Tag Archives: bible

Easter Sky

My oldest granddaughter recently acquired a cell phone – ahead of her thirteenth birthday. She uses it predominantly for taking photos and reading. She loves photographing skies and flowers. A few days ago she captured this image of the sky.

The Easter sky

A huge cloud cross dominates the picture. We can’t avoid seeing it.

On Good Friday we can’t avoid the cross, a symbol of God’s love.

Christianity is full of symbolism. We need only remember the ritual of animal sacrifice, an enacted symbol of the one perfect sacrifice to take away our sin and rebellion. Then there was the Passover lamb, sacrificed before the flight from Egypt, when lamb’s blood was painted on the lintel of each Israelite door to protect the people within from the Angel of Death’s retribution. Again, the lamb’s blood was a symbol of God’s redemption and pointed to “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

Jesus himself instituted the symbols of bread and wine to represent His body and blood.

“For I received from the Lord Himself that [instruction] which I passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is (represents) My body, which is [offered as a sacrifice] for you. Do this in [affectionate] remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant [ratified and established] in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in [affectionate] remembrance of Me.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are [symbolically] proclaiming [the fact of] the Lord’s death until He comes [again].” (1Corinthians 11 vs 23-26 Amplified)

Some of these symbols, like blood and the cross, an instrument of torture, seem bizarre to us. Yet God uses these symbols to bring home to us the lengths to which He was prepared to go to restore relationship with us, and the breadth of His love for us.

I believe that Christ, through His Holy Spirit, also sends us little signs or symbols in our everyday lives to remind us how much He loves us. They will be personal to us. I believe the Easter sky was one such sign. We need only to keep our eyes open and lift our thoughts to Him as often as we can.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for the cross. I don’t like to think about Your suffering on that Friday but it happened. And You did it for me. I cannot even get my mind around such great love. Thank You, thank You, thank You. 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.

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.

Lost in Translation

My husband gave me a beautiful journal for Christmas. Every page has a different scripture verse at the bottom.

The other day the verse was, “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him , and he will gladly tell you.” (James 1:5.) That verse spoke to me. I did want to know what God wanted me to do. Funny, I didn’t remember having seen that verse in James before. I thought I’d check it out in my default version which is the NIV.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” That I recognised! I hadn’t realised that wisdom and knowing what God wants me to do are the same thing. I thought I’d check out other versions.

The Message: If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.

ESV: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Amp. If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance] he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame and it will be given to him.

Philips: …if any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem, he has only to ask God – who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty – and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him.

In the end I found the version my journal had used. It was the Living Bible. Through the whole process I felt my mind had been opened to that particular verse. I should try that exercise more often.

Image by Pixabay

My Prayer

Thank you, Father, for the richness of Your Word. Please give me wisdom because I sure lack it. Thank You. Amen.

For the Joy Set Before Him

JusJoJan 17 January 2022

Hebrews 12:2 says of Jesus, “…For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NIV)

When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He knew exactly what He was about to face. He was in anguish and begged His Father to find another way if He were willing.

“An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:43 NIV)

I wonder how the angel strengthened Him. I like to think the angel showed Him visions of the people He loved, the people whose eternal destiny hung in His next decision. I think He saw “snapshots” of us, including you and me, redeemed and with Him in heaven. I believe that was the joy set before Him.

Jesus fulfilled the Father’s will and submitted to His plan of salvation. “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42b NIV)

Jesus went to the cross with a photo of you next to His heart.

Adapted image from Pixabay

My Prayer

Lord Jesus. Thank You for the cross. May I remember that the thought of me brings You joy.

Grey Hair

When I became a granny, I stopped colouring my hair. I reckoned it was appropriate for grannies to have grey hair. I am quite used to my older image now.

The Bible says, “Grey hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” (Prov 16:31 NIV)

In this world where the elderly are often overlooked or treated with disdain, it is good to know that God is no respecter of age. He has a plan for each of us in every stage of life – from the boy, Samuel to the old man, Moses.

Certainly the Lord’s immediate plans for us change as we grow older, but His overall plan remains constant:- that we may be conformed to the image of Christ. We can do no better than to seek all our lives to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, every day as I seek to see You more clearly, love You more dearly and follow You more nearly, may I gently be transformed into Your image by the work of Your Spirit in my life. Amen.

I am an Arms Dealer

Image by Alexander Lesnitsky from Pixabay

My husband and I belong to the Gideons.

The Gideons International is an Association of Christian business and professional men and their wives dedicated to telling people about Jesus through associating together for service, sharing personal testimony, and by providing Bibles and New Testaments.

While we are often recognized for our work with hotels, we also place and distribute Scriptures in strategic locations so they are available to those who want them, as well as to those who may not know they need them.

The first school term is the time to distribute testaments to the Grade 8’s at all the schools in our area. Because of the Covid restrictions, instead of visiting schools, addressing the learners and handing out testaments individually to those who are willing to accept them, my husband has to drop boxes of testaments at the schools for them to distribute.

In the same way, the ladies used to visit clinics and doctors’ rooms and hand out testaments to the medical staff. We can’t do that anymore. Recently I left a box of testaments at the security station of the Windsor clinic.

Paul refers to the Word of God as The Sword of the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:17)

The Bible says “…the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)

It occurred to me that we are arms dealers. We put swords in the hands of teenagers, we arm nurses, doctors, policemen, even prisoners. How outrageous! How daring! How dangerous! If opposition comes, it is not that surprising. However, in South Africa, most people we come across are happy to receive their weapon. They value the Word of God and treasure it.

On Sunday we joined Dare to Love at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg. It is the largest hospital in South Africa. We distributed over a thousand gift packs containing a Gideon’s testament, a pen, biscuits, chocolates and other goodies. When those ran out, we distributed packs containing the goodies and a Gospel of John booklet. This was meant as a gesture of appreciation to the heroes who serve on the front line.

It was an exciting morning. We are honoured to be allowed to do this work.

My Prayer

Father, thank you for the Bible, the Sword of the Spirit. Teach me to handle it aright. You know that many of the Gideon members are getting old and even dying. Please send new, younger members to help us with this work of distributing Your Word. Amen.

Image by azboomer from Pixabay

Close Eyes and Point

This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday as well as Just Jot it Saturday. The challenge is to just write as thoughts come without overly editing or changing. The prompt is “close eyes and point.” I am going to use the Bible, open it up, close my eyes and point. Then I need to write about whatever my finger points to.

Could be dangerous. I heard of a man who did that when seeking guidance from God. His first point was to “And Judas went and hanged himself.” He didn’t find this very helpful so tried again. “Go thou and do likewise,” he read in dismay. Deciding to give it one more try, he closed his eyes and pointed again. “What you do, do quickly,” was the sentence.

So I’m understandably a bit nervous. Here goes…

My word is “money” from the sentence, “He scattered the coins of the money changers.”

I am going to bend the rules a bit and write about money changes. This can be considered in many ways: money changes hands, money changes everything. money changes down the years: what cost 50 cents once upon a time is now R10.

When I was a little girl, I got one-and-three for pocket money. That was a shilling (12p) and a ticky (3p) or metrically, about fifteen cents. With that I got to go to matinee movies on a Saturday morning and buy myself a chocolate bar. Nowadays it’s not even enough to offer a beggar.

Although Jesus overturned the money changers’ tables, money is not seen as evil in itself. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) We see this in our society – opportunists who have used the Covid crisis to make money off PPE equipment. No thought at all to how many nurses may die in hospitals earmarked for that equipment. Much more profitable to sell it and get rich.

That is what is behind all corruption – the love of money.

Jesus warns us, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

Money is neither good nor evil. It is merely a tool. It can be used for either purpose, to help others and promote the kingdom of God or to sqander on selfish wants and insubstantial pleasures.

Let us never make a tool our master.

My prayer

Father God, please help me to keep my priorities in line with Your will and to serve no other master. Amen.

Assignation

First thing in the morning, I am never at my best. Don’t ask me to make any decisions until at least 10am. My husband is the opposite. He’s a lark. I’m an owl.

The Bible says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35) If I did such a thing, I would fall asleep praying.

There have been books and sermons preached on what has come to be known as The Quiet Time. It is the time during which we read a portion of scripture, maybe with the help of a Bible-reading aid, we pray and possible meditate. I don’t like the term Quiet Time. I prefer to call it an assignation or a tryst. An appointment to meet Somebody at a specific time at a specific place.

This is not to say that we can’t pray at other times, and I do, mostly just SMS prayers or a quick word of thanks.

I believe it is an important habit for Christians to get into a routine of such an assignation. I have tried various methods and various guides during the years. They all work and at different times different ones are more meaningful. Sometimes I just go through the Psalms, one a day, or sometimes more than one if I find the first ones unhelpful for where I am at. At the moment I’m reading through the Bible in a year, thanks to my YouVersion Bible App.

One thing is almost indispensable and that is my journal. I write my thoughts, sometimes prayers, sometimes drawings. At the back I keep a prayer list so I can tick of prayers I have forgotten about when God answers. A journal doesn’t work for everybody though.

Another indispensable thing is a cup of coffee. Although it is not first thing in the morning, my assignation is usually before breakfast so a cup of coffee, or lately tea, helps in the gradual wake up process.

Then, after breakfast, I am ready for the day.

This post is part of SOC Saturday and JusJoJan.

Love Letter

I am not only an introvert but slightly socially inept. I find it difficult to express my feelings. That’s why I love letters. On occasions when I wanted to communicate something that was difficult for me to express, I wrote letters. Letters are not like e mails. E mails can be read and deleted and forgotten. A letter can be carried around in a pocket to reread or kept under a pillow to give comfort. Especially love letters.

Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay

I met my husband a week before he moved away to Bloemfontein from Pretoria. In those early days we spent a lot of time writing letters to each other. How I watched the post box for each new letter. When a letter came I would read it over and over, taking it with me in case I would have a spare minute through the day to read it again.

“The Bible is God’s love letter to us, telling us not only that He loves us, but showing us what He has done to demonstrate His love.” (Billy Graham)

Tomorrow my husband and I, as well as my best friend, are going to the Botanical gardens for a “mini retreat.” We will take our Bibles and spend time quietly with God, committing the year to Him, asking for guidance and hoping for a promise or word to take us into this uncharted future. I am going to consider whatever I read in the Bible as part of God’s love letter to me and I will write a letter in return as my prayer.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)

My Prayer

Dear Lord, please open my mind and my heart to see Your Word as your love letter to me. Amen.

This post is part of JusJoJan