Tag Archives: Jesus

The Deal

Jesus said “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (Matthew 16:24-26 MSG)

Image by Tung Nguyen from Pixabay

This post is part of One-Liner-Wednesday.

Water

Yesterday I was still in bed when my husband told me we had a water problem. Fearing that our pipes had sprung another leak and anticipating that we’d be frantically mopping the laminated floor to try to save it from being ruined, I was slightly relieved when it seemed to be only a pressure problem. Instead of a gush, there was a trickle.

Image by Mikes-Photography from Pixabay

It soon became clear that this was not only our problem but that there was a generalized water disruption in our area affecting a number of suburbs. All sorts of problems surfaced which I would never have thought about. My daughter came to borrow the vacuum pump pot because the water boiler in the art studio wasn’t working. For a while hot water trickled out of the cold taps but before long even that dried up. We hadn’t realized how dependent we are on our water on tap. I kept trying to wash my hands after cutting an orange or before cooking. We couldn’t flush the toilet. Fortunately there is a borehole on the property so my husband fetched water in a bucket. To wash dishes we had to heat it in a pot because I didn’t want our kettle to scale up too much. As the day got later and there was still no water, I started contemplating how I could bath. It might have to be a quick cold wash instead.

Drinking water is a necessity for life but we use water for much more than drinking. Without water, plants won’t grow and there would be no life on earth. But water is also used for cleansing.

Jesus referred to water a lot.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit,.. (John 7:37-39a ESV)

Jesus knows that in the same way as people without water will die, so without the Spirit of God, a Christian cannot survive. Moreover, the Christian can be a channel of life to others, leading them to cleansing and eternal life.

My Prayer

Jesus, I want to come to You often and drink. Please fill me with Your Spirit and may rivers of living water flow out of my heart. Amen.

Like a Little Child

Jesus said,” Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,…” (Matthew 18:3-5 ESV)

Image by Steven Batty from Pixabay

After church this morning, we met the missionaries our church supports from the Ukraine, Arkadiy and Anneke Naydenov. Since the calamitous events that have been happening in the Ukraine recently, their life has been turned upside down. They managed to escape to Hungary and recently arrived safely in South Africa. They have a five month old baby, a contented, peaceful, happy child. Anneke was telling us that during air raid sirens, crossing borders, living in different countries and four different houses, he would just look at her in complete trust and coo happily. “That,” she said, “is how we should trust God.”

I’ve been meditating on that picture all afternoon. My trust in God is so far from that ideal and yet, all of us, at one time, had that same unquestioning trust in our parents. We could do nothing for ourselves, we were totally dependent on our parents, particularly our mothers. Imagine how stress-free our lives would be if we could recapture that trust and place it in God, Who loves us more than our parents ever could, Who has promised to care for us and provide for us, Who is the perfect Parent.

My Prayer

Father God, I know that You love me. I believe You know how to care for those who belong to You. Why do I find it so difficult to trust You with all my heart? Please help me. 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.

The Choice

Yesterday my middle granddaughter had her ears pierced. She jumped about joyfully as she went with her Mom to Cresta to the jewelers. She knew it was going to be painful but it was her choice for her eighth birthday present. For the joy of being able to wear pretty earrings like her sister does, she endured the procedure.

First the ears were marked to get the placing correct.

Jesus also made a choice.

Next week we remember Good Friday and Christ’s crucifixion. Probably the best known verse in the Bible is John3: 16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (ESV)

We are mistaken when we think that Jesus was a victim. Jesus has the same love for us as the Father. “The Puritans would often speak about the Father and Son agreeing in eternity past, both of them together, to redeem a sinful people. Theologians call this the pactum salutus, the ‘covenant of redemption,’ referring to what the triune God agreed upon before the creation of the world” (From Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland.)

Christ had a choice. Nobody could kill Him against His will. He said, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” (John 10:17-18 ESV)

Why would Jesus choose to do this? The Bible explains it thus: “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,… (Hebrews 12:2 ESV)

The joy that Jesus kept in mind was the joy of having a relationship with us, of doing life with us, the joy of being able to welcome us to where He is and to spend eternity with us.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You that You love me that much; that You chose me. Amen.

Wishes

I’ve bought a new day bed to put in my study. It has been in the back of my mind for some years to be able to provide a bed for at least one visitor and the plan would be to use it as a sort of couch when it is not needed as a bed. This required some re-organisation of my study and the need to get rid of some clutter.

When my husband asked whether I ever read my old journals, I told him, not really. Perhaps I might look back to earlier entries for the current years, but I don’t really go back. I decided that it was time to get rid of them. Dump them. After all, the rule for decluttering is, ‘if you haven’t used it in a year, you probably won’t.’

So I got out the box and started sorting. I found I couldn’t get rid of them. There is so much of me and God in them. I started to cry. It was like deciding to throw out old love letters. Not only are the books themselves pretty, sometimes I have drawn pictures and coloured them, one year I got given a journal which included verses to colour. I couldn’t do it.

I got to reading a very old journal. The resource I had been using as my guide presumably asked me to write down my wishes. I was shocked to read two of my wishes. One was to write a best-selling book or TV show and one was that my son would play cricket for South Africa. He was in primary school at the time. How worldly I was! Fame seemed to have been my main ambition.

Our sermon this morning was based on Mark 10 from verse 35. James and John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”

“And he said to them, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand, and one at your left, in your glory.”

They were looking for worldly glory.

Not much later, blind Bartimaeus called out to Jesus. Jesus stopped. He deviated from His path to Jerusalem for a blind beggar.

And Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?” (verse 51 ESV)

Same question, different answer. Bartimaeus wanted to see. He wanted to move from darkness to light. It makes the answer of James and John look pathetic.

I believe Jesus asks us the same question. “What do you want me to do for you?” When we answer, I believe He asks us another question. “Are you really serious about this?”

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, sometimes I don’t even know what I want. Through Your Holy Spirit please search my heart that I might know the desires of my heart. Please refine those desires to be in tune with the beat of Your heart.

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.

Love is Not a Feeling

The song with the above title by Don Francisco starts with the following:

“So you say you can’t take it
The price is too high
Your feelings have gone
It seems your river’s run dry

You never imagined
It could turn out so rough
You give and give and give
And still it’s never enough”

The world gives us a definition of love that is all about feelings – slushy, sentimental emotions that can change with circumstances or even the state of our health.

Love is an action. It is putting the need of somebody else higher than your own. It is saying no to self. The exhausted mother does not feel like getting up in the middle of the night because her screaming child has thrown up all over her bed. She does not feel like cleaning her up, changing the bed clothes, mopping the floor and soothing her back to sleep. Her actions have nothing to do with any sentimental slushy feeling. If anything, she is more likely to feel resentment or irritation. Yet, her actions are love.

My mother is old and frail and hardly gets out of bed. My brother and sister-in-law live on the same property, and every day they bring her food, feed her dogs and generally look after her, taking her to doctors when needed or sometimes hospital in the middle of the night. My mother is not an easy person. A doctor told her she is a very difficult woman. She did not contradict him. So it is out of no fuzzy sentimental feeling that my brother and sister-in-law are acting. They are loving our mother. Feelings have nothing to do with it.

John says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (1 John 3:16a NIV)

The song ends:

“Jesus didn’t die for you
Because it was fun
He hung there for love
Because it had to be done

And in spite of the anguish
His work was fulfilled
Cause love is not a feelin’
It’s an act of your will
Love is not a feelin’
It’s an act of your will

Now I wouldn’t try to tell you
That it’s easy to stand
Satan’s throwin’ everything
That’s at his command

But Jesus is faithful
His promise is true
And the things that He asks
He gives the power to do

You know He didn’t die for you
Because it was fun
He hung there for love
Because it had to be done

And in spite of the anguish
His work was fulfilled
Cause love is not a feelin’
It’s an act of your will
Love is not a feelin’
It’s an act of your will

Love is not a feelin’
It’s an act of your will”

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Don Francisco

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, You commanded me to “Love one another as I have loved you.” You know that is impossible for me. As You live in me, please love through me. I surrender my puny efforts to try to love. Amen.

Giving and Receiving

We live in a Granny Cottage on the grounds of our daughter, son-in-law and three wonderful grandchildren. About two weeks ago our grandson first started feeling ill – sore throat and fatigue. Then his sister came down with similar symptoms but they included a headache. They both seemed to rally over the weekend. On the day after Valentine’s day my granddaughter did not feel well enough to write a cycle test. Her brother, meanwhile was able to play a cricket match in the afternoon.

The school required a doctor’s note and it ended up with a Covid test that turned out to be positive. Meanwhile our grandson took a turn for the worse after the rigours of the cricket match. Then our daughter got sick and, on Saturday afternoon, after the aborted hot air balloon ride, our son-in-law came down with a fever.

Between going to bed last night and getting up this morning, I developed a sore throat, slight cough and a strange feeling in my respiratory passages. It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce what’s wrong with me.

We decided to isolate and spent some time giving our apologies for various activities.

It wasn’t much after ten when a food parcel arrived from a member of our fellowship group. It was so timely because Tuesday is normally our shopping day and there was not much in the house.

Another member of our group offered to bring us a cottage pie. I feel so overwhelmed and blessed. I almost feel like a fraud. I’m not feeling that sick. In pre-Covid years, I would have gone to work feeling like that. I would have taken medication but still put in a full day’s work (maybe with taking short naps with my head on my desk in front of the computer.) I feel like I want to pay back the kindness. But then I stop.

It is true the Bible says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35 ESV) However, Christians need to be able to receive gratefully. If we cannot receive gratefully a gift of love, which blesses another person more than it blesses us, according to Jesus, how can we accept God’s indescribable gift without trying to earn it or pay Him back?

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV)

So, to my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, Thank you. And to all other Christians who bless each other and support each other in time of need, thank you. I am sure a time will come when I can bless somebody else.

My Prayer

Jesus, my Master and my Friend, Thank You for all Your gifts to me, including the gift of eternal life, the gift of Yourself. Thank You for friends who show their love in practical ways. Teach me to accept gracefully. Amen.

Beyond Understanding

JusJoJan 27 January 2022

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

These are some of my favourite verses. The trouble with being anxious is that it has nothing to do with logic. There are tools and tricks to try to talk yourself out of anxiety but they don’t get to the heart of the thing. My Mom used to reason thus:

What is the worst thing that can happen to me in this situation? Can they kill me? Can they put me in prison? If the worst possible thing happens, can I cope? Will I get through it?

While these methods can work to a certain extent, they don’t touch the emotions, or the heart. In the Bible, the heart describes a person’s center for both physical and emotional-intellectual-moral activities. That is why we need a peace that affects our hearts as well as our minds.

I first noticed this distinction when I was battling with a personal problem, an unhealthy affection. I stood on this verse for a number of weeks or maybe it was months, until the strong attraction weakened.

The peace that God gives as a direct result of our prayer and petition cannot be explained. It cannot be understood. It is beyond understanding but it can be felt. It is like the touch of our Father’s hand on our shoulder.

Image by Pixabay

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, today I pray for all those who are reading this post. May they experience that peace which passes understanding as Your gift. Amen.