Subject: Truth


Reference: John 14:6

The era of gold rushes in this country heard the cry: "GOLD! GOLD!" Search, search, search; traces, traces, traces; signs, signs, signs! They found traces (flakes and nuggets), they discovered small veins, and they heard rumors. And, of course, there was "fool's gold," and they bought into "salted" mines (fakes), they re-mined old mines that had been mined many times before, and they followed every rumor ever spoken by the lips of man. But, search as they might they almost never found the Mother Lode, the source of all the gold.

Commentary: Likewise, men from all over the world rush to and fro, here and there, to this very dayseeking the truth. What they don't know is that it's staring them directly in the face.

John Gillmartin

Subject: Holiness

Approved Containers

Greg Heisler, author of the book, Spirit-Led Preaching (Broadman & Holman, 2007), draws this apt analogy about the relationship between the preacher's holiness and his or her effectiveness in preaching:

"On a recent stop at the gas station, a sign by the pump caught my eye. The sign read: Warning! To avoid risk, only pump gas into preapproved containers.' I know the sign was basically telling me that not everything is fit for holding gas, and it should be stored in the proper container.

"When it comes to the Holy Spirit and preaching, I believe God puts a similar warning sign on the container that transports the Word and the Spirit: Warning! To avoid risk, only preach from pure and holy containers that are approved by God.' Spirit-led preaching views the preacher as the vessel or container that transports the Word and the Spirit to the congregation."

Could someone charge you with transporting the Spirit in an unapproved

Forwarded by Steve D. Eutsler

Subject: God's Loving Grace

The Unlooked-for Gift

Two days before Christmas, just after World War II, a severe storm struck Nyack, New York. Among other considerable damage caused by the storm was rain-soaked plaster in the sanctuary of the First Reformed Church. Pastor Howard Schade debated having the ruined section repaired, but opted for a temporary "fix": He covered the area with a gold-and-ivory lace table cloth which he had earlier purchased at a charity auction.

The next day, he observed a German immigrant waiting at a bus stop outside the church, and invited her inside to keep warm. Instantly, she recognized the tablecloth, and showed the pastor her initials, which were monogrammed on the underside.

She lamented how she had become separated from her husband in their flight from the Nazis. And within herself she pondered how the keepsake had arrived in that community.

That evening, after the annual Christmas Eve program, a local clock repairman in attendance mentioned to Schade how attractive the tablecloth looked. He added that it had belonged to his wife-but he hadn't seen her since the war, so he gave it away.

The speechless pastor urgently began a search for the lady he had met just hours earlier. Finding her, a joyous "gold-and-ivory" Christmas reunion ensued-a testament to God's loving grace.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matt. 5:4).

J. Kenneth Bassett in Timeless Signatures, © 2003

Subject: Compassion

What About Bob?

A friend of mine told me about someone that drove him crazy. His name was Bob. My friend was grumbling about Bob under his breath, and God was listening.

That night everything changed because God spoke to him as clearly as He had ever spoken before. God said, "You know that fellow, Bob, who is a little slow and never quite gets things right? The one you avoid at all costs? Well, I want you to remember something-compared to Me, you are not the sharpest knife in the drawer, either, and you don't get things quite right most of the time. So, the next time Bob starts to bug you, remember you're My Bob."

My own Bob was a lady who rode the van to our church. When I had important things to do, I would try to sneak by without her seeing me. She always saw me and would yell, "Pastor, good morning!"

After church we greeted guests in the Hospitality Room and she always came in to give me a hug. I hugged her, and I enjoyed it. Because I knew she was my Bob, I knew that in her simplistic mind, I represented God. God in His still, small voice said, "Well done, Charles. You loved someone who needed My love desperately. When you are desperate for love, I'll be there for you like you were for her." And when I was desperate, He was there.

I have now resigned from that church and when I look back on my time there, she is one of the people I miss. Why? Because I know she really needed me. I prayed that God would send her another Charles-and me another Bob, and give me enough sense to recognize him when he shows up.

J. A. Gillmartin

Subject: Sin's Cost

The Huge Price of Sin

"On a business trip in California, I realized that I had forgotten my wife's birthday the day before. Assuming I was in big trouble, I went to the jewelry section of a San Francisco department store. After explaining to the saleswoman that I desperately needed a gift to make up for my forgetfulness, she quipped, I'm sorry, but we don't have anything that expensive.'"-Edwin L. Ray in Reader's Digest.

Many of us have found ourselves in the same situation as Mr. Ray! And for so many people, it's even worse when it comes to sin and what it does to our relationship with God. I've had people tell me, "I've done such terrible things, there just isn't any way God can forgive me." The burden of guilt and shame can seem unbearable, and it can seem that nothing has the power to relieve us from the misery sin causes.

There is no price we can pay that can purchase the forgiveness we need. Should you give all you have, and all you will ever have, it wouldn't be enough. If you were the wealthiest person alive, you still wouldn't possess the cost of forgiveness. The sheer impossibility of paying the debt of sin is hard to imagine, yet deep in our hearts we know we have nothing to offer by which our sins can be removed.

The price can be paid, however. It's just that it costs something we don't have. The price of forgiveness is that one who is sinless, perfect, without blemish, shed his blood for the guilty. That's what we find in the blood of Jesus. He offers His sinlessness for our sinfulness; His purity for our corruption; His unblemished life for our sin-stained life. The staggering cost of forgiving sin was paid by the only One possessing something of that value. Praise God for paying the debt.

Copyright 1999, Bill Denton

The Blacksmith's Story

This is the story of the blacksmith who gave his heart to Jesus:

Though living a more godly life, still he was not prospering materially. In fact, it seems that from the time of his conversion more trouble, affliction and loss were sustained than ever before. Everything seemed to be going wrong.

One day a friend who was not a Christian stopped by to talk to him awhile. Sympathizing with him in some of his trials, the friend said, "It seems strange to me that so much affliction should pass over you just at the time when you have become an earnest Christian. Of course, I don't want to weaken your faith in God or anything like that. But here you are, with God's help and guidance, and yet things seem to be getting steadily worse. I can't help wondering why that is."

The blacksmith did not answer immediately, and it was evident that he had thought the same question before. But finally, he said, "You see here the raw iron which I have to make into horse's shoes. You know what I do with it? I take a piece and heat it in the fire until it is red, almost white with the heat. Then I hammer it unmercifully to shape it as I know it should be shaped. Then I plunge it into a pail of cold water to temper it. Then I heat it again and hammer it some more. And this I do until it is finished."

"But sometimes I find a piece of iron that won't stand up under this treatment. The heat and the hammering and the cold water are too much for it. I don't know why it fails in the process, but I know it will never make a good horse's shoe."

He pointed to a heap of scrap iron that was near the door of his shop. "When I get a piece that cannot take the shape and temper, I throw it out on the scrap heap. It will never be good for anything."

He went on, "I know that God has been holding me in the fires of affliction and I have felt His hammer upon me. But I don't mind, if only He can bring me to what I should be. And so, in all these hard things my prayer is simply this: "Try me in any way you wish, Lord, only don't throw me on the scrap heap."

Author unknown, via Bernie Koerselman

Subject: Compassion

The Need for Compassion

It has been said that the church is not a club for saints but a hospital for sinners who have been wounded by the scars of sin.

Look around at the people you go to church with every week. Chances are that, looking only at outward appearances, all is well: the forced smile has been pasted on; the deep pain of life has been pushed temporarily aside; the convenient cliché, "I'm fine! How are you? Fine. That's fine..." comes to mind.

A church that has unity is unified because they have compassion for people. They have made a decision to become real and vulnerable. They have discovered by their own experience that the church should be a place for compassion. It is not a place for pretending.

Practical Illustrations-Galatians-Colossians, by Leadership Ministries Worldwide

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