Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God Posts

by John Fischer

In counseling session, I inadvertently lean on a pillow that emits a faint electronic warble. I only hear it subconsciously, as I am deeply engaged in the conversation. Then it happens again and I look down and discover my pillow is screaming at me. An electronic chip inside is responding to the pressure of my elbow. On the face of the pillow is a rendering of Edvard Munch’s famous 19th century expressionism painting, “The Scream“—that wavy image of a wide-open mouth and gaunt, skeletal face cradled in the hands of its own desperation. You may have seen it rendered as a popular Halloween mask. It has become a universal depiction of the cry of the human heart.

In the painting, the screaming victim is standing on a bridge with a red, turbulent sky behind him and two figures in the background. In the artist’s own words, the inspiration for this painting came when an unexplainable sense of dread overcame him while out walking with two of his friends. “My friends walked on—I stood there, trembling with fear. And I sensed a great, infinite scream pass through nature.”

Until I read this description, I saw the figures as approaching and for some reason coming after the screaming victim, but according to the artist, the two figures have passed on ahead, seemingly oblivious to whatever it was that gripped him with fear. This underlines even more the loneliness expressed. His companions have their backs turned on his desperation. They are no help to him. Only he can hear the scream; and their apparent disinterest makes you feel the scream is silent.

This is not a painting of a human being on a bridge surrounded by landscape; it is an abstract capturing of the human soul. It is a painting of the state of mind that people are in today. We live in a time of momentous fear. Terrorism and economic hardship grip many people, but their screams are mostly silent. Those who could help are walking away.

Where are you in this picture? Are you the screamer, or one of the ones passing on?

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If someone you know was screaming like this, would you know it? How?
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JOHN FISCHER, as Senior Writer with PurposeDrivenLife.com, has specialized in a daily devotional that now reaches an audience of over 400,000 people five times a week. John’s career spans over thirty-five years of distinctive ministry, first as a singer/songwriter, recording artist and pioneer of\ Jesus Music, then as a best-selling author, and currently as a popular speaker at conferences, retreats, churches and colleges/universities nationally.

You can contact John at: john.fischer@mac.com or visit his website: http://www.fischtank.com/ft/about.cfm

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Thoughts by All thoughts by John Fischer Thoughts by Men

One can’t, at once, promote two reputations. Promote God’s and forget yours. Or promote yours and forget God’s. We must choose.

Joseph did. Matthew describes Jesus’ earthly father as a craftsman (Matthew 13:55).

He lives in Nazareth: a single-camel map dot on the edge of boredom. Joseph never speaks in the New Testament. He does much. He sees an angel, marries a pregnant girl, and leads his family to Bethlehem and Egypt. He does much, but says nothing.

A small-town carpenter who never said a Scripture-worthy word. Is Joseph the right choice? Doesn’t God have better options? An eloquent priest from Jerusalem or a scholar from the Pharisees? Why Joseph? A major part of the answer lies in his reputation: he gives it up for Jesus. “Then Joseph [Mary’s] husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly“(Matthew 1:19).

Mary’s parents, by this point, have signed a contract and sealed it with a dowry. Mary belongs to Joseph; Joseph belongs to Mary. Legally and matrimonially bound.

Now what? His fiancee is pregnant, blemished, tainted ; he is righteous, godly. On one hand, he has the law. On the other, he has his love. The law says, stone her. Love says, forgive her. Joseph is caught in the middle. But Joseph is a kind man. “Not wanting to disgrace her, [he] planned to send her away secretly” (v. 19 NASB).

A quiet divorce. How long would it stay quiet? Likely not long. But for a time, this was the solution.

Then comes the angel. “While he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (v. 20).

Mary’s growing belly gives no cause for concern, but reason to rejoice. “She carries the Son of God in her womb” the angel announces. But who would believe it? Who would buy this tale? Envision Joseph being questioned by the city leaders.

“Joseph,” they say, “we understand that Mary is with child.”

He nods.

Is the child yours?”

He shakes his head.

“Do you know how she became pregnant?”

Gulp. A bead of sweat forms beneath Joseph’s beard. He faces a dilemma. He makes his decision. “Joseph took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS” (Matthew 1:24-25).

Joseph tanked his reputation. He swapped his reputation for a pregnant fiancee and an illegitimate son and made the big decision of discipleship. He placed Gods plan ahead of his own.

Would you be willing to do the same? God grants us an uncommon life to the degree we surrender our common one. “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life” (Matthew 16:25 NLT). Would you forfeit your reputation to see Jesus born into your world?

Max Lucado
Used by permission

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Cure for the Common Life:
Living in Your Sweet Spot
© (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005) Max Lucado
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Thoughts by All thoughts by Max Lucado Thoughts by Men