Tag Archive: King

How interesting it is that a person could spend his entire life time and all the riches in the world studying creation and the philosophies surrounding him, and in the end still have absolutely nothing. Sadly, many have discovered this truth first hand.

Only when we realize the futility and deception of pursuing earthly wisdom, only when we understand the eternal weight of heavenly wisdom, will we finally begin to understand. As we follow the waters up stream to their source, we will not only find the fountain head, we will discover the throne. 

Lest we forget, mankind was not created to simply attain knowledge and exercise wisdom. We were created to understand and know the all wise God through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Only when we bow our heart’s knees at Jesus’ throne, casting our handmade crowns at His feet, will we truly begin to see.

“Where shall [heavenly] wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man knows not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth says, It is not in me: and the sea says, It is not with me. It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. 

Where then comes wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? 

Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears. 

God understands the way thereof, and He knows the place thereof. 

For He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heaven; to make the weight for the winds; and He weighs the waters by measure. When He made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: then did He see it, and declare it; He prepared it, yea, and searched it out. 

And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Job 28:12-28


The King’s Garden

God-Write-the-BibleEven those of us who might boldly declare our status (by God’s grace) as born again believers have a tendency to forget that we have been literally and spiritually transported out of the old kingdom and into the new one (Colossians 1:13), one where often the old worldly economy, tools, and techniques simply won’t suffice.  Although we might readily understand and openly acknowledge the forgiveness of our sins, we still need to be regularly reminded of our utter dependence upon the power of God and His glorious Word and the absolute necessity of rejecting the impotent inventions and dangerous devices of this world!

In Colossians 3, the Lord reminds us of the vital importance of not only knowing where we now live, but also of mortifying all that accompanied us from the old kingdom. We are instructed to take off (mortify) the old man and instead put on the new man who is being renewed in Christ. (Colossians 3:9-11) This is our daily duty and joy as believers, one we must perform with diligence and one that can only be accomplished by the power of the Lord Himself.

We must cease from returning to the flesh if we truly desire a victorious walk and abundant race in the strength of our Heavenly Father. I pray this simple story encourages and reminds us all to truly turn to Jesus Christ, our King, walking in the Spirit rather than the flesh.

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25



Once there was a very talented and creative gardener who lived in a beautiful kingdom. All sorts of wonderful plants thrived throughout his property. He even grew plants on his roof. The gardener had flowers, and vegetables, fruit trees and even several species no one had ever heard of before. The plants were bigger and more lush than many had ever seen. And the fruits and vegetables were more delicious than almost anything anyone had ever tasted, other than the king’s, of course. People from all around the kingdom purposely planned to journey past the gardener’s house just to gaze upon all the amazing florae. He received an abundance of praise from the people and over time grew quite fond of it. Day and night, the gardener could always be seen outside trimming, planting, and planning with a smile on his face and a song in his heart.

One day there was position open at the palace garden. Over the years, many had attempted to care for the king’s plants and unfortunately most had failed. The gardener only lived a few miles down the hill from the palace and was quite confident he would make a superb gardener for the King. He immediately applied and was quickly hired. Upon starting, he was handed a letter written by the king himself, but the gardener was so excited he forgot to even open it. Instead he gathered up all the equipment from his house, loaded it onto a cart and pushed it all the way up to the palace.

As he entered the enormous garden gateway, the guard held out his hand, stopping the gardener dead in Hagi_Castle_Garden,_Western_Honshu,_+Japanhis tracks. The guard explained that there could be no outside tools brought into the king’s garden. The gardener could only use what was supplied to him by the king. For the first time in a very long time, he felt a flood of worry and bewilderment pour over. The king’s garden required tools and techniques that were entirely foreign to the gardener and this was something he was definitely not ready for.

The gardener and his family had not always lived in the beautiful kingdom. He was actually born in a kingdom on the other side of mountains, one that was much different than where he lived now. While still in on the other side, the gardener’s dad handed down to his young son all the tools and techniques he would need in order to grow amazing plants, at least until now. The gardener really thought he had all the knowledge and skills he’d ever need. Unfortunately, none of the ways he had learned from his dad would work properly in the king’s garden and soon the king’s plants began to wither and die. This was also something the gardener had not experienced in a very long time. Those walking by began to murmur and some even laughed at him. Others just looked away, feeling both sad for the plants and for the gardener. He had lost all the praise he was so accustomed to receiving.

Many palace gardeners had come and gone and many had failed. The gardener knew he didn’t want to be numbered among those who had been defeated, but also knew he would need to do something he hadn’t done in a very, very long time. He knew he’d have to ask for help. “Why is the king being so difficult anyway,” he often mumbled to himself? One day he finally humbled himself enough to ask the guard if there were any books in the palace library on tending the king’s plants. The guard explained that the only way to know how to properly care for the king’s garden was to talk with the king himself. The gardener’s heart sank. “Oh, no! Not the king,” he answered with a tone of discouragement in his voice. “How can I possibly ask the king?”

He definitely did not want that. After all, he was supposed to be the best gardener in the whole kingdom. He didn’t want to appear like he didn’t actually know what he was doing, especially to the king. He reasoned within himself that this would only make it seem as though he wasn’t really a good gardener. He strove for weeks attempting to figure out the right way of caring for each of the plants in the king’s garden. He got up early every morning and went home late every night. It wasn’t long before he grew extremely frustrated and terribly exhausted.

Soon many of the plants were dying and inside he felt the same starvation, but he just couldn’t put aside his pride to ask the king for help. So instead, he chose to return to his old house where at least he felt like he belonged. At least he could tend to the familiar plants and begin seeing success again. After a couple weeks, he was back to his old routine, but deep down he knew there was more. There was something missing in it all, but he just couldn’t quite put his finger on it. One thing was for sure, tending to his familiar garden just wasn’t satisfying like it once was.

One day, while trimming back a few bushes, something popped into his mind. “The king’s letter,” he thought to himself. “In all the excitement, I never read his letter.” He wasn’t sure if he should even bother, but curiosity and frankly, the lack of satisfaction got the best of him. After searching a while, he found it. Sitting down in front of his fireplace, he carefully opened the envelope and began reading the king’s message aloud. It simply said,

            Dear Gardener,

            If you are weak; if you are weary, then come to Me. Learn of Me and I will give you rest.


                    ~The King

The gardener read the letter several times. Each time it was like a tiny seed was being planted deeper and deeper within his own heart. At first, it was difficult to believe, but after thinking long and hard, he realized it wasn’t the king who was being so difficult. The gardener finally understood that he was the one being so stubborn and prideful.  “How could I have been so foolish,” he wondered to himself. “After all, who could possibly have better tools and knowledge than the king?”  He immediately stood and raced to the king, never looking back, never returning to his old garden again.

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

Open BibleIf there ever was an attribute which remains reprehensible regardless of its modern day adornment, it would be that of ungratefulness. There is something quite disheartening in watching someone receive a gift with a heart absent of real gratitude.  Although many areas of selfishness/self-centeredness, mostly due to marketing and manipulation, have successfully won over the hearts and minds of the culture, there is nothing that can cover up the egregious attitude of being unthankful. 

I cannot think of one book, TV, or movie character that has stood the test of time which has displayed such a self-centered heart, yet ungratefulness plagues us in real life perhaps now more than ever. This is much in part thanks to what many have deemed the self-esteem movement.

Over the last several decades the pro high self-esteem movement has literally plowed and paved its way into the very fiber of our postmodern thinking and behavior. But there are more than a few ironies facing the self-esteem philosophy and sadly, even more casualties. One such casualty standing at the forefront would arguably be that of genuine thankfulness.  

Certain characteristics in life have quite natural outcomes. When someone is spoon fed (from the high chair) the necessity of having a high/good self-worth, self-esteem, self-image, etc. we should not be surprised when that child grows up to be a very confused and disillusioned young adult.  Despite a high self-esteem being touted as the wonder drug of the 20th century, nothing could be further from the truth.  

Geneticists have worked tirelessly in recent decades, discovering how to modify today’s foods to appear bigger and brighter, but often other attributes are lost in the process.  A similar principle can be observed in people’s attitudes and actions. In a culture literally in love with itself, there are often other, much more nutritious characteristics that are deleted, due in part to our anxious efforts of self-exaltation. One of the nutrients often missing is that of genuine and lasting thankfulness.

Consider the child that is repeatedly told he is so special and so important that he deserves everything and that “having it his way” is just the way it should be.  This child feeds on books and tens of thousands of hours of TV shows and movies essentially telling him the very same thing. He’s given many fabulous and expensive gifts, only reinforcing the delusion. It doesn’t take long before his emboldened and enriched self-esteem is off the charts. This will undoubtedly lead to a reduction of other characteristics, namely thankfulness. After all, why be thankful, when you wholeheartedly believe you deserve the best and the most?  

But one might argue that even a selfish child is thankful for receiving a long desired present. True, however, this is a different sort of thankfulness altogether. It is a fleeting, fleshly thankfulness, not one born out of true, selfless gratitude. It is produced only temporarily, if, in a sense, as the soul’s way of expressing pleasure for getting what it already believes it deserved in the first place. (If you don’t believe this, watch what happens when people are kept from getting what they think they deserve. It really doesn’t matter the age. Often children are just not as good at masking their true feelings.) In fact, it won’t be long before even the extravagant gifts will not be enough to satisfy that child’s insatiable appetite of self-aggrandizement. Soon even the presents will bring nothing but ungratefulness, always believing he deserves more and better things.

Sadly, this pattern is a deceptive and tragic trap, one ultimately set by the enemy of our souls, and one many corporations and psychologists have been utilized to employ, having profited greatly. Breeding discontentment will naturally lead people to spend more in hopes of  satisfying their already discontented hearts and minds. Who better to benefit from this sort of philosophy than retail companies? Perhaps that is why so many of them are the leaders in self-centered advertising. Another business  benefiting would of course be psychotherapy. After all, who better to seek than a therapist  to “cure” the pain and emptiness that this sort of discontentment eventually produces? Sadly, much of today’s church is no different, seeking psychology and the next big sale to satisfy instead of the Word and indwelling Spirit of God. Is it any wonder we see so little vibrancy and victory in today’s Christianity?

Arguably there is a simple philosophy that our culture has bought into from birth.  It says that most, if not all people begin with a low self-esteem. Whether due to circumstances or something broken within, that low self-esteem must be overcome at all cost if we are ever to succeed as successful human beings. In order to do so we must enjoy a high self-esteem diet of flesh enhancing philosophies and practices.  Only then can we overcome our maladjusted beliefs and begin soaring like we were always meant to do. As tasty as this might sound, this is not how God designed us to live. We were not designed to raise ourselves up, but rather to lower ourselves down and instead raise God up.

Only in magnifying Jesus can we truly find genuine and eternal contentment and fulfillment. This is why God’s Word reminds us that godliness with contentment is great gain. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…” 1 Timothy 6:6-12a 

The actual name for a high self-esteem is pride and pride is really nothing less than self-love. It is the very heart of all that hates God, seeking to exalt itself above Him, stealing the Lord’s rightful place upon the throne of every human heart. Despite what most schools, commercials, “professionals”, retail companies, and story books tell us, it is not having a high self-esteem that will ultimately fulfill us. Nor will it ever produce real thankfulness and gratitude. Only when we sincerely and desperately cling to the Great and Glorious God will we find the truth and truly be thankful to the Lord. Only when we understand that it is because of our willful rebellion against God that we deserve nothing less than Hell, only then will we truly embrace God in His forgiveness and love found in Jesus Christ alone.

Only in humility will thanksgiving not only be produced, but also bring about an abundance of the Life of Christ in us and through us. If pride is the ultimate culprit, then humility can be the cure. Like the sun, Jesus burns away the prideful fog obscuring God’s greatness, helping us to finally humble ourselves, coming to grips with the very real and freeing fact that we are really nothing. We will finally realize it is the Lord, not us, Who deserves it all! We do not “deserve a break today” and we most certainly should not seek to “have it our way”. Instead may we humbly seek His perfect and plentiful way. May we wholeheartedly desire to see the Lord in His true beauty and splendor. Then we will begin to see our discontentment and ungratefulness burn away and finally begin to understand what it truly means to “abound in Christ with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:7).

No Jesus, No Thanks!

Heart and Cross ImageAn atheistic evolutionist would have us believe there is nothing more than matter, yet if matter is all there is, then how would an immaterial concept such as “THANKS” ever originate? “Thanks” has no color, no shape, no texture, and no taste. A rock, for example, is matter in a solid form, yet it cares nothing about being thankful. In fact, we could say a rock cannot even care, let alone be thankful. The same could be said for all solids, liquids, and gases. Thankfulness is a concept that goes way beyond the material. So if it didn’t come from matter, then where did thanks originate from?

Nonphysical concepts such as thankfulness cannot be derived from matter, but instead must come from something immaterial. And to say that thankfulness came from some sort of impersonal “higher power” energy or force would be foolish. Mindless energy and impersonal forces would be unable to produce such a personal concept as thanks.

Thanks is not simply a figment of our imagination found in the dictionary and it is not the mindless product of some impersonal force. It could only originate from One who is both personal and loving.  In truth, thanksgiving must stem from a loving heart, one that is not self-seeking. The Bible describes this kind of love in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up…” 1 Corinthians 13:4 This love comes from the personal God who is love (1 John 4:8,16), the God who demonstrated His love in sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Savior of the world. (John 3:16-17)

Jesus is not only the Savior, He is the Creator and coming King. (Colossians 1:11-20) He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He truly is the Son of God and God the Son.  Without Jesus there would be no universe and no earth. There would be no salvation. There would be no love and without love there would be no thanks!  Truly it can be said, “No Jesus, No Thanks!” During this season, let us not only be thankful, but be sure to give thanks to only One who truly deserves it all, the Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!

“Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him, talk you of all His wondrous works. Glory in His holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD and His strength, seek His face continually.” 1 Chronicles 16:8-11

God's Word FirstIn many parts of the world, people are taught to carefully create and diligently decide what jobs and training to attain in order to build a powerful and successful resume. After all, earthly speaking, our resume is often the key to opening certain doors in the business world otherwise unattainable. If I want to move in a certain direction in this life, often I must first attain, labor, and strive for the credentials and proper experience. Then I must carefully and creatively record each accomplishment to build my portfolio and resume, all in hopes of moving forward in my desired direction. But what should be the Christian’s most desired and sought after destination?

While there is definite merit in getting a good education, degree, and experience in the job world, I would argue there is a much better resume we should seek to be building, one that does not point to our intelligence, wealth, and experience, but one that instead displays our weakness and utter dependence upon the True and Living God.

Instead of dropping names in hopes of making us look competent and qualified, we should repeatedly record the fact that we are quite dependent on the Lord for everything we say, do, and think.  Our spiritual resume should minimize us and maximize the Lord Jesus Christ.  Arguably, John the Baptist may have summed it up the best when he said, “[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

One such example of a godly resume is found in Philippians 2. Here Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes about Epaphroditus. Most of us, myself included, might say, “Epaphro who?”  Philippians 2:25 says, “Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.” Although he is only mentioned twice by name in Scripture, here in Philippians 2 and also in Philippians 4:18, he definitely serves as an awesome testimony of what occurs in one heart yielded to the Lord.

What a wonderful, godly resume Epaphoditus has! This is not to point to him, but rather to the Lord, who wants to work mightily in and through all of His adopted sons and daughters.  So what were the notable and biblical attributes applied to this believer’s spiritual resume?

BROTHER: First, he is called a brother. We all, as believers, are born again by the power of God, adopted into the kingdom of God.  We are not above one another, but simply brothers and sisters in the Lord, seeking to obey our Heavenly Father from the heart. Epaphoditus was called a brother.

COMPANION in LABOR: He was also called a companion in labor.  What a blessed title!  He was good company to Paul, encouraging and serving with him in this labor of love called Christianity. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 says, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father…” May we always be good company to our brothers and sisters in the Lord, encouraging and reminding one another that our labor is never in vain and always in love!

FELLOW SOLDIER: Paul also referred to him as a fellow soldier.  We truly are in a battle and it’s a blessed thing to serve alongside fellow soldiers. This world is not our home. We are simply passing through. It’s been correctly said that we’re not on campaign to reform this world, but rather on a rescue mission, calling out as many as will come. The “mighty” Paul did not call Epaphorditus a private serving under “General” Paul, but rather a fellow soldier, comrades who desired to faithfully follow the commands of the Lord.

We are all equal at the foot of the cross; sinners saved by His grace. The work our Heavenly Commander calls us to on this planet is often difficult, dare I say impossible, without the Lord Himself doing the work in and though us! Praise God, although in a very real battle, we do not fight for victory, but from victory. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 remind us, “But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 

MESSENGER: Epaphroditus is also called a messenger. A messenger is usually not the one writing the message, but the one making sure the correct message gets to the right people at the right time. In both World Wars 1 and 2, carrier pigeons were successfully utilized to transport messages back and forth through very dangerous territory. Arguably, the pigeon played a crucial role in both World Wars.

A messenger has everyone other than himself in mind.  He must first make the author of the message his top priority. He then must desire those the message is intended for above his own comfort and importance.  Often the messenger receives the direct consequences of the message, yet he loves the message and the author more than his very own life. This constitutes a good and faithful messenger.

In 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 we are reminded of the message we bring to those around us. “Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”

MINISTER: Lastly, he’s described as one who ministered to Paul, his fellow soldier and brother in the Lord. Ministering simply means to serve, preferring the needs of others above our own desires, pleasures, and needs. In 1 Corinthians 16, it says, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, [be brave], be strong. Let all your things be done with charity [selfless, Christ-centered love]. I beseech you, brethren, (you know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) that you submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helps with us, and labors.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-16   We are all called to be addicted to the ministry of the saints, seeking to be filled to overflowing with the love of Jesus, who loved not His life even unto death. (Hebrews 12:1-4)

May the Lord truly help us to earnestly and diligently add to our eternal resumes daily, first and foremost seeking those things which are above. After all, our home is in Heaven where Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father.  What could be better than making the Mighty and Everlasting God our greatest pursuit and prize?!

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

The Gracious Gift

Castle in FallOnce there was a kingdom with a very great king.  Every year the people of the kingdom had a special celebration filled with a wonderful time of giving to the king.  On this special day everyone from the kingdom would come to the castle and present the king with amazing presents hoping he would choose their’s as the best gift for that year. Whoever the king chose as the best giver would have the privilege of sitting with him for the remainder of the celebration. Some people enjoyed being close to the king because they believed the king made them look great. Others, although a minority, loved being by the king just to be with him. They loved talking with him and seeing how he handled the kingdom. They simply loved the king.

This was a very special year for one little boy.  His parents had finally agreed to allow him to participate in the giving celebration.  Gregory was only seven, but it felt like he’d been waiting for an eternity.  He couldn’t contain his excitement.  He desperately desired to win the event for one simple reason. He just wanted to get to know his king. Gregory really wanted to win! He was so excited he could barely sleep that first night. He got up early to take a walk around his neighborhood.  “I’ve got to come up with a great gift,” he thought to himself.  But he had one little problem.  Even after saving his allowances for two straight years, he only had $30 to buy something. As he strolled around the familiar neighborhood circuit, he began to notice many of his neighbors had already begun working on their presents.  He saw a large giraffe in one backyard while another neighbor had purchased a beautiful fruit tree filled with ripe pomegranates. Another family had been working on building the king a marvelous flying machine. One man was hand crafting a beautiful marble sculpture in his front yard. Walking through the neighborhood, Gregory began to grow more and more discouraged.

When he arrived back home, he was almost ready to give up.  “What can I get the king for such a little amount of money,” he mumbled under his breath. Waving his hands up in surrender, he retreated to his room.  He was so sad, he even missed supper that night.  The next morning he stayed in his room, not wanting to see any more gifts he would soon be competing against. Almost a week went by with nothing but discouragement and frustration to guide his way. Then Gregory finally became so disquieted in his heart he simply started crying out to the king. He knew the king was great, but he really didn’t know if even the king would hear his faraway pleas. Then it happened.  He decided he would give it one last shot.  After all, the party was only a day away. He began pacing in his room as he tried to arrive at a winning idea.  “I have to be with the king,” he said with determination in his heart.”I just have to!” All morning he walked back and forth and back and forth almost like a soldier during marching practice.  All of a sudden, as if sent by the king himself, an idea flew into his mind.  At first he wasn’t sure, but then a big smile slowly appeared across his face.  He knew, he just knew this would be the winning idea!

Gregory sprinted over to the spare bedroom where all the boxes and wrapping paper were stored.  His parents were happy to see he was finally back on track. He spent all afternoon looking for just the right box and just the right paper.  That night he slept soundly, knowing with confidence that he would soon be sitting by his king. As the sun peered through his curtains, enlightening his room, he hopped out of bed as if a rabbit. His parents and he gathered their gifts and began the long trek to the castle.  By the time they arrived, the line was all the way out the castle doors and down the main street.  Gregory waited patiently, remaining confident even Fall Trail 1after seeing the many spectacular presents awaiting the king. He saw peacocks and plow horses, rubies and  diamonds, glistening golden vases and large lions in cages. He overheard people talking about the kinds of gifts that had won in years gone by. One year, a tremendous tiger as white as the snow had won. Another year the winner had brought a beautiful fruit tree as tall as a four story house. This tree could actually produce three different kinds of fruit.  Gregory remembered the year the tree had won. That was when he was four.

Finally, the sun was setting and Gregory had made it into castle’s throne room.  It was a large room lined with marble from floor to ceiling.  It echoed with voices as the people huddled around to see the remaining gifts.  Oohs and aahs filled the room.  Gregory had been so focused on seeing the king, he hadn’t realized until that very moment that he was actually the last person in line.  This made him a little nervous knowing if the king wasn’t pleased, there would be no one behind him to make him happy again.

There were only three people ahead of him and he could hear everyone in the huge room talking about the day’s events.  Some were even arguing over their own gifts, believing, of course, that they were the best.  His heart began to pound and knees started to shake. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea,” he thought to himself.  Then only one person stood between him and the king.  Gregory could now see the king’s face.  The king glanced over to the little boy and gave him a smile, as if to assure him it would be okay.  It was almost like the king had been waiting all day just for him.  That was the assurance he needed.  Finally, after waiting for almost seven hours, it was time.

The crowd grew silent, noticing the only one left was a little boy that most didn’t even know.  The people began to whisper to one another.  A few even chuckled.  “Who does this boy think he is?” a few grumbled.  “He’s wasting our time,” they complained.  They couldn’t quite make out what he had in his hand, but they all figured this would be the worst gift ever.  Gregory slowly approached the king.  This was the first time he had ever seen him this close before. The prince walked down to meet him, escorting him to his father. Gregory slowly handed the king his little gift wrapped in paper his family had saved from his birthday party the year before.  A million thoughts flew through his head.  Then the room fell silent and Gregory felt like it was just him and the king.  The king began to open his present, carefully peeling the paper. The people could not wait to see what was inside.

The king then opened the little cardboard box lid.  His fingers reached inside, pulling out a small piece of paper. The people fixed their gaze on the king as he carefully unfolded it.  His eyes seemed to twinkle as he finished reading.  Gregory watched and waited for what seemed like an eternity.  Then the king rose to his feet and lifted his arm. “Thank you all!” he began. “I have received many wonderful gifts today, but as you all know, only one can be the winner.”  The people all leaned forward with anticipation.  “This year, the winner is…”  Many in the audience were sure they would be this year’s winner.  The king then reached down and picked up the 7 year old boy still standing at his feet.  “This year the winner is Gregory.”  The people could not believe it. The crowd was buzzing with amazement!

How could this little boy with his little box and little piece of paper be the winner?  It was impossible.  The king continued… “This boy has not only given me the best gift this year, but the best gift ever!”  You could hear people gasp and complain throughout the room. “He will not only be able to be with me for today, but because of his gracious gift, Gregory will be able to visit me any time he wants for his whole life.”  The people could not believe it! Everyone was excited to discover what was on that little piece of paper, but the king chose not to tell them, at least not yet.

The rest of the evening all the people of the kingdom enjoyed great food and a festival filled with games, music, and much more. But Gregory simply enjoyed being with his king.  He couldn’t believe it.  He just loved looking and listening to the king.  They talked all night long. As people walked by the king’s table they kept asking him what the boy had given him.  The king would simply smile, reassuring them to be patient.  The next morning the king sent out invitations to all the people in his kingdom, requesting their presence at noon on the first day of the following week. The invitation explained that the king would finally reveal to all Gregory’s gracious gift. The people could not wait! The following Sunday people from all around the kingdom made their way to the castle. Right at noon the king stood and explained what made Gregory’s gift so special.

“You see,” began the king. “For many years now people have brought me many wonderful gifts, but no one has ever given me a gift quite like this one.”  One person in the crowd just couldn’t wait any longer. “Please king,” he cried. “Tell us what was on the paper.”  The king smiled.  “The paper had seven simple words on it.” The people all listened carefully as the king continued. “The paper said, ‘THANK YOU MY DEAR KING, THANK YOU!'”

The people looked quite confused.  “You see,” explained the king.  “Although many wonderful gifts have been given to me over the years, I’ve never really needed any of them. After all, I already own everything in the kingdom.  What I’ve really wanted all along is you, not your things.  I want your hearts.  I want you to willingly be my people. That’s what my kingdom is all about.  Only after you truly become my people, will you finally get to know me as your personal king.  This boy’s gift is exactly what I’ve been looking for these many years.  Gregory’s gift has revealed his deep, heartfelt thanks. It has revealed his willingness to give me nothing less than his heart.”

People talked about Gregory’s gracious gift for many years to come, reminding one another that it wasn’t the objects, but their hearts that they should willingly and humbly give the king each and every day; hearts overflowing with thanksgiving to their gracious and glorious king.  This is what the king was truly searching for all along.

“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways” Proverbs 23:26.  

“O Lord, open my lips; and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You desire not sacrifice; else would I give it: You delight not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” Psalm 51:15-17.

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