On Wings Of Eagles

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Yxs, Wx All arx Important

1 Corinthians 12:12 (KJV)
"For as thx body is onx, and hath many mxmbxrs, and all thx mxmbxrs of that onx body, bxing many, arx one body: so also is Christ."

This may be a bit hard to read, but there is a point to it...so stick with it until the end.

I guxss just about xvxry Christian doubts his or hxr importancx in God's plan at somx timx in thxir walk with thx Lord.

Many fxxl likx thxir livxs don't rxally count. Pxrhaps thxy think thxy don't havx thx right kind of abilitixs or talxnts to makx a diffxrxncx. Or, thxy think if thxy stoppxd attxnding church and stoppxd sxrving thx Kingdom of God, thxy wouldn't bx missxd vxry much.

In othxr words, thxy think that thxy don't rxally mattxr.

God's Word paints a diffxrxnt picturx, howxvxr. Paul, in writing to thx Corinthians, makxs it clxar that ALL mxmbxrs of the body of Christ arx xqually important. Hx wrotx,

"And thx xyx cannot say unto thx hand, I havx no nxxd of thxx: nor again thx hxad to thx fxxt, I havx no nxxd of you. Nay, much morx thosx mxmbxrs of the body, which sxxm to bx morx fxxblx, arx nxcxssary." (1 Corinthians 12:21,22)

If you rxad thx xntirx 12th chaptxr of 1 Corinthians thxn you will sxx that God txlls us that XACH onx of us is important to His family. Wx XACH havx a uniqux placx in God's plan and purposx. Wx XACH havx a spxcial usx, somxthing that God has spxcifically dxsignxd for our livxs.

Do you think that you, as ONX pxrson, don't make a diffxrxncx? Considxr this: there are 26 keys on my computer keyboard. If the “e” decided to not be its self and be an “x” instead what does it do for this devotional?
Did you miss the letter "e"? “E’ had a job that only it could do. As hard as the “x” tried to fill in it cuoldn’t  do the job as well as the “e”.
Get the point?

If you aren't active in God's plan, then you will be missed. No one else can step in and do what God has designed for YOU to do --- you can't be replaced, because you are invaluable!

God doesn't call any inactive disciples, He expects each of us to serve Him to the best of our ability and according to the instructions He gives us through His Word and His Holy Spirit.

The next time you feel like you are not important or your life doesn't count or no one would miss you...

...considxr how mixxd up things arx whxn you arxn't thxrx!

Dear Lord, help us be willing to do what You have designed us for today. Help us to do our part as we share Your great love to the world around us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Very Best or Leftovers?

1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Years ago, in the time between the World Wars, there was a very special Christian school in England.

Staffed by teachers from around the world, the students were blessed to find out how others lived. One year an instructor shared his experiences when he worked in India as a private tutor. The children were especially moved when they heard about the children who were part of India's "untouchable" caste. In less time than it takes to tell, the children decided to reach out to those untouchables at Christmastime.

This they did through an annual giving of Christmas toys to a village, which had many untouchable children. The girls of the village always received a doll, and the boys received an appropriate toy made for boys. The generous gesture greatly pleased both groups of children.

Then one year a medical missionary helped distribute those gifts. During the course of his visit he told the children about another place where the boys and girls had never heard about Jesus or the salvation He won for the world. The doctor suggested that maybe the untouchable children would like to give them some of their old toys. That would give him, he explained, the opportunity to talk about God's great gift -- Jesus.

The children liked the idea.

A week later the doctor returned to collect the gifts. He was shocked by what happened. One by one the children filed by and gave the doctor a doll or toy. Amazingly, the children gave their new toys, not the old ones. When the doctor asked, "Why?" A little girl spoke for the rest when she said, "Doctor, think what Jesus did for us. He gave us His best, can we do anything less?"

The girl had it right. Jesus always gave His best.

From the moment He was born, past the day on the cross when He gave up the ghost, Jesus always did everything that was necessary to save us -- and He did it right. When Satan tempted Him in the wilderness and encouraged the Savior to cut corners, Jesus declined and gave His best.

When He was challenged at His trials, Jesus did not defend Himself; He did not lash out. He did not demand retribution and vengeance upon those who were persecuting Him. No, Jesus gave His best and was taken to the cross without complaint.

Jesus always gave His best and in so doing won forgiveness and salvation for us. Now He encourages all those who have been saved to respond with a grateful heart.

And how should we respond? The answer is simple: we do what Jesus did.

We give Him our best.

Dear Lord, thank You for all You have done for us.  Help us give Him our best. Help us avoid Satan telling us to cut back and respond to Your love with leftovers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

You Have What it Takes

Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
    I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

Earlier today I sat out in my chicken coop watching my chickens as the do what chickens do. I like to spend quite time sitting there watching, thinking and reading my Bible. Today a thought came to me, so I thought I would share it.

Picture in your mind the most incredible thing designed by mankind that you have ever seen. Perhaps the Empire State Building, the Shuttle built by the technicians at NASA, The Golden Gate Bridge or even the intricate detailing in a painting you've seen.

What name comes to mind when I say the words "creative genius?"

Who do you think of when I mention God-like compassion, caring and loving?

What author's name do you think of when I mention "poetry," "drama," "mystery," "fiction," and "comedy?"

What do you see when I say "strength," and "stamina?"

Finally "winner," "successful," or "role model?"

I'll bet you a Giordano’s pizza (for all my College friends)  you never saw yourself in any of those images. And yet...

Look at your hands. Are they not the same as the hands of the skillful artist, architect, mason, or technician?

If you were to x-ray your skull, would you not find the same brain matter that takes up the space between the ears of Einstein, Plato, and Disney?

Hold your hand to your chest. Can you feel the beat of a heart capable of paining for the homeless and starving? Have you not the same heart that beat in the chest of Jesus, Gandhi, Mohammed or the thousands of missionaries around the world?

Look at your fingers. Are they not like the fingers of Frost, Churchill, Stevens, Wilder and King that held tightly the pens that wrote the words that shaped the world?

Look at your feet. Show me the difference between yours and gold medalists of the Olympics or the rescuers who carried the people out of the rubble in Taiwan's tragic earthquake.

Finally. Close your eyes as you stand in front of a mirror and picture in your mind that man or woman who you think of as a success, a winner and role model. Open your eyes what is the  difference between you and that person.

There is no difference...except in how you perceive yourself.

We all have the mind, the hands, the feet, the fingers, the heart to be exactly what you want to be. The only thing that is stopping you is the person you see in the mirror.

We each have all that it takes. God has given it to each of us. How will you use it today?

Dear Lord, thanks You for giving each of us the talents and gifts to do whatever we set our mind to. Help us use them today to accomplish great things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

You Can Make a Difference, Big or Small.

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Does a simple smile really impact someone who is feeling down? Does it really make a difference when you encourage someone who is depressed?

While in the air en route to Kenya, some of the mission team members began to wonder if spending big bucks for plane tickets to go and build a kitchen and a cistern for a desperate orphanage was really the right way to spend their money. Wouldn't it have been better spent by hiring local contractors to do the building? Would flying all this way really make a difference?

But once they met the local people of Nairobi, all of these doubts were erased. They were greeted with cheers and hugs. They were considered heroes of the faith!

The local people of Nairobi were astonished at how hard every member of the mission team worked. Most of what they know about North Americans comes from movies, and these don't always depict a very nice picture!

Most of the locals believed that North Americans are spoiled brats with lots of stress who work very little for lots of money. Though some of this may be quite true, the mission team revealed to them not only that they were not afraid of work, but also that they cared enough for the people in Kenya to take time off their busy schedule and fly half-way around the world to be with them. As a result, the team established many life-long friendships.

The people in the streets of Nairobi were also delighted to talk with members of the team. They seemed eager to share what they were going through, and they demanded to have their picture taken.

To all these people, that expensive trip to Kenya sure made a difference!

There was one person that the team met who was touched more than anyone by their visit. He was from the slums of Nairobi, and he had always dreamed of leaving the slums to earn an education. He had worked hard and had made it to his final year of university, but then the money ran out. It seemed that there was no way he could finish school. He was desperate, and he confided in the Lord. While in prayer, he received a phone call announcing that he had been chosen by a church for a special scholarship, one that would permit him to finish his final year of university.

When this young man realized that the mission team had been sent from this same church, he became so emotional that he had to leave the room for several minutes. "It can't be!" He repeated over and over again. "You are really here! You really do care! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

This young man is now working on his Masters degree, and he is currently working as an associate pastor for a large church in the Nairobi slums. His personal goal in life? To bring hope into the lives of those in the slums.

We may not always realize it, but sometimes the tiniest action on our part can have huge repercussions in the lives of the people around us. We WILL impact those we interact with, either for the good, or for evil. We can either be a blessing or a curse. It's our choice!

What will you do today big or small?

Dear Lord, thanks for being willing to use us. Help us to not worry how big or small the opportunity that is before us. Help us just be willing to go. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What Are You Doing to Make a Difference in This World?

Matthew 25:40 (NIV)
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Did you know that hundreds of orphaned bear cubs are shot every year, just to keep them from starving to death? Ever since the white man has encroached on bear territory, orphaned cubs have become a huge problem. Many mother bears are either hit by cars or shot by hunters each year, and because bear cubs are totally dependent upon their mothers, orphaned babies are left to the mercy of the wild. Most will either starve or fall victim to predators, and even to other bears.

Veterinarian Ken Macquisten had a burden on his heart for these cubs. He theorized that if orphaned bear cubs could be given a safe wilderness home to grow up in, with little or no human contact, they could be released back into the wild. He suggested that a three-strand electric fence could be stretched around approximately two acres of wilderness land rich in the food elements necessary for the survival of bears. Inside the fence, the bear cubs would be protected from predators while they learned to forage for food. He decided to test his idea with two orphans, Coola and Grinder.

Coola was found wandering aimlessly in Bella Coola, British Columbia after his mother was hit by a car. It isn't known what happened to Grinder's mother, but he was discovered alone and near the point of starvation near the Alberta-British Columbia border. Ken took these two orphans under his care until he had built their wilderness habitat in the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife near Vancouver, British Columbia, and then he released them into this area.

Unfortunately, by the time the experimental area was ready, Coola and Grinder had been with humans too long to ever be released into the wild; however, the experiment was a total success in every other way. When the cubs first arrived in their new habitat, they both weighed about 7 kg. ("By way of explanation - because there was no government authorized program to release captive raised orphan grizzlies at the time that Grinder and Coola became orphans, these two bears had no chance of being releasable in any event." Dr. Ken Macquisten)

By the time their first winter arrived, Coola weighed 78 kg and Grinder 61 kg. They had both learned how to forage for food and how to do all the other things that bears need to survive. Most importantly, they proved that Ken's idea would work. Thanks to this successful experiment, the Canadian authorities now have an alternative for orphaned bear cubs.

It only took one man to make a difference in the survival of these abandoned cubs! Just one man!

Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, has an infant mortality of 7.6%! Because of a baby boom, almost half of its population is under 14 years of age, with the median age being 17. The average life expectancy is 51. If you ever visit this country, you will be in for a major shock. Crowds of people live either in the streets or in shacks that aren't fit for human occupation. Water mixed with human waste flows freely in the streets. Disease rampages out of control.

What can one do in such conditions?

Hands and Feet, an autonomous ministry founded by members of Audio Adrenaline and Flicker Records, came to the rescue of Haitian orphans to provide hope to future generations in Haiti. Their philosophy: "When we impact the lives of these orphans, we impact future leaders of communities, cities, and a nation. Touch a child and you can rescue a nation. It begins with the children. They need love, hugs, and a caring family - a home. Together we can change their world through God's love."

One little thing, yet what a difference it makes in the lives of those kids.

It only takes one dedicated person to make a difference in this world. Will you be that one?

Dear Lord, We pray that we would be the one to make a difference in the world for You. Help Your love shine through us in such a way that those around us will come to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Complete or In Complete?

John 15:27  (NIV)
And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

What do we do when depression ravages our minds? How do we react when anxiety springs up on us unawares? Where do we go to when all of our energy seems to have evaporated into thin air? Where do we turn when adversity becomes our constant companion?

In the 14th century, construction began on the western tower of the  It was going to be a glorious tower, and many were looking forward to seeing its completion. But it never came to be. Due to limited funds, the work was halted and the tower was never completed.

These people could commiserate with those of us whose strength has left us.

Although unfinished however, the tower was far from being useless! Its caves, deep in the ground, were ideal for storing ammunition and protecting Veurne residents from the bombings of World War II, and even today it has found its usefulness. A modern art museum is now hosted there. Even though incomplete, the tower still has its place in society!

I have discovered that age has nothing to do with usefulness. I have met elderly people who are still so full of vigor that they continue to be shining examples of how God had transformed their lives. Not only do they do the unthinkable, like that 90 year-old woman who jumped from a plane (with a parachute naturally!) for the first time in her life, but they also testify about Jesus through their actions, by helping the dejected, by encouraging the hopeless and by visiting the abandoned.

An older lady discovered she had cancer. It didn’t stop her from becoming a missionary in China. “If I have to die, it doesn’t matter where it will occur. I want to die in a place where I can be useful and where I can testify.”

I have also met young people, however, who acted like they were elderly. They have no ambition, no motivation. Maybe it’s because they hadn’t discovered what the apostle Paul had found out:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:35-39 NIV)

Doesn’t this truth fill us with adrenaline? Doesn’t this encourage us to carry this banner of love throughout our neighborhoods? How many around us are hungering for hope? Why can’t we be the ones to satisfy that hunger?

Sometimes, we face ridicule, even rejection, but still such consequences are meager compared to the witness of Christians in oppressed countries. Their testimony can cost them their very lives, yet they still go one, undeterred. With God’s love spurring them to action, they bring hope to the hopeless, encouragement to the depressed, and friendship to those who are friendless.

No matter how incomplete your own “tower” stands, you can make a difference! You don’t have to feel dejected and useless! It’s time to stand up, for you truly are “more than conquerors through him who loved” you.

Will you make a difference in this world?

Dear Lord, thank You that no matter what state of completion we are You can and will use us.  Help us be willing today to let You shine through us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Do As Unto the Lord

Ephesians 6:7 (NIV)
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.

I read of a man who was involved in a tragic accident.  He lost both legs and his left arm and only a finger and thumb remained on the right hand. But he still possessed a brilliant mind, enriched with a good education and broadened with world travel.  At first he thought there was nothing he could do but remain a helpless sufferer.

A thought came to him.  It was always nice to receive letters, but why not write them--he could still use his right hand with some difficulty.  But to whom could he write? Was there anyone shut-in and incapacitated like he was who could be encouraged by his letters? He thought of men in prison--they did have some hope of release, whereas he had none--but it was worth a try.

He wrote to a Christian organization concerned with prison ministry.  He was told that his letters could not be answered because it was against prison rules, but he still decided to commence this one-sided correspondence.

He wrote twice a week, and it taxed his strength to the limit.  But into the letters he put his whole soul, all his experience, all his faith, all his wit, and all his Christian optimism.  Frequently he felt discouraged and was tempted to give it all up.  But it was his one remaining activity, and he resolved to continue as long as he could.

At last he got a letter.  It was very short, written on prison stationery by the officer whose duty it was to censor the mail.  All it said was: "Please write on the best paper you can afford.  Your letters are passed from cell to cell till they literally fall to pieces."

Dear Lord, Help us use what You have given us to bless those around us.  Help us not look at our limitations but look at how we can use them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Endangered Species

Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

In 2007, the government announced it had taken the bald eagle off the endangered species list. That’s great news! Still, many different plants and animals remain on that list.

As we take a minute to think about the endangered species list does it go far enough? For example, what about a list for endangered people? Lists like that might include rare individuals like these: 

Those content with their lives
Those living with a sure and confident hope
Those secure in their financial situation
Those confident about their future
Those who enjoy life’s blessings
Those certain of their salvation

Sadly, the number of people on many of those lists, especially the last one, could easily outnumber the endangered plants and animals on any government list! Does your name appear in any of the categories above—or maybe all of them? If so, praise the Lord, who has worked these rare qualities in you! Do you know people whose names would not appear in any of the categories above? It’s likely. And it’s also easy to walk right by the hurting, hopeless, and fearful people all around us, feeling inadequate to help.

We have plenty of opportunities to add people to these lists. We are encouraged through all of scripture to see that no one misses the grace of God . . .

Recently I’ve read stories of people sharing their faith at work. It’s obvious from their enthusiasm and newfound confidence that sharing Christ has made their work experience more exciting, an adventure, even. They enjoy their growing relationships with co-workers, and they sense God at work through them, adding purpose to their daily occupations.

As the Holy Spirit grows our faith, as he strengthens us through his Word, and as we spend time with other believers, we realize a new confidence and a new urgency for sharing Christ’s hope-filled news with a hurting world. As men of God, we soar as we share our Lord and the salvation he won for us. We want others to see what we see and know what we know, namely the world’s Savior, Jesus Christ.

Dear Lord we thank You for Your grace and the salvation you give to us. We pray today that we have the confidence in sharing your life-giving news with those that are in our life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Are You Better Than You Are Acting?

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Not many people realize that President Calvin Coolidge did not always live in the White House. As Vice-President, he became President upon the death of Warren G. Harding. Mrs. Harding continued to live in the White House for a time, so the Coolidges remained where they had been living - in the third-floor suite of the nearby Willard Hotel.

Once in the middle of the night, the new President awoke to see an intruder going through his clothes. He watched as the thief first removed a wallet, then unhooked a watch chain. Coolidge calmly spoke up from the darkness: "About that watch, I wish you wouldn't take that."

The startled man, gaining his voice, asked, "Why?"

Coolidge answered, "I don't mean the watch and chain, only the charm. I'm very fond of that charm. It means a great deal to me. Take it near the window and read what is engraved on the back of it."

The burglar read: "Presented to Calvin Coolidge, Speaker of the House, by the Massachusetts General Court." And now he was more surprised!

"Are you President Coolidge?" he asked. He evidently did not think he'd find the President sleeping in a hotel!

"Yes, I am, and I don't want you to take that charm," he said. Then he asked, "Why, Son, are you doing this?"

The young man explained that he and a friend traveled to Washington during their college break. They spent all of their money and had no money to pay the hotel bill or pay for train passage back to school. "If you don't mind," he said, "I'll just take the wallet."

Coolidge did mind. He knew he had about $80 in his wallet. So he said, "How much will it take to pay your hotel bill and get you and your friend back to the campus? Sit down and let's talk this over."

Coolidge added up the room rate and two rail tickets. It came to $32. That may not sound like much now, but it was a considerable sum then. "I'll give you the $32 as a loan," the President said, "and I expect you to pay me back."

The youth thanked him. Coolidge then advised him to leave by the same window he used to enter the room, as secret service agents were sure to be patrolling the hallway. As the young man climbed out, Coolidge left him with this admonition: "Son, you're a nice boy. You are better than you are acting. You are starting down the wrong road. Just remember who you are."

It wasn't until after the death of Mrs. Coolidge in 1957 that this story was allowed to come out. It was first published in the "Los Angeles Times." And most interesting of all is that the President's notes show that the young man was indeed better than he was acting. He repaid the $32 loan in full.

Kurt Hahn, the founder of Outward Bound, said this: "There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less."

Are you better than you are acting?

Dear Lord, help our actions be the right actions. Help us live our life in an honorable way. Help us look for the better way to live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Will You Meet the Need Today?

Philippians 4:19 (NIV)
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Have you ever wondered where some of the common inventions of our life have come from?

· Leo Gerstenzang thought of Q-Tips when he saw his wife trying to clean their baby's ears with toothpicks and cotton.

· King C. Gillette looked for a throwaway product after he had a conversation with the inventor of pop bottle caps. When he found his razor dull, he thought of the safety razor with disposable blades.

· Ole Evinrude invented the outboard motor after he got angry when the ice cream in his rowboat melted before he got to his island picnic spot.

· Charles Strite was fuming at the burnt toast in the factory lunchroom where he worked and thought up the automatic toaster.

There is one common factor in all of these inventions: a person saw a need and answered that need.

We see that God has done just that when He set into motion His plan to save us. It was a major investment on His part. He invested the life of His only Son. It was His divine way of meeting our needs.

We should all be thankful that God who meets our needs, we should also follow after Him and be willing to help meet the needs of others.

Truly, there are a great many needs we see each day.

Some of them are big. Others are very small. But oftentimes we can make a difference in taking care of those needs. By the Holy Spirit's power we can, with our words and our actions, help change some of those things.

We may not make a fortune like some of the inventors we read about earlier. But what a blessing we will receive as we try to make the lives of those we meet more peaceful and content. As a bonus we can show God’s love through our actions.

Is there a need you can meet today?

Dear Lord, we thank You for the need You have met. Thank You for setting in to motion the plan of salvation that is available for everybody. Help us share that today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Go and Do Likewise

Luke 10:37  (NIV)
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke chapter 10, verses 25-37 brings us the parable of the Good Samaritan. Here we have a story about a well-to-do legal eagle anxious to make an impression and display his knowledge of the scriptures. But Jesus threw back the challenge and asked him who was the neighbor and the lawyer replied "the one who had mercy on him." And Jesus told him to, "Go and do likewise."

There is a modern version of this story. It concerned a traveling salesman who lived somewhere in the United States. He had had a busy week and was returning to his home town. He stopped his car for a break at a roadside coffee shop. As he sat drinking his coffee he heard a girl quietly crying in the next booth. He didn't want to get involved but he was moved by her obvious distress. The girl was about 17, the same age as his own daughter. Against his better judgment he introduced himself and asked if he could help. The girl whose name was Lisa told him that she was from a broken home and had got into bad company. She was into drugs and had turned to prostitution to pay for them. Moved as he was, he just bought the girl a meal and continued his journey.

Later that evening he shared his experience with his family, how his heart had reached out to her and how he wanted to help her in some way. His family suggested that he return to that town and try to find Lisa again and offer to help. He eventually located her. He discovered that she was but a number of girls in that town in similar circumstances who were being exploited by the pimps and drug pushers. He was so moved by Lisa's plight that he took her home to his family, and that started a ministry to try and get those girls off the streets. Out of that simple beginning over a cup of coffee that man now has three full time workers and has seen scores of girls come off the streets and get their lives back together. Some of those same girls are now part of the team. The ministry became so successful that it earned that man a Presidential citation.

He acted like a good Samaritan. He could have got together with his church fellowship and said, "we need to pray for these girls, they must be set free." If that was all he had done nothing would have happened. We need to pray, but we need to act. We need to pray, not for the situation itself but for the courage and strength to step out in faith and do something about it according to the gifts that God has given us.

There are a million stories out there. There are thousands of girls like Lisa and there are countless examples of injustice, corruption, pornography, abuse, and everywhere there are people needing, searching, and desperately trying to find a new life. We are His hands and feet. When Jesus said 'follow me' He meant it!

Will you follow Jesus today?

Dear Lord, We pray that our eyes would be open to the one in need that is around us. Help us not just walk by but to follow by your example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Blessing of Spilled coal

Philippians 2:4 (NIV)
Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

The dirty gray clouds hung so low it seemed you could reach up and touch them. It was spitting a few flakes of snow and the temperature was in the 20s.

The winter of 1940 was cold in the mountains. It was a bone chilling, face freezing, penetrating kind of cold.

Lilly was going about her morning chores in the warmth of her home, when she heard a knock on the door. Opening it, there stood Mr. Gibson, her neighbor.

"Come in out of the cold." She opened the door wide for him. "Is everything ok? How is your wife?" Lilly asked. Mrs. Gibson had cancer and was confined to her bed most of the time. "She is about the same. I have come to ask a favor. We are almost out of wood for the stove and wondered if you had some to spare until we get our welfare check?"

Lilly didn't know how to respond. Her wood supply was pretty low and her husband was gone for the week at a job sixty miles away. Thinking about the severe cold, she wondered if she would have enough wood for herself.

She told Mr. Gibson she would see what she could do and be back in touch. Her sister lived a couple of blocks away and she would find out if she had any coal or wood to spare. Lilly bundled up warmly and made the trek to her sister's house. Sitting in the kitchen with a hot cup of coffee, the sisters talked about what to do for the Gibsons. June told Lilly she had very little extra wood to burn as the weather had turned so cold, the stove seemed to eat it like tissue paper.

They didn't have enough money to buy wood for the Gibsons but Lilly had an idea. The railroad tracks were not far away. Train cars loaded with coal sometimes spilled coal on the tracks. Maybe they could take a sack and borrow a wagon from one of June's sons and pick up some coal. It was a plan.

They put on all the clothes and scarves they could find and got the wagon and a tow sack before going out in the bitter cold. They walked down the tracks and put whatever coal they found into the sack. The icy wind brought tears to their eyes, which froze on their faces. When they reached the unloading depot, a man was on top of a box car of coal. He would shovel the coal down a chute to a waiting truck.

The man greeted the ladies and remarked what a cold day it was. He asked why they were out in the frigid weather. They told him they were picking up coal to burn.

The man lifted his large coal filled shovel and then turned the shovel sideways pouring the coal on the ground. Twice more he spilled his shovel of coal on the ground. He told them he was clumsy and the coal he couldn't get in the chute was just left on the ground to go to waste.

Next he climbed down the ladder and muttered he needed a cup of coffee and would be back soon.

The women had just finished filling the sack when he returned with two cups of hot coffee for them. They took the coffee and thanked him profusely.
Lilly asked his first name, explaining she wanted to mention it in her prayers tonight.

The man smiled. "Do you think the Lord will bless me for spilling my employer's coal on the ground?"

June spoke up. "He will bless you for your act of kindness. He will bless you for keeping two elderly people warm during this cold spell. Not only will this coal warm their bodies, but it will also warm their hearts. Yes, you will be blessed."

Thanking him again, they left.

Somehow the trip home didn't seem as far. They took turns pulling the wagon now heavy with coal, but their hearts were much lighter.

Upon reaching the Gibson home, the four friends held hands while they thanked God for the total stranger whose act of kindness had helped them accomplish their mission.

The Gibsons had enough coal to last until the weather broke and their check arrived.

Dear Lord, help us be willing to help someone in need.  Open our eyes so that we can see how we can meet the needs of others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, May 19, 2014

You Reap What You Sow

Galatians 6:7 (NIV)
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Bernard Mears had arrived in America in his mother's arms. He was two years old in 1878. The Mears family were all hard workers and made a place for themselves in the land of opportunity.

Bernie was smart and wanted to be his own boss. When Bernie was 25 he took a wife. Bernie had saved some money and decided on a dry goods and grocery store combined.

He and Marie found an empty building to rent and proceeded to fill it with inventory. There was an apartment upstairs. They were not blessed with children, so the two of them worked side by side to become established and build a trade.

Marie had a knack for arranging the merchandise to appeal to customers and Bernie didn't mind the long hours. He was happy, life was good.

The business thrived until the great depression hit the entire country. No one had money to purchase pretty things or even food. In 1930, Marie had a heart attack and left Bernie alone.

Following Marie's death, which Bernie felt was brought about from worry about the store, he lost interest in everything. He was keeping odd hours of opening and closing the store. He had few customers and did not make them feel welcome. Bernie wandered about the store, dusting a bit and sweeping the floor. His inventory remained almost the same, as nothing much was sold. After a while, he stopped sweeping and dusting.

The grocery part still had canned foods but little else. Bernie was losing weight and not eating much once his fresh meats and cheeses were depleted. A deep depression set in. He had lost Marie, his true love, and now his business seemed lost as well. Why did he want to live?

A few houses down the street lived a family who had also fallen on hard times. They seldom had three square meals a day. Julie, the youngest girl was fourteen. Julie worried about Mr. Mears getting so thin. At meal time, she would take a portion of their meager meal to Bernie. She would stay and talk to him, dusting and cleaning.

After several months Bernie began to improve. He still had no customers to speak of, but from what he had left in the store, he would sack a few cans to take to Julie's family.

In early spring, Julie saw her father planting a garden. This gave her an idea. She suggested to Bernie to make a garden in the big space beside the store, which they had once thought would become a parking lot, and sell the produce really cheap in the store. It would help the neighbors and also Bernie to have money for new merchandise. They would plant half the garden space now and half in three weeks giving them fresh produce for a long time.

Julie prayed hard as they placed the seeds in the ground. When the seeds sprouted, Julie looked anxiously at the rows and there were no empty spots. They all came up and produced the best crop of vegetables Bernie had ever seen. Julie gave another prayer of thanks.

You might say those two had the idea for the first Dollar Store as they reduced the prices until nothing in the store cost more than a dollar with many items a penny or nickel. They soon became well known in the community for having the best prices and finest produce in town. They also extended credit to their neighbors and accepted various items as trade for merchandise. The two of them worked hard throughout the 1930s and made a very successful business. Julie earned a salary. As the economy picked up, so did sales at the store.

Bernie was now in his 66th year. Julie was doing most of the work while Bernie clerked a bit and kept books. They had hired a man to plant and tend the garden.

One afternoon when Bernie closed his ledger, he smiled at Julie.

"We are now knee deep in black ink, Julie. Our hard work has paid off. Please give me a dollar bill."

Julie had no idea why he wanted a dollar, but pulled one from her purse and gave it to him. Bernie smiled.

"Julie, you now own this store. I have given it much thought, and since my parents have passed and my sister married well, there is no one I want to leave it to, or who deserves it more. You saved me and the store years ago. As soon as the paperwork to transfer title to you is complete, I plan on going out and seeing the rest of this great country."

Julie thanked him and added that she would always keep the name of Mears Family Store, and he could come back when he wanted to.

A few days later, Bernie packed and loaded his car and left among many tears and good luck wishes from the neighbors. Many postcards, letters and phone calls would be forthcoming over the years. Bernie would meet many interesting people in his travels, and view wondrous things.

Julie sighed, wiped her hands on the big white butcher apron she wore and went back to work. She sat down at Bernie's big desk and thought to herself, who would ever imagine a Jewish man, a part Indian girl and a few seeds would have survived the worst this country could throw at them and come out on top?

We truly reap what we sow.

Dear Lord, help our eyes be open to the things around us. Help us have the strength and the drive to do our very best even when things look the worse. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Will You Speak Up For Someone Today

Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)
8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Thomas Story Kirkbride was born on July 31, 1809 in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. He was a Quaker and he felt called as a boy to study medicine. He graduated from the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1832. It was at the Pennsylvania Hospital that he began to take an interest in the treatment of mental illness. He was appalled of the treatment of those with mental illness and he began to write how to best treat people in asylums. His work was noticed by the newly formed Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane and he was appointed director of the institution. Kirkbride immediately instituted a home-like atmosphere. Restraints were to be used only in emergencies with the most violent of patients. Dr. Kirkbride created a humane and compassionate environment for his patients, and he believed that a beautiful setting restored patients to a more natural balance of the senses. He talked to the patients calmly and as equals. He provided means for stimulating their minds through gardening and the use of a library. More than half of his patients were eventually able to return to healthy productive lives outside the hospital. His work became the model for other asylums. One former patient said Dr. Kirkbride "carried help and light to helpless, clouded minds."

Are there people in your life that you can speak up for?

Dear Lord, thank You for being our advocate.  Help us seek those who cannot speak for themselves so that we can speak up for them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Will You Share With Someone Today?

Hebrews 13:16 (NIV)
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

A Boston florist named Henry Penn once told how two boys and a girl came into his floral shop one day and explained: "We're the committee, and we'd like to buy some pretty yellow flowers, sir. So, you have any yellow flowers? He'd like them better if they were yellow. He had a yellow sweater."

Are they for someone's funeral? asked Penn.

The children nodded and fought to keep back the tears. "She's his sister," explained one of the boys. "He was a good kid. A truck yesterday ... we were playing in the street; we saw it happen."

Then the other boy added, "Us kids took up a collection. We got 18 cents. Would roses cost a lot, mister? Yellow roses?"

Touched by their tragic story, Penn replied, "I have some nice yellow roses here that I am selling for 18 cents a dozen just this morning."

The sympathetic florist accepted the 18 cents and the committee of children carried away the flowers. Said Penn, "I felt uplifted for days. I had been given the inexpressible privilege of sharing something."

Many people live frustrated lives precisely because they do not know the joy of sharing. Sharing does not diminish; it is an opening through which we receive. Giving to others makes it possible for God to give to us; the more we share, the more we have left.

Someone needs you today. Perhaps it is a member of your family. It could be someone with whom you work. It may be a friend who phones you out of the blue.

Remember this, you will be in touch with someone today who needs what you have to give. They may just need your time. They may need your skill or kindness. It may be an affirmation of worth. Maybe that person will need to be challenged to get his or her life back on a positive, productive life path.

By sharing yourself with someone today, you will multiply your joy in living. You will become an instrument of God in the world.

Dear Lord, help us be the instrument that You can use today. Help our eyes be open to those in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.