Emily was a fourth grader in Seattle when she sent a message to the world. “This letter is part of our science project to study and learn about people in distant lands,” she wrote. “Please send the date and location of the bottle with your address. I will send you my picture and tell you when and where the bottle was placed in the ocean. Your friend, Emily Huang.”
Twenty-one years later, Merle Brandell found her letter along the Bering Sea in a tiny Alaskan fishing village, Nelson Lagoon. How the plastic bottle traveled 1,735 miles remains a mystery. Because of Pacific Ocean currents it would have headed south, then westward with the Equatorial Current. Over 21 years, that bottle could have made numerous trips circling the Pacific, traveling more than 200,000 miles before reaching its destination.
We have a message to share that carries a huge promise. How far must we go to deliver that word? One of the stanza’s in a hymn written in the 1800’s talks about our mission and its importance to the world.
“We’ve a message to give to the nations, That the Lord who reigns up above Has sent us His Son to save us, And show us that God is love, And show us that God is love.”
Our message is timeless. How long shall we preach it? God said to Isaiah, “Go and tell this people.” Then Isaiah asked, “For how long O Lord?” And he answered, “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged.” Isaiah 6:11.
Just before the Resurrection, Jesus commissioned His followers to be obedient to the task. We have come to know those words as the Great Commission. Why is it great?
1.It is great because it is authoritative; it comes from the throne of God.
2.It is great because it is all-inclusive. ALL disciples are charged to evangelize ALL the nations.
3.It is great because it is empowering. We are to speak in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
4.It is great because He promises to be with us “always, to the very end of the age.”
No matter how the currents of change influence society, God’s Word is unchanged; the tides of indifference may ebb and flow, but Jesus is with us always.
When we are tempted to quit because the journey seems unending, or we become discouraged because our message never gets through, remember that our role is to remain faithful to the mission. We have a message of promise for the whole world. God will provide the right audience at just the right time. He is in control.
18Lord, who is a God like you? You forgive sin. You forgive your people when they do what is wrong. You don't stay angry forever. Instead, you take delight in showing your faithful love to them. 19Once again you will show loving concern for us. You will completely wipe out the evil things we've done. You will throw all of our sins into the bottom of the sea.
Micah 7:18-19 (New International Reader's Version)
When someone robs your house or steals a family heirloom or maims or kills a loved one, can you forgive them?When someone robs you of your joy, betrays your trust and kills your spirit, can you forgive them?
As you read the scripture above, do you acknowledge that God forgives us time and time again only to show us His love and compassion?I know we, as fragile human beings, struggle with the same concept don’t we?
Not forgiving keeps us shackled to our sins.Sometimes, we honestly admit to God that “I don’t choose to forgive.”“Lord, that person has taken something precious from me and I can’t let it go; I can’t forgive.”
But, oh, Lord, I just need to look in the mirror.How many times have I disobeyed your commandments?How many times have I forsaken my commitments made before you?How many times have I done my will and not Your will?How many times have I made other priorities more important than spending time with You?How many times have I betrayed You?
Yes, Lord, I don’t want to openly admit it.I’ve done all of those things at some time or another.But, You are a God of second chances.(In my case, I need to increase the number of chances significantly…)
Oh, God, I’ve been on my knees and openly wept because I know I don’t deserve Your loving kindness.My life has been shattered, sometimes through my own excesses; and sometimes because of others.The words of the song below, A God of Second Chances seem to say it best --
Vs 1 I serve a God who forgives the moment my mouth shapes the words,
When my heart yearns for His forgiveness, His heart is stirred.
He stands nearby with His arms wide open to welcome me back again,
If I fall, let me fall towards Him, let Him remove my sin.
I serve a God of 2nd chances, whose love has covered all of me.
I serve a God whose firmest stance is, "My dying has made you free."
And for all eternity He'll be, the God of 2nd chances.
If the words of this song have reached you, deep within your soul,
Just let Him have your broken pieces and make them whole.
Just put them in His hands of mercy and let your heartbreak go
Let His love and His grace o'ertake you, let His compassion flow.
Words and Music by Keith Caldwell, BMI & Clayton B Howell, BMI
Words and Music copyright 2007 by KCCH Music Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved both domestic and foreign.Used by permission.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, thank You for being the God of second chances (and many more…)Thank You for putting me back together after I’ve come unglued.And for covering me with Your love when I know I am not deserving.
But, oh Father, let me follow Your example.Let me give others second (multiple) chances even when it’s hard to do so.Help me to forgive and not remain angry.
Please throw all of my sins into the bottom of the sea and please forgive me!
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, November 11, 2009
"The Sin of Silence"
Our faces stung with the cold night air as Benji and I stood in the thick darkness, drinking in the beauty of the midnight hour. The hair moved on his neck and his nose lifted toward the top of the trees. A growl from deep within his throat warned that something unusual was in our backyard. I glanced upward in time to see a large owl gracefully lift itself from the branch and fly silently to a roost in the next tree.
Amazed at the size of the night predator, I was stunned by the grace and silence of its flight. After a few minutes he silently stretched his wings again and flew away to a place of safety, out of view of Benji and myself. “How does a creature that large maneuver through the trees without a sound?” I wondered to myself.
Silence is a blessing in this boom-box overcharged, amplified society of ours. But there is a time for silence and a time for action.
A few years ago a prominent pastor was invited to speak at a University on the East Coast. As he was being introduced the President of that school asked for a moment to say a word to the student body. It was the ninth day of November. "For you," he said, "today is a day like any other day but it is an extremely important and painful day for me." Silence fell over the room and the students noticed that as the old gentleman spoke, tears were streaming down his face.
He said, “Today is the 50th anniversary of Kristal Knacht, the night of the broken glass.” On this day in 1938, Nazi thugs moved through the cities of Germany smashing the windows of German homes and shops, burning the synagogues. Innocent people; men, women and children were beaten and killed simply because they were Jews.
"I was there as a young man," he sobbed, "and I can still hear the sound of the shattering glass. There were many of us who were Christians then but we did nothing. We looked the other way and we did nothing. That was the beginning of the Holocaust because the Jew haters knew then that no one would stop them, no one would stand in their way." The old man went on to quote the words inscribed at the Auschwitz memorial in Poland, a place where so many died. "Never again," he pleaded, "Christian young people we must never let it happen again." *
But it is happening again. Look around you. Our world is moving headlong through the night, helplessly blinded to the moral and spiritual decay in our neighborhoods. Children are exposed to indecency; families are destroyed by a morality that is turned inside out. What was once considered wrong is now right. What we once found intolerable is now embraced by the pride of our non-sectarianism. The Bible has been assaulted as just another myth in the classrooms; prayer is an estranged discipline of a forgotten society.
In the face of this onslaught of evil the church has stood silent; preachers have abandoned the Truth of God’s Word in favor of success and popularity.
Beloved, God has called us to stand firm on the wall of Zion and bravely call the Church to battle against the degradation of this wicked wasteland. We must not fly away silently in the night! We can no longer afford to vacate our mission to which Jesus Christ so valiantly implored us to follow: “GO and make disciples,” he said.
As in no other era, the common people find every religion to be true; philosophers find all religions to be false; and the politicians find all religions to be useful. Christians are the only people in the world who can bring an end to this mockery. But by our silence we have abdicated the authority which Christ has placed in us. TODAY, we must find it within our souls to stop the silence! We can no longer afford the luxury of cowardice while hiding silently in the night. Let us stand tall… and become the Nation of Saints for which we were born in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen and amen.
A song from the CD “Shout God’s Fame” by Hillsong Music Australia
Words & Music by: Jonas Myrin, Natasha Bedingfield, Gio Galanti, and Paul Nevison
Performed by: Hillsong London
Some say you're just a good man, some say you were kind Some say you are in the grave, but I say you're alive Some say you're just a prophet, some say you were wise Some say you were just a man, but I say You are God, You are my God
Chorus (1) I will shout your fame to all the earth I will lift your name on high And the world will know your greatness You are my God, I will shout Your fame
I know you're the Messiah. You gave Your life for me I know You’re the only way, Jesus you are God, you are my God
Chorus (2) I will shout Your fame to all the earth I will lift Your name on high And the world will know Your greatness You are my God, Jesus I will shout Your fame to all the earth I will lift Your name on high I will show the world Your goodness As I live a life that shouts Your fame As I live a life that shouts Your fame
As you read the lyrics of this song, you may have recognized many of the “some” who say Jesus was a “good man” but that He’s dead.You may also have recognize many who say He was a wise prophet, but just a man.However, can you identify the “some” who say He’s alive?
What do you say?Do you say He is God… your God?Do you shout His fame to all the earth and lift His name on high?If so, praise God, that’s wonderful.However, do you only shout His name on Sunday mornings?What happens during the week?
How about that last line?That’s the hard one.How many of us live a life that shouts His fame?Does the world see His goodness by the life you live?If not, Jesus says that you can start today.Just ask Him into your heart and He will make you a new creature(2nd Corinthians ).Then, from today forward, you can live a life that shouts His fame.
"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)
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:15 - NIV)
A small and talented group of citizens left the city to build a town of their own. They had the best of everything, with shops and houses built from beautiful natural stone to blend with the habitat. Each time they thought the town was finished, someone suggested another theater or library to make their city even more beautiful.
When there was no more money for building, the citizens were happy to have everything they had ever dreamed about. As the word spread about the pretty little town in the countryside, others wanted to move there, but they were unwelcome because of the cultural and social differences. The ones who sacrificed to build their town wanted it to remain unchanged, so it stayed pure and pristine for awhile. But as time passed it became more difficult to keep others away. A town meeting was held and they decided to build a wall around the little town. But they had no more money with which to build the wall.
Someone suggested that they use a few of the stones from the houses and buildings they had built. What a wonderful idea! So the people began building a wall by removing a few stones from each building. But the wall was not high enough. They built it higher and higher until they were sure that no outsider would be able to get in unless they were invited by the insiders. By now the wall was so high that you could not see the town from the outside. Had a curious traveler been able to see inside, they would have noticed that most of the beautiful houses and shops had fallen down.
In their haste to protect themselves from the outsiders, they destroyed everything they had worked so hard to build.
Millions of spiritual seekers are looking for help today. Their hunger has driven them to seek a light to overcome the darkness they have felt since buying into the tired philosophy of secular humanism, which blatantly denies our need for God. Many people have tried to find a meaning to their existence from the traditional churches of their childhood but they have met with stern opposition. Some think they have found the answer through New Age spiritualists where the Bible is belittled and Jesus is just one of many ways to know God.
My interpretation of Celine Dion’s song, “Skies of L.A.” describes a haunting dilemma.
It's so sad what we have become Beautiful days we seem to leave so undone And I don't know where we will go from here All I know is that I can't seem to see the sun Through the sky from here
Everyone has a finger But they can't point me to the light It can't be that hard to find After all we're so bright I don't know if tomorrow has a day I don't know if the rays will shine my way again All I know is that I'm standing in a place where My future is like the skies of L.A. Skies of L.A.
I don't know if my body can take much more We're in the line of the richest riches But my mind seems so poor
Everyone has a finger But they can't point me to the light It shouldn't be that hard to find After all we're so bright I see so many visions But everyone seems out of sight This is total neglection Skies of L.A.
People are seeking the light and they are asking why they cannot find it in a nation where so many fingers can point toward it, where there is enough intelligence (“we’re so bright”) to explain it, and ample wealth (“we’re in the line of the richest riches”) to deliver it anywhere and everywhere. With the number of Christian churches in the U.S.A., why is it that we cannot accommodate the thirst of sincere spiritual seekers who deserve answers to honest questions?