There was a professor of philosophy there who
was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one required class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God couldn’t exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic. For twenty years, he had taught this class and no one had ever had the courage to go against him. Sure, some had argued in class at times, but no one had ever really gone against him because of his reputation. At the end of every semester on the last day, he would say to his class of 300 students, “If there is anyone here who still believes in Jesus, stand up!”
In twenty years, no one had ever stood up. They knew what he was going to do next. He would say, “Because anyone who believes in God is a fool. If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove that He is God, and yet He can’t do ” it.” And every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom and it would shatter into a hundred pieces. All of the students would do nothing but stop and stare. Certainly, a number of Christians had slipped through, but for 20 years, they had been too afraid to stand up.
Well, a few years ago there was a freshman who happened to enroll. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about his professor. He was required to take the class for his major, and he was afraid. But for three months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said, or what the class thought. Nothing they said could ever shatter his faith…he hoped.
Finally, the day came. The professor said, “If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!” The professor and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the classroom. The professor shouted, “You FOOL!!! If God existed, he would keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!”
He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleat of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away unbroken. The professor’s jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man, and then ran out of the lecture hall.
The young man who had stood, proceeded to walk to the front of the room and shared his faith in Jesus for the next half hour. 300 students stayed and listened as he told of God’s love for them and of His power through Jesus.
ready or not
From: Our Daily Journey.org
Look up John 14:1-4 to see where Jesus will take us when He returns.
Are you looking forward to Jesus’ second coming? Why, or why not? How should you respond when you hear someone predicting the day of Jesus’ return?
Recently, a thief propped a metal ladder against the back of a restaurant early one morning. He scaled the ladder, reached the roof, and entered the eatery hoping to plunder the place. He couldn’t have known, however, that the restaurant’s owner was waiting inside. The restaurant had been burglarized three times in previous weeks, and the owner refused to become a victim again.
Jesus told a similar story as He talked with His disciples. He said, “If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into” (Matthew 24:43). He continued by saying, “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected” (Matthew 24:44).
Although no one except God knows the exact time when Jesus will come back from heaven (Matthew 24:36), the Bible encourages us to live watchfully. It also gives us clues about what will happen before Jesus returns: wars, natural disasters, and persecution will escalate, and false religious leaders will infest the world (Matthew 24:7-9, 23-24).
Despite these events, we don’t have to cower as we watch and wait (Romans 13:11-14). Rather, we can joyfully anticipate Jesus’ return and let it inspire holiness in our lives. Peter supplied us with a few pointers on how best to do this: pray faithfully, love deeply, and share generously (1 Peter 4:7-9). This is how we glorify the One we’re waiting for.
Jesus will come as unexpectedly as a thief in the night. Ready, or not, we’ll leave this earth to join Him on that day (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Fortunately, we can rely on God to “keep [us] strong to the end so that [we] will be free from all blame” when Jesus returns (1 Corinthians 1:7-8).
What’s with celebrities? The last few years have been littered with famous people behaving badly . . .
In the 2007 World Cup games, the planet’s best soccer player ends the game by head-butting his opponent on global TV. In 2006, an NFL hunk of a guy intentionally stomps on an opposing player’s helmet-less head leaving gashes worthy of 30-some stitches. My prized Chicago Bears have a defensive back who has been arrested three times in the last 18 months. And what’s with the trashy antics of Britney Spears? And the drunkenness, drug taking, and public kissing of another woman that Miss USA favored us with?
I’m not a real uptight person. I have a pretty wide berth for weirdness and foolish behavior. I guess I’ve seen enough of it in my own life and have come to believe that if we knew the extent of the fall we would be surprised that anything good happens at all. But this is ridiculous!
And, while I’m in this mood, what’s with the tabloids that grab our attention while we are waiting in the grocery line? Who are these people who have been caught naked by a hiding photographer at some secluded beach? and who cares who’s getting divorced, sleeping with someone’s best friend, or having another baby out of wedlock?
But that’s just it, isn’t it?! Lots of people seem to care. They find it all interesting and stimulating. That’s why this stuff sells. All this behaving badly tickles the public fancy, grabs headlines, and fills up tons of minutes on talk shows. Which leaves me wondering . . . Isn’t there anything more important for us to be taken with, for us to talk about? Where have all the really cool heroes gone?
I hate to sound like I am above it all and on to better things—which would come across as arrogant and judgmental—so forgive me. That’s not my intention. But there is a great alternative to cohabiting in the sludge of the seamy side of life.
I find that living and thinking in the world of God’s Word, God’s ways, and God’s will is like fresh air to my soul. And I do in fact have a Hero who after all these years I find to still be compelling, amazing, adventuresome, challenging, and worthy of my praise and admiration. Today, Jesus is more wonderful to me than He has ever been before!
I don’t want to live with a pointed finger at a world that seems to be spinning out of control with no moral compass. What our wild world needs is not another self-righteous declaration of how terrible it all is. After all, what do we expect from people who without Jesus are left to their own desires and instincts? What I want is to get my life in gear with the solid stuff that keeps my heart intrigued with the pure fresh water of God’s Word and to walk the path of life that Jesus walks, to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
My heart beats with Joshua, who in the midst of lots of sordid pagan options declared, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” And like Jesus, I want to remember to love and care for sinners. What our world really needs is the life-changing power of a new life in Jesus. So that will be my prayer!
Acts 10:1-33 (Good News Translation)
God’s Word: Guiding Us to Follow Jesus
Acts 10:1-33: Peter has a vision in which he is shown that nothing is unclean that God has declared clean. Meanwhile, Cornelius, a Gentile, has a vision of an angel telling him to invite Peter to his house.
Today’s Scripture: Acts 10:4b
From: American Bible Society
The angel answered, “God is pleased with your prayers and works of charity, and is ready to answer you.”
1 There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, who was a captain in the Roman army regiment called “The Italian Regiment.” 2 He was a religious man; he and his whole family worshiped God. He also did much to help the Jewish poor people and was constantly praying to God. 3 It was about three o’clock one afternoon when he had a vision, in which he clearly saw an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius!” 4 He stared at the angel in fear and said, “What is it, sir?” The angel answered, “God is pleased with your prayers and works of charity, and is ready to answer you. 5 And now send some men to Joppa for a certain man whose full name is Simon Peter. 6 He is a guest in the home of a tanner of leather named Simon, who lives by the sea. ” 7 Then the angel went away, and Cornelius called two of his house servants and a soldier, a religious man who was one of his personal attendants. 8 He told them what had happened and sent them off to Joppa. 9 The next day, as they were on their way and coming near Joppa, Peter went up on the roof of the house about noon in order to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat; while the food was being prepared, he had a vision. 11 He saw heaven opened and something coming down that looked like a large sheet being lowered by its four corners to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals, reptiles, and wild birds. 13 A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat!” 14 But Peter said, “Certainly not, Lord! I have never eaten anything ritually unclean or defiled.” 15 The voice spoke to him again, “Do not consider anything unclean that God has declared clean.” 16 This happened three times, and then the thing was taken back up into heaven. 17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of this vision, the men sent by Cornelius had learned where Simon’s house was, and they were now standing in front of the gate. 18 They called out and asked, “Is there a guest here by the name of Simon Peter?” 19 Peter was still trying to understand what the vision meant, when the Spirit said, “Listen! Three men are here looking for you. 20 So get ready and go down, and do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them. ” 21 So Peter went down and said to the men, “I am the man you are looking for. Why have you come?” 22 “Captain Cornelius sent us,” they answered. “He is a good man who worships God and is highly respected by all the Jewish people. An angel of God told him to invite you to his house, so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Peter invited the men in and had them spend the night there. The next day he got ready and went with them; and some of the believers from Joppa went along with him. 24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea, where Cornelius was waiting for him, together with relatives and close friends that he had invited. 25 As Peter was about to go in, Cornelius met him, fell at his feet, and bowed down before him. 26 But Peter made him rise. “Stand up,” he said, “I myself am only a man.” 27Peter kept on talking to Cornelius as he went into the house, where he found many people gathered. 28 He said to them, “You yourselves know very well that a Jew is not allowed by his religion to visit or associate with Gentiles. But God has shown me that I must not consider any person ritually unclean or defiled. 29 And so when you sent for me, I came without any objection. I ask you, then, why did you send for me? ” 30Cornelius said, “It was about this time three days ago that I was praying in my house at three o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly a man dressed in shining clothes stood in front of me 31 and said: ‘Cornelius! God has heard your prayer and has taken notice of your works of charity. 32 Send someone to Joppa for a man whose full name is Simon Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner of leather, who lives by the sea. ’ 33 And so I sent for you at once, and you have been good enough to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God, waiting to hear anything that the Lord has instructed you to say. ”
How is Cornelius described? What is he told to do? What is Peter’s vision? How does he respond to what he is told to do? How might these visions have been strange or surprising to each of these men? Have you ever been surprised by something God did in your life?