Tuesday, March 22, 2011

His Perfect Plan!

Corrie ten Boom intrigues me. I am drawn to individuals who have faced enormous difficulties in life, yet come out of these experiences with an inspiring testimony.

She reminds me of the verse in James 1:12: “Blessed is a man [or woman] who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Much like the Apostle Paul who possessed a mysterious disposition in the midst of his circumstances, Corrie Ten Boom rose from the ashes of the holocaust with a quiet and godly demeanor. How did she maintain a clear perspective of God in the midst of such hatred and cruelty? It is truly unexplainable unless you know something or should I say Someone that most people do not.

Corrie was a holocaust survivor during World War Two. Her first 50 years was spent with her family in Holland until the Nazis invaded the European continent with their strategy to rid the world of all Jews. In the midst of Hitler’s anti-Semitic plan, the ten Boom family provided “hiding places” for persecuted Jews. Because of their underground activities, Corrie spent many months in a concentration camp.

In Corrie ten Boom's book In My Father’s House, Carole Carlson writes the following in the foreword (which originally was written in Corrie ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place):

Today I know that memories are the key not the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.

Corrie’s comments provide an apt introduction to our passage in Ecclesiastes. Solomon has been on a journey to find meaning in life. He has tried it all only to come full circle and realize that all is still vanity. The name God is mentioned only once from Ecclesiastes 1:1—2:23. Why? Solomon has been living life under the sun. God has not been a part of Solomon’s equation, that is until Ecclesiastes 2:24.

Solomon will soon discover that God uses every event that occurs under the sun for the purpose of bringing about the “mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will have us to do.” We would do well to listen to Solomon as he teaches about our God.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pray for Japan!

Area: Four large islands (Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu) and 3,000 small islands in NW Pacific. Mountainous; only 13% can be cultivated.

Population: 126,995,411

Government: parliamentary government

Capital City: Tokyo

Peoples: 34 people groups (68% unreached)

Official language: Japanese Languages: 16 (12 languages do not have a copy of the Bible in their language).

Religion: Largest Religion: Buddhist
Religion Pop %
Buddhist 88,376,107 69.59
New religion 28
Christians 1,955,729 1.54
Evangelicals 596,498 0.5

As you pray for Japan as they try to recover from a catastrophic earthquake, pray for the following challenges:

 Most of the population are into Shintoism – a uniquely Japanese form of religion which worships idols, ancient spirits and dead relatives!

 The birth rate in Japan is so low that the population is getting older and older (percentage of the aged in Japan’s population is faster than any other nation) and young people are a dying breed. This materialistic and individualistic generation is really challenging Japan’s older traditional values. Pray that this generation would continue to be increasingly open to hearing about God.

 A lack of a moral centre. Japan’s own leaders called it “a superpower without a moral compass”. This is most notable among young people, who struggle with particular challenges such as social phobia or social anxiety (Hikikomori), a suicide epidemic (over 30,000/year), bullying and teenage prostitution. High rates of suicide in other age groups and divorce also reflect this challenge.

Operation World, Japan. http://www.operationworld.org/japa#prayer. (accessed March 15, 2011).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Though He was rich..."

One way to enhance your spiritual walk is to read the biographies of godly men and women who have lived for Jesus. You can learn so much from their lives, and you will gain a deeper appreciation for the Christian truths and principles.

For example, one such individual was C. T. Studd. He was one of England’s greatest athletes in the 1800s. Studd was a world champion cricket player who came to Christ. When his wealthy father died, C. T. inherited over $150,000 which was a fortune in the 1800s. C. T. Studd said, “I don’t want that money to clutter up my life. I think the best way to use it is to invest it with God.” He then sent $25,000 to Hudson Taylor’s Inland China Mission, $25,000 to William Booth’s Salvation Army, and $25,000to D. L. Moody to start Moody Bible Institute. The balance C. T. Studd gave to his wife on their wedding day with these words, “The rich young ruler was asked by Jesus to give all.” Then the both of them sent all the remaining money anonymously to William Booth and the Salvation Army. After investing all of their money in the Lord’s work they invested their lives as missionaries in Africa.

What a testimony! One of the ways that you and I can measure our walk with Christ is to look at our giving. And I am not only speaking of monetary giving. We can also include the giving of our time, resources, energy, and talents. How are you using those things for the Lord? Are you serving Him with your best?

We are reminded in 2 Corinthians 8:9 what Christ did for us. Paul writes, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” It is incredible to think of what Christ did for you and me. He who was rich in everything laid those things aside that He may become poor and die on a cross so that we can receive the eternal riches of knowing God. You are indeed rich!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Souls to be Loved!

It’s hard to believe that the same man who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes also wrote Psalm 127. Solomon did not put God at the center of his life. He chased down rabbit trails to find meaning and fulfillment only to discover that he had been chasing the wind. Only later did he realize that “unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

Here is a question to all us as we celebrate our youth today. Do your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and others know that God is at the center of your home? I don’t mean if you have a large family Bible sitting on the coffee table. Is God really at the core of your life? Are you known as one who turns to God in prayer in the midst of difficulty? Are you known for praising God for His many blessings? Are you known for reading , meditating, and applying the Word in your life?

Solomon tells us that parents possess the greatest influence in their child’s life. Children look to you and will remember how you handled the issues of life. Solomon continues in Psalm 127 by reminding us that children are a “gift from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Thomas Short (“Christian Marriage,” Pulpit Digest) gives us a helpful reminder:

All husbands and wives borrow their children. Our children are not our own. Our children belong to God. He has loaned them to us for a season. Most marriages contain these borrowed jewels. They are not ours to keep but to rear. They are not given to us to mold into our image. They are not given to us so that we can force them to fulfill our lives and thus, in some way, cancel our failures. They are not tools to be used, but souls to be loved.

What a line: “[children are] souls to be loved.” We are celebrating our youth this morning. They are our assignments by God to faithfully teach them about their Creator. They are not mistakes nor are they accidents. They are a gift from the Lord. Let’s tell them how much we appreciate their lives.