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Amazing Facts Devotionals

September 2018

August 2018

An Amazing Fact: John D. Rockefeller Sr. was strong and husky when small. He was raised a devout Christian but was determined early in life to earn money and drove himself to the limit. At age 33 he earned his first million dollars. At age 43 he controlled Standard Oil, the biggest company in the world. At age 53 he was the richest man on Earth and the world’s only billionaire.

Then he developed a sickness called “alopecia,” where the hair of his head dropped off, and his eyelashes and eyebrows disappeared. He became deeply depressed over his appearance, compounded by his constant stress, and looked like a shrunken mummy. His weekly income was one million dollars, but he digested only milk and crackers. He was so hated in Pennsylvania that he had to have bodyguards day and night. He could not sleep; he stopped smiling and enjoyed nothing in life.

The doctors predicted he would not live more than a year. Gleefully anticipating his demise, the newspapers had written his obituary in advance. Those sleepless nights set him thinking. A Christian friend told him if he did not begin to share his mounting wealth it would crush him like an avalanche. He realized with a new light that he “could not take one dime into the next world.” Money was not everything.

The next morning found him a new man. He began to help churches with his amassed wealth; the poor and needy were not overlooked. He established the Rockefeller Foundation, which funded medical research that led to the discovery of penicillin and other wonder drugs. John D. began to sleep well, eat, and enjoy life. The doctors had predicted he would not live over age 54. He died at age 98.

God understands the power of our thinking. When we focus on ourselves, we will become the most miserable of all people. But when we live to give, health will come into our lives. “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). Solomon, once the wealthiest man in the world, wrote this Bible verse. John D. Rockefeller discovered its truth.

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Mark 8:36-37

An Amazing Fact: Greater Manchester, Northwest England, 2012. Dawn Graves, 25, was crossing the street pushing a stroller with her twenty-month-old son Aidan. As a mammoth recycling truck approached, the driver failed to see her.

Just before impact, Graves pushed the stroller out of the truck’s path but was struck herself. Sustaining “unsurvivable” injuries, this mother of two “gave no thought to the danger to herself as she pushed her son to safety.” [1]

Oregon, United States, 2016. Stephanie Cohen, 37, was hiking with family and friends along the Columbia Gorge Trail. Cohen’s three-year-old son Oliver’s foot faltered on a rock close to the trail edge and he fell over the drop-off. Cohen immediately went after him. Although seriously injured, the boy miraculously survived the fifty-foot fall, but his mother died from her injuries. “She just did what she instinctively thought to do and that was go after him,” her mother said. [2]

Hubei province, China, 2015. Xiang Liujuan, 31, was nearing the top of an escalator with her toddler son at a shopping mall when a metal panel collapsed under them. Liujuan immediately pushed her son to safety before falling into the escalator shaft. After a four-hour rescue attempt, firefighters pulled her body out of the shaft. [3]

God has infused into mothers the instinct to protect their offspring, even at the peril of their own lives. The Creator has pre-wired this sacrificial nature into not just human mothers but also into mothers of the animal kingdom. In the mountains of Northern California, we have a lot of generally harmless black bears. On the few occasions when they have attacked humans, it’s usually because someone came between a mother and her cubs. Once, a mother bear ripped a car apart when she saw her cub trapped inside. (A well-meaning camper had tried to take it home with him.) The Bible says, “I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage” (Hosea 13:8).

We see an attribute of God in the heart of mothers. When He saw that sin had endangered our eternal life, He immediately gave up all of heaven to redeem His children. He would stop at nothing to push us to safety while He suffered the ultimate cost.

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2232675/Brave-mother-sacrificed-life-pushing-baby-boy-path-recycling-truck-ran-down.html

[2] http://kfor.com/2016/05/03/mother-dies-trying-to-save-3-year-old-son-who-fell-from-cliff/

[3] http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/27/china/chinese-mother-killed-escalator/

Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Isaiah 49:15

An Amazing Fact: Simon Bolivar was South America’s greatest general. He is known as “the great liberator” because his victories against Spain won independence for Venezuela, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and a country that bears his name, Bolivia.

In 1824, after Bolivar helped Peru win its freedom from Spain, the great general called for a convention to draft a constitution for the new country. After the convention, a delegation approached Simon Bolivar and asked him to become their first president. He gracefully declined, saying that he felt someone else deserved the honor more than he. But the people still wanted to do something special for Bolivar to show their appreciation for all he had done to free them from the oppression of Spain. So they offered him a gift of a million pesos, a fabulous fortune in those days.

Bolivar thoughtfully accepted the gift and then asked how many slaves there were in Peru. He was told that there were about 3,000. “And how much does a slave sell for?” he wanted to know. “About 350 pesos for an able-bodied man,” was the answer. “Then,” said Bolivar, “I will add whatever is necessary to this million pesos you have given me, and I will buy all the slaves in Peru and set them free.” He added, “It makes no sense to free a nation unless all its citizens enjoy freedom as well.”

The Bible teaches that Jesus came into the world to set captives free. Near the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus attended the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath day and read from Isaiah’s prophecy about Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18, 19).

On another occasion, when the Jewish leaders claimed that they were in bondage to no one, Jesus explained that “whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). But He assured the people, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (verse 36). There is true freedom in Christ alone.

Are you truly free?

Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. Romans 6:18

An Amazing Fact: Billionaire and New York City real estate investor Leona Helmsley was a flamboyant personality with a reputation for tyrannical behavior. She earned the nickname “Queen of Mean” for her apparently heartless and vindictive behavior with employees and contractors. When convicted of federal income tax evasion and other crimes in 1989, Helmsley’s fate was sealed when a former housekeeper testified during the trial that she had heard Leona once say, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” The saying followed her for the rest of her life.

But when it came to her beloved dog, a Maltese called Trouble, the Queen of Mean was all heart. When Leona Helmsley died on August 20, 2007, she left $12 million of her estimated $8 billion estate for the upkeep of her eight-year-old pooch, even as two of her grandchildren got nothing. Fortune Magazine awarded this decision with 3rd place in their 2007 “101 Dumbest Moments in Business.” The court eventually reduced the dog’s inheritance to $2 million, saying it was more than adequate. Eleven-year-old Trouble lives in Florida with his caretaker in Helmsley’s Sandcastle Hotel. Trouble’s caretaker stated that the $2 million will pay for the dog’s maintenance for more than 10 years—providing $100,000 for full-time security, $8,000 for grooming, and $1,200 for food. The caretaker is paid $60,000 a year for a guardian fee.

In 2012, Americans spent $52 billion on their pets—more than the gross domestic product of most of the world’s countries. That’s almost double the amount shelled out on pets a decade earlier. Food costs were $20 billion alone, and $4 billion went to grooming. About 62 percent of all households in the U.S. own pets (which is actually down from when surveys were first conducted in 1988).

God obviously loves animals and created pets for our enjoyment. The Lord even notices when a small sparrow falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29). But Jesus also said, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (Matthew 7:6). Dogs and pigs were
considered unclean scavengers in the Bible and are used to illustrate how we should carefully use our resources. It would be good to think about how we leave our inheritances. Are we remembering to be rich toward God?

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Matthew 7:6

An Amazing Fact: On February 4, 1974, 19-year-old Patricia Hearst was kidnapped from her Berkeley, California, apartment by a violent urban guerrilla group called the Symbionese Liberation Army, or the SLA. Efforts were made to swap Hearst for jailed SLA members, but when that failed, the SLA asked that Patricia’s family give $70 worth of food to every needy person in California. Patricia Hearst comes from a very wealthy family. She is the granddaughter of the publishing giant William Randolph Hearst and great-granddaughter of millionaire George Hearst.

After her father immediately gave $6 million worth of food to needy people in the Bay Area, the SLA still refused to release Patricia (since the food was supposedly of a poor quality). Then on April 3, 1974, Patricia Hearst announced on an audiotape that she had joined the SLA and took on the name “Tania.” Can you imagine her father’s shock and heartache when, after two months in captivity and giving out $6 million dollars, she decided to stay with her captors?

She later assisted the SLA in a bank robbery and was captured with other SLA members. During her trial she was interviewed by psychologists who believe she was brainwashed and exhibited classic symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. Patricia was still found guilty and sentenced to 35 years’ imprisonment. Her sentence was later commuted
to seven years and later commuted again by President Jimmy Carter. On February 1, 1979, she was released and later given a full pardon by President Bill Clinton.

While being held, her kidnappers brainwashed her into thinking she was better off with them. Can you imagine how our heavenly Father must feel when we neglect to accept the freedom of eternal life and mansions He is offering us? Especially after sending his only son Jesus as the ransom to die for our sins?

“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit?” (Hebrews 2:3, 4).

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

An Amazing Fact: Nola Ochs was born November 22, 1911, and is an American college graduate. Nothing seems amazing about this—until you learn that she graduated from Fort Hays State University in Kansas on May 14, 2007. When you put the math together, you will discover that she received her degree at the age of 95, making her a Guinness World Record holder as the world’s oldest college graduate! She graduated alongside her granddaughter, Alexandra Ochs, who was 21 years old at the time. Nola earned a general studies degree with an emphasis in history. Governor Kathleen Sebelius presented her diploma.

Nola somehow got sidetracked in life from completing studies she began in 1930. Seventy-seven years later she went back to school and completed her bachelor’s degree. But wait! After taking time to help with the family’s wheat harvest, Nola started pursuing her master’s degree in liberal studies in August 2007. She received her master’s on May 15, 2010, making her the oldest recipient of a master’s degree at age 98!

Nola once told a news reporter, while she was back in school, that when she graduated she wanted to be a storyteller on a cruise ship. After graduation, Princess Cruises hired her to be a guest lecturer on a nine-day Caribbean cruise. She took her granddaughter along. Nola commented, “I’ve led a long, interesting life. We went through the dust storms. We had some difficult times in our marriage, financially. But it’s been the Lord’s will that I’ve lived this long life, and I thank Him kindly for it.” She is especially proud to be the matriarch of a family that has included four sons, 13 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.

David’s famous Psalm 91, which describes the safety of abiding in the presence of God, teaches us to honor God. “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place,no evil shall befall you” (Psalm 91:9, 10). Though difficulties have come into the life of Nola, she has honored the Lord for her long life. That is the best graduation present anyone could wish for!

With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation. Psalms 91:16

An Amazing Fact: In 1888, George Washington Vanderbilt, 26 years old at the time, visited the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina with his mother. He loved the scenery and climate so much that he decided to build a summer house in the area. However, this would be no ordinary summer house. George’s idea was to replicate the working estates of Europe.

His “summer house,” completed in 1895, contained 250 rooms and was 175,000 square feet. The dining room table alone could seat 64 guests. Intending that the estate be self-supporting, George set up forestry programs, poultry farms, cattle farms, hog farms, and a dairy. The estate included its own village and even a church.

In 1898, while in Paris, George married a young lady by the name of Edith. In 1912, he and Edith booked passage on the Titanic but canceled due to a premonition of Edith’s mother. It was too late, however, for them to get their servant and baggage off the ship; both were lost when the Titanic sank.

George spent more than his annual income for the upkeep of his colossal house, and began to deplete his once-enormous inheritance. Some of the rooms of this house were never fully completed. After his unexpected death in 1912, George’s widow, Edith, sold much of the land around the estate to the United States Forest Service at $5 an acre until only 12,500 acres were left from the original 125,000. In 1963, the estate was designated a National Historic Landmark, and today it is still the largest home in the United States.

Friends, how would you like to live in a mansion? Jesus is preparing the best of living conditions for those who love Him—greater than any home ever built on this earth. We can’t even begin to imagine how beautiful it will be. Best of all, we will be with our Lord, never to be separated. Are you ready? He has a mansion for you.

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:1-3

An Amazing Fact: Luxury took on new dimensions when Saudi billionaire Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal signed a deal to buy the world’s first and largest privately owned Airbus 380 aircraft. Prince Waleed, billed as the 13th richest person in the world, emerged from his personal 747 to purchase the new A-380. The end-to-end double-decker behemoth has twice the space of the 747. The Saudi Arabian business tycoon plans to have the corporate jet converted into a virtual “flying palace” with private suites, board room, theater, and much more. It incorporates all of the most modern amenities to ensure maximum comfort and luxury. In keeping with the Middle Eastern custom, the design is expected to create separate living areas within the aircraft for men, women, and staff. The deal is valued at $319 million before any of the customizing interior work is done.

Al Waleed already owns a 282-foot yacht called the Kingdom 5KR, which he bought from Donald Trump for $40 million. He has ordered a 550-foot yacht worth $500 million and will name it New Kingdom 5KR. He travels between his private jets and yachts by driving one of his 38 cars. The most recent automobile the Saudi prince purchased is a totally diamond-clad Mercedes SL550. This bejeweled car is worth a whopping $4.8 million! If you can’t afford to put this on your shopping list, don’t worry. The prince will allow admirers to touch the royal car for a mere $1,000 per person.Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal is founder, CEO, and 95 percent owner of Kingdom Holding Company, and

in 2012 his personal wealth was estimated at $18 billion. The Arabian Business magazine places him as the most influential Arab in the entire world. He is sometimes called the “Arabian Warren Buffet.” He has invested in Citibank, Citicorp, AOL, Apple Inc., MCI Inc., Motorola, Fox News, the Four Seasons hotel chain, the Plaza Hotel in New York, and even Euro Disney.

When someone asked Jesus to be an arbitrator in an inheritance dispute, Christ warned him about the trappings of desiring wealth. He then told a story about a rich man who felt secure in his wealth and did not know he would soon lose his life. “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (Luke 12:20). Christ admonishes, “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (verse 21). Investing in God’s “Kingdom” is the best thing you can do with your wealth!

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Luke 12:15

An Amazing Fact: Howard Hughes was born in Humble, Texas, on Christmas Eve, 1905. But, as a young man, his ambitions were anything but humble. He wanted to be a top film producer, a top aviator, and the richest man alive—and he managed all three! Starting in his early 20s, he produced several award-winning films and dated a string of Hollywood stars. As an aviator, he set several speed records in planes that he helped design. He also helped design and build the world’s largest flying boat, the HL-4 Hercules, which was nicknamed the “Spruce Goose” (though it was actually built of birch). Hughes also became incredibly wealthy. At various points in his life, he owned a tool company, a motion picture studio, a medical research institute, gambling casinos, vast amounts of real estate and hotels in Las Vegas, several airlines, and an aircraft company.

Hughes was living life in the fast lane until 1946; while test flying a prototype, he crashed and nearly died. While recuperating, Howard Hughes became dependent on pain relievers. Over time, his behavior became increasingly more erratic. He became an eccentric recluse: for one four-month stretch he stayed in the darkened room of a screening studio, eating nothing but chocolate bars, chicken, and milk, and obsessively watching movies.

By 1966, at the age of 60, he was the world’s wealthiest man, but he lived in constant fear of contagious disease. His employees had to wash their hands frequently and wear white gloves. He would use tissues to pick up items, and burned his clothing, fearing he’d had some contact with germs. Towards the end of his life, he was injecting codeine daily. His hygiene rapidly declined: he rarely bathed or brushed his teeth and allowed his nails to grow grotesquely long. His once-strapping 6-foot-4-inch frame shrank to barely 90 pounds. While flying to a hospital in Houston in 1976, he died of kidney failure. The FBI insisted on taking fingerprints to confirm that this pitiful shell of a man was indeed the legendary Howard Hughes.

In Matthew, Jesus asks what a man really wins if he gains the entire world but loses his soul. Hughes’ life is a sad reminder that the only true way to live is to die to self and humbly follow Christ.

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26

An Amazing Fact: It is nearly impossible to discuss the Renaissance without mentioning Leonardo da Vinci. Few, if any, men have been born whose intellect could match the genius of this Florentine man. Leonardo’s artworks, like the “Mona Lisa,” are remarkable for their harmony, soft light, and sharpness of observation. Not only was Leonardo an outstanding artist, but a universal genius in science, architecture, and engineering. His interests were so broad and numerous that it boggles the mind. He observed everything from the properties of herbs to the movements of the heavens.

A century before Galileo, Leonardo was able to find new fundamental knowledge about timekeeping and to connect it with machines, designing clocks that operated by weights, sand, and water. In the fields of anatomy, botany, zoology, geology, hydrology, aerology, optics, and mechanics, he was far ahead of his time. He designed everything from fortifications, weapons, and engines of war, to beautiful gardens, castles, churches, canals, and multi-tier roads. In fact, he wrote a book on the anatomy of horses. He loved all animals and trained them with great kindness and
patience. Often, when passing a market where live birds were sold, he would let them out of their cages and then pay the vendor the price. A vegetarian, Leonardo wrote, “I have from an early age renounced the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”

Leonardo da Vinci was so brilliant one observer noted that he could write a letter with one hand and draw with the other simultaneously! Many know Leonardo da Vinci invented the scissors, but his other ideas were often far ahead of his time and only realized centuries after his death, such as the tank, the helicopter, and the parachute. In fact, in 1999
some Englishmen built a parachute according to Leonardo’s indications and tried it out: it worked perfectly. Looking back on his drawings and designs it almost seems as if he could see into the future.

This naturally makes us wonder, can a man know the future? Not of his own accord. When Daniel spoke to King Nebuchadnezzar about the God of heaven, he explained how only the Lord “reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him” (Daniel 2:22). Man can know the future, but only through the gifts of God.

But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; Daniel 2:28

An Amazing Fact: You have probably heard the expression before: “he [or she] eats like a bird.” Well, you might think again before using this phrase to describe a petite eater. A study of bird eating habits has exploded the popular idea that all birds have tiny appetites. For example, it showed the average parakeet eats nearly 100 times its own weight annually in seed, cuttlebone, gravel, and water.

Because the parakeet weighs only about 3 ounces, this means that it consumes about eight pounds of food a year. To eat at the same rate, a man would have to devour some 16,000 pounds of food annually instead of his normal consumption of 1,300 pounds. Daily “bird rations” for a man would consist of about 45 pounds of food. An average hummingbird eats half its weight in sugar each day. Just imagine if a 100-pound woman ate 50 pounds of sugar a day. (On second thought … let’s not imagine that.)

Of course, there are always those exceptions of people who, at times, can even eat more than a bird. Take, for example, the famous athlete Milo of Crotona, a giant of a man who lived in ancient Greece. Milo was a top wrestler, crowned six times at the Olympic Games for wrestling, and was famous throughout the civilized world for his feats of strength—such as carrying an ox on his shoulders through the stadium at Olympia. This powerful man seemed always hungry, and devoured everything in sight. Once, when he was unusually hungry, he outdid himself and captured the world’s record for big eating. Milo managed to polish off a whole calf weighing 150 pounds in one day.

Unfortunately, modern medical research indicates more and more people are eating like birds. Harmful high-fat and high-calorie diets reign in most households. But Scripture tells us the “drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty …” (Proverbs 23:21), and gives this caution: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in
you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Ultimately, we are responsible to God for the way we treat our bodies. “Eating like a bird” is something we should all try to avoid!

Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:13

An Amazing Fact: As a child and teenager, Jack experienced very poor health. Addicted to sugar and junk food, his volatile moods would frequently swing between suicide and homicide. The murderous behavior was usually directed towards his older brother, who he once nearly killed with an ax, and another time with a big butcher knife. Jack described himself as short and skinny with pimples. He was constantly bullied by the other kids at school.

When he was 15, Jack’s mother, a Bible Christian, insisted he come with her to hear a nutritionist, Paul Bragg, speak on diet, health, and exercise. At the conclusion of his talk Mr. Bragg did backflips across the platform to punctuate his lecture. It was a life-changing experience. Jack instantly gave up junk food and began to focus on altering his diet and
exercise habits. The transformation was so complete by the time Jack graduated high school he was offered several sports scholarships. Jack passed up a future in sports, instead dedicating the next 80 years to teaching others how to care for their bodies.

Thousands today speak of Jack LaLanne as “The Godfather of Fitness.” Jack LaLanne firmly supported a vegetarian diet and blamed overly processed foods for many health problems. LaLanne always practiced what he preached, working out two hours a day. To promote healthful living in 1984, he fought strong winds and currents as he swam
1.5 miles while towing 70 boats with 70 people across the Long Beach Harbor. And he did this when he was 70 years old and while handcuffed and shackled! Jack’s motto was “Be happy you are alive! Get up in the morning and say, ‘Thank God I’m here again.’”

Some people think the Bible is just a spiritual book, but you would be surprised to see how much it says about practical health. David wrote, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14). With proper self-discipline and maintenance these biological temples can provide 80-plus years of service, but if we neglect proper care of our bodies, happiness will elude us.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalms 139:14

An Amazing Fact: David Douglas was only 26 years old in 1825 when he sailed along the west coast of the United States and up the Columbia River. The young botanist from London was on a quest. Since a boy he had been obsessed with plants, and by the age of 21 he was appointed to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Scotland. Now, five years later, he was to examine the plant life of the New World.

As the ship approached land, one particular tree captivated David. As he reported later, “So pleased was I that I could scarcely see anything but it.” He couldn’t wait to see the tree up close, and when he did, he pronounced it “one of the most striking and truly graceful objects in nature.” It was only fitting that this famous tree would later bear his name, as it does to this day—the Douglas fir.

David spent the next two years exploring the Northwest, finding new plants and shipping over 200 species back to England. His collecting adventures took him 12,000 miles on foot, horseback, and canoe. William Hooker, one of the world’s leading botanists, described him as a man of “great activity, undaunted courage … and energetic zeal.” The Native Americans were immensely impressed with David’s endurance, but they questioned his sanity. They called him “Man of Grass” because he would hike from first dawn to dusk collecting plants that he couldn’t even eat.

On his 1829 trip to North America, David Douglas made a discovery that eventually changed the history of the New World. While collecting plants in California, he pulled a plant from the ground that contained many flecks of gold in the soil clinging to the roots. But as David packed the plant for shipment he saw only the plant. That’s how gold was first
discovered in California in 1831—not by loggers in Sutter Creek, but by the botanists in London who unpacked the shipment of plants from Douglas and saw the gold on the roots.

David Douglas had only one purpose in life. Nothing—not even gold—could distract him from his mission. That is the sort of focused and energetic zeal that God wants from us today!

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. Ecclesiastes 9:10

An Amazing Fact: Sam Houston was a colorful and bold 19th-century American statesman, politician, and soldier. The seventh governor of Texas, he is known best for helping bring Texas into the United States. Though married three times, his third wife, Margaret Moffette Lea of Alabama, gave birth to eight children, the first of whom was Sam Houston Jr.

Sam Houston Jr. was born in 1843. He began service in the confederacy in 1861. On April 7, 1862, at the famous Civil War battle of Shiloh, Sam Houston Jr., son of the famous Texan, was struck in the back by a bullet. He was knocked to the ground and would likely have died had it not been for his mother’s Bible, which he carried in his knapsack. Ripping through the pages, the lead ball stopped directly over the 70th Psalm, which reads, “You are my help and my deliverer” (verse 5).

After the war Sam studied in Independence and then went to medical school in Pennsylvania and became a doctor. But he later gave up his practice for writing. He married Lucy Anderson, and the couple had three children. Years later, after his wife died, Sam became discouraged and went to live with his sister Margaret. After eight years he passed away at the age of 51.

Sam Houston Jr. was literally saved by the Word of God. The Bible he carried actually stopped a bullet. Did you know we are being attacked by an enemy who wants to cut us down? The weapons he uses are not your typical guns and knives. The spiritual warfare of Satan is subtle and meant to destroy us forever. But the Lord has provided armor that we may put on and stand safe.

“Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13). When the “fiery darts” of the devil come shooting your way, hold up the “shield of faith” (verse 16) and extinguish them for good!

Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word. Psalms 119:114

An Amazing Fact: In 1912, a Presbyterian minister named John Flynn established the Australian Inland Mission. He wanted to help the people of the Outback with spiritual, social, and medical needs. But the desperate need for emergency medical care was made clear to Flynn when he heard about the extreme case of a ranch hand with a spear embedded in his chest. The man was carried in a hammock slung between two horses for 400 miles, then to a station where he waited two weeks for a train that carried him 600 miles to a hospital in Adelaide.

At the time, there were only two doctors available for a region nearly 2 million square kilometers in size. When people in this area became ill or were injured, they were usually on their own. As a resident of the Outback himself, Flynn sympathized and wanted to do something to help provide a “mantle of safety” for people who made their homes in the
bush, but what could he do to lessen the isolation of those living so far from civilization?

A letter from a pilot in 1917 convinced Flynn that aviation could provide the answer to that need. Over the next decade, Flynn gradually gathered support and the funds needed to launch the flying medical service. In 1928, the Aerial Medical Service—later known as the Flying Doctor Service—began making flights to assist those in need. During the first year, the little bi-plane named “Victory” made 50 flights, and 225 patients were treated. Soon two-way radios were available in many Outback locations, making medical assistance much more readily available. As a result of John Flynn’s determined effort and God’s blessing, this service has saved many lives over the years.

Jesus also provided care for those who were cut off from civilization, people who were isolated from others because of disease and sin. He reached out to touch lepers, demoniacs, and many others, offering healing and salvation to any person who was willing to receive it. By relieving their physical ailments, he opened their hearts to His love and truth. He asks us, as His disciples, to continue His work of providing physical and spiritual healing, bringing “salvation to the ends of the earth.”

For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. Acts 13:47

An Amazing Fact: What do Herb Alpert, Mel Gibson, and Jami Gertz have in common, besides being famous celebrities? According to “The Giving Back Fund,” a non-profit organization that tracks philanthropic giving worldwide, Jami Gertz and her husband, Anthony Ressler, topped the list by giving $10,569,002 to the Ressler-Gertz Foundation. Herb Alpert donated $9.1 million to the Herb Alpert Foundation, which focuses on the arts, compassion, and well being. And Mel Gibson signed a check for $6.8 million to help a foundation support the Holy Family Church.

Of course, most celebrities want their names associated with good causes. It’s great PR. The more good they do for others, the more the public will appreciate them. Many accuse celebrities of promoting themselves this way, but it’s also true that charities use celebrities to promote their work as well. So is this a virtuous cycle or a vicious cycle?
After Christopher Reeve became paralyzed, his collaboration with the American Paralysis Association caused its revenue in the next three years double to $5 million. In fact, they changed their association’s name to the Christopher Reeve Foundation.

Some of the others who made the top 30 list of celebrities contributing to non-profit organizations also include George Lucas (director, producer, writer), Nora Roberts (writer), Ndamukong Suh (NFL player), Lance Berkman and his wife, Cara (MLB player), Meryl Streep and her husband Donald Gummer (actress), and Jerry Seinfeld (comedian). Not all donations are what you might consider worthy causes. Hugh Hefner made the list for donating $900,000 to a trust for public land to save the iconic Hollywood sign from being plowed under in order to make room for four luxury homes!

Jesus said, “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:3, 4). The purpose of giving big gifts is not to lift up ourselves, but to touch people’s lives. Someday, God will publish a philanthropic list of people who gave much. That’s the list I want to make!

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 6:1

An Amazing Fact: At 4:30 on the morning of May 26, 2013, in the oil-rich waters off the Nigerian coast, Harrison Odjegba Okene sat in a small room in the tugboat where he was the cook. The boat suddenly lurched, flipped over, and began to sink. Without any light or heat, he groped his way to a cabin that seemed safer than where he was, and there he waited as the temperature dropped and the water took up more and more of his cabin.

Okene piled mattresses on top of a platform to stay above the water. With only a bottle of soda for sustenance, he spent what must have seemed an eternity reviewing his life and worrying about his crewmates. At one point, he became even more fearful as he heard the sound of sharks or barracudas feeding and fighting over something nearby.

Finally, Okene was rescued by a team of divers. Since all of the other crew members had perished, when one of the divers saw his hand, the diver thought it was the hand of a corpse—but the hand grabbed him back! “I started calling on the name of God. … I started reminiscing on the verses I read before I slept. I read the Bible from Psalm 54 to 92. My wife had sent me the verses to read that night when she called me before I went to bed,” Okene said later.

Okene had spent three days in the belly of a tugboat in the murky depths of the Atlantic Ocean, delivered from death by his prayers to God. Does this story remind you of anyone in the Bible?

When people in Jesus’ day asked for a sign, He said the “sign of Jonah” was the only sign that would be given. When Jonah preached in Nineveh, his “back to life” experience with the whale likely gave credence to his message. Similarly, Jesus’ resurrection is evidence of His divinity.

But sadly, for many the sign of Jonah isn’t enough—not only do they disbelieve the Jonah account, but they deny the resurrection as well. We’re left with a choice: we can join the “evil generation” in disbelief or the Ninevites in believing and repenting. Is the sign of Jonah enough for you?

And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. Luke 11:29

An Amazing Fact: Ida Lewis was the daughter of a lighthouse keeper in Newport, Rhode Island. When her father, Captain Hosea Lewis, suffered a paralyzing stroke, Ida and her mother assumed all the responsibilities of the Lime Rock Lighthouse. Ida was unafraid of the water and became known as the best swimmer in Newport. Besides tending the light, she rowed her younger brothers and sisters 200 yards from the small rock island to school and back each day. She was frequently seen rowing about the vast bay on errands in all kinds of weather.

Ida’s rowing skills, strength, and courage came into play many times during her life. She conducted her first rescue when she was 16. With her station lifeboat, she rowed out and saved four young men unable to swim, who nearly drowned when their sailboat capsized. The boys were ashamed to be rescued by a slight young girl. In 1866, when she was 24, she rescued a drunken soldier in a disabled boat, towing him to shore. In 1867 she saved three workers from a swamped boat; they had gone after their employer’s prize sheep that had jumped into the harbor. After rescuing the men, Ida returned to save the sheep.

On March 12, 1869, she performed her most famous rescue. During a blizzard, Ida was sick with a terrible cold when her mother saw a boat overturn in the freezing waves. Ida ran out into the churning icy water in her stocking feet and rowed a boat out to save them. She rescued three soldiers; a young boy drowned. This brave feat placed her on the cover of Harper’s Magazine, and she became a national heroine.

Ida received fan mail from the rich and famous; even President Ulysses S. Grant visited her. She also received some marriage proposals. New York gave her a mahogany rowboat with red velvet cushions, gold braid around the gunwales, and gold-plated oarlocks. The boat was named “The Rescue.” Over the 50 years Ida tended the lighthouse, this small woman rescued at least eighteen persons from the cold and often treacherous waters off Lime Rock. Unofficially, the number was much higher. When she died in 1911, every ship bell in Newport tolled all night.

You know, the Bible says Jesus crossed a stormy sea to rescue a boat in distress. Our Keeper is always willing to come to our rescue when we call to Him for help.

And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. Matthew 14:25

An Amazing Fact: Kofi Annan, the former United Nations Secretary-General, was the founder of the Global AIDS and Health Fund to support developing countries in their struggle to care for hurting people. He was born on April 8, 1938, and currently serves as a Ghanaian diplomat. In his effort to raise global awareness on how people live in the world, he has presented incredible statistics from the United Nations Human Development Report.

These numbers really put into perspective how we live in America!

• Four percent of the 225 richest men’s wealth could provide for the entire globe: basic education, basic health care, adequate food, clean water, and safe sewers.

• Americans spend $8 billion a year on cosmetics—$2 billion more than the estimated total needed to provide basic education for everyone in the world.

• Americans each consume an average of 260 pounds of meat a year. In Bangladesh, the average is 6.5 pounds.

• The world’s 225 richest individuals, of whom 60 are Americans, have a combined wealth of over $1 trillion—equal to the annual income of the poorest 47 percent of the entire world’s population.

• Europeans spend $11 billion a year on ice cream—$2 billion more than the estimated annual total needed to provide clean water and safe sewers for the world’s population.

• The three richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined gross domestic product of the 48 least-developed countries.

• The richest fifth of the world’s people consumes 86 percent of all goods and services, while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3 percent. Indeed, the richest fifth consumes 45 percent of all meat and fish, 58 percent of all energy used, 84 percent of all paper, has 74 percent of all telephone lines, and owns 87 percent of all vehicles.

Annan encourages us to not look at faceless statistics, but think of the condition of how many people in our world truly live. When we consider the world’s consumption bill of $24 trillion a year, the numbers seem overwhelming. Yet, in God’s eyes, even a cup of cold water given to a thirsty child is not beneath His notice.

For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. Mark 9:41

An Amazing Fact: Kofi Annan, the former United Nations Secretary-General, was the founder of the Global AIDS and Health Fund to support developing countries in their struggle to care for hurting people. He was born on April 8, 1938, and currently serves as a Ghanaian diplomat. In his effort to raise global awareness on how people live in the world, he has presented incredible statistics from the United Nations Human Development Report.

These numbers really put into perspective how we live in America!

• Four percent of the 225 richest men’s wealth could provide for the entire globe: basic education, basic health care, adequate food, clean water, and safe sewers.

• Americans spend $8 billion a year on cosmetics—$2 billion more than the estimated total needed to provide basic education for everyone in the world.

• Americans each consume an average of 260 pounds of meat a year. In Bangladesh, the average is 6.5 pounds.

• The world’s 225 richest individuals, of whom 60 are Americans, have a combined wealth of over $1 trillion—equal to the annual income of the poorest 47 percent of the entire world’s population.

• Europeans spend $11 billion a year on ice cream—$2 billion more than the estimated annual total needed to provide clean water and safe sewers for the world’s population.

• The three richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined gross domestic product of the 48 least-developed countries.

• The richest fifth of the world’s people consumes 86 percent of all goods and services, while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3 percent. Indeed, the richest fifth consumes 45 percent of all meat and fish, 58 percent of all energy used, 84 percent of all paper, has 74 percent of all telephone lines, and owns 87 percent of all vehicles.

Annan encourages us to not look at faceless statistics, but think of the condition of how many people in our world truly live. When we consider the world’s consumption bill of $24 trillion a year, the numbers seem overwhelming. Yet, in God’s eyes, even a cup of cold water given to a thirsty child is not beneath His notice.

For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. Mark 9:41

An Amazing Fact: Most of us have heard of the Nobel Peace Prize, but do you know the strange details that led to the forming of this prestigious award? Alfred Nobel was born in 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden. After receiving a first-class education in Russia the family returned to Sweden, where he and his brothers worked as chemical engineers.

Alfred Nobel did not invent nitroglycerin but was first to produce it commercially. In 1863 he developed a detonator for nitroglycerin using a strong shock rather than heat. But nitroglycerin in its fluid state is very volatile. Several explosions in his laboratory proved this, including one in 1864 in which his brother Emil and several others were killed. Recognizing this danger, Nobel moved his experimentation to a barge anchored on a lake outside Stockholm.

After much experimenting he eventually invented dynamite, also known as “Nobel’s Safety Powder.” This new material was made from a combination of nitroglycerin absorbed by a porous clay substance and was five times as powerful as gunpowder. This provided an easily handled, solid yet malleable explosive. Mining, railroad building, and other construction became much safer, more efficient, and cheaper. But military leaders also realized the value of dynamite for demolition and destruction. This deadly use of his creation greatly troubled the “Lord of Dynamite,” who was a pacifist and strongly opposed the wartime uses of his inventions.

In 1895 a newspaper confused the death of Nobel’s older brother with Alfred, and published Alfred Nobel’s obituary before he had actually died. Nobel was horrified to read that he was remembered as the man who created the explosives that caused so much death and carnage. Perhaps to alleviate his conscience, and to improve his legacy, upon his death his will provided that the bulk of his vast fortune go to a fund that would award prizes annually for advancements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. Alfred was also a great entrepreneur. Over the years he founded 90 factories and laboratories in more than 20 countries, and he held 355 patents.

Few people read their obituary before their death, and fewer still get a chance to change their reputation. But because of the matchless gift and sacrifice of Jesus we can have a new name.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. Revelation 2:17

An Amazing Fact: Phoebe Ann Moses was born August 13, 1860, in a log cabin on the Ohio frontier. Because of poverty and hardship, eight-year-old Phoebe began helping support her widowed mother and seven siblings by hunting. She soon discovered that she was a marvelous shot. By age 15 she had sold enough game to pay off the mortgage on her mother’s farm and was enough of a local celebrity that she was invited to Cincinnati to enter a shooting contest with a traveling show marksman. Not only did she win the match with Frank Butler by one point, but she also won his heart and they married a year later.

For several years the Butlers performed together—and Phoebe adopted the stage name “Annie Oakley.” In 1885 the couple joined the legendary Buffalo Bill in his Wild West Show. For the next 17 years, Annie Oakley was the show’s star attraction with her marvelous shooting feats. Barely 5 feet tall, she was billed as “Little Sure Shot.” In a single day, she used a .22 caliber rifle to shoot 4,472 of 5,000 small glass balls tossed in midair. With the razor thin edge of a playing card facing her at 90 feet, Annie could cut the card with one bullet and then puncture it with five or six more shots before it hit the ground. Her sharp shooting won her many awards and captivated audiences worldwide, including several heads of state in Europe. She even knocked the ashes off a cigarette held by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II!

Annie Oakley was the first American female superstar, and she remained a remarkable shot into her sixties. Even after a train accident that caused temporary paralysis and five spinal operations, and a car accident that left her wearing a steel leg brace for over a year, Annie was still setting records. Today, her name remains synonymous with precision

Friends, the Bible teaches that true prophets will also have consistent accuracy in their predictions. John warns us that we must test those claiming to be God’s prophets—and one important test is whether or not their predictions come true! “As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent” (Jeremiah 28:9)

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

An Amazing Fact: Who would spend $20 million for a one-week vacation? Sixty-year-old Dennis Tito did with no regrets. In fact, you could say his vacation was literally “out of this world” after he became the first private citizen to visit the International Space Station. Dennis started his career as a space scientist, designing flight paths in the 1960s for three historic Mars missions. He then worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena for five years. He left to set up a private finance company, Wilshire Associates, where he made his fortune. But Dennis never lost his love for the heavens.

On April 28, 2001, after years of negotiations and red tape, Dennis Tito was chauffeured by two cosmonauts in their Soyuz TM-32 spacecraft to the International Space Station. Tito spent 7 days, 22 hours, 4 minutes in space and orbited Earth 128 times, making him the first private citizen to purchase a trip into space. (I wonder if he booked his
vacation on the Orbitz website?) Some reports say Tito paid $20 million for his trip, becoming the world’s first space tourist. While in space Dennis performed several scientific experiments that he said would be useful for his company and business. Dennis was sorry his vacation could only last a week. Since Tito’s historic vacation in space he has testified before several government agencies in the U.S. on “Commercial Human Spaceflight.”

Did you know the Bible teaches it is now possible for you to book a journey through space that will last for eons? The good news is that the travel arrangements are already paid in full. In speaking of the assurance of the return of Christ to take us to heaven, Paul writes, “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 5:5).

There is a ticket for the ultimate spaceflight to heaven. It has been paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. It can be yours if you will accept it.

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the

An Amazing Fact: Unsinkable Violet Jessop experienced and survived an almost unbelievable array of events. Violet was born in 1887 to Irish parents who had immigrated to Argentina. In 1903 she sailed to England and fell in love with the sea. At 21, Violet became a stewardess for the White Star Lines, which was building a trio of the world’s largest luxury ocean liners. The three sister ships were Olympic, Britannic, and Titanic. Violet first served on the Olympic, which she loved. But in 1911 the ship violently collided with the British warship HMS Hawke. Considering the damage, it was a miracle neither vessel sank.

The following year she joined the crew on the newest ship, Titanic. Violet was asleep when Titanic hit the iceberg. On deck, she saw passengers calmly strolling about. But soon women clung to their husbands as the crew tried to force them into lifeboats with their children. At this point, a ship’s officer handed Violet a misplaced baby and ordered her into boat 16 to show other women it was safe. From the water she witnessed all the terrors of the Titanic sinking. After being rescued by the ship Carpathia, the baby was reunited with its mother.

During the First World War, Violet served in 1916 as a nurse with the British Red Cross. Incredibly, she was aboard the Britannic, which had been converted into a hospital ship, when it struck a mine and sank in the Aegean Sea. Violet grabbed her toothbrush before rushing from her cabin; it was the one thing she remembered missing most following the sinking of the Titanic. As Britannic was quickly going down, she was forced to jump. “I leapt into the water but was sucked under the ship’s keel which struck my head.” She attributed her survival to her thick auburn hair that padded the blow. At the war’s end, Violet rejoined the White Star Line and again served aboard the Olympic. This Christian woman survived 42 years at sea, three historic shipwrecks, and two world wars. Violet retired to gardening in Suffolk, England, where she lived till age 84.

The Bible also speaks of someone who experienced three shipwrecks—the apostle Paul. Both Paul and Violet miraculously survived their ordeals, due to the grace of God. Have you put your life safely into God’s hands today?

Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I

An Amazing Fact: On Monday, January 10, 2010, a minivan struck and killed a man crossing a Brooklyn street. This was especially tragic because this was no ordinary man. Joe Rollino would have been 105 on March 19, and according to friends he looked younger than 80 and was the model of health. A World War II veteran with three Purple Hearts, Rollino got his start in the 1920s at the Coney Island carnival, where he was billed as the “Strongest Man in the World.”

At the height of his career, he stood about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed about 150 pounds. Pound for pound, Joe
Rollino was one of the strongest men in modern times. He lifted 475 pounds with his teeth and moved 3,200 pounds with his back. But he was most proud of his finger strength—he once lifted 635 pounds with a single finger. At Rollino’s 103rd birthday party, a friend gave him a quarter, and Rollino bent it between his fingers—then apologized because he used to be able to do it with a dime!

Rollino was an avid exerciser. He walked 5 miles every morning, rain or shine. He swam in the freezing Atlantic every day for eight years, even during a stormy six-degree day in January 1974. Rollino was also a boxer. In a 2008 interview, 103-year-old Rollino said that he was simply born strong: “Fighters would hit me in the jaw, and I’d just look at them. You couldn’t knock me out,” he said.

Did I mention that Joe Rollino didn’t drink or smoke and was a lifelong vegetarian? If it weren’t for the car accident, this strong man might have become one of the oldest men in modern times as well. The Bible also makes a connection between a strong man and a unique diet: Samson followed the Nazirite custom of abstaining from alcohol and unclean foods. Would you like to live to be a healthy 100 years old? Anything is possible when we follow God’s health principles.

Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. Judges 13:4-5

An Amazing Fact: Rachel Krishevsky truly believed the commandment to “be fruitful and multiply.” When the 99-year-old great-grandmother passed away in Jerusalem, September 2009, she left behind children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even great-great-grandchildren. Rachel got married to her cousin Yitzhak in 1929, just before turning 19. The couple brought seven sons and four daughters into the world. Within the ultra-orthodox Jewish community, large families are seen as a blessing. Her 11 offspring evidently adopted her outlook, and between them they produced 150 children of their own.

These 150 grandchildren continued the commitment to be fruitful and multiply and grew themselves to more than 1,000 children. From here, Rachel’s posterity continued to multiply further, and she was blessed with a few hundred great-great-grandchildren. Due to their large numbers, the family is not precisely sure how many descendants there are. The grandchildren estimate there are at least 1,400 people since almost all of Rachel’s family were prolific. Her grandchildren say, “Grandma was a God-fearing woman who knew the entire book of Psalms by heart, and participated in all the family gatherings. Up until she was 97 she knew all of her descendants by name.”

This makes it much easier to understand how 70 Hebrews could grow into a nation of over two million while living in Egypt for 200 years. The Bible teaches that children are to be a blessing from God. “Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them …” (Psalm 127:5). The children of Israel took God’s command seriously, to “be fruitful and multiply,”
which is mentioned at least nine times in Genesis alone. Even in the face of persecution, families grew in Egypt. “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel” (Exodus 1:12).

In the same way that God’s people in the Old Testament grew in number, so also they grew during times of persecution in the New Testament age and beyond. Luke writes during the time Saul persecuted the church, “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). It is amazing that sometimes it takes difficult times for the gospel to be spread and God’s church to grow. But the Lord is faithful and promises that
when we abide in Jesus, we will be fruitful and multiply spiritually!

And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. Exodus 1:7

An Amazing Fact: The tropical banyan fig tree is sometimes known as a strangler fig because of its unusual growth habits. Tiny, sticky seeds are deposited by a bird high in the branches of another tree. The aggressive sprouts grow quickly and begin sending roots down over the trunk of the host tree, seeking out the rich soil below. Once they have found the ground and anchored themselves, the strangler fig roots rapidly thicken. Where the fig roots cross each other they fuse together, creating a lattice around the host tree’s trunk. As the roots grow thicker, they compete with the host tree for sunlight and nutrients from the soil. Soon, they squeeze the trunk of its host, cutting off its flow of sap. Gradually, the host tree starves as the banyan tree monopolizes its sunlight, water, and nutrients. Eventually, the host tree dies and rots away, leaving a hollow center with the fig standing in its place.

Some banyan trees put down “aerial roots”—roots that dangle from the branches until they reach the ground and become a second trunk for the same tree. One particular tree in India, called The Great Banyan, is listed in the 1985 Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest tree. It is more than 250 years old and covers an area of four acres. Its 3,300 aerial roots make it appear more like a forest than a single tree. In the 1920s, its original trunk decayed and was removed, but the additional trunks continue to supply all the nutrients it needs.

At first, the sticky seeds of sin can appear small and harmless. But when tolerated, its tentacles will quickly grow. Soon the Christian’s spiritual life begins to starve, and additional sins begin to take root. Eventually, the Christian is choked to death. In the parable of the sower, Jesus instructed His disciples that the thorns that choked the good seed
were the “cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things” so that the word of God sown in the person’s heart becomes unfruitful (Mark 4:19). Are the cares of this world choking the word of God from your heart?

And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. Mark 4:7

An Amazing Fact: In many ways the ocean represents the last frontier on Earth. Seventy-five percent of the world’s surface and ninety-seven percent of the water on the planet is found in the oceans. Less than one percent of the world’s water is fresh, and most of that is contained in glaciers and ice caps.

The average depth of the oceans is about 2.5 miles, the deepest point being in the Mariana Trench, 6.8 miles down. By way of comparison, Mount Everest is only 5.5 miles high. The pressure at the deepest part of the ocean is over eight tons per square inch.

Earth’s longest mountain range is the mid-ocean ridge system, which stretches over 40,000 miles around the globe, winding from the Arctic Ocean to the Atlantic, skirting Africa, Asia, and Australia, and crossing the Pacific to the west coast of North America. It is four times longer than the Andes, Rockies, and Himalayas combined.

Ninety percent of all volcanic activity occurs in the oceans. In 1993, scientists located the largest known concentration of active volcanoes on the sea floor in the South Pacific. This area, the size of New York State, hosts 1,133 volcanic cones and sea mounts. Two or three could erupt at any moment.

The highest tides in the world are at the Bay of Fundy, which separates New Brunswick from Nova Scotia. At some times of the year, the difference between high and low tide is 53 feet 6 inches, the equivalent of a three-story building.

The sea is also brimming with amazing life. Even though fishermen harvest over four million tons each year from bays and oceans, biologists estimate that approximately 2,500,000 marine species have yet to be discovered and described.

The Bible tells us there is another world soon to be discovered by those who love God that far exceeds anything we can imagine. “Nevertheless we … look for the new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). The same God who formed our marvelous ocean and its spectacular inhabitants will give to His children the beautiful earth made new!

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10

An Amazing Fact: Did you know a member of the grass family is considered to be the fastest-growing plant in the world? It is a member of the true grass family known as Poaceae (po-se-i), also known as Bambuseae. Better known as bamboo, these tall stalks are actually the largest members of the grass family. In the warmer climates of Asia they are capable of growing as much as 39 inches per day! How would you like to keep that grass mowed? Bamboo grows so fast that, if you stand in one of these bamboo forests on a sunny day, you can actually hear the plants growing. Some plants grow 98 feet tall.

Bamboo has economic and cultural significance to South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. There are around 1,500 different species of bamboo in the world that come in several different colors—such as black, green, gold, gray, red, yellow, and powder blue. The bamboo plant is also extremely versatile with an extraordinary range of uses, and can be made into many things like baskets, bicycle frames, bird cages, blinds, boats, bridges, brushes, buckets, canoes, carts, charcoal, chopsticks, clothing, cooking utensils, diapers, fans, fences, firewood, fishing rods, food steamers, furniture, garden tools, handicrafts, hats, incense, musical instruments, paper, particle board, pens, pipes, roofing, scaffold, tableware, toilets, toothpicks, toys, umbrellas, and walking sticks! In fact, during WWII in the South Pacific, the U.S. Navy even used bamboo to reinforce concrete. That is pretty incredible when you remember that bamboo is just gigantic grass.

When the apostle Peter compared mankind with the Bible, he used grass as an illustration. “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:24, 25). The glory of man’s accomplishments fades into insignificance when compared with God’s glory. Our corruptible works will someday disappear, but the incorruptible fruit of God’s Word will grow and last for eternity. That’s a lot longer than the lifetime of bamboo.

For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 1 Peter 1:24

An Amazing Fact: In the spring of 1921, a small group of British soldiers patrolling the Sinai Peninsula became completely lost in a terrible sandstorm. Wandering in the blistering desert, they soon ran out of water. Facing death from thirst, they decided to dig in the sand, hoping to create a well. As this effort proved fruitless, one of the men suddenly remembered the passage in the Bible where Moses struck the desert rock, and God brought forth water for the children of Israel. He reminded his companions they were in the same Sinai Desert and pointed to a rock outcropping nearby. Why not, he asked, try to find water just as Moses had done? The men were desperate enough to try anything, so they went to the rock and started to swing at the ledge with a small pick. Then, as they frantically struck out, a miracle occurred—a dribble of clear, sweet water came out of the face of the rock. The rock was actually soft limestone, and part of it covered a hidden spring. This steady trickle of water kept the men alive until they were rescued.

Have you ever wondered if God still answers prayer today like He did in the Bible? Countless times, modern men and women of faith have testified that He does! But the best part is that we don’t need to rely on the testimonies of others. God is delighted when we try it out for ourselves. Like a good parent, God loves giving “good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11). The first step is learning to abide in Christ: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). As we abide in Christ, our hearts are changed, and often, our prayers are changed too. When we’re in Christ, “all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. John 14:13-14

An Amazing Fact: The Bingham Canyon Mine is the largest manmade excavation on Earth. The sprawling open pit mine, located about 14 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, has a colossal crater that is more than 2.5 miles wide, three quarters of a mile deep and covers over 1,900 acres. Because of its breathtaking and awesome magnitude the Bingham Canyon Mine is one of only two manmade objects on Earth that can be seen by astronauts from outer space—the other is the Great Wall of China!

Employing 1,400 people, Bingham Canyon Mine has been in constant use since 1906, and has also proven to be one of the world’s most productive mines, removing 450,000 tons of material from the mine daily. As of 2009, ore from the mine has yielded more than 18 million tons of copper, 24 million ounces of gold, 195 million ounces of silver, and 850 million pounds of molybdenum. The gold and silver are impurities removed from the copper during refining. The value of the resources extracted from the Bingham Canyon Mine is greater than the Comstock Lode, Klondike bonanza, and California gold rush mining all combined.

The mountain of minerals and copper ore were first discovered in 1848 by pioneering Mormon brothers, Sanford and Thomas Bingham, who grazed cattle and horses there. But sadly they never received a penny for the amazing discovery that bears their name. When they reported their find to Mormon leader Brigham Young, he advised them against staking a claim and urged them to focus instead on the ranch settlements.

Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven with a treasure found in a field. Some people have treasure right beneath their feet but don’t do anything about it! But when the gospel treasure is presented to us, the precious truths of God’s plan of salvation for our lives, we should do everything within our power to take hold of that fortune. We should “stake a claim” and not settle for anything less.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Matthew 13:44

An Amazing Fact: First recorded about 100 years ago, the mysterious Sailing Stones of Death Valley have been a documented fact for decades. Within the famous California desert is a dry lakebed called the Racetrack Playa that measures about 2.5 miles long and one mile wide. Scattered across the mosaic of cracked clay on the flat lakebed are hundred of stones in varying sizes. No big deal, right? The amazing thing is that many of these stones have long tracks behind them where they have obviously moved.

Now you need to picture that some of the sliding stones weigh hundreds of pounds. Additionally, some of these trails left by the roaming rocks are hundreds of yards long. Some stones make straight tracks, others make oval or 90 degree turns, while still others create wavy-shaped trails. How can a stone that weighs more than 500 pounds drag itself across flat ground? For nearly a century many geologists have studied and mapped the drifting stones in Death Valley, and it has become quite a puzzle. As the years proceed, each stone takes its own different path. Some of the
mysterious migrating stones even slide uphill.

It seems now there is a plausible theory that has solved the amazing mystery. Occasionally, winter rains will fill the lake with a foot or so of water that freezes. As the edges of the shallow lake thaw, the giant floating ice pancake in the middle can get pushed around by the hurricane-force winds that are common in this valley. Rocks captured in this layer of ice are pushed along with the frozen mass, gouging trails in the slick clay below. Of course when the ice melts all you see are the rocks and the trails. Still, no one has ever seen the rocks move, nor does anyone know how fast they go.

Jesus said He was going to build His church on an immovable rock. Matthew provides a play on the Greek words in this crucial quotation from Jesus: “You are petros [a small throwable stone], and on this petra [the feminine form of petros, which indicates an immovable ledge of rock] I will build My church.” Peter is addressed and told that his confession is the petra upon which Jesus will build His church. With that rock as our foundation, we cannot be moved.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18

July 2018

An Amazing Fact: Diamonds are the hardest natural material known to mankind. Their hardness has been legendary since antiquity and is the reason for its name coming from the ancient Greek word adamas for “invincible.” Approximately 130 million carats are mined annually, with a value of nearly $9 billion. About 220,000 pounds of manmade diamonds are synthesized every year. Diamond formation requires exposure of carbon materials to very high pressure. Diamonds can also form in other natural events. For example, very small diamonds, known as microdiamonds, have been found in craters caused by a meteorite impact.

The biggest earthly diamond is the 530-carat Star of Africa, one of the British crown jewels. That was, at least until August 28, 2007, when a diamond mine in South Africa announced it found a diamond believed to be twice the size of the former record holder. The uncut diamond is expected to sell for up to $30 million. But it still may not be the biggest.
Some astronomers believe they have actually found the biggest known diamond in the universe up in the sky directly above Australia. According to American astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, a white dwarf star in the constellation of Centaurus, next to the Southern Cross, has been found to have a 2,000-mile-wide solid core of crystallized carbon, or in other words, a diamond. It weighs 2.27 thousand trillion trillion tons—that’s 10 billion trillion trillion carats, or a one followed by 34 zeroes. “It’s the mother of all diamonds,” said astronomer Travis Metcalfe, who led the team of researchers that studied the star.

God loves jewels and will decorate the New Jerusalem with many precious stones that surpass anything we’ve ever seen on Earth. When we think of the Lord’s creation in the heavens, it doesn’t seem impossible that every gate in the city of God is highly unique. “The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21). I look forward to walking on that street someday.

And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land. Zechariah 9:16

An Amazing Fact: Living beneath the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness in eastern Oregon, researchers have discovered the largest living organism on Earth. A single fungus living three feet underground is estimated to cover over 2,200 acres. The small mushrooms visible above ground are only the tip of the iceberg. Officially known as Armillaria ostoyae, or the honey mushroom, the fungus is 3.5 miles across and takes up space equivalent to 1,665 football fields. Based on its speed of growth, experts estimate that this “Methuselah mushroom” is over 2,400 years old, but it could be much older.

Scientists discovered the fungus when they noticed large groves of trees dying in that region of the forest. When foresters cut into an infected tree they would find spreading white tentacles, called rhizomorphs. These filaments draw moisture and nutrients from the trees’ roots to feed the fungus. The honey mushroom can eventually sap enough water and carbohydrates from the roots to kill the trees. Researchers collected samples of the fungus from a widespread area and grew them together on petri dishes. Instead of forming barrier lines, the samples simply grew
together. In addition, the researchers analyzed the DNA of the samples, establishing that they were all from the same massive organism. This makes the honey mushroom one humongous fungus! Experts say that at this point there is no way to get rid of the mushroom—it is just too big. Now consider this monster mushroom started from a single spore too small to see without a microscope!

The Bible teaches that immorality is a lot like this humongous fungus. Paul told the Corinthian church to root out the immoral influences in their church because “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6). A little sin in the life works like yeast in bread or like the spores of a mushroom—it spreads. The best way to deal with sin is to root it out before it becomes entrenched. As we yield our hearts to the Holy Spirit, He will convict us of sin, root it out of our lives, and exchange it for righteousness.

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Corinthians 5:6-8

An Amazing Fact: Bananas are a fruity miracle. They are colorful, nutritious, not to mention the amusing shape is easy to hold, peel, and eat. Bananas also contain three natural sugars—sucrose, fructose, and glucose—combined with a healthy dose of fiber. When a hungry person eats a banana they receive an almost instant and sustained boost of vigor. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. This is why bananas are the favorite fruit of Olympic athletes. In fact, compared to an apple, a banana has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of most affordable fruits around. So maybe it’s time to change that well-known proverb to “A banana a day keeps the doctor away!”

Studies have shown that bananas can also help overcome or prevent a substantial array of illnesses and conditions ranging from depression, heartburn, and anemia, to stroke and morning sickness. Around the world different parts of the banana plant are used for clothing, paper, and tableware, and the skin of the banana is used to heal everything from insect bites to warts. Indeed, the banana appears almost perfectly designed for human consumption and distribution. It is difficult to conceive of a more practical blueprint for the ideal fruit.

Have you noticed the banana has no seeds? Amazingly the banana is a mutant; it is the result of the cross pollination of two almost inedible Asian fruits. The banana is a freakish genetic amalgamation; one that has survived through the centuries due to the sustained intervention of diligent humans. These fragile fruits can only be cloned from suckering
shoots and cuttings taken from the underground stem of existing plants. Over time, Arab traders carried the new wonder fruit to Africa, and Spanish conquistadors brought them to the Americas.

So if you have ever pictured Adam and Eve savoring bananas in the Garden of Eden you better think again. Bananas only happen through man participating with God’s creation. This is also true regarding the fruit of the Spirit. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). I wonder what types of fruit will be on the tree of life in heaven.

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22:2

An Amazing Fact: Orchids are truly amazing flowers! They represent the largest family of flowering plants in the world and come in a kaleidoscope of diversity. There are about 25,000 species of orchids. That’s four times as many species as mammals, and twice as many as birds. Orchids grow on six continents in almost every habitat ranging from deserts to swamps, alpine pastures to polar tundra, but most species are found in the wet tropical forests. If you like vanilla, you actually like orchids. The vanilla stick is simply the fermented and blackened pod of an orchid found in Mexico.

Like many plants, orchids need outside help to pollinate and reproduce. Because few orchids offer nectar or edible pollen, they must resort to a broad array of very creative aromatic, visual, or tactile tricks to attract potential pollinators. Some orchid petals imitate bees or butterflies; other can look like lizards, frogs, or even hummingbirds.
Others mimic male bees in flight, hoping to incite territorial combat that will result in pollination.

The flowers may produce attractive odors to lure bees with sweet promise by copying the appearance and scent of nectar-producing flowers, while others, as in the case of a Dracula orchid, attract gnats or flies by producing an array of nasty smells like fungus, rotten meat, or even dirty diapers.

Some orchids promise shelter, with petals in the shape of insect burrows. The bugs crawl in for protection and come out with pollen. Certain orchids accomplish pollination by mimicking the appearance, scent, and even the feel of a particular female bee. When a male bee jostles the orchid’s column, two yellow sacs packed with pollen are stuck to his back with quick-drying glue. Then there’s the catasetum (kat-uh-see-tum) orchids, which slingshot a sticky pollen-loaded bundle on any hapless insect that bumps the trigger.

Obviously, these flowers don’t see or hear, and they’re unaware of their own colors and patterns. Mindless flowers could never develop this astounding arsenal of pollinating methods by themselves. It took the hand of an intelligent Creator-God who loves and cares for all of His creations. In the words of Psalm 104:24: “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all.”

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Luke 12:27

An Amazing Fact: The Amazon is undoubtedly the greatest river in the world by many measures. For starters, the volume of water it carries to the sea equals approximately 20 percent of all the freshwater discharge into the oceans in the world (one-fifth). In one second it pours 60 million gallons into the Atlantic. The drainage basin of the Amazon River and its many tributaries covers 2,720,000 square miles. It is also the longest river in the world at over 4,220 miles long. During the rainy season sections of the massive river can be up to 24 miles wide. The mouth of the Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that even after traveling more than 100 miles out to sea you can still dip fresh water out of the ocean. In fact, the volume of water surging from the Amazon River is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined, and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States.

The Amazon River is home to many other “extremes” of the natural world. Of course it provides residence to the world’s biggest snake, the anaconda, and the world’s most ferocious fish, the piranha. Catfish that live here have all the room they want to grow as big as nature will allow. Some have been captured weighing over 200 pounds! The largest freshwater fish in the world, the arapaima, lives in the waters of the Amazon River. They have been found to reach 15 feet in length and can weigh up to 440 pounds. There are over 2,000 known species of fish that live in the Amazon, and more are being discovered all the time. More than 4,000 species of butterflies have been identified there.

Just as the Amazon is a river teeming with life, the Bible speaks of a river of life that flows from the throne of God. Ezekiel describes a future picture of nature that also speaks of a great river. “And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for
they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes” (Ezekiel 47:9). Someday I want to stand in that river, don’t you?

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. Psalms 46:4

An Amazing Fact: Corn is the most abundant crop grown in the U.S., more than twice that of any other. It is also one of the most versatile of all plants. Corn is used to make everything from flour, syrup, starch, oil, livestock feed, paint, soap, linoleum, nylon, antibiotics, lipstick, gasoline, and much more.

But when corn was first planted in the Americas it was nothing like the robust specimens we see blanketing the plains today. The plants were only about three feet tall, and the small uneven ears had scattered kernels. In order to improve their crop, farmers would look for the largest ears of corn with the most kernels to use as seed for the next year. Then in the early 1900s, botanists discovered they could combine the best qualities of different varieties of corn to develop hybrids. To produce these hybrids, different varieties of corn would be planted in adjacent rows. The tassels of the first variety would be removed, preventing it from releasing its pollen. The second variety, its tassels intact, would then pollinate both rows. The ears that grew from the stalk of the first variety would have the hybrid seeds. They found that this simple act resulted in higher yields and healthier plants. They called it “hybrid vigor.”

Today most of the corn grown in the U.S. Corn Belt is hybrid and reaches about eight feet tall. But some varieties can grow to over 20 feet! In a way, the hybrid crosses are like the biblical mustard seed—something great from humble origins. The kingdom of God operates on the same principle. Jesus didn’t choose the wealthy and powerful to be His
disciples—He worked with humble fishermen. Yet the message that took root in the hearts of those unsophisticated Galileans eventually spread to every nation.

Do you ever feel insignificant? Take heart! “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called … God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty … that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:26, 27, 31).

It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. Mark 4:31-32

An Amazing Fact: There is more noise in the ocean than merely the lapping of waves or bubbling fish. Humans cannot hear many ocean sounds when underwater because a pocket of air in the outer ear blocks them. But when using an underwater microphone you will discover that the ocean is full of amazing sounds. Dolphins chatter, triggerfish grate their teeth together, sea horses rub their heads against their backs.

Among the loudest creatures of the deep is a finger-size shrimp with an oversize claw resembling a boxing glove. The pistol shrimp (or alpheid shrimp) snaps shut a specialized claw to create a cavitation wave that generates noise like gunshots in excess of 200 decibels. This sea creature blasts bubbles at over 60 mph, producing a sharp cracking sound and a temperature comparable to that of the sun. The sound will not only scare off enemies but is capable of killing small fish. In fact, when colonies of the pistol shrimp snap their claws, the cacophony is so intense that submarines can take advantage of it to hide from sonar.

However, the greatest noise makers in the ocean are whales. The song of the humpback whale consists of vast roars, deep bellows, and groans interspersed with interesting sighs, chirps, and squawks. And the songs go on for 10 minutes or more. Once completed, the whale will repeat it again and again for hours. Each year the song tunes change somewhat, as the whales seem to experiment with different arrangements.

The largest creature in the world is of course the blue whale. It has the biggest lungs and makes the most noise. Blasts of 188 decibels have been reported, making the blue whale much louder than a jet, which reaches only 140 decibels! This extraordinarily earsplitting whistle can be heard for hundreds of miles underwater. Theoretical calculations once predicted that the loudest whale sounds might be transmitted across an entire ocean.

Some people think the second coming of Jesus is going to be a quiet event, yet the Bible teaches it is connected with a tremendous noise that will be heard across land and sea. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise” (2 Peter 3:10). The sound will surpass the greatest decibels Earth has ever experienced. Will you be listening for Jesus’ coming?

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Psalms 96:11

An Amazing Fact: The Dead Sea in Israel is one of the most unusual spots on the planet. At 1,312 feet below sea level, it’s the lowest water surface on Earth. The Dead Sea receives over 6 million tons of water every day from the Jordan River alone, but even though it has no outlet the water level never rises. The old geographers used to think there was an enormous chasm in the bottom of the Dead Sea, and that its water poured itself down into the center of the earth. But Lieutenant Lynch of the United States Navy sounded every part of the Dead Sea and disproved that theory.

The sea bed is 47 miles long and an average of 9 miles wide. Therefore, evaporation in that seething desert basin exceeds the input, making the Dead Sea seven times as salty as the ocean. Because of its high mineral content, no one can ever sink or drown while bathing there. It was said that Vespasian, the ancient Roman commander, heard of this fact. He tested it by ordering slaves to be thrown into the sea with their hands and feet tied. The slaves floated.

The high concentration of minerals also makes the Dead Sea one of the most valuable spots on Earth. Among the precious minerals in the Dead Sea is potash. Often used for explosives, potash is also a potent fertilizer. It has been estimated that the Dead Sea has enough potash to provide the entire world’s fertilizer needs for 2,000 years.

This body of water contains an estimated 22 billion tons of magnesium chloride, 12 billion tons of common salt, six billion tons of calcium chloride, two billion tons of potassium chloride, and one billion tons of magnesium bromide. The value of these chemicals comes to the staggering figure of $1,270,000,000,000. All the goods exported from
Israel are nothing in comparison with the enormous mineral wealth in the Dead Sea.

Who would dream that a place that is so outwardly lifeless could be so valuable? Perhaps you have also underestimated your worth before God. Scripture tells us, “… you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like
silver or gold … but with the precious blood of Christ …” (1 Peter 1:18, 19). In this way, God has placed immeasurable value on each one of us.

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:20

An Amazing Fact: Typically on March 17, people all over the world join the Irish to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Cities like New York and Boston have large parades baptized in shamrocks, leprechauns, and the color green. Chicago will even dye its river green. Sadly there is far more myth than fact taught about this great man of God called Saint Patrick.

For starters, this patron saint of Ireland was not even Irish, but English. St. Patrick, whose real name was Maewyn Succat, was born in Roman Britain, around A.D. 389. He was captured by raiders when he was about 16 and conveyed to Ireland, where he was sold as a slave to care for pigs and sheep. While in captivity, like the prodigal son, he surrendered his heart to Christ. After six years he escaped slavery and returned back to his homeland. But a few years later he distinctly heard God call him to return to Ireland as a missionary to convert his former captors to
Christianity. After he became a minister he took on the name Patrick, or Patricus, which means father of the people.

A popular legend has it that St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland. It’s true that, aside from zoos and pets, there are no snakes on the Emerald Isle. That’s because there never were any snakes in Ireland. This has more to do with the island’s 700-foot chalky cliffs on Ireland’s west coast more than any miracles performed by St. Patrick. This tale may have arisen as a metaphor of his single-handed effort to drive the idol-worshiping Druid cult out of Ireland.

Saint Patrick was not technically a saint because the Catholic Church never canonized him. Even though they built hundreds of churches that bear his name, Patrick was not even a Roman Catholic. He operated as an independent Christian and self-supporting missionary. March 17th is not even St. Patrick’s birthday but rather the day the old missionary died in his beloved Ireland. He had set free the land which once enslaved him.

It’s amazing how many fables have become connected with the work of this great missionary. But this is not the first time this has happened. The apostle Paul was accused repeatedly of things that were distortions of his true work. While in Corinth, Luke writes, “When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, ‘This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law’” (Acts 18:12, 13). God’s people will continue to be misunderstood until Jesus comes.

Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. Acts 18:13

An Amazing Fact: The vanilla bean is the fruit of a unique species of fragrant orchid that is native to the rainforests of Mexico and Central America. Indigenous natives discovered that when the tasteless and odorless vanilla bean is dried by months of tropical heat and humidity, it produced a rich taste and aroma. Vanilla is the only orchid known to bear edible fruit.

Since the vanilla orchid only flowers for one day each year, it must be pollinated by hand. Then the vanilla bean takes approximately six months to mature, growing up to eight inches long. The beans must also be harvested by hand, just as the tip of the pod begins to split but before the entire pod splits. Next, harvested beans are immersed in a hot water
bath, then put into wooden boxes and covered with blankets, where they will “sweat” for 24 to 72 hours. This begins the enzymatic change that produces vanillin. Afterward, the beans are placed on blankets and dried in the sun for three to four weeks. To complete the curing process, the beans are then stored in closed boxes for five or six months. The
cured beans, now wrinkled and chocolate colored, are graded by length, appearance, and moisture content. The longest beans with the least splitting and blemishes bring the highest price. To make vanilla extract, the beans are tied in bundles, weighed, chopped, and percolated in large stainless steel containers, much like coffee percolators. After being aged for several weeks, the extract is bottled and shipped to stores. You can understand why vanilla is one of the most expensive flavorings in the world to produce!

Today vanilla beans are grown primarily in Madagascar and Indonesia. The precious extract is by far the world’s most popular flavor and is used in ice cream, puddings, cakes, chocolates, baked goods, syrups, candies, liqueurs, tobacco, soft drinks, and even perfumes.

Salvation is the most expensive commodity in the universe, provided for by the “precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19). But, by the grace of God, it is free for the asking! Let’s not waste a single drop.

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Romans 5:18-19

An Amazing Fact: On March 21, 2000, one of the largest icebergs ever seen broke free from the Antarctic’s Ross Ice Shelf. An image, taken from a polar satellite 435 miles up, alerted scientists and mariners to the iceberg’s birth. It is one of the largest ever seen at 183 miles long and 23 miles wide, with a surface area of 4,250 square miles. The biggest iceberg ever recorded was 208 miles long and 60 miles wide, a total of 12,000 square miles. That’s larger than the country of Belgium. Even more amazing, it was spotted floating in the South Pacific. It’s astounding how far from the Polar regions icebergs can wander. Icebergs from the Arctic north have reached as far south as the island of Bermuda, a journey of 2,500 miles. One iceberg from the Antarctic has reached almost as far north as Rio de Janeiro, a journey of 3,440 miles.

The tallest iceberg ever recorded was 550 feet high. That’s as tall as a 50-story building! But remember that only 10 percent of an iceberg’s mass is above water, meaning the bulk of this titan could have reached 4,000 feet deep. I have also read there is so much ice stored on the continent of Antarctica, that if you could cut it into huge ice cubes one mile thick you would end up with 6 million cubes. Should all of that ice melt, it would raise the sea level over the entire world by 260 feet. Ice on Antarctica is so heavy that over the years it has pushed the continent itself down several hundred feet.

Jesus warned us in the last days, because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. How can we have our hearts warmed and our first loved rekindled in a spiritually cold world? Perhaps it is found in the words of John the Baptist: “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16).

When we invite Christ into our hearts and are filled with the Holy Spirit, there is a warming of our lives from within that will melt away the cold clutches of sin on our hearts. Then we will have purpose and not float aimlessly like a drifting iceberg.

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Matthew 24:12

An Amazing Fact: In 1874, Methodists in Swan Quarter, North Carolina, decided to construct a permanent church building. The homeless Christians found what they believed was the ideal site for their church, a perfect lot in the heart of town on its highest ground. But when they approached the owner of the lot, Sam Sadler, he did not want to waste his prime real estate for a church. Even after their offer was increased, Sadler flatly refused to sell the land.

Soon after, the Methodists accepted a gift of land a half mile away on some low-lying property. The members cheerfully began building a modest but sturdy structure on brick piers. Then something miraculous occurred that has been confirmed by scores of witnesses. On September 17, 1876, right after they dedicated the small church, a powerful hurricane began to brew. Rain fell and the wind blew until the rising water lifted the little Methodist Church from its foundation and began to carry it like Noah’s ark up the street. People awoke the next morning to witness an
amazing sight—the entire church was floating down Oyster Creek Road.

A few good Samaritans saw the drifting church and tried to tie it off with ropes, but it broke its moorings and continued its journey as though it had a mind of its own. It went straight down the road to a corner, bumped into a general store, then took a sharp right turn and headed down that road for about two city blocks until it reached the corner of what is now Church Street. Then it took another turn to the left, crossed the Carawan Canal, and stopped.

The little church had settled exactly in the center of the property the members had originally requested for their house of worship, the parcel Sam Sadler had refused to sell for a church. After seeing the mighty work of Providence, Mr. Sadler, with trembling hands, gave the title deed for the land to the Methodist pastor. When the church was dedicated, it was called “Providence.” Today, a sign stands in front of the Providence Church, reminding visitors this was the church “Moved by the Hand of God.”

Just as God guided that floating church, He guides His people and His church today. “The Lord is your keeper …” (Psalm 121:5). He will carry us through any flood of trouble or persecution that we face.

The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea. Psalms 93:4

An Amazing Fact: Earthquakes conjure up terrifying images of the ground rocking and rolling as if moved by some diabolical forces from the abyss. Unlike tornadoes or hurricanes, earthquakes usually strike without warning. In North America when we hear the word earthquake we typically think of Los Angeles, San Francisco, or maybe Alaska. But there have even been major earthquakes recorded in Boston, Charleston, South Carolina, and even Long Island.

Surprisingly, some of the greatest potential for a powerful North American earthquake is not on the Pacific or Atlantic Coast but rather the states around mid-America. The granddaddy of great earthquakes occurred between 1811 and 1812 on the New Madrid Fault (halfway between St. Louis and Memphis, beneath the Mississippi). These earthquakes shook the entire United States, affecting the topography of the North American continent more than any other earthquakes in recorded history. Judging from their effects, they were of a magnitude of 7.5 or higher. They were felt over the entire United States east of the Rockies. The shock was so massive, large areas sank into the earth, new lakes were formed, 150,000 acres of forests were destroyed, and the Mississippi River ran backwards, permanently changing its course. Many houses at New Madrid were thrown down. One source notes, “Houses, gardens, and fields were swallowed up.” Fatalities and damage were low, because back then the area was sparsely settled. But in the last 200 years those same areas have become heavily populated.

For years geologists have not been wondering “if” but “when” the big one will hit! Earthquake forecasting is a science to determine the time, location, and magnitude of a future earthquake, especially the next big one in a specific region. Scientists believe there is a significant probability for major earthquakes to hit certain epicenters, causing catastrophic loss of life and property damage in the billions. But the science of prediction is still unreliable. That is why, for decades now, several North America cities have been looking down the barrel of a loaded seismic canon, hoping for another day of grace.

Jesus said just before His coming there would be earthquakes in different places. Such natural disasters continue to point us to the importance of being ready for Christ’s soon return.

And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. Luke 21:11

An Amazing Fact: The United States has the dubious honor of having more tornadoes each year than every other country on the planet combined. These frightening storms can result in record numbers of injuries and deaths. One of the deadliest outbreaks ever seen was in April 1974. During a single 24-hour period, a record 148 tornadoes tore through the Midwest, killing more than three hundred people and injuring more than six thousand.

The worst tornadoes, classified as F5, are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more. In the spring of 1999, a massive F5 tornado stayed on the ground near Oklahoma City for one hour and 25 minutes, killing 41 people, destroying thousands of homes and vehicles, and racking up approximately one billion dollars of
damages. Researchers clocked the wind at 318 mph, which is the fastest surface wind ever recorded on Earth.

Tornadoes have been known to transport a thousand-pound bale of hay over 5 miles, drive a piece of straw through a 2×4 piece of wood, imbed a plastic music record halfway into a telephone pole, and leave a semi-truck dangling from a tree. On April 24, 1990, a 100-yard-wide tornado touched down in Barton County, Kansas, lifting 88 train cars off the tracks and stacking them three to four cars high. Tornadoes have also done some bizarre things like putting cows in treetops. An unusual incident occurred in 1957 in Thomasville, Alabama: thousands of small fish, frogs, and crayfish fell from the sky. A tornado had pulled up lake water some miles away, and as the winds lost strength, the little animals rained down across the countryside.

In the Bible, God’s judgment is sometime pictured as a tornado: “Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord has gone forth in fury—a violent whirlwind! It will fall violently on the head of the wicked” (Jeremiah 23:19). But God’s people don’t need to fear! “When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation” (Proverbs 10:25). In fact, one of God’s righteous, Elijah, even rode a tornado to heaven!

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 2 Kings 2:11

An Amazing Fact: Most plants and flowers must pollinate to survive, so the Lord has devised many ingenious ways to help them exchange these particles of life. God has created many flower species that pretend to have food that insects want, emitting the scents of things like coconut or even rotting meat to attract them.

Some orchids, however, to achieve pollination, appear to offer insects the promise of marriage. Parts of the flower have been designed to resemble the female versions of certain insects, and the imitation is often astounding. Take, for example, the Australian hammer orchid which has taken advantage of a mating ritual of the Thynnid wasp.

The lower lip of the hammer orchid’s flower mimics the female wasp resting on a twig, looking upward, waiting for a male flying by to spot her. Even to the human eye, it almost perfectly resembles the plump, wingless female Thynnid wasp, complete with a shiny head and furry body. The orchid even releases an enticing female wasp pheromone. That’s a chemical copy of the same sexy perfume the female wasp wears when she’s ready for marriage. Amazing! Poised at the end of an arm just above this alluring decoy are sticky bags filled with pollen.

A male Thynnid wasp flying by, lured by the imitation scent, will grab the decoy and try to fly off with “her” in his grasp. As he takes off, however, his momentum flips him and his flowery pretender up and over, right into the sticky pollen sacks. After realizing his mistake, he releases the decoy—and flies off, only to be fooled again by another hammer orchid, which he now pollinates with the pollen he picked up on his previous bad date. In the process, the wasp transfers pollen from flower to flower.

When real female Thynnid wasps are around, males will invariably choose a live one over the impostor. For this reason God conveniently designed these orchids to bloom in the brief period several weeks before female wasps emerge from underground, giving the flower a temporary advantage when male wasps are flying but females are not yet available.

Mimicry in nature is truly remarkable, even humorous, but wolves in sheep’s clothes is no laughing matter. Jesus warned us that false prophets will come to deceive us before the Second Coming. They will look like the “real thing,” but to the Christian who has carefully studied the Bible, we may detect and turn away from the lures of the devil.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Matthew 7:15

An Amazing Fact: Tsunamis are among the most destructive of natural disasters. This is due in part to the fact that much of the world’s population lives within a mile of the ocean. Tsunamis are sometimes called tidal waves, but they really have nothing to do with the tide. They are actually seismic sea waves caused by earthquakes, undersea landslides, volcanic eruptions, or even asteroids striking the ocean that results in a sudden colossal movement of the sea water.

Tsunamis can look like great, massive, towering waves or appear as quickly rising monster tides that surge in without warning. Out in the deep ocean a tsunami wave can travel at speeds over 500 mph. That’s as fast as a jet plane! These killer waves may be only a foot high in the deep ocean, and might not even be noticed by boats in the area, but as they reach shallow water the waves grow slower and taller, some to over 100 feet high!

Perhaps thousands of tsunamis occur all the time—the majority in the Pacific Ocean—but most are too small to even notice. But every few years, some seismic event will produce a large tsunami wave that kills thousands of people. The famous volcanic explosion of Krakatoa on August 27, 1883, generated terrifying tsunami waves that were up to 151
feet in height. These waves destroyed 295 towns and villages in Western Java and Southern Sumatra, and over 36,000 people were drowned.

The largest tsunami wave ever recorded in modern times was in Lituya Bay, Alaska, in 1958 and is described as a mega-tsunami. It was caused by a massive landslide triggered by an 8.3 magnitude earthquake. When the wave rushed across the bay it ran up the valley walls to a height of 1,720 feet.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus said one of the signs of the end will be “distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25). Natural disasters are increasing, signaling Earth’s grand finale. This could be a frightening scenario, but we don’t need to be afraid. In the words of Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength,” even if the mountains fall into the sea. As long as we have Jesus, we are safe.

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Luke 21:25

An Amazing Fact: You have probably heard the expression “raining cats and dogs.” While there is no record of the sky ever showering canines and felines, other creatures have rained from the sky. For example, on March 5, 2000, farmers tending their fields in southern Ethiopia reported seeing, and smelling, an unusual downpour on their drought-stricken land. Suddenly they were being pelted by millions of falling fish. For a country crippled by famine, this was a welcome and unexpected answer to their prayers.

Reports of falling fish, frogs, tomatoes, and even coal date back to antiquity. In the first century, Pliny the Elder mentioned storms of frogs and fish. Jellyfish reportedly fell from the sky in Bath, England, in 1894. Worms dropped from the sky in Jennings, Louisiana, on July 11, 2007, and spiders fell out of the sky on April 6, 2007, in Salta Province, Argentina!

The phrase “It’s raining cats and dogs” probably comes from an era when animals walked on the thatched roofs of homes that became soft during rainstorms, and the household pet came through the roof. Actually, most countries have strange expressions for heavy rain. In Bosnia they say, “It’s raining crowbars.” In Czech it’s “wheelbarrows,”
and the Dutch say, “It’s raining like kittens.” That’s probably better than the Serbians, who refer to “axes,” or the Welsh, who speak of it raining like “old ladies and sticks!”

Meteorologists say it is more common than you might think for cloud bursts to open and release a hail of small fish, snails, or tadpoles. Weather experts explain these freak showers occur because powerful updrafts generated during thunderstorms form mini-tornadoes. If the storm brews out at sea, or crosses a river or lake, the tornado can suck up small fish or frogs swimming close to the surface. These water spouts can then carry away the raptured creatures and deposit them several miles away. Sometimes while still alive! In 1930 an eight-inch turtle fell from the sky during a storm in Mississippi.

The Bible teaches that when Jesus returns the saved will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. But many Christians misunderstand how this will happen. Unlike the popular notion that Christians will be raptured before Christ returns, the Bible teaches that when Jesus comes and the dead in Christ rise, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be
caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Hebrews 11:13

An Amazing Fact: The most densely concentrated area of life on the planet is the tropical rainforest. In fact, researchers found that just a 4-mile-square patch of rainforest contains as many as 1,500 species of flowering plants, 750 species of trees, 125 mammal species, 400 species of birds, 100 species of reptiles, 60 species of amphibians, and 150 different species of butterflies. A single pond in Brazil is home to more fish species than can be found in all of Europe’s rivers, while the fish species in the Amazon River outnumber those in the Atlantic Ocean! But of the estimated 5 million species in the rainforest, only a small percentage has been named, much less studied.

The rainforest is also a cornucopia of produce, with over 3,000 varieties of fruit. Fruits like avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples, mangoes, and tomatoes all originated in tropical rainforests. Even so, the rainforest’s bounty is largely undiscovered by the Western world: of the 3,000 varieties,
Westerners only use around 200.

In addition, the rainforest contains a pharmaceutical gold mine. Nearly half of our medicinal compounds come from the plant life in the tropical rainforest, including drugs for childhood leukemia and heart disease. Yet these riches are largely unmined, as less than 1 percent of tropical plants and trees have been tested by scientists.

Rainforests are a living dynamo of animals, plants, and medicines, but instead of discovering and enjoying its bounty, man is destroying it at the rate of 1 acre every minute. While rainforests used to cover fifteen percent of the Earth’s land area, today they cover less than seven percent. In the book of Jeremiah, God expresses His displeasure over how Israel treated the Promised Land: “I brought you into a bountiful country, to eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you entered, you defiled My land And made My heritage an abomination” (Jeremiah 2:7). The book of Revelation makes it plain that God will eventually “destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18). As the Earth’s caretakers, shouldn’t we do our best to preserve His bountiful country?

And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. Revelation 11:18

An Amazing Fact: We’ve all enjoyed stepping outside after a hailstorm and scooping up a handful of the cold pellets on a summer day, but hail can be deadly. Most of the time hail stays small and is harmless. Sometimes conditions can produce large stones that can destroy crops, strip trees of foliage, damage roofs, and break car windows. As a pilot, I’m also aware of how quickly hail can damage an airplane! In the spring of 1986, hail the size of grapefruit fell in Bangladesh, killing over 90 people.

Hail is formed in thunderhead clouds when warm summer air from the ground rises and cools. As the temperature of this air drops and loses its ability to hold moisture, it releases it and forms puffy-looking clouds. The interaction of rising air creates updrafts with vertical wind speeds of over 110 mph. Hail grows in the storm cloud’s main updraft, where most of the cloud is, in the form of “super-cooled” water molecules which then attach themselves to particles and freeze. Often a hailstone will connect with other stones until the weight of the hail overcomes the updraft wind
and it falls from the sky.

The size of hail is best measured with a ruler for accuracy. But most of us don’t carry rulers around when we encounter hail. So, common household objects or coins are used to quickly determine size—such as a dime, penny, nickel, or pea, grape, golf ball, or cantaloupe. The most common area for hail in the United States is in an area where Colorado,
Nebraska, and Wyoming meet. It’s known as “Hail Alley.” The city that gets the most hail in the U.S. is Cheyenne, Wyoming. It averages nine to 10 hailstorms every year! The largest hailstone on record in the U.S. fell on July 23, 2010, in Vivian, South Dakota. This whopper stone had an eight-inch diameter and weighed 1.93 pounds. I don’t think an umbrella would protect you from this storm!

The Bible actually predicts the mother of all hailstorms as happening in the future when the seven last plagues fall on the Earth. The Bible explains the seventh plague: “And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent” (Revelation 16:21). A talent weighs about 75 pounds. Only those under the care of God’s mighty hand will be protected from these disasters. Are you living under the Lord’s shelter every day?

Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, Job 38:22

An Amazing Fact: Would you like to know some fascinating facts about seeds? Did you know a turnip seed, under the right conditions, can increase its weight 15 times a minute? And in rich soil, after sprouting, turnip seeds may increase their weight up to 15,000 times a day. Some seeds are viable for hundreds years. For example, seeds of the Oriental lotus have been known to germinate 3,000 years after dispersal.

The world’s largest seeds resemble giant coconuts, and for centuries were thought to come from the sea because they often washed up on the shores around the Indian Ocean. Consequently, those who found them called them sea coconuts. But in the 18th century it was discovered that the seeds came from tall nut palms that grew only on the Seychelles Islands. For years, Eastern kings and Asian potentates eagerly sought the seeds, which weigh upwards of 40 pounds, thinking that they could be used as antidotes to poison.

Amazingly enough there are few forces more powerful than a growing squash seed. In one experiment, a squash 18 days old was harnessed on a lever in such a way that in its growing process it lifted 50 pounds! Nineteen days later it raised 5,000 pounds!

Seeds are incredible in their abilities. Perhaps this is why Jesus said if you have “faith as a mustard seed,” you can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). What is this seed of faith that can move mountains? The human race—from the days of our first parents to the present time—is full of unbelief. Even to His own disciples Jesus said, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). It seems that it’s much easier for us to doubt than to believe, but we need to believe in order to be saved.

So how do we get faith? The book of Acts speaks of the faith that comes through Jesus (Acts 3:16), and Paul tells us “it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Only God can give us the faith we need to believe in Him and trust His promises. Won’t you ask Him for that faith right now?

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matthew 17:20

An Amazing Fact: One of the most interesting places in the world is actually out in the middle of the ocean. The Sargasso Sea does not even have a coastline but is a separate sea located in the middle of the North Atlantic, between the West Indies and the Azores. The warm waters of the Sargasso Sea cover some 2 million square miles and are encircled by the Gulf Stream, causing the oval-shaped sea to move in a slow, clockwise drift. This makes the 3-mile-deep waters exceptionally clear and blue, with a higher than normal salt content.

The Sargasso Sea is filled with seaweed. Early Portuguese navigators named the sea “sargaco,” the word for grape, after the bulbous little floats on the Sargassum seaweed. Although one-third of the Atlantic’s plankton is produced there, the Sargasso Sea is known as “the floating desert” because the Sargassum seaweed lacks the nutrients to attract commercially valuable fish. But many small marine animals, including tiny crabs, shrimp, and octopuses, live on and among the seaweed.

One of the most amazing facts about the Sargasso Sea is that it serves as the international meeting place for eels. Drawn by unknown forces, each fall millions of these snakelike fish migrate from Europe, the Mediterranean, and the United States to mate, spawn, and die. Some eels have even left their freshwater homes and crossed miles of land, breathing through their skin, to reach the ocean that they might swim to the Sargasso Sea and breed. Once the eggs hatch, their inch-long, transparent larvae, known as “glass eels,” make the long journey back to continental streams and rivers.

For hundreds of years naturalists wondered where eels came from. When it was discovered that virtually all the eels in the Western Hemisphere migrated to the Sargasso Sea, it was an amazing revelation. In the same way, many have wondered where sin and evil spawned. The Bible tells us about one of the highest angels in heaven, named Lucifer,
who turned from God and was eventually cast out.

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God … I will be like the Most High’” (Isaiah 14:12-14). It is no secret where sin came from.

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, Revelation 12:7

An Amazing Fact: Roots are the underground branches that spread out beneath plants and trees as anchors. They provide water and nutrients from the soil to feed the plant. Some roots are familiar, like carrots, potatoes, and radishes. But because roots are usually out of sight, many people don’t realize how long and vast they can be. An alfalfa plant only two or three feet high may have roots reaching out as far as 30 feet. If you lay all the roots of a corn plant end to end, the resulting strand could be up to 500 feet long. Roots of the giant California redwoods have been known to occupy as much as 50,000 cubic feet of subsoil. Cavers in South Africa found a tree with the deepest-reaching root so far: a wild fig tree with a root that extended nearly 400 feet into the ground!

In addition, roots can be incredibly strong. It’s common knowledge that, given enough time, roots can crack foundations, snap water lines, and lift sidewalks. Once they find even the tiniest crack, a rootlet can break through compacted soil, stone, or concrete and even push aside large boulders. For example, when tree roots become wedged in granite, it is the hard granite that splits while the comparatively fragile-looking root stubbornly continues to grow.

And why are roots so tenacious? They’re looking for water. While some plants like cacti have swollen roots that store water for the dry months, most roots reach out long distances in search of water to transport back to the plant. Plants flourish where there is plenty of water, which is why the trees growing along a stream look more vibrant than the ones growing farther away.

The Bible teaches that a person who delights in the law of the Lord “shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water” (Psalm 1:3). Would you like to prosper in whatever you do? Then let meditating on God’s Word become your delight!

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalms 1:3

An Amazing Fact: The deadliest natural disaster in American history occurred just 300 miles west of New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina came ashore in 2005. The unnamed category 4 hurricane struck over a century ago on September 8, 1900, ripping into Galveston, Texas, killing somewhere between 6,000 and 12,000 men, women, and children and wiping away three-quarters of the city.

However, the fatal storm did not come without warning. People in Galveston knew that there was a major storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. Days before the hurricane reached Texas, Galveston received telegraph reports telling of a fierce storm that caused havoc in the Caribbean. One day before the hurricane arrived barometric pressure
dropped rapidly, and warning flags were raised as huge waves pounded the shore. But less than half the population evacuated the island, and some sightseers even came over from Houston to view the powerful surf. People’s attitude of complacency greatly increased the number of fatalities. Wind speeds measured 100 mph before the instruments were blown away. The winds would eventually reach 150 mph.

One of the first buildings to succumb to the storm was St. Mary’s Orphanage that stood near the beach. Of the 93 children and 10 nuns, the only survivors were three boys who managed to cling to an uprooted tree. About 50 people sought shelter in the home of Isaac Cline. Battered by the heavy winds and a 16-foot tidal wave, it collapsed, and all but 18 perished, including Isaac Cline’s wife, May. Strangely, Isaac Cline worked for the U.S. Weather Bureau and had dismissed concerns that a hurricane could someday devastate Galveston. He discouraged the town from building
a sea wall. One in six Galveston residents died in the disaster. A few months after the hurricane, Galveston began construction on a 17-foot -high, 3-mile-long sea wall and raised the ground level of the entire city.

Did you know that the Bible forecasts a terrible storm just before the coming of Jesus, concluding with a great rescue from above? Like the unheeded flags that were raised on the Galveston beach to warn of the coming storm, we must be responsible to be prepared. God has given us many signs of the times. Will you listen to His counsel to watch
and be ready?

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. Revelation 15:1

An Amazing Fact: The word “volcano” comes from a small island called Vulcano in the Mediterranean off the northern coast of Sicily, which gets its name from the blacksmith of the Roman gods—the god of fire—Vulcan. Thousands of years ago, the people who lived in this area believed that Vulcano was actually the forge chimney of Vulcan.

But volcanoes are not just a colorful legend; they are one of the most powerful and potentially destructive forces on Earth. For example, the 1980 explosion of Mount St. Helens in Washington State was estimated at 500 times more powerful than the force of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. There are over 500 known active volcanoes on Earth, with around 1,500 that are potentially active, and that’s not counting those that lie beneath the sea. Unfortunately, about 500 million people live within the “danger range” of these active volcanoes. The biggest volcano on Earth is Hawaii’s Mauna Loa. It rises more than 30,000 feet, nearly 5.7 miles above its base on the Pacific sea floor.

For years it was generally accepted and taught by geologists that volcanoes developed slowly over long eons. That was until 1963 when, off the coast of Iceland, the world witnessed a volcano virtually grow up out of the ocean in a matter of months. By 1967 the new volcanic island of Surtsey was transformed into a “mature” island with wide sandy beaches, pebbles, vegetation, birds, and many other features that would suggest great geological age. When the geologists wandered about the island they were mystified and found it hard to believe that this was a volcano whose
age was still measured in months and not millennia!

In like manner, many people believe it would take years for them to turn from their sinful habits and live a Christian life. But they may be underestimating the miraculous power of God to quickly give them a new birth. The Lord promises, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). God’s Word says that the time for salvation is now. The same God who gives volcanoes their tremendous power can give you a new direction in an instant—the moment you accept Him into your heart.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

An Amazing Fact: Nothing was so feared by seamen in the days when ocean vessels were driven by wind and sail than the doldrums. The doldrums is a part of the ocean near the equator, abounding with prolonged calms and light, baffling winds. The old sailing vessels, when caught in doldrums, would sometimes lie helpless for days and weeks, waiting for the wind to begin to blow. There the weather is hot, humid, and extremely dispiriting, sometimes driving the irritable sailors to violence or insanity.

The doldrums in the Pacific Ocean were famously described in the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

All in a hot and copper sky,
The blood Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

The low-pressure area around the equator, where the winds are often calm, is called the Intertropical Convergence Zone. With the winds absent, the sea has no swells, so on a clear day the sky is reflected in the water. The same happens at night so that sailors feel as if they are floating in space. The word actually comes from the word dold (which means “stupid”) and rums (a noun suffix found in words like “tantrum”), which seems to describe how people caught in them might go crazy.

The children of Israel, when they turned away from conquering Canaan the first time, wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. It was like being in the doldrums. David describes their experience: “They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses” (Psalm 107:4-6). Someday soon the winds that have been held back from blowing on this Earth will be loosened and the final events of Earth’s history will be rapidly fulfilled. Will you be on board God’s ship moving quickly toward the Promised Land?

And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. Revelation 7:1

An Amazing Fact: Most people think the deadliest plague in history was the bubonic plague that killed two million victims a year. Actually, the deadliest plague occurred in the 20th century! And it started right here in the USA. It was the influenza of 1918 that hit right after World War I.

The war killed nine million men in four years, but this killer flu took at least 25 million lives in one year. In the first year, nearly 20 million cases were reported in the United States alone, accounting for almost one million deaths. That’s more than were killed during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined.

It all started on March 11, 1918, at Camp Funston, Kansas, when a company cook reported to the infirmary with typical flu symptoms. By noon, 107 soldiers were sick. Within two days, 522 people were sick, many gravely ill with severe pneumonia, the deadliest part of the sickness. Reports started coming in from other military bases. Within a
week, every state in the Union had been infected by this airborne killer. In two months it spread to South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

The United States had the lowest death toll. But a large percentage of the Eskimo population was wiped out in Nome, Alaska. Eighty to 90 percent of the Samoan population was infected, many survivors dying from starvation, too weak to feed themselves. The disease seemed to peak within three weeks of entering a given city, then subsided. In the end, it’s estimated 25 to 35 million people died worldwide.

Eighteen months after the disease appeared, the flu bug vanished, leaving a mystery as to its source, until March 1997, when Armed Forces Institute of Pathology researchers found specimens that 1918 Army doctors had preserved. It appears the virus started from birds, passed to pigs, and then to humans. These are the deadliest of all viruses because when the hearty pig immune system kicks into action the virus is forced to mutate. Both the deadly Asian flu (1957) and the Hong Kong flu (1968) came from mutated pig viruses.

The scary part is that hog farms continue to breed pigs for food near populated areas. It could happen again! Perhaps this is one of the reasons God said people should not eat pigs. His laws are always intended to bless us.

And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Leviticus 11:7

An Amazing Fact: Most Americans are acquainted with Washington Irving’s short story about Rip Van Winkle. It is a tale about an early American villager of Dutch descent who escapes his nagging wife by wandering up in the mountains of New York. After some bizarre adventures, he falls asleep and wakes up 20 years later only to find out that his wife and his best friends have died. Rip Van Winkle is a fanciful fairytale, but there is a real story much like it.

In 1984, 20-year-old Terry Wallis, married and with a six-week-old girl, was involved in a serious car wreck in Mountain View, Arkansas. The driver died instantly; Terry went into a coma. His family hoped it wouldn’t last long and that he’d soon recover. Well, he didn’t. And for 19 long years he existed in a semi-vegetative state in which he had to be
constantly cared for. Then, much to everyone’s incredible surprise, on June 13, 2003, Terry suddenly awoke in his hospital bed and uttered his first words, which were, “Mom,” “Pepsi,” and then “Milk.”

Strangely, Terry began talking as if nothing had happened, as if he had been in the coma for just a few days, not 19 years. In his mind it was still 1984, Ronald Reagan was president, the Berlin Wall still stood, cell phones were the size of bricks, the Internet was largely unknown, and the Twin Towers were still standing. He thought that Bill Clinton was still the governor of his state, and that he was still only 20 years old. In addition, the last he remembered, his daughter was an infant, not the 19-year-old young woman who stood beside his bed. Doctors are still mystified regarding this “mental resurrection.”

Sadly, Terry’s body has severely atrophied after 19 years in bed, but the Bible teaches that there is a real resurrection coming, in which all those who have been “asleep” in Jesus will arise to eternal life with new glorified bodies! Paul writes, “… in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will
be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). Though time has passed, the dead in Christ will feel as if they have only been asleep in their graves for a short time.

An Amazing Fact: James Harrison is an Australian man who holds the world record for blood donations, having donated blood over 1,000 times. When Harrison was 13 years old, he went through a major surgery and required 13 liters of blood. Afterward, realizing that donated blood had saved his life, he pledged to begin donating his own blood when he turned 18. Soon after he started donating, it was discovered that his blood contains a rare antibody that can save babies from dying of Rhesus disease—a disorder where the Rh-positive blood of the mother is incompatible with the Rh-negative blood of her unborn child.

Rhesus disease often results in a miscarriage or stillbirth and sometimes causes brain damage in newborns. Harrison was asked to undergo a series of tests to help create a vaccine for the disease. Since then, the Anti-D vaccine created with his blood plasma has been given to hundreds of thousands of women. It’s estimated that Harrison’s blood has saved around 2.2 million babies—a gift that has affected the lives of several women close to Harrison. Joy Barnes, a worker at a Red Cross blood bank where Harrison has donated, received the vaccine after
having two miscarriages. She said, “Without him I would never have been able to have a healthy baby.” Best of all, one of the babies saved was Harrison’s own grandson!

Harrison says, “I’ve never thought about stopping. Never.” Even after his wife of 56 years passed away, he was back in the hospital a week later to donate. Harrison has been nicknamed the “man with a golden arm” and has received the Order of Australia medal for his contributions.

Just as 2.2 million babies would have died without Harrison’s gift, all humanity would have died without Jesus’ saving blood. It is only Christ’s death on the cross that redeems us—we can’t redeem ourselves with any amount of gold or silver. Just as Harrison planned from boyhood to donate his blood, Jesus was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” as our sacrificial lamb (1 Peter 1:20). And just as Harrison never plans to stop donating blood, Jesus’ gift of salvation isn’t limited to a select few. There is no sinner that His blood can’t save!

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 1 Peter 1:18-19

An Amazing Fact: Long before the initials “XP” were chosen as the name for a Microsoft operating system, XP was short for a very rare incurable skin disease, found mostly among children, called Xeroderma Pigmentosum. The nature of the incurable malady prevents skin cells from repairing once they have become sun-damaged. In healthy people, our skin and eye surfaces are always healing and repairing themselves from the damage resulting from normal exposure to sunlight. But not so for those who suffer with XP. Only about one in one million children are affected by this life-threatening disease, but due to their extremely severe sensitivity to UV rays, those afflicted by XP are 1,000 times more likely to develop skin cancers or lose their sight than healthy children.

In order to prolong their lives, children affected by XP must take very radical measures to avoid all direct and indirect sunlight. That even includes light from fluorescent bulbs. In order to decrease their chances of cancer, they must virtually live their lives hiding from the light behind sunglasses, slathered in sunscreen, sequestered in dim shadows and darkness. These children of the moon can only come out to play after dark and live in virtual fear of daylight! It is so sad to hear how these children with XP must spend their lives in the dark.

While there is currently no cure for those afflicted with Xeroderma Pigmentosum, there is a cure for God’s children who are imprisoned in spiritual darkness. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). While the scribes and Pharisees prided themselves in having great
light, they actually lived in darkness. The disease of sin made them uncomfortable with being in the presence of Jesus, the light of the world.

But there are those who want to be in the light. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined” (Isaiah 9:2). I sure look forward to the day when not only will Christ shine upon our world in the fullness of His glory, but heal all the children who suffer from
diseases like XP.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. John 1:5

An Amazing Fact: Have you heard these water statistics? 1. By some estimates, about 75 percent of people in the U.S. are “chronically dehydrated.” 2. Perhaps one-third of people in the U.S. have a sensation of thirst so weak that it’s often mistaken for hunger. Maybe this is why one study revealed that a glass of water will shut down nighttime hunger pangs for most people. 3. Even a small amount of dehydration can slow a person’s metabolism down. For this reason, lack of water is the primary cause of fatigue during the day. 4. A 2 percent drop in body water can cause fuzzy short-term memory, difficulty with basic math, and trouble focusing on a computer screen or on a printed page (by the time a person feels thirsty, the body has already lost about 1 percent of its water volume). 5. Drinking sufficient water every day decreases the risk of colon cancer, bladder cancer, and very possibly other cancers. The American Cancer Society recommends drinking at least 8 cups of liquid a day.

It’s obvious that proper water intake can eliminate or ease a whole host of common health problems. This shouldn’t be surprising, since our bodies are up to 75 percent water. Water plays a role in almost every body function, carrying nutrients and oxygen to every cell, helping us to breathe, cushioning and protecting our vital organs and joints, converting food into energy, and removing waste.

While water is the cure for physical dehydration, the Bible teaches that living water will save us from spiritual dehydration! When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, He asked her for a drink. When she tried to change the subject, He offered her “living water” (John 4:10). It all sounded good to the woman who asked about the source of such water.

Jesus told her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (verses 13, 14).

If you’re thirsty today, He invites you to come to Him and drink.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Revelation 7:17

An Amazing Fact: There are more than 8,000 varieties of grapes that come in an astonishing variety of colors: purple, blue, white, red, golden, green, and black, each with a unique flavor.

Wisdom Verses:

“She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.” —Proverbs 31:19, 20.

The average American eats about eight pounds of grapes every year. The oldest cultivated grapes in America are about 400 years old, brought here by Spanish explorers. A single grapevine can grow up to 50 feet in length and produce 15 to 20 pounds of grapes in a growing season.

The virtuous woman described in our final chapter is incredibly industrious, a virtual superwoman. That’s because she is a beautiful analogy for the church, the bride of Christ.

Notice some of the things she does: She buys a field and “from her profits she plants a vineyard” (Proverbs 31:19). Grapes in the Bible are a symbol for the blood of Christ or the gospel.

Let’s look at some of the projects she tackles: “She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands; the church should be covering the lost with the robe of Christ’s righteousness. She provides food for her household … considers a field and buys it … plants a vineyard … stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle … all her household is clothed with scarlet … makes tapestry for herself … makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants” (vv. 13, 15, 16, 19, 21, 22, 24). Whew! This lady is a whirlwind!

One thing clearly stands out: She seems to be very successful in everything she does. What makes her so successful? The first clue is in the way she treats her husband, a type of Christ. “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (v. 12). The next clue is in verse 20: “She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.” (The church should be ministering to the poor.) Further down we read, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. (The word and wisdom of God should be found among His people.) She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness” (vv. 26, 27).

Most important, she is “a woman who fears the Lord” (v. 30).

Dear Lord, please help me to be faithful, industrious, kind, and God-fearing.

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. Proverbs 31:10-31

By |2018-09-23T21:07:34+00:00August 21st, 2018|Devotional Archives|0 Comments