"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."
James Montgomery Boice wrote about a dinner he had with a fellow pastor. During the meal, the pastor relayed to Boice the story of a man who had challenged him deeply in his walk with Christ. Bishop James Ussher, an old man who was once a notable Bible chronologist, suffered from many diseases, and was crippled by an inflammation in his joints. His condition forced him to stay home, unable to participate in normal activities.
A visitor hoped to encourage Dr. Ussher, and didn't know that he was the one who would be most encouraged. The experience that day gave him a life-changing perspective.
Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.
Three young men from Tampa FL were driving home one evening after finishing a night of bowling. Kevin was driving his white Camaro, his friend Brian was riding in the front passenger seat, and Randall was sitting in the back. They drove through a familiar intersection, unaware of the danger that awaited them. Kevin didn't notice that the stop sign was missing from this busy intersection. He never even slowed down.
I remember, as a boy, visiting the home of an elderly couple in Wisconsin as we traveled on our way to Minnesota. The man, in his eighties and near death's door, was confined to his chair. We sat in the living room—my father and mother, my three brothers, and I.
Although the man's children supported my missionary parents, he was not a Christian. I can still hear my father as he shared the plan of salvation with him and then asked, "Would you like to receive Christ as your own Savior? Would you like to ask Him into your life?"
The man said, "I don't believe I will."
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
My wife and I had the privilege of meeting Joni Erickson Tada, the Christian author who was paralyzed from the neck down as a young lady. In the early years after her diving accident, she wrote about coming to terms with the fact that God's plan for her life was to remain paralyzed.
There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
In Dr. Richard Hoefler's book, Will Daylight Come, he tells the story of a young boy who was visiting his grandparents. Johnny had just been given his first slingshot and had taken it into the woods. Unable to hit anything because of his poor aim, he was still having the time of his life.
On his way home for lunch, he cut through the back yard and saw his grandmother's pet duck. He took aim and let a stone fly. This time—for the first time—his aim was on the mark. To his shock and dismay, the duck dropped immediately. It was dead!
Johnny panicked and in frightened desperation, hid the duck in the woodpile, but not in time to escape the curiosity of his sister, who was standing by the corner of the house. She saw the whole thing! With a look of shame and fear, he followed his sister inside for lunch. But Sally said nothing.
Getting up after lunch, their grandmother said, "Okay, Sally, let's clear the table and wash the dishes." Sally responded with a smile, "Oh, Grandma, Johnny said he wanted to help you in the kitchen today. Didn't you, Johnny?" Then she whispered in his ear, "Remember the duck."
2 Corinthians 12:9
And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941) was a genius; an intellectual; a statesman par excellence; a linguist who spoke no less than seven languages fluently; a great musician; a patriot; and most of all, a humanitarian who was so generous that every act of kindness to him was always returned manifold.
Through his leadership an army of volunteers of Polish descent was organized in North America to join in the fight for Poland's freedom during World War I. Every day during roll call, when Paderewski's name was called, the entire army answered, "Present."
1 Timothy 4:7-8
But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Godly living is not a sport; it's hard work. It isn't something you do when you feel like it, or if you have some spare time for it, or if you are naturally good at it.
Paul said to train yourself for godliness. The word train is gumnazo, from which we get our word gymnasium. That is, Paul was saying to his son in the faith, "Timothy, go into the gymnasium of the Word and work up a sweat. In fact, if you're not breaking a spiritual sweat, you're probably not working at it hard enough."
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Rebecca Pippert, in her fascinating book entitled Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World, told the story of her arrival in Portland, Oregon, where she met Bill, one of the students on the campus where she served. He was a brilliant young man with messy hair and, as she recalls, he was perpetually shoeless. From outward appearances he was a little strange, but inwardly he was inquisitive and incredibly bright.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
There is a vivid memory etched in my mind—a day when one of my sons hugged a tree in our back yard. The tree had a "ladder" of nails driven into it, and he used them for climbing. I was about fifty yards away, watching and admiring the athletic prowess of my son, as he hung from the first branch eight feet from the ground. But his foot slipped off the nail and I saw his body swivel around to the other side of the tree.
As he held on to the trunk with one arm and wrapped a leg around the tree, he yelled for help. I began walking toward the tree, but in his moment of distress, he didn't wait for me to arrive. Typical of the very young, he hadn't yet discovered that sometimes it hurts more to let go than to hang on, so—he released his hold on the branch. He slid down the trunk and skinned himself on every nail protruding from the tree. A long bloody gash stretched from his waist to his chest.