An everlasting impression was pressed into my memory as a child. In the days of my childhood we had “hobos” who were at times seen in various parts of my hometown. It was rumored that if they got help from a resident, the common practice was to mark the property with an “X.” Evidently we had a big “X” somewhere in our front yard.
My godly mother was not one to turn away from what she considered to be a genuine need. She also loved to cook. Back then, the homesless made house calls. When a hobo came to our home asking for money for food she would tell him to sit down on the porch while she prepared a plate of food. She did not settle for a sandwich and chips. Neither did she warm up leftovers. She cooked a full-fledged hot meal and served it to the hobo on our good plates. I cannot help but think that God smiled and nodded His “head” in approval.
Isaiah is not just talking about helping the needy in our scripture reading. After discussing fasting that comes from the wrong motive in vss. 1-5, he turns to describe the type of fasting that pleases God. Interestingly enough, fasting is more than going without food. Properly practiced, it means to adopt a lifestyle in which self-satisfaction and greed are spurned while being replaced with a compassion for the poor and needy. This pleases God and leads to His blessing. This, my mother seemed to understand.
By Dr. Gayle Woods
Linus sat on the floor watching his favorite channel on TV. His concentration was interrupted when he heard Lucy’s demanding voice. “Change the channel!” Startled and somewhat upset he asked timorously, “What makes you think you can come in here and just take over?” Lucy, looking belligerently down at him curled her hand into a fist and said, “These five fingers. By themselves they are nothing but when I curl them together like this they become one single unit. They form a weapon that is terrible to behold.” “Which channel do you want?” squeaked Linus. As she settled to the floor to watch her program Linus looked at his fingers and said, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?” (Charles Schlutz, Peanuts)
Charles Schlutz shared a story that humorously carries another message he probably did not intend to send. To be organized does not necessarily suggest unity. However, when individuals are of one mind and one purpose they can be bound together in an organized body that embodies its own collective strength. Henry Ford once said something which carries a meaning worth considering in this context. “Coming together is a beginning: keeping together is progress: working together is success.” This whole concept is repeatedly seen in the New Testament. God’s unified people are considered to be One Flock, we are gathered together—John 10. 16; One Family, we dwell together—Ps. 133. 1; One Body, we are joined together—Eph. 4. 16; One Temple, we are framed together—Eph. 2. 21; One Household, we are built together—Eph. 2. 19, 20; One Kingdom, we are to strive together—Phil. 1.27; and One Hierarchy, we are raised up together—Eph. 2. 6.
By Dr. Gayle Woods
1 Peter 2:21-25
Piano tuning is an art in which minute adjustments are made to the tension of the strings of an acoustic piano in order to assure that the interval between their tones is “in tune.” This requires an assessment of the interaction of vibration between the notes. In order to accomplish this, piano tuners use a “tuning fork” to get a fixed pitch. Usually this is A440, the note A above middle C (261.626 Hz). In his book The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer wrote: “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” (The Pursuit of God, p. 90) We daily endeavor to be conformed to the image of our Lord and Savior. As we follow in His footsteps we find that we are one with our brothers and sisters in Christ who also are doing their best to please the Lord in their thoughts, words and deeds.
By Dr. Gayle Woods