The guest list for Simon's party included his fellow Pharisees, and the upstart from Nazareth who was causing a stir among the Jews in town. Jesus had been making alarming claims about being the Messiah and, what was worse, He was backing it up with miracles that only someone like Jehovah could perform.
At the feast, Jesus was given the preferred place to sit so everyone could hear Him teach. On this occasion a woman came, known by reputation and appearance to be a prostitute, wearing her hair unbound, a sign of her despicable profession. She may well have heard him preach in the streets that wonderful burden-lifting message: "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."
Her struggle in her own conscience had been enough to crush the life out, and she was resolved to see Him. To brave the ridicule of being in the presence of these men was worth it. She slipped through the curtains at the entrance and saw Him reclining at the banquet table in the house of the Pharisee. She stood behind the Prophet, holding a jar of expensive perfume in her trembling hands, and listened to the words that offered redemption and freedom from her life of torment.
She stood weeping because of her wicked life, brought home to her the more by hearing the gracious words of Jesus. She also met the icy scowl of Simon: "What is she doing here?" Ashamed, repentant and grieved, she bent over to hide her confusion, and as she did a shower of tears fell upon Jesus' feet. As if in apology and having no cloth, she began to wipe the tears from His feet with the long tresses of her hair. Among the Jews it was a shameful thing for a woman to let down her hair in public, but she made this sacrifice on this night.
The woman recognized her debt. She turned to Jesus and demonstrated the genuineness of her faith by pouring out gifts of love on Him. Christ received her gifts because they sprang from her heart. Then he turned to her and declared, "Your sins are forgiven."
Beloved, that same Messenger of Reconciliation and Peace is speaking to you now. No longer allow the sins of yesterday to hold you captive, but come to the banquet table of Jesus. He awaits your confession, ready to utter those precious words anew: "Your sins are forgiven."(Excerpts from The Words and Works of Jesus Christ, J. Dwight Pentecost.)
GospeLines Prayer: Father, deliver me from unnecessary judgment, unrighteous condemnation, and unholy confrontation. I surrender my critical eye and haughty spirit to You. Replace it with a love for the down-and-out as well as the up-and-coming; show me that the sin of the streets is no more or less punishable than the sin from the pews. Amen and amen.
Tommy Harrison, D. Min.
July 12, 2005
"...Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant."
Mark 10:43 (NLT)
It has happened again!
Hurricane Dennis slammed into the Florida coast of the United States only ten months after Ivan did so much damage in the same area. Structural damage does not appear to be as massive, but millions are without electrical power and trees and signs are blown over the land. Beach erosion has eaten close to businesses and homes.
Volunteers are being called out en masse to assist those who had to bear the brunt of another major hurricane.
Jesus told the disciples that true greatness comes in serving others. In our world today greatness is measured by personal achievement. But in Christ's Kingdom serving others is the way to get ahead.
Immediately following the passing of Hurricane Dennis, Red Cross volunteers began to fan out over the area with various units to minister to the people. My husband will leave early in the morning with other Arkansas Southern Baptists to aid the hurricane victims. There will be a convoy consisting of a large feeding unit, a tree trimming crew and the shower trailer that he will be driving.
God will look down from heaven and approve these ladies and gentlemen as they seek to meet the physical needs of Florida residents, while showing them the love of Jesus through their service to them.
If you have a great need in your life begin looking for ways that you can minister to others, and you can become a integral part of what God calls true greatness.
"Debra, you may put your clothes back on, and then come with me, because the doctor would like to talk to you."
Ominous words. Do you KNOW how long that hallway was? All I could think was that my world could be about to radically, drastically change. Struggling not to cry, sending silent, urgent pleas to God for help, I had a flashback memory of an article I had read just this morning. The writer made a statement which had stuck in my mind all day: "I've learned that faith isn't faith until it's tested, and I've learned that we don't know whether we really have it until we need it." (Barbara Elliott Carpenter, www.barbaraelliottcarpenter.com). I was just hoping that God hadn't shown that article to me because I was going to need it!
Barbara Carpenter is right. When it comes to faith, it's not enough to talk the talk. Walking the walk - putting our faith to the test - that's how it is measured.
Although I am optimistic that I don't have any cause for worry, this situation or another one will undoubtedly arise for me, as it will, or has, for you. And we'll be asking ourselves, "Do I have enough faith?" If the answer is "No," what then? Well, here's the good news - ASK FOR MORE!
You see, faith isn't something that we have to create, build, or produce on our own. It is ours for the asking. Look what Paul says throughout his writings:
"Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17, NIV, emphasis added)
"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." (Romans 12:3, NIV, emphasis added)
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God..." (Ephesians 2:8, NI, emphasis added)
In another scripture, Romans 4:20, Paul was talking about Abraham, and said,
"Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God..."
He didn't say Abraham "strengthened his faith," an action initiated by Abraham; he says Abraham "was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God."
Is that encouraging to you? It is to me! Are you concerned about some trial you may face? Feeling a little "short" on faith? Now you know what to do - you're askin' for it!
Dear God, I praise you for your provision of enough grace for me to get through my day today, and I know that you are doing that for millions of others too. Lord, sometimes we just think we have to be so self-sufficient! But Father, you alone are sufficient for our needs. Gratefully, I ask that you supply each of us with the faith we need to face our challenges. Because God, with you as our supplier, we'll never be lacking! In Jesus' name, Amen!
(c) Debbie Collins Parker
July 8, 2005
July 14, 2005
"For My Glory!"
Thursday, July 7th, 2005 was Cedar Point time.If you live anywhere in the Midwest; or, if you're a roller coaster fanatic, you know about Cedar Point - Voted the world's best amusement park seven years in a row.
This year my family, my sister-in-law and her two boys (ages 7 and 9) made our annual trip to the park together.It was to be a day of thrills, fun, too much food, sunburn and laughter - The things that make family memories that are never forgotten.This year was no exception (but for very different reasons).
We arrived at the park around 11:00 AM and went immediately to the coasters.We road them all except for Top Thrill Dragster - The lines were too long.Instead, we got a "Fast Pass" - A hand stamp that lets you cut in front of the line during your appointed time.Our time was between 9:00 and 10:00 PM.
This ride is the scariest, fastest and tallest ride in the park.It accelerates from 0 to 120 MPH in 4 seconds and then goes straight up 360 ft, turns around and comes straight down.The entire ride only lasts 17 seconds.One of our twins, Angell, had never ridden it but had promised me she would this time.She got to the front of the line last year; but, then she changed her mind.I really wanted her to ride and overcome her fear and, of course, she really wanted to please her Dad.
Finally, it was 9:00PM.We arrived at the entrance of the ride only to find that it was temporarily closed - Technical problems.As we discussed what to do, we noticed that one of my nephews - 9 year old Joshua - was missing.He was just there and now he was gone - My heart almost stopped.Frantic searching and calling produced nothing.We reported his missing to the police and continued to search.
While searching, I began to pray for his safe return.As I prayed, I remembered studying The Secret of Successful Prayer by R. A. Torrey.This was one of the lessons I read while studying to be ordained.My mind raced over Torrey's words.Ask for forgiveness and confess your sins - God hears the righteous (James 5:16).Pray in Jesus name and according to His will (John 14:12-14).Pray with confidence (1st John 5:14-15) and pray with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-7).
Then I remembered 2nd Thessalonians 1:12 - "We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ" - so I prayed; "Lord, bring him back to us for Your glory so that his family may know You more and praise You more."
About an hour later, the Park Police found Joshua safe and sound (but a bit scared).As we were leaving the Police office, I was again praying and thanking God for returning Josh to us safely when the Lord spoke: "For My glory!"I got the message.
To all the GospeLines family all over the world: "...pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one."(2nd Thessalonians 3:2-3)
PS: Angell did finally ride Top Thrill Dragster.When the ride was over, she jumped into my arms screaming, "Daddy!I did it!"In my mind I thought, "And so did the Lord."
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 2:5
July 15, 2005
"Take It with You"
What do you see when you look around your world?Much of it isn't pretty.Finding the beauty of the universe becomes increasingly more difficult when evil and suffering is consistently broadcast into our living rooms and printed in our newspapers.Some of us like to take exotic vacations to distant shores in hopes of finding a beautiful place to relax.Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not."
Searching for beauty need not become a hopeless task.Everyday we can see the miraculous, breathtaking creation of God if we train ourselves to look for it.The Teacher in Ecclesiastes 3:11 said, "He has made everything beautiful in its time."I believe it is possible to find something good in almost everything!It all depends on our viewpoint.Believe that God has something to say to you in every flower, every blade of grass, every human encounter, every raindrop that falls... then you will find beauty right where you are.Carry it with you or you will find it not.
GospeLines Prayer:"Father, when I am tempted to become as negative as the media, cheer me up with a reminder that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.Help me to exercise my freedom of choice, so that I may habitually choose to see Your good work in everything."Amen and amen.