Thursday, January 13, 2005

Where is your sting?

Many or all of us reading this email have had the opportunity to deal
with the death of a loved one. Some are still trying to deal with it.
I'm not trying to dictate your grief, and how you handle it, but after
reading this, I am reminded that whether you believe they are looking
down on us, or they "know nothing", we still have an opportunity to see
them again one day. That alone helps to ease some of my pain, and I
hope some of yours.

"O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?
1 Cor. 15:55

Recently while a man and his two young sons were walking
along a country road, a bee stung the elder of the two boys right
above his eye. The boy quickly brushed it away and threw himself
in the grass, kicking and screaming. No sooner had the bee been
brushed away when it went straight for the younger boy and began
buzzing around his head. The younger boy tried to hide in the
tall grass and began screaming for help. The dad picked him up
and told him not to worry - the bee had lost its stinger.
This particular bee can sting only once. It leaves its stinger
in the victim and becomes harmless. So the dad took the younger
son over to his older brother and showed him the little black
stinger in his brother's brow. He told him, "The bee can still
buzz and scare you, but it is powerless to hurt you. Your brother
took the sting away."
In 1 Corinthians 15:56, the apostle Paul said that the sting
of death is sin. But Jesus Christ took the sting for us by dying
in our place on the cross. Death is now powerless to hurt us
because Jesus took its sting. (Hallelujah!)
Death may "buzz around" and scare us, but it cannot hurt us
anymore. We need not fear God's judgment. All death can do is
open the door to Glory!


"The sting of death is sin; ... But thanks be to God! He gives
us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:56-57

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Pruner

"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and
every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more
fruit." John 15:2

The story is told of a man who was such an efficient and no-
nonsense gardener that "pruning" meant something closer to
mutilation. When he finished his thorough job, the bushes were
stubby and barely recognizable, their sawed off branches were
all coated with sealant at the tips. Amazingly, most of the
plants lived to the next season, but some of them never recovered
from his overzealous effort.
Maybe that's the image you have when you read about how God
prunes everyone who belongs to the Vine. You picture giant shears
nipping you to pieces. But your God is loving and a careful
gardener. He only prunes off the dead spots, the stray shoots
that will prevent healthy growth in the future. You can take
comfort in His tender perfection in trimming.
Any kind of pruning is painful to some degree, but when you
have the perspective of God as a loving caregiver, you can endure
the discomfort with the joy He gives. From minor irritations to
colossal difficulties, they all exist in your life for a precise
purpose. When trouble comes, pause to envision the pruning process
and ask Him to remind you of His overall plan for your life.

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what
you desire, and it shall be done for you." John 15:7

Monday, January 10, 2005

Morning Feelings...

"My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning
will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up." Psalm 5:3

Are you a morning person? Some of us aren't. Maybe for you,
waking up and getting out of bed is a daily ordeal. But after you
are fully alert, what is your mood? Do you have a spirit of
thankfulness despite the problems or afflictions you may have?
Do you face the hours that lie ahead with confidence and expectancy?
Admittedly, life for even the most dedicated of God's people may
be an ordeal of drudgery and difficulty. Circumstances may be hard
and burdens may be heavy. But the Lord wants us to bring our cares
to Him. The psalmist had the right idea when he said to God, "To
You I will pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up"
(Psalm 5:2-3).
If we start each day with prayer, we'll be able to say with the
psalmist, "This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and
be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).

"Your Word has given me life." Psalm 119:50