George Thomas was a pastor in a small New England town. One Sunday morning on his way to the church, he carried a rusty, bent old bird cage and set it by the pulpit. The congregation all looked at each other with raised eyebrows. Then the pastor began to speak....
I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of this cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright. I stopped the boy and asked, "What do you have there, son?"
"Just some old birds." the boy replied.
"What are you going to do with them?" I asked.
"Take them home and have fun with 'em." he answered. "I'm gonna tease 'em and pull out their feathers to make 'em fight. I'm gonna have a real good time."
"But you'll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?"
"Oh, I got some cats," said the little boy. "They like birds. I'll take 'em to them."
The pastor was silent for a moment, "How much do you want for those birds, son?"
"What? Why you don't want them birds, mister!" said the boy. "They're just plain old field birds. They don't sing. They ain't even pretty."
"How much?" the pastor asked again.
The boy sized up the pastor as if he were crazy and said, "Twenty Dollars!"
The pastor reached in his pocket and took out a twenty dollar bill. He placed it in the boys hand. In a flash, the boy was gone. The pastor picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. Setting the cage down, he opened the door and by softly tapping the bars, persuaded the birds out, setting them free.
Well, that explained the empty bird cage on the pulpit and then the pastor began to tell this story....
One day Satan and Jesus were having a conversation. Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden and he was gloating and boasting. "Yes sir. I just caught a world full of people down there. Set me a trap, used bait I knew they couldn't resist. Got 'em all!"
"What are you going to do with them?" Jesus asked.
Satan replied, "Oh, I'm gonna have fun! I'm gonna teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hate and abuse each other, how to drink and smoke and curse. I'm gonna teach them to follow their lustful desires and commit all sorts of immoral sexual acts. I'm gonna teach them how to love money and material possessions so they will steal and harm each other to get it, how to cheat each other and how to be jealous of each other. I'm gonna teach them how to be greedy and selfish and not help each other. I'm gonna teach them how to invent guns so they can kill each other and teach them how to build bombs so they can use in wars to destroy more than just their enemies. I'm really gonna have fun."
"And what will you do when you are done with them?" Jesus asked.
"Oh, I'll kill 'em." Satan answered proudly.
"How much do you want for them?" Jesus asked.
"Oh, you don't want those people. They ain't no good. Why, you'll take them and they'll just hate you. They'll spit on you, curse you and kill you. You don't want those people!"
"How much?" Jesus insisted.
Satan looked at Jesus and sneered, "All your blood, tears and your life."
Jesus said, "DONE!" Then He paid the price on the Cross.
The pastor picked up the cage and walked from the pulpit.
I thank God everyday for my blessed life. I'm not rich, don't live in a mansion and don't have the nicest of material things. But I'm healthy, have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on the table, a family that loves me and lifelong friends who are always there for me when I need help or a shoulder to cry on. I'd have to say that I truly have so much to be thankful for. The list is never-ending and so the most I can do is just raise my arms high to the Heavens and thank God for it all.
THANK YOU LORD!!!!