It’s Christmas here in Thailand, and this part of the village seems very quiet. The sun is soon to be setting toward the west, to rise in my homeland within a few hours. Here, the setting of the sun will bring in the Sabbath. Am I ready?
It’s the first Christmas that I can remember being alone. No lights. No Christmas tree. No parties or gifts to open from friends or family. Before leaving the states, I had sent out the Christmas cards and small gifts, tokens of love. I hope they read them.
I woke up this morning, relaxed for a while, and then finally got up and to my knees for morning devotion. The reading this morning was the first chapter of Luke. I had thought to read the whole Christmas story in Luke and Matthew, but there’s still time. Perhaps it will be my reading to welcome in the Sabbath.
I was left with cat food and fish food. The cat came by this morning while I was sweeping, but I did not feed it. If it comes and meows at the door like it did yesterday evening, I will feed it. I fed it then. I should have fed the fish right away and put out some cat food, to be kind, but I thought that the animals, even the fish could wait, though I think I remember being told to feed them in the morning. I watched some, and listened some to The Gospel of Luke, found on youtube, as I ate a burnt banana waffle (recipe posted, and I said they were yummy. That is, they were yummy or would have been yummy except for the burnt parts, at least the badly burnt parts, which did not taste good) for breakfast, spent some time on the computer, made uploads to youtube (not for my personal channel, but for the ministry I am with), and continued listening at least catching words here and there as I set about cleaning.
Finally, some time between noon and 1 PM here, I went out to feed the fish, and found the beautiful, small white fish floating in the bucket. Regretting my neglect, I dumped in some food, and then dumped food into the other bucket, where the bottom feeders are. They are not floating on the surface, so I hope they are still alive. I sent a confession and apology to the one who had put them in my care, and to his wife, and went out to see if one fish was still alive. I found one that was not floating on the surface, and pulled it up to the surface, but it sank back down. I thought it was moving a little, but for the most part it, too, seemed immobile, dead. I hope I didn’t kill it. There seemed to be no survivors.
Please forgive me of my selfishness and laziness and neglect. I should have fed them right away. I did not care about the fish nor love them as I should have, enough to feed them first thing in the morning. I thought they could wait, though I considered or also thought that they might not. I should not have waited. I should have fed them and the cat before feeding myself.
It’s terribly sad. I think I had better go put out some cat food and not be so cruel…
Regretting my neglect, I put on my cleaning skirt and went about watering the potted plants, the lemon grass, and a papaya and starfruit tree. Buzzing bees sent me back to the side of the house. I also filled up the jug with water and gave the bottom feeders a little more.
Jesus told His disciples “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). He also told Peter, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21: 16 & 17). Now, fish are not sheep, and sheep are not fish, but the men that the Lord’s disciples catch as “fishers of men” become the Lord’s sheep. I do not know if it is because of a neglect to feed the fish this morning that caused them to die, but I do know that without food, animals and people die, and without spiritual food, we spiritually die of spiritual starvation. It’s not good to wait several hours to eat spiritually. I’ve learned from experience that it’s important to eat a spiritual breakfast first thing in the morning (I do not always, but am trying to improve, and realize that there are consequences), nor is it good to eat a rushed, unwholesome, spiritual breakfast lacking in spiritual nutrients. This I have also suffered consequences from. It’s important to get an early, wholesome, satisfying breakfast. Perhaps the fish died because I did not feed them enough yesterday? or perhaps they did not have enough water, or perhaps their water was not clean enough? Water is important, too, and Jesus said that we will be thirsty again drinking from regular water, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)
We need that time with Jesus, not just in the morning, but throughout the day. How do you feel if you skip breakfast? What about if you only eat breakfast? What if you eat breakfast and then wait until late at night for supper? A righteous man once said of God’s Word, “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary [food].” (Job 23: 12) Jesus Himself said after a long fast (40 days!) when tempted by the devil to prove His divinity and His relationship to God the Father and to satisfy His hunger by using His power, God’s power (for He also said “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. ” [John 5:19, last part]) to turn stones to bread, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4, all but first part)
We need God’s Word even more than we need food, and we also need to be guided by His Spirit. We need Him in every step of the way. I felt that I should feed the fish this morning, but waited. If I had gone out early and found the fish dead, then I would likely not feel as guilty as I have felt today, but if they were alive, and had fed them, perhaps they would still be alive now. I should have listened to that still, small voice (see 1st Kings 19:12 and 13) this morning.
We need to share God’s Word with others, too. If we wait too long, they may die of spiritual starvation like the fish did, or else will accept anything that can substitute the truth, even dangerous theologies or ideas. “The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” (Proverbs 27: 7) Even our brothers and sisters in Christ need us to share that spiritual food with them. I wish I had not been so neglectful nor waited. Please forgive me for starving you.
I prayed for the fish, that the Lord would bring them back to life, or have a bird come and eat them, especially if they are diseased (for I also saw a dog a week minus a day ago drinking out of the bucket). I do not want them to stink up the place, nor for the animals to eat them and get sick. Then, I went about my day, fixed a lunch of scrambled tofu with spinach and tomatoes and bread, and watched more of The Gospel of Luke while I ate lunch, before getting washed up for Sabbath.
I must admit I have wasted time today, too, and last night, watching videos and parts of videos that I should not have, that were not useful nor edifying nor that brought glory to God. Instead, I should have been more active in preparing videos to upload to youtube before Sabbath, or to work on a deep, spiritual post for my devotional blog. These, I did not accomplish.
But I do not have to only talk about the birth of and life and sacrifice of Christ on Christmas, though there are people who might be more inclined to read about Him on that day. And Christmas can come a little later on youtube, too. After all, it’s likely our Lord was not really born in December, anyway. Still, I do regret the neglect and the wastefulness.
I am thankful for the peaceful day. Tomorrow is Sabbath morning here on this side of the world, and Christmas afternoon and evening (not Christmas eve, but the evening of Christmas day) where I am from. I will try to rise early to spend time with the Lord and call my family. I am not sure if the church will be open, but a short-time acquaintance from the US who is staying nearby has said it will be. Most people are gone away for the holiday, to the festival of faith, though some of the people have perhaps gone to other places, too. I may go, or may stay to study my Bible and/or listen to some sermons in English. I do not know yet what tomorrow holds, but I do not need to, for our Lord has also said “Taketherefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34) Yet I am looking forward to tomorrow.
The meals are already prepared. The dishes are washed (and so am I). God is good. God is faithful.
Sabbath starts this Christmas Friday at sundown and ends Saturday at Sundown. When I wake up in the morning, Sabbath will be beginning where I am from.
Ah, God is so good! God is faithful.
Remember to include Jesus in your day, and thank Him and thank God the Father for the wonderful gift that He has given you of Himself (see John 3:16 and 1st John 3:16) and of life, of your families and friends, of food to eat and water to drink, and remember the less fortunate, too, even if you can only help feed some fish, or a cat, or a dog (and I did give a dog a couple treats, a couple because it seemed not to notice the first).
Merry Christmas and happy Sabbath, everyone!
God is good.
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Luke 1:23)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16 & 17)
“Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.” (1st John 3:16)
Here’s what the Bible says about gifts from God. He has given us many good gifts!
I did watch a movie worth watching last night (Christmas eve here). The Shiokari Pass. The Gospel of Luke (you can find other versions) was also worth watching/listening to. Both are appropriate for Christmas, too. Please spend your time and resources wisely, and may God bless you! He’s already given us the greatest gift He possibly could (Himself and His Son and His Holy Spirit and life, and He is the way, truth and the life [see the first chapter of John, and also John 14: 6 & 7). Everything else is just small things in comparison. What good things will He not give to us?
“For the LORD God [is] a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good [thing] will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Psalms 84: 11)
“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do [it].” Proverbs 3: 26
Feed those fish! Feed those sheep! Feed yourself, too.
God is good. God is faithful. God is mercy. God is just. God is kind. God is love!
(See also the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25. We have a responsibility to take care of others, too, when we see the need. And it is a way we can give a gift to Jesus.)
And as my second-mother just messaged to me, “Happy birthday celebration for Jesus day.” We don’t know when His birthday really was, and He didn’t tell us because He did not want us to worship the day, but we can and should worship and show our appreciation and love for Him every day!