The Time and Weather is for Hua Hin, Thailand where we currently live

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This is Paradise. . .Isn’t It?

When we tell people that we live in Thailand, they often get a look of ‘Wow!’ and then follow with “That must be incredible.”  Sometimes, they even add “I would love to live there. . .It must be like living in paradise.”

Well. . .

A lot of people do come to Thailand from other countries.  They come for vacation, or they come for 3 to 6 months of the year to live in ‘paradise’.  They leave the cold winters of their home country, to enjoy the heat and the beaches here in Thailand.  They come from Sweden, Germany, and England. . .just to name a few.

So, you would think that it must be wonderful to walk around ‘paradise’ and see the happy contented faces of the foreigners that reside here for part of the year.

The friends they leave back in their home countries think, “Oh, if we only had the money, we too could be living the life.  Living in Thailand part of the year, living at home the rest of the year, wow we would really be happy then.”

If they only knew. . .the sad truth is that as we walk around and see the foreigners around town, we don’t see the relaxed smiling faces you would expect.  We see serious faces, grim faces, sad faces, faces of people searching for the next ‘thing’ to fill their lives.  They march around the mall in search of stuff to fill the void they feel inside.  They feel moments of satisfaction when they make the next big purchase at a great price.  And when that feeling wears off, then the cycle starts again. . .the feeling of emptiness, and the ensuing search for fulfillment and joy.

Thai people tell me they think it is funny how foreigners come to Thailand and they are always in a hurry.  They rush around the stores.  They get impatient waiting in line.  They speed around in their cars, and lean on their horns when others don’t move fast enough.  They even talk quickly.  And they can’t understand the slower pace of the locals, even though that was one of the reasons they came to Thailand.

So here I am in Thailand, and if you know me – you know this about me, I am a smiler.  J  I love showing and sharing the joy I feel.  I kind of feel like smiles are a gift that we can share with each other.

Sometimes I will be walking toward a Thai person that looks a little sad, and I smile at them. . .and sometimes I see that they catch the smile.  That a little joy has seeped into their hearts.  Their eyes change from dismal to dazzling, and my heart overflows with joy and I pray that they will come to know the source of my joy, Jesus.

However, unfortunately that is not normally what I see in the faces of the foreigners.  Most of the time, the foreigners avoid eye contact.  They steel their eyes, look straight ahead, and rush right on by.

Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians and Philippians, that our circumstances do not determine our joy or our contentment.

Our joy, our sense of fulfillment does not come from the world.  It does not come from living in what is considered ‘paradise’.  Jesus says in John 14:1-4  ""Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.""
True paradise is living a life with God the Father, Jesus and The Holy Spirit, with the promise of eternal life with them in Heaven.  In the meantime, it is not the part of the world that we call home that is important; it is seeking to honor and glorify God the Father, and to live thankful lives because of what Jesus did for us.

1 Thessalonians 5:
Vs 11 - "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up…”
Vs 16-18  ... “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Philippians 4:11-13  "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

Praise God!



Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Had a Dream. . .

Last week I had a dream. . .and I actually remembered it in the morning, and I still remember it; which for me is not the norm.

In my dream I was alone and I was walking in a parking garage.  As I approached a vehicle with a shiny chrome bumper, I could see my legs and feet reflected in it.  Suddenly, I noticed that just to the left of my reflection, there was another pair of legs reflected.  The other person reflected in the bumper was wearing a light blue long garment with white stripes, he had tanned legs, and leather sandal clad feet.

I was so startled to see someone’s reflection right next to mine, when I thought I was alone, that I jumped and whirled to my left.  As I looked in to the face of the man next to me, I knew instantly who it was, and I said “Jesus!”.  Jesus got an amused look on His face, and said “Why are you surprised?  I told you I would be with you always.”

I stood in stunned silence for a moment, and then I too began to smile.  Of course I knew that God/Jesus had said that He would always be with me, but I had never thought of it in that way. . .that God was actually walking with me every moment of everyday.

I have felt so incredibly blessed by that dream, and the way that the Lord has reassured me that I am never alone.

I have shared my dream with some people that were going through a really hard time, and I have been blessed to see how the revelation that even when they felt alone. . .they really weren’t, impacted them.  To see the Truth of the realization register on their faces and the peace that seemed to transcend what they could have imagined during their time of trials in their lives, was amazing. 

It so remarkable for me to share my life with other people, and to realize that God can and does use our experiences to encourage others. 

It is so humbling. . .and all I can say is “Thank you Lord!” for allowing me to be part of Your work here in Thailand.

Hebrews 13:5 - "for he (God) has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you.""

Matthew 1:23 - ""Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us)."

Galatians 2:20 - "I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Matthew 28:20 - ". . .behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

2 Timothy 4:17 - "But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed. . ."

So, I encourage you to share your life with others.  You never know how God can use you, in the lives of others.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

It’s Incredible. . .

I love how the Lord, gives me new understanding of His Word even though I have read it before.  In reading the Bible recently, I found myself looking at some of the scriptures in a whole new way.

In John 13, here was Jesus on His last evening on earth, and it is fascinating to me how He chooses to spend His last evening and with whom.

I mean, to be honest, if I knew that I was going to die tomorrow and that a close friend was going to setup my murder. . .basically, that person would be the last person I would think of spending my last evening with.  Personally, I would seek to surround myself with family and close friends.

But. . .How did Jesus choose to spend His last evening on earth?  He surrounded Himself with His 12 disciples.  Note I did not say 11 disciples.  He did not post a guard, giving them strict instructions not to let Judas in.  In fact His treatment of Judas was just as He had always treated him, with love, caring and compassion.

Even though Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, He still chose to spend His final evening with all of His disciples.  They ate together, they prayed together and Jesus – the Creator of the world washed the feet of His disciples.  He humbled Himself, and just as lowly servants would do, He washed their feet.  Jesus washed the feet of all of His disciple’s.  He did not skip Judas.  He did not ridicule Judas, or give Him ‘the look’, or tell the other disciples who was going to betray Him.  It’s Incredible!

In fact, when Jesus said that one of them would betray Him, they all looked at each other wondering who it was.  Hmmm, that tells me that Judas acted (at least on the outside) like the other disciples.  Judas had already decided in his heart to betray Jesus, and yet no one could tell from his demeanor that those were his intentions.  The other 11 disciples did not all spin around, pointing and staring accusingly at Judas.  There were no ‘Oh yeah, we knew it was Judas’ comments made.

I wonder how many people are sitting in church pews looking the part, but in their hearts they don’t even know Christ.  God knows our hearts.  He knows whether we have given our lives to Him, or whether it is all about the perception of others and showing up for an hour on Sunday.  My heart hurts thinking about those that don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  For me, there is no greater Joy. . .than knowing and loving Jesus.

As Jesus sat surrounded by His disciples, did He dwell on that fact that He would endure horrible pain, torture, humiliation and death the very next day?  I think many of us would be self-centered had we been in similar circumstances, and yet Jesus shows us that we should humble ourselves and be God centered and other’s-centered no matter what the circumstances.   It’s Incredible!

What a challenge to Christians, to live a life that reflects those same things. . .

Being Humble. . .truly humble, not ‘Hey look at me.  Aren’t I humble?’.  (a.k.a. – not humble.)

Being Servants. . .not looking around to see who will serve us, but us looking around at how we can serve others.  Without fanfare.  Quietly, and with the love of Christ in our hearts, serving others.  Without looking for a ‘pat on the back’ or accolades for a job well done. 

Colossians 3:23-24 "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."

Giving Grace. . .Jesus gave us undeserved Grace.  Can we rise to the challenge and give undeserved grace to the people around us?  To the people that we have decided don’t deserve grace?  Yes!  With Christ in our hearts we can!

Loving one another. . .Giving and showing love to one another, without expecting anything in return.  Jesus loved Judas knowing that he would not thank Him for the years of love, time and devotion that Jesus showed him.  Jesus loved Judas, because God the Father wanted Him too.  Jesus tells us in John 13:34  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."  After that commandment there is no ‘but’, there is no ‘except’.  We are to love one another, as Christ loved us.  Period.

It’s Incredible!

John 13:
Vs 1-5 …when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him,  Jesus… rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. ...

Vs 14-17 “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them...”

Vs 21-22  …Jesus…testified, "Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me."  The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. ...

Vs 34-35  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

This is just part of the story; I encourage you to read all of John 13.  It’s Incredible!



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Now that is Generous Giving. . .

Bill and I have the privilege of being involved with an orphanage here in Thailand.  We teach English at the orphanage each week, and they come to the Youth Center for Youth Group for games, food and Bible study.  We ask often how we can help more, but they are reluctant to tell of their needs.

A while back we wished twin teenage girls Happy Birthday during Youth Group.  A few days later, after we finished teaching English at the orphanage, one of the teenage girls started to give me a hug.  Suddenly she pulled back, saying that she just remembered something, and asked if we could wait a minute.  I told her we would wait, and to take her time.

She ran off to the small room that she shares with the rest of the girls that live at the orphanage.  She emerged a few minutes later with two beautiful bracelets in her hands.  She explained that they were for the twin girls that had just had a Birthday, and that she wanted me to give them to the girls.  I told her that they were beautiful, and asked her why she didn’t want to give them to the girls herself.  She just insisted that I give them to the girls for her.  I finally agreed and said I would.

I then asked her where she had bought them, because I really thought they were gorgeous.  She looked confused for a moment, and then told me that she had made them.  She had made each one specifically for each of the girls, based on what she thought they would like.

I was amazed, and awed.  Here was a young lady, who was living in an orphanage, she had just started college, and she worked to provide money for the orphanage and for school.  And yet out of her generous heart she had made two bracelets that she would normally sell, and she gave them to two new friends.

She was not reluctant in giving.  She was actually beaming (and yet shy), as she handed the beautiful bracelets to me.

Her giving was not about her.  She did not call a press conference, so that everyone could see how generous she was.  She did not even want to be the one to give the bracelets to the girls.  She just wanted to give the gifts.  For her, the time that it took to make the bracelets, was just part of the gift, and it gave her joy.

Wow!  That all of us that have given our lives to Jesus would give with such a humble joyful heart.

We hugged and I promised that I would give the bracelets to the girls.

When I gave the bracelets to the girls, and explained who they were from. . .they were stunned.  I could see how moved they were, by the generosity of someone who has had so little in the way of possessions and yet sought to share what little she had.

How humbling and grateful I am to see God’s Word in action in the life of a beautiful Thai teenage girl.

Mark 12:41-44 “And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums.  And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.  And he called his disciples to him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.""

I don’t know about you, but I am feeling very challenged to live more generously. 

My prayer for each of us is that we would honor and glorify God with our generous giving, and that our giving would reflect our heart.