SAVING THE ANTS
The ants nest was in the middle of the paddock. The father said to his son, ‘The paddock must be ploughed.’
‘But the ants will be destroyed.’ The son, a ‘greenie’ protested.
‘Too bad, the paddock must be ploughed.’
So the son ploughed the paddock. Each day the circles around the paddock became smaller. Each day the son tried to save the ants.
First he stirred up their nest and made them angry,
‘Maybe that’ll shift them.’
But they stayed
Then he set out some honey in another place.
‘Maybe they’ll make a home near the honey.’
But the ants stayed
‘Maybe if I give them a better home.’ So he picked up as many ants as he could and put them in a new home.
Still they stayed.
‘I know, I’LL BECOME ONE OF THEM. Then they’ll listen to me.’
When he tried to become one of them, they grew angry and turned on him and would have destroyed him
The Father God looked on Mankind. Mankind was beautiful.
Satan, a beautiful, rebellious creation turned Mankind against the Father.
The Father would destroy mankind. So he flooded the earth but started again with 8 good men and women.
Soon Mankind was back where they started.
So the Father set up good men to judge MankindBut they were killed.
Then the Father sent prophets along to tell the people to return to the FatherBut they were killed.
Then the Father gave the people a dynasty of kingsBut they were killed.
‘I know,’ the Father said, ‘I’ll become one of them. They will listen to me if I am one of them.’
So Immanuel, ‘God with us’ came amongst us. He showed us the Father, His love and desire for us.
But we killed him off.
In reality, Immanuel ‘God with us’ took our place even in death. On him the Father vented his anger and judgement instead of on us.
Immanuel took our place on the cross and became Christ the Savior.
Christ gave us his goodness. When the Father saw us he saw only Christ’s goodness in us. He could then forgive us our awful behavior toward him and set us up as his children.
As we take the bread and wine let us give praise and thanks that we have been made completely clean. Even our conscience has been purged from our bad behavior and we are guiltless.
Immanuel ‘God with us’ came amongst us and then as Christ the Savior he re-instated us with the Father as a ‘new man.’
MY OTHER SONS
‘Isn’t God wonderful!’ exclaims Norma, wife of John Dennis of Whyalla, South Australia.
‘I would like to encourage everyone with these words from Isaiah 41: ‘Fear not I am with you always, 'Norma adds.
Norma is ever ready to listen and help others even though her own heart is breaking. Her mother heart is always ready to love those in need. That mother love took her to depths that would almost swamp her.
To speak of her ‘other sons’ was an area of her heart she had not openly shared with the world. She now felt it was time to share her story, hoping that others who might find themselves in a similar situation would be encouraged.
Norma's story began in the 1960s when Whyalla was a city enjoying a mining boom. Work was plentiful, and young men flocked there to get apprenticeships in BHP.
Accommodation for men was hard to find.
‘As we had a fairly large sleep out built onto our house, we felt it was a good idea to take in a lodger. At this time, I had five sons at home. The eldest son was in the Air force.’ Norma explains.
The sleep-out became a second home for Barry, and Norma became his second Mum. Barry stayed for two and a half years and was then transferred to Sydney.
The sleep-out seemed very empty after Barry left.
‘We thought the room was big enough for two young men to comfortably share, ‘says Norma. So Ken entered the Dennis family and became ‘another son’.
After the Easter holidays, Trevor, already a lodger, was bringing with him his brother Arnold. The latter was hoping for an apprenticeship at the steelworks. Each lodger came as a stranger, but they left as a son. The two lads were caught in a flash flood at Nectar brook a few kilometers south of Port Augusta. Trevor was drowned, and Arnold almost lost his life. ‘This devastated my family and me. I’d never seen my husband cry as he did, the night we received the news,’ Norma recalls, adding, ‘Trevor had become our ‘other son.’ Such is the mother heart of Norma.
About six months later, Ken left to join the Navy as a fifth Engineer on an overseas ship. ‘We often heard from him, and when on leave, he came home to us.’ Norma said proudly
While waiting for another overseas ship, Ken filled in for another engineer on a Tasmanian to Melbourne transport cargo ship.
Tragedy struck when the vessel capsized in Melbourne Harbour just as Ken was coming off duty. He was drowned.
Norma doesn’t want to try and describe the ensuing horror that swept over her heart, except that, ‘I began to have doubts about God.
I think hard work helped to overcome our grief,’ Norma says of those first dreadful days.
Glen, a friend of one of Norma’s own sons, now made the sleep out home, Glen filled the empty sleep-out, but he could not fill the hole left in Norma’s heart by Ken and Trevor. Each one had a special place in Norma’s heart; the loss was as devastating as if they were her own.
THE STORY CONTINUES
Several years later, John and Norma decided to visit relatives living in Queensland. Glen drove them to Port Augusta to catch the India Pacific. ‘Little did we realise that it would be the last time we would see him.’ Norma’s voice is filled with sadness, and there is a shadow in her eyes as she remembers.
Arriving in Queensland, they received word that he had been killed in a car accident returning home from Adelaide.
John and Norma were ready to return home immediately. However, logic prevailed, and they stayed their planned time in Queensland. Glen’s family lived not far away; amid their own grief and loss, they stood in as parents to Norma’s own sons, comforting them in the loss of a ‘brother’.
‘It was the time my hair really went grey,’ said Norma. ‘After losing our third ‘other son’, all between the age of 18 – 25, I wanted to throw all my Christian beliefs out. I started to believe there was no God. How could such things happen to those lovely, dear young men?’ Norma questioned.
It was through a recurring dream that God spoke to Norma, and she returned to the church. ‘During my time of anger with God, I saw a mass of clouds and down through those clouds came this great hand.
For a long time, I could not reach out to this hand. I didn’t even want to though I tried. This same dream was repeated again and again. I finally reached up to touch this hand. You see, even when we think we want to let go of God, he doesn’t let go of us. I want to encourage everyone with these words, ‘Fear not, I am with you always, says the Lord.’
Time and the Lord has healed Norma’s grief, ‘I don’t question why anymore.’
Norma has surrendered her desire to understand. She is content to leave the reason why in the hands of the Lord.
THROUGH FAITH COLOURED GLASSES
Philip, our fifteen-year-old son, suffered from a hereditary eye defect. While we were alert that he might have a problem, he unfortunately, spent a period when he suffered blurred vision.
When he put on his glasses for the first time, he went and stood in front of the kitchen window staring at the tree growing in front.
‘Just look at all the leaves on the tree,’ he said, awe struck. ‘The detail! I can’t get over the detail.’
The glasses had corrected his vision and brought everything into focus. He was able to distinguish detail.
Faith is the glasses we need distinguish God in detail. Faith clarifies the vision we have of God’
‘You can never please God without faith, without depending on him.’ Heb.11: 6 (LB)
When we view God through glasses of faith we see him in a new light. We see a God who is intimately involved in our world as a healer, a saviour, and a deliverer and provider and more.
These attributes of God are like leaves on the tree. They are part of the tree and give it character. So God’s attributes or facets of his personality reveal his true character in detail.
We need to see clearly his whole character in detail not the blurred version of a defective sight portrayed by the TV and the media, We can have a detailed view of God through the glasses of faith.
What does it mean to be on common ground?
The sports field is a common ground for both players and spectators.
City Councils sometimes set aside parcels of land for the community to grow vegies for personal use. These blocks are called allotments. The allotments are a common ground for people with like minds to gather and grow flowers or vegetables, make friends and swap information about gardening. Friendships flourish when people have a common ground whereby they can communicate.
Marriages flourish and last when the couple have a common ground to meet both physically and mentally.
FELLOWSHIP OR COMMON GROUND
So when we become Christians, we find we have a common ground with so many diverse people world-wide. There is a fellowship, a unity, a common bond; in church terminology, it is called Fellowship. A further meaning of Fellowship is common ground. The word 'fellowship' is a significant word in the New Testament. So let’s explore the thought of fellowship or common ground.
In Acts 2: 42, 'They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and the Fellowship, to the breaking of bread… Fellowship as practised in this verse was important. When we examine the meaning of the word fellowship it carries a meaning of common ground. What did the apostles teach that was so important? Jesus was the one who drew the apostles and believers together. He was the one who bound them together. Jesus was the common ground who drew the apostles and believers together. Jesus had died but he had also risen from the grave. He was alive in their hearts and he drew them together in a special bond, a fellowship or common ground.
The basis of Christian Fellowship is the person Jesus. He is the common ground that unites all believers into a community or fellowship. Worldwide that fellowship is known as the Church. It is Jesus though, who is the common ground.
A new connection with God opens when we apply 'fellowship' or 'common ground' to a relationship with God. We ask the question: what do God and I have in common? Jesus, God’s son is the common ground. He stands between God and us. In order for us to relate to God, the Father, we needed to be holy and righteous but in our present state we are neither. It was Jesus who made us right with his Father. We need to accept what he did for us, accept his goodness as a replacement of our less than perfect goodness. When we accept Jesus goodness by faith, the father can look on us and relate to us in the same way as He relates to Jesus His son. He took our rejection of God upon himself; he wiped out all our transgressions and love of independence at his death.
Our acceptance of Jesus sacrifice opens the door to a living, breathing, sharing, loving bond with God. By Jesus death, we have been lifted out of ourselves and our darkness and placed on common ground with God Ephesians 2: 6. 'we are seated with Christ in heavenly places.'
A NEW LEVEL
Our relationship with God reaches a new intimacy. Faith in Jesus is the common ground on which God can accept us and meet with us or fellowship with us. It possible to enjoy an intimacy with the Father as never before. Because now Jesus indwells us, we are new people, we have been made new. Once he is alive in our hearts, he never leaves. Nothing can make Jesus leave.
God has made us his children, we are now equal with Christ, his Son. As equals of Christ, we inherit and share the prized position that Jesus has with the Father in heaven. God shares himself with us the same as he does with Jesus. By faith in Jesus, a relationship like that of sons and daughters of God is born. Such common ground means we can ask anything in Jesus name, and it will happen. John 14: 13. 'I will do whatsoever you ask in my name to glorify the Father.'
The fellowship or the common ground or the close bond that the Apostles and believers enjoyed is Jesus himself indwelling them and in us at the moment we accept Jesus into our life. Jesus is the common ground that church is built on, that bind believers world-wide together. It is a bond, fellowship, common ground that nothing can break.