What’s Impossible?

Mark 9:20-24

Spain’s national motto in the early 1400’s was “Ne plus ultra.”  This is the Latin phrase meaning, “No More Beyond.”  The words were written on the edges of their maps.   The concept was buttressed by Greek mythology.  Evidently Hercules was believed to have constructed to pillars near the Straits of Gibraltar which marked the edge of the world.  These pillars were marked with a sign, “Ne plus ultra” to warn sailors to go no farther lest they sail off the edge of the world to be lost forever.  Spain who at the time possessed the territory on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar stamped their coins with the two Pillars of Hercules, which is what the land on either side of the Strait were called. Believing the Greek myth closed the door to the possibility of more.

This all changed on August 3, 1492 Christopher Columbus set sail for Asia anticipating riches of gold, pearls and spice.  When word arrived in Spain that he had instead discovered a new world,  Spain dropped the “ne” from it’s motto and minted new coins saying “Plus Ultra.”  There was “More Beyond.”  A new age of possibility had been awakened by one man’s imagination and faith in the impossible.

Between 1493 and 1820, Spain sent some 15,585 missionaries to the Americas. There was “More Beyond” indeed.

As we face the unknown we need to remember that our limits don’t come from God.  They come from within us.

By Dr. Gayle Woods

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The Great Promise Keeper

Genesis 18:9-15

You probably have received an email stating that Bill Gates is giving money to people who will forward the message you received to ten other people.  Nearly everyone in the USA has also received mail from National Publishers Clearing House promising a winning chance at millions of dollars.

Whenever a promise is made two things must be considered.  Does the person or company have the resources to back up the promise and is the person or company trustworthy.

In the movie “It Could Happen to You,” a cop stops at a diner to eat.  After he finishes his meal he realizes he doesn’t have enough money to tip the waitress.  The cop explains this to the waitress and then makes an interesting promise.  He has purchased a lottery ticket, and if it is a winning ticket he will give her half of the prize money as her tip.  Like Sarah in our scripture reading, the waitress laughs at the likelihood of this taking place.  First, he probably won’t win.  Second, if he wins he won’t remember his promise to her.  The twist in the movie comes when he does win the lottery and returns to the diner to give the waitress a two million dollar tip.  The amusing part of the story is when the cop tries to explain this to his wife.

It has been reported that God made 5,467 promises that are recorded in the Bible.  How do we know God will keep His promises?  Every promise God has made, that relates to the past, has been kept.   He has the resources and He is trustworthy.

By Dr. Gayle Woods

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Christian Hospitality

Genesis 18:1-8

The Greek word is philoxenia is a compound of two Greek words –philos – “kind affection” or “love” and xenos – “stranger. ” Literally, philoxenia means “one who loves strangers.” In the first century they didn’t have Holiday Inns, Red Roof Inns, or even Motel 6.  A night in an inn would be unpleasant for they were ill kept.  It would have also been dangerous.  The solution to the problem of lodging for traveling Christians at that time was for other Christians to open their homes to traveling brothers.

Lydia was a prominent, respected and successful businesswoman in Philippi.  Paul and Silas met with her, and God “opened her heart” to the gospel.  She and her entire household gave their hearts and lives to Jesus.  What is so difficult to some Christians seemed to be an immediate response in her new life in Christ.   She urged Paul and Silas to be her house guests. She suddenly viewed her home and possessions as resources that could be used by God to help build his church. She saw a need as she looked at Paul and his travel-worn missionary team.  Instinctively she sought to meet the need. Scholars believe that her house served as a home base for the church at Philippi for quite some time. It would be well if all Christians would ask themselves, “How can I develop a better willingness to be hospitable and to value people?”

By Dr. Gayle Woods


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