SARI BY DESIGN: BEAUTY… PURPOSE… HOPE

Ravi Zacharias shared a story about visiting a site known for making the highest quality wedding saris in the world. His account reminds me that God’s child can trust the Father for He has a plan for creating beauty and purpose from even heartache and sadness. Any hope perceived is based on the fact that God is trustworthy.

Ravi shared, “With such intricacy of detail I expected to see some elaborate system of machines that would boggle the mind in production. But this image could not have been further from the real scene. Each sari was made individually by a father and son team.

The father sat above the son on a platform surrounded by several spools of thread that he would gather into his fingers. The son had only one task. At a nod from his father he would move the shuttle from one side to the other and back again. This would then be repeated for hundreds of hours until a magnificent pattern began to emerge….

The son certainly had the easier task. He was only to move at the father’s nod. But making use of these efforts, the father was working to an intricate end. All along he had the design in his mind and was bringing the right threads together….

God alone can weave a pattern from the disparate threads of our lives – whether suffering, success, joy, or heartache – and fashion a magnificent design. Perhaps today if you will stop and reflect on it, you will see that the Father is seeking to weave a beautiful tapestry in your life.”

I gain hope from Ravi’s account. It reminds me that Father God is the Master Designer. It challenges me to trust my Father enough to follow His leading. Then He will accomplish a work of beauty and purpose with my life. That truly gives me reason to be hopeful!

“For we know all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8: 28)

“Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.”  (Psalm 142: 8)

KYLA MUELLER: STRENGTH & HOPE

If you watched the final night of National Republican Convention’s televised program last week, then you know there was a focus on “everyday Americans whose stories are filled with hope and patriotism.”

We met two Americans who are suffering huge loss and unending heart-break. Marsha and Carl Mueller of Arizona are parents of Kayla Mueller, a 26 year old humanitarian aid worker, who was murdered by terrorists of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in 2015.

Kayla was taken captive in 2013 while aiding Syrian refugees in Syria and Turkey. She endured brutal torture for more than 500 days until her murder. Kayla’s story moves us to tears, yet it also gives me hope.

In addition to this work in Turkey with an international aid agency, her previous causes include work in India with Tibetan refugees; in the Middle East; in Israel helping African refugees; in her own country and abroad providing free food, education, and medical care for those in need; and other causes to alleviate pain and suffering.

While working to help children at an orphanage in India, Kyla expressed, “I find God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine. If this is how You are revealed to me, this is how I will forever seek You.”

To say that Kayla’s life mattered is an understatement! She lived to make a difference, and she left this world a better place. She was described as “a devout Christian,” who lived her faith. She shared her God-given gifts wherever she went. I believe Kayla’s life gives hope to anyone who seeks to live a life with purpose.

Other captives who were released or who escaped were impacted by Kyla’s “strength and compassion.” Her concern for others was proven even to the point of giving up an escape attempt for other women’s opportunities for freedom.

After months of ongoing torture and brutality, ISIS members tried claiming she had abandoned her Christian faith in front of men prisoners, but in fact she defended it…. According to another captive, a Danish photographer, the men in the room “…were impressed by the strength that she showed in front of us. That was very clear.” Her faith was real and strong even in darkest trials unto death.

Kyla’s mother shared a letter that Kayla had written about 8 months after her captivity that had been smuggled out by another hostage. Mrs. Mueller said, “As we read it, we could see that God was holding her in His arms.”

This statement reminds me that no matter our trial — even surrounded by the enemy — God is the Source of comfort and strength for one’s soul. According to Deuteronomy 33: 27, “The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms….”

Kayla explained that she “felt tenderly cradled in freefall.” As a believer in such “freefall,” Kyla found there is a foundation on which to land. That foundation is “The Solid Rock,” “Rock of Ages” — Jesus Christ Himself. During the hardest experience of her young life, she must have relied on hope in Christ for strength to endure. Then she was carried in loving arms to her eternal home to rest in peace. At last.

Kyla acknowledged, “I have been shown in darkness, light and have learned that even in prison one can be free. I am grateful….” She experienced freedom in her spirit that reflected her inner condition not her outer circumstances. Her response was gratitude. What an example for me — for all of us!

Kyla added, “None of us could have known it would be this long, but know I am also fighting from my side in the ways I am able, and I have a lot of fight left inside of me….” That resolve required strength beyond herself. Those who do not give up surely have hope.

I do not see Kyla Mueller as merely an “everyday American” but as a hero of faith. She was clearly a rare human with extraordinary courage and strength, whose story does not end with her murder. I believe hers is an eternal story that will continue forever. That is reason for hope.

I pray for Marsha and Carl Mueller to have strength until that blessed day when they will reunite with their daughter, Kyla, whose Christian faith became sight, the result of the glorious hope that was in her.

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
(Deuteronomy 31: 8)

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
(Psalm 23: 4)

“For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise His who are prisoners.”
(Psalm 69: 33)

“From my distress I called upon the Lord; The Lord answered me and set me in a large place. The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?”
(Psalm 118: 5 – 6)

“Do not fear for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
(Isaiah 41: 10)

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified.”
(Isaiah 61: 1 – 3)

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You or thirsty and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in or naked and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”
(Matthew 25: 34-40)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled nor let it be fearful.”  (John 14: 26 – 27)

“These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33)

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His
purpose.”
(Romans 8: 28)

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
(Romans 12: 10 – 16)

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
(2 Corinthians 3: 17)

“We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed but not despairing; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed.”
(2 Corinthians 4: 8 – 9)

“For all things are for your sakes so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 4: 15 – 18)

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
(Hebrews 11: 1)

“Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners as though in prison with them and those who are ill-treated since you yourselves also are in the body.”
(Hebrews 13: 1 – 3)


“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness… When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay… On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand….”
(from THE SOLID ROCK by Edward Mote)

“Rock of Ages, Cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee…
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling…
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death… Rock of Ages, Cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.”
(from ROCK OF AGES by Augustus Toplady)

ZACH WILLIAMS: HOPE IN THE CHAIN BREAKER

Zach Williams was a rock musician bound by chains of alcohol and drugs. He is now free of those chains, but his freedom didn’t happen in his strength. His new freedom — and a better life — happened by the power of Jesus Christ, THE Chain Breaker.

The song he co-wrote, “He’s A Chain Breaker,” reveals Williams’ personal experience. Real change and new freedom is visible in the transformed Zach Williams, who is now a Christian musician.

See if you can relate to the words of the song below. If you can, then consider accepting a better life in Christ free from chains.

HE’S A CHAIN BREAKER:

“If you’ve been walking the same old road for miles and miles;
If you’ve been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies;
If you’re trying to fill the same old holes inside;
There’s a better life,
There’s a better life.

If you’ve got pain,
He’s a pain taker.
If you feel lost,
He’s a way maker.
If you need freedom or saving,
He’s a prison-shaking Savior.
If you’ve got chains,
He’s a chain breaker.

We’ve all searched for the light of day in the dead of night;
We’ve all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight;
We’ve all run to things we know just ain’t right;
And there’s a better life,
There’s a better life.

If you’ve got pain,
He’s a pain taker.
If you feel lost,
He’s a way maker.
If you need freedom or saving,
He’s a prison-shaking Savior.
If you’ve got chains,
He’s a chain breaker.

If you believe it;
If you receive it;
If you can feel it;
Somebody testify….

If you’ve got pain,
He’s a pain taker.
If you feel lost,
He’s a way maker.
If you need freedom or saving,
He’s a prison-shaking Savior.
If you’ve got chains,
He’s a chain breaker.

If you need freedom or saving,
He’s a prison-shaking Savior.
If you’ve got chains,
He’s a chain breaker.”

(Songwriters: Jonathan Lindley Smith, Mia Fieldes, & Zach Williams)

“Out of my distress I called upon the Lord.” (Psalm 118:5)

“For the law of the Spirit of Life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2)

“So if the Son makes you free you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

FROM COWS TO CHRIST: HOPE IN COLORFUL EQUATION

I grew up in rural America where the sight and sounds of white-faced hereford cattle in our pasture were part of my daily environment. Although our cows weren’t typically for milking, I remember we had one milk cow when I was a child.

My older brother’s chore was to milk that cow, and my self-appointed chore was to supervise. Anyone with a younger sibling may relate to how annoyed he was with me at times.

I remember that the milk did not always find its way into the bucket. If I stood too close I was sure to get “showered” by big brother’s accurate though wasteful aim. But I digress… back to the point I want to reach.

As a child I considered it a miracle that a reddish-brown cow could consume green grass and produce white milk.  I won’t attempt to explain that process in this blog, but I will mention another “mystery.”

There’s a colorful equation that seems somewhat miraculous as well. It can be simply expressed as black + red = white. No artist can solve this color equation except One. Only the Master Artist of the Universe can accomplish the steps of applying red to black and ending with white.

According to the Holy Bible, each human heart (past an age of “accountability” or spiritual awareness and understanding of right and wrong) is sinful and dark — let’s say black with sin.

When a person chooses Jesus as Savior and accepts His payment for sin, then His red blood that was shed as the payment covers the sin.

Then God the Father chooses not to see the sin but sees (through the red blood of Jesus) the person’s heart clean and forgiven. The new (reborn) heart has been washed white as snow.

It is a miracle, because only God is able to do it. No human can accomplish changing one’s own dark and sinful heart to one clean and white as snow. Only Jesus’ lived a purely perfect and righteous life, so His shed blood was needed for each of us. Thankfully He loved us enough to be our sacrifice and to pay our debt in full.

I think this can then be considered a miraculous equation: black + red = white. Of course, it may not be a literal equation, but I think it is a simple (and colorful) way to express a profound truth.

If this blog leads you to ponder this truth, then you may want to answer these questions:

Is my heart black with sin?

Do I trust Jesus to apply His blood payment and pay my sin debt?

Do I accept God’s forgiveness and receive rebirth and new life?

If you have already come to Him, then follow Him, live in hope, and share the good news! If you have not come to Him, then WHY NOT???

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:20, 21)

“For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.”  (Romans 3:23)

“But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  (Romans 10:9, 10)

“For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”  (Romans 10:13)

“For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

Want to give your life to God but not sure how to pray? Prayer is simply talking to Him. Your heart’s attitude is more important than your words, but here’s an example of what to say….

“Dear God, I admit I am a sinner, I want to turn away from sin, and I ask you to forgive me.

I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, paid for my sins when He willingly became a sacrifice for me on the cross where He died. He was resurrected and now is in heaven praying for me.

I confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Thank you for new life with your Holy Spirit to help me obey You.

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Amen!