We Christians can be terrible judgmental, assuming we know why others are going through hard times. Furthermore, we can paint with too broad a brush as we criticize folks because it seems like they’re implicated by the sins of another. We need to stay with the facts, not allowing our selves to yield to suspicions and jump to false conclusions. It is unfair to see someone as guilty because others around them have failed.
1 John 4:20
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
This is from the book In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado
Near the city of Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, is a remarkable facility. Twenty years ago the Brazilian government turned a prison over to two Christians. The institution was renamed Humaita, and the plan was to run it on Christian principles. With the exception of two full-time staff, all the work is done by inmates. Families outside the prison adopt an inmate to work with during and after his term. Chuck Colson visited the prison and made this report:
When I visited Humanita I found the inmates smiling-particularly the murder who held the keys, opened the gates and let me in. Wherever I walked I saw men a peace. I saw clean living areas, people working industriously. The walls were decorated with Biblical sayings from Psalms and Proverbs…..My guide escorted me to the notorious prison cell once used for torture. Today, he told me, that block houses only a single inmate. As we reached the end of a long concrete corridor and he put the key in the lock, he paused and asked, “Are you sure you want to go in?”
“Of course,” I replied impatiently, “I’ve been in isolation cells all over the world.” Slowly he swung open the massive door, and I saw the prisoner in that punishment cell: a crucifix, beautifully carved by the Humanita inmates–the prisoner Jesus, hanging on a cross.
“He’s doing time for the rest of us,” my guide said softly.
Our old life died with Christ on the cross so that our sinful selves would have no power over us and we would not be slaves to sin. Anyone who has died is made free from sin’s control.
Her piercing green eyes and vibrant red hair did not belong in the sterile gray hospital room permeated with breathing machine sounds, a beeping monitor, and the air of gloom. Only my crushed body matched my depressed emotions. Strapped to tubes and traction, unable to go anywhere and knowing they were lying to me about the condition of my new bride, I was sure hopelessness would become my new norm.
The seventy-mile-an-hour head-on collision-caused by a drunk driver-had left my wife and me in pieces. I would survive, but be crippled the rest of my life. My bride? Who knows? I longed to hold her and tell her everything would be fine but I couldn’t even visit her–let alone comfort her.
“The Lord is my shepherd….” the soft comforting voice read.
Who is this red-headed lady? I wondered as I glanced through the side bars of my bed.
“I shall not want….” She continued reading into the wee hours of the night.
Like the regular ticking of a clock, the nurse with red hair came to my room night after night and read the Psalms–then the Gospels–as I would rudely drift off into a deep sleep. I became dependent on her timing, her comforting, her embracing, her encouraging. As I physically healed I knew the nurse with red hair had a big part in my emotional healing also. Though we never carried on a conversation–my heart longed to thank her.
Many weeks passed as I was in and out of surgeries, therapy, and grueling hospital routines. My bride was far worse off than I was, but she was alive. The hospital staff managed to push me in a wheel chair to visit her once in a great while. I told her of the sweet nurse with red hair who visited me on a nightly basis. I wished she had time to visit my wife–the comforting words would have given her the same healing they had brought me. Oh, the faithfulness of that lady with red hair.
Once I became more mobile I was moved to another floor of the hospital–where the nurse with the red hair was unable to visit me. One day I asked permission from the hospital staff to visit the red-haired, green-eyed nurse. Escorted in a wheelchair I went directly to the nurse’s station and asked for the senior nurse. With a firm resolve I asked to see the nurse with red hair. I told her how faithful she had been and I wanted to personally thank her. I told of her consistency in reading the Scriptures to me and how life-giving and encouraging those words had been. My emotions let loose with tears as I shared with the senior nurse how my heart had been healed of all anger and bitterness toward the drunk driver who had caused all this pain in my wife’s and my life–because of the lady with red hair. As my passionate plea grew, the nurse quieted me down and slowly shared these words: “I’m sorry, sir. We have no nurses here with red hair.”
by Morna Gilbert
And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?
This is from the book The Soul Winner by C.H. Spurgeon
I have already insisted upon instruction and impression as necessary for soul winning, but these are not all that is needed. Indeed, they are only means to the desired end. A far greater work must be done before a man is saved. A wonder of divine grace must be worked upon the soul, far transcending anything that can be accomplished by the power of man. Of all whom we would with pleasure win for Jesus, it is true, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The Holy Spirit must work regeneration in the objects of our love, or they never can become possessors of eternal happiness. They must be quickened into a new life, and they must become new creatures in Christ Jesus. The same energy that accomplishes resurrection and creation must put forth all its power upon them. Nothing short of this can meet the case. They must be born again from above.
Don’t forget to pray and ask for the Lord’s help in our efforts to bring about His work today.
This is from the book Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado
O Lord, nobody lies beyond the grasp of your grace. Who in my life do I see as hopeless? What man or woman who currently seems far from you do you want to bring into your family, in part through me? What Saul is out there to whom I could become Ananias? Father, I pray that you would show your greatness and your power by using me in some way to introduce an “unlikely candidate” to your son. Help me triumph over my fears and obliterate my misconceptions as you work through me to bring someone else, through faith, into the circle of your love. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
Me: Everyday a new beginning has taken place with the rising of the sun. Let’s rejoice in the Lord today.
Prodigal: There may be struggles, but others are here to encourage you.
This is from the book Overcoming Spiritual Blindness by James P. Gills, M.D.
The Scriptures liken our sight to the poor quality of reflection particular to the piece of polished metal used as a mirror in Paul’s day. As far to the right of our continuum as we can possibly go in this life–living our faith fully in obedience to the Spirit of God within-we are still only beginning our eternal relationship with God. Heaven alone offers perfection. Our paltry knowledge–our ability to understand and perceive spiritually–is imperfect and limited. We see through a glass only dimly, though our hope is that the heavenly fullness is yet to come. We cannot now see the beauty of heaven, but under the perfect reign of God’s love in eternity, we will finally see the blessed life that God has appointed for us with clarity.
It is fine if you do not understand all that is taken place around you. God has a clear vision of it all. He has not allowed it to be out of His control. Some of this will not make since until eternity so do not focus on asking more right now. Focus on obedience.
Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.