Building People. Spreading Hope.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Flourishing Finish

“God will bring you to a flourishing finish” (Philippians 1:6 MSG). 
We all go through disappointments, loss, or betrayal but God never ends with a negative. It is natural to become discouraged, bitter, or even angry at God and people. However, if we keep the right attitude and don’t give up, He has promised to bring us to a flourishing finish.
The marathon was the final event of the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. The stadium was packed and the crowds erupted at the sight of the first athlete crossing the finishing line.
Way back behind everyone else, was John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania, cramping up due to the high altitude of the city. In the middle of the race, there was jockeying for a position between some runners and he fell to the ground injuring his knee and shoulder. However, he continued running. An hour later, when Akhwari entered the stadium, all but a small crowd remained.

Akhwari was the last among the 57 competitors of the 75 that started the race. When he was asked on the television camera why he continued running, he replied, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me to finish the race.”

In the same way, we’re all sent to finish the race. At one time, you believed that you could do something great. You believed to be healthy. You believed to fall in love and live happily ever after. You believed that you could start a business. You believed that you would go on that mission trip. But life happened and you have been knocked down a few times. You have not seen the fulfillment of your dream yet. Don’t resign to your fate and believed the “never” lies.

Friend, just like John Stephen Akhwari, God didn’t send you to planet earth to live a mediocre, unfulfilled, and unfished race. He put you here for a purpose. He didn’t create you to drag through life frustrated and unrewarded. He made you in His own image. He put seeds of greatness in you. You’re born to do great things. The sooner you embrace God’s plan, the faster you’ll begin to experience the miracles happening all around you.
In the last moments of Jesus’ life on earth, he needed his disciples to stand by Him. Yet, Peter denied Jesus three times. It was the ultimate betrayal! Later, Peter felt miserable. He abandoned the call of God and went back to fishing.
Today you may be sitting on the sideline, living a life of regret. Your thoughts hijack your mind thinking, “What could have been, or should have been, if I hadn’t made those wrong choices.”
There’s good news for you my friend. God knows all our faults and failures and yet, He loves us unconditionally. He doesn’t give us what we deserve; He has a flourishing finish waiting for us.
This is what happened to Peter (John 21). After Jesus rose from the dead, He found Peter and the other disciples fishing on the sea. They had toiled all night and caught nothing. At the instruction of Jesus, they cast their nets and they hauled the greatest catch. When Peter got to the shore, Jesus met him. Instead of displeasure, rebuke, or disappointment, Jesus restored Peter and invited him to a barbeque breakfast of fish and toast.

Today, you may be down, defeated, and discouraged but don’t give up. Like Akhwari, you’re sent to finish the race. No matter what your failure may have been, God waits to welcome you back. He wants to restore you and make you twice as successful as you’ve ever been. He wants to heal you. He wants to bring love into your life. He wants to restore your losses and give you double for your trouble. There’s a flourishing finish waiting for you. God will finish what He has started. Now do your part. Like Peter, Jesus is calling, “Follow me!” Will you? I know you will. I love you and I’m praying for you!
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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Be Kind and Considerate

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).

Since childhood, we’ve been taught to be kind and considerate. We all want others to be kind to us but it’s hard to initiate these virtues. When we’re kind and considerate, we’re doing more than good deeds. We’re representing Christ and planting seeds for ourselves and our children.

A few weeks ago, I was running errands at the post office. As I entered the door, I saw an elderly lady carrying several boxes in her arms. I offered to hold the door open for her. After she put down her packages, she was about to go out and get some more from her car when I offered to help her.

Her whole back seat was full of packages for her kids and grandkids. After I put them down in the front of the clerk’s desk, we both stood in the line. She said, “Thank you.” I said, “Now you have to tell me a story.” She said, “What story?” I said, “Tell me something God has done for you that glorifies Him.” She said, “God miraculously healed my husband!” My eyes got real big as I said, “Tell me more.”

She said, “My husband was on a plane and he had been having a heart attack. He was breathing heavily and the passenger next to him complained to him. So he went and sat in the toilet the rest of the flight. After he got off the plane, he was rushed to the hospital and spent three months in the intensive care unit. God finally healed him.” 

I was so excited and asked her if I could pray for her husband. She said, “Sure.” Right there, standing in the post office line, I prayed a brief prayer of blessing over her and a healthy long life for her husband. When I said “amen” several others standing in the line joined in.

We finished our transactions at the post office and I was walking to my car when I heard, “Excuse me. Excuse me.” I turned around and there was another lady walking towards me. I was taken aback but I turned around and started walking towards her. She said, “I’m sorry to bother you but I heard you pray for the lady in the post office line. My husband has just had a heart attack. Would you please pray for him?” I said, “Yes ma’am.” I talked to her about how Jesus is still alive and he loves to heal and save people. Sheepishly, she said, “I know I should be in church but I haven’t in a long time.” I said, “Don’t worry. Jesus heals people even if we’re not church-goers.” Standing in the middle of the parking lot, I laid my hands on her shoulders and prayed for her husband. She was so relieved and promised that they’ll be in church the next Sunday.

We were just about to finish up our conversation when a young lady driving by stopped near us. She rolled down her window and shouted, “Hey, I just love what you did inside the post office and are now doing out here!”

Why am I telling you this elaborate story? I believe opportunities to be kind to others are all around us. If we’re not always in such hurry and focusing on our own agendas, we’ll find many people who are desperate for a touch from God. You may not be able to do anything big but can you open the door for an elderly lady? Will you be bold enough to pray in public? When you do, you’ll create a chain of events that will touch many lives.

Jesus was a champion at showing kindness to people. He made time for people. He was approachable. Even the children felt safe around him. He not only did mighty miracles but he had time to talk to ordinary folks like the Samaritan woman by the well. He made time to have dinner with the sinners and tax-collectors of his day.

Mark Twain said, “Kindness is the language in which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” This week, my challenge for you is to have an open heart. In traffic, let the person slip in front of you. Let go of a pet peeve with your child or spouse. Don’t join in the office gossip. If the boss is unreasonable, let it go. Forgive someone even if he/she hasn’t said sorry. One of the greatest inheritances you can ever leave your children is to teach them to be kind. Being considerate to others will take your children further in life than any formal education. Show them by example. This is the holiday season folks. Let’s be a little kinder and considerate to people whom God brings in our path.

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