Tag Archives: faith

More Dimensions

In my Christian walk and study I’ve come across many concepts that are hard to understand. Examples are: the fact that Jesus was 100% God and 100% man; the Bible is 100% inspired by God, yet 100% written by man. This latter was explained brilliantly by Nicky Gumbel.

“Sir Christopher Wren, the most famous architect of his time, built St. Paul’s Cathedral. He began in 1676 and it took him 35 years to build it. He was 44 when he began and was 79 when he completed it in 1711. Sir Christopher Wren built St. Paul’s Cathedral, but actually he didn’t lay a single stone—other people did that. He directed its construction. In the same way, God did not “write the Bible”—He used human authors. But He inspired them. He was the “architect” behind its construction. Every stone in St. Paul’s Cathedral was there because Sir Christopher Wren intended it to be there. And the Bible is as God intended it to be.”

Something else that has bothered me is the fact that in one place the Bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” (Romans 10:15) and yet Jesus told the parable of the sheep and the goats where the King welcomes into the kingdom those who have fed the hungry, welcomed the stranger, clothed the poor, looked after the sick and visited the prisoner. “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40 NIV)

I recently attended a Conference on the letters of John by Robert W. Yarbrough. He added a third dimension to the confusion by citing Matthew 7:15. “Many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will say to them plainly, ‘I never knew you.'”(NIV)

These people obviously believed in Jesus and did good works in His name. But He did not know them. In other words, there was no love relationship between them and Jesus. Dr Yarbrough explained these three conflicting criteria for entering the Kingdom of Heaven with a three dimensional graph. The X-axis is Faith, the Y-axis Works and the Z-axis Love. All three are needed simultaneously.

On our own we can try to do good works but faith and love are miraculous works of the Holy Spirit in us. Until Jesus is Lord of our lives, we will not know the faith and the love that He imparts to us and grows in us.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I know that many concepts are beyond my human understanding. I want a three dimensional faith and not a flat, lifeless one. Please grow me in directions and dimensions where I am lacking. May I know You more clearly, love You more dearly and follow You more nearly, day by day by day. Amen.

Ordinary People

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Yesterday we walked along the beach. This is what we saw.

Litter polluting the Scottburgh Beach.

This morning I saw an encouraging sight. Three ladies, dressed in municipal overalls and carrying black plastic bags, were walking abreast along the beach  and picking up the litter.

A feeling of gratitude welled up in me for all the ordinary people in South Africa who pitch up every day and do their job.

We hear enough about the problem people; the scammers, the thieves, the corrupt politicians, the violent mischief-makers and the murderers. We don’t appreciate the majority of ordinary people who do their job making life better for us all. Some of them don’t earn much money and get little or no recognition.

Work is a noble human activity. In Genesis God worked to create the world. When we work, we resemble Him.

So to the ordinary workers of South Africa, those who fix cars, care for the sick, manage money, fill petrol, wash cars, keep our streets safe, man counters and telephones, teach our children, wash our clothes, advise, repair or enrich us with music or art, to those whose jobs I’ve never even heard of or thought about, I salute you.

My Prayer

Thank You Lord for all the skills and talents with which You have gifted Mankind. May everything I do be done as unto you. 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.

Broken Chair

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.

Chair in the recycling area.

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.

My Prayer

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.

Where Has the Sun Gone?

It is supposed to be Autumn. We have been having lovely sunny days with maximum temperatures hovering between 21 and 24 degrees C. Yesterday the rain started. The temperature has dropped by at least ten degrees. We haven’t seen the sun for two days. The sky is misty grey.

No blue sky in sight.

Where has the sun gone? In actual fact, the sun hasn’t gone anywhere. It is exactly where it is supposed to be. Nuclear reactions still take place at its core, fusing hydrogen to helium, generating immense amounts of heat and energy. We don’t see it because the conditions on the earth have blocked it from our view temporarily. It is not the sun that has changed but the conditions and circumstances where we are.

Sometimes we can’t see God. We wonder where He has gone. Jesus promised never to leave us nor forsake us. He is with us even when the circumstances and conditions of our lives obscure His presence. God is constant. He doesn’t change. When we don’t feel Him near, He is still with us, loving us, guiding us and working out His plan in our lives and for the world.

Nobody stops believing in the sun because they have a couple of rainy days. Neither should we stop trusting God when troubles and problems obscure our view of Him.

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, please help me to trust in You even when circumstances form a cloud around me so dense that I can’t see You. Give me the faith to keep believing in Your unchanging love. Amen.

Remember the Avocado Tree

Recently I read that walking by the Spirit is no more than inviting God into my internal conversation with myself. I resolved to try to live this way but since then, haven’t really been doing it intentionally.

This morning, while I was bathing, my thoughts were in idle mode, just running on themselves. Mainly I was thinking about the Girl Guide camp my daughter is running this weekend. The weather forecast is dismal – 80% rain on Sunday. Every Guider knows the hassle of packing up in the rain. You can’t pack up wet tents. They go mouldy and rot. Mostly you have to take them down wet, bundle them loosely, take them home and, as soon as the sun shines, put them up again then pack them properly when they are dry. I idly thought of possible contingency plans.

While I was worrying thus, it is almost as if the Lord interrupted my thoughts.

HIM: Why do you need a contingency plan. I thought you handed that over to Me last night.

(I remembered I had prayed last night with the family that it wouldn’t rain until the tents had been packed away.)

ME: Yes, but the weather forecast said…

HIM: Do you think I can’t?

ME: I know You can.

HIM: Don’t you trust Me? Or would you rather trust the weather service?

I had to think carefully about these questions. I decided it was not that I didn’t trust God nor that I doubted His power but rather that I thought the God of the universe should not be troubled by such a trifling matter.

HIM Remember the trees? remember the avocado tree.

That silenced me. I remembered them both.

Our neighbours used to have eight tall conifers just in front of our north-eastern wall which divides them from us. When the house was sold about two or more years ago, we got new neighbours. I was careful to hint to them that we’d love the trees cut down and we would be happy to pay half. Then later, when I saw they were actually cutting down other trees, I raised the matter again and tried to set up a meeting. It never happened. Soon after that I read again Mark 23-24.

Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ but does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”(NIV)

There was nobody around, just me and the trees, so I thought I’d try it. “Trees,” I said, “be cut down in Jesus’ name.” then I stopped fretting about it.

The trees are no longer there. In about April this year, the neighbours started work on extensions. They wanted to build extra rooms so her parents could move in with them. The trees were in the way.

As for the avocado tree, we have a tall avocado tree next to our house. It has never given us any fruit. When we came back from a two month winter escape this year, my gardener reported that the tree was dying. Sure enough the leaves were hanging limp and seemed to be a dull grey colour. Remembering the conifers, I said to it, “Tree, live, in Jesus name.” Although many leaves turned brown and fell off, new leaves grew. Now it looks like this.

sdr_HDRB

So tomorrow I am going with my daughter to help with the Guide camp until her assistant arrives. Maybe I should take an avocado leaf with me.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, I am never quite sure when You are speaking to me and when it is my own imagination. Please interrupt my thoughts more and more frequently and teach me to know Your voice.

Lockdown Day 4 Tents on the Patio

I’m running one day behind at present, so this was for yesterday.

When my husband cleared out the store room, we found four tents. Two tiny ones were from the days when our younger son was still at home and used to go camping with us. We had a caravan and later a motor-home and he had a tent. Then he out grew too that tent and got another, a longer one. As a Guider, when I took the Guides camping, I liked to take my own tent into which I could fit a chair. Then there is a very old tent my parents used with the motor-home before they gave it to me. On Sunday the grandchildren, with the help of their father, pitched all four so we could establish what kind of condition they were in.

Of course, the kids thought this was a wonderful adventure and decided each to spend the night in a small tent . The very old tent turned out no longer to be waterproof, but made a great play room.

When I think of a tent, I think of a place of refuge, of shelter from the wind, rain or sun. There are many psalms about God being our shelter or refuge. I like Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. (1-2.) Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; (6.) He 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 Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.(10-11.)

At this time of uncertainty and turmoil, in the words of Psalm 91:2 NKJ.

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.