Tomorrow here in the U.S., is the official day of thanks giving. To honor that day, throughout the day today, I will be giving various unique ways that we can give thanks every day. So to start it off, I would like to give 101 and one ways to give thanks by showing kindness to others. To all my American brother and sisters, I say Happy Thanksgiving, and to those from other countries, I give thanks for you being a part of my life. Here we are, 101 random acts of kindness.

  1. prepare a meal for a homeless person
  2. smile :)
  3. call your mother to tell her you love her
  4. write a handwritten note
  5. knit a beanie or blanket for a homeless person
  6. put change in the washer/dryer for the next person
  7. fill an expired or about to expire parking meter
  8. leave some extra money in the vending machine
  9. buy a little extra grocery for the local food bank
  10. plant a tree
  11. send your favorite grade school teacher flowers
  12. write a thank you letter to your parents
  13. pay the toll for the person behind you
  14. tape a nice saying or thought to a bus window
  15. instead of just thinking it, compliment someone
  16. give a sad looking stranger a happy music cd
  17. ask someone “how are you?” mean it. and listen.
  18. make some baked goods for your neighbor(s)
  19. hug your loved ones for no particular reason
  20. make breakfast for your partner or housemate
  21. call someone you haven’t talked to in a while
  22. give someone a flower …or a dozen
  23. offer someone else your seat on the bus/train
  24. visit a senior center or nursing home
  25. say “thank you” for the otherwise routine, mundane
  26. pick up trash
  27. donate one of your favorite possessions
  28. give someone a fruit basket
  29. collect clothes to take to a local shelter
  30. stop to have a conversation with a homeless person
  31. give an inspiring book to a struggling friend
  32. leave your favorite book in a public place with a note
  33. donate books to your local library
  34. visit an animal shelter
  35. volunteer at a soup kitchen
  36. build a home with Habitat for Humanity
  37. mentor local youth
  38. pay for the person behind you at the drive-thru
  39. buy dessert for someone eating out alone
  40. pick up the tab for a random table at a restaurant
  41. put $10 on a random gas pump
  42. buy flowers for the cashier at the grocery store
  43. visit an orphanage with some goodies
  44. prepare a “to-go” breakfast for the morning mailman
  45. mail a friend some cupcakes
  46. send anonymous flowers to your office receptionist
  47. buy an extra umbrella on a rainy day
  48. give your waiter or waitress a huge tip
  49. tape an anonymous joke to your boss’ monitor
  50. send a nice card to a family member, just because
  51. don’t lose any opportunity to say: i love you
  52. leave a funny or kind note in an unexpected place
  53. invite a non-local friend over for dinner with your family
  54. read to a child
  55. rake someone’s yard
  56. be a courteous driver
  57. hold the elevator
  58. visit a lemonade stand
  59. recycle
  60. offer someone an unexpected tip
  61. set up a free lemonade stand on a hot day
  62. take some soup or hot chocolate to a homeless person
  63. leave a collection of positive news clippings in a waiting room
  64. practice patience
  65. refrain from gossiping; speak well of others
  66. act as if the glass were half full
  67. turn off a leaky faucet
  68. let someone get ahead of you in line
  69. listen intently
  70. prepare a nutritious sack lunch for a homeless person
  71. babysit for a single parent
  72. wave a “honk if you like to smile” poster at a street intersection
  73. be bold in your appreciation of life around you
  74. create an inspired piece of art and gift it to someone
  75. give a lottery ticket to a stranger
  76. compliment a stranger sincerely
  77. run an errand for someone
  78. give something awesome away on craigslist
  79. leave some extra stamps at the post office
  80. send a friend an old photo and recall that time
  81. send a random person in the phone book a small gift
  82. send your sibling a small gift anonymously
  83. donate an hour of your professional services
  84. invite someone who is alone over for dinner
  85. leave chocolate for your co-worker
  86. spend time with the elderly
  87. share your secret recipe with a friend
  88. write a letter of appreciation
  89. introduce yourself to someone you always see around
  90. anonyously send a friend in need some cash
  91. throw kids in your neighborhood a pizza party
  92. tape some change to a payphone
  93. put up anonymous, lovely post-it notes for strangers to find
  94. donate blood
  95. cook dinner for a busy parent
  96. give a little one a lollipop
  97. make time
  98. speak gently
  99. laugh heartily
  100. share your last bit
  101. one time, stop everything to help someone else

I’ll be back

Posted: November 25, 2014 in Thoughts on God

I apologize for a lack of posts lately, but I have been extremely sick. I would appreciate prayers. I am on the mend though… :) I should see you tomorrow.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

There is a fascinating true story about the Apostle John narrated by the early church “Father”, Eusebius, well worth reading.

The account goes that the elderly John took an affection and interest in a young man from Ephesus and subsequently entrusted him to the care of a bishop in the vicinity, and that, after a season, this young man became entangled with a band of criminals, and was corrupted by them, finally becoming their leader. When John returned after some time to search for the young man, expecting to find him spiritually well and maturing, the bishop despondently informed John of his fate.

Eusebius wrote, “The apostle tore his clothing, beat his head, and groaned, ‘A fine guardian I left for our brother’s soul! But get me a horse and someone show me the way.’ He rode off from the church, just as he was. When he arrived at the hideout and was seized by the outlaws’ sentries, he shouted, ‘This is what I have come for, take me to your leader!'”

“When John approached and the young leader recognized him, he turned and fled in shame. But John ran after him as hard as he could, forgetting his age, and calling out, ‘Why are you running away from me, child – from your own father, unarmed and old? Pity me, child, don’t fear me! I will give account to Christ for you, and if necessary, gladly suffer death and give my life for yours as the Lord suffered death for us. Stop! Believe! Christ sent me.'”

“The young man stopped, stared at the ground, threw down his weapons and wept bitterly. Flinging his arms around the old man, he begged forgiveness, baptized a second time with his own tears…[John] led him back and did not leave him until – through prayer, fasting, and instruction – he restored him to the church.”

What an awesome story! I’ve used this story many times when talking to the despondent backslider who believes he can no longer be forgiven.

Be an example of His love! No matter how far someone believes he has strayed from, or even deserted the Lord – he can always be restored! Perhaps, while reading this message, the Lord is reminding you of a person with whom you can share this story. Just possibly, you are the one that God wants to use to bring about his/her restoration. If so, I trust that, reading of the Apostle John’s loving example, you’ve been inspired by the compassion and grace the Lord Himself feels toward His “prodigals”, and moved by His Spirit to go out in faith…and rescue the lost sheep!

God promises eternal life to those who believe in His Son. It’s in the Bible, John 3:16, NIV. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Eternal life is a gift given to those who trust in Jesus. It’s in the Bible, I John 5:11-12, NIV. “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Our future in heaven begins when Jesus comes the second time. It’s in the Bible, I Thessalonians 4:16-17, NIV. “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

At the second coming, Jesus will make us perfect, just like Him. It’s in the Bible, Philippians 3:20-21, NIV. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”

What does the Bible say about heaven? It’s in the Bible, John 14:2-3, NIV. “There are many homes up there where My Father lives, and I am going to prepare them for your coming. When everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with Me where I am.”

The future is beyond our comprehension. It’s in the Bible, I Corinthians 2:9, NIV. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

How did Isaiah describe the conditions of a perfect future? It’s in the Bible, Isaiah 65:21-23, NIV. “They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of My people; My chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.”

Peace will pervade even the animal kingdom. It’s in the Bible, Isaiah 65:25, NIV. “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy in all My holy mountain.”

The handicapped will be healed. It’s in the Bible, Isaiah 35:5-6, NIV. “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb shout for joy.”

God will live with His people and there will be an end to death, crying, and pain. It’s in the Bible, Revelation 21:3-4, NIV. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Originally posted on Pastor Mike Says:

cryingJesus wept- John 11:35

This is verse is famous for being the shortest verse in the Bible. But it deserves our attention for reasons much more significant than that. What a scene! The eternal, unchanging, immovable God-in-the-flesh Jesus, weeping in front of the tomb of a friend.

How mysterious a scene this is. And yet there are some clear implications, embedded in the context of the verse, from which we can learn valuable lessons. First, Jesus was not weeping because of despair at the death of Lazarus his friend. He had already told his disciples that this death had been allowed in order to provide an occasion for their faith to be strengthened (11:15). Moments after weeping, Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead.

Secondly, Jesus was weeping because he saw the deep grief of those around him and was deeply moved by compassion for them (11:33). Even though…

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One dictionary defines contentment as “the state of being mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are.” Today it is rare that we find anyone who is truly content with his or her condition in life. The Bible has a great deal to say about contentment—being satisfied with what we have, who we are, and where we’re going. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25).

In essence, Jesus is telling us to be content with what we have. Moreover, He has given us a direct command not to worry about the things of this world. Then He adds, “For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:32-33). From Jesus’ words, we can deduce that lack of contentment is sin and it puts us in the same category as those who do not know God.

The apostle Paul was a man who suffered and went without the comforts of life more than most people could ever imagine (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Yet he knew the secret of contentment: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13). The writer to the Hebrews adds, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6). Yet people continue to seek after more of the things of this world, never contented with their lot in life. The bumper sticker that reads “He with the most toys wins!” epitomizes the world’s cravings for more and more.

The latest global statistic shows that if one has a roof over his head and a meal on his table he is richer than 93 percent of the world’s population. If a person wears a pair of shoes he is richer than 75 percent of the people in the world. In the United States alone, credit card debt averages more than $16,000 per household, and we are still discontented. Solomon, the wisest and richest man who ever lived, said, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

“Be content with such things as you have” means as believers such should be our trust and confidence in God that we should be satisfied with our condition regardless of our circumstances. For we know assuredly that if we are faithful God will cause all things to work together for our good (Romans 8:28).

To worry means we do not trust God. The key to overcoming our discontentment and lack of faith is to find out who God really is and how He has been faithful to supply the needs of His people in the past. Such study will grow one’s confidence and trust for the future. The apostle Peter said it succinctly: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Seven ways to please the Lord.

Posted: November 18, 2014 in Thoughts on God

You and I can please God. It is amazing when you really think about it: human beings – seemingly so insignificant when we look at the size and scale of the universe that God has created – have the ability to please the Lord. It is also possible to ‘displease’ the Lord (Isaiah 66:4c). The apostle Paul wrote, ‘Find out what pleases the Lord’ (Ephesians 5:10), or as The Message translation puts it, ‘Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it’.

1. Praise the Lord

Psalm 113:1-9Praise is the appropriate response to God. It is not that he is a megalomaniac. He is worthy of all our praise. We teach our children to be thankful – not for our own sake but for theirs. We are pleased when they are thankful. God teaches us to praise him because it is the right response to him, and because it is good for us. Thanksgiving is an appropriate response to human generosity. Continual praise is the appropriate response to God’s generosity.

The psalmist repeats over and over again that we should ‘praise the Lord’ (v.1). We should praise him all day long, ‘From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised’ (v.3). We should praise him throughout our lives, ‘now and tomorrow and always’ (v.2, MSG). We should praise him particularly for his love for the marginalised: the poor, the needy and the barren (vv.7–9).

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord …

2. Live in the light

Ephesians 5:8-33Ephesians 5:8–14

As Christians, we are called to be a community whose conduct shines as a beacon to others, illuminating the way that God intended life to be lived.

Paul wrote that you are ‘light in the Lord’ (v.8). Therefore, you should live as ‘children of light’ (v.8). Light produces good fruit: goodness (generosity towards others), righteousness (doing right in relation to God and humanity) and truth. These are ways you can please the Lord (v.10).

Light exposes evil. The best way to get rid of evil is to drag it into the light. Evil thrives in the darkness, but the moment it’s brought into the light, its power diminishes.

Ask God to shine the light of the Holy Spirit into your heart. If the Holy Spirit exposes an area of darkness, deal with it through confession and repentance. The moment you do so, the power of evil is broken.

Lord, help us to get rid of darkness in our lives and to live as children of light, shining in a way that pleases you.

3. Make the most of every opportunity

Ephesians 5:15–17

Time is our most valuable possession. You can get more money but you cannot get more time.

Paul wrote, ‘Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil’ (vv.15–16). We must not fritter away our lives, like fools. Life is short – we should live in the moment and make the most of every day.

Lord, may we not live carelessly or unthinkingly. Rather, may we make sure we understand what you want and make the most of every hour of every day.

4. Be filled with the Spirit

Ephesians 5:18–20

Paul contrasts the escapism of substance abuse (getting ‘drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery’) with being ‘filled’ (v.18) with the Holy Spirit. ‘Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him’ (v.18, MSG). In these verses, he uses ‘filled’ in the present continuous tense, urging us to go on and on being filled with the Spirit.

Being filled with the Spirit leads to singing ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ (v.19) instead of ‘drinking songs!’ (v.19, MSG). It leads us to worship the Lord Jesus in our hearts and to give thanks to God – the very opposite of grumbling and complaining. It is characteristic of the Spirit-filled community to be grateful to God for all things, in all places and at all times. It leads to mutual submission as we see in the next section.

Lord, please fill me today with the Holy Spirit.

5. Submit to one another with love and respect

Ephesians 5:21–23

John Paul Getty, once the wealthiest man on the planet, who was married three times, said, ‘I’d give my entire fortune for one happy marriage.’ Mutual respect is the key to a happy marriage. The key words in verses 21–33 are ‘respect’, ‘love’ and ‘submit’. The overall heading for this section is that ‘out of respect for Christ’ (v.21, MSG), we are to ‘submit to one another’ (v.21).

The word used for submission is different from the word used for ‘obey’ (6:1). Submission is voluntarily yielding in love. It is a beautiful characteristic and it is clear from the overall heading, ‘submit to one another’ (v.21), that he expects mutual submission. This teaching would have been a revolutionary concept in first-century culture.

Respect is the key to a good relationship between the sexes. We are not at war. As Pope Benedict put it, ‘In Christ, the rivalry, enmity and violence can be overcome and has been overcome. It is respect throughout marriage that elevates the other and gives them the dignity and increases their confidence and self worth.’

The overall emphasis of the passage is on love. Although it is directed particularly at the husband, it would be absurd to suggest that the love is not mutual. Paul is saying that both love and submission are mutual. Love is self-giving; this is how a husband submits .

This kind of love is sanctifying (vv.26–27). It makes us holy. It makes us like Jesus. It is sensitive (vv.28–30). And it is sealed in marriage by sexual union (v.31). This is the New Testament context of sexual union. It is the most beautiful and the most romantic attitude to sex and marriage. As Robert Spaemann put it, ‘The essence of marriage is that two lives, two whole biographies, are so tied together that they become one history.’

Furthermore, these verses are precious gems to be treasured because of what they suggest about the forthcoming marriage feast of the Lamb, and the consummation of the union between Christ and his church. In today’s passage in Isaiah (see section 7 below) we get an insight into what this union will be.

Lord, help us in all our relationships, whether we are married or single, to submit to one another, respecting and loving each other and pleasing you.

6. Be humble

Isaiah 65:17-66:24Isaiah 66:2b

‘These are the ones I esteem: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and tremble at my word’ (Isaiah 66:2b). ‘But there is something I’m looking for: a person simple and plain, reverently responsive to what I say’ (v.2b, MSG).

This is another way to please the Lord. Through constant study of, and submission to, his word, God keeps us humble and contrite. It is easy to become prideful until we fall on our knees before God and his word, and see ourselves in the light of his truth.

Lord, help us to be humble and contrite and reverently responsive to what you say.

7. Look forward to a world where everything pleases God

Isaiah 65:17–66:24

Isaiah encouraged the people: ‘Be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create’ (65:18). God promises that he will create ‘new heavens and a new earth’ (v.17).

This new heaven and new earth will finally be a place where everything pleases God, where he can ‘delight in [his] people’ (v.19). In these final chapters, Isaiah sketches out a glorious vision of what this new creation will be like.

This passage also warns of the coming judgment, as all that displeases God is excluded from this new creation (66:4b).

The imagery of a new creation, which these chapters give us, is then a picture of joy and rejoicing (65:18–19a); a place where there is no more suffering and ‘the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more’ (v.19b). This prefigures some of the last chapters in the New Testament (see Revelation 21:4).

Isaiah promises that everyone will reach their full potential (Isaiah 65:20). But the New Testament goes even further, with Jesus promising eternal life. There will be no need for funerals, undertakers or cemeteries. God’s people will be given immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53).

Isaiah looks forward to a time when all activity will be a blessing (Isaiah 65:21–23a). There will be no more work in vain. There will be no more labour or toil. Rather, there will be a restoration of the rule over creation for which we were originally entrusted (see Genesis 1:26; Revelation 22:5).

There will be a closeness of relationship with God (Isaiah 65:23b–24), with no more struggling or seemingly unanswered prayer. We will have an unimpaired vision of God and of Jesus.

There will be harmony and peace (v.25). All relationships will be restored – including even the animal world. There will be unity and intimacy in all our relationships. Nature will be restored as a place of stability, safety and peace. The kingdom of God will be fully established. Martin Luther wrote, ‘I would not give up one moment of Heaven for all the joys and riches of the world, even if they lasted for thousands and thousands of years.’

Lord, we praise you for this wonderful promise of a new heaven and a new earth. May it spur us on in our desire to live now in a way that pleases you.