Editor: Richard (Dick) Innes
Published by: ACTS International
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Vol. 11 – No. 4409 October 31, 2009
Thought for the week: "Life is like a mirror. If you frown at it, it frowns back. If you smile at it, it returns the greeting." – Herbert Samuels
Doing nothing for others is the undoing of one's self. We must be purposely kind and generous, or we miss the best part of existence. The heart that goes out of itself, gets large and full of joy. This is the great secret of the inner life. We do ourselves the most good doing something for others.
"This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind...let it be something good."
At a Women of Faith conference they were short of space for 150 people, so the staff brought in narrower chairs. Everyone had a seat, but conditions in the auditorium were cramped and nobody was happy. The director asked the guest speaker, Joni Eareckson Tada, to help calm the crowd. A childhood diving accident had left Joni quadriplegic and confined to a wheelchair.
As the attendants pushed her out onto the platform, she addressed the audience: "I understand some of you don't like the chair you're sitting in. Well, neither do I! But I've a thousand handicapped friends who'd gladly trade places with you." Immediately the hall went quiet and the complaining stopped.
As Lily Tomlin said, "No matter how cynical I get, I can't keep up."
Our economy has been shattered by widespread corporate fraud. Kids lie, steal, and cheat at unprecedented rates. Parents beat up each other or referees at youth sports events or supply alcohol to fuel organized hazing. Our confidence in the integrity of journalistic institutions, the accounting profession, stockbrokers, college sports, organized religion, and business is continually shaken by a relentless barrage of shameful behavior.
It's tempting to throw up our hands in despair and surrender to cynicism.
It reminds me of the tale of the pious young man whose car broke down on his way to his place of worship. He had to walk through an area where homeless people huddled against buildings for warmth, alcoholics and mentally ill adults wandered the streets, and crack dealers sold drugs. He was overcome with a sense of despondency and doubt about the power and intentions of God.
"God," he prayed, "how can you allow all this pain and misery and do nothing?"
Receiving no answer, he became frustrated. "Lord, my faith is at issue!" he cried. "How can you allow all this suffering and do nothing?"
Then someone behind him whispered, "He didn't do nothing. He made you."
What a profound insight and daunting responsibility it is to realize that you are the instrument of reform, that your courage, compassion, and creativity in your sphere of influence can set into motion a ripple effect of healing actions and attitudes to make a better world.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
"But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man [Jesus Christ] will come at an hour when you do not expect him."1
"National Geographic magazine (May 1984 issue) showed through a series of color photos and drawings the swift and terrible destruction that wiped out the Roman Cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in A.D. 79. The explosion of Mount Vesuvius was so sudden, the residents were killed while in their routine: men and women were at the market, the rich in their luxurious baths, slaves at toil. They died amid volcanic ash and superheated gasses. Even family pets suffered the same quick and final fate. It takes little imagination to picture the panic of that terrible day.
"The saddest part is that these people did not have to die. Scientists confirm what ancient Roman writers record—weeks of rumblings and shakings preceded the actual explosion. Even an ominous plume of smoke was clearly visible from the mountain days before the eruption. If only they had been able to read and respond to Vesuvius's warning!"2
With tireless regularity—every year—Christmas and Easter remind us of the first coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to earth as a babe and then, as a man, died on the cruel Roman cross for the sins of lost mankind. This also reminds and warns us that Jesus promised he would come to earth a second time, but this time it would be as King of kings and Lord of lords to put down all reign of terror and to take his true followers to be with him forever in heaven. As every prophecy in God's Word about Christ's first coming was fulfilled in minutest detail, we can be just as certain that the prophecies promising his second coming will also be fulfilled in detail.
When Jesus' disciples asked him what would be the signs of his coming again, he said that there would be many "rumblings" (warning signs); that is, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, pestilences, "Men [people] will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things BEGIN to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."3
Could all the wars, violence, deathly disease, disasters, and increased terrorism in today's world be part of the warning signs Jesus said would occur preceding his second coming—just as there were warnings preceding the explosion of Mount Vesuvius? Jesus is coming again. The exact day and hour we don't know, but the signs of the times may be an indication that his coming is getting nearer every day.
When he comes, it will be sudden and swift. The important thing is that we are ready NOW. For he will come when the vast majority of people least expect it. Let's not be like the people in the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in A.D. 79 who failed to heed the warnings of Mount Vesuvius and suffered a dreadful quick and final fate. Whatever you do, don't put off any longer making sure that you are ready for Christ's return. For help see No. 4 below.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that we have your promise that Jesus is coming again for this is the blessed hope of every Christian everywhere. And thank you that you told us the 'rumblings' (signs) that would precede and warn us of your soon coming. Please awaken us to the fact that it could be today. And help us to spread your salvation message to as many people as possible all around the world while the door is still open. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Jesus in Matthew 24:43-44 (NIV).
2. Michael Bogart, Lemoore, California. Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 4.
3. Luke 21:26-28 (NIV).
4. For help see "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" at: www.actsweb.org/articles
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