The very triumphs of His foes He used for their defeat. He compelled their dark achievements to subserve His ends, not theirs. They nailed Him to the tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to His feet. They gave Him a cross, not guessing that He would make it a throne.
They flung Him outside the gates to die, not knowing that at that very moment they were lifting up all the gates of the universe to let the King of Glory come in. They thought to root out His doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishable in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy.
They thought they had God with His back to the wall, pinned and helpless and defeated. They did not know it was God Himself who had dragged them down to that point. He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery evil, He conquered through it.
by James Stewart
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
This is from the book The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
I do not want to leave the impression that the ordinary means of grace have no value. They most assuredly have. Private prayer should be practiced by every Christian. Long periods of Bible meditation will purify our gaze and direct it; church attendance will enlarge our outlook and increase our love for others. Service and work and activity; all are good and should be engaged in by every Christian. But at the bottom of all these things, giving meaning to them, will be the inward habit of beholding God. A new set of eyes (so to speak) will develop within us enabling us to be looking at God while our outward eyes are seeing the scenes of this passing world.
Behold what the Lord is showing you and it is good. You do not have to fear. You do not have to have anxiety. The Lord has developed this plan and from it will come joy and peace.
Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
This is from the book Stories of the Heart and Home by Dr. James Dobson.
Our daughter is growing up in the wickedest section of a world much farther gone into moral decline than the world into which you were born. I have observed that the greatest delusion is to suppose that our children will be devout Christians simply because their parents have been, or that any of them will enter into the Christian faith in any other way than through their parent’s deep travail of prayer and faith. But this prayer demands time, time that cannot be given it it is all signed and conscripted and laid on the altar of career ambition. Failure for you at this point would make mere success in your occupation a very pale and washed-out affair, indeed.
How did you make spouse and children a priority today. With out putting them first some days, then all days mean they will remain at the bottom. Your job is to train them and this can only be done in their presence.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
This is from the book Chicken Soup for the Country Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Ron Camacho
I was twenty-eight years old, the age when most young people have their eyes firmly fixed on the promise of success-and I was a failure. Life had reached a dead end for Sarah Ophelia Cannon, the aspiring dramatic actress from Centerville, Tennessee.
Six years earlier, fresh from Ward-Belmont College, I had joined a theatrical production company in Atlanta, and had been going into small towns and rural communities producing country-style musical comedies. But now, in the summer of 1940, the country was in a depression, radio and changing times had altered people’s tastes, and amateur shows weren’t all that big anymore.
So, jobless and with nothing else in sight, I went back to Centerville. To bring some money into the house, I finally got a WPA job as a recreation-room director. It paid fifty dollars a month, for which I was grateful, but it sure was a dull job.
I felt so frustrated in my plan to be a dramatic star that I kept praying, “God, where, where, where do I go? What do I do? And when no answers came to me, I found myself questioning God in despair.
Restless and dissatisfied though I was, it was nice in a way, to be back home. I tried to relieve the dullness of my job by teaching some of the town’s youngsters music and drama. And when I got a chance, I’d try my luck as a performer, myself. I’d dress up as this rangy country girl, which I was anyway, and tell little stories and jokes that I’d picked up during my years with the production company, living around country folk. I gave this country girl a name–Minnie Pearl.
Summer faded, and my spirits sank lower and lower. One deary October afternoon I was in the WPA recreation room, waiting for the children to thunder down on me when a banker friend, Jim Walker, came in.
“Ophelia,” he said, “we’re going to have a banker’s convention here. I understand in the evenings you’ve been teaching some children dramatics and dancing and singing. Would you let the children entertain the bankers?”
I said, yes, of course. He started to walk away, then he stopped and turned. “Oh, by the way,” he added, “the speaker from Chicago is flying into Nashville and then driving to Centerville. If he’s late would you mind doing that thing you do?”
“You mean Minnie Pearl?”
“That’s it. Would you kill time with this Minnie Pearl thing until the speaker gets here?”
I told Jim I’d do it.
That night we performed for the bankers. The children sand and danced to old-time, popular songs while I was backstage, disheveled and frantic, getting the children off and on the stage.
We finished the program, and Jim came backstage. “The speaker’s not here yet, Ophelia. You’ll have to help us.”
“All right,” I told him. “Just give me a minute to straighten up.” Then I went out in front of the hundred or so men in the audience and said, “I’d like to give you my interpretation of the mountain girl, Minnie Pearl.”
I started telling them about the marvelous, mythical town of Grinder’s Switch, about my Uncle Nabob and Aunt Ambrosia and Brother and his dog and the horse shoe and all those silly things. And the bankers were laughing and applauding. When I ran out of stories, I looked over at Jim, and he shook his head.
“No,” he said, “he’s not here yet!”
So I went over to the piano and started playing and singing–“Maple on the Hill” and “Careless Love” and “Red River Valley” and a lot of old country songs. The men loved it.
After I’d sung awhile, and still no speaker, I said to the audience, “Well, let’s just all sing.” The men joined me in “My Wild Irish Rose” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”
Then finally Jim came over to me and said, “He’s here. You can stop now.”
The men shouted, “Oh no! Let’s sing some more!” I smiled real big, thanked them real big and turned the program back over to Jim.
When I got home, Mama asked me how it went. “Oh pretty well,” I said. I had just spent the evening clowning. It didn’t mean anything.
But one of the bankers in the audience, Bob Turner, knew Harry Stone, the manager of the great country music station in Nashville, WSM. “Harry,” he told him, “there’s a girl down in Centerville who belongs on that Grand Ole Opry. She’s down on her luck. I know her family; I come down that way–and if you can give her a break, it sure would be a big favor to me.”
Harry Stone said all right and had me come up for an audition. And that changed my whole life. It was the beginning of Minnie Pearl, and, to me, the beginning of a new way to look at things.
I saw at last that I had become a failure only because I wouldn’t accept what I truly was. I had been trying to become something I couldn’t be. I would never be a great dramatic actress; I was Minnie Pearl, a plain, comic country girl, poking fun at herself and sharing that fun with others. When I learned to accept that role, the one God had given me, he turned my failure into success.
Sarah Ophelia Cannon
A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength. PROVERBS 24 : 5
Prodigal: Sometimes we need to remember the gospel.
Me: Yes, it will stir our spirit.
This is from the book The Cross of Christ by John R. W. Stott
What we have been hearing throughout this passage is variations on the theme of the wisdom and power of God, his wisdom through human folly and his power through human weakness. The gospel of the cross will never be a popular message, because it humbles the pride of our intellect and character.
So when we look at the cross we see the justice, love, wisdom and power of God. It is not easy to decide which is the most luminously revealed, whether the justice of God in judging sin, or the love of God in bearing the judgment in our place, or the wisdom of God in perfectly combining the two, or the power of God in saving those who believe. For the cross is equally an act, and therefore a demonstration, of God’s justice, love, wisdom and power.
We remember the gospel to help humble our pride. We did not save ourselves. The Lord saved us. We did not figure out how to avoid sin. Jesus brought a replacement for our sin. The Lord is our savior and our redeemer. Let us praise together. Let us praise the one who is there for us in love and faithfulness.
I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.