Posted by: Jo | November 20, 2019

When The Way Seems Dark

“When Jesus spoke again to the people he said, “I am the light of the world. Who ever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”

(John 8: 12)

Darkness01Here in Canada we are going into winter and the days rapidly become shorter and the dark nights longer. As the darkness comes, I feel my own darkness stronger and almost overpowering me. One of my daughters gave me a set of three large battery, operated candles. They look exactly like real candles and when they light up one cannot tell the difference. Last week another daughter set the timer for the batteries to automatically come on as dusk begins to turn to darkness and a day later, I was once again overcome with my own darkness when suddenly the candles turned on and light flooded the room. Then Jesus’ words also flooded the room and I remembered his promise to light up any darkness that threatened us and comfort also flooded my heart as I realised that he was with me.

Our Heavenly Father has offered that light to all his people and when he was leading them out of Egypt to the promised land, he gave them an amazing example of his power over darkness. To thwart the Egyptian army who were close behind them, he led them through the desert with a cloud and at night a pillar of light

“The Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night a pillar of fire to give them light so that they could travel by day or night.” (Exodus 13: 21)

Darkness02When John the Baptist, was heralding the coming of the Saviour, the long, awaited Messiah, he described him as the true light that will give light to everyone.

“He came as a witness to testify concerning that light so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to that light. The true light that that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” (John 1: 7 – 9)

These words bring such promise to all of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t have to struggle alone when all sorts of darkness envelopes us, sometimes, grief feels like a blanket of darkness, and we need those gentle hands to lift it from us and bring back light. Sometimes hard times fall upon us, loss of a job, financial problems, sometimes family discord can darken our days, a cancer diagnosis, sick children, sometimes major decisions bewilder us as to the right one and darkness clouds our minds What a tremendous relief it is to remember that Jesus will shine light on whatever it is that darkens our days.

I love what Micah, the prophet, said what he did when he felt he was surrounded by darkness;

“…Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” (Micah 7: 8)

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Posted by: Jo | November 9, 2019

One Big Family

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household”

(Ephesians 2: 19)

Family01We had an interesting question in our recent Bible study recently that asked:

Where did you come from and where were you born?

It was fascinating the replies from the 9 of us who were meeting together. Our country of birth ranged from Australia, England, South Africa, Barbados, Portugal and Canada. It was a wonderful way our group reflected Paul’s words in Ephesians reminding them and us that God’s family has no barriers of skin colour race, citizenship. We all belonged to one big family. We all were intrigued as to how each one of us had become Christians and how God had gathered us together, so we all felt the warmth of belonging to a family, when we met to pray together and read his word.

When Paul is writing to the believers in Rome, he reminds them of the joys of belonging to God’s family and the fact that once we do, we belong to each other personally;

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and all these members do not have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12: 4 – 5)

Family02Belonging to somebody gives one a sense of love and acceptance, a feeling of safety, a sense of having somebody to lean on, a feeling of comfort during tough times, a sense of peace.

But just like all families, discord can erupt especially when in God’s family many different personalities come together. Paul once again has wise words for all of us and so important as we are showing to the world what it is like to belong to God’s household.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3: 12 – 13)

One of my favourite songs we sing at church, has these lovely words as the chorus

I am a child of God.

Every time I sing those words. I feel a wonderful sense of affirmation that I am part of Family03the family. I belong to God’s family, I am accepted just as I am, I have a loving Father who cares for me and protects me, and I have a huge family of believers who are my brothers and sisters. Learning to live in this family is a growing experience and as Paul points out we need to be clothed  in humility and patience and most of all forgiveness, so the world observes how differently the family of God behaves, because of the bond that holds them together is their love for the Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Jo | October 20, 2019

Giving Thanks For And To Friends

“For this reason, ever since I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you and remembering you in my prayers”

(Ephesians 1: 15 – 16)

Thankful01We have just celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada. Families gathered for dinners of roast turkey and pumpkin pie. Stopping to give thanks to our Heavenly Father was the original meaning of this celebration, but too often lots of food and family fun become the main attraction. Many years ago, my husband, who was a dentist, received a letter in the mail form one of his patients at Thanksgiving. His patient was a Christian and he was writing to thank my husband for his kind and careful treatment. He added at the bottom of the letter that this Thanksgiving he was going to remember those people in his life he wanted to thank. My husband and I were very touched by the letter, a good reminder for us to stop and thank people in our lives.

When Paul wrote to the new churches he had helped to begin, he made a point of not only thanking them, but he also thanked God for them;

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.” (Philippians 1: 3 – 4)

Thankful03I was thinking of Paul’s words as I was preparing for this Thanksgiving and was prompted to stop whatever I was doing, and think seriously of all the friends I had and realised I wasn’t thanking Our Heavenly Father for them and then I thought of people that were not actually friends, but who I came across and thought of my husband’s patient. Have I thanked my family Doctor lately?  What about the person who delivers my paper, have I left a note of thanks?  We have a janitor in our building, do I thank him for cleaning so well?

Thanking a friend is a lovely way to cement a friendship, we add so much more to our friendship when we thank God for them, we shower them with his blessings and when we tell them we have just thanked God for them, it adds even more to the blessings. Paul was such an incredible example of how to do this;

“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you.” (1 Thessalonians 3: 9)

Imagine the glow the Thessalonians felt when this letter was read out aloud to the church of the believers.   Then imagine the glow our friends will feel when we do the same.

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Posted by: Jo | October 10, 2019

Growing Spiritually Inwardly

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints”

(Ephesians 1: 18)

OpenEyes01We sing a beautiful song at our church, “Open The Eyes Of My Heart, Lord”, which is taken from Paul’s expression in his letter to the Ephesians. It is very thought, provoking if we start to think deeply about it. In our present society, outward appearances assume the upmost focus in our Western world. Constantly the media blasts us with messages of how we look to the outside community in which we live, what clothes we should wear to impress others, not only clothes signs of how successful we are need to be shown by lovely homes, and expensive cars. We must display happiness, even if we are breaking up inside. We are reluctant to show the world our true selves and constantly pretend so we fit into what society expects.

This can also happen in our Christian life. It is very easy for us as Christians to start being influenced by how we appear to other Christians and pleasing them becomes more important than pleasing our Father. We forget that the Lord longs to have a personal relationship with us on a one on one basis as well as loving one another in our Christian family.

In fact, God is not interested in outward appearances at all and he tells Samuel that when he is choosing a king for the Israelites;  OpenEyes02

“…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16: 7)

The Lord, our Saviour, does not want us to dwell on outside appearances. He is more interested in our hearts, in fact David writes a beautiful Psalm about how God knows our inmost being;

“O Lord, you have searched me and know me.” (Psalm 139: 1)

Just as the Lord knows us intimately, he earnestly wants us to know him like that as well. We know that human relationships can remain on a very superficial level and it is not until we share our inmost thoughts and heart felt emotions does a relationship progress to that deep everlasting level and when another person we love, shares with us it deepens even further. The same is true for our walk with the Lord. We need to have our hearts open to hear his deepest, thoughts so they fill our every day lives.

So how do we open the eyes of our hearts to the Lord. When we spend time with the Lord, it is good sometimes to just sit quietly and listen to what he might be saying to us. Most young parents or busy workers are pressed for time, but we can clear our minds when we are doing mundane tasks and leave them open for the Lord. One young lady told me that when she is in the shower, she disciplines herself not to think of the OpenEyes03problems of the day, but she has a short prayer to God and then spends time listening to him.

David discovered this;

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O, God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139: 17)

A wonderful way to begin a prayer and then to wait and listen to the Lord.

 

 

Posted by: Jo | September 29, 2019

God Will Never Abandon Us

“And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel”

(1 Kings 6: 13)

Abandon01I had the lovely task a few weeks ago of minding my seven-year-old grandson for the day and just like all countless grandmothers before me, I spent the day spoiling him. Firstly, we walked to McDonalds hamburger shop for lunch, then to the ice cream shop for a huge ice cream and then of course to a toy store, where we left with a present, by the time we wandered back to my place it was mid-afternoon and as a special treat he was allowed to watch cartoons on the T.V.  When his mother came to pick him up he announced loudly, “I want to live with Nana.”  I tried to explain to him that was not possible as I lived in an apartment and not near his school and was getting too old to look after a little boy every day. He just looked sadly at his mother and said, dramatically, “Nana has abandoned me”. How he knew that word I don’t know, but of course I consoled him by telling him that I loved him and another time we would have another fun day together.

My little grandson, probably had no idea what the word, abandon, really meant but when the Heavenly Father uses that word it has great depth of meaning for all of us. When God makes a promise, it lasts forever. His promise carries great weight, promising to be close with us, to dwell with us, to cover us with grace and mercy, to forgive us, so when he promises to never abandon us, we can expect those mercies to follow us all the days of our lives if we decide to follow him, in fact they are renewed every morning; Abandon02

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3: 22 – 23)

Forever, is another word used over and over again in God’s word, and is often used to describe the depth and power of God’s love

“The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voice in praise to the Lord and sang, “He is good his love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 5: 13)

No human can ever promise us this sort of all, encompassing love, but the more we trust the Lord and his word, peace can pervade our lives as we hang on to this incredible promise of our loving Heavenly Father

 

 

Posted by: Jo | September 8, 2019

Drenched In Love

“But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness”

(Psalm 86: 15)

DrenchedInLove01When one  of my daughters was a little girl, she was fascinated with water and I remember one incident when all my three daughters were playing in our garden, my eldest daughter ran inside to tell me that the youngest had managed to turn on the hose and was busy hosing herself with the water. When I came outside, she was laughing with delight as the water soaked her hair and of course all her clothes. She was drenched from head to foot! 

God tells his people repeatedly of how much he loves them, a love so amazing it surpasses any human understanding and covers us completely. 

David saw the Lord’s love as abounding. When I looked up the meaning of this word, I read 

Abounding: Overflowing and plentiful  

I thought immediately of my little girl as she laughed with delight as the water flowed all over her and thought that is how God would have us enjoy being drenched with his love. 

DrenchedInLove02Jesus talks about this amazing love in terms of water when he is talking to the Samaritan woman at the well when he asks her for a drink of water. She is surprised by this request, as he is a Jew and Jews did not associate with Samaritans. She is more surprised when he talks about living water and asks him to explain; 

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4: 13 – 14)

Water is essential to sustain life, and God’s promises often mention water. He promises to send water even into the driest desert. A beautiful thought for us who sometimes think of ourselves trapped in the desert by the problems of life.  

“Each man will be like a shelter in the wind and a refuge from the storm, and streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.” (Isaiah 32: 2)

Jesus himself chooses to be baptized in a river and when he emerged, he would have been drenched from head to foot and a mighty voice came from heaven declaring that this was God’s son.

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son who I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3: 16 – 17)

DrenchedInLove03God was sending a message that his Son would allow the Father’s love to surround us and we could take delight in that incredible knowledge. 

Posted by: Jo | August 31, 2019

From The Lips Of Children

“From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.”

(Matthew 21: 16)

ChildrenLips01We recently celebrated a wonderful family wedding. My granddaughter was getting married and it was to be held in a beautiful mountain side location. The site chosen was surrounded by huge mountains and as the ceremony was being held outside, the mountains provided a majestic type of cathedral created by God’s own hand It was impossible to sit there and not be awe inspired by God’s creation. Many members of the family were to be part of the ceremony and my little seven-year-old grandson and his little four-year-old sister were to be the ring bearer and flower girl. My grandson had confided in me the day before the wedding that he was frightened, about his role in the ceremony and was nervous about how he would perform, I told him I had asked God to bless the wedding.  He was perfect! I was staying with them and that night after all the celebrations, I was saying a prayer for the little ones before they went to sleep, just as I finished my grandson began to pray by himself and his prayer brought tears to my eyes. This was his prayer;

Thank you, for giving me the confidence I needed.

Jesus told us that often from children’s lips come beautiful words of prayer, they may be simple words, like my little grandson’s, but when they are heartfelt, they rise like incredible praise to the Father. We also need to be more childlike in our attitude when we talk to our Heavenly Father, we don’t need to impress him with flowery language, we only need to have simple heartfelt words to share with him and saying thank you is one of the important ones.

Jesus spoke many times about child like faith and urged his listeners to emulate children and how they knew the true meaning of believing;

“At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things form the wise and learned and revealed them to little children.” (Matthew 11: 25)

ChildrenLips02Once we become adults, we tend to shake off the shackles of childhood and revel in making our own decisions and taking control of our own lives. This often becomes a barrier to trusting a loving Father to teach us his paths and walk with him allowing him to direct us. Once again Jesus speaks to the crowds and reminds them of the pitfalls of doing this and is very definite about us all returning to child like faith;

“I tell you the truth anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18: 17)

I find these words very comforting. I no longer have to carry the responsibility of decisions or I no longer have to have elegant sounding long-winded prayers, I can simply come to him like a little child and tell him I am frightened and he will hold my hand and give me the confidence I need just as I saw him do for my little grandson.

 

 

Posted by: Jo | August 24, 2019

Joined Together

“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man t be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him…”

(Genesis 2: 18)

JoinedTogether01One of my darling granddaughters was married this weekend and as I looked at this beautiful woman, dressed in flowing white gown with such a sweet smile, her face covered with happiness, I started to remember this young woman as a little girl and memories flooded my mind. She had a child like faith in God and one of the stories her mother had relayed to us was about quite a serious snowstorm the family were trapped in, on their way to visit us at our cabin.

They were stuck on the side of the road and the driver, her father, was not sure they could get through a pile of snow they had to get over to get back on the road.  The mother turned to the children in the back seat and said, “We have to pray.” Then she heard quite loudly her little daughter saying “Please Dod” I don’t think God minded being called Dod, he knew that this little one was confident he could get them through the snow, and he did. The car climbed the pile of snow and they were back safe on the road.

JoinedTogether02As she grew older her faith deepened and she had to remind me of the Father’s power. The family were again visiting us in our cabin and this time my daughter became ill. I was worried as we were in an isolated place and a long way from any help. My little granddaughter noticed how worried I was and said quite simply, “Nana just ask God to make her better” Simple child like faith and I prayed with her and the other children and once again God responded.

God blessed marriage from the start and meant it seriously as being joined together;

“For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and will be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2: 24)

The New Testament also emphasises the importance of a loving marriage and in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul reminds husbands to love and respect their wives in chapter 5: 25. He tells them to love their wives like Christ loved the church

JoinedTogether03During the ceremony the pastor used these well-known words still so important today as they were when the apostle Paul wrote them;

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 7)

Wonderful words not for the just newly married, but for all of us. I cried during the service, but they were tears of thanksgiving for God’s incredible love for us.

Posted by: Jo | August 5, 2019

Taking God’s Love For Granted

“He will love you and bless you…”

(Deuteronomy 7: 12)

Gratitude03When my youngest daughter was about 6 years old, I was giving her a big hug before she left for school and said jokingly, “Have I ever told you I love you?”  She came back with a quick retort, “About a thousand times!” This story has become a favourite one in our family and told over and over with much laughter. Some of my granddaughters are now young ladies, and if they are visiting me, before they leave my home I always say, “Have I ever told you I love you?”   And they always reply with much laughter. “About a thousand times!

Our Heavenly Father tells us over and over how much he loves us, but sometimes we take that for granted and neglect to acknowledge the beautiful gift this is and just expect it. His love is so permanent and powerful he tells us that we will be loved though the earth be shaken. Nothing can destroy God’s love.

“Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.” (Isaiah 54: 10)

Just in any relationship, love needs to be returned to the lover and so it is so important for us to return the Lord’s love to him. Too often in our prayers we concentrate on ourselves and our needs and problems and of course the Lord wants us to share our lives with him, but we also need to return love to him, who is so generous in his love towards Gratitude02-Largeus. Praising him is one way to do that, while we are going through experiences where we have been so aware of feeling his love, such as

  • When we needed it the most
  • When we felt unloved
  • When we were ashamed of what we had done and came to him for forgiveness
  • When we were grieving, sad or lonely

Just stopping to allow that love to cover us and tell him how much we love him, builds a loving relationship with our Heavenly Father.

In human relationships, one of sweetest ways of acknowledging another’s love is to simply say, “Thank you for loving me.”  I am very much aware of that at this time of my life as I grow old and am so grateful for my family who love me and show that in so many ways. I try not to ever just take their love for granted but thank them for loving me.

Jesus reminds all of us that loving our Heavenly Father is the most important part of being part of his family and if we remember his words, we won’t take God’s love for granted, but tell him over and over how much we love him and thank him for loving us.

“Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22: 37 – 38)

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Posted by: Jo | August 4, 2019

Listening For That Whisper From God

“He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.”

(Psalm 107: 29)

GodSpeaks01Just recently I was fitted with hearing aids as my family had insisted, I needed them, I agreed with them, but thought of them as another reminder of how old I was becoming and reluctantly, went ahead with the procedure. My daughter told her young son that I would now be able to hear all the stories he wanted to tell me about school and all the exciting things a six-year-old boy did every day. When he saw me for the first time, he ran towards me and said, “Where are they?” I think he was very disappointed that I was not wearing heavy black earphones like a helicopter pilot. I had to explain they were inside my ears so then he decided to put them to the test. His first test was a faint whisper which I had to bend down close to him to hear, next he shouted a question which made my head spin. Normal voice, his mother explained.

Scripture speaks about God himself whispering, but his whisper is so powerful the Psalmist tells us that storms and wild sea are hushed. There is a beautiful story in the first book of Kings where we read about Elijah who had been zealously working for God, but was exhausted and ran away to hide from the king Ahab, and prayed to God to let him die as in his own words,  he had had enough.

“He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die, “I have had enough, Lord” he said…” (1 Kings 19: 4)

GodSpeaks02God decides to speak to him, himself and the story takes an unusual twist, suddenly there is a mighty wind. God does not speak. Next an earthquake. God does not speak, then a roaring fire. God does not speak.  Then amazingly God speaks to Elijah in a whisper. (Wonderful story to read to get the whole picture)

It is a wonderful example for us to take note. Life might bring all sorts of upheavals in various forms and we can feel that we have had enough like Elijah, but it is often those situations that if we stop and concentrate on listening to God whispering, and shut out all the noise of the world with it’s false accusations, we hear words of comfort and encouragement.

Just as we need to be close to anybody who whispers to us, so we need to listen very carefully to what the Lord is saying to us and the only way to do that is to stay in close contact with him and believe he is powerful to quell any storm threatening us, just with his voice, just as Jesus slowed this power to the disciples.

“…He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.” (Luke 8: 24)

GodSpeaks03I read a beautiful saying in a study I was reading

Jesus whispers through all God’s word

That is how we can hear God’s whisper. Through reading his word.

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