I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb
by Ray Boltz
I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb
by Ray Boltz
Job 13:15: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…”
“Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character has to be cleared in our own minds. Faith in its actual working out has to go through spells of unsyllabled isolation. Never confound the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, for much that we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive.
Faith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts Him – I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do. ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…’- this is the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole of the Bible.”
I’m reminded that the enemy was behind the trials of God’s servant, Job. Yet God allowed satan to test Job, warning only to spare his life. Job trusted God’s character and His divine will, though he could not understand what was happening in his life, nor why the Lord allowed it. This was true faith. The enemy is at work today, just as he was during the days of Job. But God has given us a wealth of resources to deal with the fiery darts of satan and the powers of darkness. We have His written Word, and even greater, His Living Word whose Spirit dwells within us! As the Apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament, we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us!” Romans 8:37 Praise the Lord!
An uplifting and inspirational message by Joni Eareckson Tada
My beautiful friend, Joni Eareckson Tada, has spoken words into my life that have forever changed me — and countless others around the world. Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, an organization that accelerates Christian outreach in the disability community, Joni is the author of numerous best-selling books, including Heaven, Joni, Diamonds in the Dust, and her most recent — and beautiful — Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story.
Joni tells a story on the farm front porch today that just — well, you tell me what it does to your heart…
Ken opened wide the front door so I could wheel out to the van.
For a long moment I sat squarely in the door frame, staring and taking it all in:
the shade tree dappling our brick path, blossoms bobbing on the crepe myrtle, and patches of sunlight on dewy grass.
It was the freshest of mornings. Oh God, I breathed, If only I could feel as fresh.
After more than four decades of quadriplegia, I’m tired.
Please don’t think I’m a veteran or a professional when it comes to living in a wheelchair.
I’m not an expert.
My bones are weary and thin from battling everything from pressure sores and pneumonia — to stage III cancer.
My question these days is never “Why, God?”
It’s most often “How?”
How do I keep on going?
How do I care about others when I’m consumed with my own physical challenges?
How can I be kind and civil when pain wracks me?
How can I find the strength to face this day?
That morning, Ken had the answer.
“Why aren’t you out by the van?” he asked when he came from the kitchen with my lunch bag. Staring at the splendorous morning beyond the door, I answered him with a deep sigh.
“Wait here,” he said, “I know exactly what you need.”
Soon he was back with a yellow post-it note. With a thick Sharpie, he had simply penned on it the letter ‘C.’ I gave him an odd look.
“It stands for Courage,” he said, “The courage of Christ. I can see it in your eyes, Joni, and you can do this. I know you can!”
With that, he pressed the post-it on my shirt, right above my heart.
I glanced at it, then up at him. I can’t explain what happened next, but grace actually entered my heart. His note was a means of grace, like a sacrament through which God creates faith inside us. And it felt so liberating.
A breeze wafted in and my eyes became wet.
“Thank you,” I whispered to Ken and lifted my arm to give him a hug. “Thank you for that.”
He wiped my nose, kissed my cheek, and said softly, “Let’s get this day going.”
I then wheeled out into the morning feeling a fresh wave of strength from my Savior.
Proverbs 18:21 sums it up: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
Ken only said a few words, and probably without giving them much thought.
But those words were brimming with power and life. His was a pronouncement, a declaration of the good he saw in me… or, at least the good he wanted to see. And God gave me His amazing grace to rise to the occasion.
It’s a hard world. Even the best of Christians are feeling the weight of weariness. Little wonder we are to “Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13).
Think of the people you’ll see today… friends recovering from surgery, neighbors dealing with grief, coworkers coping with pain.
Whether you say it in an email, over the phone, or in person, your words have the capacity to change their countenance and character.
And the best word?
The Word made flesh, Jesus — who always has courageous words of life.
“The Hospital Window”
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.
Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it. In his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days and weeks passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.
It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.
Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.
If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.
Today is a gift, that’s why it is called the present!
– Author Unknown
Galations 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The Apostle Paul wrote the above in a letter to the church at Galatia some 2000 years ago. Jesus taught equality and lived it in His daily life. The following is an article I ran across, along with a wonderful photograph that gives us cause to stop and think…
Children Don’t See Color – the World Forces It on Them
Below is a photograph from 1973. It shows five friends, hugging and having fun. The picture is a scene of pure bliss and friendship. These children don’t see color; three are black and two are white, yet they don’t care. When they look at one another, these kids don’t even see color. We should learn how to view the world through children’s eyes.
According to the original photographer, “The world seems to be filled with misunderstanding, which often leads to anger, fear, and ultimately hatred and violence. Whether it is violence based on race or gender or religious or political differences, it all seems very unnecessary to me. The simple message is that we are all human. We all bleed the same. I think we all want the same basic things out of life – to live in peace and have food and shelter and to be loved. Maybe I am naïve or overly idealistic. I’m a product of the sixties. I grew up thinking that we could end war and that basic human justice was a real possibility. I get very cynical sometimes about the state of the world and our society in particular, but when I look at those kids it makes me think we could learn a lot from their innocence.”
– Article from Viralnova.com
In the words of Jesus Christ,
“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15 (NIV)
“Character cannot be developed in peace and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision be cleared, ambition insured and success achieved.”
– Helen Keller
There is something of great truth in this quote by Helen Keller. I’m sure that many are familiar with her story and of the nearly impossible circumstances she faced as a child. The principle of character is one which young Miss Keller learned first hand, being trapped in a world of unimaginable isolation and suffering as a young girl who was blind, deaf, and unable to speak or effectively communicate her needs. With the help of her dedicated teacher, Anne Sullivan, Helen overcame great odds in learning to emerge from a dark, silent world to become the person God had intended her to be. In so doing, she made a difference in this world by bringing hope and inspiration to countless others through her life’s testimony.
John 10:10 speaks of the abundant life Jesus came to offer us, in and through His redeeming blood and by the power of His Holy Spirit. We must only choose to believe. Accepting Him as Lord and Savior is the first step in our pilgrimage. But in order to become truly like Him and grow in character, we must at times be molded, shaped, and tempered in the fires of adversity.
I find so much encouragement in the New Testament, both in the words of our Lord Jesus, as He instructs us directly, and in those of His servants, like the Apostle Paul.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39 (KJV)
Paul understood so well what his suffering would achieve and that it was only temporal. Led by the Holy Spirit, he wrote such words of encouragement like these to the church at Corinth:
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-18 (KJV)
My friend, remember today, as you may experience periods of trail and suffering in this world, perhaps due to illness, a tragic loss, near devastating circumstance, or even because of the judgments and persecution of others- remember the words of a true servant of Christ and God’s words of comfort to you and me:
“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:2-5 (NIV)
May the Lord comfort and uplift you today! Stand true to what you have believed and be assured that, as you allow your light to shine and do good to others, your labor is not in vain. Cling to the promises in God’s Word and never give up on the dream He has placed in your heart! Persevere with the hope of Christ’s return and His love in your heart, and you will grow in both spirit and character!
May God bless you today and guide you to becoming all He created you to be!
Love in Christ,
“People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.”
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (NIV)