Leviticus 15-16; Matthew 27:1-26
During the rehearsal for my brother’s wedding ceremony, my husband snapped a picture of the bride and groom as they faced each other in front of the pastor. When we looked at the photograph later, we noticed that the camera’s flash had illuminated a metal cross in the background, which appeared as a glowing image above the couple.
The photograph reminded me that marriage is a picture of Christ’s love for the church as shown on the cross. When the Bible instructs husbands to love their wives (Eph. 5:25), God compares that kind of faithful, selfless affection to Christ’s love for His followers. Because Christ sacrificed His life for the sake of love, we are all to love each other (1 John 4:10-11). He died in our place, so that our sin would not keep us separate from God for eternity. He lived out His words to the disciples: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Many of us suffer from the pain of abandonment, rejection, and betrayal. Despite all of this, through Christ we can understand the sacrificial, compassionate, and enduring nature of true love. Today, remember that you are loved by God. Jesus said so with His life.
The Blind Men and The Elephant
A long time ago in the valley of the Brahmaputra River in India there lived six men who were much inclined to boast of their wit and lore. Though they were no longer young and had all been blind since birth, they would compete with each other to see who could tell the tallest story.
One day, however, they fell to arguing. The object of their dispute was the elephant. Now, since each was blind, none had ever seen that mighty beast of whom so many tales are told. So, to satisfy their minds and settle the dispute, they decided to go and seek out an elephant.
Having hired a young guide, Dookiram by name, they set out early one morning in single file along the forest track, each placing his hands on the back of the man in front. It was not long before they came to a forest clearing where a huge bull elephant, quite tame, was standing contemplating his menu for the day.
The six blind men became quite excited; at last they would satisfy their minds. Thus it was that the men took turns to investigate the elephant’s shape and form.
As all six men were blind, neither of them could see the whole elephant and approached the elephant from different directions. After encountering the elephant, each man proclaimed in turn:
“O my brothers,” the first man at once cried out, “it is as sure as I am wise that this elephant is like a great mud wall baked hard in the sun.”
“Now, my brothers,” the second man exclaimed with a cry of dawning recognition, “I can tell you what shape this elephant is – he is exactly like a spear.”
The others smiled in disbelief.
“Why, dear brothers, do you not see,” said the third man, “this elephant is very much like a rope,” he shouted.
“Ha, I thought as much,” the fourth man declared excitedly, “this elephant much resembles a serpent.”
The others snorted their contempt.
“Good gracious, brothers,” the fifth man called out, “even a blind man can see what shape the elephant resembles most. Why he’s mightily like a fan.”
At last, it was the turn of the sixth old fellow and he proclaimed, “This sturdy pillar, brothers, mine, feels exactly like the trunk of a great areca palm tree.”
Of course, no one believed him.
Their curiosity satisfied, they all linked hands and followed the guide, Dookiram, back to the village. Once there, seated beneath a waving palm, the six blind men began disputing loud and long. Each now had his own opinion, firmly based on his own experience, of what an elephant is really like. For after all, each had felt the elephant for himself and knew that he was right!
And so indeed he was. For depending on how the elephant is seen, each blind man was partly right, though all were in the wrong.
The Alphabet Of Happiness
|A – ACCEPT||Accept others for who they are and for the choices they’ve made even if you have difficulty understanding their beliefs, motives, or actions.|
|B – BREAK AWAY||Break away from everything that stands in the way of what you hope to accomplish with your life.|
|C – CREATE||Create a family of friends whom you can share your hopes, dreams, sorrows, and happiness with.|
|D – DECIDE||Decide that you’ll be successful and happy come what may, and good things will find you. The roadblocks are only minor obstacles along the way.|
|E – EXPLORE||Explore and experiment. The world has much to offer, and you have much to give. And every time you try something new, you’ll learn more about yourself.|
|F – FORGIVE||Forgive and forget. Grudges only weigh you down and inspire unhappiness and grief. Soar above it, and remember that everyone makes mistakes.|
|G – GROW||Leave the childhood monsters behind. They can no longer hurt you or stand in your way.|
|H – HOPE||Hope for the best and never forget that anything is possible as long as you remain dedicated to the task.|
|I – IGNORE||Ignore the negative voice inside your head. Focus instead on your goals and remember your accomplishments. Your past success is only a small inkling of what the future holds.|
|J – JOURNEY||Journey to new worlds, new possibilities, by remaining open-minded. Try to learn something new every day, an you’ll grow.|
|K – KNOW||Know that no matter how bad things seem, they’ll always get better. The warmth of spring always follows the harshest winter.|
|L – LOVE||Let love fill your heart instead of hate. When hate is in your heart, there’s room for nothing else, but when love is in your heart, there’s room for endless happiness.|
|M – MANAGE||Manage your time and your expenses wisely, and you’ll suffer less stress and worry. Then you’ll be able to focus on the important things in life.|
|N – NOTICE||Never ignore the poor, infirm, helpless, weak, or suffering. Offer your assistance when possible, and always your kindness and understanding.|
|O – OPEN||Open your eyes and take in all the beauty around you. Even during the worst of times, there’s still much to be thankful for.|
|P – PLAY||Never forget to have fun along the way. Success means nothing without happiness.|
|Q – QUESTION||Ask many questions, because you’re here to learn.|
|R – RELAX||Refuse to let worry and stress rule your life, and remember that things always have a way of working out in the end.|
|S – SHARE||Share your talent, skills, knowledge, and time with others. Everything that you invest in others will return to you many times over.|
|T – TRY||Even when your dreams seem impossible to reach, try anyway. You’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish.|
|U – USE||Use your gifts to your best ability. Talent that’s wasted has no value. Talent that’s used bill bring unexpected rewards.|
|V – VALUE||Value the friends and family members who’ve supported and encouraged you, and be there for them as well.|
|W – WORK||Work hard every day to be the best person you can be, but never feel guilty if you fall short of your goals. Every sunrise offers a second chance.|
|X – X-RAY||Look deep inside the hearts of those around you and you’ll see the goodness and beauty within.|
|Y – YIELD||Yield to commitment. If you stay on track and remain dedicated, you’ll find success at the end of the road.|
|Z – ZOOM||Zoom to a happy place when bad memories or sorrow rears its ugly head. Let nothing interfere with your goals. Instead, focus on your abilities, your dreams, and a brighter tomorrow.|
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:3
Hey, for you guys out there who have forgotten, it’s Valentine’s Day! Hopefully you still have time to pick up something special for the love of your life. (And you don’t even have to tell her that I reminded you!)
The love of my life, of course, is my wife, Martie. I remember so clearly the summer before our senior year of college when I finally summoned up the nerve to ask her to marry me. We had been dating for a couple of years and ended up working in different states over the summer. I spent the summer working at home in New Jersey, and she was up in the Adirondack Mountains serving at a Christian conference center. That struck a little panic in my soul. She would not only be away from me, but she would be surrounded by tanned lifeguards and well-abbed water-ski instructors! I knew in order to seal the deal I would need to take some action.
I pulled together the cash to buy her an engagement ring and climbed into my little Volkswagen to trek up to the conference grounds. The whole way there I was a mixture of nerves and excitement, anticipating the moment that I would pop the question! When I arrived at the conference, however, I discovered that our college president was there as the featured speaker. And, in an act of goodwill, he decided to take all of us students out for pie and ice cream after the evening session. Normally, I would have been delighted to be out for dessert with our college president. But that evening all I could think of was, “I can’t wait to get her out of here!” I had bigger plans and a better agenda for the evening. I wasn’t interested in snacks—I wanted to get Martie out of there so I could propose and spend the rest of my life with her!
Recently, as I was reading John 14:3, it struck me—Jesus can’t wait to get us out of here so He can spend eternity with us. In fact, one of the key metaphors used to describe His relationship with the church is the picture of a groom waiting for his bride. With that in mind, you can almost feel the sense of urgency and anticipation in His voice when He assures us: “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
The timing of Christ’s return, while unknown to us, is perfectly on schedule with God’s sovereign plan. Why would God wait if He really wants to be with us? He waits to allow additional people to hear the life-transforming message of forgiveness and new life in Jesus (2 Peter 3:9). And yet I can’t help but think that Jesus, longing to be reunited with you, says to Himself, “I can’t wait to get them out of there!” His agenda is far greater, far more thrilling, and infinitely better than whatever we have planned on this earth.
If Martie had known what was coming that evening, it would have made her just as anxious and excited as I was to get out of there. It would have affected her whole perspective. And here’s the amazing thing: When it comes to Christ’s return for us, we’re in on the secret! We don’t know the time, but we know the promise—He’s coming back, and He can’t wait! The thrill of the prospect of it all should transform the way we live each day. There should be a sense of holy discontent and a constant longing for what we have ahead of us.