Sharon was rich and lived in a large house. Beth was from a poor family and lived in a little house that had thin walls and bare pine floors. Sharon and Beth went to the same school, were in the same class and one day entered the same contest for reading books and writing reports. At the end of the contest, both girls had completed the exact same number of reports and both girls had done reports of very high quality. The contest was declared a tie and the two girls were asked to draw straws—short straw to win.
An ecstatic Beth won the prize, a music box of bright blue plastic. When the music played, a tiny screen showed a series of different pictures as the wheel revolved. Beth placed her prize next to the front door of her small house so if there was ever a fire she would be able to rescue it on her way out.
Sharon was very disturbed that she had not won the drawing. After all, she had written just as many good book reports as Beth. She went home and complained loudly to her parents. The next day her parents came to school and complained loudly. Before you know it, the contest judges decided to buy another music box for Sharon.
Sharon was pleased to have gotten her own way, but after playing the music box she was not impressed. She shoved it on a shelf in her closet with many other forgotten toys.
While it was Beth who worried about fire, it was Sharon who suffered that catastrophe. Early that winter, a fire caused by a careless maid destroyed Sharon’s home. The family escaped but all their possessions were destroyed.
When Beth heard about the fire, she was dismayed. At school, it was said that all of Sharon’s many toys had burned except for the pony cart that was in the barn. All her clothes had burned. Many of the little children were not too kind about Sharon’s hardship. One little girl even said, “It serves her right for being so hoity-toity all the time.”
Beth, however, was sad for Sharon. On the way home after school, she thought and thought. She was home only a minute before she rushed back out the door carrying a small bag. She raced to a large brick house—the home of Sharon’s grandmother where Sharon was now staying. When the maid brought Sharon to the parlor where Beth was waiting, Beth opened the bag and pulled out her cherished music box. “I’m sorry about your fire,” she said. “I want you to have this in place of the one you lost.”
“Thank you,” said Sharon. “I’m sorry I can’t visit now. Grandma is taking me shopping to get new clothes.”
A few minutes later, the maid closed the door behind Beth as Sharon raced upstairs to the bedroom she had been given in her grandmother’s home the moment she was born. As she pulled out a warm coat to wear on her shopping trip, she took a moment to shove the music box to the back of a shelf. “It’s a stupid toy,” she thought. “No wonder Beth gave it to me.”
Sharon went off shopping with Grandma with no understanding of the great gift she had been given while Beth went home to her little house, watched and guarded all the way by a thousand angels.
Have you ever felt the urge to pray for someone and then just put it on a list and said, “I’ll pray for them later?” Or, has anyone ever called you and said, “I need you to pray for me, I have this need?” Read this story – may it change the way that you think about prayer and also the way you pray. You will be blessed by this.
— Author unknown
A missionary on furlough told this story while visiting his home church in Michigan. “While serving at a small field hospital in Africa, every two weeks I traveled by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. This was a journey of two days and required camping overnight at the halfway point.
On one of these journeys, I arrived in the city where I planned to collect money from a bank, purchase medicine and supplies, and then begin my two-day journey back to the field hospital. Upon arrival in the city, I observed two men fighting, one of whom had been seriously injured. I treated him for his injuries and at the same time talked to him about the Lord.
I then traveled two days, camping overnight, and arrived home without incident.
Two weeks later I repeated my journey. Upon arriving in the city, I was approached by the young man I had treated. He told me that he had known I carried money and medicines. He said, “Some friends and I followed you into the jungle, knowing you would camp overnight. We planned to kill you and take your money and drugs. But just as we were about to move into your camp, we saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards. At this I laughed and said that I was certainly all alone in that jungle campsite. The young man pressed the point, however, and said, “No sir, I was not the only person to see the guards. My five friends also saw them, and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone.”
At this point in the sermon, one of the men in the congregation jumped to his feet and interrupted the missionary and asked if he could tell him the exact day this happened. The missionary told the congregation the date, and the man who interrupted told him this story: “On the night of your incident in Africa, it was morning here and I was preparing to go play golf. I was about to putt when I felt the urge to pray for you. In fact, the urging of the Lord was so strong, I called men in this church to meet with me here in the sanctuary to pray for you. Would all of those men who met with me on that day stand up?” The men who had met together to pray that day stood up.
The missionary wasn’t concerned with who they were, he was too busy counting how many men he saw. There were 26.
can anybody see God?
— Author Unknown
A small boy once approached his slightly older sister with a question about God.
“Susie, can anybody ever really see God?” he asked. Busy with other things, Susie curtly replied: “No, of course not, silly. God is so far up in heaven that nobody can see him.”
Time passed, but his question still lingered, so he approached his mother: “Mom, can anybody ever really see God?” “No, not really,” she gently said. “God is a spirit and he dwells in our hearts, but we can never really see him.”
Somewhat satisfied but still wondering, the youngster went on his way. Not long afterwards, his saintly old grandfather took the little boy on a fishing trip. They were having a great time together — it had been an ideal day. The sun was beginning to set with unusual splendor as the day ended.
The old man stopped fishing and turned his full attention to the exquisite beauty unfolding before him. On seeing the face of his grandfather reflecting such deep peace and contentment as he gazed into the magnificent ever-changing sunset, the little boy thought for a moment and finally spoke hesitatingly: “Granddad, I – I wasn’t going to ask anybody else, but I wonder if you can tell me the answer to something I’ve been wondering about a long time. Can anybody, can anybody ever really see God?”
The old man did not even turn his head. A long moment slipped by before he finally answered. “Son,” he quietly said. “It’s getting so I can’t see anything else.”
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
— Psalm 19:1-4
Being born again by the Spirit is an unmistakable work of God, as mysterious as the wind, and as surprising as God Himself. We don’t know where it begins— it is hidden away in the depths of our soul. Being born again from above is an enduring, perpetual, and eternal beginning. It provides a freshness all the time in thinking, talking, and living— a continual surprise of the life of God. Staleness is an indication that something in our lives is out of step with God. We say to ourselves, “I have to do this thing or it will never get done.” That is the first sign of staleness. Do we feel fresh this very moment or are we stale, frantically searching our minds for something to do? Freshness is not the result of obedience; it comes from the Holy Spirit. Obedience keeps us “in the light as He is in the light . . .” (1 John 1:7).
Jealously guard your relationship with God. Jesus prayed “that they may be one just as We are one”-with nothing in between (John 17:22). Keep your whole life continually open to Jesus Christ. Don’t pretend to be open with Him. Are you drawing your life from any source other than God Himself? If you are depending on something else as your source of freshness and strength, you will not realize when His power is gone.
Being born of the Spirit means much more than we usually think. It gives us new vision and keeps us absolutely fresh for everything through the never-ending supply of the life of God.