Companionship

And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” – Genesis 2:18

I was studying a lesson on the first two chapters of Genesis and one of the questions asked was, “What parts of the created world talk to you in a powerful way about the reality of God and God’s love for us?”  For me it was when God created a companion for Adam.  He saw that despite the animals and other creatures, that Adam was lonely.

Adam must have felt out of place.  There wasn’t anyone there who looked remotely like him.  He had God to talk to and fellowship with but there must have been times when he was lonely and wished he had another person to talk to.  God saw this need and He met it in a most profound way.

The first surgery in the history of the world was performed in the Garden of Eden.  God put Adam to sleep and went to work.  Out of one of Adam’s ribs, God created a woman. Then, He proudly presented her to Adam.

When Adam saw her, he knew right away that she was his equal.  He declared, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;she will be called Woman, for she was taken out of Man” (verse 23).

Adam and Eve were the first married couple.  God wants everyone to have someone special in their lives. We are social creatures.  We were meant to have companionship, relationships.  We should thank God for blessing us with friends and families.

Always cherish the people in your life.  Never take your relationships for granted.

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A Lesson in Humility

They were probably sitting or reclining at the table, wondering who was going to wash their feet.  They looked around, wondering and waiting.  None of them was going to volunteer to do it.  Why should they?  This was beneath them.  Not that long ago they had argued about which one of them was going to be the greatest in the kingdom.  They would never stoop to doing such a menial task as washing twelve pairs of dirty feet.  Surely, they wouldn’t mind washing Jesus’ feet, at least?  No, no one was going to volunteer.

What a shock it must have been for them when they saw their Master get up from the table, take off His outer garment, and tie a towel around His waist, fill a basin with water and then begin to wash their feet.  He didn’t use a different towel to dry their feet, He used the same one that was wrapped around His waist.  They probably looked at each other in astonishment, hardly able to believe that the Son of God was performing such a lowly task.  Did any of them feel embarrassed?

When it came to Peter’s turn, he declared, “Never at any time will you wash my feet!” It was inconceivable to him that his Lord would do something so beneath him and he wanted no part of it.  One can just imagine Jesus looking up at him as He said, “If I do not wash your feet, you will no longer be My disciple.”

That response must have shocked Peter.  Then, he said, “Lord, do not wash only my feet, then! Wash my hands and head, too!” He went from not wanting his feet washed to wanting a bath.

Jesus, by washing their feet was showing them that as His disciples, they ought to be willing to serve one another.  He was teaching them a lesson in humility.  He had told them earlier in His ministry that He didn’t come to be served but to serve and to give His life for many.   As His followers, we ought to swallow our pride and volunteer for the jobs that others don’t want to do.

After Jesus finished washing their feet, got dressed and rejoined them at the table, He explained why He had washed their feet.  “Do you realise what I have just done to you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘Lord’ and you are quite right, for I am your teacher and your Lord. But if I, your teacher and Lord, have washed your feet, you must be ready to wash one another’s feet. I have given you this as an example so that you may do as I have done.”  He was greater than they, yet He humbled Himself and took on the role of a servant.

Not many of us would volunteer for positions that involve hard work and little or no thanks or recognition but it would do us good to remember that whatever we do, we do it for the glory of God who will reward us openly.

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Sources:  John 13:1-17; Mark 10:45

Broke to Blessed

He sat in a corner under the bridge.  It was raining so he huddled against the wall, wrapped in his dingy blankets, trying to keep warm.  He longed for a cup of coffee but he didn’t want to go out into the wet to beg.  From where he sat, he could see the busy street and the heavy traffic.  He watched the people walking to their jobs, schools, slipping into coffee shops or heading down to the subway.    He used to be like that.  He used to be going somewhere.  He didn’t walk though.  He was driven wherever he needed to go.  He used to watch the crowds from the back of a limo, tapping his fingers impatiently as he had to sit in traffic.  While they were out in the cold or rain, he was warm or dry in the limo.  Life treated him very well.  He had it all but then he lost it all…

He started when he saw a van approach and stop.  It sat there for a couple of minutes before the doors opened and two young people emerged.  Slowly, they approached him.  He was not thrilled about this intrusion.  He was never one for socializing.  He only dealt with people when he had to.  His relationships had failed because he was not ready for any commitments and marriage was not on the radar.  He didn’t have any friends—only acquaintances.  He was satisfied with how life was.  It had been lonely at times but he had his millions to keep him comfortable.  Then, he had lost it all through bad investments…

They went under the bridge and stood opposite to where he sat.  The girl smiled at him.  She looked about twenty.  Under the grey hood were wisps of blonde hair.  She was pretty in a simple sort of way.  Not the type he would have been interested in or even considered dating.  Coming closer, she said, “Hi, I am Jenny and this is Mark.  We are with the Hands of Love program.  We are a ministry that provides sandwiches and hot tea to the homeless.”  She reached into the bag she was carrying and took out something wrapped in foil.  Mark had a cup in his hand.  They both held out their hands for him to take what they were offering.

He hesitated.  This seemed a little too good to be true.  He eyed them with suspicion.  He was never one to believe that you get something for nothing.  And he couldn’t believe that people would go to all of this trouble for someone in his situation.  He never lifted a finger to help anyone in need.  He had looked at the homeless with disgust, thinking that they had gotten themselves in that mess and that he wasn’t going to waste his hard earned money on the likes of them.  Little did he know that one day he would be in their shoes.   And here were these two perfect strangers who were offering him something to eat and drink and his old selfish nature was struggling to grasp this reality.  They must want something in return, but what could he possibly give them?  He had nothing.

“What do you want from me?” he demanded, his eyes challenging as he looked at the girl.  Her smile didn’t waver.  She didn’t seem at all put out.  “Nothing,” she assured him.  “I don’t want anything from you.  I am here to show you that you are not alone and that there is a Savior who loves you.”

His expression grew hard.  “Savior who loves me?” he asked.  “Where was He when I lost everything?”  He knew that he wasn’t been fair.  Bad investments got him where he was.  He had had not use for the Bible or Jesus when he was enjoying his millions.  Now that he was broke, he felt an irrational anger toward God.

The girl said to him, “He was there all the time.  It was not His will that you should lose everything and end up here but it is not too late for Him to help you.  All you need to do is trust Him.  I will leave you a Bible and there’s a story that I think you should read.  It’s about the rich young man.”

The rich young man?  His curiosity was piqued.  He wanted to read the story.  “Okay, I will read the story but I would like to have the sandwich and tea now.”  He took the sandwich and tea.  He carefully set the cup down and ripped open the foil.  He hungrily bit into the sandwich.

The girl went over to the van and came back with a small Bible which she set down next to the cup of tea.  “We have to go now,” she said.  “Before we leave, would you like us to pray for you?”

He shook his head.  “No thanks,” was all he managed to say as he devoured the sandwiches.

The young people turned and headed back to the van.  They drove away and he was alone again.

In no time the sandwiches were eaten.  He carefully crunched up the foil and tossed it away.  He wished he had asked them for money.  He was going to be hungry again.  He reached for the cup of tea, savoring the heat against his fingers.  As he sipped the hot liquid, he thought of the two young people, especially the girl, who intruded upon his world.  She was not intimidated by him or discouraged by his rudeness.   Her demeanor had not changed.  Her face was filled with a joy and peace that he had never experienced.  Where did she get it from?  He remembered the Bible she had left and he picked it up.  He saw that she had marked the page where the story of the Rich Young Man was.  Why that story? He wondered.  Why did she pick that particular story?  She couldn’t have known that he was once a rich man could she?

He opened the Bible to Mark 10 and began to read.  When he got to the end of the story, he felt that it was speaking about him.  He had put his millions before God.  His money had become his god.  Then, he lost it all and now he was homeless.   If he had only accepted the invitation to accept Christ, he would not be here.  Was it too late?

“When you seek me, you will find me.  I am always here.”  Those words brought tears to his eyes and he found himself sobbing.

“Lord, forgive me for loving my money more than you.  Forgive me for being selfish and uncaring to others.”  A peace that he never knew existed came over him and he knew that God was there with him.  He was not alone.  His life was about to change again but this time it was for the best.  It had to take becoming broke and losing everything before he would accept the blessings of God.  It was a hard lesson to learn but it paid off.

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Don’t Be a Sluggard

Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
Which, having no captain,
Overseer or ruler,
Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.
How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
When will you rise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to sleep—
11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man – Proverbs 6:6-11.

Natalie was watching TV while her mother was busy cleaning the house.  It was the weekend and Natalie wanted to relax.  She had had a busy week at school.  She needed a break.  She sat on the sofa with her feet on the coffee table flipping channels with one hand while the other reached into the bowl on her lap to stuff her mouth with popcorn.  It occurred to her that she should be helping her mother but she didn’t feel like getting up.  She was quite comfortable where she was.

The phone rang but Natalie didn’t stir.  The call is probably for Mom anyway, she thought.  She heard her mother rush from the kitchen where she was mopping the floor to answer the phone.  Twenty minutes later, the annoying drone of the vacuum was heard.  Natalie turned up the volume to drown it out.

“Natalie!” her mother marched into the room and grabbed the remote.  Natalie jolted upright on the sofa.  She hadn’t heard her mother come into the room, of course.  “Turn that thing off and get up off that sofa and help me around this house.”

“But, Mom–” she started to protest, but was cut off.  Her mother was incensed.  Her face was red.

“I’m tired of you doing nothing around this house.  You are twelve years old now.  It’s time you started to take on some responsibilities.  As of today, you will not be a loafer, lounging about the place while I do all of the work.  Someday you will be some poor man’s wife and you will have to learn how to take care of him and your home.  No daughter of mine is going to be a lazy good for nothing who can’t be of any use to herself or anyone else.  Men don’t like lazy women.  If you want to be a wife and a mother, you have to learn to do things–starting now.”  She grabbed her arm and pulled up.   “I have a list of things for you to do, starting with cleaning up your room.”

Natalie grudgingly did what she was told.  For twelve years her mother had done everything around the house and she had liked it like that but now she was forced to do things now.  She had never cleaned her room.   A heavy sigh left her lips as she thought of the mess waiting for her.  She always depended on her mother to clean her room, cook, and take care of her and her Dad.  She didn’t like having to do household chores.  Her friends didn’t do household chores.  They would laugh if they knew or worse–feel sorry for her.  She felt like getting out of there and going to the mall but she knew that was a bad idea.  She would be grounded for sure and her mother might dump even more work on her.

As she climbed the stairs, she thought, “This stinks.  I’m going to marry a rich man so I won’t have to do any of this stuff.”

Twenty years later, Natalie smiled as she remembered her foolish dream.  She was married now but not to a rich man.  He was a manager at a small trucking company and they had two children.  Believe it or not, Natalie was a housewife.  She loved taking care of her family.  She was a terrific cook and was always looking for new recipes.  She loved to bake.  Just the other day she baked some brownies which were all gone now.

As she took a breather from her chores, she took up her Bible and sat down at the kitchen table.  She opened it to Proverbs 6.  She read it slowly.  She could relate to it.  The writer compared the ant, who was hardworking and industrious to the sluggard.  She had been the sluggard.  Lazy and idle–always making excuses.  She hated work.  When she wasn’t at school, she like to spend most of the day watching TV or hanging out at the mall with her friends.  If it hadn’t been for her parents she would not have done well in school.  Her father had always pushed her to study and work hard.  If she had her way, she would have preferred to skip school but that was definitely not an option.  Now she was encouraging her children to work hard and bring home the good grades.

She was especially thankful to her mother who transformed her from a sluggard into an ant.  It hadn’t been easy at all.  It was hard to go from being lazy to being hardworking.  There were quarrels, lots of tears but neither she nor her mother gave up.   Thanks to her mother, she learned the valuable lesson that a girl had to become a woman first before she could be a wife and mother.  She had to learn how to be responsible.   After reading Proverbs 31, it had become Natalie’s quest to become like the woman mentioned in it.

Just the other day her mother had said to her, “Nat, you have done very well for yourself.” She could see the pride in her mother’s face and that meant the world to her.   “Thanks, Mom,” she replied, giving her a hug.  “I learned from the best.”

Natalie is teaching her daughter how to be a woman so that one day she will be a wife and a mother just as her mother taught her.

She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all” – Proverbs 31:27-29

Mothers, it is very important that you teach your daughters and sons how to be responsible.  Girls, at an early age, should learn how to cook and clean.  One of my co-workers knew how to keep a home as early as nine years old.  I personally regret not learning how to cook when I was growing up.  My mother did not teach me and I didn’t take any interest in learning.  I am in my forties and I am still learning my way in the kitchen and how to keep a home.  Mothers, you will be helping your daughters when you teach them how to take care of themselves and the families they will someday have.  Don’t wait for them to show an interest–they might never do that.  You take charge and do what you need to do.  One day they will thank you.

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