“The Keeper of the Springs” by Chuck Swindoll

Read Matthew 5:13–14

The late Peter Marshall, an eloquent speaker and for several years  the chaplain of the United States Senate, used to love to tell the story of “The Keeper of the Spring,”¹ a quiet forest dweller who lived high  above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps.

The old gentle man had been hired many years earlier by a young town  council to clear away the debris from Continue reading

I Want That One!

I heard a story once about a farmer who had some puppies for sale. He made a sign advertising the pups and nailed it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was nailing the sign to the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down to see a little boy with a big grin and something in his hand.

“Mister,” he said, “I want to buy one of your puppies.”

“Well, said the farmer, “these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal.”

The boy dropped his head for a moment, then looked back up at the farmer and said, “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?”

“Sure,” said the farmer, and with that he whistled and called out, “Dolly. Here, Dolly!” Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy’s eyes danced with delight.

Then out from the doghouse peeked another little ball; this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid and began hobbling in an unrewarded attempt to catch up with the others. The pup was clearly the runt of the litter.

The little boy pressed his face to the fence and cried out, “I want that one,” pointing to the runt.

The farmer knelt down as said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you the way you would like.”

With that the boy reached down and slowly pulled up one leg of his trousers. In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe. Looking up at the farmer, he said, “You see, sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.”

As told by Charles Stanley

Why Do I Worship?

Graceway MediaNot long ago I was reading from Matthew 15:7-9. Jesus was addressing the Pharisees and said, “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (ESV). After reading these verses, I spent most of the day examining my own worship to see if there were any part of me that was merely honoring God with my words, but my heart was far from Him.

When I arrived home from work that evening, the first words out of my wife’s mouth were, “You didn’t call me today!” She was not angry, but surprised. You see, after years of marriage she is accustomed to my calling, emailing, or texting her several times a day to see how she is doing, say “I love you,” and just to talk for a few minutes. So, it was very unusual for me not to contact her in any way for a whole day.

Without any explanation I quickly replied, “Do you want me to call you because I love and miss you, or because I feel guilty for not calling you all day?” Understandably, she was shocked at first, then hurt, and finally a bit concerned. She asked, “Do you ever call me out of guilt and not out of love?” I quickly assured her that it is because of my love that I call her almost every day, and that it had just been one crazy, eventful day at work. Then I talked with her about my Bible study that morning (Matt. 15:7-9). I had asked her the question, not to be a jerk, but to see her reaction to the thought that I might just be honoring her with my lips and not my heart. We want our spouse to love us, long for us, and be honest with us. My comment left her wondering, “Is he faking his love for me, and if so, for how long?”

Shirley’s reaction and the following conversation made both of us stop and reconsider our daily acts of worshipping God. Is my quiet time, which consists of prayer and Bible study, just something I cross off the list each day to feel better about myself spiritually? Do I listen for God during quiet time or just hurry through it? When attending a worship service, am I more concerned about how long it takes, what I have to do after church, or how it affects me more than lifting up praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to the One who died for me? Am I just going through the motions of what is expected? Is my spirituality a mask I put on to play a certain part when I am around my Christian friends or at church?

None of these “spiritual activities” are true worship. Jesus has commanded us, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Just as we would be offended at someone faking their feelings for us to get something they wanted, so is God! Worship, Bible study, church, living a righteous life, and obeying God’s commands are not things we do to keep from angering God. These good things are not to be practiced so that He will give us everything on our wish list of wants, needs, and desires. Worship is giving to God what He deserves. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so Christians should reflect the character, attributes, love, and holiness of God. We don’t do it because of what we might get, but because the Spirit of God resides in us and that is who we are in Christ.

I don’t want to live a hypocritical life. I don’t want worship to be out of guilt or something I do for my benefit.  I want my worship driven by an insatiable thirst for God’s glory, honor, and praise. I want my worship to be the direct result of who I am in Christ. I want my worship to be something I live out every minute of every day. I want my worship to be sincere, honest, and from a heart of love!

Take time today to read Matthew 15:7-9 and examine your motives for worship.

God, Can You Hear Me?

Many years ago during a worship service, I noticed William was singing very loudly during the song “At the Cross.” I listened carefully as he sang, “At the cross I bow my knee, where Your blood was shed for me, there’s no greater love than this…” As he stood there with his arm around me singing as loud as he could, the smile on my face could not possibly have been any bigger. There we were, father and son, worshipping our Savior together.

Later that night as I was tucking William into bed, I remarked, “You sure did like the song, ‘At the Cross’ we sang at church this morning.” To which he replied, “Yes, I did, dad, but how did you know?” “Well,” I answered, “I could hear you singing and normally I can’t hear you. What made you decide to sing that song so loudly?” He said, “I was singing loud because I was wondering if God could hear me with so many other people singing.” The depth of his remark surprised me. I never expected a seven year old to think about such things. The unified voices singing praises was so great that William wanted to make sure his voice was heard by Jesus. I reassured him that even if a million people are praying or singing at the same time God is able to hear each and every voice. Everyone is important to God.

I know there have been times in my life when I didn’t feel like my prayers were making it past the ceiling, much less up to God in heaven. Nevertheless, our Father in heaven is always ready to talk with us; all we have to do is call out to Him. The Bible tells us that one of Jesus’ roles in heaven is as our intercessor between us and the Father. There are times we want to shout, to whisper, to cry, to sigh, and other times to sit in silence not knowing what to say. Regardless of how we approach Him, God hears us. He hears the pain, fear, sorrow, anxiety, concern, passion, longing, hope, joy, excitement, curiosity, and trust in our prayers. He loves us and longs to not only hear from us, but to share His plan for our lives. He loves to spend time with us—He created us to fellowship with Him. Don’t let the noise around you keep you from the most important conversation of the day. God can hear you, so take time to sit down with Him to talk, listen, and enjoy the familial relationship you have with your Father in Heaven!

All I Want for Christmas is to Worship Like the Wise Men

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

 And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2.1-2, 9b-11 ESV).

I have no idea exactly where the wise men came from, but I do know they came with the solitary purpose of worshipping the King. They set out on their long journey that they might look upon Him face-to-face and worship Him. They could have stayed in their own country within their own homes and worshipped; after all, it isn’t the place where we worship that is important, but the condition of the heart. Their hearts would not allow them to stay home and worship. No, they understood that true worship calls for great sacrifice. So, they put caution to the wind and set off to Bethlehem, the city of David, to worship the King of kings in person.

Their worship was the result of a lifetime of searching. Because they had searched the Scriptures, they recognized His star when it appeared. They understood that He would be a child and would be born in Israel. They knew He would be the King of kings. Their lifetime of study wouldn’t allow such a historic event to happen without their attendance; therefore, they traveled the long, long journey to worship King Jesus.

This year for Christmas, I want to worship like the wise men.

First, I want to emulate their anticipation for worship. In order to worship, they had to recognize the fulfillment of God’s Word by knowing Scripture. They recognized God’s sign when they saw the star, and they recognized God’s glory when they saw His light.  This created in them a desire for worship which drove them to make the sacrificial journey. I don’t want to be so busy with the “Christmas Season” that I miss the true reason for the season—JESUS! I want the fulfillment of Scripture, the Bright Morning Star, the Light of the World—JESUS—to penetrate my heart and create in me a desire for sacrificial worship.

Secondly, I want to emulate their act of worship. They took the time to come into His presence, they looked into His face, they fell down and worshipped Him. Then, they gave of their possessions—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Their worship was a complete fulfillment of their hearts desire to honor and glorify the King. Upon seeing Jesus face-to-face they couldn’t help but fall down in worship.  The treasures they gave to Jesus meant nothing in their possession, but leaving them as an offering to the King became their greatest achievement. I want to offer up my feeble life and possessions for Him to use however and whenever He desires.

I want desperately to worship before the face of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. I want to see His glorious face, fall down before Him, and honor Him with words of praise, honor, and glory. I want my worship, like that of the wise men, to be the zenith of my existence.  This year for Christmas I want to worship like the wise men!