"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Raising the Standard: Flexibility Is Concerving My Time And Energy To Complete My Priorities

"And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you." ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:11 The highest praise that can be given to one who serves is that he accomplished a task with the same efficiency and quality as the one who assigned it would have. When a servant proves his ability in executing jobs of lesser importance, he becomes more and more valuable to the one he serves. One of the greatest servants described in Scripture was a man who was entrusted with a most difficult and important task. He had proven himself in years of faithful service, and God honored him in this crowning achievement by guiding him to accomplish it. This account demonstrates the importance of conserving our time and energy in order to complete our priorities.
How Does Scripture Illustrate Flexibility By Conserving Time And Energy To Complete Priorities? Jesus taught that even a cup of cold water given in His name would receive its reward. where in Scripture did the gift of a drink of cool water result in a great reward?
The trusted assistant of the richest man in the country was summoned by the one he served. He listened intently as his kindly employer poured out his heart and gave him his most difficult assignment. This wise, diligent servant was not a man accustomed to defeat, but this unusual task posed the very real prospect of failure. Carefully and respectfully he summarized his concerns, and one by one his alert questions were answered. Then he was sent on his way. To understand the difficulty of his mission, we must realize that one of the most important decisions that any man will ever make is discerning the right life partner. An even more difficult task would be to choose a partner for someone else. Such was the responsibility given to this servant. After many years of working with people he had learned to discern vital character qualities. He now devised a plan to detect them in a young lady, and then he submitted his plan to the Lord. No sooner had he done this than a beautiful walked to the well by which he rested and fulfilled the very requirements of his test. He gave her a valuable regard of costly jewelry and asked if he could meet her parents. At her home he was invited to sit down for a meal, but he graciously declined and stated that he would not eat until he had finished his task. He explained how God had answered his prayer and had also blessed the life of the one he served. He asked permission of the girl's parents and brother for her to become the bride of his master's son, heir to all the family wealth. But the mother and brother made one request. "Let her stay here a few days, at least ten, and then let her go." He emphasized the importance of quickly completing the task that had been assigned to him so that he could fulfill the priority of the one he was serving. The parents asked the girl what her wishes were, and she agreed to go at once. In this final request Abraham's servant was called upon to be flexible, but he knew that flexibility is only a desirable quality if it does not hinder completing the tasks and priorities which have been assigned. (From Genesis 24) By Conserving Time And Energy, A Servant Was Used To Shape A Nation. The immediate cause of Abraham's desire to obtain a wife for his son, Isaac, is given in Genesis 24:1, "Now Abraham was old, and well stricken in age." Abraham was now 140 years old; his wife, Sarah, had died about three years before, and their only son, Isaac, was forty and as yet unmarried.
Why Was The Success Of Abraham's Servant So Important?
Abraham was concerned that his son not marry a Canaanite (Genesis 24:3). He knew that if he were to die, Isaac might be tempted to marry into one of the influential Canaanite families. That would be conducive to peace, social standing, and acceptance in a strange land. But as a man of faith, Abraham was more concerned about the spiritual prosperity of his descendants than their material and social prosperity. He wanted a wife for Isaac who would not corrupt their children with the ungodly beliefs and practices of the Canaanites. He wanted a wife who would support her husband in the worship of the Lord and teach her children the knowledge of the Lord. Abraham felt that the best wife for his son would be found among his own family in Mesopotamia where they had not entirely lost the knowledge of the true God (cf. Genesis 24:50). This strong conviction of Abraham was later expressed in national law (Deuteronomy 7:3). The reason is given, "For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods." (Deuteronomy 7:4)
Why Did Abraham's Servant Devise Such A difficult Test To Discover Isaac's Appointed Wife?
It was not unusual for a girl to offer a drink of fresh water to a stranger after a long journey. But to offer to quench the thirst of ten camels was unusual indeed. As many as twenty gallons of water can be consumed by one camel in a drinking session. If the camels had been wattered only the night before, they still could have easily consumed at least fifty gallons. This was no small task for a young girl. However, the servant's test was neither spectacular nor arbitrary. It was designed to bring to light the very qualities that would best complement his master's son, Isaac --- hospitality to a weary traveler, alertness to the needs of the animals, generosity and ambition in giving of herself, endurance in completing the task, joyfulness if she did the job cheerfully, and flexibility in changing from what she was doing.
Why Was Abraham's Servant So Anxious To Complete His Assignment?
At two different times, the servant expressed urgency in accomplishing his task. When food was set before him he said, "I will not eat, until I have told my errand." (Genesis 24:33) Later, when asked to stay a little longer he replied, "Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master." (Genesis 24:56) His eagerness to return immediately is surprising under the circumstances. The trip from southern Canaan to Haran was about 500 miles. A team of freight camels averages 28 miles a day without difficulty. Hence, the trip would have taken between two and three weeks. The men were undoubtedly tired and would have normally welcomed a ten day rest before returning. The servant knew the concern this delay would have caused Abraham and Isaac who knew the exact traveling time of the trip to Haran. A ten day delay would have caused them unnecessary anxiety for the safety and success of their servant. Such concern may have prompted the prayer and meditation in which Isaac was involved when his servant returned (Genesis 24:63). The faithful servant had put his personal conveniences second to his master's priorities --- a genuine expression of selfless love.
Confined to the western hemisphere, the hummingbird was virtually unknown in Europe before the voyage of Columbus. The hummingbird family consists of some 320 species and has the distinction of having as one of its members the smallest species of bird in the world. Of these species only one, the ruby-throated hummingbird, inhabits the eastern two-thirds of the United States. This three and one-half inch bird weighs about as much as a copper penny. The ruby-throated hummingbird has an exceptionally long migration. Its powerful little wings carry it as far north as Canada and as far south as Central America.
How Does The Hummingbird Illustrate Flexibility By Conserving Its Time And Energy To Complete Priorities? It was twilight. All the daytime birds were settled, resting in their perches for the night. All the birds rested, that is, except one, the smallest of them all - the tiny ruby-throated hummingbird. It was busily flitting from flower to flower, trying to get every last bit of food before the light was gone and it would be forced to stop.
Weeks earlier the hummingbird would have gathered this food for the purpose of sustaining itself through the night. But now its motivation was different. It was more determined. The hummingbird was about to undertake a major task which, if it wasted its resources, would prove disastrous. Twice each year, the ruby-throated hummingbird travels from southern Canada to as far south as Panama. The distance is long, but the bird can make most of it with relative ease. Along the way the voyager has many feeding stations which give it the needed strength to continue. Gram for gram, the hummingbird has the greatest energy output of any kn own warm-blooded animal. The reason this tiny bird burns up so much energy is because of its very small size. Just as a teaspoon of hot water loses heat faster than a kettle of hot water, so a tiny body such as a hummingbird's will lose heat faster than a larger body. Because of this rapid heat loss the hummingbird must burn proportionately larger amounts of energy in order to keep warm. As the bird darted from flower to flower gleaning nectar and insects, it felt the coolness of the evening. The temperature was dropping rapidly. In the morning it was going to undertake the most dangerous leg of the migration. Tomorrow's flight pattern was five hundred miles over treacherous gulf water to Mexico. If the hummingbird ran out of fuel, it would drop into the sea and perish. There could be no turning back. Extra energy was required for the hummingbird to maintain its body temperature during this cool night. Darkness would confine it to a perch, prohibiting it from gathering any more food. The bird had stored a certain amount of fat to serve as fuel, but if the trip were to be successful, it could not afford to take the chance of using any of the reserve now. Although this could be a serious problem, the flexible little hummer would not let this hurdle interfere with the priority of reaching its destination. The tiny traveler would regulate its energies by a simple but effective means. It would do something very unusual for a bird. The hummer would hibernate for the night. The bird permitted its body to go into a torpid condition. By doing so, only one-fifth to one-sixth of the amount of fuel that normally would have been needed to maintain the warmth of its body was used. In this torpid condition the hummingbird became motionless --- so much so that one could actually touch the bird and it would not move. The little bird passed the night hours in this condition. In the morning when the sun rose, its warm rays penetrated the body of the little creature and the bird slowly began to stir. Soon it was back among the flowers sucking nectar and capturing small insects in final preparation for the journey. The trip would be successful. This three and one-half inch, feathered creature had regulated its energies to allow it to accomplish the remarkable feat of flying five hundred long miles --- non stop.

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