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Make every effort to Enter

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

“But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’Luke 15:24-27

Start believing in Yourself

“What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”Luke 13:18&19

Everything in the kingdom starts at the seed level, but it doesn’t end there. The problem with starting at this level is a lot of effort is required to bring it to the desired end. You may have the best seed in the world; it profits nothing unless it is planted.

It’s only natural to want to compare, but have you seen the avocado seed!

Don’t stop Sowing

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”Luke 8:5-8

In a study today, I asked my 9 year old his take on the above story. Here is his philosophical approach paraphrased.

Don’t quit in the Wilderness

The son of God was lead into the wilderness where he fasted 40 days and nights, he was also tempted of the devil but he prevailed.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.Luke 4:14

Life is not like a restaurant where you order a meal, finish it and then make payment. In life, you’ll always need to pay the price first. Unfortunately you almost always have to pay the price in obscurity; there are no cameras or crowd to encourage you on.

You Could be a Saviour too

There are many ways to be relevant to the world or the communities we live in, find and meet a practical need. If you have something the world needs they will travel to see you. The contrary is also true, if you don’t meet any need, it makes no difference where you live; people will drive past you all day long.

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”Luke 2: 15

Labour to be a Saviour

The son of God was born in a manger because there was no room in the Inn, despite the unattractiveness of the location; the wise men came all the way from the east bearing gifts for the manger born king. It’s not so much where you are but who’s there with you, when the light of God decides to shine on you, you can be in the middle of a desert and His glory will announce you to the world.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord”.

You are a good Person

Stephen was a deacon in the early church. He was also believed to have been the first martyr who was stoned to death in AD34 by men who thought they were doing God a service. Isn’t it amazing how things haven’t changed much in 2000 years? There are still people today perpetuating such hideous crimes in the name of God and various religions. This is a topic for another day.

The killing of Stephen ushered in a great persecution which scattered the early church, bringing about the dispersal of the gospel which was the original intention of God.

You shall not be Stranded

The situation with the disabled 2000 years ago was remarkably different from what it is today. People with limited abilities were treated pretty much as a liability in the olden days, shamefully this probably is still the case in some parts of the world today.

I have read of children disowned, abandoned or even killed in some cases simply because of their perceived disability. This is a disgrace to our so called civilisation.

Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

You can win the Conflict of Identity

Though the concept of identity has been explored for hundreds of years, the perception that an individual has a unique identity has only been developed more recently. Identity is described as the conception, qualities, beliefs, and expressions that make a person or group.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.

Don’t throw away your flag

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”Matthew 2:1&2

The wise men saw the star and followed it to Jerusalem, thinking if the king of the Jews have been born, it must be in the capital city and where else but the palace. They were wrong; the son of God was born about 6miles south of Jerusalem, away from the perceived regal status of the big city.

God from the Inside Out

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.Matthew 1:20&21

 Here is an account from the birth of Jesus Christ which most people are very familiar with, though majority of us only read it at Christmas.

Esther won everyone’s favour

Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.

When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested.

Ego, Pride or bad Influences

In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him:

When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days.

Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.

On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.

Before you throw your Dummy

But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.

Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times

 Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her. –Esther 1&2

It is not unusual for people to do things in a fit of rage which they later regret.  Had this incidence happened in secrete, the king might have been more forgiving.

I am Arabica

A few weeks ago I was introduced to a fantastic book by a good friend. In his book ‘Onward’, Howard Schultz gave his account of how he steered Starbucks through a challenging era of the company which also coincided with the global recession brought about by the credit crunch.

Among other things, Howard gave a vivid explanation of the journey of the coffee from the soil to the cup; a story I find most fascinating, especially the extent the company goes to ensure the quality of its coffee, the experience of its partners culminating in the ultimate satisfaction of its customers.

Prepare for Oppositions

But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. Nehemiah 4

In every dysfunctional situation, there’s always someone profiting. Makes no difference whether it is a dysfunctional home, neighbourhood or nation, every time you find dysfunctionality, you can bet there’s someone taking advantage.

Let’s ALL start rebuilding

I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days, I set out during the night with a few others.

By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire.

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.

Swap the Mirror for a Window

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.Nehemiah 1

Nehemiah was a prominent official in the court of Artaxerxes I, the fifth King of Persia who reigned from 465 BC to 424 BC. He was concerned about the welfare of the survivors living in Jerusalem.

Understand and Speak the competition’s Language

“We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished. 
“However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God.Ezra 5

The adversaries of the Israelites took advantage of the death of Cyrus and wrote a letter to Xerxes the new king. While the desired effect was to stop the work on the temple, they focused only on the interests on the king; sovereignty and revenue in form of taxes, tributes and duty.

Effortless success? No such a thing

Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia. Ezra 4

You would have through this should be a piece of cake. The proclamation was made by the King. Resources were released to the Jews with a written decree to enhance the rebuilding of the temple. However opposition arose from all around them.