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Friday, January 22, 2016

Do You Have A Thorn?

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you would have seen me feature my granddaughter, Jen, in some of my posts. She is only seven, but has a mind of her own, as do most seven-year-olds now, I think. Just recently, Jen had something in her toe. I wouldn't call it a thorn. It must have been something from the Christmas tree that she stepped on, but it was uncomfortable enough to keep her seated, and holding on to her foot for a few minutes. Try as her mother and I did, she would not allow us to touch her foot. Eventually, she took the thing out herself and was soon bouncing around, flipping and doing all the usual Jen things.

The following day, I heard someone preaching about Paul's thorn in the flesh. Just as I didn't know exactly what Jen's thorn in the flesh was, we don't know what was Paul's. He didn't tell us, and as the preacher said, if God wanted us to know what it was, he would have told us. So, we are left to speculate.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 2 Corinthians 12: 7.

Just as Jen's thorn tormented her and kept her from playing and doing the things she loved to do, this great apostle had something in him that tormented him, but in his case, it kept him from being conceited. I refuse to speculate on what it might be, but I am thinking that we all have something in us that torments us. Doesn't go away, and we can't remove it ourselves. Only God can. But Paul begged God to take it from him and look what happened.

  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.v 9

We all have a thorn. It may be a sin we are struggling with, someone in our lives, an illness, a problem that doesn't seem to be going away. We have begged God to take it away, but it persists. What can we do? His grace is sufficient for us. We are weak, but He is strong. Let us rely on His grace and His power instead of focusing on our weaknesses. Remember "not by works, so that no one can boast" Ephesians 2 : 9. 
God bless.

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Please enjoy the video below as you reflect on God's amazing grace.


Friday, January 08, 2016

The Value Of Teamwork


If it's one thing I've learned from my years of working in the healthcare industry, it's the value of teamwork. No one staff member can adequately fulfill his/her duties without the help and support of other members of the team. With everyone pulling together, the workload seems lighter and more pleasant as each person applies his talents and uniqueness to the task. It's no different with Christianity, and that's why the Bible shows many instances where people got together for a common purpose and God was in their midst, helping them achieve the seemingly impossible.

One of the most amazing pieces of teamwork in the Bible is the fall of the walls of Jericho. The Lord promised Joshua that He would give Jericho into the hands of the Israelites if they would do as He commanded them. God's commands were really simple: "March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in" (Joshua 6: 3 - 5).

So, Joshua did as he was told. He called the priests together and gave them the same instructions the Lord had given him. The people obeyed and the walls came down. As easy as that. But let's look at a few things. The priests headed the procession in front of the ark of the covenant, blowing the trumpets, followed by the rear guard then the people of Israel, estimated to be about 1200. But the walls of Jericho were no flimsy pieces of construction. These were fortified walls made of mud bricks, towering about 46 feet above ground level. Jericho seemed impenetrable. 

So what made this teamwork succeed?

1. A strong leader. Joshua had succeeded Moses after his death and God had promised Joshua,
"Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses" (Joshua 3 : 7). And God did. Just as He used Moses to part the Red Sea, He used Joshua to part the Jordan so the people crossed over on dry ground (v 17). No doubt, this increased Joshua's faith and earned him the respect of the people.

2.  A sense of purpose. The team knew the purpose of what they were doing and they went forward with that in mind.

3. Obedience. Joshua was obedient to God's commands, and so were the people. Not one of them broke the silence or tried to attack the enemy during the six days as they marched around the city. 

4.Confidence. The people trusted Joshua, but knowing that God was with them gave them the confidence that they would be victorious. 

5. Order. Last, but not least, in order for the teamwork to succeed there had to be order. Nothing can be achieved if there is disorder. In this case, every person knew where his position was and what he was expected to do. (Read 6: 3 - 5 again.)

How is it with the church? Do we have a sense of purpose? Do we have strong leaders we can trust and look up to? Are we obedient to God's commands? Most of all, do we place our confidence in God, knowing  that we can succeed in the task that He has assigned us? 

The apostle Paul said, Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others" (Romans 12: 4 - 5). 

Are you part of a team in the body of Christ? If not, ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you can apply your talents and skills to assist the body. 

Friday, January 01, 2016

Are You Ready For 2016?

Whenever my grandson, Jayden and his little sister Jen play hide and seek, I can usually predict  who the winner will be. Jayden is familiar with all Jen's favorite hiding places, so when she is hiding, he waits a little then calls out, "Ready or not!" Shortly after, shouts of joy - from Jayden -and squeals of surprise - from Jen - ring out. 

So it is with the new year. Ready or not, 2016 is here. The only difference between it and a game of hide and seek is that we knew it will find us, but we didn't realize how quickly. Everywhere I turn, I hear people commenting on how quickly 2015 passed. Many of us worked harder, drove faster and stayed up later in an effort to fulfill our dreams, only to be caught before we'd even accomplished half of those things.

I daresay, 2016 will not be much different. With the specter of terrorism, climate change, global financial crises and a host of other ills threatening, we may be tempted to ramp up our efforts to do more in 2016. This can leave us tired, frustrated and defeated.

Jesus Christ gives us some good advice: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11: 28 - 29). 

Jesus offers us the perfect hiding place - one where we will never be caught unawares or unprepared. If you have been running yourself ragged trying to achieve this, that or the other, stop now and go to Jesus. Exchange your burden for His, and you will find rest. 

The beginning of a new year is the best time to make a new start. If you don't know Jesus, why not open your heart to Him today, because one day, ready or not, He's coming and He will find you. Will your shout be one of joy or one of surprise? 

Happy New Year!

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