For "Scripture Sunday":
The Good Steward of God's Blessings: Sharing Our Time, Talent and Treasure.
"In the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties, you can make a difference.
You’re sitting on the couch watching the evening news report of a devastating natural disaster overseas. Tens of thousands of hungry, exhausted, injured people have been displaced from their homes. Video footage depicts them walking for miles, carrying their children, desperately searching for food and clean water. They’ve left behind their homes, their possessions and in some cases their dead loved ones. Social safety nets that we take for granted in the developed world don’t exist now in their world.
The news anchors in the television studio comment on how tragic it is for the thousands and thousands who, by the unfortunate accident of where they happen to live, are now stripped of all their possessions and forced to start over, trying to meet their basic human needs. The report numbs you. It hardly begins to cross your mind that you wish you could do something to help those people. But of course you can’t—not in the face of such overwhelming devastation.
Then it’s dinnertime, which you enjoy with your family. You chat about your day and work on coordinating your schedules for the busy upcoming weekend. You never think about the news report again, and the images of innumerable human faces lined with intense suffering fade from your memory. You would never say so, but the forgetfulness is welcome.
We see seemingly insurmountable problems and think we are unable to make a true difference. After all if it were even possible to make a difference, surely someone else with more brains, money and time would do so.
But are we truly so powerless? Do we so quickly forget who our all-powerful Father is?
The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle performed by Jesus Christ that all four gospel writers recorded (Matthew:14:13, Mark:6:31, Luke:9:10-17 and John:6:5-15) The multitudes had been following Christ, listening to His teaching and receiving His healing. The disciples wanted Jesus to dismiss the many thousands to go find food, but Christ wanted the disciples to take care of the people themselves. Given the circumstances, the task was impossible. There was no way to quickly purchase food for the five thousand men plus thousands more women and children who had gathered, and the disciples quite reasonably said so. “But He [Christ] said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have? Go and see’” (Mark:6:38)
In John:6:8-9 we read that a boy responded by offering his five barley loaves and two small fish to the disciples. Understandably the disciples commented, “What are they among so many?” This small amount of food was woefully inadequate for the situation. However Jesus multiplied the offering, abundantly meeting the needs of the people.
What can we learn from this youth who responded to the disciple’s call for resources and the miracle Christ performed with such meager supplies?
1. Freely give what you have to God. We are stewards, not owners, of all that is in our control (including our time, talent and treasure). Surely others had food on that day in the Palestinian countryside. But when the disciples searched for resources upon Christ’s request to do the impossible, it was this boy who responded. He gave all he had and was thereby given the most excellent blessing of seeing God multiply his small offering to meet a staggering need. God could have had Jesus Christ turn stones into bread for the multitude, but instead He delighted in taking an offering and multiplying it for the benefit of the giver.
God will have His work accomplished, but He wants to do it through us.
2. Trust God to meet the need. We do not measure our own resources against the problem—we measure God’s resources against the problem.
Christ did not ask about the magnitude of the problem or the lack of resources—He asked, “What do you have to offer?” What looked vastly insufficient to human eyes became more than enough in God’s hands. Our human contribution to God’s work is marginal at best—even the contributions from the wealthiest, the most talented or even the most righteous among men. But God can take our offering—be it our time, talent or treasure—and multiply it to meet the need. It is only when we face a task impossible by human standards that we can stand aside and let God perform a miracle. So rejoice in impossible problems—you will see the hand of God!
“I am weak and can do nothing” is not true humility. Too often that approach is actually a convenient cop-out that serves our laziness or selfishness. We shirk our duty yet manage to pacify our conscience. “I only have five loaves and two fish— they won’t even make a dent in this overwhelming need, so I shouldn’t even bother...” Or more commonly today, how about, “I’m only a minimally talented musician, or speaker, or dinner host, or organizer, or conversation starter, or ______, so I won’t even bother trying to serve—someone else can do it, and they’ll do it better than I could anyway.”
True humility is knowing that on our own we are weak and can do nothing, but that through God, we can do anything He desires for us to do. And we will do anything He desires for us to do because in humility we will put all of our selfish cares behind us in order to serve God and our fellow man.
3. Reap such blessings that there is not room enough to receive them.
Not only did all the people following Jesus that day eat but there were twelve baskets of scraps taken up after the meal! What if the boy hadn’t offered up his meal? Perhaps he would have secreted away and quickly filled his belly, feeling vaguely uncomfortable and guilty. But instead of eating it all himself, he gave what he had to help others with no expectation of return. His offering, which in his hands could only have met the needs of a few, was then used by Christ to fill the needs of thousands of hungry people. Not only that, he also had the honor of being part of Jesus Christ’s miraculous care of the people.
Though others likely had food that day, they probably figured they didn’t have enough, so they didn’t give anything at all. One boy gave what little he had, and God made it more than enough.
What overwhelming needs do you see around you—in your family, your community and your world? What resources do you have that you can put in God’s able hands? What miraculous impact could come about because of your small offering? Our meager resources will never yield more when we clutch them tightly to our chest—instead they will wilt, wither and even poison us with anxiety. But the same God-given resources have infinite potential to help others if handed freely back to God.
If we generously sow our time, talent and treasure, we will reap a bountiful harvest of blessing for ourselves and for others." From: http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/good-steward-gods-blessings-sharing-our-time-talent-and-treasure/ Article by Debbie Baker
Service to others.
AN AMAZING FACT: "In 1896, Sir Albert Cook journeyed to Uganda as a medical missionary. In his lifetime, he founded the oldest hospital in East Africa, trained countless native medical workers, began a midwifery school, and established a treatment center for STDs and sleeping sickness, as well as a school for medical assistants!
In an era of discrimination and prejudice against native Africans, British medical missionary Sir Albert Cook stood out as an unusual example of equality and service. After beginning medical work in Africa, he recognized the desperate need for trained local medical workers and decided to take action. For Cook, missionary work meant recognizing the needs of those around him and doing what he could to serve them.
His actions reflect the words of the apostle James. “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” Sharing God’s love often starts with action. In the United States, the need for food and medical attention might not be as desperate as it is overseas, but people also have emotional needs. Showing others that we care, taking an interest in their lives, and being a difference to them is frequently the best first step of evangelism."
KEY BIBLE TEXTS: "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." - James 2:15-17
From me: When we lose a pet, as I just did, we get comfort from the poem of the Rainbow Bridge, http://rainbowsbridge.com/poem.htm , but is it true?
Will God Resurrect Animals?
"We really love our pets. It can be so sad when they die or we have to put them to sleep. If God can resurrect humans, then can’t He bring our pets back to life?
Animals are a special part of creation, and many of us have a special attachment to our pets. Some animals seem to have been created specifically for our enjoyment and companionship. We love them, care for them, play with them and are comforted by them.
Our pets simply become “part of the family.” It’s a genuinely sad experience when a pet dies. Often a child’s first experience with death is when he or she has to come to grips with the loss of a beloved pet.
Cartoons and children’s stories sometimes deal with the death of beloved pets by picturing them in some kind of “animal heaven.”
But does the Bible tell us why God created animals? Is there a purpose for them beyond their physical existence?
Some have a sincere question: If God plans to resurrect people, might He also resurrect animals to reunite us with those pets we came to love?
The reality is that while the Bible promises the resurrection of humans, it simply doesn’t say that He will resurrect animals. Why is that?
What “spirit” is in man and animals?" More at: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/life/life-after-death/resurrections/will-god-resurrect-animals/ by Ron Kelley
What’s Trending in 2014?
"I read an intriguing list the other day of 19 things to watch for in society that will be trending in the coming year. It was quite different than most lists that predict social movements in fashion and fads or follow pop culture and famous people.
It certainly wasn’t as silly and superficial as that stuff.
On the contrary, it’s worth paying attention to because these are trends that are impacting the everyday lives of people around the world, including you, your family and your children. In fact, the source where I found this information notes that these are major stressors in society.
Trend spotting these issues is fairly easy—as I read these, just ask yourself, “Do I see these trending up or trending down?” How would you rank our culture today on the following?
People will be, the list says:
- Lovers of themselves.
- Lovers of money.
- Disobedient to their parents.
- False accusers.
- Lacking self-control.
- Despisers of those that are good.
- Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.
- Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won’t be real.
Pick any one of those social indicators—are we trending up or trending down? And what is the effect on a person who portrays such a trait? What is the effect on others who have interaction with such a person displaying this trait? What does it do to human relationships when any of these factors increase? When these things increase, I think the word “stress”—or “perilous,” as it was also described—is pretty accurate in many ways.
So, where did this list come from? Believe it or not, it’s from the Bible! The author is the apostle Paul, and he was forecasting the identifying marks of society in what he called “the last days.” You might say, “We’ve always had people like that around,” and you’re right. But Paul’s point, when he said, “In the last days perilous times will come,” is that these conditions will be progressively escalating. He follows on by saying this evil will grow worse and worse, with people deceiving and being deceived. In other words, these conditions will be trending up, and people won’t recognize why. And they won’t recognize how they are being desensitized!
This is found in 2 Timothy 3, by the way. It’s a fascinating forecast (given that it was written down nearly 2,000 years ago) and, by my way of thinking, is incredibly accurate in its assessment of today’s world.
So here’s what counts for us: You can’t change the world, but you can watch what’s trending in it, and you can watch your own life. Need a resolution for 2014? How about resolving to be a trendsetter—trending away from the dangerous direction society is heading!" From: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/speaking-of/whats-trending-in-2014/
The program on WGN TV this morning:
"It's the great mystery of life. Who is God? How can you know about Him? How can you interact with Him? You can know God! Find out how."
On This Day:
Blizzard brings tragedy to Northwest Plains, Jan 12, 1888:
"On this day in 1888, the so-called "Schoolchildren's Blizzard" kills 235 people, many of whom were children on their way home from school, across the Northwest Plains region of the United States. The storm came with no warning, and some accounts say that the temperature fell nearly 100 degrees in just 24 hours.
The storm is still considered one of the worst blizzards in the history of the area."
Massive earthquake strikes Haiti, Jan 12, 2010:
"On this day in 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastates the Caribbean island nation of Haiti. The quake, which was the strongest to strike the region in more than 200 years, left over 200,000 people dead and some 895,000 Haitians homeless.
The earthquake hit southern Haiti at 4:53 p.m. local time. The nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, a densely populated city located about 15 miles from the quake’s epicenter, suffered widespread devastation. Countless dwellings were reduced to rubble, while hospitals, churches and schools collapsed and roads were blocked with debris. Numerous government structures were heavily damaged or destroyed, including the presidential palace, parliament building and main prison. (At the time of the quake, Haiti lacked a national building code, and many structures were shoddily constructed.)
Governments and individuals around the world made donations and pledges of aid to Haiti totaling billions of dollars. However, on the first-year anniversary of the disaster, reconstruction efforts were still in their infancy. Thousands of people left homeless by the quake were living in tents, and only a small portion of the heavy debris resulting from the disaster had been cleared."
Wendy and I had our usual Saturday phone call. They were making plans to build a real house on the adjacent lot that they just bought next to their mobile home lake house at Lake Somerville, TX. They sold their big house in the Houston area to retire there, and her husband transferred to the Navasota office. They may be reconsidering building there as it is a long way for him to go to work for the next 20 years.
It is a 45 minute drive each way, so he has to allow an hour. That's two hours out of every day away from the family. Yes, lots of people do long commutes, but it is very stressful which affects the health. So they have been looking at areas closer to Navasota. Their son, Tony, also has to drive a quite a way to his job. Being a new young driver, this was a big worry when the roads were icy. Another thing to consider is that their place is 25 minutes away from the nearest big town where there are only Level III medical facilities. Something to think about as they age.
I fed the cats their breakfasts. A week or so ago, I fixed four little pet bowls, but now it is down to two.
Then I got ready for church. As the weather was great, I didn't even have to wear a coat.
One of the older members is out of the hospital again, and it was great to see her and her two daughters, as we have all prayed for her daily.
Another couple were absent as they are full-time RVers and live mostly in the Thousand Trails system, http://www.thousandtrails.com/ . They are 'snowbirds' and stay in TX in the winter, and up north during the summer. They had to leave the Conroe TT park for a while, as per TT rules, so they went to the TT park at Columbus, TX on the Colorado River, and will be back soon.
After the opening prayers, the pastor started by reading Psalms 121, 123, and 125 about how God is looking out for us. Then we sang two songs before the Bible readings. This week it was the continuation of Genesis 44:18 – 47:27, and then Ezekiel 37:13-28. This is about when Joseph, after years of being in Egypt reunites with his father, who thought that Joseph was dead.
Then we had the special prayers for those in need and the main song service, followed by the message which was about letting God work within us.
We all had good fellowship, conversation and food at the potluck. For the first time, I could hang around and help clean up the dining hall as I didn't have to hurry home to let Misty out yesterday.