Monthly Archives: August 2022

God’s Requirements

“And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion) and to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?” (Micah 6:8 AMP)

Image by -MayaQ- from Pixabay

This post is part of One-Liner-Wednesday

Repentance and Migration

This post is inspired by the second chapter of The Birds Our Teachers by John Stott.

Repentance and faith go together. Jesus said, “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15 (selected) NIV)

Peter, in his first sermon, says the same thing, “Repent, then, and turn to God…” (Acts 3:19a NIV)

The theme of returning to the Lord runs through the Old Testament. Jeremiah says, “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right, no-one repents of his wickedness saying ‘What have I done?’ Each pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle. Even the stork in the sky [and other birds] observe the time of their migration but my people do not know the requirements of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 8:6-7)

Repentance then, is turning away from doing my own thing. While I was contemplating this, I considered what God’s rights were in my life. I have given Him my life, therefore it is not my own.

God has the right to: i) my love and devotion; ii) train me for service using whatever means He chooses; iii) my money and worldly possessions; iv) my time. When I sin by denying Him His rights, I need to copy the migrating birds returning to their breeding grounds, and return to my God.

Image by Ted Erski from Pixabay

I also have rights. I have the right to become a child of God. (John 1:12)

God has many more rights than I have mentioned. Please add any that come to mind in the comments.

My Prayer

Father God, It is hard to consider wickedness as pursuing my own way. I do it all the time. Please forgive me and help me to return to Your way each time I drift. Amen.

Under or Above

The view from our motorhome is amazing.

It is no surprise that, from a place 500m from the main Scottburgh Beach, I could see surfers on Saturday morning when the weekend visitors arrived. I had every intention of writing a post for Streams of Consciousness Saturday where the prompt was “board.” I even took photos with my DSLR camera. Then I realised that my computer’s card reader no longer works and I left my plug-in one at home.

After the Sunday sermon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBZNtW-SL9A&t=54s by a visiting missionary, Martin de Lange, I decided to redirect my ideas.

Martin spoke about conversations he’s had around a braai where people are asked how they are doing. “All right under the circumstances,” many reply. Martin says Christians are not supposed to live under the circumstances but above them.

That’s where the surfboard illustration comes in. A surfboard is not meant to keep its rider under the water, but above it. Even if the wind blows or the sea is rough, a skillful rider stays above the waves, using their momentum to gather speed.

Faith in Christ is like our spiritual surfboard. Jesus said, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” (John 10:10 AMP)

Jesus did not intend us to live under the circumstances or to just keep our heads above water. Sure, we have problems but without problems there can be no miracles. We need to give our problems to Jesus and leave them with Him.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, please help me to keep my eyes on You and not on my problems. I don’t need to tell You how big my problems are, but perhaps I should tell my problems how big my God is. Amen.

The Day of the Birds

On Wednesdays, the TC Robertson Nature Reserve runs a tea garden to raise funds.

Three eats and bottomless tea/coffee

There is also a book table where secondhand books can be bought at a tempting price. I must have been having a bird day because what attracted me was a book by John Stott called The Birds, Our Teachers and a beautiful photographic magazine of birds of South Africa.

I hadn’t known that John Stott was an avid bird-watcher. The first chapter of his book is on Matthew 6:26. “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet, your heavenly Father feeds them.” (ESV)

In other words, watch birds. Learn from them. According to John Stott, there are three common misunderstandings about this verse.

First, Jesus was not prohibiting forethought and planning – only worry. In fact, we are told to look at the ant which makes provision for the hard times of winter.

Secondly, Jesus did not mean that God’s children were guaranteed protection from accidents – only that nothing can harm us without our heavenly Father’s knowledge and permission.

Thirdly, Jesus did not mean that we can sit back and leave God to do it all. Sure, God feeds the birds, but not like we feed our pets, providing food in their bowls every day. Jesus knew very well that birds feed themselves. God provides the wherewithal for them to feed themselves, but they have to forage for their food.

I found these thoughts very helpful.

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord that You created an orderly world. Thank You for the variety of birds, flowers, animals and people that You have made. How great are Your works. May I ever be mindful of them and learn from them. Amen.

Sea Sick

The boat, in which Hudson Taylor was sailing to China, encountered a terrific storm. He wrestled with the question of whether wearing a lifebelt, according to the Captain’s instructions, showed a lack of faith in God.

Finally he penned the following, “The use of means ought not to lessen our faith in God, and our faith in God ought not to hinder our using whatever means he has given us for the accomplishment of his own purposes.”

This post is part of One-Liner-Wednesday.

Frozen

God answers prayears in unique ways. Not at all like we had in mind when we prayed them.

Since we moved from Karridene to Scottburgh, our fridge has not been working properly. The week’s worth of braai meat that we had bought in transit did not freeze after three days in our freezer compartment. I prayed.

I wrote my prayer in the back of my journal where I list specific prayers.

“18 August:That our meat might be OK and our freezer work.”

We reunited with friends we made last year camping. They offered to keep our meat for us except the chicken which we braaied that night and was fine. They suggested we get the number of a repairman from the office. I chatted to him and established he would do a call-out. The least we could expect to pay was for a regas, and that would be R800.

Today the repairman came. He can’t fix that (old) kind of fridge. He gave us suggestions for what we could do when we got home and for R300 we have hired a fridge for three weeks.

God answered my prayer. Our meat didn’t spoil (because Jeff and Hester looked after it) and we have a working fridge and freezer. We are in an even better situation. The hired fridge is about three times the size of the motor home fridge and it stands in the gazebo, so drinks, milk or lunch ingredients are much more accessible than they would be inside.

It’s not what I had in mind when I prayed. It is so much better! And I haven’t used up all my spending money on fridge repairs.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ( Ephesians 5:20-21NIV)

My Prayer

Lord, thank you for answering my prayer Your way, not mine. May I never underestimate Your power nor Your goodness to me. Amen.

Level

We are on holiday in our campervan. We have a list for setting up camp. First step, after finding a site and making sure the headlights are off, is to level the motor home. We do this by driving on to stepped chocks at the front or winding down the legs at the back. If it is not level, the fridge doesn’t work properly, sleeping is disturbed by the tendency to roll to one side, things fall off the shelf or out of the fridge.

Our front wheels are as high as we can get them.

Likewise, a life not levelled by God’s Word and a relationship with Christ, is always unbalanced. Our outlook on life is skewed. Our discernment is faulty according to our slanted point of view.

The Psalmist says, “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

Likewise the Word of God is a level, a compass, a firm foundation.

My Prayer

Father God, You have provided everything we need for life and godliness like the Bible, Your Spirit, even Nature itself. May I avail myself of Your provision to correctly order my priorities to lead a level life. Thank You. Amen.

Surprise!

Jesus is full of surprises. He and His disciples attended a wedding in Cana. The groom was possibly a relative or good friend of the family because Mary had privileged information about the state of the wine reserves. Mary turned to Jesus as she had probably done many times before.

Not wishing to draw attention to Himself, Jesus approached the problem through the back door, via the servants.

We all know what happened. (John 2:1-9)

The master of the feast was surprised by the quality of the wine.

The bridegroom was surprised by the averting of a looming social disaster and shame.

Mary was surprised by the lavishness of the provision. About six hundred litres of top quality wine was made available.

The disciples were surprised and believed in Jesus.

Jesus is concerned about every day life – even the little things.

Having read this stirring account, I asked Jesus for a surprise.

We had to walk from the caravan park to the bank to update my details. Across the road from the bank is a hospice shop. I went inside to see if they had any grapefruit spoons, not expecting anything because I had tried secondhand shops before without success. The owner took out a container of assorted teaspoons. One of them had the right shape. I was about to explain to the owner that grapefruit spoons were about that shape but had a serrated edge. As I did so, I felt the edge. It had tiny serrations. What a surprise! God had answered my insignificant prayer.

We bought all four at R5 each.

My Prayer

Thank You Lord, that You are interested in even little things like provision for a wedding and grapefruit spoons. Thank You for surprises. May I trust You in large and small matters. Amen.

Lost and Found

Maybe it was a mistake coming to the South Coast in August, the windy month. Even the woolly-necked storks are ruffled by the wind.

We are now at Scottburgh Caravan Park on a site facing the sea. We arrived yesterday afternoon but didn’t put up the gazebo because the management warned us there would be winds of 69km per hour. After a good night’s sleep we tackled the set up today, trying to get it done before 10am, when the wind would pick up once more. We didn’t quite make it but the main structure was up before we had to battle the wind.

When we were done, we couldn’t find our pole bag anywhere. We had last seen it on a low wall at the front of our site. We assumed it had been blown away. My husband walked the beach in front of us, looked in the bushes in front of the wall, checked nearby campsites, visited the washing line area and the office in case it had been found but after forty five minutes he had to give up. I assured him I could make another one once we got back home.

Nevertheless, when he said grace, he tacked on the sentence, “And please help us find our peg bag.” I didn’t hold out much hope.

Before visiting the restaurant for our complimentary free cups of coffee, we had to secure our tent. One peg at the bottom of the front wall kept coming out. My husband hit on the idea of using stones to hold down the skirting at the bottom. To his utter amazement, while he was looking for large stones, there in the bushes, where he had looked an hour earlier, was the missing bag. We were flabbergasted, rejoicing and giving thanks to the Lord.

Jesus told a parable about a woman who lost one of ten silver coins. When she found it she called her friends and neighbours together saying, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.” We can identify.

Jesus said, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:9-10)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for the parables You told which help us understand. May I never underestimate Your power. Amen.