Forgiveness Is Possible

 

 

Photo by Dave Reusser

Photo by Dave Reusser

I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness. Zechariah 8:8

When Peggy’s missionary husband was killed by a Philippine jeepney, she grieved. In the Philippines the person who causes a death is imprisoned until the matter is resolved. Peggy knew the driver’s family would go hungry without his income. Despite her pain, she asked a church member to go to the police station to have the jeepney driver released.

 

The next night during her husband’s viewing the jeepney driver arrived to thank Peggy for her thoughtfulness. She told him she did not blame him for her husband’s death and that she hoped he would come to know Jesus Christ as His Savior.

 

The next Sunday the man arrived at church with his family. His wife and mother sobbed their gratitude to Peggy. Each Sunday following the jeepney driver brought his family and friends to church in the same vehicle that had killed Peggy’s husband. A few weeks later, they all accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

 

Despite intense sorrow, Peggy forgave the driver who had caused her husband’s death. This, in turn, enabled him to understand the love of Jesus.

 

When God forgave the people of Jerusalem, they turned from sin and idolatry to live in peace and honesty. God gave us the supreme example of forgiveness when He allowed Jesus Christ to die for our sins.

 

Forgiveness gives people a second chance in life. Is there someone to whom you need to give a second chance?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, the need to forgive is not a natural instinct. Thank you for providing examples for us to follow to accomplish Your will. Thank you for forgiving us daily. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

How-to Experience A Joyful Future, God-style

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Are you being faced with a difficult future? Most of us experience this at some time. Some of the most difficult can be the loss of loved ones. The gal I write about below was a dear friend whom I miss. My family has also lost loved ones and I admit its painful. Still, I believe what this devo addresses, that Christians can feel confident and even joyful during life’s most challenging times because we know death is not the end.

 

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Zechariah 8:19: “The fasts…will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals…”     NIV

             At age 21, Lisa was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. She struggled with health problems for 20 years. In 1999 Lisa went into respiratory failure and had a tracheotomy put in. On February 13, 2002, Lisa’s body fought its last battle.

Her life might have been tragic if Lisa hadn’t believed in a better day with the Lord she loved. I asked Lisa once how she felt about having cancer. She replied: “Getting cancer made me think about my life. It resulted in me giving my life to Christ. This walk I am on with Him gets pretty lonely at times, but I’ll never give up and He has promised us all He will never leave or forsake us.  AMEN!”

God revealed through the prophet Zechariah that great and marvelous things were ahead for His children. Therefore, his children should be doubly determined to live for Him now

(I John 3:2-3). Life is not fair or easy, but we can trust God to carry us through to the other side.

What challenges have you faced with your future? Do you believe in a joyful times ahead?

Patience is the door of joy.        German proverb

 

 

Shadow of Death

Digital StillCamera

Photo caption: God provides beauty for our souls to enjoy in the midst of pain.  Even a shadow like that on this flower can be a thing of beauty. Foster Park, Fort Wayne Indiana

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In light of the shooting that occurred this week in one of our nation’s elementary schools I thought this devo on the subject of death might be helpful to some. Please pray for those living in the CT community as they deal with this terrible deed.

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A friend who had lost her brother to cancer when he was a teenager talked to our ladies’ Bible study about the topic of death. Someone asked her how her family had come through the ordeal without being angry at God.

She said, “At first we didn’t want to admit that God would allow such a terrible thing to happen to people who loved Him. I was angry and felt very alone.”

“Then I ran across the verse in the 23rd Psalm that talks about ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’ I realized that, in order for something to have a shadow, it had to have light behind it.

God’s presence was the light behind my brother’s death. We knew that in the end Daniel was going to be in the presence of that Light, and that gave us comfort.”

In his book God’s Psychiatry (Revell) Charles Allen talks about a real Valley of the Shadow of Death. It is located in Palestine and leads from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.

Surrounded by an ominous mountain range, the narrow and dangerous pathway is rough and the possibility of death is real. It is a forbidding journey  one dreads to take.

But the sheep are not afraid. Why? Because the shepherd is alongside.

May we all feel our Shepherd’s presence when death is near.

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Pie Crust Promises

This is one of my favorite devotions. The idea for its origin will be obvious in the first line. If you’re a writer looking for ideas, perhaps you should sit back and watch a children’s movie.  This lovely photo was taken by my brother-in-law Dave Reusser. You’ll be seeing more of his work here in the future. Have a great day!

 

Taken by Dave Reusser

In the movie “Mary Poppins”, two lonely children become enthralled with their new nursemaid. One night, after a particularly exciting day, they implore her, “Promise you’ll never leave us!”

For all of her zany actions, Mary Poppins replies wisely, “That’s a pie crust promise –-easily made, easily broken.”

 

People crave stability. Unfortunately, most of us have had to deal with vows that crumbled: a business partner absconds with company funds; a spouse decides he/she is happier living with someone else. Even the government seems to renege on its laws.

 

Christians can rest assured that God’s promises won’t “fall apart.” His Word tells us He will never desert us (Hebrews 13:5). His lovingkindness is everlasting (Psalm 107:1).

 

Memorize Psalm 117. Then, when you’re given a pie crust promise, you can say with the psalmist: “Praise the Lord, all nations: Laud Him, all peoples! For his lovingkindness is great toward us. And the truth of the Lord is everlasting. Praise the Lord!”

 

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Crafters Bless through their Talents

Nancy Bell holds an angel gown made by Stitchers of Hope, Faith and Love

I love interviewing people who give to others. The Ossian (IN) Church of the Nazarene has a group that gives much to people who are hurting. By using their crafting talents, this great group of men and women have blessed many. Do you know of a group or person who blesses people with their talents? If you’re a writer, spread the word about them. If you’re not a writer, consider joining the group or assisting them in some way. You’ll be blessed too. This article appeared recently in the Ossian Sun Riser and the Bluffton News-Banner.

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When Nancy Bell of Ossian decided to learn to crochet in March 2009,

she enrolled in a class on the subject at the Senior Expo sponsored by the Bluffton Parks and Recreation Department. Her sister Alice had died recently and Nancy was given several skeins of yarn that had belonged to her.

Nancy had also found a craft book on prayer shawls at a store. All of these factors formed a sign to Bell, who knew how to quilt and do counted cross stitch but not crochet. “I didn’t know how to make one  stitch,” Bell said, “but God told me, ‘Here’s yarn and a book and people to help you learn. Go for it.’”

Dozens of handmade items are created by The Stitchers of Hope, Faith and Love

At the Senior Expo classes Bell learned about the local volunteer group Stitches of Hope which distributes free handmade crocheted and knitted and sewn caps to medical patients around the country. After learning the basics of crochet, Bell joined the Stitches of Hope group and began making caps for adults and children.

Wanting to encourage others in her area to volunteer, she organized a craft group at the Ossian Nazarene Church where she and her husband, Bill Bell, attended. The group called Stitchers of Hope, Faith and Love began meeting each Friday at the church from 10am-12 noon. “We offered free instruction and supplies to anyone who wanted to make chemo caps,” said Bell.

The group has grown to include approximately 30 people from various churches — Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Methodist. “The members tell me they want to do their crafts for a purpose,” said Nancy.

Stitchers of Hope, Faith and Love meet weekly at Ossian Nazarene Church.

The group is not limited to women. Bill Bell is one of the members. “I can’t get him away from making caps on a loom,” said Nancy.

The group also makes angel gowns and prayer shawls. An angel gown is a gown to be worn by a stillborn baby. Nancy learned about the need for these while listening to a TV show. “A nurse was interviewed who had delivered stillborn babies and never had anything to dress the baby in before taking it to see his parents,” she said. “She said it would be so helpful to have a beautiful gown for this purpose.”

Each prayer shawl, angel gown and cap is dedicated on the church’s altar before being distributed. “We dedicate them to God’s glory and pray for the recipients that they will be comforted and know they’re loved,” said Nancy.

The Stitchers of Hope, Faith and Love group is prolific in its production. One month they created 146 caps, six prayer shawls, and seven angel gowns. They have given the caps to the Stitches of Hope group and distributed the other items to hospitals in Bluffton, Fort Wayne and Decatur.

The group’s love for others is not all outgoing, according to Nancy.

“Some members say this group is what they live for,” she said. “We’ve developed tight friendships and I consider these people my sisters and brothers.”

At the meetings, members share prayer requests and pray together. In September three ladies in the group were baptized. “We’ve seen people come to Christ as a result of this group,” said Nancy. “It’s a miracle.”

Although she had never led a group before, Nancy Bell is happy with her role as coordinator for the Stitchers of Hope, Faith and Love. “I had always wanted to do some type of outreach,” she said. “I’m so grateful to have this group to work with.”

Note : For more information about helping a group like this check out www.Stitchesoflove1.blogspot.com.

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Tempting!

This devotional idea came to me as I read a newsletter at my church from a family our church supported who lived in the Philippines. Matt and Peggy Littell and their two sons were establishing churches in this country when this terrible accident occurred. Peggy’s response is stellar. I have often prayed for God’s grace in responding to people who have hurt me, even accidentally. It’s a struggle but with God’s help we can overcome. A longer version of this story was published in two books of short stories and several Christian magazines. Powerful.

Temptation can do more damage than we know. Photo by Matt Carrigan

“And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him alone.’” (Luke 4:8)

Matt, a Christian missionary, had been killed accidentally by a jeepney driver. Filipino law stated that someone who caused a death was imprisoned until the matter was  resolved, unless the victim’s family authorized his release.

Peggy, Matt’s widow, knew the jeepney driver was not guilty. She also knew his family would starve without his daily income. She requested that he be released.

At Matt’s viewing a native woman and man approached Peggy. As the couple began speaking, Peggy realized it was the jeepney driver and his wife. They told her how their children had gone without food while he was locked up. They were thankful for his release.

It would have been tempting for Peggy not to forgive the driver for killing Matt. In her grief she could have made him suffer as she suffered. But temptation didn’t guide Peggy’s life. Love did. She invited the driver to church. He and his family began attending and later, he became a Christian. Better yet, he started bringing people to church in his jeepney.

Peggy and Jesus didn’t let temptation guide their lives. Neither should we. Ask God to show you how temptation is affecting your life and how it can be eradicated so His will may be done.

Prayer:  Lord, we are so often swept away by passion and selfish desire until our lives are ruined. Yet with Jesus’ example You made a way for us to be strong. When temptation is before us, remind us that we can resist everything in Your name.

Tribute to my Mother-in-law

Psalm 46: 1:  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” 

Jane Reusser --my mother-in-law who is now deceased -- was beautiful inside and out

Twelve years ago today my beloved mother-in-law died of liver cancer. She was a beautiful lady inside and out. We still miss her so much. When she was in the last stages of the disease, she and her husband chose hospice care. That gave her eight children and their families opportunities to nurse her at home. 

Dozens of people helped us survive those three months. Hospice employees and volunteers taught nursing skills. Neighbors shoveled the driveway so her doctor could come for treatments. Church friends brought meals and cards were sent. Friends from several states phoned their concern.

Danish hymnwriter, Nikolai Frederik Grundtvig, wrote in an 1855 sermon, “We will not be fearful or despondent in the great transition period from darkness to light, from death to life… for… God’s children… shall not fear evil as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” 

Lindsay & Chris celebrating Grma's birthday 1995

God, thank you for the help we receive from Christian brothers and sisters. Show us how to help others in their need.

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