Scores of our favorite Bible stories have found their way into the hearts of Christians and non-Christians alike. The Good Samaritan parable is one which stands as having universal renown. It transcends the boundaries of race, culture, religion, ethnicity and economics.
Jesus said that a traveler, probably Jewish, was attacked by a gang of thieves on his way to Jericho. Left to die on the side of the road, a priest and Levite, two religious leaders of the day, passed him by. With hope fading, a Samaritan man approached. Years of prejudice against citizens of Samaria would lead us to expect that he, too, would ignore the situation.Instead, he stepped down into the ditch, tended the broken body of a man who despised him, and made arrangements for his care and recuperation.
One theologian stated it like this:
The robbers said, “What is yours is mine and I will take it.”
The priest and Levite said, “What is mine is mine and I will keep it.”
The Samaritan said, “What is mine is yours and you may have it.”
All this was in response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?”
GospeLines Prayer:God of all creation, deliver me from mistreating people who are not just like me. Expand my understanding of neighborhood to include everyone, even those whom the world would attack and religion would disdain. Amen and amen.
“I have known what it is to live a lie - to want so badly to keep a relationship that I made myself invisible.I have known the exhaustion of trying to hold up a façade that has no foundation.”
--Dr. Robin L. Smith
I was fortunate enough to attend an excellent play recently - The Ensemble Theatre’s production of “Blue,” a drama/comedy by Charles Randolph-Wright.
Two main characters carried the story’s weight, but the rest of the characters knew the secret that would somehow, someday, be revealed.
Mrs. Peggy Clark was preoccupied with proving to all that she was refined, cultured and had (so-called) class.Certain people weren’t to be discriminated against in the family’s mortuary business, but it was okay to be biased otherwise.
Peggy was hyper-critical, always pushing and cajoling – insisting that the Clark’s reputation not get sullied.She even tried to hide the fact that she couldn’t cook – buying dinner at fancy restaurants and then putting it in pots and pans on her stove.Everyone saw the façade.No matter how hard she tried to hide between haute cuisine and fur coats, it would never be enough to save her world from crumbling.The truth prevailed that her favorite son, Reuben, was conceived during a brief separation from her husband many years before.She had been captivated by the singer/man of her dreams, “Blue” Williams.
So, all those years went by and no one mentioned this information – the family secret was safe.As the adage says, “Things done in the dark, DO come to light.”
Reuben cried at the revelation and his mother was detached at best.His only source of comfort was his Grandmother (Tillie) Clark.Grandmother Clark knew the real deal, but loved him just the same.Before the story ended, the family seemed to be on the mend and Reuben even established a relationship with his biological father.
How often have you lied to save face; to spare someone’s feelings; to make yourself important?How often have you omitted certain facts?When is the last time you had an honest relationship?Hear the word:
"I'm feeling terrible—I couldn't feel worse!Get me on my feet again.You promised, remember?When I told my story, you responded; train me well in your deep wisdom.Help me understand these things inside and out so I can ponder your miracle-wonders.My sad life's dilapidated, a falling-down barn; build me up again by your Word.Barricade the road that goes nowhere; grace me with your clear revelation.I choose the true road to somewhere; I post your road signs at every curve and corner.I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me; God,don't let me down!I'll run the course you lay out for me if you'll just show me how."(Psalm 119:29-31 - The Message)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, if we would only learn the lesson, we would save ourselves some pain. When we live in truth, we don’t have to be something other than who You say we are.To do otherwise hurts those who do love and care about us.We often lie to You, to each other and to ourselves.Father, we have Your assurances that you will forgive us and will set us free.Help us to remember that it’s not about our reputation, but the content of our character.From this day forward, help us to live only in truth.
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, November 21, 2007
"Why Are Some Christians So Boring?"
“I’m bored!” announced my thirteen year old son loudly.We were only 7 hours into our 14 hour trip to Disney World. It was time for Dad to do something that would make things more entertaining.
So we played all the car games I had played when I was a kid in less than an hour, and Danny didn’t care about reading a book. With all the wisdom I could muster, I said “Project yourself into the future. Think about how much fun you will have tomorrow at Disney World. All the rides, the Disney characters you will see... Epcot Center!”
That didn’t work. So we were miserable for the next six hours.
Why is it so difficult to project into the future and be satisfied NOW because we anticipate the rewards that will come later? Many Christians have the same problem today. Why are so many Christians bored? Why are they behaving in such a boring manner? Why are churches so dull, behaving as though we have little to celebrate?
We aren’t satisfied with the here-and-now because we haven’t fully appreciated the reward that is going to be ours in the future!
Our world has spoiled us to thinking we have to be entertained and we’ve lost a lot of our ability to find fulfillment without some spectacular external stimulus.That unfulfilled need carries over to the church as well. In some places, worship has become a “production” in order to entice our entertainment addicted society to attend the services. And just when we think we’ve got it right, another church finds a new wrinkle that is just a little more glamorous than what we are doing so we rush to produce something else that is more exciting than our competitor.
Beloved, star-studded worship services aren’t going to solve the problem. Lloyd Ogilvie said in his book, Ask Him Anything, “The cutting edge of the gospel has been dulled with impersonal preaching and teaching. People’s deepest needs are unmet and what’s said and done is often irrelevant to the real issues of living in the real world.The great wonder is that we put up with it.”
In a message preached at Times Square Church, New York City, David
Wilkerson said, “In thousands of churches there is never any mention of sin, the Cross, sacrifice, judgment or hell. Godly watchmen aren’t allowed to speak, and there is no stirring of hearts. Instead, the whole focus is on success, with every sermon designed to make people feel good…
Think about all the prosperity preaching in the church today… This self-serving, get-rich gospel and the competitive church system that promotes it are now under the Ichabod anathema. It’s all cursed and dead, and soon we’ll see God do what He said He would do to Israel: 'I will make this house like Shiloh.'He’s going to cut down the money tree, and a great spoiling will follow.
All the hireling shepherds are going to face bankruptcy, and overnight their massive church programs will be gone.”
To the godly Christians seeking an authentic word from the Bible, church has become boring! There is something we can do about that. When a thirteen year old is bored while on a 14 hour car trip, I want to shout, “Grow up!” That same advice could be a part of the menu today! Think about this:
The reason for our boredom is that we bypass our real needs.Faith becomes dull when we do not allow Christ to indwell every fiber of our existence.
We have lost our excitement about spiritual things because we have forgotten to listen to what God is telling us. The mind that is alive to new Truth from God’s Word everyday won’t need any more excitement than that.
A bored Christian is usually not involved in deep fellowship with other believers. Ogilvie said, “Dullness is a sure sign that we are trying to go it alone.”
Faith becomes boring when we stop communicating to others about the love of the Lord.
Ask God to abide in you! Invite Him to take an inventory of every aspect of your life and give Him first place. Then you will become the exciting Christian God has called you to be! Amen and amen.
"...if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
(2nd Chronicles 7:14)
Have you ever gone to an airport or sporting event to meet a friend?If so, you remember watching the crowd as they passed by looking for your friend.Were you looking at their feet or hands?Were you looking at their legs?No!You were "seeking their face."
We recognize our friends by their faces - their features.We recognize them from others because we know the details of their appearance - we know the unique characteristics that set them apart from anyone else.
God asks those He calls "My people" to "seek His face."He wants us to know and recognize Him.He doesn't want a casual relationship - He wants us to know Him intimately, to know His character and His will.
"Since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - (His character; His face) have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)His character, His face has been clearly seen; but, it has only been recognized by those who were seeking Him.
Just like meeting your brother at the airport; even though you know his face, you won't recognize him unless you're looking for him - seeking him.
Are you seeking the Lord?Do you know His face, His character and His will?Jesus says, "...seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)
Seek His face in all you do and you will find Him because He will come to you and the door will be opened.Amen and Amen!
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
(Author’s Note: This is a story from the unpublished autobiography of my great-great grandfather, Richard O. Watkins.)
Shortly after being licensed to preach in September, 1838, Watkins was assigned by the Texas Presbytery as a circuit-riding preacher and evangelist.His territory was inhabited by scalping parties of hostile tribes of Indians. It became too dangerous to continue the ministry alone, so he joined the Texas Rangers, traveling with them and preaching to groups of men, women and children wherever he could. The services were held secretly, with armed men guarding against sudden attacks.
One evening a courier brought news that their Colonel needed support in a fort sixty miles away.The danger was too great to leave the women and children without protection, so the captain called for a volunteer to dispatch a message that help would not come. It was a dark night, not a star, and the path was dim. In some places there was no path at all. Should the volunteer fail to find his way, danger would be imminent at daylight if he did not go the proper direction. But twenty miles in the right direction, and he would be in comparative safety.
Watkins volunteered for the dangerous mission and took with him James H. Sparks. They set out and it soon proved that they could not follow the path, dark as it was, and had only the direction of a slight wind to steer them.When the wind ceased, they had nothing to guide them. At last they came upon a place both recognized as being twenty miles in the right direction.
Relieved at their good fortune, they rejoiced and cheerfully pressed on without fear.Suddenly, while traveling over hilly ground they found themselves within twenty yards of an Indian fire which was just built up. The Indians evidently heard them and hid in the ravine.
Watkins writes, “They, in whisper, decided the boldest course was best, and at the top of their voice sang out upon the stillness of the night, ‘Charge, charge!’ as though their whole company had been there. Suiting the action to the word they dashed right up to the fire, as the Indians went every way to escape. They went by the fire at full speed, made the trip in safety, received the thanks of the Colonel and won much praise from their company.”
When our pathway seems dimly lit, and we face the danger of losing our direction, that is when we trust in the boldness of our Heavenly Father.
Racing toward the light is not always the easiest way, but it is the only way.When we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit our enemies will flee. “Charge, charge!”
GospeLines Prayer:Father, when the way seems darkest, point me in the direction of the Light, and bind my enemies so I will find eternal safety in You. Amen and amen.