Posted by: Jo | September 13, 2021

Looking For The Good News

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, to proclaim peace, who bring good tidings.”

(Isaiah 52: 7)

As I was watching the news, recently I kept looking for any piece of good news. The story of the world in chaos with the fear of this vicious virus racing through countries with no respect of age, youth, or even the very fit, dominated, but not far behind were terrible stories of ugly warfare with no regard for women or children, citizens abandoned to fare for themselves, then in our own country vicious racism is becoming more prevalent. Even in our own communities we have strident voices protesting about everything imaginable, mostly about selfish minor issues not related to the common good, and they too were evident on the news with big signs proclaiming anger about the smallest details of our lives. Good news, hard to find.

We, who follow and love the way the Lord has told us to follow, need to look closely how we could be those who bring good news.

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” (Proverbs 3: 27)

We are often tempted to be

  • critical and judge others who even disagree slightly with us
  • intolerant of other races who differ from us
  • jealous of our friends who achieve something we would like to have done and withhold our praise

Looking carefully at the message in Proverbs we realize that we could exhibit God’s love by looking for the good in all situations and we could be the ones to bring that good news to others. Rather than finding something to complain about, we need to learn to find the good in all in all the happenings in our own lives and this even applies to what we are experiencing that may be overwhelming, but if we search diligently, we will find light even in the darkest days.

Not only are we to look for good news, God’s word, entreats us to bring good into other’s lives.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity. Let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6: 10)

Bringing good news means action on our part. Not to just use words but to be active in doing just what we can. Living the good news needs practice and persevering through our human natures that are often focused on ourselves. In Matthew we read the solution to how to do that. Firstly, we need the Lord to fill us, so we have a store of goodness to share with others.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him…” (Matthew 12: 35)

We get that store of goodness by following the commands of the Lord.

Posted by: Jo | August 26, 2021

Blessings In Doing The Will Of God

“Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.”

(Psalm 119: 2)

I have a dear friend who is an amazing seamstress who can take a piece of material and transform it into a thing of beauty. She makes quilts that are eye catching and often have a theme running through the intricate pattens. She donates much of what she makes to help communities raise money to help the less fortunate and one of these is a senior’s center near where she lives. 

Just recently she had a small amount of material left and wondered what she could do with it, she ended up making a little purse even with an inside pocket. She just happened to be in the center when they were having their sale and witnessed an old lady buying the bag for a little girl, probably her granddaughter visiting her and as the little girl was given the bag a huge smile filled her face. When she was telling me the story, I said to her that smile was a thank you from God, a blessing for you living his way. 

Blessings come in all different ways and sometimes we forget to acknowledge that they have come from the Lord and have happened because we are putting God’s word into action. Recently I had an altercation with a friend. I was hurt by her response and decided I would not phone her again. The feeling of resentment was uncomfortable and during my prayer time I felt a prompting from the Lord and this verse popped into my mind. 

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3: 13)

I immediately phoned my friend who answered lovingly, totally unaware that she had hurt me. I was so glad to hear her voice and resentment disappeared our friendship was restored without me having to say anything. What a blessing that was for me because I followed God’s word.  

We sometimes think that God’s commands are just to keep us obedient, forgetting they are meant to ensure we have a life filled with his blessings. However, the world shouts a different kind of advice telling us of course

  • you have rights
  • pay back that one that hurt you
  • make sure you get what you are owed
  • that man begging on the street don’t help him tell him to go get a job. 
  • It is relentless and hard to ignore. 

The only way to avoid being misled is to stay focused firmly on God’s word. One of the Psalmists was so sure of that this was the only way he said this 

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119: 11)

Jeremiah went a step further saying. 

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and delight.” (Jeremiah 15: 16)

Showers of blessings will envelope us as we walk in the path the Heavenly Father has designed for us.

Posted by: Jo | August 11, 2021

He Hears Us

“Before they call I will answer, while they are still speaking I will hear.”

(Isaiah 65: 24)

Having someone listen to you is such a blessing in today’s world amid the frantic rush that seems to permeate our lives and seems to be a very rare occurrence. Brief texts with abbreviated words, symbols that have hidden meanings, to my old eyes, and then emails that reply to an urgent message without any warmth or feeling. Doctor’s offices where you have 10 minutes to discuss a nagging problem and you feel the minutes ticking by without the real assurance that the doctor has really listened to what you are saying. Perhaps with even a trusted and dear friend we don’t always share what is too painful to discuss so what is so wonderful is that our Heavenly Father wants us to share anything, even painful things with him. David learnt this amazing truth and told of the agony he is going through. 

“I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” (Psalm 6: 6)

But at the end of the Psalm, he realizes that the Lord had heard his weeping and with great joy cries out, 

“The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” (Psalm 6: 9)

This is a truth we all need to learn. Our answer is never, don’t bother me with that, the Lord accepts our prayers because we are his children and cares about every aspect of our lives. Problems that seem to be overwhelming seem to be not so terrifying when we confide in the Father. 

Some of our deepest problems don’t have a quick answer and when friends jump in with their ideas of quick solutions the problems even deepen. Our Loving Father knows this and when we are grappling with anxiety, inadequate feelings, lack of motivation, sadness, and grief, we just need a loving and compassionate listener and being able to share these thoughts with no condemnation, brings peace and we can do this as often as we need to. Paul writes this in his letter to the Thessalonians when he tells them to pray continually. The Father will not get tired of hearing. 

“Pray continually.”  (1 Thessalonians 5: 17)

Paul again reminds us of all that it is a waste of time fretting and being anxious about our deepest trouble he tells us to simply to take all those worries to the Lord. 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4: 6)

One of the greatest benefits of seeking help from the Lord I feel is found in Jesus’s words. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11 : 28)

We are granted relief by coming to him because He hears us. 

Posted by: Jo | July 17, 2021

Learning To Trust God

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”

(Isaiah 30: 15)

Trust is a word we frequently use in this generation. We say we trust a brand of some product/ we say we trust a Politian/we trust a leader/ we trust the advice of a friend, but often that trust is betrayed, and our trust is broken, so often we are wary to trust anybody. Scripture tells stories over and over of the children of Israel taking things into their own hands ignoring consulting God or even remembering what a disaster this can mean. We too often think we can handle life’s problems our own way and just how the Israelites found out we find out how wrong that is.

So how do we learn to trust God. The Lord has beautiful verses about the wonderful outcome of coming to him and first consulting him before we rush into choosing the wrong path. The verse in Isaiah 30: 15 tells us that if we trust in him, he will give us the strength to weather the storm. The other powerful word in this verse is rest. I know myself when I start to worry about a problem in my life, I become agitated, unable to sleep and spend the day fretting about it, forgetting to rest in the power of the Heavenly Father.

In another of God’s promises is the beautiful word, peace.

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26: 3)

The peace that the Lord promises is like no other peace known by mankind and needs to be experienced to be believed. Paul tells us is this in his letter to the Philippians.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4: 7)

The other beautiful promise in this verse, is found in those last words, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, when we allow that peace to envelope us as we put our trust In Christ Jesus, our hearts and minds will only focus on the Lord so we can listen to his directives.

My other problem often arises when I think I know exactly how to deal with the problem and tackle it myself Then I need to remind myself of this incredibly wise verse.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5 – 6)

What beautiful promises!  I am aiming not to try to make sense of some of the happenings in my life, but to relax, admit I do not understand to my Father and to trust him to take over.

Posted by: Jo | June 28, 2021

A Messenger of God

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation.”

(Isaiah 52: 7)

Good news is always welcome and during this last year of anxiety, fear and the ups and downs of living through a pandemic, good news at some points of the chaos, was hard to come by. People were in lock down, confined to their homes, the elderly, felt very isolated. Churches were closed, but it soon became apparent to all those who followed Jesus that his message of love needed to be still shared with others. We all needed to become messengers of God.

I had an experience myself as I live alone and felt discouraged when an e-mail from a friend popped up on my computer. It was a very encouraging, message and my spirits lifted, and I felt this person had been prompted by God to send me that message. I decided that I too could be a messenger of God if I spent time with him asking who he would want me to contact.

In the Old Testament, that is how God spoke to his people through his prophets who listened to his word and faithfully transmitted it to his people.

We have a wonderful example of what can happen if believers become messengers.

We read in the book of Acts, that after Jesus had been crucified and been resurrected his followers were anxious to spread the good news, but many were thrown into prison, but an amazing occurrence showed them the power of the one they served.

“But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go and stand in the temple courts,” he said, “And tell the people the full message of this new life.” (Acts 5: 19 – 20)

The apostles became avid messengers of the good news and brought hope and joy to thousands.

I have a beautiful little book called, God’s Promises and it is filled with the promises God has made to his people and to all of us who are his children. Sometimes when we are lonely or downcast, we heed to hear that message and the first of John’s letters reminds us.

“How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are.” (1 John 3: 1)

Sometimes we can be the messengers of that beautiful truth to someone we know who needs to be reassured that they too are God’s children.

Another beautiful promise is one that we can all hang on to no matter what upheavals are happening in our lives. We do not need to be afraid we will not be able to cope.

“Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:  6)

We can all ask God to be one of his messengers to bring love and comfort to others.

“Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him he refreshes the spirits of his masters.” (Proverbs 25: 13)

Posted by: Jo | June 6, 2021

A Conversation With God

“The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”. Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

(1 Samuel 3: 10)

We have just finished an interesting study in our Bible study at our church on listening and prayer. While we were going through it, I remembered a very memorable remark from the leader of a previous study on prayer that I had attended. Our leader used the illustration from the story of the Lord calling Samuel when he was a young boy and dwelling in the temple with Eli (whole story in 1 Samuel 3)

Eli told Samuel to answer the Lord by telling him that he was ready to listen to him, our leader said to us, too often when we are talking to God, we say the reverse,

Listen, Lord your servant is speaking!!

In the book of Proverb, we read some incredibly wise words about how to listen to the Lord. We walk closely with him as he directs the best way to navigate through life, especially when so many paths look tempting, but are going to end up in disaster.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5 – 6)

When we ask the Lord, what is the best action to take in a situation, it is wise to do as Proverbs states. We must not present to God what our understanding of the problem is and the solution that will remedy it. We must wait patiently, listening carefully as to what God thinks is the best solution. People have asked how to do that as God’s voice does not thunder from the sky, but I have found that if we present the problem first, often a thought will surprise you by coming into your mind. Often too, while reading scripture a verse will suddenly help you, or unexpectedly a Christian friend will tell you of a wise way to handle the problem.

The Psalmists knew that they needed the Lord to help them to stay close to him and I love this prayer of David’s, one that is perfect to start every day.

“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are my God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day.” (Psalm 25: 4 – 5)

Any conversation with a close friend is not all about us. It is a time to tell a loved friend about how you value them and their lovely qualities you admire. This is true when we speak to God. Of course he wants to hear what is troubling us, but it is also a time to praise him for his love his compassion for us and to thank him for the many answered prayers.  Beginning with praise and thanksgiving is a wonderful way to begin our prayers and seems to open our hearts to hear him.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise, give thanks to him and praise his name.” (Psalm 100: 4)

Posted by: Jo | May 16, 2021

Seeing Through Different Eyes

“The Lord does not look at what man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

(1 Samuel 16: 7)

Many years ago, we had a very, sad occurrence happen in my family when my daughter’s husband suddenly and unexpectedly died. My husband and I wanted to support her and be able to help her in any way we could, so we decided to go and live with her to help her cope with this terrible tragedy, as we had a big gentle Labrador dog, all three of us moved in with her.

My daughter lived in a vastly different area of our city from where we lived, with many ethnic and culturally different people. Living there I learnt some very, valuable lessons. One day I was walking our dog by myself when a very large man came towards me and he looked to me to be quite frightening, with long dreadlocks of hair and nose rings and arms, covered with tattoos. I thought perhaps I should cross over to the other side of the street, but before I could he called out hello to me and knelt down to pat my dog and with a lovely smile chatted with me about the dogs he had owned. My dog loved him immediately and began to wag her tail. I was so ashamed of myself to have judged this man by his appearance when my own dog only saw a kind friend.

We learn very, early in the Bible that our Heavenly Father does not look at outward appearances but looks at hearts (1 Samuel 16: 7)

It is so easy for us to assume something about another person and either judge them or be impressed with what they wear or the car they drive or how beautiful they are. Paul warns new believers about also admiring people for the wrong reason and ensures his readers that he does not do this.

“As for those who seem to be more important- whatever they were makes no difference to me, God does not judge by external appearances- those men added nothing to my message.” (Galatians 2: 6)

Jesus himself, urged his listeners at the temple and of course all of us who desire to follow him, to stop judging others by appearances.

“Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgement.” (John 7: 24)

I learnt a very valuable lesson, strangely emphasized by my dog, by seeing that judging by appearances can be so misleading and during that time we were living in that neighborhood I actually looked forward to walking my dog and meeting and chatting with others who did not look like me but proved to be interesting and willing to talk to me and my dog. When we accept each other, we start to obey that beautiful command of Jesus.

“A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13: 34)

Posted by: Jo | May 1, 2021

Sanctified Bait

“Come follow me”, Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

(Matthew 4: 19)

My husband was an avid fisherman and when he was a little boy, in Australia, his father, also an avid fisherman, taught him how to feed the worms on the hook, where the best place in the lake to throw the line and then the patience to wait for that exciting tug on the line that signified a fish had taken the bait. When he grew up, the ocean was the next place to practice his skills, but when we moved to Canada, he then had to learn quite a different skill to catch trout in the cooler waters here, and again became proficient not only in casting, but in learning how to make the intricate little flies that attracted the trout.

I was thinking about him when Jesus spoke somewhat strange words to his first disciples, “I will make you fishers of men.” And another strange memory came back to me. When I was younger, I joined a group of women in my church who had a weekly Bible Study. Once a month we had a lunch to which we were encouraged to ask friends and neighbors to attend. The idea was to tell others who may not be believers to come and know Jesus. Our leader had a name, just between ourselves for this lunch, “Sanctified Bait”, to inspire us to become fishers of men.

The leader explained that when Jesus told his disciples that they were going to be fishers of men, he was telling them that they were to attract others, so they longed to find out who Jesus was. This was not for their glory but to glorify the Heavenly Father.

Jesus told this to his disciples.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15: 8)

When my husband was making replicas of those tiny insects that lived in the lake, he had to make sure they were exactly like the real ones so that the trout would be attracted to them. That was what our leader was telling us to be, a copy of Jesus and how he showed us how to live so we would exhibit his love /compassion/ forgiveness to others so they would want to seek him for themselves. Not for our glory but for the glory of the Heavenly Father.

So how do we do just that?

If we want to be true replicas of Jesus, we must look closely at how he lived while on earth, to listen to his wisdom, absorb his commands, and remember that he has given us his Holy Spirit to help us to do that and to keep in touch with him daily through prayer and reading God’s word.

Paul entreats the new believers to have the attitude of Christ.

“Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2: 5)

We can learn to become, “Sanctified Bait”

Posted by: Jo | April 17, 2021

Aging Gracefully

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another”

(John 1: 16)

I have definitely reached that stage in life when I am classified as old. In today’s society to be old is something we have to postpone as long as possible with the media swamping us with ways of how to do this. Perfect cream for wrinkles/ face lifts/ plastic surgery/ vitamin pills/ exercise. The other day I saw an article prompting this theory with this intriguing title “Aging Gracefully”. When I read it, I had a totally different idea of what that title meant for me. We can age gracefully without all the above because we are filled with grace from the Heavenly Father and that is the true meaning of graceful, filled with grace.

Scripture is very encouraging about getting older, especially if we are following in the Lord’s footsteps.

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will bear fruit in old age; they will stay fresh and green.” (Psalm 92: 12 – 14)

What a wonderful promise, what an encouraging word that even as we grow older, we will still be able to bear fruit for the Lord.

When we look carefully at what it means to bear fruit, it is interesting to see that no mighty deeds are mentioned, no achieving greatness everyone will admire, no working day and night so God will notice what we are doing, but an incredible change in how our natures can change so we can reflect the grace of God to all those we come in contact with so they will feel his love and long to know him. The other encouraging thing to note especially for those who are old, is that all the fruit mentioned is equally possible without any physical strength needed. We do not need to be young to bear fruit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self – control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5: 22)

Paul often began his letters with this beautiful blessing and reminder.

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1: 2)

Later on, he reminds them that this blessing of grace is not a one time thing, it continues through our whole lives.

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1: 6)

I do not see any promises of being able to run marathons when we are old (not that I ever could do that!!) but knowing the fruit of the Spirit is always there to fill our beings is a wonderful promise and when I become weary, I sing one of my favourite songs we sing at my church.

The joy of the Lord is my strength!

Posted by: Jo | March 24, 2021

Let The Sunshine In

“But they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength”

(Judges 4: 11)

I live in Vancouver, Canada. One of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its back drop is majestic mountains that overlook an equally, beautiful harbour, that leads out to the sparkling ocean where a rushing mighty river also exits from the land. Unfortunately, for me anyway, the climate leaves much to be desired, rain and grey days feature much of the winter and often spoil summer days. Friends who live in Eastern Canada are horrified when I say that as heavy snow and below freezing temperatures are their lot and they envy our mild winters, but I was born in sunny Australia and miss the sun! 

When we were children growing up, we had a song we loved singing and it went like this, 

Oh, let the sunshine in

Say it with a grin!

Smiles never lose.

And frowns never win.

So, open up your hearts and let the sunshine in!

The verse in Judges, (5:11), written thousands of year ago, echoes that sweet children’s song and when we love and follow the Lord, we can be that sunshine for all those around us even when it is a grey day. The world is experiencing a grey time, now, as the pandemic continues to attack humans and take away lives, it is hard not to feel downcast with restrictions in place, but when we think of being able to spread the joy of sunshine it gives us impetus when we know that the Lord will help us to do that. Also, our own spirits lift as mine did as a little girl when we began to grin while we sang that little ditty. 

Radiant faces are spoken of in scripture and sunshine and shining like the sun is contributed to our Heavenly Father and when the prophet, Habakkuk sees a vision of God this is the description. 

“His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hands where his power was hidden” (Habakkuk 3: 4)

Jesus who was the very essence of God, is transformed in front of Peter, James and John and his face shines like the sun. 

“There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as the light.” (Matthew 17: 2)

Sunshine is proving to be beneficial in stopping the spread of this covid19 that is creating havoc in our world and health authorities are now offering hope that as summer arrives cases here will ease. 

Sometimes life does take on a feeling of gloom and if we allow it to overcome us it can do a lot of damage in our lives and sometimes of course we are justified in feeling low as circumstances overwhelm us, but if we go and read the verse in Judges (Judges 4:  11) we find that if we spend time with the Lord his warmth will give us strength. 

So, open up your heart and let the sunshine in!

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