't do what needed to be done.
Todd's wife, Lisa Beamer, has decided to go on living after the tragedy. "God has whispered two words to me over and over: Look up...look up. Through that quiet voice, I'm reminded to look beyond my own little life to the Creator of the universe. Without fail, looking up brings peace to my soul."-- Lisa Beamer, from her best-selling book Let's Roll!
Whatever challenges you are facing now, God has already enabled you to overcome them. Dig deep within yourself, and reach up toward the One who can lift you above your circumstances and give you victory. That's the thing about God...He has abilities which go beyond our human resources if we will only tap into His power. My mother used to tell me, " 'I CAN'T' never could do anything." Instead of taking the easy way out, take hold of that great promise of Philippians 4:13, "I CAN DO EVERYTHING THROUGH HIM WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH."
GospeLines Prayer: Father, I am not the bravest soldier in Your army, but I want to be strong in the face of adversity and challenge. Give me a "can do" attitude so that the next time opportunity comes my way, instead of saying "Let's run," I will trust You and, by faith, obediently proclaim, "Let's roll."
Last night I told my wife, "There's just not enough hours in the day!"Sound familiar?Life has a way of piling more and more on us until we can't see how we'll ever get out from under the load.
Our Pastor recently told of a small boy who was pulling a wagon up a hill.The boy had three beautiful rocks in his wagon and pulling it was easy.As he traveled up the hill, he saw another beautiful rock; so, he added it to his load.The wagon was still easy to pull.Later, he added a fifth rock and then a sixth.By now, the wagon was getting pretty hard to pull; but, the boy knew he could still make it.Then he saw another beautiful rock.This one was bright red; and, since he had no red rocks, he added it to his load.Unfortunately, now he couldn't make it to the top of the hill.What could he do?
You're probably saying, "That's obvious.Take some rocks out of the wagon."Ok, but which one?They're all beautiful.How does he decide?
Have you ever taken on too many "rocks?"Our jobs are important – they pay the bills and provide for our families.Our families themselves are important; but, they demand time.We have hobbies and no one would tell us that we should give up those things that bring us enjoyment.We've also volunteered time to our church, the Little League or maybe the local Homeless Shelter – all very worthwhile things.However, when you take on one rock too many, life can become overwhelming.Their all beautiful; so, which rock are you going to take out of your wagon?
Like the little boy, we frequently overlook the "other" obvious solution – Get help!Why is that a problem?"All of you worship the Lord, so you must trust Him to help and protect you." (Psalm 115:11 - CEV) God has already promised: "I am the Lord your God.I am holding your hand, so don't be afraid. I am here to help you." (Isaiah 41:13 - CEV)
When life gets you down; when even the good things you do seem to overwhelm you, remember these words from the Psalmist: "My steps have held to Your paths; my feet have not slipped.I call on You, O God, for You will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.Show the wonder of Your great love, You who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes."(Psalm 17:5-7)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, in the name of Jesus, give us the faith to trust in the You with all our heart rather than to lean on our own understanding.We acknowledge You Father and ask that You direct our paths so that we will not be overwhelmed.Give us the strength to do Your will and the faith to trust You in all things.Amen.
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but byMe.”