“In everything give thanks”

Corrie ten Boom, whose book, The Hiding Place, was made into a successful movie, was incarcerated with her sister Betsie in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Amongst the many torments they suffered was the fact that their hut was infested with fleas. However, Betsie, a woman of deep faith, insisted that instead of complaining about the fleas, they should practice the discipline of thanksgiving, quoting that verse from the Bible that says: ‘In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’ Meanwhile, they’d secretly began to conduct nightly Bible studies with other prisoners. But despite living in fear of being discovered, the sadistic guards never entered their hut. It was only later they learned it was because of the fleas that the guards stayed away.

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Sorry

A few years ago James Fantroy was convicted of stealing $20,000 worth of government grants while serving on the Dallas City Council. However, because he had cancer and was confined to a wheelchair, the judge took pity on him and gave him the option of either serving a prison sentence or publicly apologizing for his actions. Fantroy chose to go to jail rather than apologize. Like so many of us, he preferred to suffer all sorts of unpleasant consequences rather than swallow his pride and say sorry. But we never find peace without doing it, including peace with God.
Jesus said: ‘If you enter your place of worship and… suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you… leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then … come back and work things out with God.’

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‘Welcome back, stupid!’

I heard about an over-confident off-road driving enthusiast, who came across a sign that read: ‘Road Closed. Do Not Enter.’ But he simply drove round it, thinking it would save time. However, after a few miles of successfully negotiating the rough surface he lost his grin when he had to hit the brakes because, right in front of him, was a washed-out bridge. So he turned the car around and went back. When he arrived at the original warning sign he was greeted by large letters on the back of the sign that said: ‘Welcome back, stupid!’
Many of us place undue confidence in our ability to negotiate life’s byways, even when the warning signs are clear to see. But confidence is only as good as what it’s placed in. That’s why the Bible says: ‘Thy word is the lamp to my feet and the light for my way.’ We should use it.

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Prisoners of our own weaknesses

During the 14th. century, a Belgian Duke named Raynald was imprisoned by his younger brother Edward in a chamber specially designed for him. It was comfortable and had windows and a very small door. Edward promised Raynald that the day he left the room his title and property would be returned to him. The problem, though, was that Raynald was grossly overweight and couldn’t fit through the windows or door without losing weight. So, his brother made sure he received an abundance of rich food each day. Whenever he was accused of treating Raynald cruelly he would merely reply: ‘My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave whenever he wishes.’ However, Raynald stayed in that room for ten years until his death, a prisoner of his own inner weakness; just like some of us.

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Gagarin and God

A book published on the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight says the oft quoted words of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin: ‘I flew into space but didn’t see God’ actually came from Nikita Khrushchev, who wanted to get propaganda value from Gagarin’s huge popularity, and attributed his own words to him. We now know that Gagarin was actually a devout believer. General Valentin Petrov, a personal friend, said: ‘I always remember that Yuri Gagarin said: “An astronaut cannot be suspended in space and not have God in his mind and his heart.” It reminds me of the French astronomer who said: ‘I have swept the universe with my telescope, and I find no God.’ To which a musician perceptively replied: ‘And I have taken my violin apart, and examined each part with a microscope, and have found no music.’

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God and the Big Bang

The detection of a cosmic microwave background in the universe was one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century, and provides strong evidence that the universe had a definite beginning. It is commonly known as the Big Bang Theory. Arno Penzias, who won a Nobel Prize for this discovery, says: ‘The creation of the universe is supported by all the observable data astronomy has produced so far.’ He says the most logical explanation of the universal background noise is: ’a moment of discrete creation from nothing,’ and that: ‘The best data we have are exactly what would have been predicted had we had nothing to go on but the books of the Bible.’ Those very books that tell us that: ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth…’ and created them, as Penzias’ theory says, from nothing.

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‘What are we humans that you are mindful of us…?’

Have you ever stood on a mountain and looked down on the world below, or laid on a beach looking up at the vast expanse of space? If you are the sort of person who is wont to do such things, then you’ve probably felt a sense of your own insignificance in the face of a reality too big to comprehend. It’s moments like these when you see your life for the fragile and brief shadow it is, and you get a sense of the magnitude of the eternal mystery we call God. You begin to understand what the psalmist felt, when he looked at the starry sky and wrote, ‘What are we humans that you are mindful of us, we mortals that you care for us?’
Well, small though we may be, primitive though our minds may be and tainted though our hearts may be, yet, God does care for us; and by faith we can know it.

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