OF FISH AND OF MEN

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Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, although he existed in the form of God

   did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
but emptied Himself,
   taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men.
   Being found in appearance as a man,
   He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, 
even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8

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I learned about the incarnation when I kept a salt-water aquarium. Management of a marine aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task. I had to run a portable laboratory to monitor the nitrate levels and ammonia content. I pumped in vitamins and antibiotics and sulfa drugs and enough enzymes to make a rock grow. I filtered the water through fiber glass and charcoal, and exposed it to ultraviolet light.

You would think, in view of all the energy expended on their behalf, that my fish would at least be grateful. Not so.

Every time my shadow loomed above the tank they dove for cover into the nearest shell. They showed me one ’emotion’ only: fear.

Although I opened the lid and dropped in food on a regular schedule, three times a day, they responded to each visit as a sure sign of my designs to torture them. I could not convince them of my true concern.

To my fish I was deity. I was too large for them, my actions too incomprehensible. My acts of mercy they saw as cruelty; my attempts at healing they viewed as destruction.

To change their perceptions, I began to see, would require a form of incarnation. I would have to become a fish and ‘speak’ to them in a language they could understand.

A human being becoming a fish is nothing compared to God becoming a baby. And yet according to the Gospels that is what happened at Bethlehem. The God who created matter took shape within it, as an artist might become a spot on a painting or a playwright a character within his own play. God wrote a story, only using real characters, on the pages of real history.

The Word became flesh.
– *Excerpt from ‘The Jesus I Never Knew’ by Philip Yancey*

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The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the Only Begotten, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Trust Jesus!

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MY LORD AND MY GOD

Work willingly at whatever you do, *as though you were working for the Lord* rather than for people.

Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24

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The command to ‘do everything as if doing it unto the Lord Jesus Himself’ is far more easily said than done, I’ll admit.

Mostly I think, because we always expect favourable conditions when submitting ourselves to serve others, and our obedience is often only conditional upon what we get out of the deal.

But despite the difficulties, when I came to faith I had made up my mind that I would be in earnest pursuit of doing all things as unto God Himself – starting afresh with each new day, even if I failed the day before. And yesterday, to my surprise, I received a truly awesome encouragement from the Lord Jesus that reminded me to Whom I belong. 

I was hired on fulltime at DB Schenker in June 2011, and so June 2016 marked my 5 year anniversary with the company. 

It was a pretty important milestone for me since I had never stuck it out at any job for five years consecutively previously in my life.

It was actually during my employment with Schenker in November of 2012 that I came to faith in Christ and for the first time in my life had learned from the Bible that I could show my devotion to God by how well I worked at my job and served my employer.

Beginning to recognize how undeseving I was in many ways to even have a great job that I enjoyed, I never approached my work as ‘putting God to the test to see if He would bless me.’ I would instead do my best at my job out of gratitude *for all that Jesus had already done* in taking the punishment I deserve by dying on the cross in my place. 

When other employees reached their 5, 10, 15, 20, & 25 year anniversaries at work, I saw how the company would break out the gift cards, bonus cheques, and almost always have cake. 

But since those things aren’t especially important to me (although unexpected cake is always a wonderful treat!), when I approached my 5 years of service I was really just hoping for zero fanfare and attention.

And surprisingly, I got it!

In fact, there was no mention of my five year anniversary at all. No card, no cheque, no gift card. 

But since I was living a life completely abandoned to God and instead being daily thrilled by supernatural encounters, opportunities to reach others and experiences of grace, I hardly took notice and very quickly forgot about it altogether. I was a man just committed to serving the risen Lord. 

Earlier this year with everything from dreams and visions to divinely timed confirmations, I knew it was finally time to move on, so I left Schenker and accepted a new position with Prison Fellowship Canada. 

But in November 2017 – this very week, my previous manager reached out to me to let me know that there was a cheque that he stumbled across that was actually made out to me that he had somehow forgotten to give to me, along with a card.

Since I work relatively close by, I made the arrangements and walked over to pick it up. I was extremely grateful for the unexpected surprise, but since I am someone who has clearly seen time and time again just how intimately acquainted God has been with every detail of my life – and what significance and meaning each detail contained, I asked the Lord, “what purpose did it serve in receiving this cheque at this particular time, almost a year and a half later?”

Then I opened and read the card which said:

We are pleased to congratulate you on your 5th anniversary of employment with DB Schenker. Please find enclosed a token of our appreciation for the dedication you have demonstrated over the years.”

As I stood there reading, I heard the Lord say to me, “Happy Anniversary” and it suddenly dawned on me… November 2017 would be exactly five years since I gave my heart to the Lord Jesus – surrendering my life to love Him and serve Him according to His good pleasure!

I was once again confronted with proof of the Biblical truth that in serving others, just as the Scriptures have said, we are indeed serving the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and therefore will receive an inheritance, just as He promises!

If we set ourselves to understand His ways; if we continue to seek Him out, we will certainly see that He continually gives us great assurances of the very certain hope we have in Him in whom we have trusted!

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So I want to encourage all of you today in whichever place the Lord Jesus has placed you – who are living faithfully but battling with doubts and discouragement when it appears that your labours are going unnoticed or unappreciated… Obedience to Christ is a sure reward! The One whom you are serving is the omnipresent Son of God! And you will surely receive your prize if you continue to persevere and do not give up!

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But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites.

Colossians 3:25

Trust Jesus!