Warm Indian air enveloped me as I walked towards the last gate that separated me from the Cochin airport and Silas and Sam who stood ready to greet me. Just as I thought the long journey was about to end, a customs official motioned me to his table.
“Please open your suitcase,” he said. So I complied. Immediately the inspector’s eyes locked on the contents of a large cardboard box. “What are these”, he asked.
“These are my CD’s,” I replied.
He looked at me skeptically and was quickly joined by more curious officials.
“These are commercial products, and you will have to pay a duty tax.”
“Oh Lord,” I uttered a silent prayer. “You know these CDs are to further Your kingdom. Please help me.”
Acts 4 is a phenomenal chapter in the Bible. Basically it contains the account of Peter and John appearing before the Jewish council of religious leaders to explain by whose power they acted to heal a man lame for over 40 years! Most of the people in Jerusalem had heard about the miracle and the members of the council were amazed at the boldness and eloquence of two fishermen who had been with Jesus. After a day of deliberations the council commanded the apostles never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. Of course Peter and John refused to abide by their terms so the rulers threatened them but because of their fear of starting a riot, let the two men go. Peter and John reported to the church what happened and they went into a time of prayer that was so dynamic the Holy Spirit shook the place!
Samson amazingly typified the nation of Israel. He was specially chosen by God, and empowered with eye-popping strength. Yet, like his countrymen, he chose the cravings of his flesh and failed miserably. What prompted the man set apart for God to make decisions set apart from God?
It was 1:00 a.m. and the doorbell rang. I got out of bed, walked down the stairs, looked through the peephole and opened the door for a young police officer.
“Sir, we received a 911 call from your home.”
“Officer, was the call from 620-4081?”
“Yes, the dispatcher said all she could hear was static. She called back and left a message.”
“I’m so sorry. This is the second time this week (midnight or later) this has happened. My computer is turned off and I don’t know how you are getting called.”
I took him into my office and showed him the offending phone.
“Okay, you might want to call your phone company and have them check this out.”
“Yes, I will. I’m sorry you had to come out here.”
“No problem. Hope you can get back to sleep.”
The beginning of the year is a time when people in our society reflect. For many, new resolutions and goals are forged on the gold-embossed pages of a new journal. Yet as the past is closed for the door of tomorrow a timeless God is not concerned with another year. His word makes His question clear—are we loyal to Him?
Luke 12:15--He then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.
Bruce Thielemann tells the story in Christus Imperator of a king long ago who organized a great race within his kingdom. All the young men in the land participated. A bag of gold was to be given to the winner, and the finish line was within the courtyard of the king's palace. During the race the runners were surprised to find in the middle of the road leading to the king's palace a great pile of rocks and stones. But they managed to scramble over it or to run around it and eventually to come to the courtyard.
It was in part what the President wouldn’t say that disturbed a nation. Liberty lowered her torch and sat on her pedestal of stone weeping from the bitter blow his pride struck. She cried because he lied. She sobbed because he robbed—he stole the trust of a nation to enjoy forbidden pleasures. Tomorrow she will rise and light her torch. But it will not burn as bright. Around her base swirls water blackened with the slick oil of deceit. It’s mixture runs downstream leaching through soil at an alarming rate. Her children are poisoned by this hazardous waste of rationalization that dares to call evil good and good evil.
Have you noticed how desperately our society yearns for good moral role models? Yogi Berra, the master of chaotic one-liners once quipped, “If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.” God says in Leviticus 11:44, “Be holy, because I am holy.” In other words, “Be like Me.” Virtue doesn’t come easily it takes effort. Just ask the employee whose integrity is tested by the boss who wants to cut corners. Often our virtue is measured by our words. Either we strive to be honest or we become masters of “spin” slighting altering the picture to our benefit. If we were born holy virtue would come easily. Instead we strive to overcome a nature that at its core is selfishly wired. By following the example Jesus set for us on earth, we allow God the privilege of making us new creations! Take courage, your character matters!
2 Timothy 2:20,21--Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver bowls, but also those of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.