Inspiration & Encouragement – June 2020
Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
A Merry Heart
Baseball in Heaven
Two buddies Chris and John were two of the biggest baseball fans in America. For their entire adult lives, Chris and John discussed baseball history in the winter and they pored over every box score during the season.
They went to 60 games a year. They even agreed that whoever died first would try to come back and tell the other if there was baseball in heaven.
One summer night, Chris passed away in his sleep after watching the Yankee victory earlier in the evening. He died happy. A few nights later, his buddy John awoke to the sound of Chris’s voice from beyond. “Chris is that you?” John asked. “Of course it’s me,” Chris replied.
“This is unbelievable!” John exclaimed. “So tell me, is there baseball in heaven?”
“Well I have some good news and some bad news for you. Which do you want to hear first?”
“Tell me the good news first.”
“Well, the good news is that, yes, there is baseball in heaven, John.”
“Oh, that is wonderful! So what could possibly be the bad news?”
“You’re pitching tomorrow night.”
“I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note – torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.”
Henry Ward Beecher
Looking at the Whole Picture
Text: II Samuel 1:23 “Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.”
I remember as a child my mother liked to do jigsaw puzzles. They ranged from 500 to 3,000 pieces and the more pieces there were the smaller each piece was. She would work on them a daily basis until she finished them. If you were to take one piece of a 3,000 piece puzzle and show it to someone by itself they would never be able to guess what picture is on that puzzle. One obscure piece cannot give you an accurate picture of such a large puzzle as it would be impossible to do. Yet many times people want to base their picture (view) of another person’s life based on a few small pieces of their life that they do not like and forget to look at the whole picture. I can see how David could say Jonathan was lovely and pleasant because that was his best friend that he had, but he also said it about Saul who tried to kill him. How could David say such a thing about Saul that he was lovely and pleasant in his life? If David did that with Saul who tried to kill him we should have no problem doing that with our family, friends, co-workers, and people in our church. The question we need to ask and answer is how we can have the right attitude toward others to enrich our relation with them and God instead of destroying it.
First, we must consider the facts. David remembered some of the great qualities and accomplishments Saul’s past. Saul used to love God and walk with him. Saul at one time was empowered by the Spirit of God and was a very humble man. Saul was a man who loved his family and his country which did not change during his life. David realized that Saul was anointed by God and he was the King which David respected even though Saul was not living up to the standard for a leader at that time in his life.
Second, we must consider the fallacy. It is a great myth to think someone is worthless because they did not treat us right. We must never think the world revolves around us and someone is not a horrible person just because they do not like us or have unjustly criticized us. We must see them as broken and not bad. A car may need to be fixed in one area, but is still a good vehicle and it is worth fixing. People for whom Jesus died are worth fixing.
Thirdly we must practice forgiveness. We must never hold a grudge against another person or develop a bitter spirit. Remember David was called a man after God’s own heart and his relationship with God allowed him to forgive people like Saul who mistreated him. If we do not practice forgiveness, we will develop bitterness which is deadly as it is the only chemical which destroys its container. If you are going to practice forgiveness you must not bring up past mistakes. You know they existed, but they are buried by choice and left with the Lord. The problem is not that most people get hysterical they get historical and bring up the past when they get mad because they have not truly forgiven that person. We need to act by faith which will produce a new unity based on scriptural principles and not shallow emotions.
Forth consider the fruitfulness: The quality of the root is important because if the root is good the fruit from it will be good. Our heart needs to be right with God if are relationships are to be right with others. We need to learn to love and forgive others like God wants us to. Is there anyone in your life that you have not learned to forgive? If so, ask God for forgiveness and help to have the right spirit toward them. You say you do not know what they have done or said to me and it is true I don’t but Jesus does. Remember every person has deeply hurt Jesus at some time and he still forgives us. If we learn to forgive it will enrich our life, draw us closer to God and help us to make a greater impact in the lives of others. You can do it!
Kurt John LaCapruccia
More than Conquerors
Once upon a time two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.
Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning there was a knock-on John’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I’m looking for a few days’ work,” he said.
“Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there. Could I help you?”
“Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbor, in fact, it’s my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll go him one better. See that pile of lumber curing by the barn? I want you to build me a fence – an 8-foot fence – so I won’t need to see his place anymore. Cool him down, anyhow.”
The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”
The older brother had to go to town for supplies, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day.
The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing.
About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer’s eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped.
There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge… a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work handrails and all – and the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming across, his hand outstretched.
“You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.”
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder. “No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother.
“I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, “but, I have many more bridges to build.”
The most important bridge ever built was by Jesus from this earth to heaven. That is why he died on the cross and rose again so that all who believe in him by faith can be reconciled back to God and have a home in heaven one day. John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” To all who receive Jesus by faith on this earth one day will cross that bridge into his loving arms.