When our children were small, we decided to make a change in the way our children prayed their evening prayers. Previously, their prayers were full of requests. They would pray “help Daddy, help Mummy, help Grandpa, help Grandma,” etc. We decided that this was too vague, and wanted to instill thankfulness in their hearts. By introducing thankfulness, we would then be able to easily lead them to praise at a later time. Then, their prayers changed to “thank you for Mummy,” etc. One day, as my son continued his prayer, he said: Thank you Jesus for toys, for our Pastor, for socks,” etc. This time, he just happened to put our pastor at the same level with his socks and toys.
At that moment, I laughed at his simple treatment of the things in life. It is good for us to thank God for every detail of our lives. He takes care of the details of our lives because of his love and care for us. Yet, we can look beyond the simple things in life and look to something great and awesome he has given us: The Kingdom of God. The Bible says that the Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The world is constantly looking for righteousness, peace, and joy in every place but the Kingdom of God. When these things are a part of our lives because of the Kingdom, they will remain with us. The joy, peace, and righteousness that the world gives us will vacillate depending on the circumstances, but the Kingdom of God will always continue. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is consuming fire’” (Hebrews 12: 28, 29). The context explains that the things that can be shaken are the created things-the temporal things. But, the unshakable thing is the Kingdom-that we can be really thankful for. Since the Kingdom of God will last, our righteousness, peace, and joy will last.
Yes, let us be thankful for the little things in life-remembering that they are temporal. Look beyond those simple things to the unshakable Kingdom that we are receiving. There, we have righteousness, peace, joy, and the power of God which cannot be shaken. Thank you Jesus.
I look forward to your comments!
An adoption agency is trying to find parents for frozen embryos. A report in ReligionToday.com said that an estimated 150,000 frozen embryos are being stored in laboratories and clinics in the United States. During in-vitro fertility treatments, as many as 30 eggs are fertilized, and usually 20 or more remain unused after the treatments are over. Sometimes, the same couple may use some that are left over at another time. Most of them are left inactive in the frozen state. Ron Stoddart, the director of Christtian Adoption and Family Services is currently on a quest for couples who would be willing to adopt these frozen embryos. He said, “embryos are ‘pre-born babies’ that should be protected and treated with the same dignity as a child being carried by a mother.”
As I read this report, my mind flooded with thoughts of the many thousands who are not given the opportunity to be born and experience life like the rest of us. Actually, they are not less human than I. When I was born, there was nothing especially inherent in me to guarantee birth, and the opportunities that follow. Unfortunately, this is the plight of these 150, 000 and more. They have no chance, no opportunity, and most of all, they have no one to call them their own. No one is there to stand up for their rights. In some ways, they are “unborn orphans.” We must recognize that they, like everyone else, are created in the image of God.
If those thousands could hear, I would read to them Ephesians 1:4,5. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Because of His love for us, He chose us before we were conceived, to be holy and blameless in His sight. These thousands who do not have an opportunity to live, were also chosen by Him. Also because of His love, he predestined us to be adopted as His children through Jesus. Those who have no one to claim them as their own can be assured that Jesus values them enough to be adopted by Him. All these have been done by Jesus in accordance with his pleasure and will. It is not by compulsion or force that He has chosen us. This verse says that Jesus is pleased to call us his child.
There are many who are “orphaned” in various ways. Some are aborted or discarded as waste. Others are orphaned by the death of their parents, and some by rejection – which is probably the most common. The message for all is “Jesus is pleased to call you His child.”
“Hey, kid, help me with this, will you?” The voice came from the man who was repairing his car on the street. Although I grew up in that neighborhood, I did not know many of the people who lived there. This man was one of those I never met. In fact, not many people knew him, nor wanted to know him. He was a peculiar fellow, not always clean and not always friendly. Yet when he asked me to help him, I felt compelled to do so. As I walked up to the car that he was working on, I knew that this is not the type of person that my parents would want me to associate with. I felt a certain boldness and walked up to him anyway.
As I helped him with the task, we began to talk about many things. Although I was much younger than he, I noticed a willingness in him to open up and talk about things that you wouldn’t share with a stranger. He told me about the struggles that he faced at work, and with his family. We discussed about the neighborhood and the problems we faced with crime at night. As we continued to work and talk, I noticed a relationship being built with him.
After that incident, we greeted each other whenever we met. We were no longer strangers or just mere acquaintances. We were now “friends” to a certain level of the word. In his book, The Cell Church: Preparing Your Church for the Coming Harvest, Larry Stockstill speaks of a “partnership” that develops with those you serve. He mentions Jesus’ statement to Peter “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” (John 13:8). Stockstill says that Jesus was essentially saying “If I don’t serve you, we are not partners.”
Too often, people refrain from relating with the community. Our purpose is not to survive in their midst as a “peculiar people.” Rather we are to lend a hand, work with them, and be a part of the community. We must be willing to give of our time, energy and money to those who are in need. We can look at others with the same humility that Jesus exemplified when he bent down to wash the feet of his disciples. Let’s open our eyes and look at those around us. What is their pain, what are their needs? How can you offer yourself to serve those around you? When we are able to do this, we are certainly on the road to developing a compassion like that of Jesus.
about some of the young people in his church. He visited some of
their web sites and blogs and was shocked to read what they were
writing. Their ideas, perception of the world, parents, school,
friends, etc. are of a nature that one would not expect.
Really they are good kids, but you would never imagine that they would
ever express themselves in such a shocking manner!
What is the problem? Is the internet the villan that destroys our
young people? They certainly have many temptations from friends,
magazines, movies, and numerous other sources. But the internet seems
the most far – reaching and vast of all available media. It gives so
many opportunities for good and evil. James writes: “but each one is
tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when
it is full grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14,15). It is clear
from this verse that the ultimate responsibility for our actions lies
Teaching on the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership, John Maxwel quotes
a statement from Bill Perkins’ book, Awaken The Leader Within You:
“When Jesus taught us to ask God not to lead us into temptation, he
was not suggesting that God would ever lead us into sin. Nor did he
mean that temptation can be avoided altogether. Instead, I interpret
his words to mean that we should ask God to prevent us from having the
inclination and opportunity to sin at the same time” What a great
concept. Everyone has the inclination because of the human nature
within us. Although we may not have direct control over it, we can
build up the “inner man” through prayer and meditation on the Word of
God. As we do that, we can first minimize the opportunities for
temptations, and then overcome the effects of the ones that remain.
So who is the real villan?
Finally it is here, the completion of 40 years of life God has given me. Does it feel like life has begun? (There is a saying that life begins at 40 – for those who don’t know.) Everything seems the same so far, except that I woke up before my alarm.
For the last two years, I’ve had a lot of expectations regarding this phase of my life. My most significant request to the Lord was that I would have the privilege of focusing most of my time and energy on the things that I’m “made for.” What am I made for? Turning people to Christ, discipling them and making them soul-winners. I want to train others to reproduce this process many times over throughout their lives. I guess it’s a simple request.
God has been gracious to me during my brief life-span. Early in my teenage years, He took a hold of me. The verse that inspired me from that time on was Jeremiah 20:9b “…his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” He called me to be in his glorious ministry, and to come along and be a part of that call he’s given me my wife Annie(Joy), and my children Nathan and Sharon.
OK, God, another 40 more!
Alexi E. George
20 June 2006
Traveling across our state, Kerala, we see many eye-catching sights along the way. One of the most daunting sites is the many unfinished foundations. Obviously someone had set out to build their dream house, but couldn’t finish. Now, it has all sorts of things growing, including grass, shrubs, and some have small trees growing too.
Through the growth, you can see the foundation and the layout that was planned for the house. Someone had a dream. Money was spent to purchase the land, family members gathered to draw up a plan: The living room here, bedrooms on this side, kitchen and dining area next to each other, etc. Each family member had an idea to contribute, and their ideas converged to form the final plan.
But something went wrong. Certainly it was unexpected, but the unexpected often seems to come when there are big risks involved. Unexpected situations have a drastic effect on our focus. We begin the task with lots of planning and determination, only to back off with fear and give up all our hopes. The Psalmist faced a similar situation when he said: “The seas have lifted up, O Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea – the Lord on high is mighty” (Psalm 93:3-4). The all-consuming, overpowering waves represented his unexpected situations which have a severe debilitating effect on our lives. But the Psalmist realized that the Lord, who is mighty, is mightier than the waves. Consider the reality: the waves are mighty, but our Lord is mightier. Your broken dreams may seem to consume you, but our God is mightier than your brokenness.
We would all love to live a life completely free from problems. But we know the reality: by the time we solve one problem, another one is brewing and ready.
Then the big question: Why? The apostle Paul writes in 2Corinthians 1:4b “…so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” God’s aim is to develop us so that we can be a comfort to others. Our problems are in the overall plan of God for our lives.
How does this happen? Paul goes on to say that “…just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” Just as Christ was patient and obedient to the Father in His sufferings, we are to patiently endure. Not only because of his example, but because it is in the overall plan of God for us. As we suffer, he comforts us. The more sufferings we endure, he fills us with more comfort. As we are continually filled with his comfort, we begin to overflow with comfort. We become the agents of God’s comfort in a hurting world.
Some become bitter as a result of their sufferings. The desired result of “overflowing with comfort” does not seem so common for many. What is the determining factor? I believe when we have the proper perspective that we are “sharing” in our sufferings, the desired outcome will be seen in our lives. Paul said “If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation.”
So be patient in suffering. Reduce the complaining and grumbling. Submit to the One who suffered so much for us. He will develop us to be agents of God’s comfort in a hurting world.