VIDEO Homeless To Harvard (2003)

Jan 12, 2017

Based on the Real Life Story of Liz Murray. Liz is a young girl who is taken care of by her loving, but drug-addicted parents. Liz becomes homeless at 15 and after a tragedy comes upon her, she begins her work to finish high school and get accepted to Harvard

“God Don’t Make Junk!”

Too Good Not to Share

[John] came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. John 1:7

During court proceedings, witnesses are more than onlookers or spectators. They are active participants who help determine the outcome of a case. The same is true of our witness for Christ. We are to be active participants in a matter of absolute importance—the truth of Jesus’s death and resurrection.

When John the Baptist came to tell people about Jesus, the light of the world, he did so by declaring his knowledge of Jesus. And John the disciple, who recorded the events, testified of his experience with Jesus: “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The apostle Paul would elaborate on this idea as he told young Timothy, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2).

We can be active witnesses, telling others about the reality of Jesus in our lives.

All Christians have been summoned before the courtroom of the world. The Bible says we are not mere spectators but active participants. We testify to the truth about Jesus’s death and resurrection. John the Baptist was the voice of one calling in the desert. Our voices can be heard in our workplace, neighborhood, church, and among our family and friends. We can be active witnesses, telling them about the reality of Jesus in our lives.

Do our actions enable us to witness for Jesus? In what creative ways might we witness today?

The gospel is too good not to share.


INSIGHT:The Bible uses various metaphors to describe the believer’s role as a witness for Christ (John 15:5; 2 Cor. 3:1–3; 5:20; 1 Peter 2:5, 9). In one of His teachings, Jesus used two common household items—salt and light—to emphasize the positive influence a Christian ought to have on the community he lives in (Matt. 5:13–16). Salt is a preservative, a flavor-enhancer, and a thirst stimulant. A lamp is intended to illuminate the darkness. The light too serves as signage, giving information and direction to a destination. Therefore, the light must be placed in a conspicuous position to attract and to be effective. Bible teacher Henry Morris says we are “expected to bring the salt of preservation and joy to a bland, tasteless, and otherwise decaying world, and the light of salvation to a dark, sinful world.”

Ending Gossip in Our Life

Ephesians 4:29-32

Spreading rumors about other people exposes little about their true nature but reveals quite a lot about the speaker’s own character. Such behavior shows a willingness to sin against the Lord by causing harm to someone else. Until a gossiping believer confronts his sin, he can’t progress toward becoming the person God wants him to be.

Confession is the first step in dealing with sinful speech. This should be followed by repentance—the pledge to turn away from opportunities to talk about others. A useful scripture for a redeemed gossip to pray daily is Psalm 141:3: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Next, be on guard against temptation. Believers have a responsibility to set themselves apart from gossip in order to keep their thoughts and words pleasing to God. Being in the presence of one who spreads stories can tempt us to participate. In a situation where rumors are being shared, the best course of action is to speak out against the practice and then leave.

Finally, instead of talking about someone, it’s wise to pray for that person. Getting into this habit will help train the mind to replace sinful patterns with God-pleasing ways. The Bible teaches us to encourage and comfort each other, and prayer is a good way to obey that instruction (1 Thess. 5:11, 1 Thess. 5:14).

A gossiping Christian dishonors God’s name—and his own. Instead of using words that disparage and injure, choose to speak well of everyone. In so doing, you will bring glory to the Lord.

The Promise of Liberty

“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” (2 Peter 2:19)

This chapter consists of a strong denunciation of false teachers. They are, among other things, sensuous, beguiling, covetous, and accursed (v. 14). They desire personal wealth (vv. 15-16), but their message is empty, and even destructive, and will be judged (v. 17), appealing to the pride and lusts of their hearers (v. 18).

In our text we see the false teachers are quick to make promises. Promises are cheap; they cost nothing. Satan first revealed himself to mankind with a promise: “Ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5), and later attempted to seduce the Son of God with “all the kingdoms of the world” (Matthew 4:8). Empty promises are Satan’s golden hook, and many are the foolish ones who take the bait.

In this case, the false teachers promise liberty—liberty to act without the shackles of responsibility and moral law. But they themselves are “servants of corruption,” slaves of a most abhorrent mentality. And who are they to offer liberty? These are indeed “great swelling words of vanity” (2 Peter 2:18), for slaves cannot rightly offer liberty.

How is this promise kept? Bondage. Bondage to that which has overcome. The liberty that sin promises is slavery, and the greater the sinner, the greater the bondage to the sin. There is perhaps no more wretched a state than to be in bondage to abject corruption in the name of liberty. It is a bondage of the spirit; a captivity of the soul. Of all states of slavery, it is the most lasting.

On the other hand, through grace we can “stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,” with no need to be “entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). JDM

“No weapon formed against thee shall prosper.”

Numbers 22:1-20

Numbers 22:1-3

Yet they ought to have rejoiced, for the Amorites had been their great enemies, and Israel had put them down: but men who are bent on opposing God’s servants are under such an infatuation that they know not their own mercies.

Numbers 22:4-6

Moab hated Israel, but did not come to open fighting at first. Many are the underhanded enemies of Israel, but God will defeat their devices.

Numbers 22:9

Probably Balaam was surprised beyond measure that God should actually come to him. He had been a mere magician, but now for awhile the true prophetic spirit filled him.

Numbers 22:12

What an opportunity for Balaam, if he had but been blessed with grace as well as with the prophetic gift. Here the Lord told him of a blessed people; why did he not cast in his lot with them?

Numbers 22:13, 14

So far so good. Under the pressure of fear Balaam is obedient, but will he hold on?

Numbers 22:15-17

Here are larger bribes—how will the prophet act now?

Numbers 22:18-20

He wanted to go, for he loved the wages of unrighteousness, and to try him he has a conditional permit to go if the princes come again and press him, but not else. We shall see in our next reading how his evil heart broke this gentle bond. He was a great man, an enlightened man, and for a while a supernaturally endowed man, but a grain of grace would have been of more value to him than all this, and for lack of it he perished miserably. O Lord, give us grace rather than the rarest endowments.


Are You Dressed In the Whole Armor of God?

Ephesians 6:11

Not far from our personal residence is Moscow’s Great Kremlin Palace. Its massive red brick walls rise to the sky with bell towers and clock towers. Its huge, famous ruby-red stars can be seen from all directions in the city of Moscow. One entire side of the Kremlin is surrounded by the beautiful and historical Red Square, which includes St. Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin’s tomb. Another side of the Kremlin is encompassed with the lovely, tree-lined Alexandrovski Gardens.

At the far end of that Garden is a tall tower through which thousands of tourists enter every year to visit the State Armory Museum, one of the most fabulous museums in the entire world. As a person enters the State Armory Museum, he quickly becomes mesmerized as he walks past glass-enclosed dresses spun of pure silver that formerly adorned Russian queens. He can’t help but be stunned by the dazzling crowns and regalia worn by the Russian monarchy.

As the onlooker is led along the museum corridors, he looks in amazement at thrones made of ivory, covered with diamonds or spiked with precious stones. With fascination he gapes at the gold-covered, diamond-encrusted carriages that once transported various branches of the Russian royal family.

But a favorite part of the museum, especially for men, is the section that displays the heavy metal armor that was once worn in battle hundreds of years ago. Behind walls of glass, one can look at hundreds of years of metal armor, including a huge horse that is dressed in heavy metal armor from medieval times. Every time I see this armor section of the museum, I think of Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:11: “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

The phrase “whole armor” is taken from the Greek word panoplia, and it refers to a Roman soldier who is fully dressed in his armor from head to toe. It is the word pan, which means all, combined with the word hoplos, which is the Greek word for armor. Together they form the word panoplia, which was officially recognized as the word to describe the full attire and weaponry of a Roman soldier.

Although not all-inclusive, the following list is the basic military hardware each soldier possessed:

  • loin belt
    This was the central piece of weaponry that held much of the other pieces of armor in place. In Ephesians 6:14, Paul tells us that the believer is equipped with a loin belt of truth, referring to the written Word of God.
  • Breastplate
    This was a crucial piece of weaponry that defended the heart and the central organs of the body against attack. In Ephesians 6:14, Paul informs us that in our spiritual arsenal, we have at our disposal the “breastplate of righteousness.”
  • Greaves
    These specially formed pieces of metal were wrapped around the soldier’s lower legs to protect him from being bruised and scraped and to defend his lower extremities from being hit hard and broken. In Ephesians 6:15, Paul refers to this vital piece of weaponry when he tells us that our feet are “… shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”
  • Shoes
    These heavy-duty shoes of a Roman soldier were covered with thick leather on the top and fitted with hobnails on the tip of the toe and the back of the heel. They were also heavily spiked with hobnails on their undersides. Paul makes reference to these shoes in Ephesians 6:15 when he talks about our feet being “… shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”
  • Shield
    The shield that the Roman soldier used in battle was long, door-shaped, and covered with leather hide. It was lubricated every day by the soldier to keep it soft and flexible so arrows that struck the shield would slide off and fall to the ground rather than penetrate it. In Ephesians 6:16, Paul declares that as a believer, you are specially outfitted with a “… shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
  • Helmet
    The helmet of a Roman soldier, made either of brass or some other type of metal, was especially fitted to the shape of the soldier’s head, thus protecting the head from receiving a mortal wound from an arrow, a sword, or an ax. In Ephesians 6:17, Paul proclaims the good news that God has provided every believer with “the helmet of salvation” to protect him against the mental assaults of the enemy.
  • Sword
    The Roman soldier’s sword, shaped similarly to a long dagger that was intended to be used in close battle, was absolutely indispensable to his ability to attack, overcome, and defeat his adversary. In Ephesians 6:17, we are taught by Paul that every believer has “… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” This sword is God’s Word, specially quickened inside us to use in times when we are in close combat with the adversary.
  • Lance
    The lance gave the Roman soldier the ability to strike his enemy from a distance; therefore, no Roman soldier would be caught without his lance. Although Paul does not specifically mention the lance in his list of weaponry in Ephesians 6, it is suggested in verse 18 when Paul writes, “Praying always….” With the lance of prayer, each believer is able to assault the enemy from a distance, doing him so much damage that he is paralyzed in his attempts to come any nearer!

Because of Paul’s many imprisonments, this was an easy illustration for Paul to use. Standing next to these illustrious soldiers during his prison internments, Paul could see the Roman soldier’s loin belt; huge breastplate; brutal shoes affixed with spikes; massive, full-length shield; intricate helmet; piercing sword; and long, specially tooled lance that could be thrown a tremendous distance to hit the enemy from afar.

Everything the soldier needed to successfully combat his adversary was at his disposal. Likewise, we have been given the whole armor of God—everything we need to successfully combat opposing forces. Nothing is lacking! Every piece of armor has great significance for us in our battle against an unseen enemy.

God has provided everything you need to successfully stand up to the devil, to resist him, and to defeat him. Will you choose to obey or ignore Paul’s urgent command to “put on the whole armor of God”? Your success against an enemy that seeks every opportunity to destroy you depends on the choice you make!


Lord, how can I ever thank You enough for providing me with everything I need to successfully stand against each and every attack the devil tries to bring against my life? I thank You for loving me enough to equip me with these kinds of spiritual weapons. Because of what You have provided for me, I can stand fast, confident that I can withstand every assault, drive out the enemy, and win every battle. Without You, this would be impossible; but with Your power and the weapons You have provided for me, I am amply supplied with everything I need to push the enemy out of my way and out of my life!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I joyfully declare that I am dressed in the whole armor of God. There isn’t a part of me that hasn’t been supernaturally clothed and protected by the defensive and offensive weapons God has provided for me. I proceed with my loin belt of truth; I walk in my shoes of peace; I boldly wear my breastplate of righteousness; I hold up my shield of faith; I am clad in my helmet of salvation; I make use of my sword of the Spirit; and I have a lance of intercession that deals a blow to the enemy from a distance every time I aggressively pray!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. How long has it been since you took time to stop and reflect on all the weaponry that God has provided for your defense and offense against the enemy?
  2. Have you ever taken time to deeply study the spiritual weapons that God has supernaturally provided for you? If yes, what other steps can you take and what other books can you read to become better acquainted with this subject?
  3. What did you learn from reading today’s Sparkling Gem that you never realized before? After you think this question through and come up with the answer, why not share it with someone else today?

We have been given the whole armor of God—everything we need to successfully combat opposing forces. Nothing is lacking!



Why is it that we often find:

  • God so distant?
  • Our hearts so cold?
  • The Scriptures so flat?
  • Our efforts at ministry so fruitless?



One reason may be the fact that in the work environment we are brutalized


My guess is that to survive, we feel we have to be tough. Thick-skinned. A person who is impervious to pain, pressure… problems. Someone who has the answers.


So our work day is often characterized by a high degree of stress. Politics. Manipulation: Doing whatever it takes to win.


We become hardened. Jaded. Cynical. Cold. Exploitative. Brutalized. (2 Timothy 3:1-4)


Much in our professional world caters to pride: To impressing and being impressed. And when we carry this hardened attitude over into our approach to God, He simply will not be known, as our Heavenly Father responds only to the humble… To the poor in spirit. (James 4:6; Matthew 5:3)


Since the brutal work environment probably will remain with us, let me propose two solutions:


(1) That we settle in our soul the fact that it is God, not us, who meets our needs. “But remember the lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth… “ (Deuteronomy 8:18). Once we understand God to be our provider, we are then free to serve people rather than manipulate them to our advantage.


(2) That we settle in our soul either that God’s grace is sufficient in the circumstances, or that He will provide a way of escape from the circumstances. (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10; 1 Corinthians 10:13)


Once we choose to rest in the provision, grace, and sovereignty of God, intimacy with Him will become an increasing reality, the Scriptures will begin to come alive, and fruit in and through our lives will start to bud!



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