The Bible says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalm 20 verse)
What we put our faith in determines our actions.
I have heard faith defined as “putting one’s whole weight on”. It is like sitting on a chair, trusting it to take the strain.
A couple of days ago, while my husband was happily enjoying dinner, his camp chair gave way. One joint after the other broke and he ended up sitting on the floor.
We spoke to the office and they very kindly lent us a plastic chair for the duration of our stay.
We must be careful where we place our faith. Nowadays it is unlikely to be in chariots or horses but more likely in our savings or insurance policy. Even these can collapse and leave us sitting on the ground. Only Christ is worthy of our faith and I am trying to lean my full weight on Him.
Lord, I trust You with my eternal destiny. Please teach me to trust my whole life to you, to lean my whole weight upon Your promises. Amen.
Both my South African granddaughters play netball. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to watch some of their games. A team consists of seven girls. The object is to pass the ball from the centre to the shooter who, ideally, shoots it into the net.
Meanwhile the opposing team runs interference to try to intercept the ball and pass it to their own shooter. When one team is a lot stronger than the other, goals are scored at a rapid rate and scores like 40 to 0 can occur. However when the teams are more evenly matched, the ball shuttles from one side to the other with goal scoring happening at a much slower rate.
This reminds me of our attempts to carry out the Great Commission. We know what the goal is and we work together as a team. As Paul says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8 NIV) There may be some very talented players in a team but no matter how good a shooter is, unless the rest of the team works together to pass her the ball, no goals will be scored.
Just like in a netball game, there is opposition running interference. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings..” (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV) We need to be alert, keep our mind on the game and stand firm.
Fortunately we know that we are on the stronger team so although our progress may be slow by worldly standards, Christ has already won the battle and our victory is assured.
Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You have won the victory. Please help me to keep my eye on the ball, stand firm and be alert. May my life be lived to Your glory. Amen.
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.
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 “theLamb 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.
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.
Today is our anniversary. Forty three years ago I was younger, slimmer and fairly new at being a Christian. I was filled with anticipation but also with nervousness. What would the future hold? I was about to make promises without knowing how our lives would turn out. I loved my fiancé and trusted in his character and his word but, we all know about the divorce rate – and it wasn’t much different then. All those people had also at one stage loved their partners and wanted to make a commitment for life.
In a way, becoming a Christian is something like getting married. We commit ourselves to Someone without knowing the future or how our commitment will be tested. All we know is we love Him, He loves us, and we trust Him with our lives. Quite a daunting prospect! We look forward with anticipation and a certain amount of nervousness.
I think anticipation is a more active version of hope. We have excitement, butterflies in our stomach and a glow of happiness. Hope is a more steady, stable joy that is lasting.
“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5 New American Standard Bible.)
So here I stand, forty three years later looking back on a happy marriage. To be sure it wasn’t always downhill and there were rough patches, set backs and sorrows. But we faced them together and made happy memories.
And I have been journeying with Christ for about forty four years and there have been rough patches and heartaches and the nitty gritty of life, but I’ve never regretted saying yes to Him.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the wonderful husband You have given me and for the forty three years You’ve walked alongside us in our marriage. May we never loose the anticipation of the future with each other and with You.
Christmas has come and gone and I’m now in this strange doldrum era between Christmas and New Year.
My Christmas memories of 2021 consist of little things. My youngest South African granddaughter (7) secretly made Christmas hats for all her family. She cut and folded paper plates, covered them with silver or gold paper, used her pocket money to buy little Christmas bows and adorned them according the the colour preferences of the recipients.
Mine was magic. It turned me into a unicorn granny – a grannicorn?
I will remember the lovely Zoom call we had with all our children, scattered around the world, from New Zealand to Russia…
and the Christmas message I got from a friend I haven’t seen or had contact with in over five years.
I will remember singing old songs at the tops of our voices while the grandchildren queried the meanings of the lyrics.
Then there are the things I probably won’t forget, even if I try:-, Waking up on Christmas morning with a headache and feeling of nausea and deciding not to risk church in person, packing a couple of Christmas nibbles for a friend and finding one container of Christmas mince crumbles had gone mouldy, scrubbing the burned bits off the gammon because I had allowed the water/wine mix to boil dry.
Good, quirky or unfortunate, these are some of this year’s Christmas memories.
So I would like to give thanks to God for all His blessings. For the family He has given us, for technology, enabling us to video-chat with those far away and receive messages from old friends, for His material gifts, enabling us to cook a special meal and give gifts to each other.
Most of all I would like to give thanks to God for His great gift of Christ. God became man and lived among us. The world will never be the same again, and since I’ve met Him, I will never be the same again.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger telling the world how bad it was. He came to help. To put the world right again.” (John 3:16-17 MSG)
Lord, all I can say in the face of Your great love is, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Amen
These are lines from Michael W Smith’s song, “Christ be All Around Me.”
I thought about those lines today. Everywhere I go, Christ goes with me. He encloses me. So when I sat in Mugg and Bean this morning, drinking bottomless coffee and fighting to try to get onto their internet to write this blog, Christ was with me. When I fetched my granddaughter from Brownies, Jesus was there too, smiling at the sight of happy little girls. When I prayed with my best friend and prayer partner, Jesus was there, as He promised, in our midst. (Matt 18:20)
He is closer than breathing, He’s privy to my thoughts and He abides in my heart. Unfortunately, a lot of the time I tend to forget that Jesus is right next to me. If I remembered more often, I would stress less, think of others more and revel in the wonderful life He has given me.
Lord Jesus, please be the air I breathe and may I constantly be aware of Your presence. Amen.
John 6:44 Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.”
He also said, “…apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5b)
In other words, even coming to Christ is not at our initiation, but God’s.
Charles Wesley had a term for this action of the Father when He draws us to Christ. He called it “prevenient grace.”
Looking back in my past to identify signs of prevenient grace in my life, I remember an incident in my childhood which I count as my earliest possible memory of this grace.
I must have been quite young, but already at school, so possibly five or six years old. Somebody at school told me that if you stripped a feather of all but a top tuft of vanes and planted it in the ground, you could make a wish and the wish would come true. At that age I already felt inferior to others. I wasn’t as pretty, as comfortable socially, as interesting as other kids. I felt I was not good enough. My wish was that I could be good enough. In the back of my mind I had a sort of fairy story. I was actually a princess and had been swopped at birth and one day people would find out who I really was.
Peering back through sixty years, I can see that this was my first inkling that I was a sinner. At university I heard another variation on this theme from an Assembles of God pastor. “Wherever I go, I go too and spoil everything.”
I have now been a Christian for over forty years. I know that I have the righteousness of Christ since on the cross He exchanged my sin for His righteousness. Nobody can say that’s not good enough. Moreover, I know myself to be a daughter of the King of the Universe. In anybody’s book, that makes me a princess.
So it might have taken a while but my wish on a feather came true.
During the winter I often write outside under the gazebo. Our house, like most South African houses, is designed more for summer and it is cold in winter.
Recently I noticed the table was no longer stable. The gardener had done his best by inserting a rubber wedge under one foot but that hadn’t helped. Yesterday I found one of the leveling screws on the floor and suddenly it all made sense. The screw had come out of one of the table’s legs leaving it much shorter than the other three.
Today I managed to screw it into the offending leg and now my table is once again stable.
My life is in need of leveling at the moment. When we were at the Beach House I read a lot. I rediscovered my love for historical romances and downloaded a new one from the library as fast as I finished reading the last. This habit has continued since we got back and, much as I love reading, my life has become unbalanced.
I know that a balanced life must include rest and relaxation but too much relaxation is just as unbalanced as too little.
Balance seems to be the brush that paints my surroundings at the moment. I have finished working through “The Workbook of Living Prayer “by Maxie Dunham. He talks about the balance between prayer and action.
“There is a certain class of demons that can only be chased away by prayer – the demons of deafness to God, dumbness in thanksgiving, self-sufficiency, worry, despair, and solitude. But there is another class that can only be chased away by action – the demons of illusion, sentimentality, infantilism, narcissism, and laziness. So if we cultivate prayer exclusively, we harbor the second lot, and if we cultivate action exclusively, we harbor the first….
“The goal of prayer is a life of friendship and fellowship with God, co-operation with God’s Spirit, living God’s life in the world.”
Father God, may I see You more clearly every day as I spend time with You and Your Word, may I love You more dearly as I open my eyes to Your actions in nature and in the world, and may I follow You more nearly as I try to be Christ to or receive Christ from every person that I meet. Amen
Philippians 4:13 is a favourite verse of many Christians, me included.
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (NLT)
However this verse is often used out of context. Paul is thanking the Philippian church for their gift. He says,
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil.4:11-15 NIV)
The “All things” we like to refer to is actually the ability to be content in any circumstance. I need this strength at this time. After last night’s address by the president I felt depressed because it looks like a long time before life in South Africa is going to get any better, and I don’t think we’ll ever be able to go back to how things used to be.
Can I be content if we don’t go to the South Coast in our motor-home in July as we have planned and booked? Can I brave the worst of the winter in Jo’burg doing the same old lockdown nothing?
Can I be content if we don’t fly to Port Elizabeth at the end of August for my mother’s birthday?
Can I be content if we don’t get to go to New Zealand in December to visit our children and grandchildren.
When my plans are arbitrarily foiled and cancelled can I be content?
This is what we are all called to do – keep going for the long haul, keep trusting God in all circumstances and be content in the process. This is when we need all the strength that Christ can give us so we can say, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I Pledge Allegiance.”
I grew up in the era of hymns and I am still moved and inspired by the old words. One of my favourites and possibly the most challenging is “I Vow to You, my Saviour.”
It was written by Richard T Bewes after “I vow to Thee my Country” by Celcil Spring-Rice to the music from Thaxted (1921) from Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity from The Planets (Op32) (1914-1916) by Gustav Holt
I am not often in a position where I can pray it honestly and sincerely. My dedication to my Lord fluctuates as I keep trying to take back control of my life which I have surrendered to Him. However, today’s prompt has reminded me where my allegiance must be.