George Thomas, a pastor in a small New England town, came to church one Easter Sunday morning carrying a rusty, bent, old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit. Eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, Pastor Thomas began to speak.
"I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright. I stopped the boy and asked, "What do you have there, son?"
"Just some old birds," came the reply.
"What are you going to do with them?" I asked.
"Take 'em home and have fun with 'em," he answered. "I'm gonna tease 'em and pull out their feathers to make 'em fight. I'm gonna have a real good time."
"But you'll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?"
"Oh, I got some cats," said the little boy. "They like birds. I'll let the cats have them."
The pastor was silent for a moment. "How much do you want for those birds, son?"
"Huh? Why, you don't want those birds, mister. They're just plain old field birds. They don't sing and they ain't even pretty!"
"How much?" the pastor asked again.
The boy sized up the pastor as if he were crazy and said, "I'll take ten dollars!"
The pastor reached in his pocket and took out a ten dollar bill and placed it in the boy's hand. In a flash, the boy was gone. The pastor picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. Setting the cage down, he opened the door, and by softly tapping the bars persuaded the birds out, setting them free.
Well, that explained the empty bird cage on the pulpit, and then the pastor began to tell this story. One day, Satan and Jesus were having a conversation. Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting. "Yes, sir, I just caught the world full of people down there. Set me a trap by using bait I knew they couldn't resist. Got them all!"
"What are you going to do with them?" Jesus asked.
Satan replied, "Oh, I'm going to have fun! I'll teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hate and abuse each other, how to drink and smoke and curse. I'll teach them how to invent guns and bombs and kill each other. I'm really going to have fun!"
"And what will you do when you get done with them?" Jesus asked.
"Oh, I'll kill 'em," Satan glared proudly.
"How much do you want for them?" Jesus asked.
"Oh, you don't want those people. They are no good. Why, you'll take them and they'll just hate you. They'll spit on you, curse you and kill you. You don't want those people!"
"How much?" Jesus asked again. Satan looked at Jesus and sneered, "All your blood, tears and your life." Jesus said, "DONE!" Then He paid the price.
The pastor then picked up the cage, opened the door and walked from the pulpit.
Today, my friend, consider the price Jesus Christ paid for you. Go back to the Cross - to Calvary and the darkness that once filled your world. Remember what it was like before Jesus Christ came into your life with His presence and power. We forget. We lose sight of where we were when He came and just how far He has brought us.
Today is a good day to go back over the books and celebrate! Celebrate an undeserved and stubborn love that has radically changed our lives for eternity. Celebrate a forgiveness that covers every sin and shame. Celebrate a hope that is found only in a crucified and risen Lord!
Father, thank You for paying the price for my sin and for taking my place on the cross. Your forgiveness has changed my life and Your love has set me free. I don't understand why You would choose to love me like You do, but I celebrate that love today, Lord. Forgive me when I take Your love for granted and help me share it with others - for Your glory.
- Make a list of five things God has done in your life in the last month.
- Take the time to re-visit those blessings and examine the way(s) they have changed your life.
- Set aside time to celebrate God's power and presence at work in your life.
- Invite a few friends to join you for the party! Let each person share the good things God has done for them as well.