Denise Robert - Masterton, New Zealand Convention - December 31, 2000

The widow's mites - I wonder, did she hesitate a little before taking them to the treasury and casting them in? It would have cost her a lot to do it in front of the rich who had given so much. They might despise her and her offering, but Jesus saw the BIG sacrifice that was so little in front of others. She gave her all.

Isaiah 41:1, "Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment." This verse is a picture of convention. I'm glad it is in the order it is in and doesn't start with the last words! If we first heard the word judgment, maybe it wouldn't appeal to us! The human heart always has so much to say, but we need to keep silence before Him, so He can speak. Let the people renew their strength. He wants to renew our love and the joy of salvation and give us new strength, greater strength to go further and to do things that we haven't done in the past. "Then let them speak." If we had spoken first we would have spoken other words, but now we say words like "I'm sorry, forgive me.. etc." We don't get poorer when we do something in His will. He wants to enrich us. Mary didn't say one word and yet she encouraged Jesus so much. Sometimes it doesn't take so much to encourage our heart. God can encourage when no one else is there to do it.

One of the first brothers to labour in France spoke once about his experience. There was war and they had it very difficult. There were no local friends to support them and because of the war, it was not possible for friends back home to send them help and they had to get work in the mines in order to keep going. It was hard labour and there was little to encourage them in their gospel efforts either. One day this brother had some free time and was lying on the hillside in the dry, parched grass, discouraged and entertaining thoughts of giving up and going home. Was it really worth it? As he lay there he took a handful of that dry grass in his fist and squeezed it. Then for the first time he noticed that there were some tiny wild flowers blooming amongst the grass and as he crushed them their sweet odour came forth and clung to his hand.

Then God spoke to him through those flowers. There they grew on that hot, dry, windswept hillside, hidden by the grass and blooming even though unseen, unnoticed by any, glorifying God by fulfilling His purpose for them. The brother took heart again and continued.

The churches mentioned in Revelations 2 and 3 were all very different to one another. In the beginning, there would not have been so much difference, when they first heard and received the gospel. But these letters were written to them some years later and we can see that they had developed in different directions.

One church, the church in Sardis, was nearly dead. Why then did they have the name that they lived? No doubt they had knowledge and were able to say the right words and go through the right motions, giving the right appearance. But they were dead. It was just a form. Something was lacking. However, there were some among them that kept true and had not defiled their garments. They could have felt, "I have an excuse to not be true. There is no life in the church. There is no fresh bread in the mtgs. etc."

The church at Philadelphia was so different. They had just a little strength and yet had not denied His name and had kept His word. A little strength was enough. They felt their need and were seeking God more and His help was sufficient. We feel we would like to be stronger, but it is good for us to be weak in ourselves. Paul was given a thorn in the flesh and when he pleaded with God to remove it the answer was, "My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness." But sometimes we would like to have more than His grace to rely on!