“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
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!
“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.
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
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.
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
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done
and what he had decreed about her. –Esther
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.