Welcome to the September Archive. You are welcome to read the entire archive, or find a topic on the list below that is of interest to you. Just click the link, and you will be taken directly to the day it was written. Enjoy, and may you know God's peace as you read His Word.
When writing, I used the New International Version of the Bible. Due to copyright restrictions, I have not included quotes for the scriptures, but highly encourage you to open your own bibles to read the scripture passages for yourselves.
A WORD FOR TODAY, September 2000
September 1, 2000
Weakest Link We watch a game show on the TV called “The Weakest Link.” The show begins with ten contestants. They have nine rounds of questions to determine the prize amount. With each successive round, the weakest link is voted off the team. It is the decision of the team members who must leave. The audience is given the statistical truth, which members were weakest and strongest. However, the team members have to make their decision based on their memory of the action. Though they are supposed to be working together to get the most money, the competition is cutthroat. No one ever votes against himself or herself, even when they know they are the weakest link. The final round is between the last two survivors. There is only one winner in this game. The other nine contestants go home with absolutely nothing.
After a person is kicked off, they are interviewed in front of the cameras. Often they say the vote was unfair. They look to the past failures of others, they guess who might be the next to fall, or they blame their loss on someone’s biases. A contestant rarely accepts responsibility for his or her own mistakes. It is funny to realize that the farther they are in the game, as the people are removed, the less money the team wins. They don’t get better, they get worse. The team of ten won £400 in yesterday’s game. When they were down to three, they only won £70. I have seen the best players voted off because of one blunder. No matter how good they were until that moment – one wrong answer or loss of money will send them packing.
How often does that happen in real life? The bullies on the playground manage to victimize child after child without getting caught and punished. The good kid who finally stands up for himself in the midst of bullying gets caught and sent to the principal’s office. We look at the wicked who succeed in this world and wonder why life is so unfair.
Read Psalm 73:13-20
In our work, play, school, church and neighbourhoods, we will come across the wicked who seem to prosper in this world. We cannot always understand why those who lie, cheat and steal appear to be blessed. However, as we draw into God’s sanctuary, our life in Christ Jesus, we realize that the true blessings are not prize money on a game show but rather eternal life. We must live our life from day to day knowing that without the blood of our Lord Jesus, we too would be counted among the wicked. It is by His life in us that we can keep our heart pure, and by His blood that we gain the true blessing. The wicked will perish according to God’s will. Thanks be to God that we have Jesus.
Son I am the mother of a seven-year-old boy. If you have been the parent of a seven-year-old boy, you will understand what I am talking about. At the age of seven a boy begins to strike out on his own, looking for that sense of independence that comes with age. Yet, they are still young enough to desire bedtime stories and some cuddling on the couch. It can be rather confusing for a mom when she takes her son to school and he wants nothing to do with kisses and hugs, but then at night he won’t let go of her!
This phase of life can be difficult because parents want their children to know that they trust them, yet the world is still a nasty place. It is a time of letting go. We have been cleansing our home of the childhood toys that we don’t need to ship back to the states, but we’ve sold several items Zachary did not want to give up. I have to let go too. Zachary wants to walk to school all by himself. I’m not ready to let him, since the school is a great distance from our house, there are some busy roads to cross and there is no security. In his rush toward independence, Zack thinks I don’t trust him. I do trust him, however I can not control the things of this world and I want to protect him from the dangers that exist. As I give in to Zack’s independence, he must also give in to the responsibilities of being a ‘big boy.’
At times, seven-year-olds turn to others for help when they should go directly to their parent. They go to a friend, a teacher or a neighbour. They want to prove they can do things on their own, prove they are not dependent upon a parent. As a mom, I want to be able to do everything I can for my son. This sort of rebellion can be hurtful to a parent, particularly when the outcome is against the established rules. The child no longer listens to the parent, though it is the parent who truly loves them and knows what is best.
God was like a father to the Israelites. He blessed them with everything they needed to become a great nation. In return, He wanted them to love and trust Him. They often turned to other nations for help and protection, rather than relying solely upon Him. God loved His chosen people, so He gave them the freedom to choose whom they would follow. As He gave them independence, He also gave them responsibility.
Read Zechariah 7:9-12
Unfortunately, just like a seven-year-old child, Israel rebelled against the love of God, trying to do things on her own. He became angry because they did not obey His command or live according to His plan. We do the same thing today. We know that God loves us, but we try to prove our independence and do not live according to the Word of God. In response to Israel’s rebellion, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die so that they would be forgiven for their rebellion. Jesus died to save us from our own rebellion. Listen to the Word of the Lord God Almighty and obey Him. Do not harden your heart in an effort to prove yourself to be independent, rather continue to be His child trusting in His love.
Freshmen Every college or university begins the school year the same way. They corral all the freshmen students, put them into an auditorium and lay down the rules of the school. They begin this assembly with the statement, “Look to your left and to your right. One of you will not be here to graduate.” In other words, thirty percent of college freshmen fail to live up to the expectations set before them. It takes hard work and dedication to succeed in upper level schools. The students are no longer in schools required by law. They have chosen to attend so that they will have a higher education and a better chance at a good job.
What does it take to succeed at these things? It takes dedication. The student must attend classes and study. They must complete the assignments. To study well they must live an upright life, eating and sleeping properly so that their body is able to handle the physical stress of academic life. The student should not party constantly, though a well-rounded life does include times of fun. It is important that they have friends and go out occasionally to release the stress of deadlines and expectations.
Similar speeches are given on the first day of a new job, or at the first practice of some sports team. The employee is expected to be present when assigned and do all that is required of them. The player is expected to be present at practices and games, and to do their best at all times. Failure awaits the student, employee or player who does not live up to the requirements of the position.
Read Psalm 15
As Christians, we live in God’s sanctuary and He lives in us. There is great responsibility that comes with such a position. God has given us His Holy Word in the Bible and it is there that God gives us His expectations. A college president, employer or coach may be quick to remove a person who is failing; God is not like that. He knows that none of us is blameless, that is why He sent His Son Jesus Christ to the cross for our sins. It is by His blood, and in His life, that we can be righteous. It is by His power that we can do what is right. Do you live up to the expectations of this Psalm? Walk accordingly and you will not fail.
Diversity Our Creator is a detailed artist. His hand has worked every aspect of His creation, forming every flower and painting every sunset. Yet, as you look at a field full of daisies, it is difficult to see the diversity. You must step into the field to see that some daisies are big and others are small.
The snowflakes are even handmade in His factory, each one unique from the rest. With snow, the diversity is even more difficult to discern, because as each flake falls to the ground it melds to the others. At the beginning of a snowfall, there are so few flakes that you can distinguish one from another. Some of the snowflakes melt but if the conditions are right, more and more fall on the ground until it is covered. As we shovel the sidewalks after a snowstorm, we do not realize that every shovel full is thousands of individual flakes. To us, it’s just a pile of snow.
Last night, we went to a Songs of Praise service in a village. We joined together with other Christians to sing songs that lift the name of Jesus for all to hear. This service was unique because it was not simply our Anglican congregation, but there were Christians from many denominations present. We were a group of individual Christians, uniquely designed by the Father but joined together as one unit offering praise and thanksgiving to Him. It was impossible to distinguish our differences. God was glorified in our unity.
Read John 17:20-23
There are aspects of our doctrine and practice that is different from one denomination to another. But one thing remains constant; Jesus Christ is our Lord and Saviour. It is by His blood that any of us can come before the throne of God. If we keep ourselves separate based on our own thoughts and desires, the world will continue to see our differences rather than the Father. However, if we gather together as one, worshipping the Lord in Spirit and Truth, the world will see God in our worship and be drawn to Him.
It takes the right conditions for snow to pile moment after moment to cover the world in white. It also takes the right conditions for the lost to be drawn to God. The church was created to be a family, the family of God. However, the world does not see Him; they only see our diversity. When we join together as our village did last night, we are melded together by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, like snow on a field, the glory of the Lord will cover the world. Thanks be to God.
Speaking America is in the midst of a political campaign. Presidential candidates are traveling all over the country, shaking hands with the people and kissing babies. They stand before crowds, speaking words to sell themselves to the nation so that on Election Day they will have the most votes. Around the watercooler and over the back fence, Americans are talking about the candidates and their impressions of the politics of the day. It is a time when everyone voices their opinions about the issues, though some are more passionate and vocal.
It is not always a joy to talk with someone who is passionate about his or her political beliefs. Have you ever been in a conversation with a friend who is so sure they are right about an issue that they are willing to put down another person in some way to make their point? They attack the person’s intelligence, their commitment to the Lord or their patriotism. Have you ever been that person? Unfortunately, I know I have. Those moments have brought pain to people I love, and I walked away from the conversations ashamed of my actions.
We can not allow such experiences to stop us from speaking truth, but we must learn how to speak in a Christ-like manner. They say that you should never talk about politics or religion because it always leads to a fight. Yet, as Christians we have been commissioned by our Lord Jesus to go out into the entire world to share the Gospel message. Since the Gospel is about all that God did for the world and religion is a belief in and reverence for God, how do we share the Gospel without religion?
Read Proverbs 16:20-24
As we obey the command of our Lord to go out and make disciples of all nations, we must rely upon the Holy Spirit in our hearts to guide our thoughts, words and actions. Who among us is wise? Those who trust in God. These verses from Proverbs speak of pleasant words. Does this mean that we promote tolerance and accept everything as good? No, but we must speak in a way that comes from the heart of God, the way of love and mercy.
So, in these days, as you discuss the political campaign, remember whose you are and seek His guidance in every conversation, in every word spoken. You may be right about the issue, but do not condemn your listener by harsh words against them. The Truth is often rejected because of the way it has been presented. Share your message in a way that will be heard, so that the Truth will be received and believed. Thanks be to God.
Investment There are several ways to invest your money. There are those who like to take a risk, and they sink their money into some product or company in which they see immediate financial gain. If the company does succeed, they can reap a quick harvest of his money and get out. Often, these types of investments fail because the company does not succeed, so the investor loses everything. This type of investment is looking for immediate and large financial pay off.
Most financial counselors will recommend a long-term programme of investment. They suggest placing your money in a wide variety of growth opportunities, so that if one fails, you have not lost everything you had. This type of investment looks to the long term. You won’t get rich quick, but your financial future will be solid and reliable. It takes patience to wait for the rewards of such a programme.
A farmer must have patience also, as he waits for his crops. He cannot plant the seed and expect the harvest the next day. He must wait for the seed to grow and ripen. Then he can go bring in the crop. If he expects to see the product of his labour too quickly, he will be disappointed and perhaps even give up caring for the field.
Read Mark 4:26-29
As Christians, we have been called to sow the seeds of hope for God’s Kingdom in the world and to pray for healing. Jesus Christ commanded us to preach and teach the Word and to heal in His name. When we share His kingdom through words and deeds, we expect to see a difference. We expect people to be saved and healed. Yet we must be patient, because God does not always produce an immediate change. As we obey our Lord Jesus, we must look to the long term and know that God is always faithful. Have you been praying for someone you love and wonder if God will every make a difference in their life? Do not give up. The investment of your heart and time will pay off for God’s glory in His time. Thanks be to God.
Outreach We have been commanded by our Lord Jesus to go out and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything He commanded. For most people, this evangelism is meant to be in their homes, schools and workplaces. However, there are people who are called and gifted to go into the mission fields. Christian missionaries leave the comfort of their homes and go to places such as Africa and Asia to share the message of our Lord Jesus with those who have not yet heard the good news.
This is not an easy life to live, however those who have been called into such ministry find such joy and peace doing God’s work. There are many groups and organizations that finance missionary efforts through denominations and personal calls to evangelism. Some of these groups have set up websites to share their hopes, fears and needs, so that people like you and I can help them through prayer and finances. You can search the web for such ministries and support them with letters of encouragement and financial aid as the Holy Spirit moves.
Read James 1:27
I received a note today from www.standinginthegap.com a ministry in Southeast Asia. Not only are they sharing the Good News through word, they are also doing so with deed. This ministry supports orphanages and cares for the widows. They are feeding bodies as well as souls. In the process, they are facing persecution from the powers that are working to stop the Word of our Lord Jesus from reaching the world. It is ministries such as this that not only preach the truth but also live it, that shine the light of Christ to the lost.
How can you help? First and foremost, you can offer your support through prayer, asking God to give those missionaries everything they need spiritually, emotionally and physically so that they can do what they’ve been called to do. You can write letters of encouragement, which really boosts the morale of those who are far from the comforts of home. You can share financially. Standinginthegap.com is just one of thousands of ministries you can support. Check through your home church or the web to find names and addresses you can use. Most of all seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to discern the ministries He would have you support. Thanks be to God.
Credibility The Air Force has a suggestion programme that encourages the members to share their ideas about how to do things in a better, more efficient manner. Some of the suggestions earn the airmen financial bonuses, particularly when the idea saves the force a great deal of money. There are similar programmes at corporations all over the world. Very often the young and inexperienced members of a team have excellent ideas for the organization, but are ignored by those who rank higher in the team.
My husband has, throughout his career in the Air Force, faced situations in which he knew an idea would not work as planned. He explained his thoughts to his supervisors and commanders. However, those of higher rank did as they planned. Bruce would then step back and watch the plan fail, then step in and fix the problem. For some young airmen, it doesn’t take long for the rejection to affect their desire to assert themselves and share their ideas. This is why incentive programmes are instituted. They give the airmen some voice in the running of their force. They are the future, and if they are subdued too often, they quit trying or leave altogether.
Who else do we ignore because we think they lack credibility? Do we listen to our children? Women? People of another race? Unmarried or widowed? The sick?
Read Mark 16:9-11
The first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection were women. In that day, women were not considered credible witnesses, so the disciples did not believe them. Mary was not only a woman, but she also was a woman who had a chequered past. Yet, the words she shared, “He is risen,” have proven to be true, and are the basis of everything we believe as Christians. Our hope of eternal life rests squarely on the resurrection of our Lord!
Has someone recently shared some bit of wisdom you ignored because the person lacked credibility in your eyes? Children are filled with wisdom, if only we would listen. Stay-at-home moms have a sense of love and mercy that we should hear. Youth has a fresh insight that could mean the difference between success and failure. God used Mary as a reminder that His idea of credibility is much different than ours. He uses the weak, because He is our strength. Thanks be to God.
Pastor How is your pastor or priest today? Are there any aspects of his or her life that need prayer? Does he seem as though he’s content, living in the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus? Does the light of hope shine in every word she speaks? Or is there something blocking the Word from being preached in the church. Is there some situation in his life that is blocking him from ministering, as he should? Of course your pastor needs prayer. It is vital that constant prayer covers those who serve the Lord in such a capacity, as shepherd of the people.
Most often, we forget that the ministers need ministering and prayer. We think that because they are close to God in their role as pastor, that they can handle it themselves. We also take to them all our problems; our hunger, fear, biases and gossip. We lay upon them all our burdens, without helping to carry their burdens.
Things got pretty upsetting for the Hebrews as they wandered in the wilderness during the Exodus. In the book of Numbers, we hear of how they were hungry and tired. They remembered the wonderful food in Egypt and started to grumble at Moses for taking them away from the comforts they knew there. They forgot about the slavery and oppression because their bellies were empty. God was providing plenty of manna from heaven, but the people wanted more.
In the eleventh chapter of Numbers, Moses cries out to God, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?” He’s tired, alone and unable to deal with so many problems. God became angry with the people and provided so much quail that they became sick from it. Just at the time when Moses needed people to minister to him – to comfort and support him – those closest to him attacked. They spoke against Moses, raising their own anointing above his. “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn't he also spoken through us?”
Read Numbers 12:5-9
When things get a little tense at your church, how do people react? Do they drop to their knees in prayer? Do you harbour any feelings of jealousy or pride that might affect the ministry in your place of Christian fellowship? Do you speak out against those who have been anointed by God’s Spirit to serve Him in this world?
The ministers need ministering. Like Moses, our shepherds face times of exhaustion, loneliness, uncertainty, fear, anger and pride. Too often, we react to those moments like Aaron and Miriam. We do not lift the pastor up in prayer, or offer him help for his worldly problems. Rather, we speak out against him, lifting ourselves out of pride.
How is your pastor or priest today? Take a moment to pray. Then offer him or her the love of Christ no matter what situations exist in your church. Thanks be to God.
Marriage On this day twelve years ago, Bruce and I joined in marriage. We had one of those fairytale long distance romances, falling in love through letters in the post. Bruce lived in England and I was in New Jersey. We did not have computers, so we had to wait days for the letters to arrive at our door. We had a tiny but beautiful wedding on an island in a park in California. Though it was not my dream wedding, it was even better than I could imagine because I was marrying Bruce.
We joined the church whose pastor performed the ceremony. During the early years, our dear friends from that church would get silly over how mushy we acted. We were truly in love. Many years have passed. We have added two children to our family and we have lived in five different homes. There have been a few disagreements and times of uncertainty. There has been a lot more moments of joy and peace. We are still in love.
Zack is at an age when he gets terribly embarrassed, and jealous, of Bruce and my physical relationship. If he catches us kissing, he runs to get in the middle. It is a fun game we play that I enjoy immensely, because I get lots of kisses. Our relationship is even better today than it was on our honeymoon. In the years since the wedding, we have grown closer in many ways, emotionally and spiritually, which makes the physical even more special.
There are times when I know that my life and ministry would be much easier if I did not have the responsibilities of being a wife and a mother. However, marriage is a gift from God, unifying two people as one body in every way – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-9
On this, our twelfth anniversary, Bruce and I are just beginning the rest of our lives, which will be filled with new adventures. We’ll go through it all together – moves, retirement, graduate school, new jobs, children growing up and whatever else comes our way. We will do whatever is necessary to keep our marriage strong in every way. Most of all, we’ll keep God as the centre of our relationship, and we will do our best to serve Him together in the years to come. Thanks be to God.
Bruce, Happy Anniversary. I love you.
Sunshine We enjoyed the most beautiful summer weather this weekend. After three months of gloomy, rainy weather, it was lovely to see the sunshine and feel the warmth. There have been a few nice days over the summer, but this weekend seemed particularly nice. It may have been the activities we had planned, but I think is has more to do with the impending winter weather.
Our latitude is quite far north on the hemisphere, so our days are greatly affected by the movement of the sun. We have very long summer days and very long winter nights. As autumn draws near, we have begun to notice the shorter days. Just a month ago, it was bright at 5:00, but today it is still dark at 6:00. This lack of sunshine tends to put people into a dark and depressed mood. More people die in winter months from sickness, suicide and murder. The weather plays a contributing factor to this trend. The lack of sunshine brings cold weather and precipitation. These weather trends mean people tend to lock themselves away in their homes or offices, which brings on loneliness and frustration. Kids get bored, parents get tired of dealing with the bickering, and co-workers annoy one another. It is a time of high emotion that often leads to destruction.
There is nothing we can do about the weather, but we can do a few things to make the winter months more pleasant for our family, friends and ourselves. We can eat, sleep and dress properly, so that our bodies will be strong to fight flu. We can take up a hobby we enjoy, spend more quality time enjoying the company of our family. We can cooperate in our business practices, so that we do not cause stress on the other employees. Most of all, we should keep our focus on God. When we keep close to God, through prayer, study and action, His light will shine on those around us.
Read Genesis 1:1-5
There was a time when there was no sunshine at all. Then God spoke and there was light. Two thousand years ago, there was a different sort of darkness on the earth. Then God spoke and there was the Light, Jesus Christ. Today there is still darkness, which exists in our flesh nature. The weather is not really the problem in winter, but rather our tendency toward evil behaviour. However, with the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives, we have a light that shines no matter the weather. He is like a warm summer day in the darkness of our lives. Perhaps we will lack sunshine in the next few months, but look toward the Sonshine and be happy.
Bugs Felix loves to play with bugs. Just the other night there was a rather large spider in the house. Felix enjoyed it as a playmate. He let it run so that he could chase it. He carried it around as he would a mouse. Every night, when Bruce takes out the garbage, Felix waits by the door in hopeful expectation that some moth or other bug will fly in while the door is open. The porch light draws the bugs. Bruce has learned to keep the light turned off while he takes the garbage to the can.
Last night at a Protestant Women of the Chapel meeting we had a candle lighting ceremony in celebration of our ‘birthday’ in Christ. Several women shared their testimonies and the amazing power of God was shown through their lives. During the candle ceremony, as the electric lights were turned off and the candles were lit, it was difficult to keep our eyes off the flames. We were drawn to the light. Candles are so lovely, but they don’t seem to give off much light when the room is bright with fluorescent lighting.
Read 2 Corinthians 4:4-6
When Paul writes of the god of this age, he could be referring to the devil, the world or our own sinful natures. All three block our hearts and minds from seeing the truth; they blind us from seeing the Light. Often, the light is drowned out by false light – words and deeds that seem to be good, right and true. Many people claim to be sharing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, but the god of this age has twisted the truth. These words appear as light, but they are not truth and the true light seems lost.
In the beginning there was darkness, God spoke and there was light. Two thousand years ago, there was a different sort of darkness on the earth. Then God spoke and there was the Light, Jesus Christ. Today, the darkness still exists, but the world has made that darkness seem like light. The true light burns in you. God has put that light in your heart to shine forth to His creation. Share the truth of Jesus, about His death and resurrection, His love and mercy, which gives you life.
Protest Gas prices are outrageous in Europe because the governments have put such a high tax on fuel to discourage overuse. The price is particularly high in England, where about 85% of the costs pay taxes. Those who make their living in the transportation business, such a lorry and cab drivers, have finally had enough. For the past several days they have blockaded the refineries and caused traffic jams on the major roadways. Many of the gas stations are empty, people are unable to buy fuel for their vehicles, and it is affecting every area of life. The grocery stores are running out of food because there are no trucks to deliver. Hospital workers cannot get to work because they have no fuel for their cars, so surgeries are being canceled. If this continues, the schools will be closed because the buses will be out of fuel by Friday. Extra events have already been canceled because of the shortage.
In desperation, people are standing in line for an hour at the only pumps that have gas. Panic buying is emptying the store shelves even faster, with bread and milk being the first to disappear. So far, this has been a very peaceful protest. After all, everyone is affected by the high prices of fuel. However in the days to come, as the tanks of our cars and the shelves of our cupboards become empty, emotions will run high. Anger and fear will become prevalent. Anger leads to violence and fear leads to desperation. Both cause us to sin against our neighbour.
This particular protest has been quite unorganized, begun by a small, very vocal, minority. Yet, it has brought this country to a standstill. That’s the way of sin. It took the sin of only one man to put us all in darkness. Adam’s disobedience brought death to the whole world. Even today, one small sin leads to greater sins. A small lie eventually becomes a bigger lie. Anger leads to violence. Fear brings on a variety of responses, which keep our focus from what is right. Though things seem impossible because sin has such a powerful influence in our lives, there is hope.
Read Romans 5:6-8
Jesus Christ lived, died and rose again so that we can be forgiven for the sins of our past, present and future. We do not always know the affect that sin will have on our lives or those around us. Adam did not know he was condemning the world to death. The truckers did not know that people might die because doctors can not get to the hospital to save them. We do not know how a small lie or moment of anger might destroy something of God’s creation. Though we still fail, He has overcome the death of this world by His cross so that we might have true life in Him. Believe in Him and know that forgiveness and life.
Location They say there are three things that matter in real estate, “Location, location, location.” There are many reasons to choose a specific neighbourhood – schools, convenience to shopping or other places of interest. A home close to your job will mean less commute time and more quality time with the family. A pleasant family atmosphere in the community will help build friendships and provide support in times of trouble.
We have been searching the Real Estate websites on the Internet for a possible home in Arkansas. We have found several lovely looking homes, at prices we can afford. Yet, we know nothing about the neighbourhoods. We have had the experience of living in a bad neighbourhood – one with crime and other problems – and we do not want to go through that again. That year was filled with stress, anger, and even fear. All I wanted to do was move.
We have lived in England for nearly four years. It has been a delightful tour, with wonderful opportunities for travel, education, growth and friendship. Yet, there have been moments when all I have wanted was to go home. England is so far from America, so far from family and friends, so far from the conveniences of life that we expect. There has even been times when my desperation to go home was so great I was on the verge of depression.
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever hated your circumstances and wished you were somewhere else? I think we all have at some point in our lives. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Life seems so much better in someone else’s neighbourhood. With the help of God and some wonderful friends, I survived those moments when I was down.
There is one place I would rather be than anywhere. I so desire to be in the presence of God for all eternity. As I live in this neighbourhood called ‘the world’ and I look over the fence toward heaven, I yearn for to be there.
Read Psalm 84:1-12
Where do you want to be at this moment? Would you rather live in another neighbourhood, another state, or another country? Do you long for a different house, job or church? Sometimes it is not possible to have exactly what we want in terms of location. I desire to be with my Lord, yet I know I must wait for His time to stand in the glory of His fullness. In this world, in times of prayer and fellowship with other Christians, we can catch a glimpse of what it will be like in that day when we live in the most perfect location. Until that time, let us make the best of our pilgrimage, knowing that His presence is never far. He lives in us and we in Him. He is our strength, our hope, our God.
Homework There was some confusion with Zack’s homework this week. He came to me Monday and said he had already done the story for the week. I believed him, yet I could not understand how he could be ahead so early in the school year. So, I asked him to bring me his book and his homework paper. We went through the stories he’d read, and he had done the work. He actually did work the first week even though it was not yet assigned. Even after going over the book and assignment sheet, I still talked to the teacher. I needed proof that everything was right.
We are the same way with the work of God. When we hear a story about how God has touched another person’s life, we want to see some physical proof of that experience. When people tell us they are saved, we want to hear how it happened. We need a natural picture of the spiritual experience. We do not take people at their word. There are those who had the faith to believe without seeing. They took God at His Word.
Read John 4:43-54
God’s Word says we are His children and inheritors of His Kingdom. Yet, we do not take Him at His Word, we desire physical blessings as proof. The royal official in this story did not believe right away, but he took Jesus at his word. Jesus made a promise and the man accepted the covenant without question. On the way home, the official heard the word that the promise had been fulfilled and he believed. He did not need to see his child to know. He heard and believed. Do you believe because you have heard His Word? Or are you waiting for the physical blessings as proof?
Surprises I have a knack of finding hidden things, such as presents. When I was a teenager, my mom had bought me a beautiful pair of earrings for my birthday. She bought them quite early, and hid them in her drawer. I found them. They were so lovely, I returned regularly to take a peek. One day, my mom realized I had been in the drawer so she moved them to another place. Then she forgot where she hid them. We never found that pair of earrings, so my impatience lost my gift. When the day arrived and I did not receive the gift, I was very disappointed.
When Bruce and I were newly married, he bought me a very nice electric mixer for Christmas. I easily found the gift where he had hidden it, so I was not surprised on Christmas day. The days before Christmas were not spent in hopeful expectation, but rather in the knowledge that Bruce had gotten me such a big expensive gift. I found myself trying to make my gift equal to his. It was not possible.
God has prepared for us a magnificent gift. Through scripture and natural revelation we have been given a glimmer of what is to come and we live in hopeful expectation of that gift.
Read Romans 8:19-25
In those days of searching for my presents, my impatience destroyed one gift and caused me to try to earn the other. Both gifts lost their meaning through my own failure. So often we try too hard to bring heaven to our lives that we lose out on the gift of hope. We long for the day when our hope will be fulfilled. Until then, let us be patient as we live in hopeful expectation knowing that God is faithful in all His promises.
Temptation Last night Bruce and I went out for a bit, just the two of us. We went out to dinner at the club on base. When we finished eating and could not sit there any longer, we decided to go into the room with slot machines. We established a limit for ourselves, found a nickel machine and began to play together. We eventually won enough that we each played our own machines. The winning streak did not continue but we played for an hour and spent only $4.00. Where else can you find an hour’s worth of entertainment for such a small cost?
Unfortunately, gambling is rarely so cheap. While we enjoyed ourselves, a woman bounced from machine to machine around us, feeding them five-dollar bills like they were hungry children. The more she played, and lost, the more upset she got. She was playing three machines at one point, angrily hitting the buttons to make them go. She was so desperate to win back the money she’d lost, she was willing to spend more to do so. It is a vicious circle, a trap that many fall into. They think that gambling will give them free money.
There are many traps that people fall into – drugs, alcohol, shopping, chocolate, relationships, sex, Internet, and even employment, parenthood or volunteerism. They get a rush of some sort from the activity, to the point it becomes a need. Eventually, these things become the ‘gods’ of their life, because their time and focus are spent on getting the rush rather than glorifying God. It does not help that the forces of this world feed the need for that rush through things such as advertising, peer pressure and self-help books.
During the exodus from Egypt the Hebrews experienced much suffering. They were tired, scared and hungry. They were lost in the wilderness and thought they’d never find the Promise Land. Though they had God to guide and protect them, they turned back to the ways they knew in Egypt. They indulged in pagan revelry and sexual immorality. They tested the Lord and grumbled about their suffering. Each act of disobedience made God angry, and the Hebrews were punished.
Read 1 Corinthians 10:6-13
What are the ‘gods’ in your life? We all have things that tempt us each day. Sometimes these things do not seem harmful to our lives, but we can be drawn into a lifestyle that is distracting our focus from God. When we are aware of the activities or things that give us the rush, then we can stand against it. Remember that God is always with you. Do you ever have thoughts like, “I’m spending too much time at work” or “I really should not spend this money on another pair of shoes”? That is the voice of God calling you away from the ‘god’ of your life. God is faithful. He will give you the strength and the way out. Today, ask God to reveal your ‘gods’ and to give you the strength to overcome. With His help, you will stand firm. Thanks be to God.
Ushers The children take an active role in our worship service by collecting the offering each Sunday. They take this role very seriously, acting quite grown up when they are passing the bag from row to row. Yesterday was Zack’s turn. When he came to our family, I put our offering in the bag. He stood in front of Bruce for a moment, who was joyfully singing the hymn. Bruce was not paying attention to the offering since I took care of it, but Zack would have nothing to do with that attitude. After a moment, he shook the bag. Bruce looked up and realized Zack was not going to leave until he gave an offering. Zack had greater expectations than the norm, and boldly proclaimed that to his dad. We giggled about it, but there’s a lesson in it for all of us.
We are children of God, saved by the blood of His Son. He has much greater expectations of us than the world has. He expects us to be obedient, to be living examples of His Word which dwells in us. He is disappointed in us when we step away from that expectation. Political correctness is rampant in today’s society. An offender becomes the victim, and those who preach the truth of God’s Word are attacked for their lack of compassion. The message of the cross is watered down because we cannot tell people that they are sinners in need of a Saviour.
It is difficult to preach the Word in the world, but at times it is equally hard to preach it in the church. As Christians, we are no longer of this world; we are made children of God. As such, He expects us to act different from the world. His standards are higher than the world’s, and as His children our standards should also be higher. Often, when someone in the church fails, it is chalked up to his or her human nature, and brushed away as no big deal. Yet, all sin is disturbing to God.
God forgives when we sin but that is no reason to allow sin to continue. We have been given the greatest gift of all, eternal life, and in response God expects us to live accordingly. As the church, we are meant to keep each other accountable. Satan is looking for that foothold to gain entry into our church and our hearts. Each time we lessen the standards, we give him a little bit of room to move in.
Read Hebrews 3:12-15
Zack got every pence out of us yesterday, expecting more than the norm. God also expects more from us than the world demands, and has made us brethren by His blood and Spirit to work together. It is time for us to boldly speak the Word of the Lord, to shine His light, to live according to the promise of eternal life. God holds Christians to a higher standard, because we know the gift He has given us. Are you willing to settle for less? He’s not. It is time to be different than the world.
Accusation When Victoria was just one year old, I was doing some volunteer work on base and took advantage of the free day care. It was during the buildup in the Gulf crisis, emotions were running high and the stress we faced was incredible. It was a time when many children were suffering from abuse and lack of attention, so teachers and daycare workers were particularly suspicious of any unusual symptoms or behaviour.
To this day, I do not understand what symptom they saw in Vicki, however they accused Bruce and I of child abuse. We had to take Vicki to the doctor where she received a full physical. It was a horrifying and humiliating experience to stand accused of such a thing. The doctor found nothing wrong. The accusation was unfounded, and we received several apologies for the episode. Yet, the accusation is recorded in Vicki’s medical records.
The Hebrews were specially chosen by God to be blessed, so that the world would be blessed through them. They were rarely the perfect people, often turning to the ways of the world, to the gods of their neighbours. God gave them the Law to establish a way of life for His people, to set them apart from the world. The Law was not a set of rules, but a promise of His life. The Israelites honoured Moses, the man of God who gave them the Law, but did not see the truth of the Law. When Jesus came, they were unable to see that He was the fulfillment of the Law, the promise of His life in flesh.
Read John 5:36-47
I took Victoria to the daycare centre because I trusted that they would take care of my child. Instead, they accused me of abusing her. They were so busy looking for abuse that they did not see the truth. The Israelites honoured Moses because they thought the Law he gave them would grant them the promise of life they desired. They were busy looking toward the man Moses; they missed the Truth, which is Jesus Christ.
In this world, even in the church, there are those who still miss seeing Jesus in the Law. They work to earn the salvation that is so freely given, and miss the one who is the Saviour. Do you see Jesus?
Baby-sitting We watched some friends’ children yesterday while they took a day to visit London. We’ve known this family for several years. The children have grown significantly, particularly the youngest. In the early days, he was very quiet and shy, difficult to understand. He stayed close to Mom and would have found a day away from her very difficult. As we spent time together yesterday, I noticed how grown up he is getting. He talks a great deal, almost as if someone has finally turned on the CD player and we can’t turn it off! His language has greatly improved. He is now in Kindergarten and eagerly waits the time for school to start. Such a different child, more mature with each passing day. There’s been a transformation that comes with normal growth in childhood. With the help of his mom and dad, he is growing into a delightful little man.
At Bible Study last night, we heard the story about when Nicki Gumble – the creator of the Alpha Course – first became a Christian and began evangelising. In the beginning he was so overwhelmed with joy about his salvation that he was willing to give it to others in anyway possible. He approached a young woman, and in an effort to help her realize her need for Jesus, he said, “You look awful, you really need Jesus.” Of course, this tactic did not have the desired effect. Though through other means, Pippa did become a Christian and eventually became Nicki’s wife.
The beginning of Nicki’s evangelism career was quite graceless, and yet today he is a powerful speaker of God’s Word. He can communicate the Gospel to people in a way that they understand and truly desire to know more. Over the years he has grown and matured in faith, through the help of some friends along the way.
Read Colossians 1:28-29
Children are not born into the world as adults, they need to grow and mature with the help of caring parents. As the years roll on, they gain knowledge and understanding, eventually becoming more independent and able to do more on their own. The same is true of a new Christian. A Christian is not born into the world as a great evangeliser. They must learn the Gospel and gain understanding about how the Word is communicated. Over the years, God places in new Christian’s lives teachers who help them develop and become mature Christians, able to communicate the Gospel to the world. My young friend once could not speak, and now speaks with great proficiency. Nicki was once quite insensitive in the way he evangelised, but now he has a way of drawing people.
What about you? Who has God provided in your life to help develop you into the mature Christian that He desires you to be? Or are you at the point that He is using you to build a young Christian? God gives us everything we need, but as Paul says in Colossians, we need to work together to help everyone grow into that relationship with Jesus Christ.
Duxford Vicki and I went on a school field trip yesterday to The Royal Air Museum at Duxford. This museum was once a bustling air force base that was used extensively during the World Wars. In recent years, it has been filled with tourists viewing the amazing display of military and civilian aircraft as well as other military vehicles. In one hanger, you can walk through one of the original Concords, which was used for testing in the early days. Another hanger has bits and pieces of every sort that they use to rebuild the most unusual airplanes. Another building is displayed with tanks and other land vehicles.
There has been an American military presence in England for over fifty years. Our numbers are dwindling as bases are closed, but there is still purpose for our being here. Since the US Air Force has played an important role in many conflicts around the world, the museum felt that there should be a specific place to honour the American service members who have fought not only for America, but also the world.
The American Museum at Duxford is an incredible building. Its unusual half dome shape seems to disappear into the earth. The roof is made of concrete. The strength of the material was necessary to support the many planes that are suspended from the ceiling. This building is a masterpiece of logistical engineering, as there are many planes, each carefully placed or hung for the best possible vantage point.
The centrepiece of this display is a B-52. This is a very large aircraft, one that is not likely to fit through the front door of any building, even unassembled. The planners overcame this difficulty in a very creative manner. First, they laid the foundation of the building. Next, they parked the airplane on the foundation. Finally, they built the building around the plane. In doing this method, they had to be cautious with every step, because an accident could destroy the plane. After the building was complete, they moved the other planes into place. It is amazing to see how carefully they are all placed, and you can’t help but wonder how they managed to maneuver the planes into the building with the B-52 in the centre.
Our Christian faith has been built since the beginning with the same care from the Creator. He laid the foundation in the Old Testament stories and prophecies. Next He moved in the centrepiece, our Lord Jesus Christ. Finally, He built the Church around the work of our Lord, carefully placing every detail to His precise design.
Read Ephesians 3:20-21
The American Museum at Duxford is a beautiful new building, only a few years old. Some would say the church would be better described as the old hanger filled with junk. In some ways it is. But just like the volunteers at Duxford, who lovingly build new craft out of the old parts, God is constantly building new out of the old. God is incredible, and to Him belongs all the glory. One day, the junk from the old hanger may just be hung in the new museum as the new centrepiece. Thanks be to God.
Joy It is often difficult to be joyful in this world. We face difficulties every day, such as sickness, poverty and friends who turn against us. We see so much suffering in this world that we wonder how we are to be joyful. As I searched the dictionaries for a definition of joy, I kept finding it to mean happy. Even in the Old Testament scriptures, the word joy seems to refer to moments of great gladness. How can we be glad when we see death and hatred around us? Paul told the people of Thessalonica to be joyful always (1 Thessalonians 5:16). Throughout his letters to the churches, Paul constantly speaks of his joy, especially in the midst of his suffering. Yet, even Jesus wept.
What sort of joy is this? It is certainly not some sort of giddy laughter with leaping and dancing. One of the defining words for joy is ‘cheer’. I looked up cheerful in Webster’s and I found this definition, “being in good spirits.” The sort of joy the world thinks about is the human emotion of happiness. But Paul’s joy is not of this world. It is a joy that comes from closeness with God. It is the fruit of His Holy Spirit.
Today, let us simply praise God and offer Him our songs of thanksgiving, so that even in the midst of our suffering and tears we will know His joy.
Read 1 Chronicles 16:23-36
Fairy tales Fairy tales often have their roots in the stories we find in scripture. Biblical concepts have a timeless authority that touches the people who read them, particularly when they are written in a language they understand. Many of the parables that Jesus told were addressed to a people who understood farming. They identified with the story in a way that made the spiritual concept real to them. However, those same stories get lost on the streets of a large city because the people do not understand farming.
Over the generations, writers have taken the Biblical concepts and rewrote them for the people of their age. “Jack and the Beanstalk” speaks about how the weak can overcome the mighty with the right gift. “Little Red Riding Hood” shows us how evil tries to dress itself up to deceive us, but that we can see the truth through the disguise. Today, those stories would revolve around computers or other aspects of modern life.
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is a story of transformation. In the beginning of the story, the dwarfs live a life separated from anything else. They are greedy and self-centred, they do not understand about love or service. Their home is messy and they are hungry because they do not care for each other. They own a diamond mind and apparently have great wealth; yet, they are poor in spirit. Snow White comes into their lives and they are transformed. She teaches them to love and to care for each other. Then, when she is attacked by the evil queen and suffers, they love her so much that they suffer with her and they fight for her.
The Israelites were the chosen people of God, but they lived like the dwarfs, self-centred and without love. Jesus Christ came and people were transformed. His death and resurrection changes us into new people and we are to live in a new way.
Read Colossians 3:1-11
When Snow White fell asleep by the wicked power of the queen, the dwarfs could have gone back to living as they did before they knew her. Instead, they continued caring for each other and Snow White. They put aside their greed and messy living for that new life. Does your walk with Christ show the same transformation? Have you put aside the practices of the evil nature, or do you still walk in the ways of greed, idolatry, anger and lies? Paul goes on in this chapter to tell us how our life should look – filled with love, forgiveness, peace and thankfulness – bound together in unity as Christ’s body, His Church. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Vs. 17) Thanks be to God.
Thorpeness I spent a lovely day in a tiny resort village on the coast of England. I was there with my Bible study group, in prayer and learning about the Holy Spirit in our lives. The weather was most extraordinary for late September, like a warm summer day.
Thorpeness sits on the coast of the North Sea and is a village built as a tourist resort early in the twentieth century, with timber-framed cottages for lease and plenty of outdoor activities such as boating, fishing and walking on the beach.
Many of the beaches here in England are different than we are used to in the US. The beaches are covered with small rocks and pebbles, made smooth by the constant beating of the waves on the shore. We spent some time walking on the beach, considering the greatness of God. I remembered the scripture from Genesis about Abraham’s descendants being as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. I realized that this rocky beach showed this truth in a more enlightening way. On a sandy beach, every grain looks alike. However, on this beach, every stone was unique – some large, some small, some gray, some colourful, some flat and some round. I even found a stone that looked like a nose. Not only has God made the children of Abraham too numerous to count, He also made each of us original.
While we stood on the beach, one man told me a story about King Canute which is said to have happened only yards from where we stood. King Canute was a Danish man who was king of England for nearly twenty years. There was war and controversy over his reign, but he became the first king to rule over all of England. He also ruled over Denmark and Norway. He was a harsh ruler, but England succeeded under his reign. He was so powerful that his people claimed he was like a god, able to control even the sea. He knew that was not true, so he proved it to his people on the beach at Thorpeness. At low tide, King Canute took a chair and set it at the water’s edge. As the waves rolled inland, he said, “Stop.” Of course the waves did not stop. The water level rose, to his knees, to his waste, to his neck. Finally, it became impossible for him to continue. As he left the water, he said, “See, I cannot control the sea.”
The scriptures tell of the same sort of humility in Solomon, the son of David. By this time in Israel’s history, God’s promise to Abraham had been at least partially fulfilled. His descendants were too numerous to count. Solomon was only twenty when he took the throne of Israel, and he was uncertain of his abilities to govern.
Read 1 Kings 3:7-14
The story of King Canute may not be true, but we learn an important lesson from these two stories. Even great and powerful kings must submit to the Lord. When we do so, God is pleased and blesses our lives with far more than we ask. Jesus died and rose again so that His children might have life. Through Christ we are made one of the children of Abraham. We are unique individuals like the countless rocks on the beach, constantly touched by the hands of God, made smooth under His power. Let us ever remember that we cannot control God, but when we submit to Him, we will be blessed. Thanks be to God.
Ordained Yesterday at the cathedral in Bury St. Edmunds, fifteen men and women were ordained as deacons in the Church of England. It was a long but beautiful service, emphasizing the servanthood of those taking their vows before God. The scriptures all spoke of humility and submission, such as Isaiah’s answer to God, “Here I am, send me!” The Epistle of the day continued that theme with a writing from Paul, speaking of true spiritual worship which is offering your whole self into service according to God’s will. Finally, we heard from the Gospel according to St. Mark, the story of James and John asking Jesus for places of honour in His Kingdom.
The bishop stood before the congregation and told the deacons, “That won’t be you.” He was referring to the places of honour sought by James and John. He reminded them that they have not vowed to take a journey toward fame or prosperity, but rather one of service. He compared them to donkeys. This statement, of course, got a huge laugh from the congregation. Our image of the donkey is usually one where the donkey refuses to move, being pulled by the master. A donkey does not react that way unless he is frightened, hurt or tired, which means the master has abused the donkey in some way. The truth of the matter hit home as the bishop described the characteristics of a well cared for donkey. They are loyal, strong, carry heavy burdens, obedient to their master, patient, loving, and happy with their lot in life. Then the bishop reminded us of the donkey that carried Christ into Jerusalem. Our new deacons are called to do the same.
The service was directed at the ordinands, to begin their walk on the right foot, however each moment was meant for every Christian. The deacons have been called to a special office and God has equipped them to carry out their duties. But each Christian has been called to be like a donkey, carrying Christ to the people. We have been equipped with gifts to carry out the task, and God will provide opportunity to serve Him. We just have to answer like Isaiah and say, “Here I am, send me!”
When we do, we must lean on God’s grace and strength every moment, for it is never us but rather Christ in us that accomplishes the task. When we hold on to our own abilities and desires, we become like the stubborn donkey that refuses to move. God has not treated us poorly to cause us to act stubborn. We have chosen another master, ourselves.
Read Psalm 69:6
This prayer is a good place to start as we begin our own personal journey carrying the Lord. Whether you have been called into ordained ministry or are to serve God in other ways; whether you have been in office for decades or are just starting the process into ministry; pray that you will remain humble and obedient before God so that He will be glorified. Thanks be to God.
Books I volunteer at the school as much as possible. I love to spend time with the children, getting and giving hugs, sharing my own talents in a way that makes the day just a little easier for the staff. I get the most wonderful tasks. Last year, I was the chairperson for the committee that brought outside authors into the school to perform for the children. I ran a fun and exciting programme where the children earned books for reading. Once in awhile, I even go hang out in the cafeteria and have lunch with the children.
This week, I am part of the best programme ever. Reading is Fundamental is a programme designed to give books to the children. Free books. No strings attached. Last year’s reading programme required the children to earn their books, and many children were unable to complete the task. This year every child will receive, no matter his or her circumstances. I began this week with over 1500 books, hundreds of different titles. Each child will be given the opportunity to come and choose one for its very own. Yesterday, one little girl told me she didn’t have any books at home of her own. Even the children who have many are delighted.
Several times throughout the day I heard, “We don’t have to pay?” In our society, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Our children learn that they must earn everything they receive. There is great value in teaching the children to work hard and achieve. However, it becomes difficult to accept a free gift. We look for the catch or wonder how we can return the favour.
Read Romans 8:31-32
God, the Almighty Creator of everything known and unknown, the One true and living God, has given us a free gift. There are no strings attached, there is no way for us to earn this gift or return the favour. How often have you thought about this great gift, the gift of eternal life spent with the King of kings and Lord of lords, and wondered, “What can I give Him?”
After the children receive their books, the teachers gather them together and say, “What do we say to these ladies?” The children all respond, “Thank you.” Thank you is a wonderful sentiment, and each child’s word of thanks meant so much to me. There were a few throughout the day who really brought a smile to my face. They came to me personally and said, “Thank you” without being told. One girl gave me a paper apple she made, even before she received her book. That gift did not earn her the book, but it brought a smile to my face.
There is nothing we can give to God since all is His and He graciously gives it all to us. Yet, a simple “Thank you” for His many blessings – that moment of worship and praise – will bring a smile to His face and His light of glory will shine on you.
More books The children and teachers are having such a delightful time choosing their free books. I’m having even more fun watching their faces light up. After they make their decision and they sit patiently waiting for the others, they page through the books pointing out with excitement the pictures to whoever will listen. The teachers have been convincing their children to choose their favourite books, sharing their joy of reading with their students. One of the teachers is reading “The Trumpet of the Swan” to her class, and a student found a copy of that book on a shelf. The child decided to get it, to read ahead. Suddenly, every copy of that classic was gone, as many of the students wanted to have a copy of this wonderful story. It was funny to watch these students try to discover where the teacher had left off to begin reading from there.
There have been some negative moments however. There are one or two people for whom one book is not enough. There are so many books to choose from, I understand the dilemma. But we do not have enough for everyone to have more than one copy, so we have to limit it for everyone. Several boys took more than one book by hiding a few under their coats. In another incident, a young boy really wanted one book, but another child picked it up first. That boy kept it until the very moment the class was leaving, then hid it on the table taking another. The boy who wanted it was unable to find it.
It seems that even in the midst of a good thing, there is always someone who thinks they can do something to make it better. Usually that sort of action makes it better for themselves, not for the whole group. Israel is God’s chosen people. At times throughout their history, they had kings and priests who walked with the Lord and Israel prospered. At times, there were kings and priests who did not rely upon God and His Word, rather turning to their own desires to guide them.
Read Malachi 2:5-6
We do not understand why things go wrong in our lives, often blaming others for our misfortune. However, most of the time our troubles are the consequences of our own self-centered desires and our decision to walk a path that goes against God’s will. We see a person such as the priest Levi mentioned in this text from the prophet Malachi and we desire such blessings. We wonder why it has not happened to us.
The boys who were caught with too many books returned the books including the one they were meant to have. They could have had what the others did, but they did not obey the rules. Priests throughout Israel’s history wanted the blessings that were given to Levi, but they did not follow the rules. Where do you stand today? Are you seeing the blessings of obedience? Or the discipline that comes from our loving Father to set us on the right path to Him?
Mirror Michael Jackson has a song called, “Man in the Mirror” which speaks about how nobody seems to do anything to help those in need. In the song, he realizes that he is also ignoring the needs of others, so he’s going to begin by changing the man in the mirror. How often do we look at the world and think how horrible it is; yet we do nothing to fix the things that are wrong. We blame others when the fault rests squarely on ourselves.
David had done a horrible thing. He fell in love with Bathsheba and killed her husband so he could take her to be his own wife. Nathan the prophet came to him and told him the story of a rich man with many sheep who took the only sheep of a poor man. David was incensed. He was ready to have the man put to death for such a horrid act.
Read 2 Samuel 12:7-12
Have you ever been in a situation like David? Have you ever heard a story and got angry because of another person’s action, only to realize that you have done the same? We look at the hatred in the world and become angry, but have we looked in the mirror to see whom we hate? We see the hungry, and we wonder who will feed them, but have we looked in the mirror and seen that it should be us? We see the sins of others very clearly, but have we looked in the mirror to see our own sin?
God sent Nathan to David to act as the mirror, and God does the same for us. He shows us the truth of our actions so that we can turn back to Him. David was disciplined for his sin, but God continued to bless him. We too will be disciplined for our sins against God, but as we turn back to Him and live accordingly, we will be blessed. Look in the mirror, what does God want changed in you?
Chestnuts It is harvest time around the world. As you drive through the country, you will find tractors and reapers in the fields doing the work of many men in so little time. These machines are marvels the way they cut the plant and separate the different parts. The leaves go into one place to be used for compost, the vegetable into a truck to be prepared for sale. When we lived in Washington, I recall seeing a machine that wraps around an apple tree, then shakes the tree until all the apples fall in a huge catcher.
There are many farm products that still need to be hand picked. Some fruits are too delicate, some fields are inconvenient to bring in machinery, such as a vineyard. Machinery could destroy the vines that take so many years to mature. These fruits are still picked by human labourers who go from vine to vine or tree to tree. It is labour intensive work, but the fruit is handled with care.
There are some trees that are ignored. I was walking on base yesterday when I came to a chestnut tree. This tree is filled with ripe chestnuts ready to be harvested, and yet there is no one to do it. As the fruit becomes overripe, it falls to the ground. It is then destroyed by the impact or kicked around by those who pass by. There is an apple tree at an empty house near where we live. It is filled with apples. The neighbourhood children have been using the apples for a game. They pull them off the tree and throw them at each other. The apples are being destroyed, leaving a huge mess all over the yard.
Jesus often used farm imagery for His teachings. He talks about planting, weeding and harvest. He plants the seeds of His Word in the hearts of the people with whom we share our faith. He waters the plants with our acts of love that stand as an example of His Word. He uses us in many different ways. Christians are given gifts to accomplish these tasks for His glory. We are good at sharing the word, and watering the seed. But are we harvesting the crop?
Read Luke 10:1-3
These seventy-two were sent ahead of Jesus to plant seeds, to share the message of our Lord. He brings life and growth to that fruit. Then it must be harvested. How many times have we witnessed to someone and then let him or her fend for themselves in this world? We leave the fruit on the tree to rot and fall off, to be kicked around by the world and destroyed. Or, Satan comes along and plucks the fruit from the tree and uses it as a weapon against the Word.
We must go out and do God’s work planting and watering the seed. But it is even more important for us to harvest the fruit. Do you know someone who is just beginning his or her walk with our Lord Jesus Christ? Walk with them, encourage them, and share God’s Word with them so that they will useful fruit for God’s Kingdom.
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