Feeling unsatisfied?

Big John was furious as he stormed into Mr. Redington’s office.  He was furious because Mr. Redington had paid Thomas, 600 dollars for one day’s work. Big john shouted “I heard you paid Thomas who has been with the company only 18 months 600 dollars for a day’s work last week. I’ve been with the company 10 years. I come in, sick or not, every day and I’m paid a measly 55 dollars an hour. Now you tell me what’s so special about Mr. Thomas.” Mr. Redington responded calmly, “John When your wife was sick in the hospital how many days where you out?” John was even more furious “How dare you throw that in my face now.  At the time you seemed sincerely sympathetic and told me to take all the time I needed and when I returned I didn’t take a day off for almost 4 years!” Once again Mr. Redington calmly responded, “I am quite aware John and I gave you a promotion. I remember telling you how much I thought of you.” John was not satisfied, “Well what good does that do for me when you can be so unfair!”  Mr. Redington smiled and answered. “John, Thomas worked 10 hours on Saturday, and that’s his day off. His normal pay is 40 dollars an hour. I am required to pay him time and half. That would be 60 dollars an hour for 10 hours. “John was silent. Then John answered, “I apologize.  I’ll be getting back to the floor.” Mr. Redington stopped john with these word “John I am disappointed. I thought you trusted me and would know that I treat each employee with fairness and kindness.”

Jesus once told a parable of a land owner who hired workers at the beginning of the day for a wage and then later in the day hired more workers and paid them the same wage.  The ones hired at first were greatly bothered and complained.  Jesus explained that their reaction was unfair because they had agreed to those wages.  It was the privilege of the land owner to hire more workers if he pleased and he could offer them what he wanted to. It was his land and his money. It appears that the workers hired at first were content with what they had and never thought their wages unfair until they started to compare themselves to others. (Matthew 20:1-16)

Often in life we too are satisfied until we contemplate what others have. We may ask ourselves “Why does he own more land? Why does she make more money? How come he can buy a new car every year?”  We start to think life has been unfair; God has been unfair, because someone has more. Yet we should also consider those that have less. How many times do we compare ourselves to those living in poverty, or even worse those living under persecution in foreign countries. Countless human beings are caught up in human trafficking, prostitution, drug addiction, war stricken countries and other horrific conditions. Life can seem unfair. However most of us still have so much to be grateful for and if it pleases God to give someone else more or less, remember it was His to give from the beginning and trusting in His infinite wisdom we can be sure He has His reasons.

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When tragedy strikes!

The Book of Ruth: Journey of Faith

The Book of Ruth: Journey of Faith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Noemi was a woman who had run out of faith and was not very happy with her God. Many years ago her husband had died.  However that was not enough grief. Now her only sons lay dead.  With no money, property or foreseeable source of income, she made the best decision she could. She turned to the only family she had left, her two daughters in law, Ruth and Orpha, and said “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” (Ruth 1:8) Noemi kissed her daughters-in–law and believed she would never see them again.

Then they both began to cry and nobody was leaving. They both declared that they weren’t going anywhere. Noemi was not too happy.  Her best plan to save her daughter-in-laws was not working. She explained that she had nothing to offer them and finally convinced Orpha to leave, Ruth would be more challenging. Ruth displayed great courage, stubbornness and faith in God as she declared “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17) Ruth was determined to be loyal to both Noemi and God.  Noemi must have thrown her hands up in defeat. Both women with nothing in this world to call their own would return to Bethlehem or as Noemi would say, ” the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21)

It’s easy to understand Noemi’s bitterness. We’re supposed to raise our children and then help them raise their children. Hard work and proper planning is also supposed to provide us with a healthy income deep into our old age. It’s the plan for a whole lot of folks, including me. Then tragedy strikes. God is so merciful He can see us through the most desperate situations.

Although Ruth was a foreigner she found favor in the eyes of one of the most powerful men in Bethlehem, Boaz. He had heard the most improbable story of the foreign girl who had given up her family and homeland to stay loyal to her penniless mother-in-law. (Ruth 2:11-12)He allowed her to work his land and everything Ruth could gather was hers to keep. What would happen next would be a true shocker. Boaz fell in love with this penniless, Moabite woman, and married her. (Ruth 4:13)Noemi became the adopted grandmother of their son Obed, King David’s grandfather, and they all lived happily ever after.

God can take the worst situation and turn it completely around. Although Noemi was bitter and perhaps angry with God, He had a plan and had never forsaken her. God incorporated Ruth, the foreigner into not only David’s blood lines, but Jesus himself, also a descendant of Ruth. In this manner both Jew and Gentile were already included in the plan of salvation. Before we grow bitter consider that God knows what is best, has us in his hands and will surely fulfill his purpose in our lives.

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Didn’t get everything!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 

Johnny, as his friends and family called him, was a playful kid who was active all day.  In school he worked hard and did well.  His teacher was impressed with his participation and intelligence.  However they wanted him to pay more attention to his homework.  His homework at times suffered because Johnny loved to play.  Sports, video games, board games, arts and crafts, the kid loved it all. He was also quite talented as both an artist and an athlete.  His parents were delighted with their son. Occasionally dad would say “remember to do your homework Johnny.” In truth dad enjoyed playtime as much as Johnny.

Christmas was nearing and playful Johnny had his eyes on all sorts of games and toys.  He made a rather impressive list and his dad was all too happy to receive it.  It’s as if the presents were more for daddy than for Johnny. Dad set out to get them all.  He checked on line first.  Placed the orders carefully and made sure the estimated date of arrival was before Christmas. There were a few that were better to pick out at the stores and away Daddy went.  It was certainly a fun day at the mall. The whole time daddy was thinking “Johnny is going to be so happy on Christmas and we are going to have so much fun”.

The gifts started to come in and everyday Daddy would unpack them and wrap them.  Under the Christmas tree they would go. The whole time Johnny would make comments hoping to gather information on dad’s success at obtaining everything he wanted.  But dad would not say a word.  It was the game of Christmas.  Johnny really had nothing to worry about; every year dad would get everything on the list.

Johnny had a hard time sleeping Christmas Eve, but was up early Christmas morning. He rushed into his parent’s room and woke them up.  “It’s Christmas, It’s Christmas, come let’s go!” Johnny didn’t even wait for his parents to get up and rushed down the stairs.  He grabbed one gift after the other, and, as he did every year, didn’t take out time to play with any of them until they were all unwrapped.

Johnny looked confused and began to check the presents again. He looked frustrated as if he had misplaced something.  Then Johnny exclaimed, “Dad you didn’t get me the PS3 Martian ray riffle with the instant magnification lenses and natural grip!” Now dad seemed confused, frustrated and angry. He had been hoping all along to play with that himself. Holding his head, making a fist and with a sound of doubt he muttered “how is that possible, I placed the order three weeks ago, I thought it came, what happened?” This was not looking like a Merry Christmas.

Mom had to intervene. “Boys look at all the cool stuff you have to play with. Be thankful for what you have and don’t focus on what you don’t have. ” The boys still looking angry and disappointed with their arms folded and their heads down, began to look around.  Finally Johnny picked up the glow football and hesitantly told his dad “You want to play with this Dad?” Dad answered “well alright” then dad lit up “Hey why don’t we call some of your friends and put together a real game?” “Sounds great dad”, Johnny shouted and they both ran out of the room in search of their coats.

Mom was left behind shaking her head and thinking “why is it that after everything we receive we are still not happy. Like Johnny we make our lists for God and when we don’t get something we are frustrated and focus on what we don’t have. We are easily disappointed when God says no or wait.  We should focus on all God has done and provided.  We should be thankful not angry.”

Paul in the epistle to Philippians encourages us to ask God for what we need and desire, but to always maintain an attitude of gratitude and not become anxious over all these things we request. (Philippians 4:6) God knows what we need and will provide.  Let us be happy for all we have, and as for what we don’t have, let us leave it in God’s capable hands.

Must have a plan!

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Acts 9:3,4

We’re ready for a road trip.  The bags are packed, the car’s been checked and the GPS has been updated. We have a road map just in case, phone charges for the phone, the tablet and the laptop.  The reservations have been made and an extensive itinerary has been planned out.  We know all of the excursions we’re going on, all the sites we will see, including prices, addresses and any other entrance requirements.  We have a list of the best restaurants complete with menus and prices.  We are set. Except your other half wakes up with a fever of 104 and will be sick in bed all week with the flu.

“We need to have a plan.” We’ve heard it said a million times and many of us love to have them. We faithfully think things through ahead of time.  We investigate and we weigh the advantages of one strategy over another and come to an educated decision.  Feels good to know exactly how things are going to work out.  But then they don’t always work. Sometimes God has a different plan for us and His will surely work out.

Saul was a greatly educated member of the religious leaders of the day.  He was a highly respected citizen of Rome. He had a lot of power and he was on a mission. He was going to put an end to these fanatical followers of the way, also known as Christians. He was planning on locking them up, torturing them and killing them. Made perfect sense, they were a threat to the religious order of things and would surely be the demise of all he held near and dear, however, when he was on the road to Damascus God put an end to all his plans.

A light from heaven flashed about him and Saul was thrown to the ground. He would hear the voice of Jesus, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:3) Saul was left blind and was directed to go to Damascus and there a servant of Jesus, Ananias, would instruct Saul in the Christian way. Saul would become Paul, the greatest Apostle and evangelist the world has ever known. Definitely a change in plan!

Paul had a plan. God had a different plan. And God’s plan was better. When your plans don’t work out, don’t assume disaster, relax, breath, and consider that perhaps there is a greater power at work, God himself!

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