Posted by: Jo | March 12, 2023

The Incredible Gift Of Prayer

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need.

(Hebrews 4: 16)

We are having a fascinating study in our Bible study on an in depth look at the significance of the Lord’s prayer. This prayer is so familiar to us that we can fall into the trap of reciting it like something we learnt at school and miss the divine meaning of these precious words. The first amazing realization is that Jesus himself taught his disciples and us these words and they would have surprised his listeners. Jesus now says we can come into his presence and call him, Our Father. He is mentioned a few times as the Father, but not in the intimate wording, Our Father. Later John assures them and us that we are his children and can address him in that endearing way. 

“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)

We have only been granted that beautiful intimate relationship because Jesus paid the debt of sin by dying on the cross for us. This amazing realization came about when Jesus uttered his last breath and the heavy curtain guarding the Ark of the Covenant split in two. Signifying the gap between us and the Heavenly Father had been taken away. 

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that time the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.” (Matthew 50: 51)

There were strict rules as to who was allowed to address the Lord God Almighty. Only the chosen high priest was allowed once a year to go behind the heavy curtain into the Holy of Holies, so for this curtain now removed all of us believers can now approach the throne grace and call the Heavenly One, Father. 

We sometimes forget this and may even feel that prayer is something we should do, forgetting that spending time with the Father is the most beautiful time we ever spend. Human relationships pale between the peace that floods us when we come into his presence. We are surrounded with his amazing grace that allows us to be ourselves to share our inmost thoughts, our worries, our problems and to realize that even if we have failed in following him closely, we are renewed by his forgiveness. What an incredible gift! We are told to pray constantly by Paul which means wherever we are, walking, in the car etc. we can still talk to the Lord who is never too busy to chat with us. 

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

One of the beautiful old hymns realizes what a gift prayer is and singing these words keeps us aware of that. 

What a friend we have in Jesus

All our sins and griefs to bear

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer

Posted by: Jo | February 18, 2023

The Majesty Of God

“O, Lord. Our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.

(Psalm 8: 1)

Just recently one of my friends had a trip of a lifetime, she was able to travel to one of the most Northern parts of Canada to see the Northern lights. She had dreamed of doing this since she was a little girl and suddenly a chance to do this came up and she lived her dream. She kept me posted with photos of her exciting time and a particular one overwhelmed me with its beauty and actually made me recite this verse as I took in this splendor. 

“O, Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth.” (Psalm 8: 1)

Then it surprised me when our songs at our church that next Sunday morning, contained this same theme of God showing his majesty through nature. One song said these words. 

I see your smile in every sunrise. 

I see your love in every starry night. 

Here in Vancouver, Canada, we are surrounded with examples of God’s majesty, our backdrop is mighty mountains, that sparkle with snow in the winter, the city is built beside the majestic ocean with its own special beauty, beautiful forests cover our mountains, mighty eagles fly through the air, little tiny humming birds entrance us with the constant flapping of their wings, the majesty of the Creator is evident.

Scripture acknowledges this Majesty and David begins Psalm 19 with realizing that nature is expressing this by declaring it. 

“The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they display knowledge.” (Psalm 19: 1 – 2)

The majesty of God brings awe and respect, but also instils in us a sense that his presence is constantly with us all, but sometimes we forget to acknowledge this and take what we see for granted. There is a common saying in our society, “stop and smell the roses”, this is also good advice for our spiritual health. Life can become very frantic sometimes with pressure of work, family commitments, just fitting in our daily schedule, but the beauty of nature can release this stress, we need to take time to recognize  the majesty of God in what surrounds us. Next time we see the sunrise, don’t see it as a command t leap out of bed and begin the daily grind, but marvel at the beautiful colors and feel the warmth of his smile. 

I love these verses in Job, where The Lord God, after Job has been complaining and moaning, shows him how creation was made by him with great joy and reveals his majesty. 

“Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know. Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set or who laid it’s cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted with joy.” (Job 38: 4 – 7)

Lovely to think of this the next time we see the twinkling stars and marvel at God’s majesty. 

Posted by: Jo | February 5, 2023

Learning To Love One Another

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

(Leviticus 19: 18)

We are studying a fascinating topic in our Bible study at my church. We are delving into the characteristics of God and if we are to be an image of him here on earth how do we do we practice his characteristics.  Last week we were exploring his love and John tells us he is the supreme definition of love. 

“God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in him.” (1 John 4: 16)

The beginning of the study was to discover what the word, love, means. The word in English is casually used in all sorts of ways, we can say we love chocolate and at the same time tell a loved one how much we love them. In Scripture written in Greek, different words are used for different types of love. Relationships are very important for humans and lack of human contact can cause serious emotional results. The Heavenly Father wanted us all to understand this and gave us all this law, Love One Another. 

In our study we looked at the different Greek words used for different relationships, there is one to describe romantic love, one for love between brothers and sisters, one for parental love. All these are important, but the most powerful word is attributed to God. This word is Agape. This is the perfect love described by John in his first letter. Our task was to discover how we as humans could a deeper understanding of this and practice in our everyday life style so our image of this will show in our relationships. 

Agape is an active love. God doesn’t just say he loves us, he shows us over and over how he loves us. He forgives us, he is willing to listen to us whenever we want to. He protects us when we call out for help. He is our rock we can lean on. He has given us his word so we can get to know him. We can never achieve this perfect love he has, but we can learn from it, so our love becomes active not just telling someone we love them but showing them by our actions. When Jesus was telling his disciples how to do this, he says these words. 

“A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” (Luke 6: 40)

God’s word is the source we can turn to when we want to learn how to represent this beautiful characteristic of God’s and our teacher is the Holy Spirit, he is called Counsellor. We also need to keep in close contact with our Heavenly Father so that Agape envelopes us so our relationship with loved ones, friends and even those difficult people, becomes more active and represents who we serve, spending time in prayer and reading his word, helps us absorb this incredible love. 

Posted by: Jo | January 22, 2023

My Cup Overflows

“You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows

(Psalm 23: 5)

One of my friends sent me a beautiful poem My Cup Overflows, written by a senior. As both my friend and I are seniors it was very meaningful for us, as we remembered our old relatives shakily pouring tea into their cups. Inevitably the tea overflowed into the saucer and then to our surprise, they drank the spilt tea from the saucer. This poem recognizes the problem of getting old, but at the same time sees the symbolism of being able to still drink spilt tea and not to moan about what is wrong, but to count our blessings instead. David says this in such a beautiful way in Psalm 23, when he begins with the most important message for all of us to remember. 

“The Lord is my Shepherd.” (Psalm 23: 1)

We don’t have to struggle alone in this world as believers we know Jesus is our Shepherd and we are his sheep, always in his care and his blessings never cease, but recognizing them is the most important part. The beautiful little poem does exactly that, adding up the blessings until the author can also say with David, my cup overflows. 

“He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quite waters.” (Psalm 23: 2) 

Life maybe turbulent, but when we put our trust in the Lord, he calms us, ensures we rest and stop being anxious and whispers to us, “Be still and know I am God.” (Psalm 46: 10)

When we take heed of this beautiful advice once again our cup overflows. 

The Old Testament has wonderful examples of how the prophets witnessed how, when they stopped, even in disastrous happenings in their life, and remembered the mighty God they served, they too were able to count the blessings of beings in God’s hands. 

Habakkuk, one of the Minor Prophets, lived in a very turbulent time when the enemies of Israel were waiting to overcome them, and God chose him to speak for him and yet through all the stress he too was able to stop and count his blessings. 

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God, my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of deer; he enables me to go on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3: 18 – 19)

God’s strength is one of the main blessings of knowing him, as when we call upon that strength amazing things happen, what looked like a huge obstacle on our path, now appears to shrink in size and easily passable. The little poem emphasis is being aware of the blessings and as we all concentrate on them our cups certainly overflow. 

Posted by: Jo | January 2, 2023

New Mercies – New Hope

“And this I call to mind and therefore I have hope

(Lamentations 3:21)

This past year has been fraught with all sorts of disaster, with a pandemic still invading the world, ugly war causing horror for innocent people, natural happenings causing mankind to fear what lies ahead with climate changing, so no wonder hope seems to be evading us, but over the Christmas time our city’s daily paper posted a beautiful cartoon that lifted one’s heart. It depicted two people huddled together in the dark (possibly in Ukraine) and one says to the other we have no light. Our power has been cut off. The other points to the sky where a huge star is shining and says, “We however do have light! Lookup and see the light!”. The reference to the star of Bethlehem lifted my heart.

Scripture has many stories of disasters ugly wars etc. that shattered hope in people, but when they looked up to the Heavenly Father hope sprang up inside them and Jeremiah who wrote the book of Lamentations, realized this, and wrote. 

“It is the Lord’s mercies that are not consumed because his compassions never fail because they are new every morning great is his faithfulness.” (K.J.V.) (Lamentations 3: 22 – 23)

Jeremiah was chosen by God to be a prophet for him in a very turbulent time, as the children of Israel had drifted away from the one true God and were worshipping false gods. Jeremiah at first is frightened to do this and tells God he is too young and doesn’t know how to speak to large crowds, but God assures him he will be with him. It was tough for Jeremiah, he was mocked thrown into prison and attacked on all sides, but what emerged through this time was that Jeremiah realized that hope in the love and faithfulness of God carried him through and we can read these words written so many of thousands of years ago and echo Jeremiah’s words and look for those new mercies in this New Year to come. 

The prophet Isaiah has such lyrical language to assure us and lift us up whatever is happening around us, a passage to read repeatedly. 

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not grow faint.” (Isaiah 40:  29 – 31)

When we were younger, we had a cabin high in the mountains with water frontage and I loved to watch the Osprey (beautiful eagle) soaring into the sky what wonderful imagery of what it feels like to rid oneself of worry, doubt, despair, and trust in the hope the Heavenly Father offers. 

We must play our part to experience this hope. We have to say yes to God’s beautiful gift and genuinely trust him, not take things into our own hands, and feel we can do it on our own or to be overwhelmed and wallow in self-pity, but to look up to where our help comes from. 

Posted by: Jo | December 15, 2022

The Miracle of Christmas

“To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

(Isaiah 9:6)

I received a beautiful Christmas card this year that held these somewhat surprising words, 

Celebrate the Miracle Of Christmas

I then began to ponder exactly what those words meant and realized the depth of meaning the word, miracle had and how this was the overruling essence of the Christmas story. It began with a young woman being greeted by an angel, an amazing miracle in of itself and hearing equally amazing words 

“But the angel said to her,” Do not be afraid, Mary you have favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name of, Jesus.” (Luke 1: 30)

Mary was a virgin how could this be only through a miracle, the first miracle. 

When Mary was due to give birth, an edict came that all the children of Israel were to go to their town of their birth to register so this meant a long arduous journey for Joseph and Mary to make to Bethlehem, only means of transport on a donkey. Then to make the birth more difficult no room to stay so this precious baby was born in a stable, imagine the infections lurking there but the next amazing miracle happened a perfect baby arrived safe and sound, the promised Son of God.

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her first born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them at the inn.” (Luke 2: 6 – 7)

Another miracle occurred on the fields near Bethlehem. Some shepherds, the poorest and most insignificant of society were sitting minding their sheep when suddenly the sky lit up and Heavenly angels appeared singing Glory to God, of course the shepherds were afraid, but the angels assured them they had wonderful news to tell them and they were going to be the first to hear an amazing message that this Holy Baby had come for all people. 

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign for you.  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger for there was no room for them at the inn.” (Luke 2: 10 – 12)

Later after the birth of Jesus, another miracle happened when a huge star appeared in the sky and amazed wise men living in the East who studied the sky. They were intrigued by it and decided to see where it would leave them and yet another miracle happened it led them to the Son of God a message that this Savior was for all nations. 

“…and the star they have seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.” (Matthew 2: 9)

So, when we come together for Christmas let us celebrate the miracle that was brought about by the Mighty Hand of God to bless us all with our Savior Jesus Christ. 

Posted by: Jo | December 2, 2022

Faithful Friends

“When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying

(Acts 12: 12)

Just recently this verse was part of a Bible study I was reading, and it really impressed me. Peter had been thrown into jail as King Herod began to persecute the new believers in Jesus. During the night Peter, even though bound with chains and had a prison guard on either side on him, was saved by an angel from the Lord who escorted him safely out of the prison. He went immediately to where his friends were staying and even though it was the middle of the night, they were gathered to pray for him. Faithful friends! 

I received a beautiful birthday card just recently which said, A Faithful Friend Is A True Blessing I have found this to be true in my own life where friends have stood by my side encouraged me and lifted me up whatever was happening in my life. When I began writing this blog, I was very unsure of my ability to write successfully and to be able to keep writing, but with a very helpful son-in- law who had the skill to post it on the computer it has been 10 years since I started, but the huge encouragement to keep going came from friends. I have a faithful friend who reads the blog every time it is posted and contacts me to comment and encourage me. Scripture has a lot to say about friends and the Book of Proverbs has this to say. 

“A friend loves at all times…” (Proverbs 17: 17)

Again, this verse 

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18: 24)

When we think of faithful friends there is a lesson for us, we too can be faithful friends to others, not counting the cost, but giving ourselves to supporting them. The greatest example of the meaning of friend is found in the words of Jesus. 

“I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. I have called you friends for everything I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15 :15)

What incredible words that the Savior, the Son of God would call us his friends. He is the supreme example what a true friend is, and he is our example to follow but we can also take comfort in the fact that he is our dearest friend who we can turn to when we need that word of encouragement. Many of us who are older will remember this beautiful hymn reminding us of who hears our deepest thoughts. 

What a friend we have in Jesus

All our sins and griefs to bear

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer

Posted by: Jo | November 13, 2022

Accepting Others … Whoever They Are

“Do not mistreat an alien, or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt

(Exodus 22: 21)

Racism and violence against others are escalating in our country, with immigration rising rapidly due to ugly warfare throughout the world, and people are fleeing to safer places. Unfortunately, many of the inhabitants are not receiving them in a welcome manner. In the book of Exodus (22: 21), where Moses was speaking for God, God was telling the children of Israel that the loving thing was to welcome those different people and not oppress them. Unfortunately, today it is not only those who are a different nationality that are treated badly but those who differ in any way such as the poor, the homeless, or those who are addicted to drugs, others who are in a different class in society, those lacking in education, or those living in a lower neighborhood. 

Many years ago, my husband and I volunteered in a Christian mission that was an outreach to poor people living on the street, or those trapped in their drug / alcohol addiction. This city in Canada had a large population of native people, as well as a big prison on the outskirts of the city which discharged prisoners at the end of their sentence, they were virtually turned out on the street, and many had no place to go. This is the point in time when the Mission stepped in and helped with food, clothing and helped many get back on their feet. When we first started to get to know these people and the sadness of their stories, we were horrified to be made aware of the discrepancy between how we lived and how these unfortunates struggled.

This had a powerful effect on how we lived the rest of our lives!

Again, right from the beginning, God entreated his followers to love their neighbors 

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”  (Leviticus 19: 18)

Jesus elaborated on this command with a definite message to his followers. 

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

Jesus is our example of how to love and modelled it by who he loved for everybody to see. Loving and saving a hated tax collector in front of a huge crowd, even inviting himself to stay with him overnight. (Luke 19:2)

Again, he answers a wealthy young man who inquired about who was his neighbor by telling the story of the good Samaritan, also hated, and despised by the Jews, who stops to help a Jewish man attacked by robbers (Luke 10: 30).

We, as followers of Jesus, need to remember not to be selective about who we love or show God’s love to. One of the saddest stories I heard at the Mission, was of two men who told me they believed in Jesus, and I asked them had they found a church to go to. They just looked at me in disbelief and said who would let us in the door looking like this. They were scruffy and were still struggling with addiction and I thought about the church we were going to with well-dressed people all living in wealthy places. Later I cried and asked God to forgive us. My husband and I did share this news with our church and several people began to help the Mission, so let us love one another … whoever they are!

Posted by: Jo | October 23, 2022

Look For That Light

And God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

(Genesis 1: 3 – 4)

On Thanksgiving morning our Pastor gave us a sermon on gratitude, and he took a verse from Thessalonians to deepen our understanding of what that meant. I have always found the verse he chose difficult, so I was intrigued from the beginning to see how he would he illuminate it. 

“Be joyful always; pray constantly; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18)

Even the first sentence seems impossible to do, but when we think what the joy of knowing who Jesus is, it provides us with comfort and ability to keep going. Praying constantly also seems a stumbling block but again it also has an underlying message. God is constant, so prayer is always available to us! No matter where we are, be that in a crowded mall or a workplace, we don’t need to speak aloud to pass our concerns along to the Heavenly Father. The last phrase has always been the hardest for me to grasp. Our Pastor finally solved this one for me. If we look carefully at the words, we see that we are not thanking God “for the bad things that happen” we are finding something to thank him for during those stressful times.  

I recently read some fascinating words from a Canadian singer that really spoke to me, warning us not to expect a perfect life but to look for what upsets do to our wellbeing, and look for that light that surprises us by giving purpose to what is happening 

Ring the bells that still will ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in

For those of us who follow Jesus, that light is Jesus Christ!

When Jesus spoke again to the people. He said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8: 5)

The first gift God gave to mankind was light (Genesis 1: 3 – 4) 

This word is written countless times in Scripture and tributed to God,  

“You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning, my God turns my darkness into light.” (Psalm 18: 28)

Sometimes we think that a perfect life is up to us to achieve. We start building it and discover cracks form in what we thought was built just right. Then we decide life is not perfect. This idea that we have failed creates all sort of despair, this is exactly when we need to look for the light, which is always close by in the form of the Holy Spirit who is ready to guide us, counsel us, set our feet on the right path to recover, but we must acknowledge Him to receive that help. When we do, we can really give thanks “in” all circumstances.

Posted by: Jo | October 15, 2022

The Grandmother’s Bench

Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long-life bring understanding?”

(Job 12:12)

I read a very sweet story, about a small village in India. It was the custom for elderly ladies to take turns to sit on a bench in the center of the village, where the villagers knew that anybody who was troubled or needed somebody to talk to, could seat themselves next to the old lady. She would listen to them and they would be able to share whatever was troubling them. I was very touched by this story and as I live in an apartment building in a busy part of town, I wondered how that could be duplicated here. One of my old friends who lives nearby, but in a neighborhood and in her house for many years has found a wonderful way to bring similar joy to her surrounding neighbors. With her walker she seats herself in the front of her house, sits down and greets anybody who walks along her street. She waves and smiles at cars that pass by, talks to anybody who stops and is generous with smiles to all passersby. Recently a car stopped and told her that when he sees her it brightens his day to see her smile. What a wonderful way to fulfill God’s directive 

“…but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19: 18)

God spoke these words through Moses in the Old Testament to give the children of Israel this lasting command to emphasize the importance of bringing love to others and again Jesus tells all who would follow him that this command was still of utmost importance, immediately following his directive to love the Lord God he says. 

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12: 31)

We may not be old or a grandmother, but these examples can make us ponder how we could in our own communities, wherever they are, live this command. Even smiles in the elevator of a big apartment building, helping old people to get through difficult doorways, helping young mothers with babies in a stroller, being aware of old people shut in small apartments who would love a visit, lifting stressed check out staff by thanking them, the reward for us when we do this is the warm smile we receive in return. 

The list is endless and strangely enough when we practice it gives us a warm feeling and we sometimes hear a faint whisper, 

“Well done good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25: 21)

When someone does seek us out to share a problem it is good to take the advice of God’s word to handle it his way, beginning with perhaps a quick silent prayer asking the Lord to give us his wisdom. 

“The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 9: 17)

Older Posts »


%d bloggers like this: