Monday, June 19, 2017

Book of the Month: The Basket of Flowers




Summary:

     Mary and her father James Rode live comfortably as gardeners in the service of the Count of Eichbourg in Germany. Adored by all, Mary is an especial favorite of the young Countess Amelia. However, when Amelia's mother discovers her diamond ring is missing, young Mary is accused of stealing it by the jealous maid Juliette. Hence, Mary and her father are banished from the kingdom.
Will they ever return home? What happened to the ring? Will Mary's faith remain intact through this fiery trial?


Pro's:

     I chose this book for the month of June because of the significant role of Mary's father, James, in cultivating and nurturing her faith in God. He's a wonderfully wise and caring father whose lessons in Biblical truths are found all throughout the book. The Basket of Flowers is truly a delightful story and I know readers will be captivated by it.


Con's:

     There's nothing negative to write about this book except that it's a very moving story. There were a few places where I teared up.


My rating for this book:

5 out of 5 stars (I loved it and would recommend it to anyone)






Tuesday, June 13, 2017

God Uses Flawed People



“God can’t use me. I’m not smart enough. I’m not strong enough. I’m not bold enough. I’m not _______ enough.”

     Have you ever thought this? I have. Fortunately, God doesn’t think like this. There is a remarkable theme found throughout Scripture of the Lord using the most unlikely individuals to accomplish some of the greatest tasks.

Peter was a rough fisherman with an unfortunate tendency to stick his foot in his mouth. When Jesus plainly told his disciples they would all forsake Him, Peter persistently declared he would never do so. Yet, in the hour of Christ’s greatest trial, Peter not only forsook his Lord, but denied Him as well.

Paul (formerly Saul) was one of the early church’s greatest persecutors. He hunted, captured, and tried hundreds of Christians. By Paul’s own admission, he was the chief of sinners.

Moses spoke directly with God out of a burning bush and was given the ability to perform several miracles. But when God commanded him to speak to Pharaoh, Moses insisted he was incapable and ineloquent.

Jonah was sent to preach to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, but fled in the opposite direction instead. After being spewed back in the right direction, he finally delivered God’s message… but became furious when God actually saved the Ninevites.

In the eyes of many, these men were unqualified and unable of ever achieving success. They were fearful, weak, uneducated, spiteful, ineloquent, disobedient – in a word: flawed. Why would God use flawed people to enact His will? Wouldn’t He want those who are skilled and knowledgeable? The answer is in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29.

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.”

God uses the weakest vessels so that His power will be displayed most clearly and so that no one will be able to boast in themselves. That’s why God used Peter, an uneducated fisherman who fled after Christ was arrested, to boldly proclaim the gospel to thousands of antagonistic Jews. That’s why God saved Paul, a zealous Jew and a passionate persecutor of Christians, and caused him to become one of the early church’s greatest apostles. That’s why God called Moses, a murderer who fled Egypt and spent forty years hiding in Midian, to lead the entire nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. That’s why God commanded Jonah, who was decidedly pro-Israel and anti-Assyrian, to preach to the Ninevites, resulting in the salvation of the entire city. None would be able to effectively argue that they accomplished those feats through their own willpower and prowess. They triumphed only through the power of God.

So dear Christian, remember that God can use flawed people. The Lord doesn’t choose those whom the world deems potential stars. The world insists you must be intelligent, eloquent, strong, capable, and bold. However, God delights in using those who are weak, base, and despised. 

The world promotes perfect people. God uses flawed people.





_________________________

This is the third and final post in a series on Jonah. To view the previous posts, click below.
When God's Commands are Unpleasant
Loving Your Enemies

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Loving Your Enemies




     Have you ever met someone you just couldn’t stand? The moment they walk into the room, your smile fades, your heart sinks, and the day suddenly becomes gloomier. Sometimes, even the sound of their voice can make your stomach churn. Maybe it’s their personality. Maybe they have radically different views than you. Maybe you don’t even have a legitimate reason to dislike them, or, maybe you have a very good reason. Jonah had several reasons to hate the Ninevites. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian nation and the Assyrians were infamous for two things: their skill in battle and their cruelty in dealing with defeated nations. Common were their barbaric practices of dismembering, skinning, or burning their captives alive. Often displayed atop the walls of Nineveh were the decapitated heads of conquered kings and princes. Besides all this, the Assyrians were Gentiles who worshipped numerous false idols, many of which required abominable sacrificial rites. Israel and Assyria were diametrically opposed. Thus, we can understand why Jonah was so averse to delivering God’s message to them.

“What? Preach to Nineveh, to those Assyrians?! No! Let them die in their sins. Why should God save them?”

Yet, God had commanded him to preach to the Ninevites. The most loving thing we can do for anyone is to tell of their impending everlasting damnation and the salvation that can be found in Christ. That is love, and that was what the Lord asked Jonah to do: love his enemies.

But why? Why would God ask him to do that? After all, the Assyrians were Gentiles; God hadn’t promised to save them.

Jonah himself answers that question in Jonah 4:2b, “…for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.”

Because God is merciful. That’s the only reason any of us are saved. If God was gracious enough to save the murderous Ninevites, surely we can lovingly extend the message of salvation to even the worst of our enemies. 


"But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
- Matthew 5:44






Fun fact: I'm part Assyrian. Praise God his salvation extends to everyone, even to Assyrians!





_________________________
This is the second post in a series on Jonah. To view the first post, click below.
When God's Commands are Unpleasant