THE IRON GATE
"..they came to the iron gate..which opened of its own accord"
In the early Church, Christians lived precarious lives. Persecutions abounded and martyrdom was frequent. Our text - is from Acts 12 and refers to Peter's miraculous delivery from prison. James had already been killed by Herod and now it appeared that Peter was to be the next martyr for Christ. Chained between two guards, Peter is sound asleep. Even though he faced execution, Peter does not waste his time worrying, but pillowing his head on the sweetness of God's love, he sleeps the sleep of the just, knowing that he belongs to God and all is well. Perhaps, Peter is even dreaming of the glorious witness he is soon to make for his Lord in his death and of the reception by Christ that awaits him just beyond the executioner's block.
Then, Peter is awakened, freed from his shackles, and led toward the prison's gate. As they approach the gate it swings open and Peter with his angel escort, passes out into the street and freedom. Then the angel leaves Peter and he, for the first time, realizes that his deliverer was an angel of God.
Perhaps you are walled in by difficulties, chained by circumstances and expecting the worst. Perhaps you have responsibilities you feel incapable of handling. Do not despair, God is able to deliver you and make those "iron gates" open thru His marvelous, overruling providence.
Oh, you say, I'm not that important. Remember how Jesus said that the Heavenly Father even cares for the sparrow and reminded His followers that they were of more value than any sparrow? The story is told of a Purple Martin that was left behind when these birds migrated to their winter nesting places. Some kind hearted people found the little bird, realized his plight and at great cost chartered a plane to take that little bird to his winter nesting place. Sure, these were humans and not a celestial being but, can anyone doubt that the compassion in their heart did not come from God? And cause them to open an "Iron gate" for a creature of much less value than you?
Perhaps you can witness to God's care for you in some miraculous way and certainly we can all witness to His care in the common place things of life. Peter unhesitatingly gave witness to what God gave witness to what God had done for him. In this Thanksgiving months dare we do less when we have received so much from God?
Let us give thanks for past blessings and have faith in His providential care for the future.
October 26, 1970
He that goeth forth and weepth bear-precious seeds shall doubtless come again with rejoicing bringing his sheaves with him." Psalm 26:6
As we see another growing season come to a close and observe the harvest that is taking place throughout our country-sides, we should give thanks to God for another fruitful growing season that He has given us. The vegetables and grain that you see being gathered will feed many people besides the farmer who raises it. Truly, it is the farmer who feeds the world. Without the long hours of labor he is willing to spend in planting, cultivating, and harvesting, there could be no food for him or others. What makes the farmer invest so much time and energy in an occupation where success or failure from year to year depends upon the whims of the weather and the market? Looking back to conversations I have had with those who till the soil, I seem to remember one common characteristic- a love for the soil and the enjoyment of working with the good things God has given us. Without this I fear that far more of our farm boys and girls would be forsaking the farm for more lucrative and easier occupations. One thing more about the farmer; the seeds that he plants must have the germs of life within it. Without, this, the seed would never germinate and grow. God puts that spark of life within that tiny seed. The sower of which our text speaks is one who loves to labor with and for the Lord in the most noble task ever entrusted to man-that of sowing the Word of God by word and by deed in the soil of human hearts and lives. The Psalmist says, "He that goeth forth and weepeth." To me this indicates a love and deep concern for the salvation of our fellow-man. Without that constraining love of which Paul speaks, the laborer for Christ would soon tire of fighting the forces of evil that hinder his efforts and quit. However, we have the blessed assurance of God that if we sow with tears, we shall come again with rejoicing bringing our sheaves (saved souls) with us. When we stand before the Lord of the harvest, having been faithful in sowing the Word of God and present to Him the souls He has rewarded our labors with, it will indeed be a great time of rejoicing.
October 5, 1975
After one of the most pleasant and fruitful summers we have had in a long time, fall has arrived. All thru the spring and summer months, leaves in their green suits have either danced gaily in the warm breezes: basked quietly in the warm sunlight of quiet hours, or drooped limply in the sunless hours of rainy days. Yet, regardless of outward circumstances, the leaf continues to nurture the tree or the plant it happens to be a part of. Because of the work the leaf performs, the tree or plant grows in size, its fruit matures, and is either eaten or falls to the ground to start the life cycle over anew in another season. Because of its peculiar mechanism that enables the leaf to perform its life-giving functions, the leaf inhales carbon dioxide from the air and exudes oxygen, and thus renews our atmosphere. Having faithfully performed its life-giving function, the leaf will soon put on its colorful fall coat and silently release its hold upon the tree and fall to the ground. But is this all? Ah, no. Even in death it continues to serve as it releases the various components of its make-up to return to the soil and the air and continues to bless its surroundings. Joining others of its kind, it forms a barrier against the fast run-off of water that could cause floods and as the water is held up, it soaks into the ground to replenish our water supply.
Christians are much like the leaf (or should be). Our life should constantly be a blessing and source of strength, growth, and fruitage to the body of Christ-the Church, and a benevolent influence upon the peoples and circumstances of our brief day - whether it is in the gay, gentle breezes of joy, the fierce storms and heavy rains of trouble, or the peace and quiet of untroubled calms. Whatever the conditions that characterize our life, it should be so lived as to be a blessing to all. When our day of service is done and time has faded away the bloom of health from our flesh and we, as the leaf must fall, may it be said of us as we have said of the leaf, that our life was a blessing to our generation, the world was made better by our life, and that even after death, the influence of our life and testimony for Christ will continue to bless future generations.
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