Widow or Whydah: A Study in Contrasts

whydahChristians around the world know the Biblical account of “The Widow”. Jesus, in Luke’s Gospel, immortalizes her. “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites.  So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had” (Luke 21:2-4).

The widow understood that her security, provision, and well-being was to be found in her Heavenly Father. Following Jesus’ teachings, she cared deeply about the needs of others. Humbly, she moved among the temple’s shadows and cast everything she had into the treasury.

Now, for a study of contrasts. In South Africa there is a small songbird called a Whydah (usually pronounced widow) Bird. They have a conspicuous pennant-like tail more than twice the length their body. Their long dark tails suggest a funeral veil, thus the corruption from ‘whydah’ to ‘widow’. A sharper contrast in action and nature cannot be drawn than between the widow and the whydah.

Whydahs are very aggressive and territorial. They are quarrelsome and may be quite belligerent towards other birds.  Whydahs are blitzkrieg specialists. Hovering and darting, they unleash lighting-fast attacks on other birds, driving them away from their territory and food supply. The species is also a brood parasite, which lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. Typically, 2-4 eggs are added to those already present in a nest. The eggs of both the host and whydah look much the same. Both are white, although the whydahs are slightly larger. After hatching, whydahs mimic the feeding habits of the host fledglings and take food away from them.

There are people who possess the grace and nature of the widow. They are humble and kindhearted. They are selfless and love their neighbors as themselves. Someday they will hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:25 NKJV).

In contrast, there are those who demonstrate the attitude and actions of the Whydah. They are at times belligerent, aggressive, or, at best, self-serving. The virtue of humility has escaped them. Self-centeredness and greed reflect their nature. This is the type of person that will be turned away at judgment.

Are You Like The Widow or The Whydah?

~ Brother Roy

Penny for a Blind Man

blind-beggarDuring my devotional time, I was reading the familiar account of blind Bartimaeus’s encounter with Jesus (Mark 10:46-52). I pictured in my mind’s eye the blind man sitting by the roadside, begging. I could almost hear his cry, “Penny for the blind man. Does anyone have a penny for the blind man?” Knowing the account well, I thought, this is surely going to be a better day than Bartimaeus expects. On that day, the road was filled with travelers going up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover. They would likely be in a charitable mood. Jesus was in the crowd of travelers. As Jesus was leaving Jericho heading for Jerusalem, He passed by the spot where Bartimaeus was begging. Even with the reality of His impending death in Jerusalem weighing on His mind, the Savior took time to minister to and give help to the blind man.

The scene touched my heart once again. I thought, as believers we also travel the roadways of life.  We pass by many lost, hopeless people who have been blinded by sin. Wounded and disillusioned by the “pleasures of sin” and destructive self-pleasing, they long for something better. They look to us as followers of Christ for compassion and help. In their own way, they are crying out like Bartimaeus for assistance!

Jesus said, “He that hath ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:9 & 43, NKJV). Do we hear the cries of sin-blinded people crying out to us? They are all along the roadways of life that we travel. For their sakes and for Christ’s sake, will we hear and respond as the Holy Spirit directs? Jesus has no hands but our hands to reach out and lift up a broken soul. He has no feet but our feet to walk to where the sightless of our day cry out, “Penny for the blind man.”  May we respond to those who need our help as Peter did: Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give you’” (Acts 3:6).  We have the message that the spiritually blind need to hear.  We can point them to Christ who can heal their blindness.

Lord, help me hear what Philip heard so long ago:
“Sir, we want to see Jesus. Can you help us?” (John 12:21).

~ Brother Roy

 

Do’s and Don’ts

dennis-2Recently, I saw a cartoon of Dennis the Menace. He was setting in a corner with a frown. His mother was telling his father, “He knows his DOs, but he needs to work on his DON’Ts”.  That seems to often be the way with many of us.

The following scripture comes to my mind:

  • Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good” (Romans 12:9). The King James Version uses particularly strong language: “Let love be without dissimulation. Cleave to that which is good, abhor that which is evil.”

I think most of us would receive an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ for a grade on ‘cleaving to the good’. However, we would likely get a ‘D’ or even an‘F’ on abhorring the evil. We just don’t like confrontation. There are aware of many things around us that are wrong, but we hesitate to stand up against them. The enemy of our soul whispers things to us like:

  • Who are you to judge?
  • It’s not your problem.
  • Don’t get involved.
  • It’s not your job to try to right everything that’s wrong.

An old adage still rings true: “All that’s necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Today, certainly we should do good to everyone as opportunities arise. But, we must also be determined to resist evil and take an active stand against things that are wrong. It goes without saying that our reference on good and evil is God’s Word.

WE KNOW OUR DO’s, BUT OUR DON’Ts OFTEN NEED WORK

~ Brother Roy

Stairway to Heaven: A Parable

Stairway-to-HeavenLet me share a parable to illustrate my thoughts about the way to heaven. Picture in your mind’s eye a long staircase – at the top is the gate of heaven, at the bottom is the entrance to hell. Then, consider the ‘Fall of Man’ as recorded in Genesis 3. The result:

  • “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
  • “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (Romans 5:17)

Because of man’s inherited ‘fallen nature’, we are born on a staircase halfway between heaven and hell. Our bent to sin draws us downward. However, if we are willing to receive God’s provision of grace and righteous, we can change our direction from downward descent to upward ascent. The turn around is referred to as being ‘born again’.

This experience does not move us automatically to the top of the staircase. It turns us around on the step where we stand, but with a new direction. It is then an upward climb of obedience and faith. Since we started a long way down, we have a long climb ahead. Johnson Oatman’s wonderful hymn, “Higher Ground”, expresses my thoughts beautifully:

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till Heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

~ Brother Roy

A State of Mind

still-waterThe 23rd Psalm certainly has to be considered one of the most loved passages in the Bible. How many times have you, like me, recited those opening verses: “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters”? I want to direct special attention to the phrase, “He leadeth me beside the still waters”.

When my heart is troubled and I need to calm down, my mind seeks to retreat to a place of ‘the still waters’. When possible, I love to physically go to a quiet place by water’s edge. In an earlier NHIM devotional titled Still Waters, I spoke of such a place on Dauphin Island, Alabama. However, it is not usually possible to withdraw to a physical place. What can we do when our peace is disturbed and we cannot physically escape?

I have found that the solution is in knowing that ‘still waters’ is a state of mind as much as it is a physical place. In John’s Gospel, Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid (John 14:27, NLT). We may not always be able to go to a physical place beside the still waters, but praise the Lord in our spirits we can all come to Jesus and find peace of mind and heart.

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV). Are you stressed, harried, anxious? Are your mind and heart troubled? Come to Him! He will lead you to the spiritual ‘still waters’ and give you His peace. He promised! And, The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us…” (2 Peter 3:9, NKJ).

“The Lord will guide you always …to a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58:11, NIV)

~ Brother Roy