Inspiration - Page 3


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SUCCESS

S- select your goal
U- unlock your potential
C- commit yourself to God's plan for your life
C- chart your course
E- expect problems
S- stand firm on your commitment
S- surrender everything to Jesus Christ

The Butterfly

Once upon a time in a land far far away,
there was a wonderful old man who loved everything.
Animals, spiders, insects...

One day while walking through the woods
the nice old man found a cocoon.
Feeling lonely, he decided to take the cocoon home
to watch its beautiful transformation from
a funny little cocoon to a beautiful butterfly.

He gently placed the cocoon on his kitchen table,
and watched over it for days
Suddenly on the seventh day the cocoon started to move
It moved frantically!
The old man felt sorry
for the little butterfly inside the cocoon.
He watched it struggle and struggle and struggle!

Finally the old man,
feeling so sorry for the cocooned butterfly
rushed to its aid with a surgical scalpel
and gently slit the cocoon
so the butterfly could emerge.

Just one slice was all it took,
and the butterfly broke free from its cocoon
only to wilt over in a
completely motionless state.

The old man did not know what to think.
Had he accidentally killed the little butterfly?
No, it's still moving a little bit.! Maybe it's sick!
Who the heck would know?
He was dumbfounded, and quite perplexed!
What should I do, he said.

Well, he felt so sorry for the little creature
that he decided the best thing he could
do for the butterfly
was to place it gently back into its cocoon.
He did so, and placed a drop of honey
on it to seal the cocoon,
leaving the butterfly to nestle
in its natural state.

Well, the next day he noticed
that the cocoon was moving again.
Wow, he said!
It moved and moved and struggled and struggled.
Finally the butterfly broke free from its cocoon
and stretched its wings out far and wide.
Big time yawn!
Its beautiful wings were filled with wonderful colors!
It looked around and took off!
It was flying! It's so beautiful!
The old man was jumping with joy! Wow!
Go Baby, Go!

And that wonderful butterfly did that just that,
it flew and flew
till it was almost out of the old man's sight.
What a joy, he exclaimed!
But then he started to think.
What did I do wrong by trying
to help that beautiful little butterfly out at first?

The old man went into town,
found the library,
and read every book he could on
butterflies and cocoons.
Finally the answer appeared.
The butterfly has to struggle and struggle
while inside the cocoon.
That's how it gets its strength.
That's just what they are designed to overcome
in order to be strong and beautiful.

Well, needless to say the old man was shocked,
saddened, and somewhat relieved.
Now he knows the reason why they do what they do.
It was only his perception that made it appear
that the butterfly was having a hard time.
From then on the old man knew
that loving something sometimes means
to pray for it and cheer it on!
He realized that God was wonderful,
and that sometimes appearances aren't what they seem to be.
That we all are beautiful butterflies,
even though we have our apparent struggles in life...

Spread your wings and prepare to fly
For you have become a butterfly
Fly abundantly into the sun
If you should return to me
We truly were meant to be
So spread your wings
and fly, Butterfly

God's Grace
by Wendy Greiner

I did not know His love before,
the way I know it now.
I could not see my need for Him,
my pride would not allow.
I had it all, without a care,
the "Self-sufficient" lie.
My path was smooth, my sea was still,
not a cloud was in my sky.

I thought I knew His love for me,
I thought I'd seen His grace,
I thought I did not need to grow,
I thought I'd found my place.
But then the way grew rough and dark,
the storm clouds quickly rolled;
The waves began to rock my ship,
I found I had no hold.

The ship that I had built myself
was made of foolish pride.
It fell apart and left me bare,
with nowhere else to hide
I had no strength or faith to face
the trials that lay ahead,
And so I simply spoke His name
and bowed my weary head.

His loving arms enveloped me,
and then He helped me stand.
He said, "You still must face this storm,
but I will hold your hand."
So through the dark and lonely night
He guided me through pain.
I could not see the light of day
or when I'd smile again.

Yet through the pain and endless tears,
my faith began to grow.
I could not see it at the time,
but my light began to glow.
I saw God's love in brand new light,
His grace and mercy, too.
For only when all self was gone
Could Jesus' love shine through.

It was not easy in the storm,
I sometimes wondered why.
At times I thought, "I can't go on."
I'd hurt, and doubt, and cry.
But Jesus never left my side
He guided me each day.
Through pain and strife,
through fire and flood,
He helped me all the way.

And now I see as ne'er before
how great His love can be
How in my weakness He is strong,
how Jesus cares for me!
He worked it all out for my good,
although the way was rough.
He only sent what I could bear,
and then He said, "Enough!"

He raised His hand and said, "Be still!"
He made the storm clouds cease.
He opened up the gates of joy
and flooded me with peace.
I saw His face now clearer still,
I felt His presence strong,
I found anew His faithfulness,
He never did me wrong.

And now I know more storms will come,
but only for my good,
For pain and tears have helped me grow
as nothing ever could.
I still have so much more to learn
as Jesus works in me;
If in the storm I'll love Him more,
that's where I want to be!

Little Girl Lost
by Aletha Lindstrom
Feb. 1979 Guideposts

"There's a new student waiting in your room", my principal announced, hurrying past me on the stairs. "Name's Mary. I need to talk to you about her. Stop in the office later."

I nodded and glanced down at the packs of pink, red and white paper, the jars of paste and boxes of scissors I held in my arms. "Fine", I said. "I've just come down from the supply room. We're making valentine envelopes this morning. It'll be a good way for her to get acquainted."

This was my third year of teaching fourth graders, but I was already aware how much they loved Valentine's Day (now just a week away) and making these bright containers to tape to the fronts of their desks was a favorite activity. Mary would surely be caught up in the excitement, and be chatting cheerfully with new friends before the project was finished. Humming to myself, I continued up the stairs.

I didn't see her at first. She was sitting in the back of the room with her hands folded in her lap. Her head was down and long, light brown hair fell forward, caressing the softly shadowed cheeks.

"Welcome, Mary", I said. "I'm so glad you'll be in our room. And this morning you can make an envelope to hold your valentines for our party on Valentine's Day."

No response. Had she heard me?

"Mary", I said again, slowly and distinctly.

She raised her head and looked into my eyes. The smile on my face froze. A chill went through me and I stood motionless. The eyes in that sweet little girl's face were strangely empty - as if the owner of a house had drawn the blinds and gone away. Once before, I had seen such eyes. They had belonged to an inmate of a mental institution, one I'd visited as a college student. "She's found life unendurable", the resident psychiatrist had explained, "so she's retreated from the world". She had, he went on, killed her husband in a fit of insane jealousy.

But this child - she could have been my own small, lovable niece except for those blank, desolate eyes. "Dear God", I thought, "what horror has entered the life of this innocent little girl?"

I longed to take her in my arms and hug the hurt away. Instead, I pulled books from the shelf behind her and placed them in her lap. "Here are texts you'll be using, Mary. Would you like to look at them?" Mechanically, she opened each book, closed it and resumed her former position.

The bell rang and the children burst in on a wave of cold, snowy air. When they saw the valentine materials on my desk, they bubbled with excitement.

There was little time to worry about Mary that first hour. I took attendance, settled Mary into her new desk and introduced her. The children seemed subdued or confused when she failed to acknowledge the introduction or even raise her head.

Quickly, in order to divert them, I distributed materials for the envelopes and suggested ways to construct and decorate them. I placed materials on Mary's desk and asked Kristie, her nearest neighbor, to offer help.

With the children happily engrossed, I escaped to the office. "Sit down", the principal said, "and I'll fill you in". The child, she said, had been very close to her mother, living alone with her in a Detroit suburb. One night, several weeks ago, someone had broken into their home and shot and killed the mother in Mary's presence. Mary escaped, screaming, to a neighbor's. Then the child went into shock. She hadn't cried or mentioned her mother since.

The principal sighed and then went on. "Authorities sent her here to live with her only relative, a married sister. The sister enrolled Mary this morning. I'm afraid we'll get little help from her. She's divorced with three small children to support. Mary is just one more responsibility."

"But what can I do?" I stammered. "I've never known a child like this before." I felt so inadequate.

"Give her love", she suggested, "lots and lots of love. She's lost so much. There's prayer too - and faith, faith that will make her a normal little girl again if you just don't lose hope."

I returned to my room to discover that the children were already shunning this "different" child. Not that Mary noticed. Even kindly little Kristie looked affronted. "She won't even try," she told me.

I sent a note to the principal to remove Mary from the room for a short time. I needed to enlist the children's help before recess, before they could taunt her about being "different".

"Mary's been hurt badly," I explained gently, "and she's so quiet because she's afraid she'll be hurt again. You see, her mother just died and there's no one else who loves her. You must be very patient and understanding. It may be a long time before she's ready to laugh and join in your games, but you can do a lot to help her."

Bless all children. How loving they can be once they understand. On Valentine's Day, Mary's envelope overflowed. She looked at each card without comment and replaced it in her container. She didn't take them home, but at least she'd looked at them.

She arrived at school insufficiently dressed for the bitterly cold weather. Her raw, chapped hands, without mittens, cracked and bled. Although she seemed oblivious to sore hands and the cold, I sewed buttons on her thin coat, and the children brought caps, scarves, sweaters and mittens. Kristie, like a little mother, helped Mary bundle up before she went outdoors, and she insisted on walking to and from school with her.

In spite of our efforts, we seemed to be getting no closer to Mary as the cold, dreary March days dragged by. Even my faith was wearing thin. My heart ached so desperately, wanting this child to come alive, to be aware of the beauty, the wonder, the fun - and yes, even the pain of living.

"Dear God," I prayed, "please let one small miracle happen. She needs it so desperately."

Then, on a late March day, one of the boys excitedly reported a robin in the schoolyard. We flocked to the window to see it. "Spring's here!", the children cried. "Let's make a flower border for the room!"

"Why not?" I thought. Anything to lift our spirits. This time, the papers we selected were beautiful pastel colors - with brown strips to weave into baskets. I showed the children how to weave the baskets and how to fashion all the flowers we welcome in early spring. Remembering the valentine incident, I expected nothing from Mary. Nevertheless, I placed the beautifully colored papers on her desk and encouraged her to try. Then I left the children to do their own creating, and I spent the next half hour sorting scraps of paper at the back of the room.

Suddenly, Kristie came hurrying to me, her face aglow. "Come see Mary's basket," she exclaimed. "It's so pretty! You'll never believe it!"

I caught my breath at its beauty. The gently curled petals of hyacinths, the daffodils' fluted cups, skillfully fashioned crocuses and violets - work one would expect from a child much older.

"Mary," I said. "This is beautiful. How did you ever manage?"

She looked at me with the shining eyes of any normal little girl. "My mother loved flowers," she said simply. "She had all of these growing in our garden."

"Thank you, God," I said silently. "You've given us the miracle." I knelt and put my arms around the child. Then the tears came, slowly at first, but soon she was sobbing her heart out against my shoulder. The other children had tears in their eyes too, but theirs, like mine, were tears of joy.

We fastened her basket in the very center of the border at the front of the room. It remained there until school ended in June. On the last day, Mary held it carefully as she carried it out the door. Then she came running back, pulled a crocus from her basket and handed it to me. "This is for you," she said, and gave me a hug and a kiss.

Mary moved away that summer. I lost track of her, but I'll never forget her. And I know God is caring for her.

I've kept the crocus in my desk ever since - just to remind me of Mary, and of the enduring power of love and faith.

God's Table Manners

You undoubtedly felt awkward the first time you had to learn which fork to use. But with that knowledge you can enter any dining experience with confidence. The same is true when you dine at God's table. At first it seems difficult. But learning the right manners makes it possible for you to be in any situation and please the Father.

  1. You have to do your own chewing. Too many Christians expect God to take out a spoon and dish up the blessing for them. He is supposed to place it in our mouths, work our jaws to chew it up, and help us swallow it. We want God to do everything. The fact is that you have responsibility in God's sovereign world.
  2. Accept the seating. Take the lowest seat, the seat of humility and service. If God wants you to sit higher up, He will show you that, but err on the side of humility, not pride.
  3. Finish the meal. John 3:16 tells us, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." Some believe that because God has already come and died for the sins of the world, they don't have to do anything else. However, it's important to finish the phrase regarding man's responsibility: "whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." You must come to Him in order to receive the forgiveness that He purchased for you.
  4. Read the menu. You must spend time reading what God has prepared. Read your Bible, meditate on the Word. It will give you strength and illumination according to God's plan for your life. It will keep you on course and remind you of your responsibilities in order to fulfill the plan of God.
  5. Count the fruit. If you are not willing to bear fruit for Him, then He is not obligated to answer your requests, even if you ask things in His name. Jesus declares, "Everyone that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away" (John 6:37). The Holy Spirit inspires us to go to Jesus and do what He asks of us. His sovereignty makes the first move toward us, but because He gave us free will, we must move toward Him as well.

Satan's Convention

Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, "We can't keep Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can't even keep them from conservative values. But we can do something else. We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken.

"So let them go to church. Let them have their conservative lifestyles. But steal their time so they can't gain that experience in Jesus Christ. Here is how I want you to do this. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day."

"But how shall we do this?" shouted one of his angels?

"Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent numerous schemes to occupy their minds," he answered. "Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince the wives to go to work and the husbands to work 6-7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their families fragment, soon their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work.

"Overstimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive, to keep the TV, the VCR, their CDs going constantly in their homes. And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ. Fill their coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day and invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogs, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services and false hopes.

"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from it exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week.

"Don't let them go out in nature. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead. And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotion.

"Let them be involved in soul winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family unity for the good of the cause."

Well, in the end it was quite a convention. The evil angels went eagerly to their assignments, causing the Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there.

Has the devil been successful in his scheme? You be the judge.

Chosen Vessel

The Master was searching for a vessel to use;
On the shelf there were many - which one would He choose?
"Take me", cried the gold one, "I'm shiny and bright,
I'm of great value and I do things just right.
My beauty and lustre will outshine the rest
And for someone like You, Master, gold would be the best!"

The Master passed on with no word at all;
He looked at a silver urn, narrow and tall;
"I'll serve You, dear Master, I'll pour out Your wine
And I'll be at Your table whenever You dine,
My lines are so graceful, my carvings so true,
And my silver will always compliment You."

Unheeding the Master passed on to the brass,
It was widemouthed and shallow, and polished like glass.
"Here! Here!" cried the vessel, "I know I will do,
Place me on Your table for all men to view."

"Look at me", called the goblet of crystal so clear,
"My transparency shows my contents so dear,
Though fragile am I, I will serve You with pride,
And I'm sure I'll be happy in Your house to abide."

The Master came next to a vessel of wood,
Polished and carved, it solidly stood.
"You may use me, dear Master", the wooden bowl said,
"But I'd rather You used me for fruit, not for bread!"

Then the Master looked down and saw a vessel of clay.
Empty and broken it helplessly lay.
No hope had the vessel that the Master might choose,
To cleanse and make whole, to fill and to use.

"Ah! This is the vessel I've been hoping to find,
I will mend and use it and make it all Mine."
"I need not the vessel with pride of its self;
Nor the one who is narrow to sit on the shelf;
Nor the one who is big mouthed and shallow and loud;
Nor one who displays his contents so proud;
Not the one who thinks he can do all things just right;
But this plain earthy vessel filled with My power and might."

Then gently He lifted the vessel of clay.
Mended and cleansed it and filled it that day.
Spoke to it kindly. "There's work you must do,
Just pour out to others as I pour into you."

Winter's Storm
by E.M. O'Steen

My soul is aching from without....within,
Tossed about like a leaf in the wind.
Searching for grounding, it twists and turns,
Restless and brittle...For rest it yearns....

Storms through the days and nights soak me through;
My tears flow as I search desperately for You.
Gently You speak to my heart and dry my tears,
Taking my hand as I work through my fears.

Your angels surround me and bear up my soul
As day after day, I'm in turmoil and toil.
My blinded eyes are opening as His ways become more clear,
My broken heart is mending as His love becomes more dear.

"My child", I finally hear Him say,
"I've waited for you to come with trust and faith in hand
So I could strengthen that measure ten-fold
As you travel this troubled land."

"So much more you need to grow
and to become more like Me,"
He said with a loving smile.
"This trial is but only for a little while."

"Oh! How I trust that you will see!
For My heart aches for you, My child,
As I see your tears and heartache flow.
But a stronger person you will emerge as you learn to...just...let go!"

So now my faith is growing stronger
As I try so hard to thank Him for this painful season.
But grow through this, I must,
To emerge a stronger person for this reason.

Someday I will look back on these 'growing days'
and I'll praise Him for the love He's shown
As He's taught me to trust His purpose
and willingly acknowledge His ways.

The sun will soon shine once again
As its brightened warmth sends healing within.
My soul shall smile as I lift my praise
Towards Heaven's open ceiling!

Gifts

Persons are gifts of God to me. They are already wrapped. Some beautifully and others less attractively.

Some have been mishandled in the mail; others come "special delivery". Some are loosely wrapped; others are tightly enclosed. But the wrapping is not the gift, and it is important to realize this. It is so easy to make a mistake and to judge the contents by the cover.

Sometimes the gift is opened easily; sometimes the help of another is needed. Perhaps it is because they are afraid or because they have been hurt before and do not want to be hurt again. It could be that they were once opened and then were discarded and now feel more like things rather than persons.

I am a person like everyone else and I too am a gift.

God filled me with a goodness that is only mine. And yet sometimes I am afraid to look inside my own wrapping. Maybe I am afraid that I will be disappointed with what I find and do not trust my own contents. Or perhaps I have never really accepted the gift I am.

Every meeting and sharing between persons is an exchange of gifts. My gift is me; your gift is you. We are gifts to each other.

Cracked Pots

A water bearer in India had two large pots. Each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, so while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path." Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wildflowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We are all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father's table.

In God's great economy, nothing goes to waste. So as we seek ways to minister together, and as God calls you to the tasks He has appointed for you, don't be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and allow Him to take advantage of them, and you, too, can be the cause of beauty in His pathway. Go out boldly, knowing that in our weakness we find His strength, and that "In Him every one of God's promises is a Yes."

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