You Cannot Judge a Book by Its Cover

“Man looks at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

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Our title today is a wise saying that means outward appearances can be deceiving. Some very wonderful things can come to us in deceptively common dressing.

A friend of mine was a university professor and went into his first class with some new students dressed as an electrician. He carried a tool box, wore shabby work clothes and heavy construction boots. He deliberately went into the lecture hall 5 minutes after the class was to start. He put his tool box down with a bang to attract attention and then said, “Does anyone know where the faulty electrical box is?” No one could tell him.

He then asked the students why they were there. Someone said that they were waiting for their professor to show up for the class. “Why isn’t he here?” my friend asked. Students then started to say things like maybe he was absent minded and forgot. Others made rude comments about the absent professor and suddenly one student shouted out, “Why don’t you give us a lecture?”

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The Grace Of Self Denial

“If anyone would come after me,
he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

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When we look at humanity we can easily see that many people have a spirit of self protection that seems to border on the area of personal greed. Little children are a good example of how young this tendency can emerge in our behaviour.

When Billy wants a toy his younger sister is happily playing with he will try to grab it from her. If she resists he may take what is in his hand and hit her on the head to make her drop the desired toy. He is blissfully unaware of her cries of pain as he then starts to enjoy the toy she dropped to clutch her aching head.

Billy will be playing merrily with something when a sibling enters the room and picks up a toy that belongs to him. Although he was not playing with the toy his sense of territory rises to the surface and he insists his little sister leave the toy alone. The fact he does not want to play with it is irrelevant.

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Hand In Hand

“…your right hand will hold me fast.”
Psalm 139:10 (NIV)

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I well recall as a child of 5-6 years old walking down the street hand in hand with my father. My Dad was not a tall man but his strides were still much longer than mine. I vividly recall trying to match his strides and how difficult it was. I jumped as far as I could with each step but fell short of the distance he covered.

Then 30 years later we again held hands as I baptised him on his confession of faith in the resurrected Saviour, when he confessed his faith in Jesus, the resurrected One. It had been a wonderful moment as the two of us stood together before the congregation as father and son doing what the Lord commanded us.

Finally ten years after his baptism I again held my Dad’s hand. The cancer had ravaged his tired old body. He lay quietly in bed and tears rolled down his cheeks as he sought to endure the pain. There was little to say as I quietly watched him slip away from us.

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We Do Not Need Your Help

“From this time many of his disciples turned back
and no longer followed him.”
John 6:66 (NIV)

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During the years I worked in criminal court as a volunteer chaplain, I spoke to hundreds of prisoners. I found them to be a very polite lot of people and witnessed various displays of compassion this one or that one had on a fellow prisoner. I went to court on Wednesdays because prisoners from surrounding jails would be brought to a central court to appear before a judge. I visited in the morning before court convened and spoke through the bars to the various men in a central cell.

I well recall one tough repeat offender who spoke to me urgently one morning, asking that I find some way to help a young fellow who had been put in jail the night before for the first time. Several prisoners had brutally handled the 18 year old and he was terrified for his life.

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When 911 Puts You On Hold

“Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.”
Isaiah 65:24 (NIV)

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I well recall an incident some years ago when I came upon an accident on a major highway in Toronto. I called 911, the emergency call number on our telephones, and someone answered fairly quickly. I explained the location on the highway, and the apparent injuries to the people involved in the collision.

The operator I spoke to told me to hold the line while they transferred me to the correct department for highway accidents. I was surprised that the emergency number would actually put me on hold. They were supposed to dispatch help quickly to the scene, especially as I had reported there were personal injuries involved.

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