In March of 1987, eight-year-old Marco Fiora was kidnapped at gunpoint. For seventeen months he was held in a mountain hideout in Italy, his captors demanding a two-million-dollar ransom. When police got close to where he was held, his captors placed him on a trail with the order: “Walk!”
The national news media carried coverage of the boy’s recovery, and many rejoiced. However, the mother’s joy was dampened when her returned son looked at her without any emotion in his eyes and asked, “Why didn’t you pay the ransom? You don’t want me back, do you?”
The kidnappers had told the boy that his parents didn’t love him because they were not willing to pay the ransom. The ransom sum demanded was beyond what his parents were able to pay, but the kidnappers had repeated their lie to the boy so many times that he believed them.
The question, “Why didn’t you pay the ransom?” can never be asked of God, for He paid the supreme ransom for our sakes. We cannot doubt His love, because of the cost of that ransom. “Redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Q. What does the Bible say about dreams and the significance that they have in our lives?
A. In the Old Testament we find that God often spoke in dreams. Some examples are, Jacob (Genesis 28), Joseph (Genesis 37), and Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2). God spoke in various ways through these dreams since the written word, the Bible, had not been completed yet. Even in the New Testament God used dreams and visions. Pilate’s wife said to her husband, concerning the Lord Jesus, “Have thou nothing to do with that just Man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him” (Matthew 27:19). The Lord also spoke in a vision to Peter. “While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee” (Acts 10:19).
While it is true God can, and still does, speak through dreams, it is less likely today. God speaks in many ways: dreams, circumstances, weather, natural disasters, other humans, etc. I have heard cases of God using dreams in recent time, but generally He speaks through His Word the Bible. This book is the complete revealed mind of God.
“Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15).
The young mother called out to the missionary, “Come quick! My baby’s dying!” Gale Fields was in Irian Jaya helping her husband Phil translate the Bible into Orya, a tribal language. They also provided medical help whenever possible. Gale looked at the malaria-stricken child and realized she didn’t have the right medicine to help the infant.
“I’m sorry,” she told the mother, “I don’t have any medicine for babies this small.” Gale paused, then said, “I could pray though.”
“Yes, anything to help my baby,” answered the mother.
Gale prayed for the baby and then went home feeling helpless. After a little while, she again heard the mother cry out, “Gale, come quickly and see my baby!”
Expecting the worst, Gale went to the baby’s side. This time though she noticed improvement. The dangerous fever was gone. Later, Gale would say, “No wonder the Orya Christians learned to pray. They know God answers.”
It was with a lamentable voice that king Darius called into the den of lions, “Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” (Daniel 6:20). The voice of Daniel was a complete answer. “My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt” (Daniel 6:21-22).
We might do well by seeking out in the Scripture the references to what God is able to do. It will encourage us. It is worth more than a passing thought that God never said, “I will,” only to say later, “I can’t.” What He has promised He is able also to perform.
While we may find in men a willingness to help, we also discover so often that their willingness is greater than their ability. The lions may roar, and the Christians tremble, but it remains blessedly true that our God is able, as Daniel declared, to “shut the lions’ mouths.”
The gospel is free, and thank God it is so. “Without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1). However, we must buy the truth. “Buy the truth, and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23). If we are going to really lay hold of the truth and walk in obedience to it, there is going to be a cost, a price to pay. Some pay a greater price than others, but there is always a price. It may be simply reproach from family or friends, or it may involve imprisonment, torture, or even the ultimate price, death.
We never value something as much as when we buy it for ourselves. That’s why the Lord allows many tests of faith in our Christian life, so that we have to buy the truth for ourselves, and value it more and more. Let’s not sell out when the tests come. The price of selling out is not worth the loss that results. Loss of testimony, peace of mind, rest of soul, joy of heart, and many other hidden costs, that we don’t realize until it is too late. “Hold fast” (Revelation 2:25).
“And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped” (Exodus 12:26-27).
God did not want His people, the children of Israel, to forget this miraculous deliverance from the bondage of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and so the Passover memorial was instituted. It was to be observed and kept from year to year.
The Lord’s Supper is the same for us. Rather than once a year, we find that the early Christians broke bread once a week. “Upon the first day of the week…the disciples came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7). We were not there at Calvary but we must never forget it. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
The 24th of May is celebrated as the Queen’s birthday in the British Commonwealth, which includes Canada where I live. It is a statutory holiday by law. It was actually Queen Victoria’s birthday, and when I was a child we used to chant a little rhyme that went like this:
The 2nd of May is the Queen’s Birthday,
If you don’t give us a holiday we’ll all run away.
Queen Victoria died in 1901, but she is still honored on her special day 113 years later.
But what about the Lord Jesus? Sad to say there is still room for Him in the hearts of men and women in this Christ-rejecting world. I trust there are none of our readers like that. God’s desire is “that all men should honor the Son” (John 5:23). Do you know Him as Saviour and Lord?
“Hezekiah…made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city” (2 Kings 20:20).
When we order a milkshake or glass of soda in a restaurant, there is always a straw provided to convey the refreshment from the cup to our mouth. The straw is simply a channel through which the good, sweet liquid flows, just like the conduit or aqueduct that Hezekiah built in the days when he was king of Israel. That conduit brought water into the city for the good and refreshment of the people of God. It was not the refreshment itself, but just the channel that delivered it.
This is what a Christian is to be. A channel of blessing through which the love of God, the sweetness of Christ, and the truth of the Living Word flow out to others. It is a wonderful privilege, and also a great responsibility that has been given to us. Are we ready to be used as a channel of blessing today? In order for a straw to be useful it must be clean and empty to begin with. It we keep ourselves morally clean and empty of self, God can use us in this way.
“Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2).
“We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).
The ultimate sacrifice is to give oneself in love and service, even if it means death. Several years ago I read an account that touched my heart. The story went something like this:
A young man in a college town in the United States was stirred by hearing of great need on the foreign mission field. He was determined to offer his life in service to the Lord, but before doing so he wrote to his mother telling her of the burning desire of his heart and asking for her blessing and consent. By and by the answering letter came, blotted with his mother’s tears. She gave her consent, rejoicing that her son had such noble and godly desires, and at the end of the letter wrote these words: “I never knew until now how much it cost God to give His Son.”