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Archive for the ‘thankfulness’ Category

So my recent birthday had me getting a bit reflective about my life. I think it is because I have more birthdays behind me than I do in front of me. It was kind of a taking stock of my life moment.

As I reflected on my life, I kept having thoughts of- IF ONLY I HADN’T or IF ONLY I HAD. You know- MISTAKES. If only I hadn’t made that mistake. If only I hadn’t sinned in that way. If only I had made a different decision. If only I had gone a different way in life.

Those were accompanied by the I wishes. I wish I had kept that job and not gone to bible college in the 1990s. I wish I had had different parents. The I wishes kept flooding in.

Then as I prayed, I was reminded of Romans 8:28- For God causes all things to work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to his purposes. God can work everything together. That includes my mistakes, my sins, my struggles, and the disappointments in life. It does not only include my successes and abilities. Each step of the journey is included in the all things.

As I reflected on Romans 8:28, I had one answer to all of the if onlys and all of the I wishes. The answer was BUT THEN. It all came down to BUT THEN, I would not have met all of these wonderful refugees and immigrants. I would not have been able to share God’s love with people from literally all over the world. Example- If only I had kept my position as a sales rep selling office furniture, I would be much better off, BUT THEN I would not have met my friends from all over the world.

Basically, I realize that my life’s journey led me to the point of being able to help and be friends with people from Brazil, Burma, China, Mexico, Vietnam, Iraq and many other countries. I have had so many opportunities to share the love of Jesus with people from all over the world. I hope to have many more years of being able to share God’s love with refugees and immigrants.

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As Gandalf talked with Frodo in the mountain, he shared this advice with the young hobbit who was despairing the situation they were in, and even though it is from a book/movie, such advice is so valuable for us.

 

 

 

 

 

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This picture is from a flower clock that I saw when I visited Geneva Switzerland in June 2004. Clocks are reminders that time continues to tick away. When I was young, I felt like I had all kinds of time. Now that I have more yesterdays than I will have tomorrows in this world, I realize how short the time we are given actually is.

I have been given time to live in this life at this specific time in human history. I do not want to waste my time wondering why I am living now as opposed to some other time in history. My time in this life has been appointed to me now. I have been given time to live out what was written in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His craftsmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which Go prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Each day I try to remind myself not to waste a day. I have today and that is all that is certain. My desire is to make each day count. As a teacher, it means looking for opportunities to encourage my students and instill a sense of hope for the future as they try to learn English. As a servant of Jesus, it means taking time to pray, sending that message of encouragement, sharing God’s love with others. More and more for me it means valuing the little things as well as the big things. Opportunities are not found only on a ministry trip to another country, they are waiting for us each day as we go about our daily lives. We never know where, when, or how the small things for us can lead to something much bigger. But even if it is only a small thing that does not seem to lead much, I try to remember what Jesus said in Matthew 25, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat……….. I tell you whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for Me.” As I try to show His love, Jesus considers it as being done to Him. That alone should be sufficient motivation to make each day count by showing the love of God to others whether in little ways or big ways.

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On Thanksgiving Day we tend to give thanks for the good things in our lives that God has given such as family, friends, homes, jobs, education etc. However, can we give thanks in the difficulties of life? Something that Jesus did is often overlooked when we read about the Last Supper.

Think about the drama of the moment. Jesus knew He was going to be crucified, killed, so he could die for our sins. Jesus knew His time of great suffering would begin shortly after the Last Supper. He took the wine and bread which would be the symbols of his blood and body and symbols of the New Convenant between God and man and shared them with his disciples. Before sharing the wine and the bread He gave thanks. That part of the Last Supper is often overlooked in discussions about the Last Supper. We discuss what the wine and bread are, what the meaning of communion is, and other aspects of the Last Supper. Rightly so we focus on the suffering of Jesus that would follow the Last Supper. However, we tend to overlook those simple and yet profound words- He Gave Thanks.

Jesus gave thanks before the wine saying it was His blood poured out for us. He took the bread and gave thanks for the bread before saying it is was His body broken for us. Jesus gave thanks before his suffering for the two things that would represent his blood and body. He gave thanks before he suffered knowing what was going to happen.

Suffering is painful, difficult, and stressful. When we suffer, we usually give thanks after the suffering is over. We rightly give thanks for God’s help to get us through the suffering, but how many of us would thank God before we suffer for the suffering that is about to come? Why did Jesus give thanks? He wasn’t crazy. The bible says in Hebrews 12:2- “for the joy set before Him endured the cross”. The joy was being back in heaven on His throne. The joy was the way for us to be forgiven and in relationship with God would be complete. The joy was knowing that those He created could not be back with Him. His joy was knowing that we could be in heaven with Him forever if we receive Him.

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This morning I took a friend to the University of Nebraska to take care of some final details before she begins classes next week. When we got there, I found a parking spot right in front of the building where we needed to go. I told her Jesus helped us. She did not think a parking place was very important. I shared with her something Jesus said, “even the hairs on your head are numbered”

God cares about us so much that He pays attention to even the little details that we do not think are important. He knows the number of hairs we have on our head. If He cares enough to keep track of how many hairs we have on our head, how much more will He care about other details in our lives such as bringing friends into our lives, helping us make progress toward our goals, even helping us the find a parking place.

As we go through the busy day today let’s take a moment to ask God for His help. Let’s remember that He is there with us even in the little things. Let’s also remember to thank Him for those little things.

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Last year at this time I was wondering what would happen in the year ahead. My Sunday morning international bible study went from an average attendance of 7 to an average of 20, I was able to be wth my father as he died adn went on to be with Jesus, my Saturday reading class went from 5 to an average of 12, I made a lot of new friends, started 3 blogs, youtube account, hi5, orkut and was given a van.

It is the start of a new year and already I have met 2 new friends who have come ot my Sunday morning international bible study, will start a new class at my church this Thursday evening, and look forward to a great year. We never know what will come when we start a new year, but we can always trust in the fact that whatever comes our way, Jesus is there ahead of us and will be with us. He controls the future and has promised to never leave us.

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Psalm 100 says “Enter His gates with Thanksgiving in our hearts”.¬† It is easy to enter His presence when things are going well. Sometimes things do not go well for us. Things happen such as sickness, death of a loved one, financial troubles, and relationship problems. It is at those times that we really need to enter His gates with Thanksgiving in our hearts. That is because the antidote for a spirit of heaviness is praising God. It helps us to not sink into the valley of depression when things are not going well for us.

I understand how tempting it is to not want to enter with Thanksgiving. I have been though the valley of sickness and recovery and all the work of restarting life afterward. My father died this past year after we finally reconciled due to issues involving his alcoholism.This life is not easy. Jesus even told us “in this¬† life you will have troubles, but cheer up I have overcome the world”. That is the reason we can be thankful no matter what. Jesus is alive and overcame the world and all of its struggles.

Psalm 100 also gives the reason to enter with Thanksgiving in our hearts. It says “His love and faithfulness endure forever”. No matter what happens in this life we can rest in the fact that God’s love last forever and we will be with Him forever. Corrie Ten Boom realized this when after being held in a Nazi concentration camp and watching sister die due to the terrible conditions. She said “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still”.

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