Our Godly Inheritance
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
Recently a niece wrote that she'd discovered Princess Diana was her 32nd cousin. I wondered whom would I choose for a famous ancestor? Maybe King Alfred the Great, the first English king? He was a godly man. He brought scholars in to translate Christian classics from Latin to Anglo-Saxon, all while fighting strategic battles against the Danes. He translated the Bible himself so his people could read God's Word for themselves. He established a fair code of laws that still form the basis of our country's common law. He fixed it so his soldiers could alternate army duties with tending homes and families. He reared a godly family. If I got to choose an ancestor, I thought, I'd choose him.
I do have a godly inheritance. Five of my great-great-great-great-great-grandfathers fought in the Revolutionary War. They all honored God. (And yes, I'm sure there are some renegades in the Rice genealogy.) My mother and father were both earnest, devoted followers of Christ, and I am eternally grateful for my heritage.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance. Psalm 16:6
But recently my sister gave me a genealogy chart of the Rice family that traces us all the way back to Charlemagne. I wasn't impressed. I wanted Alfred the Great
in my genealogy! But as I dug into that record, I found that Charlemagne's son, Otto 1, married Eadgyth, a granddaughter of Alfred the Great. Eureka! I am a descendant of Alfred the Great. (You can leave off the "Your Royal Highness" stuff when you address me!)
My umpteenth-great-grandmother Recently the Daily Mail reported, "The crumbling remains of Alfred the Great's granddaughter, a Saxon princess who married one of the most powerful men in Europe, have been unearthed more than 1,000 years after her death.
"The bones of Queen Eadgyth were discovered wrapped in silk, inside a lead coffin in Madgeburg Cathedral in Germany. Eadgyth, one of the oldest members of the English royal family, was given in marriage to the influential Holy Roman Emperor Otto I and lived in Germany until her death in 946AD." Eadgyth was an ardent Christian. Historians say she brought vital Christianity back to the Empire.
Then I began to felt guilty, because I'd spent a lot of time investigating all this. Wasn't it more important for me to focus on the kind of inheritance I leave my children? Then I remembered that my Bible reading for the past week was in First Chronicles, which is almost nothing but genealogies! And then I read Isaiah 51:1,2 which says, "Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance - all who seek the LORD! Consider the quarry from which you were mined, the Rock from which you were cut! Yes, think about your ancestors Abraham and Sarah, from whom you came."
God does want us to value our godly inheritance, to rejoice in it, and to be sure to pass it on to those who follow us.
Every single American ought to remember we have been given a wonderful heritage in this dear country, all of us, regardless of background, social status, financial ability, or race. Our forefathers wrote a constitution based on their faith in God that protects our rights like that of no other country in the world. The rest of the whole world knows this. Why else must we build walls to keep them out? Why that long line of people waiting to immigrate to American?
Surely "the lines have fallen to us in pleasant places; we have a godly inheritance." Let us protect it with all our hearts!
How to Get What You Need
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
Historian Will Durant says, "Revolution does not redistribute wealth. It destroys it."
When rebels try to overthrow the government, to capture rich people's money to give to the poor, Durant explains, they destroy wealth, because wealth is really trust, and when that's gone, there's nothing left to give the poor.
But the kid that ran from the burning, looted store last year didn't care anything about redistributing wealth. All he wanted was the box of LeBron 18 basketball
shoes, his size, clutched under his arms, worth more that he could earn in a week at McDonald's. It was a good thing the police got there when they did, because the looters had taken to fighting among themselves for the stuff that was left. Too bad the policeman got knocked down. He didn't look like he was hurt too bad. Nobody had really lost anything, really, he decided. The insurance would take care of it all, and the rich people would still have money to burn.
The kid was wrong. Because the store was looted and burned, the salespeople lost their jobs. They couldn't pay their rent. It ruined their credit ratings, and affected their finances for years to come. The store owner, an elderly man planning to sell the store and retire on his savings, couldn't sell a business that had no building and no customers. A widow owned stock in the insurance company that paid out the claim, but it couldn't pay her a dividend that year because of their huge losses. She set the furnace thermostat low and huddled in blankets that winter to keep the electricity bill down. The loss was real, and no one profited from it, not even the kid who got the shoes.
Why? Because the shoes wore out. The kid had loved his fancy designer basketball shoes, liked the way his friends envied them. He had no way to get another pair-ugh!-unless he could find a boring job. The shopping mall where last year's riot took place still had not been rebuilt, so even a minimum wage job was questionable.
I wish I could tell the kid that God has a wonderful plan that really works so much better than just wishing you were rich. The Bible says quite a lot about it:
"Aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing" (1 Thessalonians 4: 11,12).
Suppose the kid doesn't like the idea of hard work? Fine, but there are consequences!
If anyone will not work, either shall he eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10
Simple. Easy to understand. Now that hits the kid where it hurts, because he loves to eat. But what if, he asks, someone is truly handicapped and cannot work? God has a simple and wonderful answer for that, too:
Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor,
working with his hands what is good,
that he may have something to give him who has need.
Confiscating rich people's money to give it to poor people simply does not fix anything. Hard work is not a curse. It is God's blessed way of providing for the needs of the people in this world He loves.
Four Valuable Copper Pennies
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
The other day my grandson asked, "Grammy, why do you have those pennies framed? Are they valuable?"
"Well, yes, Elijah, not to a coin collector, but valuable to me. They're the proof that God answered your Grandpa's prayer long ago-let's see, it was exactly 73 years ago."
The sweet memory filled my mind. Walt went into the naval reserve out of high school during WWII, and worked in aviation electronics at Boeing Aircraft.
He saved up all he could from his job at so he could go to college to major in Bible just as soon as the war was over. But the church he attended had a desperate need for a bigger space to meet in, so Walt gave everything he'd saved to the building fund. He figured he'd better find out if he could depend on God or not. "If I go into the ministry, I'm really going to need God to help me. So I'd better start trusting Him right now."
At Wheaton College, Walt worked as an electrician for the school at 30 cents an hour. Month by month, he had just been able to meet his payment of $89.50 for tuition and room and board on time. Now, in his second year at college, it was April 23, and another payment was due that day. He anxiously went to his mail box. Ah! Two checks! One from his parents, and another from a friend in his home church. But they were not near enough. So he went back to his dorm, pulled every bill out of his billfold, checked for loose change on his dresser and in his pockets. He spread it all out on his desk, and said, "O.K., Lord, I need You here."
He counted out the bills, the checks, and all the loose change. It added up to $89.54. He hurried to the bursar's office and paid his bill. Then he glued the four pennies left over on a card, proof that God cared for him and would meet his needs.
For the rest of his life, Walt lived as he had begun: working carefully and diligently, caring for the spiritual needs of many, but trusting in God's faithfulness, not his own efforts. But maybe it is also significant that there were only four pennies left over, as if God were saying, "I know exactly how much you need, and you can count on my knowing what you need and supplying it just when you need it."
Those four pennies are sweet, visible proof that God keeps His promises. It is His delight to take care of people who trust Him-not just supply a need for money, but for protection, for shelter, for healing, for relationships, for forgiveness of sin, for eternal life-whatever the need.
Philippians 4:19 says it this way: And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
God meets our every need, every time, at just the right time, lovinglyg and generously, "according to His riches in glory." If we had resources stashed away, we might not even be aware of how greatly our Heavenly Father cares for us. And how bereft we would be when a crisis came in life that no amount of money could meet. Four little pennies. Four great promises of God's deep love and care!
Uh, Oh, Maybe That Was Not Such a Good Idea
A Reminiscence by Elizabeth Rice Handford
If you'd seen the smear defacing the trunk of my father's brand new burgundy Buick, you'd have thought, "Some rotten kid vandalized that car."
But you'd have been wrong,
I did it.
Daddy was so proud of his new car. All his life, he'd driven second-hand, undependable cars that often refused to start, so he would be late
for important preaching engagements. He'd always put his money into the ministry, not his own needs. Now the dreadful war was over, and friends had made it possible for him to drive this beautiful, classy automobile. Imagine! The finish was so perfect, it almost glittered.
I loved my daddy, so when I came home from school one day and saw the car all dusty, I thought, "Oh, I can fix that for Daddy! He'll be so grateful." I went to the garage, found a can of car wax, grabbed a couple of old dish towels, and set out to make my father's new car shine again.
I didn't bother to read the instructions on the can. If I had read them, I'd have known that wax was positively not to be used on certain automobile finishes like this Buick. It would mar the finish rather than make it shine. I was happy in my ignorance.
With the very first swipe of a huge dollop of wax, I knew I was in trouble. The pale pink tinge on the cloth warned me not to continue my good deed gone sour.
I went in tears to tell my father. He put his arms around me, and said he loved me for wanting to help him. My motive was pure, and that was most important. He did help me to see that good intentions were not enough, that I needed to act wisely, too. He never mentioned the incident to me again, but through the years I've tried to test not just my motives. but outcomes, too. It also taught me I couldn't always know why other people do what they do. I have a right to evaluate the action (if it concerns me), but I have no right to say I know why they did it.
Recently I read a book by a man trying to prove a certain archaeological feature in Jerusalem honored by Christians was incorrectly identified. For several reasons, I found his arguments weak and his assumptions inadequate. But he concluded, "Why don't Christians own up to it that they've been wrong all these years? Because they're too proud to admit they are wrong."
No. That wasn't true. He misjudged my motives, and that made me distrust his scholarship. I wasn't proud: I was unconvinced. Hebrews 4:12 says,
For the word of God is living and powerful,
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the division of soul and spirit,
and of joints and marrow,
And is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Actions are important; intention even more important. Thank God He will help me not to deceive myself about my motives. His Word helps me delve into my own heart and uncover the real, often wrong, thinking that controls my actions.
And hopefully, God's Word will help me to have compassion on others. I will try to understand the heart-reasons for their actions, just as God does. He remembers He made us out of dirt, and so He has deep compassion for us. "As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103:13,14).
Wise motives and wise actions: I need them both to help me live for Christ in this broken world.