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Friday, October 12, 2007
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This photo taken by our friend Greg Schneider and used by permission.
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"And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell" (Matthew 5:30).
In the first little church we pastored in southern Missouri, beginning a week after our wedding in 1976, we met some very fine country folks. Among them were Fred and Wanda. Fred had lost his right arm in an oil well accident many years earlier and his thumb on his left hand in a different accident, but he had learned to compensate and was a real blessing in helping us to renovate the little parsonage we lived in. In fact he did construction for a living. It was an inspiration to watch him use a hammer and drive a nail with speed and strength with only four fingers and the stump of a severed arm.
Awhile back I read an interesting article in "Yankee" magazine about a lone Maine lobsterman who got his hand caught in a winch while out at sea. The harder he pulled to remove it the more the governor on the motor would turn up, and it was progressively consuming his arm. In a desperate move he had to cut off his arm with a twine knife to save himself and he made it ashore to tell the story. From his perspective he writes: "There were no options. I just cut. You'd trade your arm for your life at any moment."
The daily text and the story I just shared don't seem like topics for a devotional dedicated to encouragement! But I am committed to sharing all themes of the Bible and Bible commentators take these words of Jesus to indicate how serious we are to take sin. The worth of your hand is comparatively nothing compared to the destiny of your soul. The lobsterman recognized that principle in regard to his physical life. Although he greatly valued his hand, as we all do, he made the right choice to save his life.
Today we need to examine anything in our life that we value highly that is hindering our eternal progress, causing us to lose our way. God leads us in the paths of righteousness and Jesus warns us in Matthew 7:10: "Heaven can be entered only through the narrow gate! The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide enough for all the multitudes who choose its easy way. But the Gateway to Life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it."
The writer of Hebrews instructs those of us who have not chosen the "easy way" to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" (12:1). And to "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (3:12,13). (Verse 13 is the inspiration verse for this daily ministry, as many of you already know!)
Sin can be deceitful but we have discernment from the Holy Spirit to carefully examine our hearts. Let us solemnly ask God to reveal any ungodly attitude or action that might entangle us once again to a sinful, unbelieving way of life.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, Your divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. It is through Your engrafted divine nature that we are able to escape the corruption in this world caused by evil desires. As we add to our faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love, then we possess these godly qualities in increasing measure and they will keep us from being swayed by the deceitfulness of the enemy who masquerades as an "angel of light." It is in Your powerful name, Jesus, that we discern good from evil and it is in Your strength that we are able to cast off that which hinders our spiritual growth. Amen.
In today's message I shared about Fred, who had lost his arm. Our greatest memory of Fred was actually a very interesting prayer request he offered one night in a church service and is the latest entry on my humor blog.
Story of Maine lobsterman (This is the same incident but the article in Yankee magazine has more detail. I was unable to find it archived on the web.)
Today's suggested music:
"Reign In Me" (Audio)
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
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