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A listener shared a story with me recently that is just too powerful not to share with you. A man named George Thomas was a pastor in a small New England town. One Easter Sunday morning, he got up to speak and he set a rusty, bent-up, old bird cage next to the pulpit. You could tell by people's faces that the pastor had some explaining to do. He said, "Well, I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me, swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little birds who were shivering with cold and fear. I asked the boy, "What you got there?" He said, "Just some old birds." The pastor then asked, "What are you going to do with them?" The answer came back, "I'm gonna tease 'em and pull out their feathers to make 'em fight. I'm gonna have a real good time." The pastor pointed out that the boy would soon get tired of those birds and he inquired what he would do with them. "Oh, I got some cats," the boy said. "They like birds." What happened next is what puts you and me into the picture.
The pastor had a question for the boy who had nothing but hurtful plans for those little birds. "How much do you want for them, son?" The boy couldn't believe it. These were just plain old field birds who weren't very pretty and they couldn't sing. When the pastor pressed his question, the boy finally answered, "Uh, ten dollars?" The pastor reached into his pocket and pulled out a $10 bill, and the boy took his money and ran off.
The pastor picked up the cage and he gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. He opened the cage door. He softly tapped the bars to persuade the birds to come out, and then he set them free.
Now the folks at church understood at this point why there was an empty cage on the pulpit. Then the pastor began to tell a story of a conversation between Jesus and Satan, who had just come from his victory with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The devil was boasting, "Yes, sir, I just caught me a world full of people down there. I set me a trap and they fell for the bait. Got 'em all!" Jesus asked him, "What are you doing to do with them?" "I'm gonna have some fun with them," Satan replied. "I'm gonna teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hurt and hate each other, and how to get hooked on habits that will destroy them. I'm going to teach them to deceive each other, abuse each other, and even kill each other."
When Jesus asked what he would do when he was done with them, Satan said, "Oh, I'll kill them." "How much do you want for them?" Jesus asked. The devil said, "You don't want them. They'll just spit on you. They'll just curse you and kill you!" Jesus asked again, "How much?" Satan sneered, "All your tears and all your blood!" "Done!" Jesus said, and then He paid the price. Now our word for today from the Word of God in John 10:10, "The thief (that's Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."
This very day the life-taker, the devil himself, is trying to hold onto you. He wants to keep you away from Jesus until your last heartbeat, and then you'll be his forever. But the Life-Giver, Jesus Christ, is fighting for your soul this very moment. He paid the price for your sin on the cross. And now you're in the middle of a tug-of-war on which your eternity depends; Satan trying to keep you on his path to kill you, and Jesus inviting you to give yourself to Him so He can give you life. They won't decide whether you go to heaven or hell - you will.
Isn't it time for you to open your heart to the One who loved you enough to die for you? If that's what you want, then on this Good Friday, I would love to have you go to our website and find there the information I've put there about how to be sure you belong to Him. There couldn't be a better day to come to the man who died for you. Our website is YoursForLife.net.
For 2,000 years, Jesus has been unlocking that cage door of sin and letting its captives go free. He's waiting to do that for you this very day, this Good Friday.
Distributed by Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.