Sunday, January 8, 2012

By Your Side

This morning, I attended church at The Gathering, an international church with an English service. Every time I've attended church here since I've been in Thailand (not even a handful), the message is exactly what I needed to hear on that day. Today was no different.

The third song of the service brought me to tears. Have you ever heard a song that felt like it could have been written for you in that moment? This was that song for me today -

Just singing these words would have been enough, but God didn't stop there.

The sermon was about discouragement and 2 Corinthians 1:1-11, the "God of all comfort." This has definitely been something I'm learning by experience in being here, but was re-affirmed & re-enforced through the message.

There were three main points pointed out from this passage.

First, remember who God is - the Father of compassion and God of all comfort. It's in discouraging times, trials, emptiness, etc. that we meet the God of all comfort. This doesn't mean that everything will work out OK immediately, it may or may not. It means that God is always there by your side throughout the whole time. He always is - in good & bad times.

Second, my trial, suffering, etc. may not be about me at all, but about how God will be glorified through that trying time and use it to reach others. One statement that really jumped out at me was "it's tempting in these times (trials, suffering, etc.) to make it about me & to stop becoming a channel of His grace to others"! This is where Satan really works on me - pity parties! I constantly am reminding myself of Who brought me here & why He did.

Third, imagine what God can do in you through this trial. Verse 9 says, "this happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God." How true this is - God brought me halfway around the world to learn how to completely depend on Him! And how I have had to! I'm learning that the big changes and shifts that God works on the inside of us come through trying times.

As I was reflecting on this message, I also had a thought that trials bring about communion. They draw people together in prayer and thanksgiving and through that draw people closer to God.

This is what I learned today. I wanted to put it here so I wouldn't forget it and for anyone else who needs to hear it.

As I look back on the two and a half months that I've been here, I can see the many ways God is working in me - changing me & shaping me into the woman He created me to be. If he can do this amount of work in not quite three months, I'm SO excited to see what He will do in two years! It may be (probably will be) painful, but SO worth it!

Serving Him,

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Eve Service

On New Year's Eve morning, we had a church service here at Stephen & Mary's. It was a service to thank God for all of the blessings of the past year and to look ahead to the New Year. There were around 100 people that came from Chiang Mai & different villages. There were four languages spoken during this service! This always amazes me when different people groups come together as the body of Christ to praise & worship Him! Even more amazing is that even though we can't understand each other, God understands & knows every language & every heart!

Seating in the outdoor classroom...

...and under the carport!

This little girl started the service with a special song - so cute!
In addition to the hymns that we sang together throughout the service, there were many songs sung by each different village that came, in their respective language.

A song sung in Lahu

A song sung in Thai

A song sung in Lisu

Another song sung in Thai
Chris, a man from Australia, preached the sermon with Stephen translating into Thai. (After the sermon, a man translated the whole message into Lahu, then another translated it into Lisu.) His message pretty much summed up everything that I had been thinking about & reflecting on the previous week! I LOVE when God does that. :) He talked about reflecting on where we are with Jesus - looking back to see where we've come & where we now stand, but not stopping there, growing deeper in our relationship with Him & looking ahead to where Jesus will take us. A great place to be going into the New Year!

Chris preaching & Stephen translating
After the service was over, we all enjoyed lunch together. There was A LOT of food! (Sorry, I didn't take any pictures of that.) After lunch, everyone slowly left to go back to their homes. I had a small clinic and saw six people.

It was a great day thanksgiving, praise & worship, reflection, & looking ahead! 

May God bless each of you in 2012!