Let the Son Shine In
Paoli Church of Christ
Paoli Church of Christ | 219 Stucker Street, Paoli, IN, United States
Gary's Teen Talk
A King’s Dream
10 “These were the visions of my head while on my bed: I was looking, and behold, A tree in the midst of the earth, And its height was great. 11 The tree grew and became strong; Its height reached to the heavens, And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth. 12 Its leaves were lovely, Its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches, And all flesh was fed from it.
Nebuchadnezzar was the Babylonian king. He had a couple of dreams that his wisest men could not understand. Daniel was a man of God and Nebuchadnezzar knew God would reveal his dream through Daniel.
It was a most amazing dream that perplexed even the king. It was about a mighty tree that was tall and strong. It stretched far and wide full of leaves and fruit. This tree provided shade, comfort, and protection for all the animals around.
Daniel informs the king that this tree represents him and his kingdom. The king had become great. In the rest of the dream, the tree gets cut down to a stump. Daniel tells him that he needs to recognize the power of God or He will take this powerful nation away from him for 7 years. That is how long it will take the king to realize the power of God.
The tree here, and in many nations, represents life and power. The tree provides many things for others. The tree is used by the birds and other animals for shelter. People use lumber from trees to provide wood for building houses. The tree can provide shade for protection from the sun and provide fruit for food. There are many good reasons why it would be easy and good to compare trees to a great kingdom.
I know, it’s been a little more than a week since Thanksgiving. It seems that we jump from one activity/holiday to the next. My students are already counting down the days until Christmas break. We have so much to be thankful for. Some of our members have been struggling with health issues and everything done by the members here at Paoli has been greatly appreciated. Some who really struggle to attend services remind us of the importance of being part of the Paoli family.
The congregation does a lot for the community, “Essentials”, “Running Start” support our students in our local schools, while the congregation gave 90+ pounds of food to the pantry in November prior to Thanksgiving. Because of your support, some in our community were able to have a Thanksgiving dinner who otherwise might have done without. Card showers are a great way to let someone know you are thinking about them.
When did you last invite someone to services or perhaps join the streamed Sunday morning service? These are great ways to introduce others to the church here in Paoli. Small efforts have a huge impact on others.
The last month has had several hospitalized and the congregation has really stepped up to provide food for these families. Clean dishes in someone’s seat is a reminder of the good things happening here at Paoli. A small token, but a great help, especially in tough times. Once again, Thank You for all you do.
REMEMBER… KEEP PRAYING, KEEP WORKING, KEEP LOOKING UPWARD. It will all be worth it one day
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Getting the Center Right
“…therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down.” (2 Kings 21:12,13).
The other day, I was teaching my Woodworking class at First Chance Center. We were making bird feeders. It is a rather simple, small structure to try. It needed to be a project that could be done in one class setting, so there is not a lot of detail to the piece. However, while we were laying this project out for assembly, I explained to the class about the importance of finding the center of this project and then using that as a mark for the rest of the project. Even for this simple, small structure, the center must be located because everything else is measured or lined up with this center line.
I explained to the class that if we fail to use this center line, and we fail to line up the rest of the structure to it, everything will be off from the start. Not only would the structure be off, but the problem becomes worse as we build. It may only be off-center just a little at the start, but, by the time you get to the roof part, it is off quite a bit. As I explained this process to the class, I was reminded of this passage, and others like it, in scripture, where God tells His people they had gotten off-center.
As many as six times in the Old Testament, God will use this picture of the plumb line to illustrate how the people of Israel, His people, had gone away from His standard. Because they had gotten off-center from His standard, He will bring judgment on His people. He shows them that He has the right to judge them because they have drifted from the centerline.
In the wood project we were building in class, or in the building of a house, shed, or any structure, from small to large, the standard that we use for the building is the ruler. We use the ruler to find our center, and everything from then on throughout the build is measured using that one standard. God has likewise given us a “ruler” or a standard to use to build our lives.
We know and understand that we would be foolish, halfway in the building of a house, to change and use a different standard. We know how ridiculous we would be if we made up our own “ruler” and used that in the process of building. Likewise, we are more foolish if we use any standard to build our lives other than God’s standard. Our lives are to be lived using the standard of God. He has created us, and He knows that life is best lived using His standard.
People often will walk around in the world off-center with their lives. They know, can feel, and express that something is missing from life. That is because they have not used the correct standard to center their lives. Their lives are not centered, and, as they live and continue to build their lives, things get more and more off-center. Only when we use God’s standard can we bring our lives back to center. The fortunate thing about using the standard of God is that you can fix the problem. However, fixing the problem may be like fixing the problem with the building.
The only way to fix the problem with the building, to put it back on center, is to tear the building down to the point where it got off. In the same way, we have to do that to our lives. There is a point in our lives where we have gotten off-center, and if we are going to fix that problem, we need to go back to that place in our lives and start again. God has given us the ability to do just that. He has given us that ability through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus, by taking our sins and putting them on Himself, relieves us of that sin. It is when we sin that we have gotten off-center. God’s way is the benchmark for us - the center from which we take all of life’s measurements. When we sin, we have gotten off-center. In that sin, we are not following the centerline from God.
We have all done that, but Jesus brings us back to center if we are connected to Him. While He does that for us, we have to work to stay on that center, or get back to it when we get off-center again. Getting back to center on our own is something we never accomplish, but, with the help of Jesus, we are centered again. As long as we are working on getting to that center, Jesus gives us what we need to get back to that centerline.
We have to realize the world does nothing to help us get back to center. It works only to take us further from that place God wants us to be. We must tear down those ideas and ways of living we get from the world, and we must let Jesus and the Word of God guide us back to the center. He is bringing us to the life He wants us to live. It is on that center line, using the standard of God, that we find life meaningful and fulfilling. It is there that we are heading toward God in this life to be with Him in the life that follows.