When everything around us is going well, our families are happy and healthy, and we are safe and secure it is easy to praise the Lord. It is easy to love other people when they love us. It is easy to give and show hospitality when we have an abundance. Read the following scriptures to see what our Lord says.
- “In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NAS)
- "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34 (NAS)
- “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” 1 Peter 4:9
When these scriptures were written by the Holy Spirit through the disciples of Jesus Christ the church was under great persecution, the people were hiding because of their beliefs. They were poor, unloved by the world, and they never knew if they were opening their homes to a Christian that was fleeing persecution or to a spy that was going to turn them in. The scriptures take on whole new meanings when you look at them from this perspective. Would we be able to obey these scriptures during times like this? How thankful are we when we come into trials and hardships?
I was just reading a story about a pastor in China by the name of Chen Min Lin who was imprisoned for being a Christian. He was given an assignment by a prison guard to go and work in the prison cesspool. Pastor Chen said that the smell was so reprehensible that he did not think that he would make it through the first day. On the second day he noticed something, because the smell was equally unbearable to the guards as it was to him he was left all alone in the cesspools. He had not known solitude for all these years.
He began to sing quietly at first but eventually was having a full blown worship service before the Lord in the cesspools of a prison in China. He started singing a song that he had learned as a new convert in Shanghai. The words took on a new and very personal meaning to Pastor Chen as he stood in the cesspool.
I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me; And He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share, as we tarry there. None other has ever known.
As he would sing each verse, even in the vilest of places, he told how he seemed to smell the deeply fragrant aroma of the Rose of Sharon.
He said that even in the midst of that place, the darkest of places, with the sickening smell he felt as if he could see the glory of the Bright and Morning Star.
Every day, even as days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, and months turned into years, the Holy Spirit was with him turning the darkest and most vile place we could think of into a garden where Pastor Chen walked with Jesus who is Light. “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5 (NAS)
After eighteen years Chen Min Lin was finally released from that Chinese prison camp.
When he was arrested he had started three small churches that were held in individual homes. He sent a message ahead to those people upon his release and wondered if there would be anyone left.
When he finally reached home after a three day journey he was met by a few of those people and was elated that they were still standing strong in the Lord. They immediately wanted to take him and present him to his flock that was waiting on the outside of town in a secluded area. When he arrived he was overwhelmed that there were over five thousand members waiting to welcome him home.
He was so overwhelmed that the congregation had gone from less than a hundred to over five thousand. He asked the elders that had met him who their pastor was and who had taught them? They told him their pastor and teacher was the Holy Spirit. To this answer he fell on his knees and wept. He had not believed this to be possible but the Lord had not only demonstrated His great love and power to him while he was in prison but to the entire congregation he had left behind.
When we are in the midst of trials it is hard to see and understand the purposes of our Lord and what He is trying to accomplish in and through us. This man endured for eighteen years and still he was praising the Lord.
The Lord has been speaking to me just today about grumbling and complaining.
Do you ever find yourself walking around as you do things whether it be housework, at your place of employment, or dealing with children or other people and you are grumbling and complaining under your breath (or sometimes quite loudly)? I realized I was doing this and the Lord reminded me of a scripture. “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Philippians 2:14 (NAS) I happened to be reading one of the bibles I own called the MacArthur Study Bible by John MacArthur. It is a New American Standard Bible but he has included extensive footnotes from his studies at the bottom. The one that referenced the above scripture said something that was profound to me. In his footnote John MacArthur said that when we complain, “It is an emotional rejection of God’s providence, will, and circumstances for one’s life.” Okay, I did not realize I was rejecting God’s will for my life. I just thought what I was doing was irritating, nonsensical, and that it was unimportant. Now I realize that God not only has a hand in the big things, the important things, but our everyday humdrum activities.
God wants us to be thankful for everything, even when we do not see the value in it or the importance. He wants us to love everyone, not just the lovable. He wants us to be hospitable and open up our hearts and homes to others so that He can bless them through us. And he wants us to do it all without complaining.
It sounds like a tall order but: “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;” Hebrews 12:4 (NAS). And I am quite sure that the majority of us have not stood in the cesspool of a prison camp in China for eighteen years.
What our Lord asks us to do in this wonderful free country that we live in today is just to be thankful, love everyone, and open our hearts to those in need. We should not be so consumed with our day to day lives and all those trivial things that we grumble under our breath about that we forget what the Lord left us on earth to do. We are His ambassadors and we are children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We have to focus our eyes on what is truly important, our mission for Christ. He can and will do it through you if you offer yourself to Him as a vessel of His love.
The most important thing to remember is to keep your eyes on Jesus because in and with Him nothing is impossible.
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
About the Author:
My name is Allison and I enjoy combining my two passions: writing and children. I have enjoyed furthering my writing career with www.nannyclassifieds.com . You can reach me by email allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgm