Stories for Dec. 20-25, 2010

Story of the Day for Christmas Day December 25, 2010 

climbinghigher.org wishes each and every one of you a very blessed and Merry Christmas!

For the Story of the Day…in fact the Story of all Days for all Ages please read
Luke 2:1-20!  Here is the true story of God becoming Man to live with us.  He is Emmanuel–God with us–for all time and all eternity.  Born to be our suffering King, born to die, and rise again.  All hail the power of Jesus, our infant King.  Merry Christmas!

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Story of the Day for Friday December 24, 2010

Wear Sweat On Your Brow 

                Do good and don’t get discouraged, for at the proper time we’ll have a harvest – if we don’t give up. 

Galatians 6:9    

Michael J. Pellowski, in his book, Not-So-Great Moments in Sports, tells the story about golf pro, Ray Floyd, who was trying to qualify for the Tournament Players Championship in March,1982. After shooting a couple mediocre rounds, he admitted defeat, packed his bags and left Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida for his home in Miami.  

As he was weeding his garden the next morning, his wife rushed out at 11:30 to tell him his score was good enough to qualify for the tournament.  His scheduled tee time was 12:36!  Floyd grabbed his gear, reserved a Lear jet, and raced to the airport.  The jet landed at an airport 15 minutes from the course, where Floyd had reserved a helicopter to fly him to the tournament course.  He landed, jumped into a golf cart and made it to his tee thirty seconds before disqualification.  A couple quick practice swings and last year’s defending champion was in the tournament.  

Our story, however, does not end there. Later, that same year, Floyd played in the LaJet Golf Classic in Abilene, Texas.  His second round was dismal, so he knew he missed the cut and would be ineligible to play the final two rounds.  So he flew home to Miami.   

Yes!  Ray Floyd did it again.  High winds that day hurt the other golfers as well, and Floyd qualified for the tournament.  This time, he made no attempt to fly back to Texas in time for his scheduled tee off.   

The New York Times reported his response, “Well, I did it again, didn’t I?”  If Floyd had not given up, he would almost certainly have won the money winning title for the year.  Floyd ruefully observed, “I guess I’ll never learn.”  

Why do we give up?  We throw in the towel – not because we don’t believe in what we’re doing, but because we don’t believe it will succeed.  We don’t believe it will work.  We don’t believe it will make a difference.   

But the Bible encourages us to never give up. Wait, and the harvest will come. 

During the Vietnam War, the billionaire Ross Perot decided to buy a Christmas present for every American prisoner of war.  Perot took thousands of packages, chartered a fleet of Boeing 707s, and flew them to Hanoi.  The Hanoi government, however, said they would not provide charity to prisoners while American bombers were destroying villages.  Perot offered to send construction companies to rebuild the villages.  Still they refused.  As Christmas drew closer, Perot took off with his chartered fleet, and flew to Moscow.  His aides mailed the packages, one at a time.  Stamped by the Moscow post office, every package got delivered.  

Life doesn’t always plop blessings onto our laps. Sometimes God invites us to know the joy of moving mountains by refusing to give up.  

Those who live by faith wear sweat on their brow.

(Copyright 2010 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Thursday December 23, 2010

Joseph’s Silence Speaks Volumes 

                And Joseph got up from his dream and did what the angel of the Lord told him. 

Matthew 1:24   

When we read the Christmas story and hear about Mary and Joseph, does it come as a surprise to you that, in the Bible, Joseph never speaks a single word?   

Why does this seem so odd?  Maybe it’s because Joseph “speaks” so powerfully by his life.   

After Joseph was engaged to Mary, he discovers she is pregnant.  At this time, he doesn’t know what’s going on.  But he does know that Mary isn’t pregnant because of him.   

In the Old Testament, if a woman is betrothed and another man sleeps with her, both are to be executed.  Not only that, but in the culture of the day, Joseph is expected to stand up and defend his innocence by publicly denouncing Mary.   

But Joseph didn’t do this.  Instead, he planned to divorce her quietly.  Engagements could only be legally dissolved by divorce, but he could do so without making a big stink about it.   

Do you see what Joseph’s plan meant?  Mary, he thought, had been unfaithful to him.  As heartbreaking as this was, Joseph didn’t plan to retaliate by harming her.  But think about it: if he divorced Mary quietly, who would everyone assume got her pregnant?  Joseph!  Yet, Joseph was willing to bear the public shame in order to protect Mary.  And, not only that, by divorcing her quietly, he also loses the dowry he paid for her. 

Joseph had no idea Mary was pregnant because of the Holy Spirit.  Only later, in a dream, does the angel of the Lord tell Joseph what is happening and that he must take Mary as his wife.  And he does.   

In the 19th century, one of the most well-known preachers in America was Charles Spurgeon.  On the side, Spurgeon and his wife raised chickens and sold the eggs.  Some of Spurgeon’s close friends and relatives expected a discount on the price of his eggs.  Spurgeon refused. He insisted that everyone pay the full price.   

Needless to say, Spurgeon earned a reputation for being a cheapskate.  It wasn’t until after Spurgeon’s wife  died that the public learned all of the money the Spurgeons raised from the sale of his eggs went to support two poor widows. 

Charles Spurgeon was willing to let gossips attack his character rather than reveal the true motive for his egg prices.  Joseph was willing to bear dishonor and humiliation rather than to expose Mary to public disgrace.  

Are you willing to do the same?  

Joseph’s displayed a higher kind of righteousness; he showed mercy.  And, in the years to come, Joseph’s son would proclaim that God longs – not to give us what we deserve, but to show us mercy.  And Jesus would invite us to both accept and adopt this higher law.   

That is why Joseph speaks so clearly without saying a word.  

(Copyright 2010 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)


Story of the Day for Wednesday December 22, 2010

The Compassion of Christ’s Heart

                 The Lord is good to all; he has mercy on all he has made.

                                                                                                      Psalm 145:9  

            This past year, one of Ireland’s greatest authors, Christopher Nolan, died at the age of 43. Throughout his life he was showered with awards, including: the Honorary Doctor of Letters in the UK, the medal of excellence form the United Nations Society of Writers, and the Person of the Year award in Ireland. 

          I want to contrast this writing genius with another Irishman who died last year. He went to the same school as the members of the rock band, U2. The band wrote a song, “Miracle Drug,” about this classmate who was born a paraplegic. Doctors gave him a drug which allowed him to control one muscle in his neck. They attached a pointer on his forehead. And then his mother, Bernadette, would patiently hold his head in her cupped hands while her paralyzed son would painstakingly attempt to point to a letter of the alphabet. At his normal rate of about 15 minutes to point to one letter, it would take him about 24 hours to write this sentence. 

          Who is more precious in the eyes of God: an author of dazzling genius or an invalid who takes 2 ½ hours to describe his condition – paraplegic?  Sometimes we tend to determine a person’s worth by how much they contribute to society; how much they give to us.  But what about those who have nothing to give us?  Have you considered how much we gain by what we give to them?  I am humbled by the patience and love that this mother could bring to her paralyzed son. This paralyzed young man inspired Bono to sing his life into our hearts as well. 

          And, you may be interested to know that Ireland’s heralded author, Christopher Nolan, and the paraplegic child are the same person. 

          George Gallup Jr. and Timothy Jones wrote a book, The Saints Among Us.  They looked at religious commitment among Americans and isolated those factors that indicated happiness in a person’s life.   The results were surprising.  The happiness people in America tended to be poor, and a member of a racial minority.  But they also discovered that families with a severely handicapped child tended to be happier than those families lacking such a special child to love and care for. 

          We can see clearly in the gospels that Jesus loves all people.  Yet, how his heart gravitated to the needy!  He showed special care for the very people who were shunted off to the edges of society. 

          Christopher Nolan has given a great gift to the world; but his gift is more than the genius of his writings.  His gift is being there, that the healthy may learn to care for the weak, and that all may learn the compassion of Christ’s heart for us.

(Copyright 2010 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Tuesday December 21, 2010
 

When It Doesn’t Add Up 

                You rescue the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.  

2 Samuel 22:28     

Are you pretty good at adding numbers in your head? Without using a pencil or calculator, can you add these numbers and tell me the sum?  

1000 

    40 

1000 

    30 

1000 

    20 

1000 

    10  

That didn’t take much time, did it?  It was a simple problem, but, unfortunately, your answer is wrong. Do you want to try adding the numbers again?  

Now, obviously, I don’t know that you got the wrong answer. But I do know that if your answer was “5000,” it’s wrong.  And I also know that 95% of those who try this test give “5000” as their answer.  

Those who admit they’re not good at addition are more likely to come up with the correct answer. Do you know why?  

When I tell you your answer is wrong and invite you to try again, those who are humble are more likely to try it a second time, and discover their first answer was incorrect.  

Those who take pride in their ability to add numbers in their head, however, are annoyed that I told them they got the wrong answer. When I ask them to try adding the numbers a second time, they are more likely to decline my gracious invitation.  

Joel Barker, in his book, Paradigms, spoke in Deerborn, Michigan, with a leadership group of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He asked the group how good they were at adding and subtracting. They thought that was funny.  

Then he gave them the addition problem I just gave you.  After showing it on an overhead projector, he covered the problem up. When he asked them for the correct answer, they all shouted “5000!”  

He asked them how sure they were of their answer and asked those who were confident they had the correct answer to raise their hand. All 280 of them raised their hand.  

When we become overconfident in our standing before God, we also become slower to see our sin. The quicker you are to admit you’re wrong, the quicker you will find what the Lord wants to give us – his mercy, wisdom, and comfort.  

(Copyright 2010 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Monday December 20, 2010
 

The Rise to Freedom

                “Because of His great love for us, God, who is wealthy in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.  You have been saved by grace.”

                                                               Ephesians 2:4-5

All humanity shares a universal impulse.  We know that we have not acted right.  We know that we are not in harmony with God.  And we all have this instinctive, innate sense that, if we want to find God’s favor, we had better get our act together and behave in a way that calms his displeasure.

We all have this impulse.  And we are all dead wrong.

Now, some of you have already raced ahead of me, and you are vigorously denying that you share this view of God.  Yeah, well, hope you’re right.  But my point is that you did not come to your present view of God by following your natural impulses.  The Bible explains that God’s existence is known naturally.   That this Creator has given us a moral code to live by is also known innately.  We just know it. And, even secular anthropologists will tell you that every society ever studied has known this moral code – but, more than that they know that they are guilty of breaking it. 

All of this we know, whether we are Christians or not.  Yes, a few will try to suppress these truths and even deny God’s existence.  But even atheists act as if there is a Lawgiver who has given us a code of conduct.  (If you don’t believe this, find an atheist and steal his car and see how he reacts!) 

But here’s the point: the one thing we cannot know about God intuitively is whether He loves us or not.  That is why the major religions have virtually no mention of God’s love.  (You don’t believe me?  Find a copy of the Koran, then, and show me a passage that speaks of Allah loving you.)

The most astounding thing about God is learned only in the Bible.  The Bible shows us a God who is holy, just, and infinite in power.  But he is also overflowing in mercy. 

Over a century ago, a traveling evangelist was helping the workmen take down the big tent after a series of meetings.  A young man rushed up to the evangelist and asked, “What must I do to be saved?”  The evangelist said, “You’re too late,” and kept on working.  The young man protested, “Don’t say that!” and told the evangelist he needed to get right with God.  He would do anything to obtain salvation. 

The evangelist replied, “Well, you’re too late to do anything to obtain salvation because it has already been done two thousand years ago by Jesus Christ.”  He went on to explain that we can do nothing to earn salvation.  It is free to all who will receive it.

The wonder of life is that God does not accept us because we have reached a certain level of good behavior.   The fact is, we can never be good enough to earn any good gift from God.  But we don’t have to.  It’s a gift.

Reader’s Digest printed the story of three-year-old Ryan Hayes, who reported that a little duckling had fallen in a posthole.  After several unsuccessful attempts to rescue it, Ryan’s dad tried to break the news that the duck might not make it.

Ryan was not ready to give up.  He asked, “Dad, why don’t we float him out?”

They gently began to fill the hole with water, and to their great delight, the duckling simply floated to the top and waddled off unharmed. 

God’s mercy is like that for you.  After all our efforts to make ourselves righteous have failed, we let God’s mercy raise us up to freedom. 

“You have been saved by grace.”

(Copyright 2010 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

 

 

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