When I was a child milk looked a different than today. Milk was delivered to our front door by the “milkman” in glass bottles. Mom left last week’s empty glass bottles on the front porch, with cash and a note listing what she wanted this week. The milkman also delivered chocolate milk and orange juice if we ordered it.
These were the days before homogenized milk came on the market. Cream rose to the top, so you had to mix it in by shaking the bottle. If you wanted cream for your coffee, you just poured without shaking. Sometimes the milk bottle sat on the table too long, the milk expanded inside the bottle, and the cardboard lid would pop off and fly across the room, creating a good laugh for everyone.
Once the idea of homogenizing was discovered, the cream became permanently mixed with the milk. The Holy Spirit homogenizes the believer by intermixing Jesus Christ with our human lives – permanently. Have you been homogenized?
True story: One day a factory foreman left a batch of soap in the cooking vat too long. The overcooked bars of soap cleaned just as well, but they were full of air and much lighter than the usual product. The foreman was afraid he would be fired if he reported the incident, so he shipped out the overcooked soap anyway.
Instead of receiving complaints, the company was swamped with orders for their new floating soap. The blundering foreman was not fired, but promoted. He helped company chemists revise and modify the old formula, and the new floating Ivory soap became a best seller.
Blunders often lie in the pathway to success. They can be stepping stones or stumbling blocks. This is a Great Redemption Story! Paul said, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).
We recycle. Tonight was my time to settle all that plastic, glass and cardboard into the recycle bin and take it down with the trash. Tuesday morning the trash man will pick up the contents and do whatever they do to get the trash back into service again.
And that reminds me that redemption is all about God recycling people who have trashed their lives. The wages of sin is death and that is the default position for all of us. Redemption is when we allow God to do a new work in our lives. God is in the restoration business. And if God is in the restoration business, that should be what His church is all about.
I once climbed a water tower with some other equally stupid friends. This water tower was behind our house in front of a milk condensary in Butler. It was nearly dark and one of us suggested we ought to do this. Why? Because it was there. Not one of us wanted to be the negative voice that sounded afraid, so we all egged each other on. Climbing that long ladder was a piece of cake…until I got about half way up. By then my stomach had butterflies and my hands were getting sweaty. But, I was too proud to chicken out in front of my friends. So, all the way to the catwalk I went. It was really cool seeing my whole neighborhood from up there.
Then one of my friends suggested we go up the ladder over the tower to the very top. That’s when my brain kicked into gear and decided definitely not. I can’t remember if anyone actually went on up or not, but I did not. It was too scary just backing down the ladder to the ground again with my legs feeling like rubber. I was proud that I had accomplished such a feat, but inwardly I knew I would never do that again. And I’ve been afraid of heights ever since.
Sometimes there are lasting effects from our experiences, like my fear of heights. Having failed in a relationship can make us afraid to try again. Or being rejected or taken advantage of can make us withdraw into ourselves and not try again. But, God is a restorer. If you’ve ever done a stupid thing with stupid people, change your friends and your actions. God will do the rest.
Several years ago an international diplomat got drunk and broke into a Bel-Air Estates home. The man drove through a security fence, kicked down a door, took some jewelry, and hit the homeowner with a glass. The Consul General was handcuffed and led away. The victim denied to press charges, and the culprit was released. No charges were filed because the international law of diplomatic immunity protected him.
Did you know there is also a spiritual law of diplomatic immunity? Paul said, “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33). This law says that because Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for sin on our behalf, we do not have to pay the penalty for that sin. It is paid for.
I may have to pay for my offenses down here. But in heaven I am immune from that penalty.
So, quit beating up on yourself because of past offenses. Your sins were nailed to the cross. Its time to live your testimony to the glory of God.
Eileen Pierce has entered heaven. She was a member of our church and firm believer in Jesus Christ. She had attended Lakewood Park when it was the Bible Baptist Church under Pastor Wayne Smith. When she entered Betz Nursing Home she began attending the Thursday afternoon church service New Hope provided. That’s when she told me she wanted to join New Hope. I don’t want us to grow our church by stealing sheep from other churches, so I put her off. But, she was persistent.
I remember her being a committed Christian and very encouraging to me. She was very dignified and spent a lot of time “getting ready” to look her best. In the last year of her life she became very frustrated. She commented that she was jealous of others who went on to heaven and she remained here in her limited abilities. She told me that she didn’t know what her life’s purpose was at this stage of life. I told her, “Eileen, you have lots of time on your hands. Maybe God’s purpose for you is to pray for me and other pastors.” She promised me she would pray for me.
Now, I’ve lost her as a prayer support. Would anyone like to step in and fill her shoes as my prayer support?
What will you remember about Eileen?
A cowboy applied for an insurance policy. The agent asked, “Have you ever had any accidents?” After a moment’s thought, the applicant responded, “Nope, but a bronc did kick in two of my ribs last summer, and a couple of years ago a rattlesnake bit me on the ankle.”
“Wouldn’t you call those accidents?” replied the puzzled agent. “Naw,” the cowboy said, “they did it on purpose!”
There are times God allows things to come our way which we would consider accidents, but God has a divine purpose for those accidents. It might be to slow us down, or to teach a lesson, or change our course. For the Spirit-filled believer, nothing happens by accident, but rather for a purpose. What has happened to you this week that has a divine purpose you’re still trying to figure out?