Cheerful Giver



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Rev. Stephen Snodgrass

March- April 2011

What is Heaven Worth To You?

It was early on the morning of February 16th, 2011, when I woke and began to think about the eventsthatwere to take place that day. I was to do something that I had never done before. I was out of my comfort zone and was seeking God’s direction and His help. I have preached many times, but never under these conditions. I was in Tenali, India, and my congregation that morning was going to consist of about forty lepers. One of our hosts, Bro. Isaac Pinapati, arrived at the hotel around nine o’clock, and it was our custom to pray before we started the day. I asked Bro. Isaac to pray for us that God would give us wisdom for the day, and he began to pull on the cords of Heaven. Following the prayer, I sat with Bro. Isaac and admitted that I was at a loss as to what to preach to the lepers that morning.

As we talked, he shared with me a passage of scripture from Mark’s gospel, and said that it seemed to him that this could be used as an encouragement to these poor people. “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:” (Mark 9:43) Now, I can see where you might have a hard time finding this text encouraging; but as Bro. Isaac continued to talk, the Lord started talking to me and giving me direction for the service.

One hour later, I stood in front of the most pitiful congregation. Most did not have all of their fingers, many were missing limbs, noses and ears because this disease had robbed them of the simple qualities of life. As one of the area pastors began to lead in song, I watched as many began praising God by raising their hands; but many of their hands only had a couple of fingers or maybe nothing. The emotions of that service are too personal and overwhelming to put on paper. As I was introduced that morning, I was flooded with emotion. Here sat forty people who had a flesh eating disease that would later take their life, and they were singing, praying and worshipping!

I spoke to them from Mark 9:43, but I also spoke from Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.” I did not need to tell them the effects of their disease, they knew that too well; but I spoke to them of the importance of having a pure heart in order to see God. I reminded them that there were able bodied people in the streets that very day who would never see God because they did not have a pure heart. But even though life had dealt the disease of leprosy to those sitting there, they could still have a pure heart. I closed the service by reading Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

There are many more things to tell about that particular service, but I will save it for another time. As I walked away from that service, I thought again of that scripture Bro. Isaac called to our attention, “…if thy hand offend thee, cut it off.” John Wesley said this about the paralleled passage in Matthew 5: “It is as if he had said, part with anything, however dear to you, or otherwise useful, if you cannot avoid sin while you keep it. Even cut off your right hand, if you are of so passionate a temper, that you cannot otherwise be restrained from hurting your brother. Pull out your eyes, if you cannot otherwise be restrained from lusting.”

I would like to ask you a few questions…how serious are you about making it to the Kingdom of God? What are you permitting in your life to separate you from fellowship with your Heavenly Father? What have you allowed to come into your life that will someday hinder you from hearing, “Well done,” from the lips of your Saviour? Let me tell you, friend, there is nothing in this world that is worth keeping in exchange for your soul.

As I saw those lepers singing under a little tent in Tenali, India, I thought, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!”

Past Articles

Easter Special 2011
Jan- Feb 2011
Special Article-Feb 2011
Nov./Dec 2010
Sept/October 2010
July/August 2010
May/June 2010
Mar/April 2010
Feburary 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
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May 2009
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