Posted by: Jo | February 20, 2021

Perfect Peace

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you”

(Isaiah 26: 3)

I grew up during the World War II. As a child and as a little girl I did not understand what was happening, but I do remember my parents straining to hear the latest news from the radio and we children were forbidden to make any noise while the news was on. I also remember being aware of my parent’s anxiety and remember their gasps of horror as they heard of yet another ship being sunk and our young soldiers dying.

The other thing I did not understand was how often I would hear the word peace. I wondered when this would happen and as the years dragged on, I thought that was something that would never happen. I also wondered what that word meant. Would there be no fighting ever again/ would there be no hate/ would the whole world just love one another? Would my parents stop gasping when they heard the news?

As I grew up, I realized peace was not a universal good will between all countries or between people, families, cultures and races, It was not until I began to really read the Bible that I found the only perfect peace was attainable through knowing and following Jesus Christ and living his way.

When the prophet, Isaiah, was prophesying about the coming Messiah, he said one of his titles would be, Prince of Peace.

“And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father Price of Peace.” (Isaiah 9: 6)

When the angels were announcing the birth of Jesus Christ, they promised that the beautiful gift of peace was coming with this new baby.

“Glory to God on the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2: 14)

The peace that is promised is extremely hard for humans to understand and when Paul is writing to the Philippian believers, he explains that this peace transcends all human understanding. It has one special quality we can all understand. If we choose to be blessed by this peace our hearts and minds will be guarded so Jesus Christ will always be foremost.

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

Sometimes there are bumps in the road of life and it is hard to understand why and to have that perfect peace. That is when we need to remember that our understanding is not enough and one of my favorite verses is in the book of Proverbs.

“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)

And we also need to remember that peace is a gift from Jesus himself, but like any gift we have to accept it to experience it.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14: 27)

Posted by: Jo | January 30, 2021

The Ministry Of Reconciliation

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation”

(2 Corinthians 5:  18)

Many countries in the world are in turmoil with the people being divided by hate, injustice, race, poverty and these emotions escalating into riots and warfare, at this time in history the United States of America, is exhibiting the terrible effects of what happens when mankind is no longer interested to hearing from others their grievances or even trying to hear what they are saying.

When Paul is writing to the Corinth church, he reminds them of how Jesus led the way and showed us what reconciliation meant, by his death on the cross he reconciled us to the Heavenly Father, so what is the important message for us?

The dictionary provides an answer to what to reconcile means:

To set estranged persons or parties as one again, to bring back into concord, to reunite in harmony.

When we can grasp that we were once estranged from our Heavenly Father we begin to understand the incredible act Jesus performed on the cross to bring about reconciliation between us and the Father.

When Paul calls believers to a ministry of reconciliation, he is, telling us that practicing reconciliation becomes part of our heritage of following Jesus Christ and what we must constantly strive to accomplish in our own lives.

Again, in the book of Romans we read Paul entreating his readers and that also means us, to accept one another

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15: 7)

I met a lady once who had had a bad experience joining a church and this is what she confided in me, “I never felt I was accepted into the congregation and nobody noticed when I left.”  I felt very, sad hearing that story and knew that even in our churches we do not practice the true ministry of reconciliation.

Even within our own family and our friends discord happens, but it does not need to develop into a wide gap that can never be bridged. James in his letter gives us some ways to prevent that happening.

He spends a lot of time telling his readers how our tongues can bring about division and destroy relationships, his advice is still very, true today.

“My dear brothers take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:  19 – 20)

We may not be able to solve huge discord in countries, but we can certainly pray for reconciliation for those divided by hate and Jesus tells us to pray for God to intervene.

“Deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6: 13)

Also, when we strive to bring about peace in our families, between friends, in our church families we are pleasing our Father and truly practicing the ministry he wants to see flourishing. 

“Peacemakers who sow in peace, raise a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3: 18)

Posted by: Jo | January 10, 2021

Whose Child Am I?

“You are the children of the Lord your God”

(Deuteronomy 14: 1)

I am reading a very thought provoking and sometimes sad book, written by a friend of my daughter. Her friend was adopted and although her adopted parents told her she was, she spent her childhood and well into her life agonizing about whose real child she was. Not only that big question haunted her, but she also lived constantly under the fear of perhaps if she wasn’t well behaved her adopted parents may give her back to where they had adopted her from. She constantly worried about why her mother decided to give her up/ was she an ugly baby/ was she sickly/ what was the bad thing about her that made her mother abandon her? Would her adopted parents after a while, realize, they had made a mistake and they too would stop loving her?

The book made me think deeply about how many of us might also have fears about our relationship with our Heavenly Father, perhaps thinking like the adopted girl in the story, that the Father would only continue to love us if we were good and pleased him, not completely understanding the amazing incredible everlasting love the Father has for his children.

“The Lord appeared to us in the past saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with everlasting kindness.” (Jeremiah 31: 3)

What an incredible reminder! His love does not fluctuate to sometimes to hardly ever. His love is everlasting. Love so amazing we are overcome in awe at being the recipients of such love.

When we read Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah to come, we again see a wonderful reminder that Jesus Christ will have the same characteristics, assuring us again to expect that everlasting paternal love

“…He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9: 6)

The other incredible happening because of Jesus coming to save us is that Jesus invites us to speak to God directly and allows us the privilege of calling him, Father. He tells us we are now allowed to speak to the Creator of the universe, as his child and can address him as, Father. Jesus actually teaches us the right way to pray.

“This then is how you should pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6: 9)

We may lose our earthly fathers, but the comforting thought remains we cannot ever lose the everlasting love of our heavenly Father.

When we remember how great his love is, we never ever have to wonder if we are living up to a set of rules so he will love us.

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

Posted by: Jo | December 16, 2020

Come Let Us Adore Him

“Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord”

(Luke 2: 11)

One of my favourite carols always sums up the true meaning of Christmas for me and as we sang it last Sunday (of course at our virtual church) the same feeling of awe that sweeps over me encompassed me again and I am reminded of the enormity of this priceless gift. 

O, come let us adore him

O, come let us adore him

O, come let us adore him

Christ the Lord

Unfortunately, Christmas celebrations now look vastly different from how the simple shepherds reacted that very first morning. These simple peasants were visited by a choir of angels, imagine listening to angels singing, and so amazing that these people were the first to hear that a King had been born. Their response is also amazing they left no time in rushing to Bethlehem to find this royal baby not stopping to have some huge feast to celebrate among themselves. 

“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Lets go to Bethlehem and see the thing that has happened that the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2: 15)

The Bible does not say this, but I think they would have been incredibly surprised about finding this precious baby, the King, being in a stable and not some grand and fitting location for this amazing royal Saviour, the Messiah. 

Their other reaction is also a wonderful lesson for us when we think deeply about how we react to this incredible gift from our Heavenly Father. They immediately ran to tell everyone they knew about this wonderous happening and everyone they told were equally amazed. 

“When they have seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child and all who heard were amazed at what the shepherds had told them.” (Luke 2: 17 – 18)

I looked up what the dictionary defined as the meaning of “adore” and this is what I found. 

To regard with utmost reverence and affection

To be in awe on Christmas morning is a wonderful response for us as well as we contemplate this as Paul says “an indescribable gift” 

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.” (2 Corinthians 9: 15)

I read an unusual Christmas card this year that sums what I have been trying to write, all it said was a simple sentence 

Celebrate the miracle of Christmas

This pandemic has made normal Christmas celebrations to be quite different and in a strange way it has scaled down a lot of what we must focus on/ less harried shopping/ huge meals to prepare/ office parties to endure/ etc. This year will give us all time to marvel at the miracle of this special baby born as a king, the Messiah, we can adore him in the true sense of what that word means.

Posted by: Jo | November 29, 2020

The Greatest Priority

“But seek first his kingdom and all these things will be given to you as well”

(Mathew 6: 33)

We all have priorities in our lives and of course they change as we grow older, study, beginning our long sought after job, marrying having children, retiring but there is one unchanging priority that we often overlook as life becomes busy and we become distracted by that long list of what we have to do today, and we forget if we fulfilled that one first, life would take on quite a different outlook. Seeking the Lord’s guidance is the greatest priority and Jesus promises us if we do this first, all those other pressing priorities will become manageable under his guidance. 

Jesus makes this truly clear when the people begin to question him about what is most important in their lives and this is what he says. 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mathew 23: 37)

Of course, there are other important factors in our lives, but we can include them and include the Lord as well. Being a parent, running the home perhaps also working, demands we carry out the other priorities but when we are sending the children off to school we can have a brief prayer with them Meals have to be prepared but simply thanking God before we eat includes him. Scripture tells us to teach our children about his word. We can do this by reading the Bible to them. Moses encourages parents to do this. 

“Teach them to your children and their children after them” (Deuteronomy 4: 9) 

Exercise is important for our bodies, but again if we are walking or running outside it is a wonderful time to include the Lord by speaking to him while we exercise. Even on the treadmill or biking is a good time for prayer. 

Our jobs are important, but if we have a long drive to work, we can also spend time talking to him. It is amazing how modern man has devised smart phones that allow us to contact others when ever we want to, but it has always been possible to talk to the Father without a cell phone and whenever we need to.

One of my favourite verses that I have quoted many times on this blog, is such a good reminder on how to cope with the demands of daily life It has also been converted into a song and puts it quite simply. Recognise the Heavenly Father in all aspects of your life and all the other priorities will fall into place. 

“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: 4 – 6)

Posted by: Jo | November 16, 2020

Patience

“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility and patience”

(Colossians 3: 12)

Patience is not very evident in todays society. We have all fallen into the trap of wanting everything instantly. Instant coffee, instant boiled rice. We open the microwave, so food is quickly warmed. Buy packaged food ready to eat. Order pizza. Letter writing is almost a thing of the past. Texting a person means the message is delivered immediately We fume if our computers are not giving us instant feed back, so it is interesting to read how many times patience and practising it is mentioned in Scripture. The other amazing thing to notice is that patience is a characteristic of God. 

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance.” (Romans 2: 4)

Paul realises this beautiful quality in the Lord Jesus and writes to Timothy and the church of new believers, so they too can recognise and practice this in their daily life. 

“But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus may display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1: 16)

Perhaps one of the difficult times to practice patience is with people. Being caught in the line up behind someone so slow at unpacking the buggy or someone having a seemingly endless argument with the cashier about a disputed price of an article can try our patience, or sadly, learning to be patient with those who are struggling with mental disabilities, the very old, the very young. Many of the epistles in the New Testament urge followers to be patient with one another. 

But the hardest of all is when we are facing daunting and sometimes very troubling circumstances in our own lives and we want an instant answer to our prayers from God. Paul again reminds us that is probably the most important time to be patient in affliction and to trust him. 

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12: 12)

Upheavals in or lives can make us very impatient waiting for solutions so solve our problems. We can become anxious, angry, even becoming very depressed.  We long for God to answer quickly often not realising that the quick solution we want may not be the right one. This is again when God speaks through his word and reminds us to stop this frantic worrying and to remember God’s patience and who he is. 

“Be still, and know that I am God….” (Psalm 46: 10)

We sing a beautiful song at our church that is based on Isaiah verses 28- 31 and wonderful  advice  for all of us living through the worry of a pandemic reminding us to be patient and wait for the Lord’s direction and he will hold us up while we wait 

Those that wait upon 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

Teach me Lord teach me Lord to wait

Posted by: Jo | October 18, 2020

Understanding Love

“And I pray that you being rooted in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep , is the love of Christ”

(Ephesians 3: 17 – 18)

Love. It is a common word for all of us and we use it to describe a wealth of different reactions. Sometimes at its lowest capacity, we use it like this;

  • I love hot dogs
  • I love the sweater you are wearing
  • I love cats
  • I love summer.

Other times it takes on a much greater emotion and is used to describe inmost feelings. We may tell our school friends that we love them, but that does not compare to when we first utter those words to someone, we hope to spend the rest of our lives with. Then again it has a different connation when we tell a dearly loved relative who is dying, how much we love them.  So how do we understand love when we tribute it to our Heavenly Father? 

The other word found in scripture, is lavish and linked to describe love  

“How great is the love 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 also use this word in many ways, and we might use it to describe an abundant feast. One of my friends was describing a fantastic wedding banquet and said.  “the food kept coming, it seemed never ending it was a very lavish display”. We might admire some film star’s dress and marvel how lavish it is. So again, how do we link the word lavish with God’s love. So, when we read God lavishes his love on us, it is extravagant love, never ending, a beautiful display that awes us humans. 

When Paul is writing to the Ephesians, (Ephesians 3: 17 – 18), he prays that they may grasp just how wide and long and deep and high is this love. He wants to impress on them that this love has no limit, It does not have a human restriction. We often limit the word when we use it, e.g. I will continue to love you if you keep loving me, or if you disappoint me, I will stop loving you. We can withhold love very easily. God never withholds his love from us. 

John sums it all up in a very, simple but profound way. 

“So we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.”

1 John 4: 16

Knowing God is love itself and know that his love for us is lavish and his love is unchanging and perfect, gives us a sense of security even when life is swirling around us with unsettling ups and downs.  

This is another one of my favourite verses about love because it assures us that his love will never fail and we can be blessed with joy every morning knowing just that and a lovely prayer to say every morning. 

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

Psalm 90: 14

Posted by: Jo | September 18, 2020

Living Through Stressful Times

“Great is our God and mighty in power, his understanding has no limit”

(Psalm 147: 5)

I was talking to my sister in Australia, recently, and as we are both at that age of being classified as elderly( even though we don’t feel elderly), we were discussing the frustration at the chaos this pandemic has created in our lives. We are feeling emotions that are very, different to what we have experienced before. We find it hard to understand why we are feeling these sometimes quite stressful emotions that are creating unusual feelings of anxiety. We realise, compared to other parts of the world, our anxiety is unfounded and even feel ashamed of letting these feelings of foreboding overshadow our lives. 

This morning my Bible study reading was Psalm 147 and I suddenly felt the Heavenly Father was reassuring me when I read this verse 

“Great is our God and mighty in power, his understanding has no limit.” (Psalm 147: 5)

Then I realised I could share all these strange emotions and he would understand of course, and listen to me, and calm started to fill me as I felt no condemnation from him, but empathy and releasing these worries to him allowed me to hand them all over to him so that I no longer felt bowed down by them. 

The wise advice found in the book of Proverbs is still pertinent today even written thousands of years ago 

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (Proverbs 12: 25)

Two good messages in this verse.  One, do not be bowed down by your own anxiety. Two, if a friend or family member is anxious do not berate them, offer kindness and empathy to them. 

Over and over again we are urged to literally hand over all our worries to the Loving Heavenly Father. 

“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 most powerful pieces of advice is found again in the book of Proverbs. When we realise our own understanding pales beside that of our Heavenly Father, we can willingly hand over all our fears and allow his wisdom to direct how we should go forward. 

“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)

After thinking deeply about the incredible wisdom of God’s understanding, and his knowledge of what lies ahead in the future, I vowed to not lean on my own limited understanding, but to trust him with every new day. 

Posted by: Jo | August 30, 2020

Memorable Letters

“Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to write and orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus”

(Luke 1: 3)

Letter writing is becoming less and less popular with the younger generation, so they are now contacting each other with brief texts with shortened words and wild symbols to convey feelings. I find it hard to feel the warmth in these brief messages.

When I was young, letter writing was encouraged and was a wonderful way to convey your feelings for another and when a special letter arrived it was kept, so one could read it over and over. Not just deleted like an email. I have kept a box of my favourite letters over the years with precious old ones from my father and a pile of them from my late husband when we were dating and many others that bring back a flood of memories.

But the most precious and memorable ever written and kept safe for us over two thousand years, can still be read and were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ disciples knew it was imperative to write down and record what they had heard and seen while they had been with Jesus Christ and so they did and they were sent to believers wherever they were in the known world.

Some of my favourite ones are found in the letters written by the disciple John and he begins like Luke (Luke1: 3) emphasising the need to write the facts down

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us and our fellowship with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.” 

1 John 1: 3

John has three powerful messages which pervade his letters, and which make his words so memorable.

Firstly, “Light”

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you. God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

These words we need to read over and over to remind us that our Heavenly Father is pure. No darkness will ever be found in him. Too often, well-known figures we have respected and sometimes worshipped have dark secrets that when revealed horrify us and these people tumble from their pedestal.

Secondly, “Jesus is the only True Spirit of God”

“This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God. Every spirit that recognises that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.”

1 John 4: 2

This was a warning to new believers not to be led astray from false teaching undermining who Jesus was. These words are also important for us to keep in mind, so false teaching doesn’t cloud who Jesus Christ really is.

Thirdly, God’s Love is Forever

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him.”

1 John 4: 16

And again

“No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”

1 John 4: 12

This beautiful letter certainly does not ever need to be deleted, a memorable one to read over an over again.

Posted by: Jo | August 2, 2020

The Loving Eyes of the Lord

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayers”

(1 Peter 3: 12)

LovingEyes01As we are entering summer weather, restrictions imposed months ago due  to the corona virus, have relaxed slightly and families are now allowed to go to local beaches and parks and  as I was watching the television news it was showing a mother and father with a toddler, paddling in the ocean.  I was fascinated to watch the loving tender care both parents were taking of their little one, never taking their eyes of him. He was adventurous and unaware of any danger the ocean might hold, but every time he wanted to keep wading into deeper water, his parents would guide him back to safety. It reminded me of the beautiful promises found in God’s word of how he keeps his eyes on us and constantly guides us to safer waters. Sometimes we ignore his advice and decide we are quite capable to look after our own lives and do not need him to meddle in them.

Sometimes toddlers are the opposite to our first little one and are too timid to venture into the water to paddle then we see loving parents gently encourage new adventures. When we look at nature, we see protecting parents lovingly caring for their young and constantly keeping them safe near them.LovingEyes02

Nature programs have wonderful illustrations of   how parents care for their offspring and the Lord used   these illustrations in his word to show how he cares for us. One program I was watching showed a mother seal who has to go on land to deliver her baby and when the sun is very hot in the middle of the day she lies beside the little one so it is protected from the sun  by her shadow. This is what God does for us when troubles exhaust us.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91: 1)

Again, nature is used to illustrate the Lord’s all-encompassing protection he promises us. When a mother hen has her chicks, she protects them from danger by covering then completely with her feathers and Psalm 91 tells us that we too can seek refuge under the feathers of our Lord when anything frightens us or life overwhelms us.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” (Psalm 91: 4)LovingEyes03

The Lord also promises to never forsake us and this too is obvious in nature, when a young foal is born in the wild the mother keeps him always by her side, ready to fight off any danger that might come.

“Be strong and courageous do not be afraid or terrified because of them for the Lord your God goes with you and will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31: 6)

The world is swamped with fear and panic of this ugly virus sweeping the world, but when we remember that the watchful eye of our Father is always upon us, we can relax and trust him.

Older Posts »

Categories

%d bloggers like this: