Tag Archives: Christianity

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

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.

Rest Stop

We are on our way to the South Coast in our motorhome. The vehicle is heavy, uses a lot of petrol and travels slowly. We tackle manageable chunks. Today’s journey was from Randburg to Harrismith. The advert says, “Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride.” However, after two hours travelling, it is time for a rest stop. It can be dangerous if the driver gets fatigued and he loses concentration. Luckily, nowadays there are One Stop petrol stations with nice, clean bathrooms, a shop to buy groceries and some kind of fast food or sit down restaurant, as well as petrol pumps. We stopped at Villiers.

The Bible talks a lot about rest and refreshing. God knows that in the journey of life, we also need rest stops. He commanded in Exodus 20, “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…” (verses 8-10a NIV) When the Pharisees got obsessive-compulsive about it and micromanaged the law, Jesus pointed that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27 NIV) God knows that we need to rest from our labour regularly. In the same way that a mother of a two-year-old will insist on an afternoon nap, God prescribed a regular rest for our good.

The Bible also talks about “times of refreshing” eg Acts 3:19. This is like splashing cold water on your face when you have been driving for some time. In everyday life we can experience times of refreshing by looking out of the window and seeing God’s creation, going for a walk or run, attending a retreat or stopping to smell a flower.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You that You have provided opportunities to rest and refresh myself. Thank You for an opportunity to go away on holiday. May I be a blessing to everyone I meet along the way and at our destination. Amen.

Turkish Carpets

My son spent a week in Turkey before coming to visit us in South Africa. He gave me a mouse pad that looks like a Turkish carpet.

High quality Turkish carpets are made by hand. Wool or silk is used. The long threads are laid side by side on the loom, then the rug maker knots the cross threads around a group of two and between them, cutting the pile to size with a sharp knife. For each square centimeter of carpet, a hundred and forty to a hundred and fifty knots are needed. The whole process takes a long time – two years for a medium sized rug.

We are masterpieces under construction and God uses the hands-on-process. No part of our past is accidental. God has a plan and works towards it slowly. He knots us to different people at different times and to different situations to make the pattern He designed. We are not yet complete. We are growing in Christ and it is not through our efforts but His.

Paul wrote to the Colossians , “To them (God’s people) he has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” (Col 1:27-28)

My Prayer

Father God, thank You that You treat me as an individual. You are growing me into the person You designed me to be. Please give me patience in the process and willingness to be compliant in Your hands. Amen.

The Number 40

Today, our daughter celebrated her 40th birthday.

As was usual at these events, there were a number of people making speeches. One of my daughter’s friends had taken the trouble to research the number forty in the Bible.

It rained for forty days and forty nights, the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years, Jesus was in the desert forty days. It seems that forty is a number of completion, perhaps completion of training in some aspects. It is never pleasant to be stuck in continuous rain, to be wandering in the desert or to be without food in the wilderness for any length of time. Yet all these periods of hardship were part of God’s eternal plan, some of them for the strengthening and training of God’s people for the next stage of His amazing story.

The friend ended with expressing a sense of excitement. She couldn’t wait to see what God was going to do in the next phase of my daughter’s life.

We often do not understand why God brings hardship into our lives and why He seems not to answer our prayers immediately. It is possible that the Lord is training us for the next stage so we can glorify Him. It may not be forty years or forty days, but our Father knows the exact length of time the programme will last.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, but his favour is for a lifetime.” (Psalm 30:4 -5 ESV). It goes on to say, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (NIV)

My Prayer

Lord God of the Universe, Your ways are not my ways and I don’t always understand Your ways. When I go through rainstorms or desert experiences in my life, please remind me that You are in control and You know exactly what You are doing. Amen.

Scrabble

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:6 ESV)

I can identify with those words. The inheritance I have received from my parents, their healthy genes, the way they brought me up, the opportunities I have had, all combine to make a life that is pleasant.

Not everybody is so lucky. All around us in South Africa are people who were disadvantaged at birth, who had no happy loving family to care for them. Perhaps they were born of alcoholic mothers and suffer from foetal alcoholic syndrome. Perhaps they never learned to read and write, or were abused or neglected. Life does not seem to be fair.

If you think of people as scrabble tiles, some score more than others. All the vowels and most of the letters only score one point, but some lucky letters score more. A “Q” is worth ten. So is a “Z.”

However, that does not mean that the player with the high-scoring letters always wins. There is strategy involved, careful placement. Even a humble “S,” a one-point-scorer, positioned properly, can garner a very high score.

God is a master Scrabble Player. He knows how to put us together with just the right people in exactly the right places to achieve His will. People with a disadvantaged beginning can become game-changers in the hands of a Loving God. Nobody is rejected by Him. Jesus promised, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37 ESV)

My Prayer

Father God, You are in charge of my life and my life is not an end in itself but is part of Your greater plan. Please help me not to look at myself and regard myself as inferior, or to compare myself to others, but rather to trust You to put me in exactly the right place with exactly the right people to bring You glory. Amen.

Eiderdown

My sister-in-law had an old eiderdown that was falling to pieces. It had sentimental value to her so she kept it in a cupboard. Recently she turned seventy and received some gifts of money. She pooled it and went to a shop nearby that restores eiderdowns. They clean and restore the feathers and make new quilts. My sister-in-law is thrilled with the outcome.

It reminds me of a scripture verse from 2 Corinthians. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself…” (5:17-18.ESV)

God does not make the new creation from scratch. He takes the old damaged and disintegrating person and remakes them as something beautiful. This is not instantaneous but is a process, just as the old eiderdown has to be cut up and the feathers cleaned and renewed before starting on the new creation.

My Prayer

Thank you, Lord, that because of Christ’s sacrifice, I have become a new creation. Please continue recreating me into Christ’s image. May my life reflect Your glory and Your craftsmanship. Amen.

We’ve got this

There’s nothing that can happen to me today that God and I can’t handle together.

I can’t remember where I first read this. It is in general use in various forms.

Image by Anja-#pray for ukraine# #helping hands# stop the war from Pixabay

This post is part of One-Liner-Wednesday.