Friday, January 11, 2013

The Three Trees tale

The Three Trees

Once there were three trees on a hill in a woods.

They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said

"Someday I hope to be a treasure chest.
I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems.

I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty."
Then the second tree said,

"Someday I will be a mighty ship.
I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world.

Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull."

Finally the third tree said.

"I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest.

People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching.
I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.."

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees.

When one came to the first tree he said,
 "This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter." and he began cutting it down.

The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.

At the second tree a woodsman said,
"This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard."

The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true.

 One of the woodsman said,
"I don't need anything special from my tree so I'll take this one" and he cut it down.

When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals.
He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for.

The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.

 The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark.
The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.

Then one day, a man and women came to the barn.
She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree.

 The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do.
The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.

Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep.
While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe.

 The men woke the sleeping man, and he stood and said "peace" and the storm stopped.
At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the king of kings in its boat.

Finally, someone came and got the third tree.
 It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it.

When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill.
 When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you.
 If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts.

Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Christian Fasting - What Does the Bible Say?

Scripture does not command Christians to fast. God does not require or demand it of Christians.
 At the same time, the Bible presents fasting as something that is good, profitable, and beneficial.

The book of Acts records believers fasting before they made important decisions (Acts 13:2; 14:23).

 Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:37; 5:33).
 Too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food.

Instead, the purpose of fasting should be to take your eyes off the things of this world to focus completely on God.
Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to ourselves, that we are serious about our relationship with Him.

Fasting helps us gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.

Although fasting in Scripture is almost always a fasting from food, there are other ways to fast.
 Anything given up temporarily in order to focus all our attention on God can be considered a fast (1 Corinthians 7:1-5).

Fasting should be limited to a set time, especially when fasting from food.
Extended periods of time without eating can be harmful to the body.

Fasting is not intended to punish the flesh, but to redirect attention to God.
 Fasting should not be considered a “dieting method” either.

The purpose of a biblical fast is not to lose weight, but rather to gain deeper fellowship with God.
Anyone can fast, but some may not be able to fast from food (diabetics, for example). Everyone can temporarily give up something in order to draw closer to God.

By taking our eyes off the things of this world, we can more successfully turn our attention to Christ.

Fasting is not a way to get God to do what we want. Fasting changes us, not God.

 Fasting is not a way to appear more spiritual than others.

 Fasting is to be done in a spirit of humility and a joyful attitude.

 Matthew 6:16-18 declares,
 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.
I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”


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