Monthly Archives: March 2022

2nd Mezzo

Our church is arranging a choir for Easter Sunday and asked for volunteers to sing on this special occasion. When I discovered our granddaughter and daughter had signed up, I signed up too, although it has been a very long time since I last sang in a choir. At least I would have transport to the rehearsals.

Even choir arranging benefits from technology. We were asked to record ourselves singing an octave of do-re-mi on our cell phones and send it via WhatsApp to our director. She determined what voice we would sing. We have 1st sopranos, 2nd sopranos, 1st mezzos, 2nd mezzos, tenors and a baritone. I am a 2nd mezzo. We were sent recordings of the different parts for five songs. I feel quite overwhelmed. We are asked to memorise our parts by our first rehearsal.

How things have changed! No more sheets of music with the words and notes above them. Not that I could ever read music, mind you, but I could at least see whether the notes were long or short and whether they went up or down and I managed quite well.

Image by Pixabay

One thing hasn’t changed, however. The parts for lower female voices are at times very boring, sometimes all on one note! However, when put together with the whole choir, magic happens.

That is something like the Body of Christ. We are all different. We all have different roles. Some of our roles might seem boring on their own, but when put together with the rest of God’s family, magic happens.

Choir members have to listen to each other, keep pace with each other. Nothing sounds worse than a choir that has lost its timing and everybody sings at their own pace. We also need to consider one another. If the mezzos out-sing the sopranos to show what good voices they have, the result is unbalanced and displeasing. It is time to put away personal ambitions and work together for the good of all.

The Body Song from Kid’s Praise 3 expresses this perfectly. It is based on 1 Corinthians 12:27. “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:4-5)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, in the choir, may I learn my part diligently, perform it to Your glory, listening carefully to the other parts. In my life may I know the part You have assigned to me, may I perform it to Your glory and co-operate gracefully with the other members of Your Body. Amen.

The Good, Good Father

Yesterday my daughter and granddaughter popped into a Bargain Books shop on the way to do something else. Predictably, they spent longer in the store than planned. My granddaughter bought some books with her pocket money but my daughter also bought books – not for herself, but for her three children. She is a good parent and she delights in giving good gifts to her children.

As a grandparent, I love giving gifts to my grandchildren. They are not always something I’ve bought for them, although sometimes they are, but often it will be things that I no longer use and I know one of them will really enjoy. Sometimes it’s the gift of my time and expertise. My oldest granddaughter asked for sewing lessons for one birthday.

God is a good, good Father, as the song by Chris Tomlin tells us. He loves us so much more than we can ever love our children or grandchildren. He delights to give us good gifts. As we take pleasure in giving good gifts to our children and grandchildren, our Father in heaven loves watching us enjoying and benefitting from His gifts.

Image by Pixabay

James 1:17 reads, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change,” (ESV)

Jesus Himself says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:11 ESV)

God’s gifts to us are on a different scale to the gifts that we give our children. They are often things that the world cannot give, like peace, or a friend. The best gifts my Father has given me include a husband, three wonderful children and six grandchildren, the house we now live in, and all my talents and abilities. I don’t always get everything I ask for, any more than my grandchildren get sweets every time we pass a sweet shop. Some gifts are experiences or even training, in the same way that a loving parent might give their child a trip to a science museum or ballet lessons.

My Father knows me even better than I know myself. Sometimes when somebody asks me what they can pray for me, I don’t know. I can’t think. But God knows. He knows my needs, my personality and my preferences and His gifts to me will satisfy all three.

I feel so blessed, so thankful and even, sometimes, so spoilt.

My Prayer

God, my Father, how can I thank You enough for all the good gifts You have given me. I am loved by the God of the universe and that is just so beyond my comprehension. All I have, my situation in life, even my body and personality are all given to me as You see fit and the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Without You I can do no good thing. Thank You, thank You, thank You. Amen.

Rainbow Under My Table

On Saturday mornings I take my granddaughter to Brownies. The meeting is held in a suburb about fifteen minutes away from where we live and I usually go out for breakfast at a Mugg and Bean in the area. Quite often I am joined by a friend or my husband, but today I was on my own.

I hadn’t had a quiet time with the Lord so I asked Him to join me for breakfast and I read through the devotion for the day (I’m going through the Daily Devotions for Lent by first15 on my You version Bible app.) Then my breakfast came. I became aware of a rainbow under my table, caused, no doubt by sun rays shining through some glass prism or joint in the window next to me.

A rainbow appeared under my breakfast table

I don’t normally look down at the floor under furniture (unless I’ve lost something under my bed and use the torch to look for it and all I see is accumulated dust.)

I took it as a sign that the Lord was with me. After breakfast I still had time to waste so I read my book on my kindle. Every now and then I checked that the rainbow was still there and I reminded myself again that the Lord was with me. At one stage it disappeared but I found it had only moved behind the table leg and I could still see it if I peered around.

Much later in the day, after my husband and I had practiced some ten pin bowling, we went to the nearby shopping mall so he could deposit some money. It had been raining and there, over the shopping mall, was a rainbow. The Lord was with us even as we walked around a crowded shopping mall!.

rainbow over Cresta

The Lord is with us all the time although we are not always conscious of it. I feel so privileged that today He gave me two gentle reminders of His presence with me.

The Psalmist says, “‘Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You are always with me. You promised never to leave me nor forsake me. Thank you for the rainbows, little tokens of Your love to remind me of Your presence. Please help me to look around and keep my eyes open for signs of You with and around me. Amen.

The Rope

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday The word for today is “Rope”

It’s not easy to climb the rock and hold the noose in one hand. Twice my feet slip and I have to start from the beginning. The rope is rough and prickly. It smells like goat. I never thought it would come to this. I thought I could fix it.

I finally make it to the top of the rock. My breath comes in short pants. Sweat runs into my eyes but I don’t want to let go of the rope to wipe it away. As I wriggle the scratchy rope around my head I can still hear those heartless words – those snide guffaws. “You’ve betrayed innocent blood. That’s your affair. What is that to us?”

I thought I could wipe my guilt away by giving the money back. That accursed money. Enough to buy a piece of land and build my own house – away from the nagging of my parents. What got into me?

I’ll never forget the Rabbi’s eyes. He looked at me with love, with acceptance and yet his gaze cut me like a sharpened sword. I stumbled into the darkness, not even knowing where I was going. I didn’t sleep all night. I couldn’t wait for sunrise when the temple opened and I could return the money to the chief priests. But it was all useless. There is no hope for me now. I am in Hell.

I take a deep breath. My senses are acutely aware. The light hurts my eyes. The sun is blazing but I feel cold. So cold. I jump.

***

This post is inspired by Matthew 26 and 27. Judas’ sin was no greater than ours. We all think we know the best thing to do based on our being the centre of our own lives. We all think we can fix our own lives and we don’t need help from anybody – let alone God. We all choose our own way and ignore the God who made us and His claim on our lives and love.

But there is hope for us that there wasn’t for Judas. Ephesians 1:7 says,

In [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”

There is no sin that we can commit that is greater than God’s forgiveness and no sinner beyond the reach of God’s love.

My Prayer

My Father in Heaven, Forgive me my sins and may I forgive those who sin against me. Please keep me from temptation and save me from the evil one. Amen.

Love Makes Time

When I ran a Girl Guide Company, I frequently organised Guide camps. Although I had an assistant Guider and often a parent to help, I was basically in charge and knew where everything was and what was next. I was constantly bombarded by girls wanting something. My Guide name was Panda.

“Panda, where is the toilet paper for the bathrooms? We’re on health patrol.”

“Panda, I’ve cut my finger,”

“Panda, is it time to start lunch yet?

“Panda, the flag pole is falling down.”

If you’ve ever organised something or been in charge of something, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

That’s exactly how Jesus felt in Luke 8:40. “Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him for they were all waiting for him.” (ESV) They were waiting for Him to teach them, to minister to them, to heal them. They needed His time and attention. Then came Jairus. Jairus begged Jesus to come to his house because his daughter was dying. Jesus left the crowd and made time for the one. “As Jesus went, the people pressed around him.“(v 42b)

Even while He was going on His mission of mercy, Jesus was interrupted. A woman who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years touched the hem of his garment so she could be healed. Jesus stopped and took time to meet, talk to and reassure the woman who was healed. Even though He was on a mission involving a leading public figure, Jesus made time for the one.

Love makes time. Throughout His ministry, Jesus made time for people around Him – eating a meal, going to the house of Zacchaeus, or interacting with little children. Jesus was there for those around Him.

As we seek to grow more like Christ, we need to choose to make time for those in need even if it doesn’t fit into our schedules. If we have surrendered our lives to Him, we have also surrendered our time and we are no longer boss of our own time.

Image by Pixabay

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I remember that You are Lord of my time. I know that You have the right to change my schedule without notifying me. May I always be alert to Your still small voice and be prepared to change my plans and priorities at Your prompting. Amen.

Generous on Every Occasion

Our Gospel Culture for this week is Generosity. I know some amazingly generous people. I am not one of them. I was sharing with our community group last night that my first reaction, even if it is only for a couple of seconds, to any kind of request is almost invariably negative. Even when I was working and I was asked to do something that was actually my job, resistance was my instinctive response. I always did what was required with enthusiasm, but I invariably had to overcome the initial barrier.

Yet the Bible says, “Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 MSG) Some versions read, “God loves a cheerful giver.”

Our group discussion was very helpful to me. My husband suggested that if we keep our eyes open to see the needs of others, we can initiate the generosity and offer to help. It is much easier to be a cheerful giver when one initiates the giving. Somebody else pointed out that generosity is not limited to giving money, although that is how we usually regard it. We can be generous with our possessions, with our time and talents as well as our finances. He pointed out that nowhere in Corinthians 8 or 9 is the gift of money specifically mentioned. It could have been food, clothes or other necessities that the Jerusalem church was lacking.

Friends of ours own a beach house and take delight in blessing others with a holiday by the sea. They are cheerful givers.

Dolphins swimming past the Beach House

Another generous lady offered to babysit for a couple who are both musicians and sometimes serve in the worship team together. Another example of cheerful giving.

My You Version Bible plan for this morning reinforced these thoughts. It was based on James 2:26. “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” (ESV) I tried to think of anybody I knew who had a need. The thought came into my mind that a certain friend needed a phone call. Before I could even put the thought into action, she phoned me. I was amazed how readily God responded when I opened a space for Him in my busy day. We were both blessed.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, please help me to open my thoughts to You more and more during the day. Open my eyes to see the needs of others around me and conform my heart to Your heart of generosity so I can be a cheerful giver. Amen.

Risks and Rewards

I remember going to a birthday party as a little girl, where the cake was so beautiful, the mother of the birthday girl didn’t want to cut it. Presumably she’d had it made and perhaps it was expensive. I must have been seven or eight and, at that age, cutting the birthday cake was one of the highlights of any birthday party. I was not the only guest to be bitterly disappointed.

I am ambivalent about gifts of fine china. Should one keep them safe so they don’t get broken, or use them for their intended purpose? I have done both. When my grandchildren were babies, my daughter and I covered one of their feet in ceramic glaze and imprinted footprints onto china bisque-ware. My first grandchild’s footprints were on a sugar bowl which was fired and the prints made permanent. I happily filled my sugar bowl with sugar and thought about my adorable granddaughter every time I used it. One day it fell. A piece broke off from one side and a crack appeared in the other. Out came all the sugar and the sugar bowl now sits on my highest shelf with the jagged hole facing the back. On either side are milk jugs (which have never been used) adorned with the footprints of two subsequent grandchildren. I hardly ever look at them.

For Christmas my daughter made my husband and I Granny and Grampa mugs with our favourite Bible verses painted on them. Every morning I have been drinking my first coffee of the day in my mug and enjoying it. I thought about my daughter and occasionally the Scripture verse. (Philippians 4:13) Today the mug slipped off the tray my husband was carrying and broke.

I do not regret the choice I made. I have been enjoying that mug so much more than if I had put it away to keep it safe. The memory will always be there.

It is all a matter of weighing up the risks and the rewards.

I think God had to weigh up the risks and rewards when He decided to entrust us with His gospel. Paul says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God…,” Clay jars break easily. God could have entrusted His kingdom to angels to proclaim but He chose to use us because the rewards were worth the risks to Him. Yes, there is a chance that we might fail, that we might mess up. God was willing to take the risk for the reward of working together with us, His beloved children to fulfill his purposes.

My Prayer

Father God, You know exactly how fragile I am, that I am just dust. Thank You for the privilege of being Your child. Thank You for letting me be part of Your great plan to redeem the world. I want to get to know You more as You work in me to will and to do your good pleasure. Amen.

Threescore and Ten

Image by Pixabay

I will be seventy this year. According to the Bible, that’s about my lifespan. “We spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; And if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, Yet is their strength labour and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90 vs 9b -10 KJV)

At the moment I’m reasonably healthy:- My osteoporosis and osteoarthritis and hypothyroidism are all under control as is my hypertension. However, I am beginning to understand that I am going to become less comfortable in my body as the years go by.

A certain amount of suffering in life can’t be avoided. Paul says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

It’s not what happens to us that is the issue. It’s how we react to what happens to us that is important. I know that my Father will not put anything on me that I can’t manage with His help. I trust Him with my life, my future and my eternal life.

My Prayer

Father God, I commit my life and my future into Your hands. I trust You. Amen.