My debut as Santa Claus at our company Christmas party was faced with more than a little anxiety. The greatest fear was that I might be a disappointment to some child by not living up to their expectations. Sure enough, the first little boy came up to me and announced skeptically, "You aren't the real Santa!"
Admittedly, I hadn't rehearsed for answering that question, so I said to him, "Would you like to feel my beard?" Still unconvinced, the little rascal followed me around the room, listening and watching me suspiciously for several minutes. By the end of the night, he was in my lap, laughing and talking openly about his wishes and desires, even making plans for a Christmas Eve entrance into his home, which had no fireplace.
Some people, when first introduced to Jesus, have similar skepticism. They are looking for a sign of authenticity, thinking that He is almost too good to be true. Who would love the unlovable, feed the hungry, care for the homeless, bind the wounds of the sick and injured, and never ask for anything in return?
Maybe God intended that we should be less commercial in our evangelism. Could it be that the best advertisement about Jesus' love for the WHOLE world comes more from what we DO than what we SAY? GospeLines Prayer:I am puzzled, Lord. I give my tithe regularly, say all the right things about people, pray for the sick and homeless, and even put a quarter in a cup occasionally when I'm stopped at the traffic light. But they still don't think I really love them. What am I supposed to do, open my home to them?
“Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean.All who honored her despise her, for they have seen her nakedness; she herself groans and turns away.”
Lamentations 1:8 (NIV)
The year was 586 BC.Judah had been destroyed, Jerusalem had fallen and the Temple lay in waste, burned and ransacked by Babylon.Jeremiah had warned of the impending disaster, but no one would listen.
It was unimaginable that something so horrible could happen to such a great kingdom like Judah.People had called her the favored nation.They called themselves “God’s elect.”Some say that they were defeated outright by a superior army.Others say that they simply imploded, the result of years and years of wicked greed, idolatry and sinfulness.
“Those who had experienced the horrors of defeat, disruption of the economy, and the ensuing famine and pestilence must have felt at times that God had abandoned them.” (Joel Drinkard, Jr., The Disciples Study Bible)
Jeremiah said they called out to their allies, but help did not come:“I called to my allies but they betrayed me.My priests and my elders perished in the city while they searched for food to keep themselves alive.” Lamentations 1:19.
In these circumstances there were few options:
They could give up on Jehovah and turn to the god of their captors.
They might decide that God no longer exists, and become atheistic.
Some might decide to overthrow their foreign captors by violence.
Or they could respond as Jeremiah suggested, by looking at the reason for their exile and work through it to overcome their own sin while seeking Jehovah’s forgiveness.
We may learn from the tragic history of Judah.A sinful nation will face the consequences of her sins.God does not take lightly a rebellious people upon whom He has bestowed great blessings and trusted with greater responsibilities.Failure to fulfill the calling of God upon our lives is a dangerous path to pursue.
The responsibility is squarely upon our shoulders, we cannot “pass the buck.”But there is good news, too.Our only hope is to confess and repent of our sins, and God will forgive us.“I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit.You heard my plea…You came near when I called you and said, ‘Do not fear.’ ” Lamentations 3:55-57.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, for such a time as this, give us leaders like Jeremiah who will speak the truth; and ears to hear, faith to believe, and courage to act.Amen and amen.
Miracles happen around us every day, in your life, in mine. The Scriptures refer to miracles as "marvelous things" and "marvelous works" and as signs and wonders performed through the power of God. However, we sometimes fail to recognize a miracle when it occurs in our own back yard. Only a truly humble person will admit that the miracle came from God and was not of his own doing. Genuine gratitude is expressed when we thank God for our miracles and praise him for his goodness.
Miracles make life exciting. They are gifts that have been promised by God to his children. Why don't you claim this promise? Ask for miracles, and when they come, be grateful.
What miracles have you experienced in your life? Ask yourself that question. Your answer might surprise you. Certainly it will be revealing. The closer you stand to God, the more miracles you will find, the more happenings you will perceive as coming from his hand.
When I think of miracles, I think of Dr. John Eger Howard, of John Hopkins University Hospital, a true miracle-worker.
Dr. Howard stands tall in the medical world. His study of hypoglycemia (low blood-sugar) has earned him a permanent place in medical reference books. As important to him as his skill in medicine is his Christian faith. With humility and modesty, he gives God credit for his success.
Every day God hands Dr. Howard a new miracle. He helps him pinpoint the causes of rare diseases. He looks over his shoulder as he performs his diagnostic examinations on the hundreds of patients who come to the clinic every week. Even though Dr. Howard is advancing in years, God keeps giving him strength to work marathon hours.
I am sure that if you asked this distinguished physician about the miracles in his life, he would be surprised that you had noticed. Like Rubinstein, he lives and works from miracle to miracle.
One of those miracles saved my sister's life.
It was the Christmas season. Janet had been gravely ill for two weeks. Finally, in a coma, she was moved by ambulance-train from Florida to Baltimore. Three nurses looked after her around the clock.
After a long delay because of a blizzard, the train pulled into Baltimore station hours behind schedule. Janet was close to death. This had to be the gloomiest, dreariest, unhappiest Christmas Day I had ever known.
You can imagine our concern. Would the doctor come to the hospital on Christmas Day? Would he be able to diagnose Janet's problem and begin treatment right away? Would the ambulance be waiting for us after this long delay?
The Lord said, "Yes."
The ambulance was there. And Dr. Howard was at the hospital. He not only was taking care of his patients that day, but was prepared and standing by for my sister's arrival. In his long black overcoat, he rushed into the sleet and snow to help the ambulance attendants roll Janet into the hospital on her stretcher.
Then a miracle began to unfold.
Within a few hours, Dr. Howard was able to diagnose the illness and begin treatment. Before the night was over, we felt relief that we had her under his care. Within a few weeks, we could see my sister take a turn for the better. Although we knew her recovery would be slow, we knew, with no doubts, that it would be certain.
When Dr. Howard was asked how he discovered the cause of her illness and decided on the proper treatment , he silently pointed his finger toward the heavens. He may have been thinking of the great Ambroise Pare's answer when asked the same question: "I dressed his wounds and God healed him."
More than seventy-five years ago, Fanny Crosby wrote these words that are still sung in our churches: "To God be the Glory, great things he hath done."
Including a multitude of miracles.
From the book: Patches of Joy by Velma Seawell Daniels 1976
≈ Devotional for Thursday, June 18, 2009
“Are you offended?”
Last Sunday during our Pastor’s sermon, I noticed someone reading the church bulletin.I was offended that someone was not giving our Pastor their full attention.I was so bothered by this that, for a few moments, I stopped giving him my full attention.
Driving on one of our freeways recently, I noticed a driver talking in a very animated fashion on their cell phone.As usual in this state, we were going about 80 mph in bumper-to-bumper traffic, four lanes wide.I was so offended by this person’s inattention to their driving that I almost failed to notice that the truck in front of me was slowing down.
This morning, my twin girls (16) were watching the news on TV while they ate breakfast.I joined them to discuss our plans for the weekend.During the conversation, I was offended that they kept diverting their attention back to the TV.I was so bothered by their lack of courtesy that I forgot to have our morning prayer.
How often do we let the actions of others dictate our reactions? Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. (Matthew 7:12)I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:15-16)
Paul put this all together in his letter to Titus when he said, “And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good deeds of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.Let your teaching be so correct that it can't be criticized. Then those who want to argue will be ashamed because they won't have anything bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8)
Every time I took offense at the actions of someone else, I took my eyes off of the Words of our Lord.Every time I took offense, I stopped setting the kind of example Christ commanded us to present to others.Jesus commanded that we love our neighbor and He defined “neighbor” as anyone needing our mercy. (Luke 10:27-37)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, we humbly ask in the name of Jesus for Your forgiveness for allowing the offenses of our neighbors to cause us to be distracted from Your Word.Help us Father to be examples of Your mercy and goodness.Give us the heart to forgive and the spirit to love.Teach us Father to walk in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior Jesus.Amen.